|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Wealthy Nations Urged to Take Lead in Quest for Legally Binding Climate Accord
as Second Committee Takes up Sustainable Development
‘Lethargic Progress’ in Tackling Small-Island Concerns Disappoints Delegates
Developed countries must take the lead to ensure the adoption of a legally binding agreement at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, later this month, delegates stressed today as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its consideration of sustainable development.
Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), urged developed countries to make more ambitious commitments and set out specific and binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ideal agreement would take into account the Copenhagen Accord resulting from the 2009 climate conference in the Danish capital, and strive to limit the average increase in global temperature to below 2° C above pre-industrial levels.
On the other hand, some speakers stressed that small island developing States could not accept anything but a limit below 1.5° C. Papua New Guinea’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said the Alliance of Small Island States sought the ultimate long-term stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at well below 350 parts per million carbon dioxide-equivalent levels.
He said he found it disturbing that current pledges on emission reductions would likely lead to a rise in average global temperature of 3° to 4° C above pre‑industrial levels, adding that such an increase would cause damage far beyond the capacity of Pacific small islands to cope. Trinidad and Tobago’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed disappointment with the “lethargic progress” in implementing the Bali mandate and moving forward discussions for a post-2012 Kyoto regime, given that small islands continued to face the severe consequences of climate change.
“Where do we go when our islands are inundated with the threat of a category 4 hurricane?” she asked. “How do we sustain ourselves and provide for our people when we are spending more and more resources to recover from the last disaster?” She urged all States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol to work towards concrete outcomes that would ensure the protection of small island States. “Use us as the benchmark for the action that is so urgently needed,” she added.
Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called for ambitious and enhanced commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to ensure there was no gap between the first and subsequent commitment periods. In that context, he noted that financial resources pledged to that end should be seen as only supplementary to current official development assistance (ODA) commitments.
Belgium’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc would consider a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, noting that it was currently providing €2.4 billion for adaptation and mitigation, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable developing countries, such as least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries. She added that the bloc would submit a comprehensive and transparent report on the implementation of those commitments at the Cancun Conference and annually thereafter.
Presenting a report on theimplementation of United Nations environmental conventions via video link from Bonn, Germany, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat, said Copenhagen had ended with an outcome that only partially responded to high expectations. However, the Conference had enhanced negotiations on the infrastructure needed for well-functioning, global climate change cooperation. Despite politically charged issues, there was a strong sense that Cancun could achieve a meaningful outcome. “Cancun can be an important step, but it is only a step,” she stressed, calling for the continuation of intergovernmental negotiations.
On desertification, Gabon’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that issue, as well as land degradation, continued to threaten sustainable development on the continent. The African Group was therefore committed to raising awareness and to address their root causes and the ensuing poverty, in line with the 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance implementation of the desertification Convention. Moreover, the African Group was interested in holding a high-level event during the next session of the General Assembly on “Addressing Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought to achieve Global Sustainability”.
Chile’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, supported that proposal, saying that countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region were plagued by the shrinking of glaciers, accelerated desertification, a lack of water for agriculture, large land and marine biodiversity loss and increasingly frequent and severe weather patterns that threatened to reverse hard-won development gains.
The Committee also heard the introduction of several sustainable development-related reports byThomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs; Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action; Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat; Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCD); Jan Mcalpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat; Juanita Castano, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) New York Liaison Office; Habib el-Habr, Director of the UNEP Regional Office for West Africa; Mark Richmond, Director of the Division for the Coordination of United Nations Priorities in Education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and Kazi Rahman, Deputy Special Representative of the World Tourism Organization.
Also taking part today were representatives of Nepal (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa, Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil, Republic of Korea, United States, Kuwait, Belarus, Cuba, Bolivia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Japan, Norway and Malta.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 2 November, to continue its debate on sustainable development and later take up the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to begin its consideration of on sustainable development.
Before it was a note by the Secretary-General on implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (document A/65/275), annexed to which is a list of participants in the 2008/2009 survey on implementation. The note says 49 Member States have already incorporated the Code into their legislative texts, while 48 countries are using its principles to guide the development of national laws and regulations. The active engagement of States in disseminating the Code has also been greatly enhanced through its translation into 43 national or local languages. In addition, much of the World Tourism Organization’s efforts to help Member States achieve the Millennium Development Goals within the framework of “One UN” is directly or indirectly in line with the Code, which has been instrumental in promoting and developing sustainable tourism based upon ethical principles.
Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on the oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/65/278), which provides an update on progress in implementing Assembly resolutions 61/194, 62/188, 63/211 and 64/195 relating to the oil slick that resulted from Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon’s Jiyeh power plant. The Secretary-General commends Lebanon’s efforts to address the spill’s impact, but says there is grave concern over the Israeli Government’s failure to acknowledge responsibility for reparations and compensation to the Governments and affected peoples of Lebanon and Syria. He also commends the United Nations response to the emergency and to the Lebanese Government’s requests for assistance in managing the crisis, as well as the “generous and timely” international response. He calls for Member States, international organizations, international and regional financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to continue their support for rehabilitation and broader recovery efforts.
The report of the Secretary-General on the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015 (document A/65/297) outlines United Nations activities for review, and states that, in order to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium sanitation and drinking water target, the Secretary-General recommends that developing countries and external support organizations demonstrate greater political commitment and consider how to better target resources. He recommends that Member States set up national mechanisms or designate country focal points to facilitate and achieve results related to the second half of the Decade. He also urges States, national and international organizations, major groups, and the private sector to increase their voluntary contributions to the multi-donor trust fund and programmes of UN-Water.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on preparations for the International Year of Forests, 2011 (document A/65/229), which contains updated information on initiatives and activities being organized to celebrate the Year. It recommends that the General Assembly further encourageGovernments, relevant regional and international organizations and major groups to support activities related to the Year through voluntary contributions, and to link their own relevant activities to it. The report also recommends that the Assembly promote observance of the Year as part of a continuing process of advocacy and partnership to foster greater awareness and action towards sustainable development at all levels.
The report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/65/298) provides an update on implementation and progress in preparing for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. In it, the Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly call upon Governments, United Nations organizations, and major groups to bolster implementation by exchanging best practices and strengthening cooperation on technology. The Assembly should also call on Governments to continue contributing to the trust fund of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and to encourage international and bilateral donors to do the same in preparation for the Conference.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on the five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/65/115), which synthesizes national and regional assessment reports and three regional outcome statements, and tracks overall development progress in those States in terms of macroeconomic advancement, progress on the Millennium Goals, as well as challenges and lessons learned in implementing the Mauritius Strategy. It provides anecdotal evidence that many of the hard-earned gains in that regard are threatened by the adverse impact of climate change and natural disasters, as well as by the recent multifaceted global crises, which have overstretched State coping capacities.
The report recommends that Member States strengthen support for national development planning and processes to build resilience to external economic, environmental and social shocks. It also proposes strengthening national data and information systems and the use of energy systems analysis and integrated assessment tools. It states that international support is needed to ensure sustainable financing for protected area networks, green growth and climate change policies. International support thus far has produced tangible results, but it has increasingly fallen short of the amounts needed to help those States address mounting climate change challenges.
