With Global Ecosystems Threatened by Unsustainable Consumption, Production, Pursuit of Environmentally-Sound Economic Growth Must Accelerate, Commission Told
With Global Ecosystems Threatened by Unsustainable Consumption, Production, Pursuit of Environmentally-Sound Economic Growth Must Accelerate, Commission Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Sustainable Development
2nd Meeting* (AM)
With Global Ecosystems Threatened by Unsustainable ConsumpTion, Production, Pursuit
of Environmentally-Sound Economic Growth Must Accelerate, Commission Told
Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang Urges Concrete Decisions on Five Themes,
Including 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption, Production
Whether measured by greenhouse gas concentrations, deforestation rates or declining fish stocks, current unsustainable consumption and production patterns threatened to exceed the capacity of global ecosystems and the world community must accelerate efforts to pursue environmentally sound economic growth and “meet our commitments to future generations”, a top United Nations official told the Commission on Sustainable Development today, as it opened its nineteenth session.
“Much more can and must be done across the globe to pursue inclusive and environmentally sound economic growth,” Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang said, urging delegations to deliver concrete, actionable decisions on all five of the current session’s priority themes.
Running through 13 May, the Commission’s nineteenth session aims to discuss and ultimately adopt a series of policy recommendations on global action to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, improve the safety of chemical usage, and enhance waste management, transport and mining practices. Those recommendations build on last year’s review session, which identified critical challenges and constraints currently impeding progress in those five areas.
Mr. Zukang, who is also Secretary-General of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held next June in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, said agreement on an ambitious and actionable 10-Year Framework of Programmes for sustainable consumption and production would, in particular, send the right message and generate positive momentum toward next year’s Conference.
“All eyes are on us to launch an ambitious framework this year,” he said, underscoring recent concern over the Commission’s effectiveness regarding implementation on the ground and stressing the need to make vital progress in strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Underlining the goals for the current session, he called for expanded access to affordable transport in rural and urban areas, as well as stronger technical, informational and institutional capacities for chemical and waste management. Moving forward, mining sectors must contribute to economic development, respect the concerns of local and indigenous populations, protect the environment and provide a source of public revenue to be used for poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Echoing the call for a forward-looking and action-oriented session, the Commission’s Chair, László Borbély, Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania, called for a “new level of ambition” to speed up the shift toward sustainable consumption and production through the 10-Year Framework. “This session of the Commission can be just an ordinary session or a remarkable session”, he said challenging delegations that “the choice is ours.”
Commenting on the Chair’s draft negotiating text, which was first agreed at the Commission’s Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting, held at Headquarters from 28 February to 4 March 2011, delegations generally praised it as a solid point of departure from which to seek consensus, although calls were made for stronger, more focused and better integrated policy recommendations.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Argentina’s representative said developing countries still faced barriers and challenges in harnessing adequate and affordable transportation means and networks. Local challenges were compounded by decreased financing for infrastructure development, increased volatility in global energy markets and the need to respond to climate change. In addressing those constraints, the text should respect national ownership and priorities and foster national initiatives, while unlocking global support.
In that context, she — like a number of other speakers — underlined the sovereign right of States to exploit their own resources according to their own environmental and development policies, as emphasized in Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration. Expressing concern over the “prescriptive nature” in the negotiating text’s section on mining, she suggested it might contradict the spirit of Principle 2.
Voicing strong support for the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable consumption and production, speakers said it should be flexible and responsive to the wide range of national and regional realities, priorities, challenges, and possible policy solutions. It should also address the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic development, social development, and environmental protection — in a balanced and integrated manner.
One speaker, representing the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and underlining the benefits of a regional approach, said the Framework should enable a systemic shift, rather than incremental changes. Others argued that the Framework must not impose constraints or conditionalities on developing countries. It should, however, support poverty eradication efforts through predictable and stable financing, they stressed.
While many developing countries highlighted the need to mobilize new and additional financial resources, particularly to build waste management infrastructure systems and expand transportation systems, several donor countries expressed a preference for the full, efficient and effective use of existing resources and funding sources.
Expressing its vision for a Framework that was open to all and guided by a “light secretariat”, the representative of the United States said his Government was, like many countries, actively cutting its budget and could not make new financial commitments. Nevertheless, the United States would actively engage with all stakeholders to leverage collective resources, he said.
Also speaking today on behalf of the regional groups were the representatives of Hungary (on behalf of the European Union), Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Sudan (on behalf of the Arab Group), Grenada (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States) and Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group).
Speaking in their national capacities were the representatives of Lebanon, Peru, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Bolivia, Cambodia and the Russian Federation.
Representatives of the major groups — namely women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, workers and trade unions, business and industry, the scientific and technological community and farmers — also took the floor.
The Commission on Sustainable Development will reconvene in plenary at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 5 May, to hear a progress report regarding ongoing negotiations from its working groups.
The Commission on Sustainable Development met today to begin its nineteenth session, which will aim to take policy decisions on practical measures to bolster programme implementation on five thematic issues: transport; chemicals; waste management (hazardous and solid waste); mining; and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns. (For further information, see Press Release ENV/DEV/1205 issued 29 April 2011.)
Delegations will have before them the report of the Commission’s Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (document E/CN.17/2011/19), reports of the Secretary-General and other relevant inputs. The Preparatory Meeting, held at Headquarters from 28 February to 4 March 2011, agreed on a “Chair’s draft negotiating document” containing policy options, Governments could use to expedite programme implementation in line with the priority themes by, among other things, enhancing access to sustainable transport, particularly in rural areas of developing countries, developing comprehensive regulatory and institutional frameworks to address chemicals management throughout the lifecycle, and accelerating the shift toward sustainable consumption and production.
