Member States Urged to Step Up Efforts to Stop Global Warming, Seal Comprehensive Deal on Mitigation, Adaptation, as Second Committee Concludes General Debate
Member States Urged to Step Up Efforts to Stop Global Warming, Seal Comprehensive Deal on Mitigation, Adaptation, as Second Committee Concludes General Debate
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Member States Urged to Step Up Efforts to Stop Global Warming, Seal Comprehensive
Deal on Mitigation, Adaptation, as Second Committee Concludes General Debate
Member States must ramp up efforts to stop global warming and make a just, comprehensive global deal on mitigation and adaptation measures during the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, several speakers said today, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its general debate.
Uzbekistan’s representative said the world was on the brink of irreversible climate change, characterized by an average global temperature rise of 2˚C to 3˚C between 1900 and 2010, and by intensive melting of glaciers in the Arctic and in Antarctica, particularly in mountain areas that supplied the world’s main source of freshwater. Scientists had predicted that the sea route created through the Arctic Ocean would soon be open year-round, while abnormal patterns of drought, flooding, tsunamis and cooling in certain areas would increase at alarming rates.
He said those worrying changes made it all the more urgent to understand and address the underlying causes of climate change, and develop a common strategy to attack them, with developed countries shouldering most of the burden and leading by example. The international community must also make better use of the invaluable existing data on the current state of the world’s climate and predictions for the future. That information could go a long way in helping climate service providers and decision-makers in key socio-economic sectors to coordinate efforts to effectively manage the risks posed by climate variability and change, while developing adaptation measures.
Tunisia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, said the rise in global sea levels, temperatures and water scarcity was of grave concern to African countries. Greenhouse gas emissions must be significantly reduced, and countries in need, particularly in Africa, must have adequate financial resources in addition to technological and capacity-building support. The strong political statements made during the recent United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York should strengthen the momentum needed for an ambitious Copenhagen outcome.
Colombia’s representative agreed with that assessment, urging the Committee to send a clear message, guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, of the urgent need for an agreement in Copenhagen, with ambitious mitigation commitments by developed countries. It was also important to make adaptation actions a priority. As a small emitter of greenhouse gases, Colombia was contributing voluntarily to the global fight against climate change by protecting more than 578,000 square kilometres of forest while generating clean energy. However, the country had the highest average in Latin America for climate change-related natural disasters. Its 28 islands and long coastal extensions in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, high-mountain ecosystems and vast biodiversity were among the factors that made Colombia particularly vulnerable.
In a similar vein, Guyana’s representative said rainforest countries like his own had contributed only negligibly to emissions, but they wished to be part of a climate-change solution. That might include placing almost all of Guyana’s rainforest at the world’s service, if the right funds and market-based economic incentives were created and did not deprive the country of its sovereignty over its forests or restrict the legitimate development aspirations of its people.
Expressing regret that no meaningful capital had been provided for preventing tropical deforestation, despite its negative contribution to climate change, he said it was time to abandon the debate that had created the false choice between combating climate change on the one hand and national development on the other. Instead, States must create new high-growth, low-carbon economies, he said, urging them to make forest conservation and sustainable forest management a significant part of any agreement reached in Copenhagen.
Saudi Arabia’s representative expressed concern about the behaviour of some industrialized countries, which had only selectively adopted climate change policies. The abandonment of fossil fuels was an “unfeasible and impractical solution”, especially in light of the availability of carbon dioxide storage technology and other technologies enabling the clean use of fossil fuels. He encouraged the application of technological solutions while highlighting Saudi Arabia’s investment in solar and wind energy production. It was important to preserve the environment while also contributing to global economic growth.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania also addressed the Committee.
Also speaking today were representative of Guinea, San Marino, Mozambique, Serbia, Uganda, Morocco, Mongolia, Malawi, Mali, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, El Salvador, Saint Lucia, Maldives, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Georgia and Angola.
A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross also made a statement.