Given the scarcity of resources for implementing the Strategy, the report says, Member States should focus on a few sub-areas — notably sustainable energy, transport, trade, climate change mitigation and adaptation, marine and coastal resources, fisheries, tourism and finance — and define measurable goals and targets. It also calls for consideration of an international review of the effectiveness of existing support systems and processes for poor and vulnerable countries, as well as for national reviews of the criteria used to identify least developed countries and their eligibility for graduation.
Related documentation on before the Committee include a letter dated 9 September 2010 from the President of the Economic and Social Council addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/65/361), which transmits to the Council the independent views and perspectives of the Committee for Development Policy on United Nations support for small island developing States to the Council; and the report of the report of the Preparatory Committee for the high-level review to assess progress made in addressing the vulnerabilities of small island developing States through the 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/Conf.218/PC/1).
The report of the Secretary-General towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations (document A/65/301) considers the possible legal and financial implications of the concept of the Caribbean Sea as a special area within the context of sustainable development. It also tracks national and regional activities in marine pollution, living coastal and marine resource management, non-living coastal resource management, disaster management, and bilateral donor support. The Secretary-General concludes that the Caribbean Sea Commission is increasingly gaining support from regional and international partners, which is crucial for stemming its ongoing degradation. He says the concept of designating it a special area under the Convention on the Law of the Sea is still under development, and presently it would be difficult to ascertain the legal implications of such a designation.
A note by the Secretary-General on the implementation of United Nations environmental conventions (document A/65/294) transmits the reports submitted by the secretariats of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 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 first report recommends that the Assembly pledge its support to the continued negotiating processes under the Bali Road Map and encourage progress towards a comprehensive and balanced outcome in Cancun later this month. It also recommends that the Assembly pursue its call for more political and financial support for implementing the Convention to Combat Desertification, and consider holding a one-day high-level event on desertification, land degradation, and drought in the context of global sustainability on the eve of the general debate of its sixty-sixth session.
Concerning the Convention on Biological Diversity, it recommends that the Assembly designate 2011-2020 the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity, and that Governments that have not yet become parties to that treaty and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety do so as soon as possible.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on the mid-decade review of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014 (document A/65/279), transmitting a report by the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The report presents information on implementation of Assembly resolutions 57/254, 58/219 and 59/237, and reviews the work of UNESCO, the United Nations, Member States, civil society organizations, and other key stakeholders in implementing the Decade and enhancing education for sustainable development, including progress made and obstacles faced.
It also makes recommendations on maintaining visibility and momentum between the midpoint and completion of the Decade, saying that as countries strive to integrate education for sustainable development into already existing frameworks, they should state clearly and objectively their specific goals for the Decade, their vision of education for sustainable development and what it means in their specific national context. All United Nations agencies must mobilize to support and engage in activities to promote its ends, with countries in the driver’s seat to ensure implementation nationally.
The report of the Secretary-General on harmony with nature (document A/65/314) addresses how sustainable development approaches and initiatives have allowed communities gradually to reconnect with the Earth.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/65/388), which states that recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and China are stark reminders of the increasing risk of disaster in urban areas, and that smaller and more frequent disasters in communities worldwide attest to rising vulnerability and insufficient capacity to cope with local disaster risk. Preliminary findings of the Mid-Term Review of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, to be concluded by early 2011, suggest that the Hyogo Framework has usefully guided the global disaster risk reduction effort. But the 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction reveals that risk reduction is still not hardwired into the “business processes” of the development sectors, planning ministries and financial institutions. Stronger political resolve is needed to achieve the Hyogo goals by 2015.
The report provides an overview of progress in implementing the International Strategy and discusses trends in disasters and disaster risk, as well as coordination and guidance through the International Strategy. Annexed to it are details on implementing the Hyogo Framework and international cooperation to reduce the impact of the El Niño phenomenon. The report concludes that the movement to reduce disaster risk is accelerating worldwide. However, the rapid increase in vulnerability is creating more challenges for national and local implementation, particularly action to reach the most vulnerable and poor communities. There is a pressing need to build institutions, including legal frameworks, to sustain disaster risk reduction action.
According to the report, the Secretary-General recommends speeding up systematic implementation of the strategic goals of the Hyogo Framework regionally, nationally and locally, and urges Member States to do so by strengthening national disaster risk reduction capacities, integrating disaster risk reduction into development agendas, and participating actively in the Strategy system, the Mid-Term Review process and the third session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in May 2011.
The Committee also had before it the report of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme on the work of its eleventh special session (document A/65/25), held in Bali, Indonesia, from 24 to 26 February 2010, which addresses emerging policy issues such as the environment in the multilateral system, and lists decisions made by the Governing Council during the session; the report of the third ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (document A/65/383); and a letter dated 1 October 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Spain addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/65/485) and transmitting a copy of the Cordoba Declaration on the role of agricultural biodiversity in addressing hunger and climate change.
Introduction of Reports
THOMAS STELZER, Assistant Secretary-General, Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said it was urgent to find a more sustainable path to development given the multiple crises the world faced. He noted that the report on implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded that political commitment to that end had been lacking, and emphasized that sustainable development required a “development transition” just as much as a resource and demographic transition.
He said the report on the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005-2015 took stock of United Nations progress in implementing various activities in relation to the Decade. The report on sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea focused on national and regional activities over the past two years in the areas of marine pollution, living coastal and marine resource management, living coastal resource management and disaster management. Finally, the report on harmony with nature stressed the inextricable link between human health and that of the planet. In that regard, it recommended launching public awareness and environmental education campaigns for sustainable development, as well as changes in consumption and production patterns.
In closing, he stressed that the recommendations contained in the reports must be placed within the current context, and pointed out that the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development would be another opportunity to mobilize political commitment behind the sustainable development agenda. All States shared a responsibility to ensure the economic and social well-being of the world’s peoples. “We must engage civil society and the private sector, and work together with local and indigenous communities in addressing the full range of sustainable development challenges,” he said.
MARGARETA WAHLSTRÖM, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, introduced the report on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/65/388, emphasizing the particular importance of 2010. It marked the tenth anniversary of the creation of the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as the midterm review of the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.
The key challenge was “connecting the dots” and going beyond the “silo approach”, she said, adding that disaster risk reduction, if properly incorporated into national development plans and accountability frameworks, was a smart and strategic investment that could accelerate realization of the Millennium Goals, help adaptation to climate change, and reduce the socio-economic impact of disasters caused by natural hazards.
Noting that the report on the midterm review would be presented in March 2011, she said the outcomes would be discussed in regional workshops, as well as the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, next May in Geneva. There would be ample opportunity in the coming months to further strengthen disaster risk reduction in order to make it an integral part of the business processes of development sectors, planning ministries and financial institutions, she said. The President of the General Assembly had announced last week that he would convene a one-day thematic debate on disaster risk reduction in February, she recalled, adding that the recently launched Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Panel would address the issue in the context of increasing countries’ resilience.
