Twenty Years after Rio Summit, World’s Ecosystems Still Threatened by Unsustainable Consumption, Production, Commission Told as High-Level Segment Opens
Twenty Years after Rio Summit, World’s Ecosystems Still Threatened by Unsustainable Consumption, Production, Commission Told as High-Level Segment Opens
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Sustainable Development
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
Twenty Years after Rio Summit, World’s Ecosystems Still Threatened by Unsustainable
Consumption, Production, Commission Told as High-Level Segment Opens
Secretary General Urges Launch of 10-Year Framework on Issue ‘Without Delay’;
Commission Also Hears Three Keynote Speakers, Holds Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue
Twenty years after participants to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro first recognized that unsustainable consumption and production patterns formed the biggest threat to the Earth’s capacity to satisfy human needs, that challenge continued to loom large and finding a framework to control it must be seen as a strategic priority, the Commission on Sustainable Development was told today, as it opened its three-day high-level segment.
As the international community worked together to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, it must find ways to bring global resource consumption and environmental impacts within safe limits, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a message delivered by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs.
To that end, he said the sustainable consumption and production agenda must be imbedded in an appropriate institutional framework — the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. He urged the Commission to conclude negotiations on the Framework and launch it “without delay”, as an important contribution to next year’s Sustainable Development Conference in Rio.
Echoing the call for fundamental changes in consumption and production patterns, Commission Chair László Borbély, Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania, said sustainable development offered “the only path to common prosperity for future generations”, and underlined the particularly pressing need to adopt the 10-Year Framework during the Commission’s current session.
The session — the Commission’s nineteenth — caps a two-year cycle focused on transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and consumption and production patterns, and is expected to culminate Friday with the adoption of concrete policies to shift consumption and production patterns towards sustainability, improve chemical and waste management, and enhance transport and mining practices.
Delivering a sobering assessment of exactly what was at stake in one of three keynote addresses, Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said it was time to face the fact that the “juggernaut of the world economy has surpassed our ability even to deflect it and to save the planet for ourselves and our children.”
“We have been unable to even turn the direction slightly over the last 20 years,” he said, suggesting that, to fuel economic growth, resource consumption was skyrocketing. In some places, military power was being used to grab scarce resources, while the poorest and most vulnerable were being abandoned around the world. Consequently, “the world faced a global ethics crisis,” he argued, noting that in the current calculus, the rich felt they could shelter themselves and the poor felt they would just be pushed aside.
Against that backdrop, he called for a technological road map, as well as a carbon levy tax, adding that plans to fund research and development and to aid the required transition for poor economies were also required. If such actions were not taken, he warned that, “The poor would die, as would the middle class. In the end, the rich would, too.”
Providing a similarly dire diagnosis, Ashok Koshla, a former Director-General of the United Nations Environment Programme and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said the world faced two “diseases”: one of “affluenza”, or the crisis of people who were “consuming their way into oblivion”; and another of “povertitis”, in which too many people around the world lacked drinking water, food, fuel and other key resources.
He recommended changes in technology, laws, standards and norms to change that picture, stressing that it was necessary to begin questioning ways in which progress was measured. Specifically, it was time to go beyond a focus on gross domestic product (GDP) and to decouple the use of resources and the impacts of their use from development and growth.
Acknowledging the delicate balance that must be struck in determining how to live and prosper together within the restraints that one planet could provide, Janez Potočnik, Commissioner on Environment for the European Union, called for a positive, mutually reinforcing vision in which the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainable development could grow together dynamically.
He, too, urged the Commission to agree on a practical and workable 10-Year Framework, underscoring its potential to contribute to next year’s “Rio+20” Conference, which could mark the start of a world-wide transition toward a green economy that generated growth, created jobs and eradicated poverty by investing in the natural capital upon which the planet’s long-term survival depended.
During the plenary debate, a number of speakers underscored the importance of “Rio+20”, predicting that it would be as profoundly significant as the Earth Summit held twenty years before. Echoing others, Indonesia’s Minister for Environment of the Republic, said on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), that after several years which saw multiple, interconnected crises, the impetus now was to recalibrate global growth to be more congruent with the spirit and letter of sustainable development.
Along those lines, a number of speakers said the adoption of an ambitious 10-Year Framework of Programmes would pave the way for a paradigm shift toward greater sustainability. While reiterating the readiness of the Group of 77 and China to engage in a 10-Year Framework, Argentina’s representative placed emphasis on developed countries taking the lead and respecting their international commitments. Other speakers from developing countries also underlined the need for further financial support, particularly to enhance waste management and to support critical changes in transport.
During the multi-stakeholder dialogue held in the afternoon, ministers and other high-level Government officials, along with representatives of civil society, underlined the urgent need to “turn words into action” by drafting and implementing the 10-year Framework, with many calling for its swift launch. One speaker said it would constitute an “essential encouragement and inspiration” from the Commission at “Rio+20”. Another cautioned that, without a list of concrete programmes, the framework would amount only to an “empty shell”.
Addressing other thematic areas, speakers said gaps in the sustainable management of chemicals should be reduced throughout their life-cycle by enhancing regulatory frameworks in both the public and private sectors. Some maintained that to improve waste management, further data collection that gave particular attention to health and environmental risks was needed. Others called for the development of mass-modal transport systems and widespread reductions in emissions, as well as clear limits on mining activities. Representatives of major groups appealed for a greater voice in policy making and programme implementation, particularly for women and indigenous groups.
Taking part in the opening plenary session were ministers or high-ranking officials from Hungary (on behalf of the European Union), Barbados (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Israel, South Africa, Mexico, Chile, Gabon, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Japan, Switzerland and India.
The representatives of Sudan (on behalf of the Arab Group) and China also spoke.
Taking part in the afternoon multi-stakeholder dialogue were ministers from Hungary (on behalf of the European Union), the United States, Slovenia and South Africa.
Also offering comments were speakers from the following major groups: 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.
Representatives of the following United Nations system agencies also participated: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, 12 May to hold the first two of four ministerial round tables on its current thematic cluster.