The Second Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 12 October, to take up its agenda item on macroeconomic policy questions.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to continue its general debate.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW ( Guinea) said the ravages of a major global economic and financial crisis were now reverberating throughout the planet. It was a paradox that the countries most affected by it were the ones that had contributed least to its outbreak, yet they lacked the means to fight it. Africa had not been spared its contagious effects and had, over the past few months, witnessed a decline in economic growth, agricultural development, and prospects for eradicating poverty and reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
Guinea had also borne the negative effects of the crisis, he said, especially in terms of the extraction of natural resources, which made up 25 per cent of its revenues. A slowdown in mining activity within the private sector, delays in huge mining projects and a slump in foreign direct investment were just some examples of how hard the global crisis had hit Guinea. However, economic and monetary policies had shown encouraging results, including a 13.5 per cent inflation rate in 2008 compared to 12.8 per cent in 2007. He urged the international community to do its part to ensure a true global partnership for development, including by fulfilling the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Outcome documents.
He praised the measures taken at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit last April to alleviate the impact of the global economic crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable countries, and called for an end to the deadlock in the Doha Round of trade negotiations. It was also important to increase official development assistance (ODA), and to match such an increase with improved predictability and quality. Guinea also appreciated improvements in initiative to help the most indebted countries, and urged donors to strive towards reinforcing national and global capacities already in place. It was satisfying to see the huge potential of South-South cooperation and its remarkable results within various sectors.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said her country had been able to preserve the hard-won gains made in recent years in terms of security, economic performance and social protection. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Colombia had significantly advanced in the Human Development Index ranking. The Government’s promotion of socially responsible investment and entrepreneurship had contributed to that progress. Poverty indicators had dropped, foreign direct investment had contracted, though not as much as global capital flows, and tourism had grown 9.5 per cent. The Committee must send a clear message rejecting the trend towards protectionism and selective market closures, which could thwart recovery in developing economies. It must also send a message reaffirming the importance of ensuring that the Doha Round was concluded in 2010.
Turning to climate change, she said that, as a small emitter of greenhouse gases, her country was contributing voluntarily to the global fight against climate change by protecting more than 578,000 square kilometres of forest while generating clean energy. Hydropower accounted for 87 per cent of Colombia’s energy, and it had also developed biofuels to achieve food security. However, the country had the highest average in Latin America for climate change-related natural disasters. Its 28 islands and long coastal extensions in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, high-mountain ecosystems and vast biodiversity were among the factors that made Colombia particularly vulnerable. The Committee should send a clear message, guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, of the urgent need for an agreement in Copenhagen, with ambitious mitigation commitments by developed countries, and of the importance of making adaptation actions a priority.
TROY TORRINGTON ( Guyana) said the global economic and financial crisis was the most serious test of the international financial system in recent memory. It had hit small developing countries particularly hard, and there was an urgent need for new and additional flows of development assistance to assist them. On climate change, he said rainforest countries like his own had contributed only negligibly to emissions, but they wished to help solve the problem. Solutions might include placing almost all of Guyana’s rainforest at the world’s service, if the right funds and market-based economic incentives were created and did not trade the country’s sovereignty over its forests or restrict the legitimate development aspirations of its population.
Expressing regret that no meaningful capital had been provided for preventing tropical deforestation, despite its negative contribution to climate change, he called for abandonment of the debate that had created the false choice between combating climate change on the one hand and national development on the other. Instead, States must create new high-growth, low-carbon economies, he said, urging them to make forest conservation and sustainable forest management a significant part of any agreement reached at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. In conclusion, he lauded the Committee for putting a renewed focus on agriculture and food security, and voiced support for the upcoming Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Global Summit on Food Security, to be held in Rome in November.
GHAZI JOMAA ( Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, said the Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs recognized poverty and social deprivation as the world’s greatest challenges. The international community had responded favourably through various commitments, but had failed to implement them fully. Africa, with the highest number of least developed and vulnerable countries, was not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets, and the problem was not the lack of resources. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, global weapons expenditures had increased during the financial crisis, reaching $1.5 trillion in 2008, up 4 per cent in real terms from 2007. A fraction of that money could have saved the lives of millions of people by providing them with food and basic health care.
