Acceptance of Lesser Climate Deal Will Threaten Existence of Small Islands, Second Committee Told, As It Begins Sustainable Development Debate
Acceptance of Lesser Climate Deal Will Threaten Existence of Small Islands, Second Committee Told, As It Begins Sustainable Development Debate
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
27th & 28th Meetings (AM & PM)
Acceptance of Lesser Climate Deal Will Threaten Existence of Small Islands,
Second Committee Told, As It Begins Sustainable Development Debate
If Member States accepted a lesser deal during the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference than what was scientifically needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, they would be threatening the very existence of small island countries, the representative of the Federated States of Micronesia told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it began its consideration of sustainable development today.
Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, he said that, without adequate cuts in emissions, those islands would face severe food production losses caused by heavy rainfalls, erosion and saltwater intrusion into agricultural areas. “The outcome of Copenhagen will determine the quality of our future, and for some of us, if we even have a future. Our survival is not negotiable”, he emphasized.
While small island countries were grateful for the support they had received, he continued, limited technical, financial and human resources precluded full implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. “We need assistance that delivers real outcomes for our people, rather than the hollow pledges of the past.”
Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), agreed, stating: “By reinvigorating our commitment to the new green development paradigm, we will give this earth to our grandchildren the way it was given to us, so we may be remembered as those who were responsible, not those that were cursed for selfishness by the generations to come.” He said the Rio Conventions offered a jumping off point for green development and the end of the year would test the international community’s commitment to combating climate change.
He went on to say that the ingredients for success were on the table. The International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 and the International Year of Forests in 2011 complemented the broader goals of poverty eradication. The proposed 2012 Sustainable Development Summit presented an opportunity to build political momentum for a strengthened international institutional structure for environmental and developmental governance.
In a similar vein, Mexico’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said developed countries had a historic responsibility to the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol. They must honour their commitments to make ambitious emission cuts, and give technology and capacity-building support to developing countries. On the issue of natural disasters, he said that between 2000 and mid-2009 they had cost Latin America and the Caribbean almost $47 billion and left 18,000 people dead. He called for strong international cooperation to set up early-warning systems, contingency plans and adaptation strategies, which could help better manage disasters, save lives and minimize risk.
Turning to desertification, he said soil degradation was a serious problem threatening natural resources and food security, and fuelling poverty and migration. He supported the work of the Convention to Combat Desertification and efforts to apply its Regional Implementation Annex for Latin America and the Caribbean, which included steps to recover soil for agriculture and land for production, and to employ techniques to avoid water scarcity in risk zones.
Sweden’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the international community must take the necessary steps to limit global warming to below 2˚ Celsius. Global greenhouse gases must peak no later than 2020 and fall by at least half by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. He pledged to do his part to make that happen. “The European Union is ready to take its fair share of the global effort by setting an ambitious mitigation target, allowing for offsets and providing its fair share of public support.”
He called for a legally binding agreement from 1 January 2013 that would build on the Kyoto Protocol and incorporate all its essential elements, as well as a financing deal to help developing countries implement ambitious mitigation and adaptation strategies. Furthermore, he supported steps to make the Adaptation Fund operational and to create mechanisms to reduce deforestation and degradation, promote conservation, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries. Particularly worrisome was the fact that 1.6 billion people worldwide lacked access to modern energy and that investment in energy had declined in 2009, making life even more difficult for the poor. A new deal promoting clean technology and effective energy use was essential to rectifying that.
The Committee also heard the introduction of several sustainable development-related reports by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs; Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Actions and Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction; Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Tariq Banuri, Director of the Division for Social Development; Lila Ratsifandrihamanana, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office; Habib El-Habr, Director and Regional Representative, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for West Asia; Juanita Castano, Director of the UNEP New York Office; Tadanori Inomata of the Joint Inspection Unit; and Kenneth Herman of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) Secretariat.
Also taking part in today’s debate were representatives of the Sudan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Belize (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Nepal (on behalf of the Least Developed Countries), Lesotho (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Zambia (on behalf of the African Group), Colombia, United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Kenya, Algeria, India, Guatemala, Namibia, Peru, Nigeria and the Philippines.
The Committee will meet again on 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 3 November, to conclude its debate on sustainable development and take up its agenda item on implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to consider the issues of sustainable development.
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report titled Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/64/259), which provides an update on the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 61/194, 62/188 and 63/211 related to the oil slick on Lebanese shores resulting from Israel’s bombing of the El Jiyeh power plant.
In the report, the Secretary-General urges Israel to assume responsibility for promptly and adequately compensating the Government of Lebanon and calls on States, international organizations and institutions to continue their support for rehabilitation efforts.
Annexed to the report is a letter dated 10 December 2008 from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which discusses the oil spill’s implications for the Lebanese economy, as well as progress in providing Lebanon with technical and financial support for clean-up and rehabilitation operations, and in setting up the Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Fund.
Also before the Committee is a Letter from the Permanent Representative of Syria addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/C.2/64/10), dated 28 October 2009, which describes that country’s position regarding the Secretary-General’s report on the oil slick.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on the Management review of environmental governance within the United Nations system (document A/64/83–E/2009/83), which identifies measures for promoting enhanced coordination, coherence and synergies between Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the United Nations system. It makes several recommendations and notes the lack of an overarching authority for global environmental governance within the United Nations system, pointing out that UNEP does not effectively exercise its original mandate to coordinate all of the Organization’s environmental initiatives. It also emphasizes that it is essential that organizations with environmental responsibilities have effective mechanisms for discussing and agreeing on a holistic approach to ensure more productive and cost-effective responses to emerging major challenges.
A note by the Secretary-General (document A/64/83/Add.1 – E/2009/Add.1) transmits his comments and those of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), whose members, while supporting many of the recommendations in the above-mentioned report, also express concerns about implementation.