The Secretary-General’s report on interlinkages and cross-cutting issues (document E/CN.17/2011/3), underlining the interlocking relationships among the five issues in the current cycle’s thematic cluster, says policies and measures aimed at one issue may have co-benefits for the others, requiring an integrated approach to achieve long-term progress. It says that risk assessment and reduction are relevant for both; transport connects nerve centres of economic activity and human population, with high relevance to transportation of chemicals, minerals and waste. Significant adjustments to policies and management practices will be needed in chemicals and hazardous waste management, as well as transport and mining to shift to sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The report on transport (document E/CN.17/2011/4) notes that adequate transport infrastructure and affordable transport services are still widely lacking in many developing countries. At the same time, increased urbanization and motorization have resulted in unprecedented congestion, wasteful energy use, increased motor vehicle emissions and deteriorating urban air quality in many cities in both industrialized and developing countries, negatively impacting public health, living conditions and climate change.
The report also says policy incentives and investments should aim at improving and expanding integrated public transport systems, particularly within and between urban areas, and facilitating mobility in rural areas. Policies fostering sustainability should seek to avoid or reduce transport and travel where possible, encourage a shift towards high-efficiency and low-carbon modes of transport, and promote system-wide efficiency improvements. Urban and rural transport planning should be integrated, while supportive fiscal and regulatory policies should be combined with the development of new technologies and greater international cooperation.
The report on chemicals (document E/CN.17/2011/5) says that, considering the multiple social, economic and environmental dimensions of chemicals’ impacts on human well-being, the approach to chemicals management needs to be much better informed by a life-cycle and sustainable development perspective. Future policy options should focus on mainstreaming sound management into national development planning processes based on the Millennium Development Goals; strengthening regulations and legislation to improve chemical safety and prevent and reduce risks; enhancing access to and sharing of information; promoting alternatives to toxic chemicals; strengthening implementation, including through mobilization of public and private financial resources at all levels; fostering partnerships among all stakeholders; and strengthening the international policy and legal framework.
The report on waste management (document E/CN.17/2011/6) says that while waste minimization and management represent challenges for every country, developing countries face mounting challenges with growing economies, rising incomes and rapid urbanization, which together lead to rising waste volumes. For dynamic, urbanizing economies, defining a long-term waste management strategy for the coming decades is critical to fostering sustainable waste management. Among other things, effective long-term strategies should include operationalizing integrated sustainable waste management systems.
According to the report, understanding the scale of generation of various waste categories is fundamental to formulating appropriate policies. A number of new waste streams — especially e-waste and hazardous waste — have emerged or assumed greater importance. Consequently, conventional waste management systems, which were often not designed to handle either trend, must be modified and upgraded. More generally, reducing waste production, recycling waste and reusing materials form the basis of sustainable waste management. In many developing countries, municipal solid waste efforts need strengthening, and the financial resources for building relevant infrastructure, as well as the technical and managerial skills for system management, need to be enhanced. Public-private partnerships may be explored as sources of needed financing, it says.
The report on mining (document E/CN.17/2011/7) notes that a number of significant changes have taken place in the mining sector since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Among other things, progress has been made regarding the sector’s transparency and governance, while many companies have embraced progressive voluntary guidelines and principles as a framework for their operations and are currently pursuing greater resource efficiency.
Remaining gaps include making further utilization of mineral wealth; increased transparency and disclosure from Governments to citizens on mining activities and their revenues; and bolstering respect of human rights, land rights and livelihoods of local and indigenous communities. Addressing inadequate capacity in national Governments is critical and the international community can contribute through technical cooperation, the exchange of good practices, and initiatives on transparency.
The report on the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (document E/CN.17/2011/8) notes that sustainable consumption and production is described in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation as one of the three essential requirements for sustainable development, together with poverty eradication and the protection and management of the natural resource base. It also denotes a range of actions that enable countries, households, and enterprises to “do more and better with less”. The report says that while supporting regional and national initiatives, a 10-year framework of programmes would aim to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production. Among other things, it would also promote social and economic development within the carrying capacity of ecosystems by addressing and, where appropriate, de-linking economic growth and environmental degradation, by improving efficiency and sustainability in the use of resources and production processes while also reducing resource degradation, pollution and waste.
The report says that an in-depth review of activities aimed at sustainable consumption and production at the Commission’s eighteenth session revealed five broad lessons. First, a large number of initiatives were in place at national and regional levels. Second, all initiatives share some common features, most notably that they aim to remove barriers to realizing unexploited win-win opportunities. Third, the most successful initiatives involve mutually supportive partnerships among the stakeholders at all levels. Fourth, there continue to be significant economic, informational, institutional, capacity-related, or policy-induced barriers to the wider diffusion and adoption of sustainable consumption and production measures and achievements. Fifth, existing initiatives are fragmented along sectoral, national, ministerial and industrial lines.
The report says the two policy lessons of that review are that more programmes and initiatives are needed, as is a unifying framework of programmes that can reduce fragmentation and dissonance. Several Member States had expressed keen interest in having a solid decision on the 10-year framework at the current Commission session. Moreover, the 10-year framework of programmes can be an important engine to support the broader international sustainable development agenda, by promoting rapid convergence towards decent living standards paralleled by rapid improvements in the efficient use of resources and reductions in environmental impacts. It could also provide one important building block for an ambitious international agreement at the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 2012). However, goals must be broad enough to galvanize action, and flexible enough to allow for variations in national and regional programmes.
Also before the Commission were a note by the Secretariat on priorities for action of major groups (document E/CN.17/2011/12); report of the high-level intersessional meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development on a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (Panama City, January 2011) (document E/CN.17/2011/13); report on the intersessional conference on building partnerships for moving towards zero waste (document E/CN.17/2011/14); report on the intersessional consultative meeting on solid waste management in Africa (Rabat, November 2010) (document E/CN.17/2011/15); report on the intersessional senior expert group meeting on sustainable development of lithium resources in Latin America: emerging issues and opportunities (Santiago, November 2010) (document E/CN.17/2011/16); and the letter of the Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations on the Fifth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia (document E/CN.17/2011/18).