Trillions of dollars had been spent on bailout packages across the developed world, but the goal of doubling aid to Africa by 2010 had not been met, he said, calling for comprehensive, concrete and effective international solidarity to address that serious imbalance. African leaders were addressing sustainable development across the continent. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and other regional initiatives, which the international community had pledged to support, offered a framework for expediting that process. The African Group called on the international community to implement Agenda 21, and on developed countries to increase official development assistance commitments, provide full debt relief, improve African’s access to markets, and transfer technology to the continent.
Attempts by African Government to curb the food crisis had been costly, he said, adding that the drop in food aid from the $12.3 billion pledged in June 2008 to just $1 billion disbursed in February 2009 had exacerbated food insecurity. The World Bank estimated that the crisis would push another 27 million Africans into poverty. Climate change was also of great concern to Africa, which was causing sea-level and temperature rise as well as water scarcity. The strong political message sent during the recent United Nations Climate Change Summit should strengthen the momentum needed for an ambitious Copenhagen outcome. The African common position was to ensure sufficient reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to provide adequate financial resources, as well as technological and capacity-building support, to enable countries in need, including African ones, to address climate change.
KHALID AL NAFISEE ( Saudi Arabia), describing the eradication of poverty as a “moral and humanitarian responsibility”, said comprehensive economic development could not be achieved without a shared sense of responsibility. Reform of the international financial, monetary and trade systems should take place through existing institutions and developed by international consensus. With regard to trade, Saudi Arabia supported the inclusion of developing countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the opening of markets in accordance with the principle of fair trade. The United Nations –- and the Second Committee in particular –- could play a pivotal role in that regard, he said.
On climate change, he expressed concern about the behaviour of some industrialized countries, which had only selectively adopted policies in that area. The abandonment of fossil fuels was an “unfeasible and impractical solution”, especially in light of the availability of carbon dioxide storage technology and other technologies enabling the clean use of fossil fuels. Saudi Arabia encouraged the application of technological solutions, while also highlighting its investment in solar and wind energy production. It was important to preserve the environment while also contributing to global economic growth, he said.
DANIELE BODINI ( San Marino) said the solutions to a wide array of challenges, including climate change and food security, had been derailed by the global economic and financial crisis, which was still ravaging the world’s economies. In San Marino, the jobless rate was rising, savings were disappearing and “our dreams of social stability” vanishing, he said, expressing gratitude to the G-20 for its efforts to stem “this economic and financial nightmare”. In seeking an effective solution, the General Assembly should find a balanced compromise that would take into consideration both the aspirations of each nation and the basic economic rights of all citizens.
With respect to responses to the financial and economic crisis, he said it could not be left to the same technocrats and practitioners who had allowed it to unfold in the first place. San Marino encouraged a moderate and constructive debate in the Assembly, which would consider all goals and objectives, including sustainable development, combating climate change, and the rights of the poor and underprivileged, among others. He warned that the debate must not be “hijacked” by extreme and radical positions. Instead, it should be conducted with a sense of common responsibility and with the knowledge that failure was not an option.
ANTONIO MACHEVE (Mozambique), noting that the negative effects of the global economic and financial crisis would put attainment of the Millennium targets at risk, said States must work twice as hard to achieve them in the days ahead, adding that reform of the United Nations was even more relevant and important in that regard. To face the combined challenges of the economic crisis and climate change, it was important that the Organization play a key role.
He said least developed countries should receive assistance to enable them to develop capacity, especially in their responses to natural disasters, and to create national adaptation plans of action. The United Nations played a pivotal role in planning and carrying out international efforts following natural disasters, and States should accelerate reform of the Organization so it might become more efficient and effective. He encouraged countries to overhaul the international economic and financial system and bring it into the twenty-first century in order to restore the world’s confidence in it and achieve sustainable development.