The Committee also had before it a letter by the Permanent Representative of Namibia addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/64/81) transmitting four resolutions adopted by the120th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Addis Ababa on 20 April 2009. The resolutions are titled “The role of parliaments in mitigating the social and political impact of the international economic and financial crisis on the most vulnerable sectors of the global community, especially in Africa”; “Advancing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and securing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-ban Treaty: the role of parliaments”: “Climate change, sustainable development models and renewable energies” and “Freedom of expression and the right to information”.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report titled Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summits on Sustainable Development (document A/64/275), which, in addition to an update on implementation, includes the views of Member States regarding a high-level event on sustainable development. It recommends that Governments, United Nations agencies and major groups deepen their commitments to sustainable development by redoubling their efforts to implement Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
It also calls upon donor Governments and international financial institutions to support developing countries in the areas of transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and a Ten-Year Framework of Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns. Further, the report encourages States, in collaboration with the United Nations and major groups, including business and industry, to increase the effectiveness of national sustainable development strategies.
The Secretary-General’s report titled Preparations for the International Year of Forests, 2011 (document A/64/274), highlights significant activities organized by Governments, the United Nations and others to observe the Year and offers recommendations such as the establishment of national coordinating committees and the creation of voluntary partnerships among other steps.
A report of the Secretary-General titled Agricultural technology for development (document A/64/258) details how the developing and developed worlds have different access to agricultural technologies. It sets out policy recommendations for the development and deployment of such technologies, concluding that the issue should be incorporated into national sustainable development strategies. It also states that the Commission on Sustainable Development called for a green revolution that uses science-based approaches and local indigenous knowledge to enhance agricultural production while protecting natural resources and limiting the use of pollutants.
Further, according to the report, the Commission called for mobilization of funding for research and development of drought-tolerant seed varieties and for investment in agriculture as a way to address climate change. The Commission highlighted the importance of additional financial resources for agricultural development assistance, in particular to support a green revolution in Africa.
The Secretary-General’s report titled International Year of Sanitation, 2008 (document A/64/169) states that despite significant efforts by Governments, organizations and other stakeholders, progress towards reaching the Millennium target of halving the percentage of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 has been slow and uneven. Forty-one per cent of the global population -- some 2.5 billion people –- still lack access to basic sanitation facilities.
During the Year, stakeholders galvanized the international community’s efforts and thinking to work more effectively and coherently, and inspired wide-ranging actions and partnerships through advocacy, according to the report. That momentum is expected to continue with the key message that sanitation matters and is an important development issue. In the future, however, sanitation issues must be approached in a much broader context that encompasses basic sanitation services, sewerage, and wastewater treatment and reuse.
The report concludes that most developing countries cannot achieve their sanitation goals without international donor support in the form of official development assistance (ODA), grants and support to implement the goals. Microcredit programmes should be expanded, as should large-scale private-sector investment for urban sewage and wastewater treatment systems. The methodology and data collection of the Joint Monitoring Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for estimating sanitation coverage should be strengthened to better assess progress towards achieving the Millennium target on sanitation, and it should incorporate robust gender-disaggregated data.
A letter from the Permanent Representative of Israel addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/64/301) and dated 7 August 2009 transmits General Assembly resolution 62/190 titled “Agricultural technology for development”.
Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General titled follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/64/278), which gives an overview of arrangements for the September 2010 high-level review of progress in addressing the vulnerabilities of small island developing States by implementing the Mauritius Strategy. It also gives an account of those States’ continuing efforts, with the support of the United Nations and the international community, to follow up and implement the Strategy, and to address environmental, economic and social challenges. The report concludes that the scaling up of international support, particularly through concessionary financing, technology transfer and capacity-building, would enhance those States’ efforts to achieve sustainable development.
The Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/64/280) provides an overview of progress in implementing the International Strategy, in response to General Assembly resolution 63/216. Included in an annex are details on national, regional and international efforts to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action. The report notes good progress in some aspects of implementation, such as improvements in institutional capacities and disaster preparedness, but calls for speeding up implementation of all the Framework’s goals. New information in the recently launched Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction indicates that growing exposure to risk is outstripping current abilities to reduce vulnerability.
According to the report, investment is urgently needed to address disaster-risk drivers: rural poverty and vulnerability, unplanned urban growth and declining ecosystems. The second session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held in June 2009, called for action to integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts and to strengthen community-level action. It discussed several specific targets, such as undertaking national assessments of the safety of existing education and health care facilities by 2011, and new initiatives to scale up investment in that area.
In the report, the Secretary-General encourages Member States to develop mechanisms for disaster risk reduction and national and local risk assessment, link disaster risk reduction and adaptation policies to national strategies in all sectors, especially in land-use and settlement planning, critical infrastructure development, and management of natural resources, health and education. He also calls on them to increase funds to reduce disaster risks and take steps to halve the loss of life from disasters by 2015, when the Hyogo Framework concludes, as well as recommends that States develop investment benchmarks, such as allocating 10 per cent of funding for humanitarian relief and reconstruction funds, 1 per cent for national development funding and 30 per cent for national climate change adaptation.
A note by the Secretary-General on implementation of United Nations environmental conventions (document A/64/202) transmits the reports of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The report of the Climate Change Convention gives an account of the December 2008 Poznan Conference on climate change and its follow-up, including progress in negotiations leading up to the conference scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen, and on implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol. The report on the Desertification Convention describes the 2008-2018 strategic plan and framework to implement the Convention, the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development and its preparatory process, and observance of the 2009 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, among other measures. The report of the Convention on Biological Diversity describes preparations for the fifth and tenth preparatory meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, to be held in 2010, as well as preparations for the General Assembly’s high-level segment on biodiversity, also in that year.
A note by the Secretary-General on the Report of the Joint Inspection Unit on the assessment of the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (document A/64/379) transmits the Unit’s 2009 report titled “Assessment of the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification” (document JIU/REP/2009/4), which assesses the Mechanism’s activities, including in the field, and the monitoring of its resource mobilization. It also discusses the Mechanism within the United Nations governance structure, lessons learned, its partnerships with other international organizations, its role in promoting synergies between the Rio conventions, and institutional options to effectively implement the Convention.
The report of the UNEP Governing Council, titled United Nations Environment Programme (document A/64/25), summarizes discussions at the twenty-fifth session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the Programme in Nairobi in February. On the subject of a greener economy, delegates explored challenges as well as opportunities in the context of the global crises and suggested that there was a need to tilt the policy playing field towards the green economy. With regard to trade and finance, delegates said that environmental standards should not be an impediment to market access but rather should promote trade and market access, especially for developing countries and those with economies in transition.