Opening the session today, the Commission’s Chair, LÁSZLÓ BORBÉLY, Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania, said that the world was facing multiple crises in the form of poverty, a food crisis, an economic recession, environmental degradation, climate change and devastating natural disasters. The global economic crisis, in particular, had caused significant setbacks in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Sustainability was further endangered by a growing world population with ever-increasing consumption trends. In light of those developments, he said, “the traditional path to growth is no longer viable.” It was necessary to follow a new path of development aligned with sustainable consumption and production patterns, and to use resources as sustainably as possible.
“This session of the Commission can be just an ordinary session or a remarkable session”, he stressed, adding, “The choice is ours.” While the principles of sustainable development should guide the Commission’s efforts, its work also needed to strongly focus on translating commitments into concrete measures and actions. As the current session was a policy session, it was necessary to make policy decisions and to identify concrete measures to advance, in an integrated manner, the implementation of the agenda before the Commission, in particular on the five thematic areas highlighted for the current session; transport; chemicals; waste management; mining; and the ten-year framework of programmes.
In that vein, he said, the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting, held earlier this year, had identified a range of policy options for overcoming the main constraints and obstacles impeding implementation in those five areas. On transport, it had been recognized that the growing transport challenge was increasingly urgent, and that integrated urban and rural planning, along with supportive fiscal and regulatory policies, was needed. On chemicals, it found that sound management was needed to prevent adverse consequences for the environment and human health. On waste, it found that developing countries faced special challenges in management and minimization, and that the challenges in that area were becoming more acute. On mining, the main goal was to maximize the positive economic impact of mining, while minimizing its negative environmental and social impacts, and reinforcing the capacity of producing countries to benefit from their natural resources in the long term.
While progress had been made in launching initiatives focusing on sustainable consumption and production — an overarching objective of sustainable development — those initiatives remained fragmented along sectoral, ministerial and other lines. Their impact remained small in comparison with the challenges, he said. “A unique opportunity now exists to move to a new level of ambition through the creation of a global ten-year framework of programmes in support of national and regional initiatives to speed up the shift toward sustainable consumption and production,” he added, as called for in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. “CSD-19 should be a forward-looking and action-oriented session,” he said. While the Commission faced a “daunting” challenge in the next two weeks, it also had an opportunity to make a real difference in advancing implementation of sustainable development. “We should aim at concrete deliverables”, he concluded.
SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, underscored the session’s special significance, noting that it would cover a key set of themes on the sustainable development agenda, particularly the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. It would also be the last Commission session before the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where important decisions on the institutional framework for sustainable development were expected.
He said the review conducted at the Commission’s eighteenth session last year of progress in meeting international commitments regarding transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production identified critical challenges and constraints impeding progress in those five areas. It also showed, he stressed, that “we have real work to do.” Globally, unsustainable consumption and production threatened to exceed the carrying capacity of life support systems. The imbalance was obvious in greenhouse gas concentrations, the number of endangered species, deforestation rates and decreases in fish stocks.
“Much more can and must be done across the globe to pursue inclusive and environmentally sound economic growth,” he said. To that end, efforts to advance sustainable development and to meet commitments to future generations must be accelerated. The Commission’s current session must deliver concrete, actionable decisions on all five of its priority themes.
Outlining those themes, he said access to affordable transport — particularly for the rural poor — must be ensured, while public and non-motorized transport must be expanded in cities in or to transform transport systems that addresses climate change, local pollution, energy security and safety. Where they are weak, technical, informational and institutional capacities for chemical and waste management need to be strengthened.
Continuing, he said mining should contribute to economic development, respect concerns of local and indigenous populations, protect the environment and provide a source of public revenue to be used for poverty eradication and sustainable development. Meanwhile, consumption and production patterns must be changed to ensure economic growth proceeds on sustainable paths and key global challenges, including climate change, water and other resource scarcities and environmental degradation were addressed.
Calling for solutions that combined global support, normative guidance institutional strengthening and national actions, he stressed that a positive outcome at the current session, including policy options and practical measures, would demonstrate the willingness of Member States to work together on solutions. Collaboration was needed to bridge critical implementation gaps and address important emerging challenges.
“All eyes are on us to launch an ambitious framework this year” to support countries and other actors’ in order to move toward sustainable consumption and production, he said. Such an initiative would send the right message and generate positive momentum toward next year’s conference in Rio. Further, the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Production and Consumption would promote development that was within the carrying capacity of the world’s ecosystems.
Stressing that the Framework would contribute to progress on the three pillars of sustainable development, he said it would also ensure a wealthier and more sustainable world for present and future generations. Nine years after Governments first called for its development at the Johannesburg Summit, it was time to respond to those calls with an ambitious, feasible and actionable 10-Year Framework. That Framework must support Member States and all stakeholders in scaling up successful initiatives, addressing emerging challenges, sharing knowledge, widely accessing technical expertise, forging partnerships and mobilizing financial resources. At the same time, sustainable consumption and production must be mainstreamed into the thinking of all stakeholders and into the decision-making of Governments and other organizations, including the United Nations.
He went to note that, while the Commission on Sustainable Development had been considered the highest level body for sustainable development within the United Nations system since its establishment 20 years ago, lately there had been some concern about its effectiveness regarding implementation on the ground. How the Commission should be reformed and strengthened would, he said, be a major subject of discussion at Rio+20. The dialogue and reflection on how to strengthen the entire institutional sustainable development framework must continue. The current session could also contribute to discussions on the second theme of Rio+20 — green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Adoption of the agenda and programme of work
The Commission then turned to its provisional agenda (document E/CN.17/2011/1), adopting it by consensus.