MILAN MILANOVIC ( Serbia) said the major economies had a special responsibility for the stability of the financial system since they had a major influence on it. Developing countries required a transparent economic system that could prevent speculation and temper fluctuations in commodity prices. They also needed a voice in the G-20. Protectionism must be avoided and assistance provided so that developing countries, particularly those emerging from conflict, could attain the Millennium Development Goals.
He said his country had experienced high growth for seven years, but it was going through a precipitous slowdown in 2009, although the effects of the crisis were had been thanks to banking reform and a very strict monetary policy. The biggest challenge was a persistently high unemployment rate, which overcoming would be difficult, particularly in light of Serbia’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to streamline Government administration at both the State and local levels. On climate change, he called for a broad and comprehensive consensus in Copenhagen that would cover adequate financial support and technology transfer for developing countries. There was also a need for a comprehensive approach to food security that would encourage sustainable agricultural development.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said the rising economic and environmental insecurity sweeping the globe was thwarting the hopes of many developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The global crises had exposed the weaknesses inherent in the global system. Financial institutions, the United Nations and other multilateral systems needed reform. The Committee must work to ensure that poverty reduction and sustainable development were not diminished, with substantive discussion focusing appropriately on global action to expedite progress towards meeting those goals, he said.
The Committee must give the General Assembly concrete guidance on the right course of action. Uganda had attempted to meet its development commitments by adopting and implementing comprehensive national strategies to reach the Millennium targets. It had prioritized funding for infrastructure development, energy, universal primary and secondary education, and health care, among other key areas. Uganda’s economy had been fairly resilient, and gross domestic product growth for 2009-2010 was projected to be 7 per cent.
He cautioned, however, that like most of the least developed countries, Uganda was still severely constrained by limited development resources due to the continuous decline in income from trade, tourism and remittances, as well as in ODA and foreign direct investment (FDI). Countries in special situations merited special attention and consideration in the Committee’s deliberations. South-South cooperation should complement North-South and triangular cooperation. Unilateral trade measures to block or restrict exports from developing countries on climate change-related grounds violated World Trade Organization rules and should be prohibited.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on the World Financial Crisis and Its Impact on Development best enshrined the international community’s consensus on tackling the financial crisis, which continued to have a negative impact on developing countries. Forecasts and prospects for economic growth clearly showed that, despite some positive signs, the recovery was very shaky and economic growth would continue to be negative. Employment indicators also showed a negative trend. The drivers of economic growth in developing countries -- exports, tourism revenue, investment and remittances -- had suffered, thwarting their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It was important that donor countries make good on their ODA commitments.
Citing the gloomy picture painted by the 2009 progress report on the Millennium Development Goals, he said the number of people in extreme poverty could rise from 55 million to 90 million this year. Great efforts were needed to ensure a global economic recovery. The upcoming summit on the Millennium Goals must aim to help countries lagging far behind in their efforts to reach the targets. African countries had made great effort to cope with the crisis and support growth, but they were still struggling to attain development.
African economies would only grow 2 per cent this year, after expanding 6 per cent on average between 2004 and 2008, he said, emphasizing that the international community must honour all its commitments and mobilize further resources for development. South-South cooperation should complement rather than substitute North-South cooperation, and regional partnerships should be strengthened. The upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen would be a historic occasion to reverse climate change and strengthen mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries through new, predictable and sustainable resources, capacity-building and technology transfer.
OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG ( Mongolia) said the global economic and financial crisis must be addressed through pragmatic, timely and workable solutions, including those set forth in the outcome document of the June United Nations Conference on the subject. Mongolia was strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Its economy had been growing at an average annual rate of 9.1 per cent before the economic crisis, and its third national progress report on the Millennium Development Goals showed it had achieved, or was likely to achieve by 2015, 66 per cent of 24 Mongolia-specific targets. However, the goals of halving poverty and ensuring sustainability remained a great challenge, requiring the international community’s undivided attention and a redoubling of efforts as well as effective partnerships with bilateral and multilateral partners.
