Usual Approach Will Lead to Irreversible Damage, Under-Secretary-General Warns as Second Committee Begins Considering Sustainable Development
Usual Approach Will Lead to Irreversible Damage, Under-Secretary-General Warns as Second Committee Begins Considering Sustainable Development
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
28th & 29th Meetings (AM & PM)
Usual Approach Will Lead to Irreversible Damage, Under-Secretary-General Warns
as Second Committee Begins Considering Sustainable Development
The planet would suffer irreversible damage if “business as usual” continued, Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs warned today as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its consideration of sustainable development.
Calling upon States to make long-term political commitments to improve global coherence, he said they should aspire to a forward-looking and action-oriented strategy to deal with new and rising global challenges. Speaking in his capacity as Secretary-General of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”), he said the international community was far off track in its pursuit of the vision formed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the “Earth Summit”), also held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.
Progress on the sustainable development front required a change in direction, meaning greater access to technology, finance and energy, as well as shifts in lifestyles and values, he said. Success would be assured through partnership and unity on a global scale in tackling an issue as pertinent to the survival of humanity as sustainable development.
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser ( Qatar), President of the General Assembly, said there was a critical need for action in the area of climate change to ensure the survival of humankind. The benefits of development were not seen by the wider global community, he said, stressing the need for urgent action to spread the benefits of globalization and growth. Urging the global community to strengthen its commitment, he reiterated the need to pay special attention to the world’s most vulnerable populations, including those in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, and in Africa.
Both national and international efforts were necessary to ensure that sustainable development could move forward, he said, adding that commitment and political will were the driving force. Regarding the connection between disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, he cited the increasing frequency and severity of floods, desertification, drought and other extreme climate events, stressing that preparedness for disasters was a major component of reducing socio-economic vulnerability.
The representative of Barbados, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said small island developing States were especially vulnerable to climate change, but their vulnerabilities were not taken into account during consideration of their trade, financial, and development needs. Hopefully, Rio+20 would be a chance to honour commitments to small islands and implement focused policies, he said.
Nepal’s representative, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in order for those to enjoy any progress on sustainable development, developed countries must reduce or cancel their debts, open their markets to least-developed-world goods, and transfer technology to enable them to compete in a climate-conscious global economy. A special focus should be placed on areas such as energy, water and sustainable agriculture, including forestry for food security, biodiversity and the marine environment, he said.
Nauru’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States, said that a green economy was in fact a “blue economy” for that category of nations, adding that marine and ocean resources were the basis of the Pacific region’s livelihoods, food security, and economy. It was estimated that by 2030, 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs would be threatened by the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, and other human impacts unless something was done, she said.
Australia’s representing, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, also stressed the importance of preserving the ocean, saying that marine resources and ecosystems were not only a source of food and income for hundreds of millions of people, but also the foundation of sustainable development for many countries.
Qatar’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, said the region suffered from desertification and land degradation, which hampered the development of agriculture. It was also of great importance to preserve biological diversity and the right of developing countries to their own natural and genetic resources and territories, he said, expressing hope that Rio+20 would review and assess progress achieved since the 1992 Earth Summit.
The representative of the United States asked all parties to be realistic and not to try to make the Rio+20 Conference “all things to all people”. The United States sought a practical and inclusive structure, with an emphasis on meaningful dialogue leading to action, and called for a greater role for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Syria’s representative stressed the need for the international community to continue to respond to the oil spill off the shores of Lebanon and Syria, which Israel had ignored.
Presenting reports for the Committee’s consideration were Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action; Juanita Castano, Director of the UNEP New York Liaison Office; and Xu Haoliang, Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Also taking part in today’s discussion were representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Russian Federation, Singapore, Nicaragua, Malaysia, Switzerland, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, China, Bolivia, Norway, Zimbabwe, Malta and Ukraine.
A representative for the delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 1 November, to continue its debate on sustainable development.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take up agenda item 19 on sustainable development, including the following sub-items: implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development; follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; protection of global climate for present and future generationsof humankind; implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa; Convention on Biological Diversity; report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-sixth session; harmony with nature; sustainable mountain development; and promotion of new and renewable sources of energy.
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development,(document A/66/298) dated 12 August 2011, which concludes that despite their importance, coral reefs are facing numerous local and global threats caused by human activity and climate change. Often referred to as the “rainforests of the sea”, they rank among the most biologically rich and productive global ecosystems, providing social, economic and environmental benefits for millions of people.
However, the report says, unsustainable fishing practices, coastal development, pollution, ocean warming and ocean acidification have already damaged one fifth of the world’s coral reefs beyond repair and predictions of what would happen if nothing changes are alarming, the report says. It recommends the integrated and coherent implementation of protection, recovery, and adaptation measures tailored to regional, national, and local community needs. Hopefully the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“ Rio+20”) will offer an opportunity to review progress and secure renewed political commitment by formulating ocean and coral reef-related actions.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on the oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/66/297) dated 12 August 2011, which provides an update on the progress of resolutions relating to the oil slick, which resulted from the bombing of oil storage tanks in July 2006. It states that the destruction of oil storage tanks by the Israeli Air Force resulted in the release of about 15,000 tons of fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea, leading to the contamination of parts of the coastline in Lebanon and Syria. Several United Nations agencies and other entities were involved in assessing the implications of the oil spill for human health, biodiversity, fisheries and tourism.
The report concludes that grave concern remains over the non-implementation of relevant resolutions. The Secretary-General urges Member States and international organizations to continue their support for Lebanon in the matter, particularly for rehabilitation activities on the Lebanese coast, encouraging them to make contributions to the Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Trust Fund.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, (document A/66/337) dated 2 September, which provides a status report on the human and ecological rehabilitation, as well as economic development of the region surrounding Semey, Kazakhstan. It states that an international conference on the matter was held on 26 August 2010 in Astana, with the aim of accelerating support to the region. The conference also set priorities in the fields of social and economic goals, the environment and health care, including initiatives to develop modern livestock practices in areas around the nuclear test site and programmes aimed at reducing childhood disabilities. Describing his visit to the site, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describes it as a symbol of nuclear disarmament and hope for a nuclear-free world, and encourages the international community to continue its assistance to the affected area and people.
Committee members also had before them the report of the Secretary-General on agricultural technology for development (document A/66/304) dated 15 August 2011, which concludes that a holistic approach is needed to increase the productivity and resilience of agriculture and its supporting ecosystems. It says a radical change is also needed in the focus of national agricultural plans, as is an increase in investment to unleash the productive potential of smallholder farmers in hopes of contributing to the Millennium Development Goals and boosting food production to meet the 70 per cent increase needed by 2050.