As the Commission took up its proposed programme of work, which outlines the proposed means and schedule for negotiations on priority themes in the Chair’s draft text, the representative of the United States said he appreciated the Chair’s call for flexibility during those negotiations. However, his delegation had “significant concern” that the issues dealt with in the preamble and in the theme on cross-cutting issues and interlinkages were often the same. That meant the expertise required was the same, and it was “extremely disturbing” that those themes were assigned to different negotiating groups. Noting that his Government was unprepared to work in different sessions, he recalled that his delegation had pointed out in preparatory meetings that the issues related to chemical and waste management were similar and should be considered in tandem.
He said that if there was flexibility and Governments were not forced to choose between sessions, these issues could be addressed. As it stood now, however, the United States had significant concerns about the programme of work. It would agree to the programme work, if negotiations would not be held in parallel.
Agreeing that he had called for flexibility and expressing hope that the Member States were prepared for negotiations on all the themes, Mr. Borbély said he and the Bureau had taken note of the United States’ concern and assured that had been the Vice-Chairs would work to address them.
The Commission then adopted its proposed organization of work.
MARÍA LUZ MELON (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, recalled that the Group had pointed out in previous sessions of the Commission that transportation was a central component of sustainable development, economic growth and social development. While developing countries had many success stories in areas such as rural transportation, clean fuels, bus-rapid transport, and multi-modal systems, she said, they still faced barriers and challenges in harnessing adequate and affordable transportation means and networks. Local challenges were compounded by a global scenario of decreased financing for infrastructure development, increased volatility in global energy markets and the need to respond to climate change. In addressing those constraints, policy recommendations should respect national ownership and priorities, fostering national initiatives while unlocking global support.
The benefits of chemicals and derivatives for the members of the Group of 77 and China could not be overemphasized, she said, saying that chemicals were a source of revenue, employment and well-being in developing countries. However, because those countries had an inadequate expertise, financial and technical capacity, the Group believed that a regulatory system should be established or strengthened to tackle the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. Further, it was necessary to strengthen technical and capacity support to public interest non-governmental organizations, research institutions and communities to enable and facilitate their responsible and active support in those policy areas. With regard to waste management, the Group expected that international organizations and developed countries would provide assistance to developing countries to strengthen their national, human and institutional capacities for the implementation of relevant Conventions. There was a need to develop secure financial instruments and mobilize new and additional financial resources for developing countries to build waste management infrastructure systems. Additionally, developed countries should transfer technology to developing countries on preferential terms.
The Group reiterated its readiness to engage in a 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead while respecting their international commitments. With regard to the issue of mining, she recalled the sovereign right of States to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and development policies, as emphasized in Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration. In that light, the Group felt that the “prescriptive nature” of the negotiating text before the Commission was contradictive to the spirit of Principle 2. Further, the Group believed that the outcome of the current session on mining should reflect a strong emphasis on supporting national efforts with regard to mining activities, in line with countries’ respective national laws and regulations.
Developing countries, including small island developing States, suffered from the exacerbated impacts of economic, social and environmental challenges, she said, adding that their was much room for support in respect of financial resources, technical expertise, monitoring and evaluation, as well as the development of verifiable targets and benchmarks to measure progress in the implementation of international environmental agreements. The Group reaffirmed the importance of taking further effective measures to remove the obstacles to full realization of the rights of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation in achieving sustainable development goals, particularly in the area of the Commission’s five themes. Finally, it urged development partners to implement their part of the commitments on external debt relief, development assistance, financing, trade and technology transfer.
ISTVAN TEPLAN ( Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Chair’s negotiating text laid down a foundation for a successful session. It reflected the outcome of the Inter-governmental Preparatory Meeting in a fair and balanced manner and, as such, it was a good basis for work. Turning to the European Union’s approach to the forthcoming negotiations, he said its clear and main objective was the adoption of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. In that context, the current text went “some way” toward an ambitious, operational and coherent outcome. He stressed that placing political priority on producing more from less would, by promoting poverty eradication, fostering job creation and slowing down in climate change, reach a threefold win. Underlining the need for participation of all stakeholders, he called for the involvement of the private sector.
He further stressed the need to do more on cross-cutting issues, noting that action was required by all. In terms of financial support, he recalled the Union’s preference for the full, efficient and effective use of existing resources and sources of funding when implementing the decisions of the nineteenth session. The environmental dimension in the sections on transport in the Chair’s text should be strengthened. Indeed, special measures were needed to achieve the highly energy-efficient transport systems that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the human health problems resulting from transport must also be addressed, as should accessibility aspects, particularly regarding the elderly and disabled. He also pleaded for development of reliable transport databases, tools and reporting mechanisms.
He said the ambitious goal of reaching an agreement for the sound management of chemicals by 2020 would only be reached if efforts at national, regional and global levels were stepped up. He welcomed a number of advances, including, among others, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management and noting the ongoing Consultative Process of Financing Operations for Chemicals and Wastes, he said all available solutions must remain on the table and be explored further. The Union believed clear responsibilities and strict requirements were crucial in establishing a long-term waste management strategy. Together with clear political objectives, a mix of legislative, non-legislative and economic instruments was needed. He stressed that hazardous wastes must be regulated under strict specifications to prevent or limit the potential negative environmental and health effects of inappropriate management, highlighting the supporting role of the Basel Convention on hazardous waste management. He also recalled the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
He went on to highlight the broad agreement reached during the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting on the need to introduce a more holistic approach to the mining sector. He particularly underlined the need for good governance at all levels, the fair sharing of benefits from mining activities between national institutions and local communities, as well as the promotion of transparency and implementation of relevant international conventions. In response to calls for more support, the European Union would continue to contribute to the efforts of developing countries to establish sustainable mining sectors. He recalled that part of the income generated by mining should be channelled specifically to the environmental recovery of abandoned and orphaned mining areas. He further welcomed the clear reference in the Chair’s text to eradicating all forms of child labour in mining.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that her region had recently hosted several important meetings related to the current agenda of the Commission, including a High-Level Intersessional Meeting in January 2011 and a Regional Senior Expert Group Meeting in November 2010. With regard to sustainable consumption and production, the Rio Group believed that a meaningful and satisfactory Commission outcome was needed, which reflected the needs of developing countries. That outcome should meet expectations raised in the Intersessional Preparatory Meeting, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in line with the three pillars of sustainable development.