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat, presented the report on implementation of the environmental conventions via video link from Bonn, Germany, recalling that the 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen had concluded with an outcome that only partially responded to high expectations. However, it had enhanced significantly negotiations on the infrastructure needed for well-functioning, global climate change cooperation.
She noted that, thus far, all developed countries had submitted their 2020 target and 43 developing countries had communicated their mitigation plans. Moreover, the Ad Hoc Working Groups had held four formal negotiating sessions this year and taken work forward. Despite politically-charged issues with regard to climate change, there was a strong sense that Cancun could achieve a meaningful outcome. “ Cancun can be an important step, but it is only a step. The intergovernmental negotiations to address climate change must and will continue to make progress,” she emphasized. Success would only be possible if developed country parties showed bold leadership and all countries showed a willingness to compromise and be flexible.
LUC GNACADJA, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, introduced the Secretary-General’s report, saying it focused on progress in supporting implementation of the Convention by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the strengthening of partnerships as required under the Ten-Year Strategy. At the GEF’s fourth Assembly in May, the Facility had been amended to reflect its role as a financing mechanism in implementation of the Convention.
The Assembly had also decided to allocate $400 million to the land degradation focal area for the next GEF financing cycle, he said. Those funds were not in any way up to the challenge, he stressed, adding that they were intended to play a catalytic role in implementation of the Convention’s Ten-Year Strategy and to mobilize additional investments for sustainable land management. He also recalled that the United Nations Decade to Combat Desertification (2010-2020) had been launched on 16 August in Fortaleza, Brazil, and regional launches were also being organized.
Noting the report’s recommendation that the Assembly consider holding a one-day high-level event on desertification, land degradation and drought, on the eve of the general debate of its sixty-sixth session, he said failure to address land degradation and desertification effectively exacerbated the impact of natural catastrophes, flooding, prolonged droughts and sandstorms, and led to environmentally induced migration. Projections suggested that more than 50 million people could be forced to migrate in the next 10 years, he warned, adding that areas with a high incidence of land degradation were also prone to conflicts triggered by competition for scarce natural resources. Desertification should therefore be seen as a security issue, he emphasized.
AHMED DJOGHLAF, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, presented his report on the work of the Conference of the Parties, saying that during its recent meeting in Nagoya, Japan, 18,650 accredited participants representing the 193 States parties had adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. The Protocol established the foundation of a new international economic and ecological order based on respect for nature in its diversity, including human beings.
He said a road map from Nagoya to India had also been adopted and, as part of the agreement, there would be an early entry into force in 2012. The Protocol was a major instrument for achieving the “Aichi Target”, a new strategic plan on biodiversity for 2011-2020. The plan envisaged five strategic goals: addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss; reducing the pressures on biodiversity; safeguarding it at all levels; enhancing its benefits; and providing for capacity-building.
To support implementation of the Aichi targets, the Group of 77 and China had adopted the multi-year plan of action on South-South cooperation on biodiversity and development, he said, noting that 34 bilateral and multilateral donor agencies had agreed to translate the Nagoya Declaration into their respective development cooperation priorities. France, the European Union and Norway had announced additional financial resources while some $110 million had been mobilized in support of projects under the Convention on Biological Diversity LifeWeb initiative aimed at enhancing the protected-area agenda.
The representative of Benin said two thirds of his country was currently under water due to heavy rains. Almost 500,000 people were without shelter and living in tents, a situation that called for comprehensive solutions to problems caused by climate change and desertification.
The representative of Algeria, noting the successful outcome of the recent Nagoya meeting, expressed hope that it would spur international action to better address climate change and desertification.
The Committee then heard the introduction of more reports.
JAN MCALPINE, Director, United Nations Forum on Forest Secretariat, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the preparations for the International Year of Forests, 2011 (document A/65/229), saying it provided updated information on initiatives and activities worldwide to celebrate the Year, in addition to recommendations on future steps to follow. The Year provided a “win-win” opportunity to put forests on the radar by showcasing “forests for people” success stories and innovative solutions while galvanizing greater public awareness and participation.
She said the report’s key messages were the need to reverse the loss of forest cover, enhance the economic, social and environmental benefits of forests, increase their sustainable management, mobilize increased financial resources, and promote awareness of their role in the pursuit of the Millennium Goals and as a cross-cutting issue. National and regional campaigns, ceremonies, seminars, festivals, cultural events and tree-planting were planned throughout the Year in Brazil, Cyprus, Germany, Republic of Korea, Japan, Czech Republic, El Salvador, United States, Ethiopia, China, Israel and Poland, she added.
JUANITA CASTANO, Director, United Nations Environment Programme New York Liaison Office, introduced the reports on the eleventh special session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, and of the Third Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Noting that 2010 marked the first decade of the Global Environment Ministerial Forum, she said that over the past 10 years, it had been successful in meeting its objective of enabling the world’s environment ministers and other participants “to review important and emerging policy issues in the field of environment”. Its success in ensuring the effective and efficient functioning of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) governance mechanisms could only grow in strength, she said. In the Nusa Dua Declaration, the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum acknowledged that the advancement of green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication could deliver economic development opportunities for all nations.
She went on to note that the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum had adopted several decisions, including on international environmental governance, UNEP support for Haiti, and a consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes. The holding of a Simultaneous Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions was a milestone that reflected the international community’s determination to strengthen the implementation and capacity-building of those three Conventions.
Turning to the second report, she said the meeting had concluded that an intergovernmental platform should be established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
HABIB EL-HABR, Director, Regional Office for West Africa, United Nations Environment Programme, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the oil slick on Lebanese shores, saying it provided an overall assessment of the oil spill’s implications for livelihoods and for Lebanon’s economy; of progress on compensation, clean-up and rehabilitation; and on creating the Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Trust Fund. It also gave an account of two initiatives introduced in 2009: a bio-monitoring survey funded by the Government of Spain and a shoreline survey financed by the Government of Canada.
The report strongly urged Israel, Lebanon and Syria to take a leadership role in a thorough post-spill review of activities in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, he said. It stated that the international community had given Lebanon financial and technical support for clean-up and rehabilitation, as well as support for specific clean-up projects, oily-waste management and environmental monitoring from Canada, Greece, Japan, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The oil spill was not covered by any of the international oil spill compensation funds and thus merited special attention. To that end, the Secretary-General welcomed the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Fund under the Lebanon Recovery Fund, he said.
MARK RICHMOND, Director, Division for the Coordination of United Nations Priorities in Education, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, presented the report on the Mid-Decade review of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014, saying the Decade’s aim was to integrate the principles, practices and values of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. Thus far, UNESCO had established the Inter-Agency Committee for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which sought to ensure harmonious international coordination of activities for the Decade within the United Nations system.
While UNESCO’s main role was to coordinate the Decade, it had also been active in implementing concrete programmes at the global, regional and national levels, he said. The “Review of Contexts and Structures for Education for Sustainable Development”, UNESCO’s global report, had been issued in 2009 and discussed at the Bonn Conference, he said, adding that the Bonn Declaration, written jointly with Member States, clearly stated what countries should be involved in, as well as areas in which they should enhance their support for the Decade. A key moment would be the end-of-Decade conference in 2014, to be hosted by Japan and co-organized by UNESCO, he said, encouraging all Member States, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and individual citizens to “get behind the Decade and integrate education for sustainable development into all types, levels and settings of learning”.