Significant national efforts will be needed to reform the agricultural sector to integrate sustainable agriculture and support smallholders, including women farmers, into national policies and strategies, the report states. Investment in reducing post-harvest waste in developing countries would go a long way towards addressing food security and poverty while saving precious natural resources. The deficit of women in key education and research sectors associated with agriculture must be addressed, the report adds, acknowledging the role that women could play as main food producers and in promoting food and nutrition security.
The report of the Secretary-General on the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, (document A/66/287) dated 9 August 2011, provides an update on the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, as well as actions taken by Governments, United Nations entities and major groups in advancing the implementation of sustainable development goals. As the details of the Rio+20 Conference are finalized, the report recommends that the General Assembly approve its draft provisional rules of procedure and endorse the arrangements for the accreditation and participation of relevant non-governmental organizations.
Committee members also had before them the report of the Secretary-General on concrete recommendations to enhance the implementation of the Barbados Programme for Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/66/278). Dated 8 August 2011, it provides a summary of recommendations received from Member States, experts and United Nations entities on how some of the key vulnerabilities faced by small islands could be effectively addressed. It says that in the years following the adoption of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, they have faced implementation challenges that reflect their structural disadvantages and special characteristics, as well as the global financial, food, energy and environmental crises that have hit them especially hard, leaving them increasingly vulnerable.
The report concludes that greater access to financing, scientific research, and improved technological capacity would help small island States enhance implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. It recommends greater political commitment and international cooperation remain, saying they remain critical to implementation of strategies for the sustainable development of small island developing States. Best practices that have proven successful in some small islands could be expanded and implemented in others, it adds.
The report of the Secretary-General on review of United Nations system support to small island developing States (document A/66/218) dated 1 August 2011, which states that although United Nations organizations have provided a wide range of targeted support for small islands over the years, there is room for improvement. It recommends that, although there is no single ideal mechanism to provide effective institutional support, establishing a dedicated and clearly identified focal point within every United Nations entity dealing with issues of concern to small island States is vital for the effective delivery of support. Websites dedicated to specific issues of concern should be easily accessible and contain comprehensive information on all activities of concern to small islands, including updated financial information on projects and programmes under implementation, the report says. Small island States need a strong global voice and more analytical work to address their special vulnerabilities, it adds.
Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/66/301) dated 12 August 2011, which provides an overview of progress on the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in response to General Assembly resolution 65/157. It notes that disaster risk is accumulating faster than economic growth, hampering development. It recalls that the third session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held in May 2011, brought together leaders and experts from around the world who expressed a strong sense of urgency for increased investment in disaster risk reduction. The report recommends that any future framework for sustainable development include a clear prescription for incorporating disaster and climate risk management, stressing that poverty and vulnerability reduction are integral to effective disaster risk management. Effective risk reduction should take place only with the full commitment and collaboration of local government and communities, the report says, recommending also the establishment and further development of national disaster tracking systems.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on implementation of United Nations environmental conventions (document A/66/291) dated 10 August 2011 and transmitting the report of the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regarding the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun and its follow-up.
The report recommends calls on the United Nations to support and implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and urges donors to finance implementation of the decisions adopted at recent biodiversity meetings. It also urges the ratification, signature and/or accession of various conventions and protocols on biodiversity.
Committee members also had before the report of the Secretary-General on harmony with nature (document A/66/302) dated 15 August 2011, which concludes that by contaminating and depleting Mother Earth, humankind is also contaminating and depleting itself. Its survival depends on wise choices on how to coexist with Mother Earth, the report says, adding that modern society has become materialistic and consumerist based upon the illusory promise of unlimited happiness, material abundance and domination of nature.
Recurrent financial crises are constant reminders that a socio-economic system based on material growth is not sustainable, just as striving for infinite growth in a world of finite resources is contradictory, the report notes, stressing that changing how humankind lives will require a major shift in values. It recommends the adoption of a declaration recognizing nature’s intrinsic value and its regenerating capacity; further updating of the knowledge base on Harmony with Nature; and it’s continued showcasing through United Nations sustainable development websites that integrate the economic, social, and environmental pillars.
The report of the Secretary-General on sustainable mountain development (document A/66/294) dated 11 August 2011, describes the status of sustainable development in mountain regions, which are disproportionately affected by climate change, natural disasters, and food and energy crises. It also describes the status of sustainable mountain development at the national and international levels, including an overall analysis of the challenges ahead, and provides suggestions for considering how to continue to promote and effectively sustain development in mountain regions around the world.
Recommendations in the report propose developing strategies for adaption to and mitigation of the effects of climate change, taking into account the specific situation of mountain environments and communities. It also recommends enhancing public services, particularly in the health and education sectors, improving transport and communication infrastructure in mountain areas and increasing investment and funding for sustainable mountain development at the global, regional, national, and community levels.
The report of the Secretary-General on promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, (document A/66/306) dated 15 August concludes that a transformation of the global energy system was needed to secure sustainable energy for all, to satisfy rapid growth in energy demand, particularly in developing countries, and to diminish the negative impacts of climate change. New and renewable sources of energy are at the centre of global efforts to induce a paradigm shift towards green economies, poverty eradication, and ultimately sustainable development.
Although some countries are making record investments to propel the innovation, development and commercialization of renewable energy technologies, the report says, much more cooperation and action is needed to increase substantially the contribution of these technologies to the global energy system. Cheap and decentralized systems are major incentives for developing countries, since their rural populations are the most affected. Other major concerns for both developing and developed countries relate to the diversification of energy supplies and the reduction of climate-change impacts. The report recommends the adoption of a coordinated global energy strategy, in conjunction with consistent and stable national policies, to bring down the cost of renewable energy technologies, including off-grid systems, for use by the poorest rural people.
Also before the Committee were the following: a letter dated 7 June 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Namibia to the Secretary-General (document A/66/87) containing the text of four resolutions adopted by the 124th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in Panama City from 15 to 20 April 2011; a letter dated 27 September 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the Secretary-General (document A/66/388) transmitting the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the 35th annual meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 23 September 2011; a letter dated 28 September 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Secretary-General (document A/66/391) transmitting a “Call for Urgent Action” on the implementation of the successful Nagoya Outcomes signed by the past, present and future Presidents of the Convention on Biological Diversity; and a letter dated 4 October 2011 from the Permanent Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda and the Republic of Korea to the Secretary-General (document A/C.2/66/2) detailing the recommendations of the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development regarding the event’s organization of work, and inviting their possible inclusion in the final resolution.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar), President of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, said he hoped that Rio+20 would present an opportunity to address the gaps in means and implementation in terms of the green economy and strengthening institutions in relation to sustainable development. The global community should make a stronger commitment, he said, emphasizing that action was urgently needed to spread the benefits of sustainable development to people in all countries, especially those in particularly special situations, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.