Delegates noted that there was a need for job creation, capacity-building and investments in technology, the report states. New regulation would require strong leadership, but opportunities existed to turn carbon subsidies into green incentives. The Organization should coordinate national and international efforts to help States tackle the challenges of food, energy and water supplies. There were also opportunities for involving the private sector, especially in investment in the transport sector and in clean technologies.
The report also notes several governance challenges and suggests that there is a need for a multi-thematic process of strengthening international environmental governance so as to develop a system that takes into account the interconnected nature of environmental challenges from ecosystem services to climate change and development.
A report of the Secretary-General report titled Sustainable mountain development (document A/64/222) describes the status of mountain development at the national and international levels, details the challenges ahead and provides suggestions for the promotion and sustenance of sustainable development in mountain regions around the world. It notes significant progress in terms of awareness and in the creation and strengthening of institutional arrangements, but cautions that there is much work ahead on the issue, especially in the context of climate change, soaring food prices and urban migration. It recommends that Governments increase investment and funding for sustainable development in the world’s mountain regions and encourages States to ensure that policies and programmes are in place to respond comprehensively to soaring food prices and related challenges for mountain communities, which are often the hardest hit.
The Secretary-General’s report titled promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (document A/64/277) provides a global overview of new and renewable sources energy, concluding that they play a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gasses, ensuring energy security and achieving sustainable development. The report states that there is still an urgent need to improve access to reliable, affordable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy, especially in poor and peri-urban areas. While the share of energy from new and renewable sources has increased significantly in recent years, the total share from those sources remains far below their potential, and there is an urgent need to tap new and renewable energy sources.
According to the report, a global feed-in tariff programme could be a possible future international policy tool, but any policy needs to stimulate investment and sustained financing. A global “Green new deal”, comprising national “green” stimulus packages in developed and developing countries, among other things, could be a promising way towards a sustainable future. The report also highlights the urgent need for a binding international agreement by year’s end to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change, and stresses the need for a paradigm shift.
SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that only an integrated approach would ensure progress at a time when global unemployment was at an all-time high, more people were being pushed into poverty and food scarcity getting worse. Hunger and extreme poverty remained a reality for many in the developing world and a “global landscape of inequality” still characterized world affairs, he said, noting that climate change compounded those challenges and much would be at stake at the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
Addressing those challenges required a substantial investment, he said, emphasizing that the world could not afford to let the economic crisis impede the fight against climate change, the effects of which were expensive and detrimental to development goals. Member States should pay more attention to disaster-risk reduction as the world’s ecosystems were under heightened pressure and an unprecedented biodiversity loss had already taken place. The convergence of these crises demanded a collective response and the challenge for countries was to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production. Calling on the developed countries to help the developing world through the transfer of technology and knowledge and by supporting green investments, he said the international community shared the responsibility to create solutions that would preserve the environment while encouraging economic growth.
Introduction of Reports
MARGARETA WAHLSTRÖM, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Actions and Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/64/280), saying its key message was that despite encouraging progress in implementing some aspects of the Hyogo Framework, expedited, scaled up action was needed in all priority areas to reduce significantly the impact of disasters by the 2015 target date.
She said the report noted the substantial global increase in disaster risk due to deficient urban and local governance, livelihood vulnerability in rural areas and declining ecosystems. The growing exposure to risk was outstripping the current ability to reduce vulnerability. To date, only 57 countries had set up national platforms and 120 had designated official focal points to implement and monitor progress in implementing the Hyogo Framework. The convening of the second session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was a notable step for enhancing information-sharing, coordination and monitoring of progress among stakeholders, but investment in disaster risk reduction was far from satisfactory, she concluded.
LUC GNACADJA, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 63/218 and of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (document A/64/202), saying that the Conference of States Parties to the Convention, held in September and October, had adopted 36 decisions. Among them were decisions on mechanisms to facilitate regional coordination to implement the Convention; reshaping the operations of the Committee on Science and Technology to set up a global authority on science and technology pertaining to desertification, land degradation and drought; and on adopting a minimum set of impact indicators aimed at setting targets to effectively halt and reverse desertification and land degradation while mitigating the effects of drought. The report made several recommendations, including on the need for timely and effectively implementation of the Convention.
Mr. GNACADJA, speaking on behalf of Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, went on to say that the outcome of the 2008 Poznan Conference was a clear and important milestone on the road to Copenhagen, and that success at the upcoming Climate Conference hinged on getting industrialized countries to agree on individual emission reduction targets as well as enabling developing countries to take appropriate mitigation actions, among other things. Only four days of real negotiation time remained before Copenhagen and it was critically important to focus on realistic but ambitious goals appropriate to the scale of the problem.
TARIQ BANURI, Director, Division for Social Development, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the implementation of Agenda 21 (document A/64/275); agricultural technology for development (document A/64/258); the International Year of Sanitation, 2008 (document A/64/169); implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/64/278); and on the promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (document A/64/277).
Summarizing the five reports in the context of a new policy landscape, he described problems and activities in terms of sustainable development, noting that there was a growing recognition of ecological limits as well as the social necessity of equity. Sustainable development was a bridge between environmental and development issues, connecting North and South as well as the private and public sectors, he said.
LILA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, Director, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on sustainable mountain development (document A/64/222), describing mountains as fragile ecosystems and early indicators of climate change. Most of the impoverished and food insecure people in the world, who had been pushed further into despair because of the food crisis, lived in mountainous regions, she said. However, despite increased recognition of mountain issues, significant restraints remained to alleviating poverty, averting environmental degradation and achieving the Millennium Goals in mountain areas. The pressures of industry, transport, mining, agriculture and global climate change were threatening fragile mountain ecosystems.
The report showed that much of the substantive work that would make a real difference in the lives of mountain people would be done by countries themselves, she said, noting that in recent years, there had been a steady increase of activities and initiatives as well as support from the international community. In 2009, for example, Kyrgyzstan had adopted a new law that had radically changed the country’s pasture management system by transferring responsibility to local users. Since the publication of the last report on the subject, significant progress had been made, though much remained to be done. Higher levels of funding and investment were needed, as were enhanced coordination and collaboration among States, particularly in the context of climate change, food price hikes and urban migration.