KAZI RAHMAN, Deputy Special Representative, World Tourism Organization, introduced that body’s report on implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (document A/65/275), saying tourism exports now accounted for as much as 6 per cent of the global exports of goods and services. In many developing and least developed countries, tourism had become the main source of foreign exchange earnings and a key sector in terms of employment, he said.
Noting that the wide range of environmental and socio-economic impacts of tourism was now more fully recognized, he said they had not been sufficiently dealt with. There was a need to integrate tourism fully into development strategies alongside the awareness that it could and should help address development challenges, such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment. The Code of Ethics was a set of basic principles to guide the development of tourism and serve as a frame of reference for different tourism stakeholders.
A recent survey by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics showed that almost 50 per cent of responding countries had already incorporated the Code into national legislation, regulations or tourism development strategies, he said, adding that it had been explicitly endorsed by institutional bodies in several Member States. Since the establishment of the World Committee six years ago, it had discussed a wide range of ethical issues in the tourism sector, including solidarity in tourism following natural disasters, the need for a global legal framework to protect tourists, existing discrimination due to HIV-related travel restrictions imposed by certain countries, the need for accessible tourism facilities and services for disabled people, the protection of children against all forms of exploitation in tourism, the socio-economic impact of women through tourism, and the impact of the H1N1 virus on tourism.
ABDULLAH M. ALSAIDI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized that action to address the multidimensional challenges of sustainable development must take into account its three pillars — economic development, social development and environmental protection. There was a need for a coordinated, integrated and balanced approach in promoting the “operationalization” of sustainable development, he said, calling for the promotion of economic, social and environmental goals in complementary and consistent ways at the national, regional and global levels.
On the implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, he stressed the need for greater emphasis on promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns. Developed countries must take the lead, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The 2012 Rio+20 conference should provide the necessary political impetus to bridge implementation gaps, he said, urging States to adopt action-oriented outcomes that would yield concrete results in the areas of financing, access to technology and capacity-building in developing countries. With regard to the follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy, he urged the international community to honour and scale up its commitments to support small island developing States, including those contained in the Barbados Programme of Action.
He called upon the international community, particularly developed countries and relevant international organizations, to increase aid to States affected by natural disasters. Developed countries must undertake ambitious and enhanced commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to ensure there was no gap between the first and subsequent commitment periods. They must also take the lead at the upcoming climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, and remember that financial resources were supplementary to current official development assistance (ODA) commitments. Furthermore, developed countries should provide new, adequate and predictable financial resources to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification. In that respect, he called for continuing efforts to raise awareness of desertification, land degradation and drought at all levels through the celebration of the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification, 2010-2020.
DELPHINE DELIEUX (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the ambitious results achieved during the recent Tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as the adoption of a protocol on access and benefit sharing, new targets to halt the loss of biodiversity and the strategic plan. The European Union had agreed to a target of halting biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation inside the region by 2020 and restoring them as much as feasible. It was stepping up efforts to avert global biodiversity loss and would continue, beyond the International Year of Biodiversity, to work for greater political and public awareness of biodiversity and its functions. The bloc supported fully the creation of the Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, in line with the Busan Agreement, and building upon the political support expressed during the September high-level meeting on biodiversity.
The two themes of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development were at the heart of reshaping the future, she said. It was necessary to achieve a more efficient and less fragmented institutional system, with a strong environmental pillar able to respond to growing environmental challenges, preserve the global climate and achieve sustainable development. Regarding the Conference’s theme of creating a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, she called for building upon experiences to devise a way forward. “This is a major opportunity for pursuing a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, a growth that is resource sufficient,” she said, calling also for faster implementation of existing policies for greening the economy. The European Union would continue to engage actively in the Conference’s preparatory process, she said.
Called for a significant increase in the pace of negotiations to reach a successful and balanced outcome during the upcoming Cancun Conference, she said the European Union expected the gathering to adopt balanced decisions in order to help create a global climate protection regime after 2012, in the form of a legally-binding instrument. The European Union would also consider a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, it was providing €2.4 billion for adaptation and mitigation, with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable developing countries, such as least developed countries, small island developing States, and African countries. During the Climate Change Convention’s June session in Bonn, the European Union had presented a preliminary state-of-play on those commitments, and would submit a comprehensive, transparent report on implementation at the Cancun conference, as well as yearly thereafter.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating with the Group of 77, said efforts towards global economic recovery and implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of implementation and the Millennium Goals must be undertaken in a mutually reinforcing and synergistic manner. If 2010 was to be the “year of sustainable development”, the international community must make bold decisions and initiate concrete action to advance the existing sustainable-development framework.
Welcoming the successful conclusion of the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, he urged States to ensure the decrease and prevention of further biodiversity loss. States must reach an agreement that would take the Copenhagen Accord into account, he said. They must strive for a legally binding agreement that would, in particular, limit the increase in the average global temperature to below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Developed countries, he stressed, must take the lead by making more ambitious commitments and setting out specific, binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
He went on to say that the adaptation efforts and nationally-appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries should be supported with adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology transfer and capacity enhancement. Small island developing States should receive more technical and financial support to address the unique challenges they faced. He went on to emphasize that the International Decade for Action was an important platform to address water-resource challenges. It was therefore critical to ensure equitable access to water and to cooperate on water quality. Finally, he stressed the need to adopt the concept of green economy as a theme for the Rio+20 Conference.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA ( Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said sustainable development in those countries would require sincere implementation of the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Brussels Programme of Action. The outcomes of last year’s Doha and New York conferences should be implemented through action-oriented follow-up processes focusing on the needs of countries with special situations. Developed countries must take concrete steps to increase financial assistance to least developed countries, reduce and cancel their debt, transfer technology to them and help them build capacity to achieve sustainable development, he said. Sustainable development could not be achieved without addressing extreme poverty.
The upcoming Istanbul Conference should be an opportunity to strengthen the global partnership for sustainable development in least developed countries, he said. Emerging issues that affected livelihoods, such as desertification, rainfall variability and growing food scarcity, melting glaciers melting, rising sea levels, mountain system fragility, biodiversity loss, and recurring disasters, must be addressed. In that context, he called for the urgent conclusion of a legally-binding international successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol and for a deeper commitment to mitigation, noting that least developed countries needed a sustainable framework to meet the adaptation and financial requirements for coping with the negative effects of climate change.
He said more resources and technology, as well as broad participation by least developed countries in the Clean Development Mechanism, 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 least developed countries. There was also an urgent need to address the financing gap in sustainable forestry by providing new resources to support sustainable forestry management in least developed countries. Also necessary was a comprehensive framework to address the impact of natural disasters in those countries, he said, underscoring the urgent need to implement the Hyogo Framework. Expressing serious concern about biodiversity loss in least developed countries, he called for increased, predictable and timely financial support, through a more direct mechanism, to help them cope.
ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said the high-level review of the Mauritius Strategy’s implementation showed results that were significantly below expectations. “We must now accelerate action and support from the international community to address the unique and particular vulnerabilities of our countries.” The review highlighted the need to go beyond recognition of small island vulnerabilities to implementing more concrete actions based on a small-island-specific approach.
In that context, he urged the Secretary-General to give full consideration to the creation of a United Nations small island developing States category with targeted support mechanisms. “As we move towards Rio+20, we must ensure that the progress towards sustainable development made by small island developing States is a reason to celebrate the global partnership forged in Rio, rather than a symbol of its failure,” he stressed. There was also concern about the insufficient financial resources available for implementing the Mauritius Strategy, he said, urging donors to take decisive action to increase the resources for small islands as stewards of the global goods.
Turning to climate change, he said the Alliance of Small Island States sought the ultimate long-term stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at well below 350 parts per million carbon dioxide-equivalent levels, and for global average surface temperature increases to be limited to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels. It was disturbing that current pledges to reduce emissions would likely lead to a rise of 3° to 4° C above pre-industrial levels, he said, warning that such an increase would cause damage far beyond the capacity of Pacific small island States to cope. Finally, he called for the mobilization of fast-start financing commitments.
JOSÉPHINE PATRICIA NTYAM-EHYA (Gabon), speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that while there had been some progress towards sustainable development in Africa, the continent was off-track to realize the Millennium Goals, with 41 per cent of its population living on $1 a day or less. Africa’s sustainable development efforts had been hindered by the multiple global crises, unfulfilled commitments to provide financing, technology and capacity-building, and by climate change. There was an urgent need for sustainable solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss, drought, desertification and natural disasters. Calling for a stronger Commission on Sustainable Development, she said it must place greater emphasis on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. A coordinated, coherent and systematic approach, with the necessary international financial and technical support, was also critical to full and effective implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy.
She noted with concern the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, saying that developing countries, particularly in Africa, were the most exposed to and least prepared for them. They severely harmed national development, affected millions of people and led to malnutrition, famine, death, loss of livelihoods and emigration. From 1970 to 2009, the continent had recorded the largest number of people killed as a result of natural disasters. African countries subscribed fully to the aims and strategic direction of the African Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Programme of Action developed in the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), she said, calling on the international community to support measures intended to improve the response capacity of African countries.
Underscoring also the urgent need to adapt to climate change, including through appropriate financing and international mechanisms, as well as the need to ensure a halving of global greenhouse emissions by 2050, she said desertification and land degradation also continued to threaten sustainable development in Africa. The African Group was committed to raising awareness, particularly in the region, to addressing the causes of desertification and land degradation, as well as the ensuing poverty, in line with the 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance implementation of the desertification Convention. The African Group was interested in holding a high-level event in September 2011, on “Addressing Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought to achieve Global Sustainability”, she said, calling for ”extraordinary efforts” to achieve the 2010 biodiversity targets.
OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, underscored the need to support fully the participation of developing-country delegates at all official meetings, and called on States to take urgent global action to address climate change, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Saying he looked forward to a successful, ambitious outcome at Cancun, he called on the international community to give developing countries new, additional and predictable financial resources, as well as capacity-building and access to the technology required to address the consequences climate change.
He said the Rio Group would participate constructively in next year’s meetings of the Commission on Sustainable Development on transport, chemicals, waste management, mining, and sustainable production and consumption patterns to ensure adoption of appropriate measures to overcome related barriers and constraints to implementation. The Rio Group was experiencing the effects of climate change “in an accelerated manner”, as evidenced by the shrinking of glaciers, accelerated desertification, lack of water for agriculture, large land and marine biodiversity loss, and more frequent extreme weather that threatened to reverse the region’s development gains. He expressed support for the proposal to hold a high-level General Assembly event on “Addressing Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought to achieve Global Sustainability” next September.
Reiterating the Rio Group’s determination to develop cleaner, more affordable and sustainable energy systems to promote access to energy and efficient technologies and practices in all sectors, he said the Group continued to work for the diversification of its energy matrices by increasing renewable energy resources, and would encourage cleaner, more efficient use of fossil and other fuels. Capacity-building, scientific research, financial and technical cooperation, as well as technology transfer to developing countries were important for sustainable development, as was sensitivity toward indigenous and local communities. He also reiterated the need to expedite implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building so as to strengthen cooperation and coordination between UNEP and the secretariats of the multilateral environmental agreements.
CHERRY ANN MILLARD-WHITE ( Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), underscored the importance of continued and enhanced support for the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. Small island developing States were faced with several challenges to the effective implementation of the Mauritius Strategy, namely limited financial resources, technical expertise, and institutional capacity. In that regard, international support was imperative, she said, adding that CARICOM found it unacceptable that Member States had debated the unique and particular vulnerabilities of small islands during the five-year review of the Strategy.
On climate change, she expressed disappointment with the “lethargic progress” in implementing the Bali Mandate and discussions for a post-2012 Kyoto regime. Small island developing States were already experiencing the dire consequences of climate change and projected impacts raised more concerns. “Where do we go when our islands are inundated with the threat of a category 4 hurricane?” she asked. “How do we sustain ourselves and provide for our people when we are spending resources to recover from the last disaster?” CARICOM could accept nothing less than a firm commitment to the long-term stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations and a global average temperature limit under 1.5° C below pre-industrial levels.
She went on to urge all States parties to the Climate Change Convention on and the Kyoto Protocol to work towards concrete outcomes that would ensure the protection of small island developing States. “Use us as the benchmark for the action that is so urgently needed,” she emphasized, noting that, while a legally-binding agreement might not be achieved in Cancun, the upcoming conference represented an important milestone. CARICOM fully supported the convening of the Rio+20 Conference and called on the Secretary-General to ensure that developing countries received support for their participation in the preparatory process.
ALAN EGGLESTON (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand (CANZ), said the environmental problems afflicting the planet were among the greatest challenges of the modern age, most particularly that of climate change. Cancun should provide a balanced, substantive outcome that would bring closer a legally-binding agreement based on the Copenhagen Accord. Climate change threatened the very existence of small island developing States, which also faced other development challenges, many of them beyond their control, he said, emphasizing the full support of CANZ for the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy.
There were still gaps in economic development around the world, and States feared they would be forced to trade poverty alleviation for environmental protection, he said. That was neither reasonable nor realistic. There was a pressing need to find technical, political and economic solutions that would yield sustainable economic growth while advancing environmental objectives. While welcoming the establishment of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, the voices of the most vulnerable, including that of small island developing States, should be reflected in that Panel, he said.
The world’s coastal ecosystems were of paramount importance to sustainable development, he continued, noting that global coral reef ecosystems, “the rainforests of the oceans”, were threatened by pollution, over-fishing, coral mining and coastal development, in addition to climate change. Owing to cumulative pressures, coral ecosystems might largely disappear by 2050 with “shocking” costs to sustainable development. Noting that such ecosystems lined the coastal areas of more than over 100 States and provided food and resources worth some $172 billion to about 500 million people, he said they were integral to the sustainable development of small island developing States and must be protected if the Millennium Goals were to be achieved. CANZ therefore urged the Committee to approve for adoption by the Assembly the draft resolution on the protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods.
