Speakers in Second Committee Stress Need to Reinforce Progress on United Nations-Private Sector Partnerships
Speakers in Second Committee Stress Need to Reinforce Progress on United Nations-Private Sector Partnerships
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
32nd & 33rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Speakers in Second Committee Stress Need to Reinforce Progress
on United Nations-Private Sector Partnerships
Delegates Also Conclude Discussions
On Sustainable Development, ‘Peace-centric Development Model’
While the United Nations Global Compact represented a significant development in relations between the Organization and business, contributing significantly to the emerging consensus on the value of corporate sustainability, it was important to build on that progress, speakers in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today as they considered global partnerships.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on enhancing United Nations partnerships with the private sector, Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell said partnerships were becoming more common and sophisticated, adding that they were motivated by a drive to realize the Millennium Development Goals. They were voluntary and, therefore, complementary to existing efforts, he said.
The Compact had made generally good progress since its inception, he continued, noting also its “huge potential to do more and achieve goals more effectively”, by switching from opportunistic to strategic partnerships, enhancing capacity-building, ensuring better partner-selection processes and improving the sharing of best practices and lessons learned.
Indonesia’s representative, speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasized the Global Compact’s important contribution to ongoing efforts to realize global development goals, and stressed the need for United Nations partnerships with the private sector to reflect the core values enshrined in the Organization’s Charter and the Compact’s 10 principles.
Strengthened public-private partnerships would give developing countries significant support as they encountered challenges in pursuing development, he said, welcoming the recent launch of the Private Sector Track organized by the Global Compact at the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul last May. It was the first time that business had been integrated formally into the programme of a major United Nations meeting, he noted.
Senegal’s representative said that, while implementing the report’s recommendations would be a positive step, challenges remained. A better regulatory framework and greater cohesiveness were needed, he said, calling also for a long-term strategy and a mechanism to enhance the Global Compact’s responsibility. It should work with the United Nations to avoid duplication, he added.
China’s representative also took up the issue of the United Nations role, calling on the Organization to play a greater part in promoting implementation of the Global Compact’s 10 principles, as social responsibility benefited both business and society as a whole. He said the Compact should be recognized as the bridge between Governments and enterprise, and that the world body’s role in facilitating that partnership on the basis of its core principles of independence and impartiality was of great importance.
Brazil’s representative outlined the importance of an active and responsible private sector in promoting a sustainable development model, recalling his country’s efforts to establish more formalized partnerships with the private sector. Brazil attached great importance to the Global Compact as a facilitator of engagement with the private sector and a promoter of principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and combating corruption, he added.
Also today, the Committee took up, for the first time, an agenda item titled “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model”. Navid Hanif, Acting Director of ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) Support and Coordination, launched the debate, saying there was a growing emphasis on the deep links between peace, development and human rights.
The representative of Bangladesh said that, having tabled the original draft resolution calling for the item’s inclusion on the agenda, his delegation was pleased to note that the international community had seen development, security and human rights to be interlinked and mutually reinforcing. He called for greater efforts to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, mitigate deprivation, provide jobs for all, accelerate socio-economic development and fight terrorism in all its forms.
Tunisia’s representative stressed the issue’s importance to his country, particularly in light of its recent revolution and first free and democratic election. Those events had set Tunisia on a path to sustainable development, he said, calling for the extension of liberty, equality and social justice, as well as inclusive and equitable development.
Also today, the Committee concluded its general discussion on sustainable development, with a number of speakers referring to the challenges of drought, desertification and land degradation. Burkina Faso’s representative praised the September High-level Meeting on Desertification, Drought and Degradation and encouraged the strengthening of synergies between the three Rio conventions aimed at enhancing approaches linking climate change, desertification and sustainable development.
Other speakers discussed the impact of environmental changes on vulnerable populations, including those in mountainous areas and post-conflict situations, outlining national efforts to cope with challenges and safeguard biodiversity. Delegates also looked ahead to Rio+20, expressing support and some reservations about the “green economy”. They called for the formation of an international environmental body with legal powers.