HABIB EL-HABR, Director and Regional Representative, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for West Asia, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/64/259), saying it complemented information in previous reports on the findings of the Secretary-General’s Inter-Agency Team deployed to Lebanon and provided updates on four key areas: the oil spill’s impact on livelihoods and on Lebanon’s economy; progress made in compensating Lebanon for the oil spill; cleaning up and rehabilitating the affected area; and setting up the Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Trust Fund.
He said two new studies had been made. The general bio-monitoring survey conducted in the Palm Island Nature Reserve with financing by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development, revealed that the oil spill had caused some sea birds to die and that some affected gulls and cormorants had been cleaned and released. A survey conducted in November and December by a Greek environmental engineering consultancy firm, and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency, revealed that 12 sites along the Lebanese shoreline from Tyre to the northern border, still needed to be cleaned.
He said the report noted that many sites were still stained by the oil spill, but weathering and natural effects would ease the staining. The issue of responsibility and compensation to Lebanon and Syria had yet to be resolved. The spill was not covered by any of the international oil-spill compensation funds, and thus merited special attention. Towards that end, the Secretary-General was finalizing the mechanism under which the Restoration Trust Fund would operate.
JUANITA CASTANO, Director, United Nations Environment Programme New York Office, introduced the report of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum held in Nairobi in February, noting that participants had tackled how to deal with the challenges of the past year and a half. They had discussed the transition towards a “green economy”, which –- as defined by UNEP -- described an economic system that acknowledged the importance of healthy ecosystems as the backbone of economic and social well-being. The Governing Council had also adopted a number of resolutions to assess and address the effects of environmental change.
TADANORI INOMATA, Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the Unit’s report (document A/64/83 – E/2009/83), saying it contained a management review of environmental governance within the United Nations in addition to 12 recommendations. He said the current framework of international environmental governance was weakened by institutional fragmentation and specialization, and by the absence of an integrated approach to environmental issues and sustainable development. The Unit recommended that the General Assembly establish a clear understanding of the division of labour among development agencies, UNEP and the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).
KENNETH HERMAN, United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) Secretariat, introduced the comments of the Secretary-General and CEB members (document A/64/83/Add.1) on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit, saying it provided an independent and comprehensive review. Its findings and recommendations added to the growing momentum for practical ways to improve environmental governance. While CEB members generally supported the spirit of many of the recommendations, they noted that the challenges lay in the details.
The CEB members noted that the report and its recommendations could have benefited from wider consultation and reflection, including on possible ways forward, he said. It could have been strengthened by taking more fully into account the range of General Assembly and Economic and Social Council resolutions and documentation as well as the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development, among other United Nations bodies involved in sustainable development. The report presented a good historical overview of developments in the multilateral environmental agreement environment, in addition to reasons for creating bodies like the Environment Management Group, but it did not sufficiently reflect the dynamics of important ongoing processes and debates, including at the UNEP Governing Council and the Assembly.
NADIA OSMAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the economic crisis still reverberated in the developing countries, cancelling out hard-won gains and sending millions more people into poverty. With respect to the implementation of Agenda 21, the Group of 77 had adopted decisions regarding agriculture, rural development, drought and desertification, among other things. Concerning the Mauritius Strategy, she reiterated the need for the allocation of appropriate resources to the Small Island Developing States Unit.
Turning to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, she voiced support for the Strategy and its mandate to promote public awareness and commitment, expand networks and partnerships, and improve knowledge about the causes of disasters and the risk-reduction options. The Group of 77 called for the further development of early warning systems and reiterated that climate change debates should take place in the context of sustainable development. On implementation of the Climate Change Convention, the Group of 77 called on the international community to increase substantially its allocation of resources to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in order to help the efforts of developing countries to combat desertification and reclaim degraded land.
Noting that the General Assembly had declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, she urged the relevant Working Group to complete its work on the fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources as soon as possible. The development of new and renewable energy sources was also critical, and the Group of 77 supported the transfer of technology from developed to developing countries. In conclusion, she said stressed the importance of both financial and technical assistance in order for UNEP to succeed.
JAKOB STRÖM (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, emphasized that there was no alternative to a successful outcome in Copenhagen, noting that the imminent threat of global warming and the opportunities within reach at the upcoming Conference highlighted the relevance of the Committee’s work. Climate change was the most urgent issue on the Committee’s agenda, and the European Union was determined to work with partners to reverse the loss of biodiversity, safeguard ecosystem services, promote sustainable land and water management, all while stepping up efforts to eradicate poverty.
Voicing support for the 2012 High-level Event on Sustainable Development, he said he looked forward to forthcoming discussions on developing the agenda for that event. He also called on Member States to take national action to implement and monitor the important conclusions reached at the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. To address climate change, the European Union called for a legally binding agreement from 1 January 2013 that would build on the Kyoto Protocol and incorporate all its essential elements. A deal on financing, based on a gradual but significant increase in public and private funds, was needed in Copenhagen to help developing countries implement ambitious mitigation and adaptation strategies.
“The European Union is ready to take its fair share of the global effort by setting an ambitious mitigation target, allowing for offsets and providing its fair share of public support,” he said. The European Union supported operationalizing the Adaptation Fund, progress in discussions to set up mechanisms to reduce deforestation and degradation, promote conservation, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries. The international community must take the necessary action to limit global warming to below 2˚ Celsius, he said, emphasizing that global greenhouse gases must peak no later than 2020 and be reduced by at least half by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
Access to modern energy was critical, yet unattainable for 1.6 billion people and the decline in investments in energy during 2009 had exacerbated the problems of the poor, he said. That called for a new deal to promote clean technology and the most effective use of energy. The International Energy Agency projected that the share of primary world energy from renewables would remain at 13 per cent between 2005 and 2030, but the potential for renewables was much greater. Time-bound national and regional targets for increasing energy efficiency, and access to affordable energy, were essential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The European Union was deeply concerned about the ongoing, unprecedented human-induced depletion of species, ecoystems and genes. Vigorous efforts were needed to reverse that trend, and to support implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
BUDI BOWOLEKSONO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that, while many benefits had been gained from the implementation of Agenda 21, the hurdles ahead were formidable and required a global paradigm shift. Already, “we are beginning to see the merging of what were once considered incompatible goals of the environmental agenda with economic growth”, he said, noting that the proposed 2012 Sustainable Development Summit presented an opportunity to build political momentum for a strengthened international institutional structure for environmental and developmental governance.