The Commission on Sustainable Development met today to open the high-level segment of its nineteenth session, focusing on the priority themes: transport; chemicals; waste management (hazardous and solid waste); mining; and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns. For more information, please see Press Release ENV/DEV/1206 of 2 May 2011.
Commission Chair LÁSZLÓ BORBÉLY, Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania, said that the level of participation at the opening of the high-level meeting today revealed a firm commitment to further the sustainable development agenda, particularly in relation to the themes of the current thematic cycle: transport; chemicals; waste management; mining; and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns. Following last year’s review session, the 2011 Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting and other valuable intersessional meetings, the Commission had now reached the peak of a fruitful and productive process of discussion and exchange of views.
While negotiations in the past week and a half had been intense, they were marked by a high degree of cooperation and understanding, leading to good progress, he reported. Yet, competing ideas were still to be agreed on and consensus remained elusive on such issues as the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns, interlinkages, crosscutting issues and means of implementation. Underlining the collective responsibility of delegates to ensure that the results reached in New York were translated into meaningful action on the ground, he said, “It is up to us during these days to adopt decisions for future generations. It is our ultimate chance to make it happen. Let us spare no effort, constructive spirit or creativity in finding concrete solutions for the topics under discussion during our session.”
Voicing his hope that the current session would be forward-looking and action-oriented and would reinvigorate international cooperation, he said the high-level segment offered further opportunities to discuss how to tackle the critical challenges regarding existing patterns of resource use. “The global economic, food and fuel crises from which the international community is still recovering, as well as challenges posed by climate change predict the pressures yet to come, if we do not find a way to embrace sustainable development,” he said.
Outlining the high-level segment’s programme, he stressed that the various events afforded an opportunity for a much more focused discussion on issues of critical importance. They also aimed at fostering the kind of interactive dialogue that would shape a collective vision for achieving the development challenge highlighted in the session’s thematic cluster. He, thus, urged delegations to emphasize lessons learned, including policies and actions for scaling up best practices. Turning to next year’s “Rio+20” conference, he said that event would, with its preparatory process, provide a historic opportunity to reinvigorate global commitment on sustainable development. The decisions that could be reached in the next three days could make positive contribution to that conference, particularly those related to greening the economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
“The multiple crises and challenges we are facing today create a new sense of urgency and demand from us further cooperation, coordinated and coherent action and decisive implementation of commitments,” he told delegates. Policy options and practical measures to advance implementation should be duly supported by adequate means of implementation, especially adequate financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building, he added.
Sustainable development must be embraced, he said, without delay. Indeed, it was the only path to common prosperity for future generations and offered the only alternative to preserving the living environment. “Continuing on our current path of consumption and production will generate material and environmental poverty for future generations to come, and the response to the challenges we face is in our hands,” he concluded offering his commitment to working toward a successful conclusion of the session and urging delegates to translate political will into concrete deliverables capable of making a real difference for current and future generations.
The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, SHA ZUKANG, delivering the message of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, recalled that, at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, participants recognized that unsustainable consumption and production patterns formed the biggest threat to the Earth’s capacity to satisfy human needs. A decade later, Member States meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, endorsed a framework to support national and regional efforts to promote sustainable consumption and production. Nonetheless, he stressed, “the challenge continues to loom large” today. As the international community worked together to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, it must find ways to bring global resources consumption and environmental impacts within safe limits.
International cooperation was essential to making that transition happen, he said. Moreover, the sustainable consumption and production agenda should be viewed as a strategic priority that was embedded in an appropriate international framework. In that vein, participants at the recent high-level meeting on that issue, held in Panama earlier this year, had agreed on the need for a 10-Year Framework of Programmes to be concluded at the current Commission session. He encouraged the Commission to “mount a concerted response, conclude negotiations on just such a framework, and launch it without delay”.
JANEZ POTOČNIK, Commissioner on Environment for the European Union, said the biggest challenge of the twenty-first century was determining how to live and prosper together on Earth within the restraints that one planet could provide. At the same time — and to give humanity a chance to enjoy a decent life — growth also had to be ensured. Such growth must support human well-being, eradicate poverty, provide decent jobs — all while protecting and improving the state of the environment. Doing so required a positive, mutually reinforcing vision in which the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainable development could grow together dynamically.
It was fundamentally important to harness and direct patterns of consumption and production to sustainable paths, he said. Indeed, consumption and production were the economy’s bases and the key to a better future lay in transforming them into a model of sustainable production and consumption. He stressed that the agreements made at the Commission’s current session could be an essential milestone on the road to Rio 2012 and beyond, particularly noting in that regard the potential adoption of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable production and consumption, which would secure a plan of work well into the future. “Let us take the opportunity to look beyond today,” he urged.
At the “Rio+20” Conference, the world would be challenged to demonstrate its renewed political commitment for sustainable development and that event could mark the start of a profound, world-wide transition toward a green economy that generated growth, created jobs and eradicated poverty by investing in the natural capital upon which the planet’s long-term survival depended. It could also, he suggested, launch the needed reform of global governance and institutions.
He said the European Union was determined to contribute to making “Rio+20” a success, further noting that the bloc’s own policies were moving in the direction of the kind of patterns of sustainable production and consumption that were inextricably linked to a green economy. Last year, it launched the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Among other things, that strategy promoted a greener, more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy, taking as its specific objective a “Resource Efficient Europe”. It aimed to use all types of resources more efficiently and to decouple resource use from economic growth. In that context, resources were considered in the broadest sense, ranging from raw material, such as fuel, minerals and metals to food, water, air biomass, ecosystems and waste.
The European Union wanted, he said, to use resource efficiency to push a transformational agenda towards greening economies, thereby making them more sustainable, particularly for a range of areas, such as agriculture, biodiversity fisheries, energy and waste. For example, if oceans were managed sustainably, they would serve as a source of resources, economies and livelihoods. But, today, increasing and alarming evidence pointed to the depletion and pollution of marine resources, including marine litter — or “plastic soup” — which extended over huge areas of the world’s oceans. And that type of waste problem was not limited to oceans. Indeed, waste was a widespread problem with a wide range of environmental and resource impacts on land and water quality, as well as the state of biodiversity and human health. Particularly concerning was the impact of chemical and hazardous waste. To deal with waste, policies and regulatory measures that dealt with both the symptoms and the causes must be put in place. It was necessary to look “upstream” to the sources of waste and pollution using a life-cycle approach. It would require looking at how waste and pollution was generated and addressing it through better product design, changes in human behavior, better waste collection and better management of waste and chemicals.