DONG ZHIHUA ( China) said the international financial crisis had dealt a heavy blow to the development of all countries and “posed even more formidable challenges” to the endeavours of developing countries towards sustainable development. In that context, “the developed countries should take concrete actions to provide funds and technology to the developing countries”, she said. Because of its huge population, fragile ecological environment and the uneven development of its different regions, China faced enormous constraints and difficulties in its efforts to achieve sustainable development, she said. However, the country would respond actively to climate change, vigorously develop a cycle economy, strengthen environmental protection and ecological conservation, and continue to enhance its capacity for sustainable development.
With respect to small island developing States, she stressed that developed countries should further open their markets and create favourable conditions for the trade-for-development efforts of small island States. As for international disaster reduction work, she emphasized the need for exchanges in early-warning and scientific research, grassroots capacity-building, and technology, financial support and training. On climate change, she said, “First, deeper quantified emission reduction targets should be set for the developed countries.” Second, the developed countries must honour their pledge to provide $30 billion in fast-track financing within three years, “as soon as possible”, and third, “developing countries need to take appropriate mitigation actions suitable to their national conditions”. As for Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity, she underlined the need for developed countries to provide funding and technical support.
TARIQ ALFAYEZ ( Saudi Arabia) said his country had achieved much in the area of energy, which was an important element in the eradication of poverty. Saudi Arabia was working to expand its productive capacity through both public and private investments, and aimed to increase it’s the competitive advantages of its industries regionally and globally. The country was also very concerned about greenhouse emissions, he said, adding that its participation in various climate change conferences reflected its desire to cooperate with the international community in its quest for realistic results that would balance all necessary requirements.
The phenomenon of climate change must be faced by all States, he continued, stressing the importance of reducing the use of coal as an energy source since it was a major environmental pollutant. Saudi Arabia had made significant progress in the area of sustainable production and consumption, particularly with regard to electricity. The country was currently using new and renewable sources of energy, and working to expand its solar energy use. In closing, he emphasized the need to ensure achievement of the pillars of sustainable development: economic development; social development; and environmental protection.
JACQUELINE LOO (Singapore), associating with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that in order to have a successful outcome at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, it would be important to share experiences and lessons learnt in the lead up to the event. In that regard, she highlighted the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, launched in 2009, saying it was based on a four-pronged approach: boosting resource efficiency; enhancing the urban environment; building capabilities; and fostering community action.
She said that in order to boost resource efficiency, the nation had set a 35 per cent target on energy-intensity improvement from 2005 levels and a 70 per cent recycling rate by 2030. To enhance the urban environment, Singapore aimed to provide 0.8 hectares of green space for every 1,000 persons and to increase greenery in the environs of high-rise buildings to 50 hectares by 2030. In addition, the percentage of morning peak hour journeys made via public transport was set to reach 70 per cent by improving transportation links. With respect to building capabilities, she said the nation would invest in solar energy and facilitate international sharing of knowledge through global event platforms.
JEANINE VOLKEN ( Switzerland) noted that the next 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development would take up two major issues for achieving sustainable development: transformation towards a “green economy” and the strengthening of international governance for sustainability. While it would be difficult to come up with a precise definition upon which all Member States could agree, it was necessary to develop a common understanding of the concept of a green economy. “We consider the promotion of sustainable consumption and production patterns to be a vital element of the transformation to a green economy.” In that context, the development of a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, and its adoption at the nineteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development would allow for fruitful discussions on the concept of a green economy at the 2012 Conference, she said.
Turning to the second focus of the Conference — strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development — she noted that it was closely linked to strengthening international environmental governance. However, the latter must be kept distinct as an ongoing consultation process under UNEP, to be fed later into the preparatory process for 2012. That process would be decisive for the potential success of the Conference and must therefore be intensified now. Biodiversity and an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem-Related Services (IPBES) were also important issues to be addressed at the Conference, and required a solid scientific basis in order to make well-informed decisions. In that context, Switzerland strongly supported the establishment of the IPBES as a “scientifically and technically independent body” to be hosted by UNEP.
DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) said that although no legally binding global regime on access and benefit-sharing had been reached in Nagoya last week, he was pleased with the progress made on narrowing the gap to that end. It was to be hoped that developing countries would be assured of the benefits from the processing of genetic resources accessed within their borders, especially local communities that were the custodians of indigenous knowledge.
It was necessary to maintain the momentum to significantly reduce biodiversity loss despite limited financial, human and technical capacity, especially in the developing world, he said. South Africa had adopted stringent legislation on environmental and water protection, particularly to deal with environment-related crimes. The country had also made significant progress on sustainable consumption and production patterns, and looked forward to a successful outcome in Brazil in 2012.
The Copenhagen outcomes were important for the creation of a fair, inclusive and transparent climate change agreement under the Convention, he said, expressing concern, however, about the lack of progress on climate change negotiations considering the grave consequences that continued to afflict vulnerable communities, particularly in developing countries. Equity, as well as common but differentiated responsibilities, must continue to guide negotiations under the Convention towards a legally binding instrument, and progress in Cancun would be an important step toward that end.
Noting that South Africa, Mexico and Denmark had formed a troika to ensure continuity and leadership during the ongoing climate change negotiations, he said the recommendations of the Global Sustainability Panel, co-chaired by South Africa and Finland, would contribute substantially to sustainable development and particularly climate change negotiations, as well as guide the Secretary-General in that regard. He called for a redoubling of efforts to combat desertification and promote sustainable land management, full implementation of the 10-year strategic plan, and the desertification Convention.
GRUB ABAY ( Ethiopia) said his country had enjoyed 11 per cent to 12 per cent growth over the last seven years, but its economic efforts had not neglected the environment, as Ethiopia was one of the world’s major crop biodiversity centres. In order to make global biodiversity conservation sustainable, soil degradation, pollution, and climate change must be stopped. The Government of Ethiopia empowered local communities to care for the environment, which they did by terracing hillsides, limiting free-range grazing, and tree-planting.
In order to achieve the third aim of the Biodiversity Convention, however, it was necessary to ensure fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity, he said, welcoming the decisions taken at the Nagoya Biodiversity Meeting. Turning to climate change, he said a legally-binding agreement could be reached in Cancun, given firm commitments from developing countries. He noted that while Africa had contributed virtually nothing to global warming, the continent had been hit first and hardest. Among efforts to reach a legally binding agreement in Cancun, the necessary financial resources should be mobilized to address urgent adaptation and mitigation tasks, including in the area of forestry, he stressed.
VICTOR MUNOZ TUESTA ( Peru) said threats to biodiversity, including those caused by climate change, constituted a cross-cutting and multidimensional challenge. Peru was home to a large percentage of the world’s tropical glaciers, but global natural wealth was being compromised by the effects of climate change. Peru was highly committed to participating constructively in finding solutions to such challenges, he said, calling for ambitious and effective global mitigation efforts led by developed countries. The upcoming Cancun Conference must produce a legally-binding agreement that would include a daring and voluntary mitigation strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, he stressed.