He said the Rio Conventions offered a jumping off point for green development and the end of the year would test the international community’s commitment to combat climate change. The ingredients for success were on the table. The International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 and the International Year of Forests in 2011 complemented the broader goals of poverty eradication. The energy crisis had highlighted the need to promote and develop new and renewable sources of energy.
Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said many countries in the ASEAN region had suffered extreme weather events, which had halted development. Improved cooperation among relevant stakeholders was crucial in terms of getting timely responses, and early-warning networks provided a critical method to avoid the worst consequences of disasters. Finally, he noted that the international community would be doing its part to create a better world. “By reinvigorating our commitment to the new green development paradigm, we will give this earth to our grandchildren the way it was given to us, so we may be remembered as those who were responsible, not those that were cursed for selfishness by the generations to come.”
JANINE COYE FELSON ( Belize), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), described climate change as a fundamental challenge to the sustainable development of the region’s States, with a cost that had been estimated at 11.3 per cent of their combined gross domestic product. That figure could reach 14 per cent by 2025, rising to 39 per cent by 2050, 45 per cent by 2075 and 63 per cent by 2100.
She said regional Heads of Government had met in July to specify targets for medium- and longer-term stabilization of greenhouse gases and outline a strategy to address sustainable adaptation and mitigation, which they had endorsed. However, “the effectiveness of our response to climate change will ultimately depend on the sum of all our actions”, she warned, urging Member States to work towards a successful outcome at the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
Turning to new and renewable energy sources, she said the region depended largely on imported petroleum –- a dependency that made it highly susceptible to energy price volatility and which was detrimental to the environment. The CARICOM countries had developed a regional strategy to increase the use of renewable energy, but the success of such programmes depended on a strong international framework.
BENITO JIMENEZ SAUMA ( Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said challenges remained to the true achievement of sustainable development based on the three development pillars: economic, social and environmental. Brazil’s proposal to hold a Rio+20 Summit had important political merit as it could lead to tangible results. Next year, the international community should reach the goal of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss based on the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. To achieve that goal by 2015, the international community must strengthen efforts at all levels, increase international cooperation, and develop concrete proposals. In that context, the Rio group highlighted decision IX/20 adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention regarding options for cooperation to create marine-protected areas outside national jurisdictions.
Turning to desertification, he said it affected 25 per cent of the Latin American and Caribbean territory, or 5 million square kilometres. Soil degradation was a serious problem in the region and was linked to climate change. Desertification would exacerbate the vulnerability of communities living in those areas, especially indigenous communities that, in the short term, would suffer the loss natural resources and food security while facing increasing poverty and migration. The Rio Group supported the work of the Desertification Convention and efforts to apply its Regional Implementation Annex for Latin America and the Caribbean. That would allow the region to continue to implement measures and programmes on soil recovery for agriculture; land for production; techniques to avoid water scarcity in risk zones; and access to financial mechanisms for the provision of resources to mitigate and reverse desertification.
While the region had contributed very little to climate change, it suffered disproportionately from its impact, particularly poor communities lacking the resources or technology for adaptation, he said. Developed countries must make a sincere compromise in line with their historic responsibility to the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol by committing themselves to ambitious emission cuts and to financing adaptation, technology transfer, international cooperation and capacity-building in developing countries. The annual loss of lives and resources due to disasters was another cause of concern, he said, noting that, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean had cost nearly $47 billion between 2000 and mid-2009, affecting 46.6 million people and leaving 18,000 dead. The Rio Group called for strong cooperation in establishing early-warning systems, contingency plans and adaptation strategies, which could help better manage disasters, save lives and minimize risk.
JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia), speaking on behalf of Pacific small island developing States, said sustainable development was a critical topic, especially because the region was particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy had been inadequate. While small-island countries were grateful for the support they had received, limited technical, financial and human resources precluded full implementation of the Strategy. “We need assistance that delivers real outcomes for our people, rather than the hollow pledges of the past,” he stressed.
Reminding delegates that the emission cuts sought were based on the scientific evidence of what was needed, he said that if other Member States accepted a lesser deal in Copenhagen, they would be asking people in small-island States to agree to severe food production losses caused by heavy rainfalls, erosion and saltwater intrusion into agricultural areas. “The outcome of Copenhagen will determine the quality of our future, and for some of us, if we even have a future. Our survival is not negotiable,” he emphasized.
In the Pacific, a number of renewable energy sources were available and projects had been pursued to improve their uses, he said. In general, the importance of renewable energy could hardly be overstated, and many Pacific islands had made commitments to increase its use, even though the region’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions was negligible. Appropriate help in the realms of financing and assistance was critical.
MANI PRASAD BHATTARAI ( Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, said sustainable development in that category of countries would require sincere implementation of all agreed international commitments, particularly the Brussels Programme of Action. The upcoming Fourth Conference of the Least Developed Countries, to be held in Turkey in 2011, should be taken as an opportunity to strengthen the global partnership for sustainable development in the least developed countries. It should be well prepared and successfully concluded through active engagement by partners, the United Nations, multilateral agencies and the least developed countries. Developed countries must take concrete steps to increase financial aid to developing countries, reduce or cancel their debt, curb trade protectionism, open markets, transfer technology and help build capacity in those countries.
Extreme poverty in least developed countries was a major obstacle to sustainable development and must be addressed, he emphasized, adding that the 2010 review of the Millennium Development Goals should aim to further galvanize support for sustainable development in the least developed countries. An increased international partnership for investment in sustainable and long-term agricultural development was essential for achieving food security, as was greater market access for agricultural products from least developed countries and stable commodity prices.
He said that least developed countries, many of which were small island developing States, needed a sustainable framework within which to address the adaptation and financial requirements of coping with the negative impact of climate change for which they were least responsible. Increased availability of resources and technology for adaptation and broad participation by least developed countries in clean development mechanisms should be part of the sustainable development agenda and negotiations in any climate change deal. “The post-Kyoto climate change agreement must not accept compromises on the sustainable development objectives of the least developed countries,” he warned.