Sustainable development relied on political willingness in both domestic and international efforts to ensure the broadest possible participation throughout the preparatory process for Rio+20, he said, reiterating the importance of providing financial support to least developed countries in their pursuit of sustainable development. He said he was intent on helping Member States build a consensus that would lead to the success of the Rio+20 Conference.
He said his other focus was disaster risk reduction, which was a clear component of efforts to reduce socio-economic vulnerability and essential to building resilient and sustainable development. The international community was ready to address desertification, land degradation and the three pillars of sustainable development, he said, stressing that lack of action would have an effect in terms of political instability, food and energy insecurity and forced migration. Action in the area of climate change also remained critical to the survival of humankind, he added.
Introduction of Reports
SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ( Rio+20), introduced a number of reports for the Committee’s consideration.
He said the international community was far off track in realizing the vision of the Rio Conference and warned that the planet would suffer irreversible damage if “business as usual” continued. Where there had been successes, they were due to the partnership and unity of the entire globe, especially in spreading technology, he said, adding that similar momentum was required to accelerate sustainable development.
Calling upon States to make a long-term political commitment to improving coherence, he said the necessary change of direction would mean greater access to technology, finance and energy services as well as shifts in lifestyles and values. Agriculture and rural development needed new approaches, he said, adding that real change also meant addressing major threats to oceans and coastal development. He cited the particular needs of small island developing States and mountain regions, the inhabitants of which were both disproportionately affected by climate change, noting that those challenges could be overcome.
All the reports before the Committee were focused on Rio+20, he said, urging discussion of the modalities for the Conference. One particular report addressed the subject of Agenda 21 and gave an overview of the status of preparations for Rio+20 and how its work could be organized. The key element in the preparatory process was the capacity to gather the proper political commitment, he stressed, adding that States should aspire to achieve a forward-looking and action-oriented strategy to deal with twenty-first century challenges. That would require renewed commitment to implementation by all stakeholders, no matter what that would take, he emphasized.
CHRISTINA FIGUERES, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), spoke from Bonn via video conference, saying that although the Cancun agreements formed the basis for the largest efforts made by developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more remained to be done. Cancun had demonstrated that all parties had taken on the challenge of climate change, but it had not resolved political differences, she noted.
She went on to note that the upcoming Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention, to be held in Durban, South Africa, had two tasks to address — addressing Cancun and resolving pressing climate-change issues. While giving assurances that implementation of the Cancun agreements was on track, she stressed the importance of resolving the manner in which Governments worked together to address the defining challenges of climate change. Addressing the Kyoto Protocol must also be a priority at Durban, she added, expressing hope that the Conference of Parties would be a step towards a new global climate change regime.
LUC GNACADJA, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, also spoke from Bonn via video conference in introducing the Secretary-General’s report “Environment and Sustainable Development: Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa”. He said the report addressed activities undertaken in the context of the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification and the observance of the 2011 World Day to Combat Desertification.
The report also suggested a number of possible actions for the General Assembly to consider, including those relating to desertification, land degradation, and drought issues, he continued. In addition, it touched upon the Rio+20 Conference and encouraged the Assembly to consider the possibility of a “zero net land degradation rate” as a sustainable-development target. Lastly, he recalled that the tenth Conference of Parties held in the Republic of Korea earlier this month had been attended by 6,000 people including 80 ministers and civil society representatives, as well as nearly 100 business representatives. That was an unprecedented success in climate change talks, he added.
MARGARETA WAHLSTRÖM, Assistant Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, introduced the report on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. She said disasters had wrought havoc throughout the world over the past year, sparing no continent. The Great East Japan earthquake/tsunami was a reminder of the need to be prepared, she added. She outlined remaining key challenges as follows: knowing risks and accounting for disaster losses; finding the best ways to integrate disaster risk reduction into sustainable development planning; institutional capacity; and investing for disaster risk reduction.
The report proposed that any future framework for sustainable development must incorporate disaster and climate risk management, she said, adding that it also recommended that Member States scale up financial, human, and technology investment in disaster risk reduction, including the development of public-private sector partnerships. It also proposed a greater focus on local and community resilience in programming, and the full exploration of opportunities for collaboration and innovation. The promotion of practical disaster risk reduction was an important priority for the international community, she said, adding that the coming years, especially 2012, presented a number of opportunities to integrate the global disaster risk reduction agenda into new developments in climate change and sustainable development.
JUANITA CASTANO, Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) New York Office, said the agency’s Governing Council was greatly concerned about the state of the environment. There was a “huge sustainability crisis” amounting not just to “a threat to the life we have today, but also that of our future generations”. It was grave enough to demand a collective response and national delivery, she added. Rio+20 was a chance to breather-much needed new life into UNEP and allow it to set the global environmental agenda, she said, adding that the agency needed retooling so it could address the social, economic and environmental challenges of sustainable development today and well into the future.
She highlighted some of the decisions recently adopted by the UNEP Governing Council and the Global Environment Forum, on an intergovernmental science-policy platform relating to biodiversity and ecosystem services; a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production; the impact of integrated environmental assessments; chemicals and waste management; and specifically on the management of electrical and electronic waste. Despite those decisions, however, the international community remained far from addressing the diverse and complex interlinked issues of sustainability, she noted.
Introducing a report on the oil slick on Lebanese shores, she urged the mobilization of international technical and financial assistance to ensure the trust fund had sufficient resources. Noting that no contributions had been made so far, she commended efforts by the Government of Lebanon to address the issue, while urging Member States and international organizations to help with rehabilitation efforts.
XU HAOLIANG, Deputy Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), introduced the report on the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, saying that despite the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, people still suffered the consequences of all types of fallout. Overcoming the challenges would involve health, economic, humanitarian, and environmental projects, he said, noting that Kazakhstan had allocated $4.5 billion for the region’s rehabilitation.
However, the severity of the problems outweighed efforts to solve them, he said. Moving from recovery to long-term development would require a holistic, comprehensive approach to link all aspects of development in effective partnerships. Noting that the present session was the first to include the Semipalatinsk issue in the sustainable development programme, he recalled that had previously been discussed only as a humanitarian matter.