Clearly, the world was fighting to promote a green economy on many fronts, he said. Holistic approaches, rather than one that focused on different areas in isolation, were needed to solve the world’s sustainability problems. Furthermore, the Commission’s work over the years had to be a logical continuation of the results to be achieved at “Rio+20”. That meeting must also incorporate a number of basic factors into the policy decisions to be taken, including: investing in the sustainable use of natural resources, which formed the world’s natural capital; establishing correct regulatory and market conditions; and ensuring better governance and positive incentives to give business a stronger role. With the right kinds of regulatory and market instruments and improved governance, such areas as water, renewable energy, ecosystem services and oceans could become key growth areas. Yet, the application of sustainable production and consumption principles would be essential and must be the way the economies of the future were developed. Doing so would offer opportunities for countries in all stages of development, not just industrialized ones, thus clearing a path to help people break out of the state of chronic poverty.
Finally, he stressed that, while Rio+20 would be a unique opportunity for the world to commit to sustainable development, environmental protection and improved global governance and to mark the global transition to a green economy, the Commission must ensure that the 10-Year Framework would work in practice and serve as a milestone on the path to that transformation.
JEFFREY SACHS, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Millennium Development Goals and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, as well as Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management, said that the world had reached, and gone beyond the tipping point. With the planet now in crisis, every country on the globe was affected, with countries like Australia and Pakistan grappling with floods, and others, like the United States, facing both drought and flood.
“We have been unable to even turn the direction slightly over the last 20 years,” he said, suggesting it was time to face the fact that the “juggernaut of the world economy has surpassed our ability even to deflect it and to save the planet for ourselves and our children.”
Today, the world economy was growing as a result of economic growth in developing countries, he said, noting that its value had increased four-fold in recent years. Consequently, resource use was exploding and water consumption was rapidly increasing, putting hundreds of millions of lives at stake. But, while the world was so good at so many production processes, “we are kidding ourselves to think we’re in control,” he said.
Europe was the only region that had made modest plans toward sustainable consumption and production, but it was only one small region, he said, adding that, fundamentally, the world faced a global ethics crisis. Fossil fuels were being used at the highest rates possible, and, in some places, military power was being used to grab scarce resources. Meanwhile, the poor were being abandoned and the rest of the world did not care. The rich felt they could shelter themselves and the poor felt they would just be pushed aside. “I’m sorry to say it, but this is the arithmetic we stand in front of,” he said.
He stressed that his own country, the United States, was moving backward. There, as in other countries, the oil industry was the single most powerful force and it seemed that there would be no braking that global juggernaut either. Indeed, “raw power is carrying us over the cliff,” he stressed.
Against that backdrop, a technological road map was needed, he said, warning, however, that such a guide did not yet exist even in a basic form. As one example, he pointed out that the United States could not even write down a plan because domestic politics and the oil lobby prevented that from happening, thereby jeopardizing the future of the entire world. He called for a carbon levy tax, as well as a plan to fund research and development and to aid the required transition for poor economies. While many promises had been made, he challenged delegations to find the $100 billion that had been promised by 2020, noting, as an economist, the current depreciation of that sum, even if was provided. To address the funding problem, a levy should be assessed country by country “whether they wanted it or not”.
If such actions were not taken, he warned that, “the poor would die, as would the middle class. In the end, the rich would, too.” Among other things, he said that regional cooperation was required, and, in that context, highlighted efforts undertaken by Europe. He further underscored that country-by-country efforts would inevitably prove insufficient. A global knowledge network was also needed, and must not be left to pockets of information workers, like journalists and academics, because their advice was not being listened to by Governments, which were in the hands of the oil lobby. Indeed, he said current Governments, hamstrung by politics and election cycles, were not organized to solve these problems. And yet “the juggernaut rolled on.”
Taking the floor, ASHOK KOSHLA, a former Director-General of the United Nations Environment Programme and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said that his substantial work in the environmental arena had given him insights into the kinds of solutions that would be needed to “save humanity, save civilization and save the planet”. First, it was necessary to look at the current global situation, in which humans used the Earth unsustainably, and to make critical changes. In the area of transport, for example, it would be necessary to learn to reduce the need for transport in general, as well as to identify more sustainable forms of transport. Changes would also be needed in the kinds of things we bought and made, in farming systems and in extractive industries, such as mining, among others.
“It’s all about consumption and production,” he stressed, adding that present consumption patterns demanded too much of the Earth, while production patterns left too much waste on it. Moreover, the world was facing two “diseases” today: those of “affluenza”, or the crisis of people who were “consuming their way into oblivion”, and that of “povertitis”, in which too many people around the world lacked drinking water, food, fuel and other key resources. Those diseases were both the cause and effect of inequitable patterns of consumption and production, which were in turn destroying the Earth.
In particular, he said, production systems in place today were destroying the earth as well as individual lives. Half-a-million people in China and another half-a-million in India died every year from external outdoor air pollution, he noted, while another 1.5 million women died in their kitchen due to indoor air pollution. Meanwhile, climate change, floods and droughts were rampant, leading to financial breakdowns and the massive movement of “eco-refugees” around the world.
Changes in technology, laws, standards and norms could make strides to change that picture, he said. In that regard, it was necessary to go beyond gross domestic product (GDP), which measured almost all the things that “don’t count in our real lives”, and to begin questioning ways in which progress was measured. It was also necessary to decouple the use of resources and the impacts of that use from development and growth, he said.
SILVIA MEREGA (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Group had pointed out in previous meetings of the Commission that transportation was a central component of sustainable development, economic growth and social development. However, developing countries still faced barriers in harnessing adequate and affordable transport, despite its importance to development and poverty eradication, among other things. Therefore, ensuring safe, affordable and efficient transportation, increasing fuel and energy efficiency, and pollution reduction should be objectives of the Commission’s discussion.