Also participating in today’s discussion on sustainable development were representatives of Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Belarus and Cameroon.
The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also participated in the discussion on sustainable development, as did officials of the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Food Programme (WFP), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Switzerland’s representative also took part in the debate on enhancing United Nations-private sector partnerships, as did a representative for the European Union delegation.
Papalouis Fall presented the Joint Inspection Unit report on that subject for the Committee’s consideration.
Participants in the discussion on “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model” were representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) and Belarus.
With no delegation addressing the agenda item “Programme planning”, the Committee Chair proposed that it remain open.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 November, when draft resolutions will be tabled and action taken on texts already submitted.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take up the agenda item “Towards Global Partnerships”, referring specifically to the Organization’s cooperation with private sector bodies. It was also expected to consider “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model” before concluding its general discussion on sustainable development matters.
Before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on Enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector (document A/66/320) dated 23 August 2011, which notes the evolution of strategic engagement between the world body and business. The convergence of various overlapping issues allows new forms of cooperation between the two in pursuit of development goals, and the private sector’s voice in the Organization has grown in recent years. Prior General Assembly resolutions recommended more effective and transparent partnerships while protecting the integrity and reputation of the United Nations, the report says, adding that the recommendations have led to better collaborations that emphasize scale and impact.
Despite considerable progress in promoting the private sector’s role in the world body’s work, the report notes, more benefits would be gained by strengthening the enabling environment for partnerships through the establishment of strategic approaches, increased support from Member States, better promotion of the website business.un.org, a strengthened role for United Nations Resident Coordinators and the creation of an internal advisory group within the Secretariat. It also recommends exploring new partnership models for achieving impact and scale, taking into account the recommendations of the Global Compact LEAD Working Group and improved knowledge-sharing on innovative financing.
The report proposes improving capacity-building at all levels and training for United Nations staff, including possible secondment to the private sector. Improved partner-selection processes could include the development of a common United Nations approach that would maximize benefits and minimize risks to the Organization’s reputation and credibility, the report says, urging the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, as well as a thorough evaluation and impact assessment.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General (document A/66/137) dated 14 July 2011, annexed to which is the report of the Joint Inspection Unit titled “United Nations corporate partnerships: the role and functioning of the Global Compact” (document JIU/REP/2010/9). Covering the activities of the Global Compact Office from inception until April 2010, the report examines its role and success, as well as the risks associated with the use of the United Nations brand by companies that may benefit from their association with the Organization without having to prove their conformity with its core values and principles.
In addition to identifying best practices, lessons learned and future challenges, the report recommends the establishment and implementation of a clear mandate and a long-term strategy for the Global Compact. It also proposes regrouping the Compact with the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP). It recommends redressing the imbalance in the composition of participants through a proper selection process, and reinforcing the implementation of integrity measures. It also urges balancing and diversifying public and private funding, as well as enhanced transparency in reporting on the budget, income, expenditure and office staffing.
The report further recommends improving the effectiveness, coherence and self-reliance of local networks, and better geographical representation of regional centres as advisory and coordinating hubs. It calls for a focus on promoting partnerships to implement and periodically review the Compact’s 10 principles, strengthening its governance structure by reinstating the advisory role of the Inter-Agency Team, greater transparency in nominating board members, and inclusive representation of participants. It also recommends enhanced effectiveness and accountability through annual self-assessment performance reports on the impact of the Global Compact Office’s activities in relation to its mandate and objectives.
Also before the Committee was 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 thirty-fifth annual meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 and China, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 23 September 2011; and a letter dated 13 August 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the Secretary-General requesting the inclusion in the agenda of the sixty-sixth General Assembly session of a supplementary item entitled “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model”.