Noting that his country was working to strengthen its sustainable development growth by lowering emissions, he said it planned to do that by reducing deforestation and modifying its energy matrix. Currently, 40 per cent of the energy consumed in Peru was in the form of hydroelectricity and biofuels. As home to a variety of genetic and biological resources, Peru believed it was essential to confront local and global climate change problems by adapting to face environmental uncertainty and focusing on the current and potential use of bio-resources. Concerted global efforts were needed to face the challenge, he said, calling on the international community to work towards rational, consistent and fair solutions that would demonstrate international solidarity.
MARIA TERESA MESQUITA PESSOA ( Brazil) said the adoption of the Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing was a victory for all countries, particularly mega-diverse States like Brazil. The adoption of the revised strategic plan and the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, with clear indicators for measuring progress in financing, was central to supporting conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as to strengthening the biodiversity regime under the Convention on Biological Diversity, she said, adding that she looked forward to the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Calling for efforts to raise awareness of desertification, land degradation and drought, she said decisive action for the well-being of human beings and ecosystems in the world’s drylands was needed now, as recognized in the Declaration adopted at the Second International Conference on Climate, Sustainability and Development in Semi-arid Regions, held in August in Brazil. Action to address climate change was always critical, she said, noting that her country Brazil was adding renewable energy sources to its energy matrix so as to reduce emissions resulting from deforestation.
Challenges remained, she noted, adding that she still expected developed countries to adopt quantified emission-limitation reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, and to fulfil their commitments on technology, financing and capacity-building. Brazil would host the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which should be a bridge to future global and national action to support sustainable development, anchored in the Rio Principles, Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. To that end, it was important to aim for the adoption of action-oriented outcomes that would yield concrete results in financing, access to technology and capacity-building in developing countries.
SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea) said the negative economic, social and security implications of climate change had sounded the alarm, and all countries must work together on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Republic of Korea had set up a voluntary reduction target of 30 per cent against business-as-usual levels by 2020. According to UNEP, transforming the global economy into a green economy was not an option, but a fundamental requirement for the survival of economic and social systems, he said, noting in that context that his country had been the first to embrace green growth as a national strategy.
In June 2010, the Republic of Korea had established the Global Green Growth Institute to promote green growth as a model for long-term economic development, especially in developing countries, he recalled, adding that it was ready to work with other countries in realizing green growth at various levels. For the effective implementation of the recently adopted 10-year strategic plan of the Biodiversity Convention, there was a need to fill the gap between science and policy through the timely assessment and sharing of scientific knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services, he said, adding that strengthening the science-policy interface would pave the way for environmental sustainability by allowing States to make better informed decisions.
RICK BARTON ( United States) said it was crucial that the Committee’s work send a positive signal of support in order to encourage important efforts to address sustainable development in other forums. The urgent and growing threat of climate change was a global challenge requiring a global solution, he said, urging support for the efforts of the Climate Change Convention to develop new and strengthened international responses. The science showed that all major economies must take serious action to mitigate emissions, and the United States would assume a leadership role in that regard. It was committed to a national transition to a clean energy economy, and to working with countries worldwide to promote cleaner technologies. The United States recognized the concerns of the most vulnerable countries, including small islands and least developed countries, and was enhancing efforts to help them and other nations adapt to the changing climate.
At the Cancun Conference, the international community would have an important opportunity to make further progress, building on the Copenhagen Accord, he said. The United States was committed to working with all parties to the Convention towards a balanced outcome, he said, adding that his country valued biodiversity and had a particular focus on science-based actions to conserve it. There was great potential in creating an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, in line with the Busan Outcome, he said, adding that his country sought to help small island developing States build resilience to extreme natural events, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, as well as unknown future challenges. The United States recognized the significant threat that climate change posed to small-island development and would work with them in adapting to climate change.
ADEL ALHASHASH ( Kuwait) said international partnership was necessary for countering global challenges, including climate change and desertification. The international community must work to secure financing for development and fulfil ODA commitments. Kuwait continued to support the efforts of developing countries to achieve sustainable development by allocating nearly $15 billion to development projects through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Those funds were in addition to contributions made through channels such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund and the African Development Fund.
Domestically, the Government of Kuwait had mobilized its resources to implement a development plan for the period 2010-2014, he said. The plan, which required approximately $115 billion, aimed to advanced all State sectors, develop infrastructure, raise education and health-care standards, and pave the way for the country to become a financial and commercial centre in the region. The international community must seek methods to reverse the effects of climate change, he stressed, calling for the adoption of national and regional plans to that end.
DENIS ZDOROV ( Belarus) said his country gave high priority to sustainable development and the Millennium Goals, which were at the heart of its national development strategies through 2020. Belarus was working to address demographic and social problems in small towns, as well as small- and medium-sized cities. Underscoring the importance of giving new impetus to international cooperation to deal with socio-economic challenges, he said issues of energy supply must be addressed, adding that such a huge problem should take place in the United Nations and appealing to the Organization to set up an energy agenda.
Belarus had made significant efforts to address climate change, he said, adding that it was important for all countries to strive for practical actions to fight it. He appealed to all States parties to the Kyoto Protocol to expedite national procedures for the entry into force of the Annex B amendment on greenhouse gas emissions. He called for simplifying the procedures for amending the Annex to the Protocol, which should reduce the length of time between the first and subsequent commitment periods.
He called for increasing the potential of countries to reduce emissions through flexible projects to preserve degraded forests and swamp lands. The agreements reached in Cancun must be just and conference procedures must be appropriate. Belarus consistently honoured its commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goal in education, he said, expressing support for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. There was still potential for development cooperation between middle-income and developing countries on educating and training specialists, he said.
JAIRO RODRIGUEZ HERNANDEZ ( Cuba) said that, like the recent global economic and financial crisis, the current environmental crisis had not been caused by the countries of the South, and thus required policies that would address the common problem without impeding their development and the eradication of poverty in underdeveloped countries. Developed countries consumed 61 per cent of global oil, emitted 63 per cent of carbon dioxide and were responsible for 76 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions accrued since 1850, and which had increased in the last decade. He called for the equitable settling of that “historical debt” to ecology, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the respective capabilities of the different groups of countries. Only the principles and commitments Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol would solve the problem, he stressed, adding that developed countries must also take leadership on reducing emissions.
The Cancun Conference would be a “second chance” to reach a binding agreement and to evaluate the political will to take leadership, he said, adding that in the absence of such will, the ambitions of some countries would lead to the planet’s destruction. In that context, he reiterated his support for the 2012 Rio+20 Conference as an opportunity to commemorate 20 years of Agenda 21 and to analyse the state of implementation of the agreements reached at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. He also stated that the United Nations, in particular, the Commission on Sustainable Development, was the framework through which the international community would be able to work towards balancing the many aspects of development, including the three pillars of sustainable development. Without “selfless” international cooperation, especially North-South cooperation, the progress required for sustainable development would not be possible, he warned.