MOTLATSI RAMAFOLE ( Lesotho), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the contribution of mountains to development could not be overemphasized. They were home to 10 per cent of the world’s population, and were frequently considered “water towers” because they contained most of the world’s river sources. Mountains contributed to almost 30 per cent of global run-off and supplied water for domestic purposes, agriculture and industrial use as well as power generation. However, mountain ecosystems were very fragile, and every day, climate change, environmental degradation, exploitative mining and unsound agricultural practices depleted the richness of their biological heritage. Natural and human activities exposed mountains and their inhabitants to the socio-economic ills of development, notably poverty, unemployment, human displacement, poor health and land degradation.
Targeted multisectoral interventions were needed to ensure conservation of mountain ecosystems and to maximize the benefits from sustainable use of mountain resources, he said. They included promotion of integrated watershed development programmes through the effective participation of local people in preventing further ecological disturbances, and an integrated approach to conservation of the natural resource base: land, water, plants animals and human resources. They also included creation of early-warning systems and disaster-response teams and promotion of alternative livelihood opportunities, particularly through development of employment schemes aimed at increasing the productive base.
Institutional support was needed to tackle the challenges of improving agricultural production and productivity on a sustained basis, he said. While mountain regions shared many problems, the solutions to them were often specific to particular micro-niches, even within the same area. For example, grains, horticulture and the cultivation of specialized plants for medicinal purposes required careful selection in order to ensure their sustainability. Those practices required field-based scientific knowledge and the development of human-resource capacity.
MUYAMBO SIPANGULE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the region’s countries were committed to responding effectively, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), to the challenges of the economic, financial and food crises threatening to reverse decades of reforms geared towards making Africa more attractive to private capital and towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, Africa’s development must be aligned with each country’s priorities, particularly in coordination with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. In addition, the Commission on Sustainable Development must be strengthened and emphasize actions supporting the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Expressing support for convening the “Rio+20” Conference in 2012 to review implementation of Agenda 21, he noted the increasing vulnerability of small island developing States, saying the African Group placed a high priority on implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. The Group called on developed countries to honour their commitments to increase financial and technical support to the developing world. The African Group also emphasized the need for the international community to support implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, aimed at building the resilience of nations and communities to disaster.
He said the African Common Position (2008) had identified an urgent need for enhanced human, institutional and systematic capacity-building initiatives for climate change mitigation and the provision of adequate and predictable financial and technical assistance for adaptation projects. It had also proposed the idea of partnerships premised on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The Secretary-General’s initiative on Climate Change 2009 should contribute to promoting a united response to that issue, and ongoing negotiations to promote a global consensus on climate change should contribute to a successful conclusion to the forthcoming Conference in Copenhagen. He stressed that the climate problem could only be solved in the context of Africa’s development needs.
Africa was severely affected by desertification and land degradation, with some countries losing more than 50 per cent of their territory, he said, calling for adequate and predictable resources and the redoubling of efforts to implement the Climate Change Convention. Regarding the Convention on Biological Diversity, it was vital to achieve a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, in keeping with the commitments made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Negotiations on the international regime on access and benefit-sharing must be completed within the established time frame. Biodiversity conservation could not be achieved without sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from genetic resources.
He said UNEP could provide leadership in articulating, facilitating and supporting a response to current environmental challenges, putting the special needs of developing countries in perspective. In relation to the medium-term strategy, he emphasized the importance of implementing the Bali Strategic Plan for Capacity Building and Technology Transfer and the need for development partners to provide the necessary resources to that end. UNEP’s resources must also be increased to address its mandate efficiently, he said, calling on the Organization to increase the Programme’s allocations from the regular budget and urging donors to increase their voluntary contributions. In conclusion, he said that increasing the global share of renewable energy sources, and increasing their contribution to the total energy supply, was an urgent imperative.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) noted the grave challenges facing the world such as dependence on scarce natural resources, environmental degradation and the lack of capacity to assimilate and counter those consequences. Climate change most clearly summed up those challenges and there was a need to produce timely, comprehensive solutions based on shared but differentiated responsibilities.
She said that for her country, the fight against climate change was a national priority. Colombia had suffered the highest rate of natural disasters in Latin America over the last 30 years. The natural disasters of 2008 had affected more than 1 million people and damaged the productive sector. State investment in natural disaster prevention and management since 2005 had exceeded $1.8 billion. Colombia had 28 islands with more than 100,000 inhabitants, a long coastline, mountain ecosystems as well as the world’s second largest biodiversity reserve.
Colombia’s average emissions per capita were lower than the Latin American average, which in turn was lower than the world average, she said. The country was a net producer of oxygen and a small contributor of carbon dioxide. It had worked to protect more than 578,000 square kilometres of rainforest, and its “Family Forest Guards” programme involved more than 90,000 rural families in a collective endeavour to protect forests and monitor their ecosystems. More than $340 million had been invested in that programme, which was supervised by the United Nations.
Incentives for emission reduction and reversing the spread of deforestation and degradation should be reflected appropriately in a climate change regime, she said. The General Assembly should be clear about sending an encouraging message that reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive, just and ambitious agreement in Copenhagen. She stressed the need for a legally binding regime for access to genetic resources in order to combat bio-piracy and protect the biodiversity heritage of countries like Colombia.
MICHAEL SNOWDEN ( United States) said climate change was a crisis requiring a global solution and meeting the challenge was a top priority of President Obama. The United States had taken historic action at home, including a clean energy investment of more than $80 billion in its economic stimulus package and new vehicle efficiency standards. The President was also working with Congress to advance comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Legislation that had passed through the House of Representatives would reduce carbon emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 per cent by 2050. Similar legislation was moving through the Senate. The United States was committed to reaching a strong international agreement to combat climate change and put the world on a path to a clean energy future. Its delegates to the Climate Change Convention were working hard to find consensus.
He said his country was also actively creating policies to advance energy and climate change security and would promote economic recovery efforts, accelerate job creation and drive clean energy manufacturing. Among other actions, the United States had committed more than $80 billion for clean energy investment domestically, and was working internationally to promote new and renewable sources of energy. The 2008 Washington International Renewable Energy Conference built on the 2004 Bonn and the 2005 Beijing Conferences in bringing together world leaders in the field of renewable energy from Governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The United States had also become a signatory to the newly-launched International Renewable Energy Agency in 2009.