The Group believed that sustainable consumption and production should not result in the imposition of conditionalities for international development financing and official development assistance (ODA); should respect different levels of development and national ownership by countries of their development strategies; should promote corporate social and environmental responsibility; and must never serve to justify trade protectionist measures. Developed countries should take the lead in implementing the changes needed and should move toward adopting sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
The Group reaffirmed the need for greater sustainability in the mining sector, while promoting greater transparency and maximizing the benefits of mining for its member States. While some progress had been made, much remained to be done with regard to transport, and would require additional investments and support for the acquisition of appropriate technology. With regard to chemicals, it was necessary to strive to protect the environment and the health of people, especially those of the most vulnerable groups. The lack of additional, sufficient and predictable financial resources was the main obstacle for the achievement of sustainable chemical management. In that regard, the Group reiterated the importance of strengthening the regional and subregional centres, as useful tools for the implementation of the commitments under them.
In the area of waste, a life-cycle perspective and extended producer responsibility would be essential in the search for a more modern waste system. In addition, the social implications of outdated waste management practices needed to be addressed in order to improve the livelihoods of scavengers and ragpickers through more dignified, modernized, safer and environmentally sound waste management activities, in particular protecting against child labour. The Group highlighted the pressing challenges facing island communities in its region, and underscored the need for technological and financial assistance to address the negative effects of improper waste disposal for those States.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the Commission remained the most appropriate body to elaborate action that derived from the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and it should be strengthened. Underlining the links among the priority themes, he said that it was very important that all mining activities were environmentally sound and brought economic and social benefits. Corporate social and environmental responsibility, as well as public-private partnerships, should be strengthened to support community livelihoods and national development.
He said the current session must find a way to achieve sustainable transport modes for developing countries that supported economic activities, national development and regional integration. It was also important to strengthen capacity to safely dispose and reuse chemicals and waste and, in that regard, the outcome should emphasize training and technology transfer, as well as stronger corporate social and environmental responsibility.
Voicing support for the Marrakesh Process, he said it was a “ripe moment” for its elevation into concrete political commitment. The Association also supported the adoption of a well-structured 10-Year Framework of Programmes that comprised a clear vision, objectives and programmes. In that regard, he stressed that the resulting Framework must address the three dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and integrated manner. He highlighted the ASEAN Forum on sustainable consumption and production held in April in Jakarta, at which agreement was reached to establish a regional cooperation mechanism. That mechanism was intended, he noted, to facilitate the implementation of the 10-Year Framework
MAGID YOUSIF YAHYA ELHAG (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and aligning with the Group of 77 and China, reaffirmed the importance of the Commission’s work and the need to establish balance between socio-economic balance and ensuring environmental protection. He reaffirmed the need to implement and honour all intergovernmental commitments contained in Agenda 21, as well as the conclusions of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. He also expressed hope that the current session would contribute to the outcome of Rio+20.
Underlining the importance of the current thematic cluster to the Arab countries, he said cooperation between Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Arab States had promoted implementation of programmes related to the five priority themes, with many meetings recently being held at the expert level. But, despite the progress made, Arab countries continued to face difficulties in achieving their goals, owing to limited resources and constraints imposed by international financial institutions and other donors. Among other things, countries in the Arab world faced development barriers, notably in the territories occupied by Israel, resulting in serious implications for the population. While Palestinian institutions were now capable of responding to the situation, the main obstacle toward that end was Israel’s continued occupation, which hindered all progress in sustainable development. He, therefore, argued that the negotiating text should call for an end to all occupation that ran counter to development and to the dignity of those people living under it.
He reaffirmed the need to account for policies and measures regarding the thematic cluster that should be taken by developing countries, on the one hand, and developed countries, on the other, under the framework of common but differentiated responsibilities. There was a further need to clarify national priorities and the goals for developing countries, while ensuring financial resources. Underling the need to build capacity in waste management, he said the document should call for help for developing countries in disposing of waste. The text needed greater balance regarding trade and the impact on developing countries, as well as the need for predictable financing. It should also specifically address e-waste and define “hazardous” waste, while recognizing, in its policy recommendations for the mining sector, the sovereign right of countries to develop their own natural resources.
DESSIMA WILLIAMS (Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, aligned her statement with that made by the representative of Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. She said that the capacity to move toward the achievement of development objectives must be viewed against the backdrop of the ongoing effects of the recent economic crisis, climate change and the increasing volatility of the prices of food, fuel and other commodities. Transport and communication were the lifelines of the world’s small island developing States, she said, adding that climate change had severe negative effects on the transport capacity of those States. Transportation costs for those countries remained “exorbitant”, constraining their ability to provide reliable and efficient air, land and maritime transport services. The Alliance States were committed to efficient waste management, she said, noting that poor waste management practices were having negative effects on the sustainability of marine areas, health, food supplies and tourism. One major challenge in that respect was the flooding of waste disposal sites due to their proximity to coastal areas. She supported the recommendation of the Intersessional Conference on Building Partnerships for Moving Toward Zero Waste, namely those principles of reduction, reuse and recycling of waste.