She said her country had implemented a national action plan to overcome the current financial and economic crisis. Approved by Parliament earlier this year, the plan envisaged specific policy and fiscal action to improve food security and stimulate industrial development and employment; ensure the safety and security of energy supplies; stimulate the real economy through market mechanisms; and protect vulnerable and low-income families from the impact of the crisis.
To address the food crisis, the Government of Mongolia had launched the “Third National Crop Rehabilitation Drive”, she said. As a result, it was expected to cover 80 per cent of the country’s major staple food-product needs by year’s end. Mongolia’s ultimate goal was to become self-sufficient in major foodstuffs. A few days ago, the Government had adopted an industrialization programme for expedited development of the mining and processing industries, agriculture, small- and medium-scale production of local raw materials, as well as enhanced transport, communication and public utility services and food production.
STEVE MATENJE ( Malawi) said the Committee’s agenda was daunting, with multiple challenges including the economic and financial crisis, climate change and volatile commodity prices. On the Millennium targets, he said they could only be reached if countries committed to technology transfer, an open, rule-based non-discriminatory trade system, gender equality and more coherent official development aid. He noted that neither developed nor developing countries were on track to fulfil their commitments within the Goals. “There is clearly no time to waste and no room for complacency,” he said.
Urging States to strengthen global partnerships and address the obstacles ahead, he emphasized the importance of food security to his country, pointing out that within a short period of time Malawi had gone from being a food-deficit nation to a food-surplus one, with some food for export. On the subject of climate change, he said it posed a major challenge to food and agriculture production. The international community should find pragmatic solutions by supporting scientific research and the development of appropriate technologies. Sharing those technologies was particularly important to developing countries such as Malawi, which were largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
OUMAR DAOU ( Mali) said no country had been spared the negative effects of the global economic and financial crisis, but vulnerable countries were suffering the most. The economic and climate change crises had inevitably worsened the plight of the poorest people and jeopardized attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. In Mali, the Government had developed a strategic framework for growth and social development programmes, which expressed the political commitment to address the challenges.
Specifically on climate change, he said that, given the major challenges facing the world today, States must take global action, seek global solutions and develop greater mutual support. As for the financial and economic crises, he noted the actions taken by the G-20 in Pittsburgh, and hoped those countries would do more and swiftly honour their commitments.
With regard to the Committee’s work, he said it must focus particularly on developing countries, which should make relevant recommendations for the implementation of programmes to help countries in need. He called for far-reaching reform of the international financial architecture so that the poorest countries could become more involved. The Committee should also look at international trade and make recommendations for the total elimination of subsidies in rich countries.
PAK TOK HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the current economic crisis was a product of an outdated international economic order, shaped by the erroneous economic policies of developed countries. Developing countries had suffered most under that situation and they called for a new, equitable economic order, with the most important consideration for reform being the development perspective.
He said measures proposed so far in international meetings only addressed the recovery of financial markets in a few countries, while the protectionist policies pursued by developed countries limited market access for developing countries and barred them from enjoying preferential and equitable treatment. Regarding pollution and climate change, he underscored the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and ensuring both technology transfer and investment in developing countries. Finally, he said United Nations development agencies should help rectify the unjust economic order and secure long-term financing for development. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea encouraged further South-South cooperation in that regard.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCIA GONZALEZ ( El Salvador) said efforts were needed to overcome the effects of the world economic and financial crisis, which had limited the resources of many developing countries meant for health care, education, housing and public safety, as well as their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. That would negatively impact human development and result in a small economic recovery marked by many challenges.
He said his country had embarked on a $587.5 million programme to mitigate the impact of the crisis. It included significantly increased investments in social programmes, the construction of 25,000 homes, and the creation of 100,000 jobs, as well as a social protection system within the Social Security Institute, covering 10,500 workers for six months. It also included education grants, the establishment of a basic pension of $50 for 42,000 senior citizens, subsidies, the creation of a development bank and a trust fund, and implementation of the “United Urban Communities” programme. The Government had also created an Economic and Social Council to serve as a public policy forum on social issues.