On waste management, she expected that international organizations and developed countries would provide assistance to developing countries, so that they might strengthen their national, human and institutional capacities. Meanwhile, in the area of chemicals, investments from developed countries were welcome in developing nations, and multinational industries based in developing countries must maintain the same operational practices regarding environmental health and safer technologies. She also reiterated readiness to engage in a 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead and respecting their international commitments. In the area of mining, she saw the importance of striking a balance between economic, social and environmental impacts of mining activities. In that respect, mining policy should be kept in line with the Rio principles and those of sustainable development. It was important to note the contribution of mining to the attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and to implementation of sustainable development
She said the Group was seriously concerned about the “long and uneven” pace of negotiations among the Commission’s priority themes, as well as at attempts to “dilute” the language regarding the Means of Implementation. It was necessary not to forget that, at the Commission’s eleventh session, there had been an agreement to have a specific provision for the Means of Implementation under each theme, and also a provision as a stand-alone issue. The Group expected that agreement to be observed. Means of implementation were very specific for each of the themes, she stressed, and should therefore be considered and agreed upon for each theme, as well as under the inter-linkages, cross-cutting and means of implementation sections.
SÁNDOR FAZEKAS, Minister of Rural Development of Hungary, speaking on behalf of the European Union, requested that major groups be afforded the same speaking rights granted to them in other environment-related forums less restrictive than the Commission on Sustainable Development, and that they be given more time to speak. The spirit and legacy of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit should be preserved, which relied very much on contributions from civil society. While all themes were equally important, the European Union’s key objective for the current cycle was the adoption of an ambitious 10-Year Framework of Programmes that would pave the way for a paradigm shift leading to a more sustainable world.
He said that the decisions the Commission would take on sustainable consumption and production, transport, chemicals, waste, mining and cross-cutting issues should contribute to addressing many challenges, particularly the transition towards a green economy. Current consumption and production patterns had exceeded the carrying capacity of ecosystems in various geographic areas. To meet the basic needs of a growing population within the earth’s finite resources, the international community needed to rethink the concept of further growth and come up with a more sustainable model, one that could also deliver important social benefits. To accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production, the European Union strongly supported the development of an ambitious 10-Year Framework, and were fully committed to its implementation, which could also respond to current political demands for “greener” economies. The programmes should be supported by an efficient institutional structure derived from existing United Nations entities, promoting inter-agency collaboration and with the involvement of the private sector.
Regarding transport, he said that sustainable mobility was essential in a globalized world, and played a crucial role in an inclusive society in terms of increased living standards, international trade, and tourism. Transport was still largely dependent on fossil fuels, and significantly contributed to climate change. The Union, thus, looked forward to reaching agreement on measures to help manage demand, change mobility habits, and promote clean and low-carbon transport, among other efforts. He added that waste prevention should be favoured over reuse, followed by recycling of energy embedded in waste, with disposal as a last resort. The Union would continue to combat illegal shipments of waste, and he encouraged all parties to ratify the ban amendment under the Basel Convention. Regarding mining, he said that, while raw materials were crucial for the functioning of modern society, it would become ever more necessary to minimize waste and energy used during production. To achieve the 2020 goal on sound management of chemicals, the international policy and legal framework for chemicals should be strengthened. The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management constituted an important global framework for strengthening capacities for sound chemicals management, and narrowing the capacity gap between the developing and the developed world.
GUSTI MUHAMMAD HATTA, Minister for Environment of the Republic of Indonesia, on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development remained as profoundly significant as the Earth Summit held twenty years before. Coming off the heels of several interconnected crises over the past years, the impetus now was to recalibrate global growth to be more congruent with the spirit and letter of sustainable development. The Conference should not be about creating a new path, but walking the one set in Rio and Johannesburg. Potential catalysts that would strengthen the sustainable development path needed to be explored, and the Conference’s themes of the green economy and an institutional framework on sustainable development were timely issues to discuss. Effective institutions were needed to consider issues that related to the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development. The Commission on Sustainable Development had filled that role since Rio, and should continue to play a leading role.
Discussing the areas of mining, transport, chemicals, and waste management, he said that they all related to our daily lives and had a vital role in poverty eradication and a sustainable future for all. The supply of transport should enhance efforts towards greater connectivity and economic development, while also contributing to less pollution and improving social conditions. With mining, sustainable practices and strengthening of corporate social and environmental responsibility, as well as public-private partnerships, should support community livelihoods and countries’ development plans. Given that more waste was being generated globally, there was a need to consider how to reduce, reuse, and recycle more efficiently and there should be a particular focus on building capacity to implement such policies. As for chemicals and hazardous waste, the convening of simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions in Bali in February 2010 was an important step to enhance synergies between the three conventions. ASEAN would seek to optimize the current Basel Convention Regional Center for South East Asia situated in Indonesia, which served as a centre for regional capacity building for sound chemical and waste management within the region.
Ultimately, to ensure that sustainable consumption and production patterns played a lasting role required political will, raising awareness, and encouraging good practices, he said. The 10-Year Framework on sustainable consumption and production patterns that would be adopted was an important contribution and he hoped it could launch a global movement. There was a need to assist developing countries in the implementation of the framework, including a mechanism to facilitate environmentally sound technologies, strengthen capacity building, and provide financial resources for the transformation to sustainable consumption and production. It was important to be proactive on the issue and an ASEAN Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production had been held in April this year, in Jakarta. Finally, the Minister extended an invitation to join the High-Level Dialogue on the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development to be held in Solo from 19 to 21 July 2011, which he hoped would contribute to the preparations for Rio+20.
ARWA ANWAR MOHAMED SALIH(Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, underscored the mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development, as well as the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. She said the Arab Group had made progress in complying with its commitments under Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the 2005 World Summit Outcome document. Together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) had prepared a report on the current status of that work, as well as future policy goals. Among other things, the report said transport management had been improved among the countries of the Arab Group, and today the Group stressed the need to mobilize resources to further that progress.