The work of the Commission on Sustainable Development continued to be a success story for the United Nations, he continued. In the years since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Commission had refined itself into a body focused on enabling concrete results on the ground. There had been substantial discussion of a possible “Rio+20” conference on sustainable development, and while the United States welcomed continued work towards sustainable development and discussion on that particular topic, it continued to have questions on the necessity of such a conference. There were already a large number of agreements governing ongoing sustainable development efforts and it was necessary to ensure that another meeting did not detract valuable attention from those priorities. It was also necessary to consider whether a high-level meeting was the most effective use of limited resources. Above all, the United States advocated continuing progress towards existing commitments and spending resources on actions that produced results directly.
LIU YUYIN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that in order to tackle the unprecedented threats to progress on sustainable development, developed countries should honour their commitments to increase assistance and transfer environmentally-friendly technology to developing countries. For that purpose, monitoring and facilitation mechanisms should be set up, the Commission on Sustainable Development should be strengthened and the effectiveness of the whole United Nations system should be enhanced. Because developing countries must build up their ability to follow their own best course of sustainable development, China supported Brazil’s convening of a summit in 2012 to review implementation of Agenda 21. China was involved in an “all out effort” to develop itself in a people-centred, comprehensive, balanced and sustainable manner.
He said the small island developing States in particular should be helped to meet their particular development challenges, with the United Nations playing the lead role in partnerships towards that end. China pledged its continuing efforts to strengthen international cooperation under the Mauritius Strategy, and, in addition, called for enhanced cooperation on realizing the Hyogo Framework, stressing the importance of the principles of “humanity, neutrality and fairness” in disaster relief, post-disaster development and disaster-reduction capacity-building. In respect of climate change, he pointed out that his country was faced with the multiple challenges of economic development while also laying great emphasis on sustainability and national action against climate change. China was ready to continue to work with others in that effort. To maintain momentum in the fight against desertification, developed countries must honour their commitments under the related Convention, and in order to foster sustainable energy security, dialogue must be strengthened and commitments to the universal utilization of renewable energy fulfilled.
TARIQ AL-FAYEZ ( Saudi Arabia) said his country was working efficiently to secure the increasing global need for energy through expansion of production capacity by encouraging private and public investments. It had pursued industrial development while protecting the environment through by improving the use of fossil fuels, among other things. Developing energy-efficient technologies would be key in confronting environment problems, including climate change. The international community must therefore adopt appropriate actions to address climate change, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities between developed and developing countries, as set forth in the Climate Change Convention.
Discussions during the current session should not be limited to underlining challenges and obstacles, but should also include the best ways to improve implementation, he said. United Nations agencies and programmes should play a key role in implementation, which would be impossible unless those programmes reflected the priorities identified by the recipient Governments, whereby the agencies should avoid duplication and overlap. Saudi Arabia hoped the outcome of the Committee’s deliberations would include the adoption of practical policies that could overcome obstacles to sustainable development.
SI SOON BENG (Singapore), describing the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Mauritius Strategy as timely, said that despite some advances, the challenges faced by small island developing States had become more intractable in the last few years. To attain sustainable development, there was an urgent need for the international community to scale up support in terms of both technology and capacity-building. Singapore was committed to sharing its experience and knowledge.
He said that his country, a relatively low-lying, densely populated island in the tropics, was also at risk from climate-change fallout and already suffered from a scarcity of water, challenges that made environmental planning necessary. Water scarcity had driven Singapore to develop an integrated approach, which had not only met long-term water-demand needs but had also added resilience against the uncertainties of climate change. This year, Singapore had detailed key environment goals and initiatives in its sustainable development blueprint titled “A Lively and Liveable Singapore: Strategies for Sustainable Growth”. One initiative was to reduce per capita water consumption and another was to make recycling more prevalent.
ANTHONY ANDANJE ( Kenya) said that social, economic and environmental problems presented a need to review current policies and that, given the numerous challenges facing the world, comprehensive sustainable development offered a way forward. With respect to disaster risk reduction, Kenya had put in place a national mechanism to complement regional and international strategies. However, Kenya’s limited resources posed a serious threat to implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action. Climate change already affected the country in real and noticeable ways. After a long drought, many areas now faced severe flooding that threatened lives, property and infrastructure.
Praising efforts by the Climate Change Convention, he called upon Member States to augment those efforts by providing financial support, building capacity and transferring technology to those in need. With respect to protecting biodiversity, the objective of significantly reducing the current rate of loss by 2010 was a noble goal towards which all countries should work. Concerning international environment governance, he said the current system -– characterized by a multiplicity of multilateral agreements -– was costly, ineffective and inadequate, and expressed hope that discussions would help change that.
MOHAMMED BELAOURA ( Algeria) said that implementing the sustainable development objectives adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development was a major challenge that would grow in the next few years. Despite notable progress and efforts to strengthen cooperation and the technical assistance capacity of the United Nations system, the world’s most vulnerable people still faced poverty, malnutrition, natural disasters and pandemics. Urgent action was needed, given the current economic crisis, to achieve sustainable development and ensure that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 was not compromised. There was a need for a comprehensive approach, with the broad participation of all stakeholders, he said, noting that the May session of the Commission on Sustainable Development had given practical guidelines for implementing Agenda 21.
He his country had made efforts to improve its vegetable base and noted that desertification had affected 32 million hectares of land. In 2006, the Government had launched a programme to classify different protected areas, preserve soils and combat desertification. There was a need for better coordination among the five subregions in terms of technology and knowledge transfer. Algeria supported greater resources for the Convention against Desertification to implement certain African projects and the 2008-2018 strategic plan.
Algeria had been one of the first countries to ratify the Climate Change Convention, he said. It had adopted a ground-breaking law, which classified climate change as a hazard facing everyone. It had started programmes to produce renewable and clean energies. For example, the country was using solar energy for food production to 20 villages, building a hybrid 150-megawatt solar power station in Hassi R’mel, and a 10-megawatt ethanol farm in Tindouf. Algeria considered land planning an integral part of combating climate change and protecting desert areas and ecosystems, promoting the development of high plateau regions, and managing waste.