He went on to state that a new five-year plan aimed to raise competiveness through innovative approaches to regional planning and support services, working in partnership with various United Nations bodies. It also aimed to accelerate progress on human development indicators, and to address the needs of vulnerable people through innovative approaches across the board, he said.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania requested more information on disaster risk reduction responses in light of the challenges facing Japan, noting that not much had been said about it. What could be done in future if such challenges happened in other countries?
Assistant Secretary-General WAHLSTROM replied that Japan was the best in the world at carefully analysing such major challenges. The danger had arisen from the tsunami and the location of the nuclear power plant, she said. The growth in the number of areas susceptible to cyclone and hurricanes had been biggest in population centres and cities, which meant the consequent challenges were bigger, she said.
The representative of Japan then shared lessons learned and choices taken following the disaster, before the representative of Kazakhstan made a statement on continuing efforts on that country.
The representative of Ghana sought an explanation of terminology used in the report on the Convention to Combat Desertification.
Mr. Gnacadja explained that “zero net land degradation rate” was a new concept but not a new practice. Its aim was to compensate for land lost to degradation with reclaimed or improved land. Anything destroyed should be replaced through plantation, he said, adding that that was something to be reaffirmed on the way to Rio.
DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said there was a need to strengthen the sustainable development framework, the basic principles of which were set and not open to renegotiation or retraction. The Group of 77 and China looked to renewed political commitment to the sustainable development agenda at Rio+20, including work on Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Declaration and Plan of Implementation from the 2001 World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Rio+20 was a chance to bridge implementation gaps and it was important not to shy away from identifying what needed to be done to consolidate the progress already achieved, he said. Developed countries and donors needed to contribute to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Trust Fund, to take part in preparatory negotiations, as well as in the Conference itself, he said, adding that the Group of 77 and China had tabled a procedural resolution seeking to devote more time and effort to preparations for the Conference.
Reaffirming the Group’s support for small island developing States, he said they were not the only ones vulnerable to climate change. The threat was an existential one and responses must be characterized by the requisite sense of urgency, he stressed. The international community must make good on the commitments of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. With disasters hampering development, there was a need to improve risk management and decision-making, he noted.
As for climate change, he said its causes lay in the developed countries, which meant they bore the responsibility for addressing it within the framework of the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol. It was essential to adhere to the treaty’s provisions, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, he stressed, adding that the Convention to Combat Desertification was important for food security, poverty eradication and sustainable development. He called for attention to raising the profile of desertification, land degradation and drought among priority issues to be addressed at Rio+20.
Emphasizing the need to preserve biodiversity, he called for implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, saying the instrument provided important tools in the fight against poverty. Implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 was the overarching framework and there was a unique opportunity to engage the world’s people in the battle to protect life on earth, he said. Urging the United Nations to demonstrate its commitment by substantially increasing its contributions to the UNEP budget, he said he was concerned about the inability of poor people to pay for available services and their general paucity of energy access. Research and development in support of energy for sustainable development needed more support, and access to technology was at the core of access to energy, he added.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, called for a balanced, holistic and integrated approach covering the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainable development. Leading up to Rio+20, participants should keep poverty alleviation and inter-generational human well-being at the centre of the attention.
In order for least developed countries to pursue the sustainable development agenda, the international community must take concrete steps to reduce or cancel debt, open their markets, transfer technology and build capacity, he said, adding that sustainable development should accord special priority to such areas as energy, water and sustainable agriculture, including forestry for food security, biodiversity and the marine environment. He also underscored the need for a strengthened and effective voice for least developed countries in international forums.
On climate change, he said it had resulted in extreme weather and led to challenges that had become burdensome to countries with fewer resources and high levels of vulnerability. In that context, there was an urgent need to conclude the Kyoto Protocol and increase the availability of resources and technology for least developed countries, he stressed. Speaking in his national capacity, he said that, as a mountainous country, Nepal attached great importance to the full integration of issues relating to sustainable mountain development issues into the global sustainable development agenda, since mountains were among the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change.
SELWIN HART (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed to the potentially catastrophic potential of climate change and the increasingly rapid changes occurring. They posed an existential threat to small island developing States, he said, noting that global greenhouse gas emissions were rising at their fastest rate ever.
CARICOM had policies and plans in place to address poverty eradication and took a green, low-carbon approach to development, he said, adding that national and regional policies could help realize the benefits of sustainable development. There was a need to massively scale up the transfer of financial and technological resources, he said, adding that Rio+20 provided a chance to connect sustainability and human development, and to move away from the false dichotomy that placed them in opposition. The Conference was also a chance to move towards fair and lasting prosperity for all future generations, he said, urging States to raise their ambitions as the conference approached. “Business as usual” could no longer be accepted, he said, stressing the need for urgent collective action.
He said the specific vulnerabilities of small island States were not taken into account when considering their trade, financial and development needs. Their best efforts in pursuit of sustainable development had been undermined by an unsupportive international environment, he said. That needed to change, he emphasized, noting that Rio+20 would be a chance to honour commitments to small islands and to implement focused policies. It could also be used to convene a third global conference on small island developing States, which would review the progress achieved so far.
Expressing CARICOM’s commitment to the Climate Change Conference later this year, he called for greater ambition and urgency, and highlighted the regional body’s three priorities for Durban. They included making all institutional elements of the Cancun agreement fully operational, especially the Green Climate Fund; strengthening the multilateral, rule-based, legally-binding regime; and; addressing such unresolved issues as long-term financing to ensure that developing countries took adaptation and mitigation action.
Following that statement, the representative of Poland called for a suspension of the meeting because the list of speakers had been removed from the wall. He requested time for informal discussions.
The representative of Barbados sought clarification as to why the meeting should be suspended. Why suspend early with so many inscribed to speak? he asked, adding that informal discussions could be conducted during the break.
The representative of Poland said the reason was that the list of speakers had disappeared, saying he wished to understand why that happened before the meeting continued.
The representative of Barbados suggested that the Chair read out the speakers’ names to help the Polish delegation out, saying it would be a shame to lose the next 15 minutes over the issue.
The Chair said the next speakers would be Nauru, Indonesia, then the European Union, then Australia, on behalf of CANZ (Canada, Australia and New Zealand), with Qatar following.
The representative of Barbados then said that, given that there were only 10 minutes to go, informal consultations could go on through lunch. He encouraged Poland to reconsider that point.
The representative of Poland reiterated his wish for a suspension.
The representative of Barbados, declaring himself “at a loss for words”, expressed disbelief that the Committee was addressing issues of global significance yet it was being asked to suspend its meeting because of the concerns of a delegation over the order of speakers. He asked his colleague to reflect on what he was doing, saying he would wait until he heard the inputs of other delegations before objecting.