She further noted the Group’s efforts to better coordinate chemical management, while acknowledging that it foresaw a number of difficulties, including in building capacity and sustaining funding. Sustainable waste management remained a particular challenge for the Group, she said, stressing that developed countries must fulfil their commitments to aid developing countries. The Arab Group had invited a range of actors and groups to consider how to assist research and development in the area of mining, among others. The Group was prepared to establish a set of cooperative initiatives to assess environmental dangers, to better design and package products, and to address the problem of waste, as part of the 10-Year Framework on sustainable production and consumption.
She stressed the need to support development in the developing world, as well as among those living under occupation in Palestine. In that regard, she urged the “Rio+20” conference to take Israel’s actions into account, including those that aimed to modify the character of the occupied territory. She further stressed that Israel was violating international law and posed an obstacle to the movement of the Palestinian people. Israel continued to confiscate Palestinian lands and was impeding the movement of goods by building a “racist” wall, she said.
HON DENIS KELLMAN, Minister of the Environment, Water Resources Management and Drainage of Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, aligned his statement with that statement made by the representative of Argentina, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. He said that Commission was of specific significance to Small Island Developing States, as it served as the primary body for implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, which in turn were the essential blueprints for addressing the sustainable development needs of Small Island States. Unfortunately, the Alliance did not see the same degree of priority and importance given to those issues by the international community. He noted that each of the 2011 thematic issues “cut to the core” of the unique and particular vulnerabilities of Small Island States. Island nations required international and regional support to improve their transport systems and to improve their links, both among islands and with the outside world. Financial support was needed for the development, transfer and implementation of waste management technologies appropriate for Small Island States, while efforts were also necessary to assist Small Island States in management of extractive industries.
Of all the cross-cutting issues currently facing Small Island States, by far the most significant was the growing threat of climate change. While those States had contributed the least to that global threat, they continued to bear the brunt of its effects. There was a clear need for an integrated approach that included capacity-building and transfer of technologies to assist Small Island States in addressing the dangers that climate change posed to their island ecosystems. There was a need for a more focused and results-oriented approach to delivering support to Small States, one that included specific benchmarks, goals and targets, as well as the adoption of enhanced, formal and holistic coordination by the United Nations system.
ZHENG WANTONG (China) said that, since the 1992 Rio Conference, “gratifying progress” had been made in countries’ coordinated economic development on the one hand and the environment on the other. Nevertheless, the trend toward global environmental degradation had yet to be reversed, and the socio-economic development of developing countries still faced difficulties in terms of funding and capacities. The financial crisis, natural disasters and regional turmoil had made it even harder for those countries to achieve sustainable development, he said.
In that light, he made several comments regarding international efforts to implement tasks laid out by the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. First, each party should perform its respective duty to promote common development. Countries differed in their national conditions and levels of development, and should shoulder their own responsibilities, adopt strategies and measures suited to their national conditions, and promote the achievement of sustainable development in those areas. The international community, meanwhile, should respect the right of States to promote sustainable development and give them the necessary policy space to do so. Developed countries should shift their unsustainable modes of production and consumption and avoid massive consumption of resources and energy. Second, parties should redouble their efforts to promote technological cooperation and should increase policy incentives, regulation and technological support, among other goals. Third, parties should deepen cooperation and strengthen partnerships. He said, China had been following the path of green development and pushing for “balanced development” of the world economy, and would continue to do so by concentrating on key issues, such as improved energy production, conservation and management of mineral resources and development of a comprehensive transportation system.
TURKI BIN NASSER BIN ABDUL AZIZ AL-SAUD, President-General of the Meteorological and Environment Protection of Saudi Arabia, said his country had made remarkable progress in key areas of importance to the development of both his, and the other developing countries; citing the transport and mining sectors as examples where such progress had been recorded. The transport sector was important not only in achieving the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals, but to the overall efforts to attain sustainable development and to eradicate poverty. Thus, policy development in that sector should aim at creating an environment conducive to sustainable transport that responded to national priorities and addressed local conditions and also provided transportation that was safe, affordable, appropriate and used energy more efficiently to reduce pollution, congestion and adverse health effects.
With regard to the mining industry, which he noted was gaining importance in his country, he called for enhanced transparency in mining activities and the integration of such activities in sustainable development planning and the adoption of regulations that mitigated the environmental impacts of mining, as well as addressed their social impacts through the integration and strengthening of local communities in those activities, in line with the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. He said there was also a need to address the environmental and social impacts of mining through the adoption of good practices that had been developed, including the principles of sustainable mining, mine safety and occupational health, waste management, and rehabilitation of exploited mines.
Acknowledging the major role played by chemicals in the economic development of the world, he called for the development of a global approach to address issues dealing with chemicals and their use and disposal to reduce health risks to humans and the environment. However, he noted that most developing countries lacked the financial resources and technical capacity to deal with such materials. That was compounded by inadequate information about potential risks. Therefore, there was need for a common understanding of the provisions relating to the definition of hazardous and other wastes. Equally important was the need to achieve coherence and synergies between international conventions on chemicals and hazardous wastes, he added.
PHIL HOGAN, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government of Ireland, associating his statement with that made on behalf of the European Union, said that the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Production and Consumption offered the opportunity to create a common vision and an action-based approach on the sustainable use of natural resources. In that regard, the “Resource-efficient Europe” flagship initiative, under the European Union 2020 Strategy, detailed several necessary actions, namely: to decouple economic growth from the use of resources; support the shift toward a low-carbon economy; increase the use of renewable energy sources; modernize the transport sector; and promote energy efficiency. Ireland was active on all of those agendas, with the ultimate goals of increasing renewable energy and the achievement of 20 per cent energy efficiency savings by 2020, among others.
In the area of waste management, a more progressive approach that saw waste as a resource with an economic value could create jobs, drive innovation and reduce pollution, he said. On mining, Ireland had an integrated and robust regulatory framework which encouraged “responsible exploration”. At an overall level, the global economic crisis had provided “a stark wake-up call” that the old business-as-usual approaches would not work to achieve sustainable growth and protect the environment. Ireland, therefore, welcomed the increasing focus on the “green economy”, which was central to achieving long-term sustainable development and enduring economic growth that provided decent jobs and reduced poverty.