As the use of chemicals continued to be necessary in the economic development of all countries, including small island States, it was necessary to manage chemicals in an environmentally sound manner, as highlighted in Agenda 21 of the Johannesburg Programme of Action. The Group requested that a comprehensive global financial strategy for chemicals be developed as a matter of priority to support implementation of relevant multilateral environmental agreements, she said. The Group highlighted the importance of sustainable consumption and production, and called for relevant initiatives to be considered in the context of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. As the Commission built the 10-Year Framework Programme of Action, she said, it was important to reaffirm the agreements made in the context of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Programme of Implementation. In that vein, developed countries must take the lead in that endeavour. The Framework should be flexible and open to new development in the area of sustainable consumption and production, and should allow for the sharing of information and focus on a variety of programmes, given different national and regional needs, priorities and capacities. Finally, she said, the Framework should not impose constraints or conditionalities on developing countries, and should support poverty eradication efforts in small island States through predictable and stable financing.
LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, aligned himself with the statement made on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States. He noted that the Commission was fortunate to have before it the outcome document from the Mauritius Strategy high-level review, and that the Commission should work constructively toward following up the issues identified in that document. One of the major issues highlighted in the review was the serious shortcomings in the institutional support structure to assist small island developing States in their progress toward sustainable development. It also identified the need to refocus efforts toward a more results-oriented approach. To move that forward, the Group encouraged its partners to assist in “concretizing” the Mauritius Strategy and other relevant agreements by defining benchmarks and time-bound goals, similar to the approach of other development programmes, such as the Millennium Development Goals. It also reiterated a call for the establishment of a formal United Nations small island development States category to allow for targeted and operationally effective support programmes for those States.
The Pacific small island developing States were disappointed that the priority issues identified during the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting in February 2011 were not yet reflected in the Commission’s draft outcome document. The Group hoped that there would be a willingness to incorporate its specific proposals under the document’s section on interlinkages, cross-cutting issues and means of implementation. With regard to one thematic area, that of sustainable consumption and production patterns, for the Pacific small island developing States the sustainable management of marine resources was essential to both food security and economic growth. For the Pacific, that end goal was what characterized the “Blue Economy”, which was at the heart of the sustainable development framework. All efforts to work toward sustainable consumption and production needed to properly recognize and accommodate the importance of the marine environment, he said. Moreover, it was impossible to talk meaningfully about sustainable development in the Pacific without addressing the “very real possibility” that some of its islands might no longer be inhabitable in the future, as a result of climate change. In that light, the Commission must recognize that its work would only be effective if the international community urgently increased its ambition in responding to the climate crisis, and making substantive progress in that area throughout the coming year.
LAWRENCE CHIDI-ANUKAM (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said that while the issues in the current thematic cluster were highly technical, they were clearly interrelated and directly linked to patterns of sustainable consumption and production. Thus, they should be dealt with in an integrated manner. The African Group believed the participation of all stakeholders was critical and would do its part to contribute to negotiations on the Chair’s draft text, he said.
He emphasized the need to identify the means of implementation for developing countries of the relevant outcomes. While Africa was committed to meeting its obligations, its efforts were hampered by a number of recent developments, including the world economic and financial crisis. African countries continued to struggle with the lack of information and technology transfer, as well as the continuing drain on its own human resources as qualified, educated employees emigrated.
Continuing, he stressed the urgent need to match promises with actual delivery of promised support, calling for an increase in the quantity and quality of funding support. Noting wide implementation gaps, he called for the encouragement and support needed to translate policy into change on the ground. Finally, he emphasized the importance of consistency in the Commission’s work, underscoring the importance afforded the Commission by the Group.
JOHN MATUSZAK ( United States) said that in his Earth Day Proclamation this year, United States President Barack Obama emphasized the need for the entire planet to take action to protect the environment, as well as the pivotal role of United States leadership in that endeavour. In that address, the President noted the importance of national and local programmes, along with the vital nature of partnerships and community-driven strategies to protect land and water resources for future generations. As the Commission met over the next two weeks, it must consider new ideas and agree on practical and realistic solutions that could be implemented. It should encourage science, research and education in the knowledge that such investments would be critical in leveraging scientific and technical know-how to define innovative solutions to the challenges ahead. Information technologies should be utilized to share data and information and to connect communities and decision-makers, as they crafted and implemented solutions.
The participation of women and under-represented groups in decision-making and implementation efforts must also be strengthened at all levels, he said. At the same time, the support and participation of civil society was needed to develop durable and self-sustaining solutions. As part of its commitment to developing a 10-Year Framework of Programmes to advance the shift towards sustainable consumption and production, the United States envisioned a Framework that was open to all and guided by a “light secretariat”. It hoped the Framework would allow for collaboration on many different topics under the conception of sustainable consumption and production, thus facilitating the quest for sustainable development. While the United States was, like many countries, actively cutting its budgets to reduce its national deficit and could not make new financial commitments, it would actively engage with all stakeholders to leverage collective resources.
TOUFIC JABER ( Lebanon) endorsed the statements made by the Arab Group and the Group of 77 and China. He said that the Commission’s work was of crucial importance in the context of the fluctuation in food and oil prices, among other challenges, which eroded the ability of States to ensure the protection of the environment and achieving development goals. Lebanon, like other developing countries, had suffered the impact of those successive crises, he said. On transport, Lebanon continued to implement and update the modernizing of the transport sector, in order to achieve those services at reasonable prices, especially in rural areas. It also sought to achieve regional integration in transport in collaboration with the League of Arab States and in line with International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other international standards. It had also sought to update relevant legislation.