The representative of Venezuela, associated himself with CARICOM, adding that it was absurd to suspend on the basis of what the representative of Poland had said.
The representative of Guyana, saying that the reason given for suspending the meeting was not good enough, objected to the request.
The representative of Germany supported Poland’s request for suspension.
The meeting ran out of time and suspended for the lunch break.
MARLENE MOSES (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States, reaffirmed that a green economy was, in fact a blue economy for that category of nations. Marine and ocean resources were the basis of the Pacific region’s livelihoods, food security and economy. Conservation and sustainable management represented a primary pathway to their future sustainable development. Consequently, the blue economy should be included in the Rio+20 outcome across three priority areas: enabling the development aspirations of small island States in relation to the use of marine and coastal resources; eliminating overfishing and destructive fishing practices; and increasing the resilience of marine ecosystems to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.
Stressing the need for new, targeted measures to address the unique vulnerabilities of small islands, she called for a third global conference on sustainable development, to be agreed at Rio. She also underlined the particular importance of coral reefs to hundreds of millions of people in developing countries and island States, noting that by 2030, 90 per cent would be threatened by the combined impacts of climate change, ocean acidification and other human impact, without urgent protection measures.
Noting that the seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban was approaching fast, she expressed concern about recent developments in the work of the Transitional Committee and at the pre-Conference of Parties, which appeared to signal that a handful of countries were attempting to undermine the Durban outcome in Africa. “We fear that the fragile trust restored in Cancun is being endangered because of the lack of political will to reach an outcome that will ensure the survival of all nations,” she said, emphasizing that the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States was not prepared to be part of an outcome under the Climate Change Convention that treated their nations as “collateral damage”.
The priorities in Durban included agreeing a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and a clear and unambiguous mandate for concluding a legally binding instrument to address emission-reduction targets for all nations. Further, the security implications of climate change could not be ignored, she stressed, reiterated the call by the Pacific Small Island Developing States for the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Rapporteur on that issue. While renewable energy had potential as an alternative energy source, the challenges and opportunities of small islands had been overlooked, devalued or discarded by conventional investors, she noted, calling for special international assistance in the area of renewable energy supply.
YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Rio+20 Summit would provide the platform for reviewing achievements and shortcomings since the Earth Summit and to address implementation gaps. Sustainable development could only be achieved by addressing the three pillars of sustainable development in an integrated and coordinated way, he said, stressing the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
He said there were important lessons to be learned from the 1992 Earth Summit, including the urgent need to promote sustained, equitable and inclusive global economic growth, finding an immediate and sustainable solution to environmental problems, ensuring concrete and implementable actions, and improving the institutional framework of sustainable development by promoting the integration of its pillars. While some progress had been made on addressing climate change, there remained a need for a balanced, comprehensive and meaningful outcome to the Durban Conference, including a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. Developed countries were expected to lead with ambitious commitments, specific and binding targets, while also recognizing the disadvantages faced by developing countries. Such efforts must supported with adequate financial resources, he said, stressing that Durban could not afford to fail.
ABDULRAHMAN AL-HAMADI ( Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of a balanced approach to sustainable development that would not ignore any of its pillars. It was hoped that Rio+20 would consider the results and assess the progress achieved since the 1992 Earth Summit. Attempts by certain countries to set aside their commitments was very discouraging for the rest of the world, especially least developed countries, he said, adding that foreign occupation also deprived nations, specifically Palestine and including Occupied East Jerusalem, of their ability to develop.
States had a responsibility to reduce and counter the effects of climate change, he said, reaffirming the importance of the Durban Conference in reaching a consensus through negotiations on the basis of shared but differentiated responsibilities. The Arab region suffered from desertification and land degradation, which hampered the development of agriculture, he said, pointing out also that biological diversity and preserving the right of developing countries to their own natural and genetic resources and territories was of great importance. Lastly, he stressed the need for the international community to continue to respond to the oil spill off the shores of Lebanon and Syria, which Israel had ignored.
AMERICO BEVIGLIA ZAMPETTI, representative for the delegation of the European Union, said the two themes of Rio+20 — the green economy and the institutional framework — offered an opportunity to address challenges that could not be missed. “The main operational outcomes of Rio+20, in our view, should include a green economy roadmap with specific goals, objectives and actions at international level, as well as a package of reforms, which includes the upgrading of [United Nations Environment Programme] into a specialized agency for the environment, leading to strengthened international environmental governance as part of a more balanced and effective International Framework for Sustainable Development.”
Better coordination among relevant United Nations bodies would also be needed to reinforce sustainable development governance, he said. “Green economy is more than the sum of existing commitments; it has the potential to lead us to a new development paradigm and a new business model where growth, development and environment are seen as mutually reinforcing.” Youth would be vital for a successful outcome to Rio+20, while the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders would play key roles. The Durban Climate Change Conference would be another milestone, he said, adding that it should result in a clear roadmap towards a new comprehensive, robust and legally-binding framework under the Convention.
The European Union continued to support efforts to promote renewable energy in developing countries, aiming for a “triple win” on economic, social and environmental outcomes, he said. In that regard, the Africa-European Union Energy Partnership had agreed to ambitious targets for energy access and renewable energy. The bloc and its Member States had also made good progress on their new biodiversity strategy, which was in line with global commitments and should halt their degradation of ecosystem services by 2020, restoring them as far as feasible. They were also supporting the initiative on the economics of land degradation, a global study aimed at raising awareness of the issue and helping policymakers implement effective strategies to address the problem, while setting out incentives for private-sector investment in sustainable land-management policies.
KELVIN THOMSON ( Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and Australia, said it was becoming increasingly clear that the challenges confronting humanity and the planet required solutions that could only be achieved at the global level. Hopefully Rio+20 would help overcome the divide between developed and developing countries and deliver initiatives that would empower the most vulnerable to participate in the solutions. As the international community worked to make the transition towards a new global climate regime, there was a need to include legally binding mitigation commitments by all major economies, he said.
Australia was serious about taking action at home, he said, pointing out that its adoption of the Clean Energy Future Package, which included a price on carbon, showed that the country was playing its full and fair part in global efforts to reduce emissions. Canada was committed to reducing emissions by 17 per cent and New Zealand was on track to meet the Government target of 90 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2025. Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ) also supported the “blue economy” approach promoted by the Pacific Small Island Developing States as a focus for Rio+20.