Mutual support and international cooperation were necessary tools for economic growth and recovery, he said, adding that South-South cooperation must complement North-South cooperation. Voicing support for the declaration adopted in Doha during the International Review Conference on Financing for Development, and the outcome of the United Nations Conference on the Economic and Financial Crisis, he said his country also supported efforts to reform the international financial and monetary architecture. It was imperative to strengthen the voice and participation of developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions. Trade and investment were important engines for development, and it was also essential to promote integration and the defence of the human rights of migrant populations and their families in a holistic way.
DONATUS ST. AIMEE ( Saint Lucia) said the Secretary-General’s report on middle-income countries was instructive and interesting, since it illuminated the broad range of countries within that category in terms of size, economy and military. Although the designation “middle-income country” was a World Bank construct, it had many consequences for a country like Saint Lucia, which was discontented with the label. However, if things continued as they were –- marked by successive crises and little help from the United Nations –- there could be an enlargement of the least developed countries category, which would be a shame.
On climate change, he said its effect could already be felt on Saint Lucia, adding that it could be the greatest test and challenge of the present generation. Regarding development assistance, the subject would have to be revisited. Saint Lucia lacked the capacity to develop stimulus packages and the diverse economic operations of larger countries, and consequently any shock or crisis could spell disaster for the country. Any population that could not overcome stress faced the choice of migration or extinction. Most middle-income countries and small island developing States had risen to the ecological and economic challenges, but the international community should show greater understanding of their situation.
ELISABETH RITOLA, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, recalled the extreme weather events that had devastated communities across Asia, and said the Federation had helped evacuate more than 160,000 people from Viet Nam and set up shelters in Samoa. The ongoing financial and economic crisis was having a disastrous impact on poverty, and while there were signs of recovery, other effects of the crisis would become visible over time. The combined impact of climate change, more frequent natural disasters, rapid population growth and food insecurity was a serious concern. Addressing the needs of the vulnerable required additional funding.
She said the Hyogo Framework for Action offered a clear road map to addressing disaster risk, with guidelines intended to help Governments better prepare for common legal problems in international relief operations. Many humanitarian consequences of climate change could be averted or reduced, as shown by cyclone preparedness programmes in Bangladesh and Mozambique. Public hygiene campaigns had improved health in many villages around the world and could be upgraded to address climate change risks. Upgraded care for the elderly during heat waves and planting trees against landslides offered other solutions. It was essential for nations to come together to design an innovative climate agreement in Copenhagen.
ABDUL MOHAMED ( Maldives) said the economic and financial crisis had had a tremendous and unimaginable impact on his country’s fragile economy, compounding difficulties for the Maldives, already struggling in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The crisis threatened attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, he said, reiterating calls for States to support implementation of the transition strategy for countries like the Maldives, whose intended graduation from the category of least developed countries in 2004 had been delayed until 2010 because of the tsunami.
The new Government in the Maldives had begun a programme of major economic reforms in conjunction with the IMF and the World Bank, but the scale of the problems facing the country meant that it needed more help and assistance than ever before. With regard to climate change, he called on the international community to achieve meaningful results at the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen. A comprehensive and well-crafted agreement that moved States towards a greener economy was imperative, especially for the Maldives, where 300,000 people were threatened by the effects of climate change.
MURAD ASKAROV ( Uzbekistan) said the world was on the brink of irreversible climate change, characterized by an average global temperature rise of 2˚ C to 3˚ C between 1900 and 2010, and by intensive melting of glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctica, particularly in mountainous areas where the main freshwater sources were located. According to scientists, the sea route through the Arctic Ocean would be open year-round in the lifetime of the present generation. Global warming’s impact on wind flows, ocean currents and other natural phenomena had caused abnormal patterns of drought, flooding, tsunamis and cooling in certain areas.