Introduction of Reports
GEORG KELL, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact, introduced the report on partnerships between the United Nations and the private sector, saying that it took stock and identified trends and suggestions for better engagement. Noting that partnerships were becoming more common and sophisticated, and that the Millennium Development Goals were the primary motivation for most of them, he said they were voluntary and therefore complementary to existing efforts. Their overall effectiveness varied overall but good progress had been made at the system level and that of individual organizations.
Citing the website business.un.org, the “Guidelines for Cooperation” and the United Nations focal point community as good indicators of progress, he said there was nonetheless “huge potential to do more and achieve goals more effectively”. The report called for a shift from opportunistic to strategic partnerships, enhanced capacity-building, better selection of partners, and improved sharing of best practices and learning. Turning to the Joint Inspection Unit’s report, he said the Secretary-General’s note addressed each of its recommendations, many of which had been implemented or were on the way to being implemented. The report also highlighted important developments requiring support.
The Global Compact had spearheaded the building of integrity guidelines as well as a benchmarking implementation survey, he said, emphasizing also that voluntary initiatives depended on good will. Incentives were required to boost the impact and scale of partnership-based initiatives, and efforts in that direction were progressing well. The growth of networks and continued engagement with United Nations goals was an indication of positive and complementary efforts making a difference, he added.
PAPA LOUIS FALL, Inspector, Joint Investigative Unit (JIU), said its evaluation examined the Global Compact’s role and functioning, including risks associated with use of the United Nations logo. Companies could use or abuse their association with the world body and the report recommended how to ensure responsible and transparent management. While noting the Global Compact’s success in terms of volume of activity and commending its progress on integrating the 10 principles, he said it must go further by better mastering parameters and risks. It needed to deal with a lack of precision in its mandate and rules, peculiarities in its financing structure, its complex original governance structure and the pitfalls of partner selection and follow-up.
Mr. KELL responded to questions from representatives of Senegal and the Comoros about the nature of the Global Compact’s relationship with partner organizations, especially multinational companies operating in developing countries. He said that while the Compact was a “voluntary learning and action platform”, and not a substitution for national laws and regulation, it worked to establish the business case for responsible behaviour. It had no compliance role at all but provided mechanisms for peer-review and identification of best practices. It had a unique system obliging mandatory disclosure of progress made against a performance matrix, and companies that failed to comply were de-listed as partners, he said, noting that while 2,000 had been de-listed, many more had joined, with strong network growth in the developing world.
He also answered a question from the representative of Bangladesh about the lack of measurement for the eighth Millennium Development Goal, on partnerships, saying the Compact would continue to address that issue. He noted that there were many types of collaboration, some loose and some much tighter, with a variety of partnership models underpinning them, which made measurement difficult and inexact.
The representative of Belarus also participated in the interactive dialogue.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, emphasized that enhanced public-private sector partnerships and United Nations cooperation with the private sector would contribute significantly to ongoing global efforts to realize global development goals. ASEAN was focusing its efforts on building the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, in hopes of becoming a region of high competitiveness and equitable economic development, he said.
He stressed that private-sector partnerships should be voluntary, adding that they should complement but not substitute commitments made by Governments. The private sector’s partnership with the United Nations should reflect the core values enshrined in the Organization’s Charter and the 10 principles of the Global Compact. Strengthening global partnerships and binding the public and private sectors together with civil society would provide significant support to developing countries as they encountered challenges in pursuing development. He welcomed the recent launch of the Private Sector Track organized by the Global Compact at the recent Istanbul conference on least developed countries, noting that it was the first time that business had been integrated formally into the programme of a major United Nations meeting.
AMERICO BEVIGLIA ZAMPETTI, speaking on behalf of the European Union delegation, stressed the need for active participation by Governments, the private sector and civil society to overcome the many global challenges. Like other stakeholders, private-sector actors had important responsibilities and obligations to their employees and Governments, but also to their broader communities. They must be encouraged to commit to the shared values of progress.