Lebanon also sought to enhance protection against the effects of pesticides in industrial and chemical products through the introduction of legislation countering the illegal disposal of those substances, he said. He was also aware of the economic relevance of sustainable development, including in the areas of tourism and other industries, as well as of its relevance to the fight against poverty. Lebanon welcomed efforts to strike a balance between economic, social and environmental development. It stressed the need to find effective solutions to the impacts of climate change the negative effects of globalization. It supported efforts to improve the impact of ODA. Real determination on the part of the advanced countries was needed. The meeting today was important, as it was an opportunity to set up an “international partnership” to achieve international development goals. To that end, developed countries in particular should help to ensure that the goal of sustainable development did not “remain a mirage”.
ROBERTO RODRÍGUEZ (Peru), endorsing the statement made by the Group of 77 and China and the Rio Group, said the challenges and opportunities faced by both developed and developing countries should take into account a review of current unsustainable consumption and production patterns. Clearly, the use of natural resources, access to energy sources and economic and social development were closely linked to sustainable development. The loss of biodiversity, forest degradation and the loss of lands, coupled with the financial and energy crisis, had impacted developing countries, preventing them from implementing previous agreements on sustainable development and more support for sustainable development efforts was needed.
He said Peru had adopted an “eco-efficient” strategy that sought the highest possible development at the lowest environmental cost. Among other things, it aimed to reduce the use of natural resources, while maximizing recycling, resource yields, and the lifecycle of products. It sought to connect its local and national efforts with multilateral efforts, including those aimed at implementing international commitments. Those initiatives were promoted at all levels of the Government, and included econ-efficient procurement processes and less resource intensive administrative procedures. In addition, e-waste was now being regulated. Finally, he said the draft negotiating document was a good point of departure from which to seek consensus, urging States to reach a viable agreement.
TAKESHI OSUGA ( Japan) said that the growing scarcity and degradation of natural resources, coupled with the pressure of world population and economic growth, called for a “new paradigm” that enabled the international community to overcome the traditional dichotomies of developed versus developing countries, and the environment versus development. It was necessary to develop a “green growth model”, which reconciled economic development and environmental protection.
Japan had turned away from being a society of mass production and consumption through the adoption in 2003 of national legislation promoting the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling. It had also collaborated closely with the United Nations Centre for Regional Development to promote “Environmentally Sustainable Transport” to cope with the impacts of rapid economic growth and urbanization in Asia. Finally, he reminded the Commission of the inter-relatedness of the various developmental issues at stake, and said that each thematic issue should be considered with the broader picture of sustainable development in sight. The intertwined nature of sustainable development could be better understood through the lens of human security.
MERON REUBEN (Israel) underscored the opportunity provided by the current policy session to reach mutual understandings toward the development and implementation of innovative solutions regarding transport, chemicals, waster management, mining and the 10-Year Framework on sustainable consumption and production. He suggested that the draft negotiating document should be more specific in its targets and timetables for achieving major sustainable transportation objectives. It was imperative for countries to adopt sustainable chemical management policies, and harmonized and uniform international agreements on chemicals should be ratified worldwide. Moreover, proven systems and mechanisms known to protect human health and the environment should be integrated into national chemical management policies.
Turning to the text’s treatment of sustainable material management, he said an additional paragraph that reflected the growing consensus on the need to move from “waste policies” to “materials policies” that covered the full lifecycle of products and manufactured goods should be drafted. For its part, Israel continued to promote a domestic revolution that turned waste from “nuisance to resource”. In closing, he invited all delegations to a working breakfast with Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection on 13 May.
JEANINE VOLKEN ( Switzerland) thanked the Chair for making the draft negotiating document available to the members of the Commission ahead of the current session, which allowed for its early consideration. She stressed that the 10-Year Framework programme must be launched in the current session of the Commission, and the outcome of the session should be operational. Switzerland supported the draft text, but offered several proposals for changes, including that existing instruments on chemical management be better reflected and that the development of synergies be highlighted. Waste should be divided into two categories, solid waste and hazardous waste. Switzerland also wondered why food waste was not mentioned in the waste section of the document. On interlinkages and cross-cutting issues, Switzerland noted that the “polluter-pay” and the “precautionary” principles, among others, were not mentioned in the document.
RAFAEL ARCHONDO ( Bolivia), aligning with the Rio Group and the Group of 77 and China, suggested that the draft text’s section on implementation might be further strengthened to provide better balance. Women and indigenous groups should be better addressed, while alternative forms of involvement beyond public-private partnerships should be included. In the context of common but differentiated responsibilities, the developed countries should be the first to change their pattern of consumption and production. The section on mining should emphasize that all countries had the right exploit their natural resources in keeping with their national priorities. It should also emphasize the fair distribution of mining profits. National regulations should address corporate social and environmental responsibilities, while a reference of support for developing countries that wished to stop their export of natural minerals should be made. Bolivia supported the text’s call for an end to child labour.
He said the Commission should, in the section on the development of transportation systems, emphasize the need to construct roads and highways, noting that the development issue was currently obscured by references to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the auto industry should be encouraged to reduce the amount of pollution produced by their vehicles. Land-locked countries should also be encouraged to coordinate their development plans on a regional basis. Finally, traditional approaches used by indigenous communities should be supported, including in the area of “environmental production” and the transfer of clean technologies.
CHHUN VANNAK (Cambodia), aligning itself with the statements made by the representatives of Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and Indonesia on behalf of ASEAN, said that sustainable chemical management should be implemented in national development plans through specific actions plans. Sustainable waste disposal systems should be established, and mining practices should focus on the redistribution of mining income to address poverty and respect the environment. With regard to the 10-Year Framework, the importance of sustainable consumption and production policy at the national level should be highlighted, he said.