Aligning his country with the European Union, PREDRAG SEKULIĆ, Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, affirmed Montenegro’s readiness to actively participate in the preparatory process for the Rio+20 Summit. He said the Western Balkans region found itself lost between developing and developed countries and its needs were frequently inadequately represented in international documents. As chair of the South-East Europe Cooperation Process, Montenegro organized a ministerial meeting on energy and sustainable development on 8 April 2011. The meeting, which also served as the first preparatory meeting of the countries in the region for the Rio Summit, led to the adoption of the Budva Declaration, which would be distributed with this speech.
In the Budva Declaration on strengthening regional cooperation and coordination in promotion of energy in the context of sustainable development and green economy in South East Europe”, the ministers and high representatives of the Process acknowledged that the aim of the Ministerial Meeting was to identify regional needs and priorities. The Meeting also aimed to provide guidance and help harmonize donors’ activities, in order to avoid overlap in the run up to the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.
Among the commitments laid out in the declaration, the ministers agreed to coordinate the public sector’s “lead-by-example” actions, while recognizing the importance of private investment, public-private partnerships and international cooperation, including through the development of regional innovation centres. They also declared their commitment to work together to remove barriers, establish incentives, and build on best practices.
GHEORGHE SALARU, Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Moldova, said that international forums, including regional ones, were critical to moving sustainable development forward, particularly in the area of chemical management. Clearly, it was only through coordinated efforts that the goals set by the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as the targets on sound chemical management set at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, could be reached. He said that to diminish the detrimental effects of the production and use of chemicals, Moldova had adopted a number of laws and regulations and joined critical regional and international agreements, such as the Basel Convention. Through its own budget allocations, and with support of development partners, it had eliminated a significant amount of chemical waste, thereby reducing threats to the environment and human health.
He said that specifically regarding the management of hazardous waste and “POPs” — persistent organic pollutants — Moldova had created a database. It had also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Czech Republic to further eliminate pesticide waste. The Government of Moldova understood all too well that the success of further endeavours would only be possible if they were multifaceted and multilateral, he concluded.
GILAD ERDAN, Minister of Environmental Protection of Israel, said that the harsh reality of declining resources should guide the international response to achieving sustainable development goals. “Simply put, we must do more with less”, he said. The vision for a sustainable future must be based in developing a green economy — based on dematerialization, eco-efficiency and eco-innovation. In that light, using waste as a resource and reducing the environmental impact of the consumption and production of goods and services could help to achieve the objective of a “triple bottom line”. Economies could be improved by encouraging innovative eco-technologies and eco-industries; quality of life could be improved by reducing pollutants and promoting human welfare; and the environment could be improved by respecting the earth’s natural carrying capacity.
It was the responsibility of Governments to decouple the destructive link between economic growth and environmental degradation using regulation, enforcement, planning, economic instruments and education, he said. At the same time, it was necessary to catalyse greater demand for environmentally friendly and resource-efficient products, safer chemicals and better transportation. Most importantly, it was important to develop indicators that went beyond GDP to measure the environmental and social impacts of human activities, ensuring progress on the path toward sustainable development. He added that Israel continued to be an “island of stability” and rights in the Middle East, in particular in light of the recent unrest in the region. Finally, he stressed that any dispute between Israel and the Palestinians could only be resolved through direct negotiations, in which the Palestinians refused to engage, opting instead for “unilateral” methods.
EDNA MOLEWA, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa, said that the achievement of the sustainable development agenda remained critical for developing countries, particularly in Africa, and that emphasis should be placed on policies that promoted economic growth to enhance poverty reduction efforts and help meet the Millennium Development Goals. The current session should agree on concrete policy actions, supported by clear means of implementation and political will to address the challenges identified during last session. Chemicals would continue being important for economic development, particularly their use in the form of agricultural and household products. However, technical and financial support, as well as education and awareness, were crucial for addressing challenges associated with chemicals in developing countries. Further, synergies of relevant conventions, accessibility of information, and reliable data, including to all users of chemicals, needed to be promoted.
Socio-economic development would increase waste generation, which would increase the need for enhanced technological, technical, and financial support in most developing countries, she said. In order to address the challenges associated with waste, there had to be a shift towards policies that promoted waste as a resource and integrated waste management policies, to focus on the approach of reducing, re-using, and recycling. The growing challenge of the transboundary shipment of hazardous waste, specifically e-waste, was of concern, and extended producer responsibility had to be adopted in dealing with waste. Sustainable consumption and production, additionally, offered an opportunity to reflect on resource efficiency. The establishment of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable consumption and production had to facilitate support of existing regional and national programmes that promoted that efficiency.
Transport was also key in promoting economic growth, connectivity, and trade in the African region, she said. It enabled the movement of people, products, and services. Commission decisions had to address the challenges of skills, infrastructure costs, and maintenance. The ongoing cooperation with development partners in the areas of sustainable infrastructure development, such as bus rapid transit systems, railways, and high-speed rail systems, was needed. Moreover, at the heart of the sustainable development debate was the balance between the “triple bottom line” and development, particularly for the mining sector. It was crucial to adopt policy decisions that would strike a balance between economic, social, and environmental impacts associated with mining activities. Finance, technology, and capacity-building continued to be fundamental, and strengthening South-South and South-North cooperation was critical.
JUAN RAFAEL ELVIRA, Secretary of the Environment of Mexico, said that 20 yeas after the Earth Summit, the international community had not yet reached a point of sustainability. Yet, present day challenges provided an opportunity to determine new initiatives and boost political commitment at all levels. The Commission on Sustainable Development must seize that opportunity. A comprehensive approach that linked cooperation and investment was clearly needed. Among other things, it must account for decisions by producers and consumers, while fostering necessary innovations, boosting the participation of a wide range of actors and employing a strong regulatory framework. He stressed that political leaders must act with greater dynamism and commitment, otherwise the proposals to be made at “ Rio+20” would prove insufficient. In particular, it was time to agree on a 10-Year Framework on sustainable production and consumption.