CARLA ESPOSITO GUEVARA ( Bolivia) said the financial, climate and energy crises were the result of a capitalist cycle that had reached its limits. That mentality had caused environmental degradation around the world. Developed countries had exceeded global capacity to the point of no return, going 33 per cent beyond the planet’s capacity for recovery. Capitalist-style consumption patterns had led to the loss of species, rising sea levels, and the melting of glaciers, she said, adding that desertification had resulted from unbridled growth. States must recognize that they could not continue to grow in a limited, finite world, she cautioned.
Learning to live in harmony with nature was one of the greatest challenges of the century, she continued. The response to that challenge, therefore, must not allow developed States to move ahead with their “exhausted economic logic”. Rather, countries must seek the basic satisfaction of human needs with the least possible damage to Mother Earth. The United Nations must develop a mechanism to monitor such efforts and strive to develop new indicators that combined human growth and development and harmony with nature. It was not possible to achieve harmony with nature in the absence of harmony and equity among people, she said, noting that 1 per cent of the world’s population owned 50 per cent of the world’s wealth. Finally, she stressed the importance of recognizing and ensuring the rights of Mother Earth and her other inhabitants.
URAWADEE SRIPHIROMYA ( Thailand) said three issues were critical to sustainable development in light of the Millennium Goals relating to biodiversity loss, climate change and the obstacles faced by small island developing States: the emergence of a new development paradigm; international environmental governance; and enhanced partnerships. The development paradigm that had dominated since the Industrial Revolution was reaching an “environmental dead-end”, she said, stressing that the wasteful, oil-dependent lifestyle could not be replicated worldwide without severe social and environmental costs.
The contours of the new development paradigm were not yet clear but it was clear that growth today must be sustained, inclusive and equitable, she continued. “Trade-offs” would be required if sustainable consumption and production were to be achieved, and if scarcity issues relating to water and energy were to be addressed. The 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development would provide a good opportunity to strengthen political commitment to that end and to discuss the new development paradigm alongside other innovative ideas, she said, adding that a timely discussion should centre on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
She said her own country’s “sufficiency economy” philosophy had helped it recover from the 1997 financial disaster brought on by “greed-propelled growth”. Thailand’s development plan for 2012-2016 aimed to achieve a “green and happy society”, as the country shifted towards a low-carbon and knowledge-based society. Globally, reform of international environmental governance mechanisms would ensure better coherence and coordination, as well as increased effectiveness in response to environmental challenges. The reform should result in a broader conceptual framework that could accommodate an economic growth perspective, she said, emphasizing that developing countries needed sound technology and knowledge more than ever before to cope with the negative impacts of climate change. Enhanced partnerships at all levels would help achieve development aspirations, and greater South-South and triangular cooperation would help developing countries implement their development programmes.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica) said the protection of the environment and economic growth in democracies must be addressed simultaneously, adding that true development could only happen if it was sustainable. Expressing support for the Rio Principle of shared by differentiated responsibilities, he said international solidarity was needed to face the irreparable loss of plant life, growing desertification, global warming and the extinction of flora and fauna.
Noting that his country’s track record showed its commitment to sustainable development, he said Costa Rica had worked to preserve the natural environment through productive policies that fostered sustainability. Today, 28 per cent of its territory was protected or part of a natural reserve, he said, underscoring the importance of exploiting renewable and alternative sources of energy without undermining environmental protection.
Last week, Costa Rica had received the Future Policy Award 2010 for launching the world’s best biodiversity law by the World Future Council and the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, he recalled, adding that the award had been accepted “more as a commitment”, and noting that 85 per cent of the country’s electricity came from renewable sources. He firmly defended renewable energy and the importance of consolidating it, calling for the development of energy policies based on sustainability, universal access, efficiency, reduced vulnerability and a focus on public-private partnerships. More must be done, nationally and internationally to reduce the cost of renewable energy production, he said, adding that the United Nations had an important role in that regard.
SHIGEKI SUMI ( Japan) reported that the Nagoya Protocol on Access on and Benefit-sharing of Genetic Resources had been successfully adopted on the basis of the Chair’s proposal and following “long and difficult negotiations”. Issues of biodiversity merited greater attention and effort on the part of the international community and, in that context he proposed the adoption a resolution on the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity, to correspond with the Biodiversity Convention’s strategic plan. He also called for the adoption of a resolution on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services asserting that it would provide a solid scientific basis for the policies of biodiversity conservation.
On climate change, he said his country had announced a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to the 1990 level, and the nation would continue to coordinate with others for the success of the Cancun Conference. Japan also attached great importance to small island developing States, as reflected in its provision of assistance in the areas of environment, climate change, health and education — a total of approximately ¥32.3 billion out of ¥50 billion pledged at the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting. With respect to natural disasters, he said it was especially important to take action to increase resilience at the level of communities, noting that the Hyogo Framework for Action provided useful guidance in that regard. He credited the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro for its establishment of Agenda 21, concluding: “My delegation hopes that the same spirit of partnership will enable a good preparation for Rio+20 Conference.”
TINE MØRCH SMITH (Norway) said there was need to strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and welcomed in that regard the agreement reached in Busan, Republic of Korea, last June to establish the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The recent high-level event on biodiversity had endorsed that agreement, and Norway hoped the General Assembly would do the same, preferably before the International Year of Biodiversity came to a close. Sustainable forest management was an important element in the overall effort to reduce carbon emissions and foster equitable long-term development, she said. As such, emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation should be included in a new global agreement under the Climate Change Convention.
She said the frequency of natural disasters, like the flood in Pakistan or the earthquake in Haiti, was expected to increase in the years to come, partly due to the effects of climate change, urbanization in disaster–prone areas, and the destruction of natural coping mechanisms. Climate change adaptation measures should, therefore, be better integrated with disaster risk reduction in the sustainable development efforts of the international community. Thanks to important research on extreme weather and natural disasters, it was now possible to predict where and when the next event would occur, she said. However, there was still a gap between that knowledge and what was actually being done to mitigate the effects of disasters. Building capacity on prevention and response in the countries and regions most affected was key to saving lives, she stressed, noting that while much was being done in that field, the efforts were still fragment.
SAVIOUR F. BORG ( Malta) pointed to the important connection between environment and development, saying the conservation and protection of resources, both human and natural, required the international community to act and decide together. Malta had taken initiatives to ensure that the planet’s heritage was used for the benefit of humankind. As a member of the European Union, the country supported national, regional and international initiatives aimed at creating political decisions that would shape international action in protecting the environment while strengthening sustainable development, he said.
Of the $30 billion pledged in Copenhagen for fast-start financing, the European Union and its member States had pledged €7.2 billion or 30 per cent, he recalled, adding that for its own part, his country had pledged €800,000. Moreover, Malta had adopted a national strategy on abatement measures relating to the reduction of greenhouse gases, and was working to formulate an adaptation strategy focused on areas most likely to be affected by climate change. At the regional level, Malta had been working with other littoral States of the Mediterranean and most recently had adopted a declaration aimed at contributing to the emergence of low-carbon, resource-efficient and climate-resilient economies in the Mediterranean, he said.
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