They recognized that marine resources and ecosystems were the foundation of sustainable development for many countries, he continued. Coral reefs and related ecosystems were essential for sustainable livelihoods and development around the globe as hundreds of millions of people relied on the marine and coastal environment for food, livelihoods, ecosystem services and economic opportunities. Climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, loss of biodiversity, habitat loss and pollution threatened coral reefs, he said, adding that the Climate Conference in Durban at the end of the year would provide the opportunity to take concrete steps towards a new global climate regime.
ALEXANDER ALIMOV ( Russian Federation) said his country was preparing for the Rio+20 Conference and stressed the need for international cooperation during that pressing time in order to reach agreement on how the global community would combat climate change. Realizing the goals of the Climate Change Convention would only be possible with the participation of all countries, he said, adding that a real shift towards sustainable development would require a change in the way people used energy. It was also important to hold high-level meetings on desertification, land degradation and drought, he stressed, adding that the Russian Federation also attached great importance to the areas of disaster risk reduction and the need to continue to improve the coordination of emergency actions.
WU YE-MIN (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that Rio+20 offered a timely opportunity to reflect on the work done in the sustainable development field over the last 10to 20 years. In that regard, it was important to examine gaps in the infrastructure and to address why they existed and how to tackle them effectively.
Also, the Committee must study initiatives and measures that had worked and those that had not worked, for instance, the Commission on Sustainable Development, she said. Why, she asked, had the Commission twice failed to reach an outcome in its last three cycles? It was also necessary to evaluate the work of the Second Committee and to answer such questions as how to ensure coherence, given the sheer number of resolutions adopted.
Creating new structures and bodies could only work after understanding where the existing sustainable development framework had gone wrong, she emphasized. Coordination at the national level was of key importance for greater coherence and coordination, and the Committee needed to go beyond its own “usual negotiating rituals” to “rediscover the spirit that went into Rio in 1992”. She concluded by calling on the United Nations to look around its own building and ask where the recycling bins were and why there were not more options for non-plastic food and drink containers at the Vienna Café.
JASSER JIMÉNEZ ( Nicaragua) said humanity was living in a moment of crisis. It was not possible to talk about development without discussing the selfish and unsustainable economic system that had brought the world to that position. The current economic system was leading humanity to extinction while destroying Mother Earth, he said, calling for a global way of life that would guarantee sustainable life. For Nicaragua, that meant ensuring universal access to education, heath and peace, he said, adding that the focus of sustainable development should be with the human being, as it was in his country.
Social equity must be at the top of the agenda, he continued, expressing hopes of creating a virtuous cycle of development. Caring for nature was crucial to development and the responsibility of every living human being, as well as Governments, he stressed. Sustainable development meant that countries had national power over their own resources. He reaffirmed that free trade and social policy should improve the living conditions of the poorest people. Regarding the recent floods in Nicaragua, he thanked the international community for its support while request further contributions and materials to help those affected.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said the rate of environmental degradation had increased despite international efforts to reverse it. At the first preparatory meeting of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, held earlier in October 2011, the Prime Minister of Malaysia had proposed the creation of the World Environment Organization, he recalled. It should act not as a regulatory body, but as a consultative and facilitative one to help countries meet international commitments derived from mutual arrangements. Such a body should have universal membership and voting, and become an autonomous specialized agency linked to the United Nations with a mandate to promote synergies of existing multilateral environment agreements. He said his country had introduced the Green Technology Policy and established the Ministry of Water, Energy and Green Technology, both in 2009. Malaysia stood ready to embark on sustainable development through the use of new and environmentally friendly technology.
REBECCA WEBBER ( United States) said her country sought a practical, inclusive structure for the Rio+20 Conference, with an emphasis on meaningful dialogue leading to action. Parties needed to be realistic and, as various interested groups tried to focus attention on their particular issues, it would be important not to try to make the Conference “all things to all people”. The United States hoped for a constructive, action-oriented outcome, she said, adding that upholding the integrity of the Second Committee could be done by focusing on substantive issues and meaningful outcomes. Climate change posed serious risks worldwide and global problems required global solutions, she said, noting that the international community had made unprecedented progress through the Climate Change Convention. More progress and new decisions on new approaches would be needed at Durban, she added.
She said the pursuit of new and renewable sources of energy was a domestic and foreign policy priority for her country, and welcomed efforts to share best practices while identifying a range of solutions to encourage the increased adoption of renewable technologies. She called for investment in research and development to help create an enabling environment to fulfil those aims. Declaring herself delighted by the interest in the high-level event on desertification, she said the Horn of Africa situation had shown the impact of desertification and the need for greater cooperation to address the problem. Regional cooperation had strengthened during the recent Conference of Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification at Changwon, Republic of Korea, she said.
Highlighting the growing importance of cities, she emphasized the need to address the opportunities and challenges of urbanization. The United States was working to ensure that the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) was well prepared to help Governments and their citizens take the next steps in a creative, responsible and efficient manner. UNEP was also important and had made progress over many areas, particularly in strengthening its science function, cooperation within the United Nations system, and emphasizing capacity-building, she said, adding that the United States would be seeking a greater role for the agency at Rio+20 to help increase integration and balance in pursuit of the three pillars of sustainable development.
PIO WENNUBST ( Switzerland) said that, while progress had been made on sustainable development, important gaps remained. “Too many are left out and we are reaching planetary boundaries,” he said. The Rio+20 Conference was, therefore, timely, he said, adding that his country was committed to contributing actively to its debate and would submit concrete proposals in the Rio+20 process. Describing several important issues that would contribute directly or indirectly to that process and the Conference outcome, he emphasized the importance of acknowledging efforts undertaken on sustainable consumption and production. The Marrakech process had ended without having fulfilled its goal of adopting a 10-year Framework of Programmes, as called for by the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, he noted. It was important to capitalize on those efforts and on the experiences gained in that arena, as sustainable consumption and production were key to advancing transformation towards a green and sustainable economy.
Another important issue was the resolution on UNEP, he continued, stressing that it was imperative that the resolution underlined the importance of the Nairobi-Helsinki Outcome on strengthening international environmental governance. Discussions on strengthening that institutional framework should result in ambitious and concrete reform measures, he said. Similarly, the resolution on biodiversity should reflect the fact that the first part of the plenary meeting had taken part in Nairobi, and that significant progress had been made in a constructive spirit. Finally, he said that identifying lessons from disaster risk management and taking them into account when formulating policy would be important in contributing to sustainable development. Switzerland would, therefore, welcome a reference to closer cooperation between UNEP and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), he said.