The Global Compact played an important role in promoting dialogue and cooperation between the United Nations and the private sector, with a view to furthering shared goals, he noted. That approach should include greater emphasis on impact, transparency, coherence, accountability and sustainability. Welcoming the recent developments at the Private Sector Forum of the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, he said it allowed direct deliberations with the private sector and could serve as a model for future events. Everyone should benefit from fostering global partnerships, he said.
PIO WENNUBST ( Switzerland), noting that complex problems required complex solutions, said global partnerships were an effective way to address emerging issues. Over the last decade, the Global Compact had become the world’s largest corporate-responsibility initiative, with a network comprising more than 8,700 corporations, he recalled, expressing hope that it would rally the private sector in support of future United Nations conferences as it had for the Istanbul meeting in May.
Despite being the largest corporate-responsibility organization in the world, the Global Compact would have to do much more to ensure its global outreach, he said. Growth could only occur if initiatives took root in emerging countries. The Global Compact must engage its networks as they played a major role in promoting social responsibility, he said, calling on the United Nations to play a larger role in promoting that while maintaining its independence.
FÁBIO FARIAS ( Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s active and responsible private sector played a major role in promoting a sustainable development model. As a key actor in society, the private sector must remain aware of its responsibilities and work with the Government in setting national priorities and implementing national development plans and strategies. Recalling that the Government had established the Council of Economic and Social Development in 2003, he said its role was to advise on the formulation of policies and specific guidelines and to consider proposals on public policy and structural reform in the area of economic and social development. Brazil attached great importance to the Global Compact as a facilitator of engagement with the private sector and a promoter of principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and combating corruption. Hopefully it would also help United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to exploit fully the private sector’s capacities to contribute to the development of education and health and to economic growth worldwide, he added.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) noted that the growing importance of companies’ capacity to make a positive contribution to sustainable development had led the United Nations to establish a partnership with the private sector. Welcoming that development, he said private-sector participation should be enhanced. Despite the progress made thus far, however, it was clear that the partnership needed new impetus to promote a better environment.
He said that implementing the report’s recommendations would contribute to better management, but the absence of a regulatory framework and effective cohesiveness had led to challenges. He went on to emphasize the need for a long-term strategy and a mechanism to enhance the Global Compact’s responsibility, recommending that it work with the United Nations to avoid duplication. It was also necessary to strengthen the Global Compact’s evaluation process and to implement a system for measuring progress. In addition, initiatives of the Compact had not been evaluated by outside entities, he pointed out, adding that the possibility of periodic evaluations would help to improve understanding of its activities.
WANG QUN ( China) said the United Nations should play a greater role in prompting enterprises to implement the Global Compact, as social responsibility benefited both business and society as a whole. The Global Compact must be recognized as the bridge between Governments and enterprise, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations had a very important role in facilitating that partnership on the basis of its core principles of independence and impartiality.
He went on to say that the partnership should work as a supplement to and in line with the national development strategies of developing countries while fully respecting their wishes and working in the areas where cooperation and financial and technical assistance were most urgently needed. There was a need for strict screening criteria for new partnerships and for assessment and monitoring of existing ones. Many enterprises in China had integrated social responsibility into their business strategies, he said, adding that 230 businesses had joined the Global Compact and were taking part in its activities.
The Committee then took up the agenda item ““People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model”.
NAVID HANIF, Acting Director, Office for ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,launched the discussion on “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model”, sayingit was the first time that the Committee would be considering that item. He said there was growing emphasis on the deep links between peace, development and human rights, adding that they had permeated the work of the United Nations system. The new agenda item would help the Committee examine issues in an integrated fashion, he said, adding that it would contribute to the handling of broader development challenges.