That made it very important to understand and address the underlying causes of climate change and to develop a common approach, he said, calling on countries to achieve a just, comprehensive deal in Copenhagen. Developed countries should shoulder the bulk of the burden and lead by example. National, regional and international mechanisms must be developed to analyse and predict climate change accurately. The existing information on the current and future state of the climate was invaluable, he said. It would help climate service providers and decision-makers in key socio-economic sectors to coordinate efforts and effectively manage the risks posed by climate variability and change, while developing adaptation measures.
The world was also facing a shortage of freshwater, primarily for food production, and needed to unite and focus on the sustainable management of water resources in agriculture, he said. The Aral Sea in Uzbekistan had shrunk by more than seven times, the volume of water by 12 times, and the Karakum and Kyzyl Kum deserts had expanded. The lack of water coupled with the poor quality of both water and land throughout Central Asia had impeded agricultural production. The livelihoods of tens of millions of people in the region were at stake, and the situation should not be allowed to pass the point of no return.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan), noting that his country’s capability for development had been threatened by the economic and financial crisis, emphasized that assistance to Afghanistan and other developing countries must be effective, consistent and predictable. A sustainable and self-sufficient future depended on agricultural development and food security, and better-organized development programmes were the only way to liberate Afghanistan from future needs. Hopefully the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty would be the last.
On climate change, he said all countries were affected and they should all strive to make the upcoming Climate Change Conference a success. As for his country’s particular situation, he said Afghanistan was a post-conflict country and, as such, confronted by a number of difficult challenges. While sustainable development had often been sidelined in post-conflict situations, it was important to undertake both short- and long-term projects. Afghanistan could not delay development indefinitely while waiting for security or relying on superficial quick fixes. Regional cooperation was of central importance, as were South-South and North-South cooperation. It was to be hoped that Afghanistan would benefit from its status as a “land bridge” within the wider region.
MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) expressed support for the upcoming Conference on South-South cooperation, saying she expected developing countries to make a major contribution in Nairobi. Rejecting the use of unilateral economic measures, she said they violated the United Nations Charter and international law, and underscored the importance of the Committee’s review of the Secretary-General’s report on unilateral economic measures as a means of politically and economically coercing developing countries. There was a need for concrete, immediate and effective measures to stop the undermining of those countries’ right to development.
Food security could not continue to be subjected to the greed of a few, she said, noting that there was enough food to feed twice the world’s population, though millions of people died from starvation every day. As for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, it should no longer be a debate about the need to act, but rather an opportunity for developed countries to fulfil their historic responsibility under the Kyoto Protocol, and to cease their attempts to break down the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
The link between disarmament and development was clear, she said, adding that it was horrifying to see how much money was spent worldwide for military purposes. The maintenance of foreign military bases in developing countries was a matter of deep concern. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had just declared Nicaragua free of illiteracy, she said, pointing out that Nicaraguans enjoyed free health care and education. FAO had rated the country’s school nutrition programme among the four best in the world. The country had also developed renewable sources of alternative energy.
JAIRO MILIAN (Costa Rica) said Committee members should not limit themselves to repeating resolutions, year after year, but instead find avenues for action that would make a difference, as they were “frontline protagonists” in the struggle to overcome the obstacles ahead. With regard to the economic and financial crisis, he said it had undoubtedly affected the poorest of the poor the most, and attaining the Millennium Development Goals must be a priority. Sustainable development went hand-in-hand with conservation efforts, and reduced military spending would make resources available for other types of development programmes.
He called for timely and adequate transfer of technological and financial assistance to developing countries and, within the United Nations, further promotion of information exchange, which would aid the spirit of international cooperation. On disarmament, he said his country was a weapon-free democracy that was concerned with the world’s arms race and growing military spending. Latin America had never been as peaceful as it was at the present time, yet $60 billion would be spent on weapons this year, while there was still not enough education and aid for the poor. Instead of spending money on instruments of death and destruction, States should instead spend it on the environment and other purposes.