MARIA TERESA MESQUITA PESSÔA ( Brazil), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world had become increasingly integrated and the space available for countries to jump-start development in relative isolation had decreased commensurately. The multiple global crises had exposed the systemic flaws inherent in the functioning of deregulated global markets, and Governments needed to address the problems, she said, emphasizing her country’s commitment to the success of Rio+20 and the preparations for the Conference.
Expressing support for multilateralism as the best way to find solutions to the world’s great challenges, she went on to say that the Conference would be a “unique opportunity for our countries to discuss and set the sustainable development agenda for the next 20 years”. Its main focus would be on eradicating poverty and proposals should be evaluated on the basis of their ability to address that issue, she said. The “green economy” should be inclusive and respond to national priorities and specific circumstances to create jobs and build resilience in the conservation of natural resources so as to build equity. Commitment to poverty eradication should also guide discussions on the “institutional framework for sustainable development”, she added.
FAISAL HASHEM ( Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Group of 77 and China, said climate change was an essential part of sustainable development requiring an integrated approach. However, any intervention by the Security Council in that area would be an unjustified hindrance, reducing the possibilities of success. The Climate Change Convention was the best forum for considering the risks of climate change and for taking steps in response, he said. While developed countries needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, international efforts should be made to mobilize the required capacity to ensure environmental sustainability. Effective steps were needed to help manage the environment, and that called for a response from the entire international community, he stressed. As part of its responsibilities, Saudi Arabia would contribute $300 million to a fund to study the environment and climate change, he announced, adding that, more than ever, the international community must take action to realize the objectives for which everyone longed.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said that in light of the grim future prospects, there was a need to redirect multilateral action to an approach based on sustainable development. The 1992 Rio Conference had laid the foundation, but Rio+20 would be a chance to launch an era of reinvigorated sustainable development. Expressing deep concern over developed countries’ reluctance to adhere to commitments and previously agreed principles and objectives, he said he was also alarmed by their attempts to renegotiate consensus agreements, and called for stronger political commitment.
Climate change had not been addressed in an integrated and responsible manner, he said, citing the Climate Change Convention as the primary forum for negotiating the global response. He called for concrete measures to ensure implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan for Capacity Building and Technology Transfer, which was proceeding slowly, and for the urgent shaping of the United Nations energy agenda, including the creation of an effective mechanism for the transfer of advanced energy technologies, particularly in the field of new and renewable sources.
Turning to agriculture, he said climate change had exacerbated land degradation and contributed to water scarcity. Proper management of water was essential, he said, adding that addressing land degradation, drought and desertification should be a priority when dealing with several global policy challenges. Desertification’s biggest effects were to be found in Africa, he pointed out. The Horn of Africa crisis reflected well the problem’s severity and the imperative for action. As such, Egypt welcomed the convening of the High-Level meeting on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, he said, stressing the issue’s importance to debate on climate change.
JORGE LAGUNA CELIS ( Mexico) stressed the importance for the international community of reaching a common understanding on the green economy and its institutional framework. That was where the preparatory progress leading up to Rio+20 would be most beneficial. The Conference should adopt an integration framework covering all three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental, he said, reiterating the need to strengthen coordination among United Nations agencies, to encourage vertical consistency, and to ensure the implementation of commitments by developed countries. All topics to be discussed at Durban were important for sustainable development, he said, adding that he trusted that the preparatory conferences leading up to Rio+20 would give them due consideration.
RABEE JAWHARA (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said Israeli bombing had cause the oil slick on the Lebanese shore, which was now affecting his country’s coastline. The Government of Syria had made decontamination efforts with no assistance from the international community, he said, noting that United Nations resolutions had asked Israel to compensate the Governments of Lebanon and Syria for the destruction caused by the oil slick. Israel’s non-implementation of the resolutions was “a brazen challenge to the international community, as represented by the General Assembly”. In its current session, the Assembly needed to send a clear message over that country’s hostile and irresponsible behaviour, while renewing its demand for prompt and adequate compensation to the Syrian and Lebanese Governments, he said, expressing hope for the inclusion of more specific recommendations and conclusions in future reports to identify failure to comply.
VICTOR MUÑOZ ( Peru), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said there were enormous challenges facing both developed and developing countries. Access to energy and economic resources was linked to sustainable development, and there was an imperative need for effective implementation of what had been agreed 20 years ago at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Integrated management of resources must be included in State policies, he emphasized, saying they should carry out cost-benefit analyses that should consider the relationship between resources and sustainable development. Shared efforts between the public and private sectors should also be encouraged. Developed countries should fulfil their commitments, he said, specifically that on technical assistance, which was essential in the sustainable development framework, he said.
NAJLA ISMAIL ALRAEES (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said her country tried to be a responsible producer of traditional energy at the international level by consuming low-carbon energy and reducing reductions, she said, pointing also to its efforts to improve solar energy and other renewable energy sources.
The State had made the development of various renewable energy projects a priority, in addition to following up on climate change and investing in renewable energy sources. It had enacted many laws relating to the reduction of emissions and raising awareness, she said, adding that it regularly employed public-private partnerships. The Government was building a hydrogen-powered plant in Abu Dhabi that would supply 7 per cent of the country’s energy once fully operational.
Abu Dhabi would also host the first Eye on The Earth Summit in December, in partnership with UNEP, she continued. The event would give Heads of State a chance to discuss the protection of Planet Earth and the need for access to relevant data for those who needed it. Noting that food security challenges were increasing, she said her country was keen to help poorer countries and looked forward to Rio+20, hoping for international partnerships in sustainable development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
MD. TAUHEDUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developing Countries, said the effects of climate change were taking place with greater severity and frequency, and were responsible for reversing some of the progresses made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals. However, countries like Bangladesh that were least responsible, were ironically bearing the major brunt of the consequences. On Rio+20, he emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach combining the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development to address major challenges. It was important to depoliticize the climate change discourse as developed countries must make unilateral, meaningful and unconditional commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, he said, adding that he looked forward to a consensus, action-oriented outcome in Durban and urging developed countries to undertake ambitious, pragmatic and enhanced commitments, in line with the Kyoto Protocol.
DONG ZHIHUA ( China), endorsing the Group of 77 statement, said the objectives set by the Rio Earth Summit were far from being achieved. Problems for developing countries, such as finance, technology, and capacity required urgent solutions, he said, pointing out that new challenges had also appeared. Looking ahead to Rio+20, he said it would be an important chance for countries jointly to develop a global strategy for sustainable development. The Conference and its preparatory process should adhere to the Rio spirit and principles, in particular that of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, which should advance the three sustainable development pillars, and respect national ownership of sustainable development efforts, he said. Ahead of Rio+20, he said, China had set up a preparatory committee, played an active part in preparatory processes, donated $500,000 to the Trust Fund of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and held a high-level symposium on the subject in Beijing. Discussions there had been productive.
