Statement to the Second Committee by Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs on agenda items 94 d (SIDS) and 95 (WSSD) 20 October 2003

Chairperson,

            It gives me great pleasure to address for the second time the second committee, introducing on this occasion the Secretary-General’s reports on follow-up to the Johannesburg Summit (Item 95) and on preparations for the International Meeting to review the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) for SIDS (Item 94d).

            Before I speak on these issues, let me draw the Committee’s attention to the two reports that have been submitted under these agenda items. The first report (A/58/216) provides a summary of the activities that have been initiated by governments, the UN system organizations, major groups and civil society for the implementation of the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit and of Agenda 21.

The other report (A/58/170) focuses on preparatory activities for the International Meeting to review the implementation of the BPOA (Barbados+10), which will be held in Mauritius in August 2004. The issues of sustainability are at the core of existence of many small island states. It is, therefore, an important meeting not only for SIDS but also for the overall implementation of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. It is our hope that it will receive the attention that it rightly deserves.

 

Chairperson,

            The Johannesburg Summit was hailed as a major leap forward in our pursuit for sustainable development. In his closing press conference in Johannesburg, the UN Secretary-General said, “This Summit makes sustainable development a reality. This Summit will put us on a path that reduces poverty while protecting the environment, a path that works for all peoples, rich and poor, today and tomorrow.” This captures the essence of the outcomes of the Summit and the diversity of activities launched at Johannesburg.

            There are four distinct features of the Summit that rekindle hope in the future of sustainable development. First of all, the identification of specific goals and over twenty-five targets in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation set the stage for concrete results. There are some significant new goals in the areas of basic sanitation, toxic chemicals, fish stocks, unsustainable patterns of consumption and production and rate of species loss.

Secondly, the Plan endorsed the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration as the overarching objectives of sustainable development. This has led to stronger integration of the social and economic aspects with environmental goals. Moreover, the Plan built further on the commitments made at the Millennium Summit, Doha WTO meeting and the Monterrey conference.

            Thirdly, the Plan recognized the challenges of pursuing sustainable development in a globalizing world. These challenges can only be effectively addressed through a multilateral approach. I had also mentioned in my statement during the general debate that in a globalizing world, collective action is required in areas like environmental sustainability, which is an integral pillar of sustainable development. There is repeated evidence that existing international structures do not deal adequately with the management and financing of this dimension of global interdependence, what some observers call a global public good.

           

In this globalizing world, private sector has a key role in ensuring that sustainable development becomes the organizing principle of economic activity. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation not only encourages the private sector to play that role but also underlines the need for effective corporate accountability. The Plan also places emphasis on improving governance at the national and global levels, as it is key to fair globalization and the pursuit of sustainable development.

            Finally, solution-oriented partnerships have given new meaning to the implementation phase launched by the summit.  These partnerships are a major step in making sustainable development everyone’s business.

Chairperson,

            The Summit generated a solid repertoire of commitments and ideas to turn the Rio vision into reality. But the true test of what the Johannesburg Summit achieves are the actions that are taken afterward. So far, response from governments, UN system organizations, major groups, civil society and the private sector is generally very encouraging. They are all committed to achieving concrete results.

            During last April, the Commission on Sustainable Development broke new ground in re-orienting its work toward implementation. It decided to organize its future work in two-year implementation cycles. The Commission has also adopted measures to give greater opportunities for the engagement and participation of major groups and civil society. Adoption of guidelines on partnerships is likely to strengthen the ties of the Commission with these initiatives.

Another very important step by CSD is the invitation to the regional commissions to hold regional implementation meetings that would feed into the global review. To support these meetings, this Committee is requested to approve the use of resources that were allocated to the ad hoc working groups of CSD.

            In the context of the integrated and coordinated follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits, the Economic and Social Council is expected to play a greater role in the area of sustainable development.

            The UN system organizations and entities are gearing up to implement the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit. The emphasis on implementation is reflected in the work programmes of UN-DESA, UNEP, UN-Habitat and UNCTAD and other entities. The Chief Executives Board (CEB), through its High Level Committee on Programmes, is developing proposals for future arrangements for inter-agency coordination on follow-up to WSSD. The proposals are likely to be finalized by CEB at its forthcoming session at the end of this month. We hope to make the details available to CSD-12.

            Government and major groups have organized a number of international initiatives and events. Significant steps have been taken towards developing the Ten Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production, particularly launching of the Marrakech process.

            To date, about 230 partnerships and 35 processes to initiate partnerships have been posted on the CSD web site. The leading partners have informed us that some $252 million have been committed for partnership related activities. An additional $120 million are currently being sought or negotiated with potential donors. [The secretariat has prepared a brochure on partnerships, which is available at the back of the room].

            These are indeed encouraging signs. But there have been contrary trends on some aspects, particularly the means of implementation. The setback to trade negotiations in Cancun is a setback to the goals of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

            About two-third of the poor live in the rural areas of developing countries, who rely on agriculture for their sustenance. Lack of access to the markets of developed countries would deprive them of opportunities to break this vicious circle of poverty. Moreover, subsidies in developed countries that lead to low commodity prices would put more pressure on the natural resource base of developing countries, as they would have to produce more quantities to make the ends meet. It is, therefore, imperative that the Doha negotiations must be continued as expeditiously as possible.

Trade is also an important source of technology transfer, which is critical for sustainable development. Multilateral trade regime needs to be made more supportive of preferential access to clean and environmentally sound technologies. The financial commitments made at Monterrey need to be fulfilled and more resources should be dedicated to the implementation of JPOI. 

Chairperson,

            The International Meeting to review implementation of Barbados Programme of Action should also be seen as an opportunity to add momentum to the follow-up to WSSD.

           

 The preparatory process, as stated in the report, has advanced very well. UNDESA has been working very closely with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in facilitating the preparation of national assessment reports and organizing regional meeting. The three regional preparatory meetings were hosted by Samoa, for the Pacific island states; by Cape Verde for the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and South China Seas groups; and by Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean island states. Participation in these meetings was enthusiastic, and has counted upon the active involvement of these small islands that are not yet politically independent, as well as with the active participation of civil society.

We have also been very pleased with the level of interest and involvement of the agencies of the United Nations system as well as regional and inter-governmental organizations in the review process. They have been actively involved in the preparatory meetings, and we have received support from the UNDP, UNEP and the Commonwealth Secretariat toward facilitating the preparation of national assessment reports in the SIDS.  In order to assure most effective coordination among all agencies and organizations in preparation for the International Meeting, the UNDESA has established an Inter-Agency Task Force, comprising the focal points on SIDS in all relevant agencies within the UN system. This task force will be meeting in New York this week, to ensure coordinated preparation for the International meeting.

The responsibilities of UNDESA and the Regional Commissions in the follow-up of the substantive activities for the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action will continue to be complemented by the political role played by the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Development States.

The forthcoming events, the inter-regional meeting planned for January 2004, the preparatory meeting to be held at the start of the CSD 12th Session, and the Mauritius International Meeting are expected to lead to renewed commitment of the international community to sustainable development of Small Island Developing States. The peculiar geographic situation of SIDS makes them more vulnerable than others to the risks posed by the current course of development. Some of them might even disappear if we do not see significant progress on the issue of climate change and the rising sea levels that it will generate. Sustainable development is thus their road not only to progress but also, and very importantly, to survival.

Chairperson,

            While addressing the opening ceremony of WSSD, the UN Secretary General said, “the model of development we are accustomed to has been fruitful for the few, but flawed for the many. A path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone.”