OUSSAMA KHACHAB ( Lebanon) said the economic and financial crisis had challenged the world tremendously, adding: “The ghost of poverty looms over us more than ever.” Unless the consequences of the crisis were addressed promptly and appropriately, it could lead to political unrest and turmoil. The poorest of the poor had come under threat, and women in particular faced greater income insecurity and increased domestic burdens. A global stimulus package was needed to help developing countries recover, as developed countries increased their financial assistance, without conditions.
He said the crisis had also highlighted the need to overhaul the international financial system and bring it into the twenty-first century. Also in need of reform were the Bretton Woods institutions and their governance structures, which needed increased participation by developing countries. Regarding sustainable development, he supported Brazil’s offer to host a summit on that issue in 2012, and as for food security, he heralded the FAO Summit in Rome next month as an opportunity to discuss an integrated approach that would allow for lasting and comprehensive solutions, with special attention to the needs of Africa.
IRAKLI JGENTI ( Georgia) said that climate change, coupled with the global financial crisis, threatened humanity’s short-term goals and its very existence. Addressing climate change was in fact a matter of life or death. A global low-carbon economy was emerging, with policies focused on climate change mitigation, poverty eradication and economic competitiveness. Renewable energy and energy efficiency were essential to stopping climate change, he said, emphasizing that the international community must recognize the urgent need to mitigate the phenomenon.
It was imperative that the high-level United Nations climate change event in September lead to an active negotiation process culminating in a common position in Copenhagen, he said, stressing that climate change was a threat to global security. Frequent and more intense droughts would exacerbate food insecurity, and many countries that did not produce enough food for their populations would face food insecurity. That would increase the demand for imported food, which the world market might not be able to satisfy.
Stressing that the global economic crisis must be urgently addressed through collective global efforts, he also underlined the necessity of supporting recovery and long-term development in developing countries. Aid-for-trade was important in helping the poorest countries defeat trade obstacles, and economic recovery must be sustainable. To ensure that it happened, the international community should work to create more inclusive labour markets, effective labour policies, quality education and relevant training programmes. Every country must design internal policies that would allow rapid job creation.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola) said the global economic slowdown was threatening to undo the progress made by developing countries towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals. The impact of the crisis on African countries was severe. In Angola, which was emerging from a long and destructive conflict, despite an increase in the proportion of gross domestic product derived from exports, the collapse of commodity prices had thwarted efforts to invest in infrastructure and human development, and to build the trade and productive capacities needed to consolidate peace.
He said his country had also witnessed a decline in foreign direct investment and other private flows, as well as a depletion of reserves, while long-standing systemic imbalances continued to have a negative impact on development. The international community must work to reform and strengthen the global financial system and architecture. Concrete action and time-bound commitments were essential to meeting specific needs relating to development assistance, trade, finance, market access, debt and sustainable development.
Food security was a major concern for Africa due to its importance to health, productivity, social and political stability, and economic growth, he said. A universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system would help improve global food security. Stable commodity prices, improved governance, broader and stronger participation by developing countries in international decision-making and norm-setting, as well as sustainable solutions to the debt problems of developing countries, could also improve global food security. The international community must take effective measures to support the efforts of developing countries in implementing national food security plans.
SEIF IDDI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, said his country believed strongly that combating climate change through a sustainable low-emissions approach was a serious undertaking, and the Government would enact a wide range of policies and strategies to mitigate the risks posed by the phenomenon. New and additional financial support was needed to undertake appropriate national action, consistent with the provision of the Climate Change Convention. The United Republic of Tanzania needed further support and financial assistance for the adaptation of green technology.
On the international economic and financial crisis, he said that, while some high- and middle-income countries were already recovering, his own country was taking a longer time to rebound. Real gross domestic product growth was expected to fall to 5 per cent in 2009 from 7.4 per cent the previous year. The Government had stepped up supervision of the banking system, established an early-warning system and continued reforms to cope with the effects of the crisis. Regarding the current system of debt repayment, he said it was quite unfair as countries found themselves indebted as a consequence of old debt acquired in the absence of debt sustainability practices. The international community should resume the discussion on eradicating old debt.
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