The Durban Conference should maintain the dual tracks of negotiations on the Convention and the Protocol, while ensuring implementation of the Cancun agreements, he said. Negotiations should define further quantified emission-reduction targets for developed States parties to the Protocol in the second commitment period up to 2020, determine emission-reduction targets, and establish institutional arrangements for adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity-building in order to help developing countries respond to climate change, he said. In support of efforts to address climate change, China’s twelfth five-year plan set binding targets for reducing energy consumption per unit gross national product (GNP) by 16 per cent, and carbon dioxide emissions per unit GNP by 17 per cent, raising the share of non-fossil energy in the primary energy mix to 11.4 per cent and increasing the forest carbon sink, he said.
CARLA ESPÓSITO ( Bolivia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world’s economic model was in crisis and an environmental crisis also loomed. The industrialized world burned in one year what the world’s photosynthesis had produced over 100,000 years. Capitalist society could not continue growing at the same rate because that was unsustainable, she stressed, asking why the world continued to move in the wrong direction. The answer was that the capitalist system aimed to maximize profits at all costs, she said.
That model of growth had led to the environmental crisis, she reiterated, rejecting the notion of the green economy, which was designed to deepen the logic of private gain by bringing environmentalism into the business arena. The private sector was not equipped to care for the planet because its objectives ran counter to the planet’s well-being, she pointed out, adding that the green economy sought to create an ecosystem market that would allow developed countries to gain while avoiding their commitments. Bolivia would not accept environmentalism or access to water becoming part of the capitalist system, she stressed, emphasizing also that water was a human right and that market mechanisms had caused much of the degradation seen today.
There was also a need to reduce consumption and for a transformation of the relationship between humans and the functioning of the earth’s system, she continued. With humans having exceeded the Earth’s ability to function, now was the time to reorient humanity towards working with nature and respecting its rights, as contained in the draft resolution on “Harmonization of Nature” tabled by Bolivia, she said. Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg outcomes should not be renegotiated at Rio+20, she said, stressing that they should instead be emphatically reiterated. The world’s key responsibilities were to eradicate poverty and to restore human harmony with nature, she emphasized.
TINE MORCH SMITH ( Norway) said that, although the world had made strides due to globalization and growth, hundreds of millions of people had not benefited. In addition, natural resources had come under increasing strain. Increasing food production and securing access to affordable food was a constant challenge while energy consumption had risen by 40 per cent, she said, adding that the world was clearly on an unsustainable path.
The key issues that should be addressed at Rio included policies that could help realize a greener global economy while alleviating poverty at the same time, she said. It was also important to implement “green” taxes in pursuit of sustainable production and consumption. Preventing deforestation and land degradation was among the most cost-effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Further development of green jobs was of key importance to the transition to a greener economy since, in effect, green jobs contributed to reduced energy consumption and raw material use.
Underscoring the importance of acknowledging the contribution of both women and men to sustainable development, she said high female participation in the formal workforce gave countries a competitive edge. The global community must intensify efforts on adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction in vulnerable countries, she said, adding that her country favoured the proposal put forward during the preparations for Rio+20 to develop a set of sustainable development goals that should integrate its economic, social, and environmental pillars, she added.
CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that in preparing for Rio+20, it was time to take stock and assess what had worked and what had not. It was an opportunity also to assess concepts such as the “green economy”. It could not become a new conditionality for trade but should instead strengthen the linkages between the three pillars of sustainable development, he said.
He said economic sanctions had not prevented his country from realizing the Millennium Development Goals. Zimbabwe’s Environmental Management Agency had called for business self-monitoring, which had led to a positive impact on awareness and management. Like other developing countries, Zimbabwe faced challenges including a lack of institutional capacity and resources for achieving the Millennium Goals, he said, adding that such countries welcomed assistance, especially with regard to clean water and technology. Official development assistance (ODA) remained a key to capacity-building, he added.
SAVIOUR F. BORG (Malta), associating himself with the European Union, said his country had been the proponent of what was now the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the basic principle of which was the establishment of the oceans as the common heritage of humankind. The marine environment was a key area of work for the Government of Malta, he said, adding that the European Commission had declared the country’s bathing water the third cleanest in the European Union. That was no mean feat considering that Malta was Europe’s most densely populated country and geographically located on one of the world’s busiest international shipping routes, he said.
The Government had also invested heavily in the treatment of wastewater and Malta was the only Mediterranean country in which all wastewater was treated before reaching the sea, he continued. Malta had initiated a public consultation process on a national environment policy and viewed Rio+20 as an important environmental rendezvous, providing the necessary backdrop for reinvigorating environment-friendly economies and marking the start of a worldwide transition to green economies, he said, expressing support for the enhancement and upgrading of UNEP to make it the “UN voice” on environmental matters. Malta supported initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change, particularly on small island developing States, and looked forward to the Durban Conference, he said.
OLEKSANDR NAKONECHNYI (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said that constructive preparations for Rio+20 — in particular the framework of the Preparatory Committee — would help to ensure the success of the milestone Conference. “It is high time to start considering a more balanced and coordinated treatment of environmental issues in the United Nations framework,” he said. The Conference should, therefore, take bold and forward-thinking decisions to that end.
Citing land degradation, desertification and the alarming loss of biodiversity around the world as major obstacles to sustainable development, he said the 20 September high-level meeting of the General Assembly on desertification, land degradation and drought had been significant. Ukraine commended the launch of new initiatives, particularly the Food and Agriculture Organization-led Global Soil Partnership for Food Security and the European Commission-led Economics for Land Degradation programme.
The recent Conference of Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification had made welcome progress in implementing the Convention’s 10-Year Strategy, he continued. However, enhanced scientific support was required and more emphasis should be placed on actions that would facilitate synergies between the Convention and other environmental instruments, promote regional coordination mechanisms, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, and enhance the participation of civil society.
Similarly, Ukraine was pleased with the outcome of the tenth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, he said, particularly the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, which it planned to sign shortly. It had integrated several related targets into its National Plan of Action, and had also adopted a fundamental legal document entitled “Strategy of the State Environmental Policy up to 2010”, which sought to adapt national environmental standards to European and international ones. Ukraine had also developed the National Plan of Action on Environmental Protection for 2011-2015, he added.
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