DMITRY I. MAKSIMYCHEV ( Russian Federation) said sustainable development was, rightly, one of the highest priorities on the international agenda and his country intended to enhance its contributions on both the regional and international levels. He stressed the fundamental importance of focusing the current session’s work on defining policy recommendations aimed at the priority themes of the current thematic cluster, noting that the draft negotiating text provided a good basis for reaching consensus. His country had made preliminary comments at the closing session of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting and continued to believe that the economic, environment and social dimensions must be taken into account in all areas. For its part, his Government was working to enhance cooperation between environmental bodies, civil society and business. It was also working to realize its environmental doctrine and its current transportation strategy running through 2030, while also developing new laws. In that respect, he highlighted his country joined the Rotterdam Convention.
RICARDO JORDAN, speaking on behalf of the five Regional Commissions and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), noted that realities, priorities, challenges, and policy solutions differed substantially among the five regions. Despite those differences, which were often reflected in how established and new concepts were addressed in each region, a number of common policy directions exited. Thus, the Regional Commissions wished to stress a number of policy areas for consideration during the current session. First, integrated transportation strategies must be conceived as part of a broader land-use strategy. Further, they should be expanded in both urban and rural areas. Efforts to ensure expanded access should be included, even as efforts were made to reduce emissions. He stressed that countries could benefit from plans that included multi-country integration. Pointing out that ECLAC and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) had prepared two side events on sustainable transport, he invited all to attend.
Continuing, he said the 10-Year Framework should consider the lessons of the Marrakesh Process, particularly those regarding the importance of regional approaches. The Framework should enable a systemic shift, rather than incremental changes. Moreover, a commitment to concrete means of implementation was needed. Underscoring the inevitable challenges of integrating the framework into national policy, he invited Member States to consider the instrumental role that multi-disciplinary capacities in the regional commissions could play
As the representatives of the major groups began to take the floor, the representative of Women said that the mining sector represented a system of “environmental violence” against women and children. Many women around the world earned their living directly from the environment, and suffered directly from its degradation. For example, women living close to chemicals were frequently sickened and passed chemicals onto the children in their wombs. The members of the Commission were the only ones who could change those negative systems, she said, calling finally for international environmental instruments to be legally binding.
The representative of children and youth called for “systemic change”, adding that “we have the opportunity to shape the future” with regard to sustainable consumption and production practices. That goal must be supported by actions reflecting the principles of equity and justice, he added. The world’s youth held parties responsible for their own waste. Additionally, the practice of child labour — in particular in the mining sector — must end.
The representative of indigenous peoples said that the section of the draft negotiating text that dealt with mining was “deeply contentious” for indigenous people, as a large percentage of the world’s uranium was mined from indigenous land. That system placed an unfair environmental and health burden on indigenous communities, she added, calling on the Commission to address the unsustainability of such mineral mining. The Commission should also take steps against other actions that caused long-term environmental damage, including the stripping of forests, improper waste disposal, and others. She called for improved mining practices, as addressed in the draft negotiating text.
The representative of non-governmental organizations suggested several changes to the preamble of the draft negotiating document text. In that section, the draft should mention that people lay at the heart of its sustainability solutions. It should also call for the full participation of all major groups and all people. Additionally, all stakeholders should be invited to participate in the development of the 10-Year Framework. A process should be implemented to integrate stakeholders in developing medium- and long-term environmental strategies, among other changes. It was necessary to shift toward an economy based on respect for natures and all life forms. Regulatory systems and accountability measures must be put in place for Governments and corporations. Finally, financing mechanisms based on a “polluter-pays” system should be used for the restoration of the natural environment.
A representative of local authorities said that the text should more clearly recognize that, in many countries, local governments were responsible for waste management. He encouraged making the links between waste and sustainable consumption and production more clear, particularly given the role of producers in reducing waste and encouraging recycling at the end of a product’s lifecycle. He supported the inclusion of support for an urban development programme under United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). Stressing that sustainable development issues were intrinsically linked at the local level and noting that that was often the nexus of implementation efforts, he said references to the local authorities should be included in the final text.
The representative of the workers and trade unions said the text appropriately reflected the importance of, among other things, the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards, the promotion of workers training and the need for chemical and waste management. Critically, however, it omitted any reference to “just transition” in the section on the 10-Year Framework. The importance of public investment in decent work and transport systems could also be better addressed. Underlining the role that trade unions played in the mining sector, he suggested the text must adequately reference that role.
A representative of business and industry said the text could, in its section on mining, better clarify the relevant boundaries in addressing community health issues. She endorsed the lifecycle approach to chemicals, underlining the need for a multi-stakeholder model and suggesting that the best approach combined science-based regulations and voluntary initiatives. She stressed that international efforts should avoid duplicating and undermining existing initiatives in developing policy for sustainable consumption and production. The text should encourage innovation, cleaner design and efficiency, including in the agricultural sector. Investing in new infrastructure was, among other things, critical in reducing emissions, she added.
The representative of the scientific and technological community said progress in meeting sustainable development goals required extensive investments in science and technology. Also important were South-South cooperation, knowledge sharing and networking, and enhanced trade. Referencing the “clear evidence” that human action was driving environmental change and that current patterns of sustainable consumption and production were unsustainable, she said it was essential to engage scientific and technological actors in finding sustainable solutions.
A representative of farmers said the existing text omitted one half of the first Millennium Development Goal — eradicating hunger — and stressed that the eradication of poverty and hunger should both be addressed. She welcomed the text’s strong call for better rural infrastructure, but expressed hope that the final document would go further. She suggested that the text must reference sustainable food security, noting that, as currently drafted, it overlooked a number of specific important areas of food production.
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* The 1st Meeting was covered in Press Release ENV/DEV/1135 dated 14 May 2010.