KHAGEN DAS ( India) said he supported the proposed 2012 Rio+20 event in Brazil to review progress on implementing the sustainable development agenda. Also, next year’s five-year review of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy should lead to concrete actions in turning international attention to the special challenges that climate change posed to small island developing States and the increasing devastation of natural disasters. India had contributed to the development efforts of small island States in the spirit of South-South solidarity and would continue to do so in areas such as capacity-building, disaster preparedness, adaptation and enhancing resilience. However, efforts by fellow developing countries could not replace the fulfilment of commitments by the developed world.
He said his country was significantly affected by climate change and had a major interest in ensuring a substantive and constructive outcome in Copenhagen. India would be “part of the solution” even though it had not caused the problem. In fact, the country’s per capita emissions of around one ton of carbon dioxide a year was only a quarter of the global average and half that of developing countries as a whole. And despite the fact that India’s per capita emissions would never exceed the average per capita emission of developed countries as it pursued development objectives, voluntary mitigation and adaptation measures had been implemented, many with time-bound goals.
The National Action Plan on Climate Change was focused on action in areas such as solar and other renewable energies, clean coal technologies, energy efficiency, green building codes and large scale reforestation, he said. Ensuring affordable access to energy was a key element of India’s poverty eradication strategy, and promoting renewable energy was an important part of that effort. The Intellectual Property Rights regime must be revisited to ensure that rewards for innovators in green technologies were balanced with the needs of humankind. The active promotion of collaborative research and development activities and technology transfer must be supported by public funding.
In closing, he said his country had jointly organized, with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, a high-level conference in Delhi on climate change in relation to technology development and transfer on 22 and 23 October. In 2010, New Delhi would host the Fourth International Renewable Energy Conference on the theme of upscaling and mainstreaming renewables for energy security and climate change. Finally, India welcomed the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency, with interim headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
JIMENA LEIVA ROESCH (Guatemala), expressing her country’s increasing concern that an agreement at the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen was out of reach, suggested that the traditional method of decision-making must change. Especially because climate change presented a novel kind of problem with wide-ranging consequences, it was important for Governments to realize that the old perspective that only considered narrow national interests was outmoded. Discussions should focus instead on how countries better to integrate sustainable consumption and production patterns. Regional implementation meetings to take place this fall were a unique opportunity to learn about experiences in that regard and the hurdles ahead. It was essential that policy decisions be practical, action-oriented and well-funded, she said.
KAIRE MBUENDE ( Namibia) said Agenda 21 and subsequent conferences on sustainable development had been useful in highlighting the message that “socio-economic development and the protection of the environment are two sides of the same coin”, which should be pursued concurrently. There was a growing recognition that development could only be sustainable if all three pillars –- economic, social and environmental -– were considered equally. However, the lack of resources in Namibia and elsewhere challenged implementation targets, a problem compounded by the global economic crisis.
He said his country, which was used to dealing with frequent and persistent droughts, had developed a sound disaster risk preparedness strategy, but the floods of the past two years presented a new type of intense weather event brought about by climate change, and one to which it was difficult for Namibia to respond. Consequently, he appealed to the international community to support capacity-building in the field of disaster risk reduction. Given their historical responsibility, developed countries ought to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions but, disappointingly, they had not yet done so. The gap between what world leaders had said in New York during the September Summit on Climate Change and what their negotiators advocated posed a threat to the attainment of meaningful results at the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
GONZALO GUILLEN ( Peru), noting that his country suffered dramatically from global warming, said it was necessary to have binding commitments on technology transfer and cooperation funds for development projects. Given the urgent need to confront climate change, Peru supported binding international commitments for countries of origin. Hopefully countries would seal a strong, binding deal in Copenhagen in which developed countries would commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 and 95 per cent by 2050 over the 1990 level of emissions.
He said his country had committed in Bangkok to a range of measures to combat climate change. It had begun an ambitious forestry conservation project to reduce net deforestation to zero. Peru’s emissions represented just 4 per cent of global emissions. He reiterated support for the proposal to set up a world fund for adaptation and mitigation measures based on a 0.5 per cent tax on every barrel of oil extracted. Peru also supported the creation of adaptation and mitigation programmes, to be financed by the Global Fund for the Environment or the World Bank, to focus on disaster reduction and protection of economic and biodiversity infrastructure.
The international threat not receiving sufficient attention was drug trafficking, which had a direct impact on environmental degradation, he said. One hectare of coca produced 7.4 kilogrammes of coca annually and 74,000 grammes of cocaine. For every gramme of cocaine consumed, 4 square metres of forest were cut down. Coca crops were often grown in areas with important levels of biodiversity, and coca farmers used 10 times more agrochemicals than farmers growing legal crops. More than 2.2 million hectares of land had been cut down to produce coca in the last 25 years. There was an urgent need for joint responses to stem drug trafficking, and cooperation among all international stakeholders. The struggle against drug trafficking must take centre stage on the international agenda.
T.D. HART ( Nigeria) said that although Member States had agreed to confront the effects of climate change, that effort had been characterized by more talk than action. In Nigeria, the severe consequences of climate change had halted sustainable development in the country, which had seen unprecedented rainfall in the south and attendant flooding and soil erosion elsewhere. Accelerated desertification and high temperatures had reduced the volume of water, thus impacting land productivity in terms of agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries, among other things.
Nevertheless, Nigeria was committed to the principle of sustainable development and had developed a seven-point development agenda to improve infrastructure, develop agriculture and water resources, he said. Increasing normality in the oil- and gas-rich Niger Delta had made it possible to implement the Niger Delta Master Plan to protect and conserve the region’s biodiversity resources. In conclusion, he said the urgent need to realize sustainable development goals imposed a tremendous responsibility on everyone. Nigeria called for a deliberate public awareness campaign on the nature and impact of environmental challenges.
EDUARDO MEÑEZ ( Philippines) said the world was living through a period of great challenges that underscored the need for multilateralism vis-à-vis the benefits and costs of globalization, which were spread unevenly and inequitably. The international financial architecture must be reviewed so that it would support sustainable development, and the problems that some countries encountered in terms of implementation must be addressed by all.
With regard to climate change, he said that, with his country having experienced a number of large typhoons and another apparently on its way, it was important to realize the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Equally important was a focus on the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen. The Philippines hoped for a meaningful outcome to the negotiations. Energy was another area of concern where sustainable development and climate change came together with significant implications for the health of the planet. The Philippines called for greater energy efficiency and conservation.
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