|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY GERMAN NGO FORUM ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
Civil society representatives participating in the Commission on Sustainable Development expressed disappointment this morning with the amount and pace of progress being made in the two-week session, particularly its high-level ministerial segment which began yesterday.
Three of those representatives spoke on behalf of Citizens United for Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CURES) at a Headquarters press conference organized by the German non-governmental organization Forum on Environment and Development, under the sponsorship of the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.
Gurmit Singh, Executive Director of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia, said the ministerial segment seemed to have provided little impetus to the session. Asian ministers had not pushed very strongly for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and it was to be hoped that they would strengthen their position in the remaining portion of the three-day ministerial segment. It was very important that the meeting come up with definite directions that would lead to the development of good policies at the Commission’s next session.
Salimata Wade, Chair of Environmental Development Action in the Third World, Senegal, and West Africa coordinator of the Climate Action Network, said she had expected African ministers to emphasize the importance of guaranteed, affordable and environmentally acceptable energy services. It was very important for urban and rural areas in Africa to have equitable access to energy, which was one of the primary prerequisites for helping people improve their lives and for sustainable development. Hopefully, the debate in the remaining days would be more oriented towards energy for the poor.
Roque Pedace, representing CURES Latin America, as well as Friends of the Earth International’s climate change campaign, agreed that ministers had shown little response to the lack of political will. However, a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean showed that the potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency was such that a very rapid transition to a sustainable energy matrix could be achieved in the region at minimum cost. While many good initiatives were being advanced by communities and non-governmental organizations on the ground, and even by some branches of Government, it was sad that the traditional, conventional fossil fuels -- more than 80 per cent of the total energy matrix in Latin America and the Caribbean -– appeared to be prevailing over other options that were almost universally seen as the only solution to climate change.
Asked whether the Commission had wasted the last two weeks and failed to prepare for its next session (CSD-15), Mr. Singh agreed, noting that some delegates had expressed surprise at the early conclusion to one of the interactive sessions. Participants in the ministerial segment seemed to have had little enthusiasm for interaction.
Mr. Pedace added that most ministerial representatives were merely interested in saving face by claiming that the situation was not as bad as the Chair had made it appear. However, the small projects that they cited in one area or another were essentially window dressing. In addition, the ministers seemed to have little interest in linking energy to fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals or to the promises made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and other major conferences.
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