MARCELO SUÁREZ SALVIA (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said global challenges were causing havoc for Governments and civil society, yet they affected regular people most. It was important to point out that even when economic growth was substantially high, in many cases it did not translate into development and people’s empowerment. State wealth did not guarantee social protection even for the citizens of richer countries, he said, stressing that people’s empowerment was fundamental at all stages of decision-making and norm-setting. He thanked the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for articulating the links between empowerment and development, noting that her initiative was about eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing inequality, creating jobs and fighting terrorism, among other things. The Group of 77 and China would table a draft resolution, he added.
MD. TAUHEDUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, reiterated that economic growth had not translated into people’s development and empowerment, adding that the Occupy Movement was a testament to that reality. Bangladesh was pleased to note that the international community had seen development, security and human rights to be interlinked and mutually reinforcing. Pursuing those linked goals required a focus on eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, mitigating deprivation, providing jobs for all, accelerating socio-economic development and fighting terrorism in all its forms. There had been advances since Copenhagen 1985, but society remained far from stable and equal, he said, pointing out that many people remained disempowered and voiceless. Systematic exclusion was an impediment to socio-economic stability, he said, adding that active participation in social, economic and political life was essential to the peaceful resolution of conflict. To advance empowerment, leaders should articulate a clear vision and mobilize the will to realize it in a coherent manner, he stressed.
DENIS ZDOROV ( Belarus) expressed his thanks to Bangladesh for its Prime Minister’s initiative, and expressed his delegation’s full support for its timeliness.
The Committee then resumed its consideration of sustainable development matters.
DER LAURENT DABIRÉ ( Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that alternating floods and droughts endangered his country’s future because 85 per cent of the population lived on agriculture. He said he supported the African Adaptation Programme launched by Japan to create a permanent early-warning system. Burkina Faso had also committed to the Accelerating Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy, the results-oriented reference framework for all Government development interventions.
Expressing concern about the development of discussions on the “green economy”, he said they tended to obscure poverty eradication, and called for reassurances that the green economy would contain poverty eradication elements. Burkina Faso was pleased with the High-level Meeting on Desertification, Drought and Degradation and encouraged the strengthening of synergies between the three Rio conventions to enhance approaches linking climate change, desertification and sustainable development, he said, also encouraging the drafting and adoption of a legal instrument to complete the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, devoted to sustainable land management and controlling soil degradation in all countries. Hopefully it would include a global communications strategy to inform, educate and build capacity in support of efforts to combat degradation, he said.
Mr. DIALLO (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said growing environmental threats were affecting the most vulnerable populations, and called on the international community to adopt a global, efficient and coherent response, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Calling for the full implementation of the Cancun agreements, he said greening the global economy was also important, adding that he looked forward to the Rio+20 Conference as an opportunity to reach a global agreement on climate change. It would also be a chance to establish a new form of international governance that was ready to tackle environmental issues, including drought and agriculture. A green economy would not be possible without concrete changes to the current economy, he said, stressing the significance of an international focus on sustainable agriculture and food security.
PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, called on the United Nations to mobilize States, especially the major polluters, to take action on the environment. International commitments must go beyond rhetoric and Rio+20 would provide a chance to do so, he said. It would also be an opportunity to reconsider the common framework for action on sustainable development, he said, urging the establishment of an international body on the environment. Actions on the road to Rio+20 must be consistent, in line with established goals and ambitious, he added.
He said that his country had contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by improving governance of its forestry sector. Referring to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) post-conflict environmental assessment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the Ministry of Environment had worked to highlight successful initiatives and identify opportunities for financing in order to restore subsistence cultivation, promote good governance and sustain post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding.
He said he hoped that the assessment would trigger action and greater support from the international community to orient the country onto a better path and that the green economy would provide green and other jobs to former combatants. Challenges needing urgent responses included deforestation, the extinction of species, mining-related pollution and drought, he said, adding that a constant shortage of drinking water affected 51 million people while climate change increased the vulnerability of small-scale, rain-fed agriculturalists. By 2020, the dry season could be seven months long rather than five months, he noted, stressing, however, that that was not irreversible, provided there was an increase in development aid.