He said Mexico was working to include sustainable development principles in its approach to forest management by balancing protections for biodiversity and economic needs. Among other things, the Government had undertaken a household appliance replacement programme to reduce the use of resource-hungry appliances, such as refrigerators. Currently, recycling levels were at 14 per cent. Mexico was also making progress on implementing the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the production of chlorofluorocarbons had been completely eliminated. In the transport area, Mexico was working to expand its public transportation systems to reduce the use of cars in over two-dozen cities.
PABLO WAGNER, Vice-Minister of Mining of Chile, said that the vast majority of countries now had strong environmental institutions, while much progress had been made in reducing poverty around the world. However, the international community still faced many challenges in those areas, as well as in such areas as the protection of biodiversity and the care of the planet for future generations. During the current session, progress had been made in the Commission’s negotiation on the issues of transport, mining, chemicals and waste management, as well as in the development of a framework on sustainable and production patterns.
He reaffirmed the need for countries to utilize their resources, while evolving toward more sustainable methods of use. Additionally, countries must acquire more technologies that improved the level and quality of employment for their workers, among other goals, and helped achieve the level of development required by the Millennium Development Goals. Countries had “shared, but differentiated” responsibilities, he said, stressing the need for increased cooperation at South-South, North-South and triangular levels. Chile, and the Latin American region in general, had the right to use its resources in a sustainable manner, and deserved to do so.
BLAISE LOUEMBE, Minister of Habitat, Urban Ecology and Sustainable Development of Gabon, aligning with the G-77 and China, said the present session offered an occasion to resolutely advance on the path toward sustainable development. His Government had adopted a “Green Gabon” strategy, which aimed at the efficient use of its natural resources and ecosystems, in concert with the larger global fight against climate change and towards sustainable development. Gabon had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, among other international environmental agreements and had implemented a number of legal protections for the environment. With a forest cover of 80 per cent and a long coastline of 800 kilometres, Gabon also possessed mineral resources, the extraction of which would pose a challenge to the environment. To protect these natural resources, the Government had enacted an environmental code to guide the mining sector, as well as regulations governing waste management. The import of plastic, non-biodegradable bags had been banned, and Gabon was using the “reduce, recycle, reuse” framework to deal with waste.
Continuing, he underlined the Government’s efforts to prevent illegal trafficking of hazardous and harmful products. He also noted its invitation to the European Union to conduct a mining inventory, and pointed out that Gabon was party to the Kimberley Process. A separate mining study had also been undertaken with the World Bank. He said that, in the area of transport, road networks were being planned and the Government’s transport policies aimed to reduce air pollution from fuel use. Finally, Gabon supported the Commission’s resolution, which it hoped would help ensure that the world of tomorrow would be better than today.
YERLAN NIGMATULIN, Chairman of the Environment Committee of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, said that the country’s decision to shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear-testing site demonstrated that a policy of security and a commitment to the principles and initiatives of sustainable development was a priority for his country. He pointed to the address by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, made at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Summit in Astana in December 2010, that called for the adoption of a Universal Declaration for a Nuclear-Free World.
The Kazak Government had given great attention to the issue of energy efficiency and the creation of necessary legal frameworks, he said. Its main policy document in that area was the Kazakhstan Strategic Development Plan through 2020, adopted in 2010. The 10-year plan called for reducing the energy intensity of GDP by no less that 10 per cent by 2015, compared to 2009, and by at least 25 per cent by 2020. Other measures taken by the Kazak Government to foster sustainable development include holding the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific in Astana, from 27 September to 2 October 2010. In 2010, the Zhasyl Damu national programme was adopted to apply the progressive principles of the “green economy”. In 2009, the Government adopted a law supporting the use of renewable energy sources, and was drafting revisions to the law on energy conservation.
The Government had made waste reduction a priority and was drafting a bill to update and provide amendments to existing legislation on waste management, he said. The Seventh Ministerial Conference on “Environment for Europe” was scheduled for September 2011 in Astana, to discuss the creation of a partnership to implement the Astana Green Bridge Initiative. The initiative aimed to develop cooperation among regions and sectors to create conditions to carry out “green” economy principles.
MARGARITA R. SONGCO, Deputy Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, aligned her statement with that made by the representative of Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. She said challenges, including continuing disparities among and within nations, increasing fuel and commodity prices, disasters and the deteriorating state of the environment underscored the importance of strengthening global partnership. The current session should be a “take off point” for the most ambitious degree of political commitment and international cooperation on those issues, both at the national and international levels.
Her countries continued to develop and implement mechanisms that would effectively operationalize sustainable development in response to the Agenda 21, and which were anchored in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Philippines believed in establishing a new national infrastructure for chemical regulation and management, and supported the adoption and implementation of a globally harmonized system on that matter. On the rapid increase in volume and types of waste, as well as new waste streams, the Philippines highly supported policy options that would regulate the trans-boundary movement of waste, particularly those entering the ASEAN region, and supported ecological waste management focusing on the life cycle, the “3R” (reduce, reuse, recycle) concept and extended producer responsibility. On mining, it was imperative that mining abided by the principles of sustainable development and must be in harmony with policies on conservation, protection and rehabilitation of environment and natural resources. On transport, adequate and efficient transport systems were important to reducing poverty. Infrastructure development, funding, partnerships and capacity-building of national and local institutions and stakeholders were important in that respect. Finally, the Philippines supported the creation of the global 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
HIDEKI MINAMIKAWA, Vice-Minister of the Environment of Japan, expressing gratitude for the support shown to his country following the recent earthquake and tsunami, said his country was committed to reconstructing itself, actively establishing a sustainable society and, ultimately, sharing its experiences with the world. Turning to the Commission’s current agenda, he said Japan had proposed the “3R Initiative” at the Group of Eight Summit in 2004 and had since contributed to building an international framework for the “3Rs” — reduce, recycle and reuse — including through the establishment of the Regional 3R forum in Asia. Japan was also promoting the “3R” principle at home and had hosted in Tokyo, an intersessional forum on moving toward zero waste, which recognized the significance of building partnership between stakeholders. He noted that Japan would hold a side event on 12 May to present the outcomes of that conference.
Turning to chemical management, he voiced appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations, including the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management. He noted Japan’s role in negotiations to develop a global, legally-binding instrument on mercury, pledging its active contribution to those discussions. He also highlighted the outcomes of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was held in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010. That included the adoption of new global targets for biodiversity, known as the “Aichi Biodiversity Targets”, as well as the Nagoya Protocol for those targets. Japan intended to contribute to capacity- building in developing countries through the Japan Biodiversity Fund. It would also support the early entry-into-force of the Nagoya Protocol through an implementation fund under the World Bank. For its part, Japan would sign that Protocol during a signing ceremony later today.
FRANZ PERREZ, Ambassador for the Environment of Switzerland, said that the topic of chemicals and waste was of particular importance to Switzerland, which was host to much of the global chemical industry, as well as to the secretariats of many major international chemical Conventions. Chemicals offered tremendous opportunities, but their management posed significant risks to human life, he said. The poorest suffered the most from their poor management. It was most appropriate that, during the International Year of Chemistry 2011, the Commission made strides in promoting sound chemical management policies.
However, the topic for which the Commission’s current session would be remembered was sustainable consumption and production. In that light, the 10- Year Framework of Programmes must be launched at the current session, and must become operational immediately. A list of initial programmes, based on the experiences of the Marrakech Process, was needed. Moreover, sustainable consumption and production was an “essential driver in bringing about the green economy”, he concluded.
T. CHATTERJEE, Secretary of Environment and Forests of India, said that transportation was a central component of economic growth and poverty eradication, and that, in particular, rural connectivity held the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In India, close to 180,000 rural habitations had been connected with all-weather roads in the past 10 years, and meanwhile carbon-emission control and wildlife preservation had been respected. On a related issue, that of cleaner fuel technologies, the city of Delhi had the largest fleet of busses operating on compressed natural gas, which was a successful example of low-carbon sustainable transport. Nonetheless, international financial assistance was needed by developing countries, in order to supplement their national efforts.
India had announced a voluntary reduction of carbon emission intensity of its GDP by 20 to 25 per cent by 2020, based on 2005 levels. India felt that the debate on a green economy needed to address not only the issue of energy, but also the twin threats of the global food and water crises. In that context, a holistic approach to a sustainable consumption and production framework became paramount. With regard to that 10-Year Framework, India hoped that developed countries would take the lead, in tandem with the principle of common, but differentiated responsibilities. It was essential that the key programme areas, as well as the coordination mechanism, were well-negotiated and conformed to the basic principle of avoiding imposition of new constraints on developing countries. Institutional innovation had to be unleashed at all levels — local, national, regional and global — so as to devise new mechanisms for efficient resource use, holistic planning, and effective low-cost regulation.
Kicking off the multi-stakeholder dialogue this afternoon, Commission Chair LÁSZLÓ BORBÉLY, Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania, recalled that in the past, stakeholders had expressed “justified concerns” about the slow progress in achieving sustainable development goals. In light of those concerns, the present dialogue had, as its main objective, to identify policy options and practical measures, and to outline the way forward in implementing the sustainable development agenda. Stressing that the Commission should build on results achieved so far and make use of existing synergies for accelerating the implementation of policy decisions, he added, “it is our collective responsibility to make the results of the CSD-19 be implemented on the ground.”
Many representatives speaking during the ensuing discussion stressed the urgent need to “turn words into action” by drafting and implementing the 10-Year Framework on Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production. In that regard, the representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said that the framework, which required commitment on the highest political level and the strategic channelling of resources, could serve as a “powerful platform” to support sustainable consumption and production patterns worldwide. Like other speakers today, he urged the Commission to launch the framework immediately following the current session and to ensure that it quickly became operational.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Zoltan Illes, the Secretary for the Environment of Hungary, agreed. Moreover, he said, the adoption of the 10-Year Framework constituted an “essential encouragement and inspiration” from the Commission to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in June 2012. Still, other participants, including the representative of children and youth, strongly supported including a list of concrete programmes in the framework. Without such a list, the framework would be an “empty shell”, he stressed, adding that only such concrete recommendations would bring about action.
Focusing on the goal of delivering recommendations on practical measures, some speakers — including representatives of United Nations agencies and major groups — made recommendations in line with their particular areas of expertise. In the area of industry, for example, a representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Agency called on the Commission to deliver a 10-year framework of programmes that would support green industries around the world. He said that, among other concrete solutions, the framework should include provisions for capacity building and technology transfer. For its part, the Agency could lead a programme on cleaner production in developing countries, he said.
In another set of concrete proposals heard today, the representative of the scientific and technological community said that it was critical to develop research and analysis programmes by monitoring consumer behaviour. On transport, lower emissions were needed and a mass-modal transport system should be developed. Gaps in the sustainable management of chemicals should be reduced throughout their life-cycle in both the public and private sectors by enhancing regulatory frameworks. On the issue of waste management, he said, more data collection was needed with special attention given to health and environmental risks.
The representative of non-governmental organizations stressed that many such organizations and social entrepreneurs had a great deal of expertise that could be called upon in the implementation of sustainable development programmes. Non-governmental organizations were engaging with wider society and could engage in a way that Governments could not, he said, adding that they were developing “working examples” of sustainable communities all over the world. Those programmes could be replicated easily and at a low cost, he emphasized.
Other stakeholders, including representatives of major groups, such as women and youth, echoed the appeal for a greater voice in policy making and programme implementation. A representative for indigenous peoples called for indigenous groups to be more central in drafting environmental policy and policies on mining, in particular. Despite the fact that mining activities disproportionately affected indigenous communities, they were frequently absent from discussions on the issue. Governments should set clear limits and targets on mining activities, she said, and should place a complete ban on the improper disposal of mining wastes, the strip mining of ancient forests and other detrimental practices that were still used by some of the world’s biggest mining companies.
Also taking part in the dialogue were the representatives of the United States and South Africa.
United Nations system organizations, namely the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, and UNDP, also took part in the discussion, as did representatives of other major groups — women, the workers and trade unions, business and industry and farmers.
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