Mr. ZDOROV ( Belarus) called for particular emphasis to be placed on reducing the costs of renewable energy and technology, especially in rural areas, pointing out that that would require international coordination on energy policy. Through an international action plan, the global community could potentially organize a single database for technologies for new and renewable energies, he said. It was important to ensure an effective model for reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, he said, proposing an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol and appealing for a conclusion of negotiations on the instrument.
SOLOMON TATAH ( Cameroon), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said he was pleased that the special importance of mountainous areas had been confirmed because their inhabitants were more vulnerable to land loss. Mountain zones were sources of much biodiversity in Cameroon, and projects had been implemented to ensure the rational use of their resources while respecting their cultural and geographical heritage. Cameroon advocated a holistic approach to the populations of mountainous regions so as to enhance sustainable development, he said, reiterating the importance of General Assembly resolution 64/205, which asked interested parties to support local, national, regional and international efforts to support sustainable projects in mountainous regions.
FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said humanity’s duty towards the environment should be linked to its duty towards itself, adding that one set of principles could not be advocated while others were disregarded. It was that lack of coherence that constituted both a serious flaw and a contradiction in the approach to protecting the environment. Pope Benedict had called for a “human ecology” by which, in order to protect nature, it was not sufficient to intervene only on the basis of economic incentives and deterrents because as important as those measures were, the international community had yet to adopt an overarching respect for human life.
Collective international collaboration required recognition by those responsible for the economic and social costs of environmental degradation and not by those countries with no responsibility, he said, adding that protecting the environment from a purely mercantile exploitation of its natural resources disregarded the impact on local communities and future generations. Nature was God’s gift to everyone and should be treated as much more than a raw material presenting an opportunity for individual gain, he said, reiterating that every human being had a responsibility to consider the environmental impact on the poor, future generations and on humanity as a whole. Climate change represented a serious threat to sustainable development, he said, pointing out that, despite more than a decade of negotiations, it was distressing that no binding multilateral agreement on joint action had been reached to reduce carbon dioxide levels.
AMBER BARTH, Programme Officer, International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for the United Nations, said productive employment and decent work played a pivotal role in the pursuit of sustainable development and poverty reduction. The lack of decent work opportunities and insufficient coherence between policies posed major challenges to that goal. A transition to a greener economy was necessary for sustainable development in general and from a social and labour market perspective in particular, she said.
Continuing a “business-as-usual” scenario would continue to have increasingly negative impacts on labour markets and social development, she warned, emphasizing that Rio+20 must place a high priority on poverty eradication and the transition to more sustainable production and consumption patterns. The Green Jobs Initiative provided an important model for seizing the opportunities available in both developed and developing countries to shape a new investment strategy for sustainable development. Decent jobs included those that helped reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials, decarbonized the economy while protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, and minimized the production of waste and pollution.
PEDRO MEDRANO, World Food Programme (WFP), stressed the importance of recognizing the critical links between disaster risk and food security since disasters were a leading cause of hunger, affecting all dimensions of food security. Poor households and communities suffered more, with most food-insecure people living in fragile areas that were prone to natural hazards. Exposure to disaster risk, coupled with lack of capacity to manage the risk and poor access to markets, trapped poor households in a cycle of insecurity and poverty that quickly deteriorated into crisis when disasters occurred, he said. Stressing the exacerbating impact of climate change, he said hazards would occur more frequently, and the balance of fragile ecosystems would be reduced, acting as a stress multiplier.
The WFP was a key partner in supporting disaster risk reduction, providing assistance to 109 million people in 75 countries, he said, adding that half of its programmes directly addressed disaster risks and their impact on food security. It was essential to scale up efforts as risks would only grow in the future, he warned, urging Member States to maintain their strong commitment to the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. He also called for scaling up social-protection safety nets and increased early-warning and emergency preparedness, and emergency response capacities to cope with existing disaster risk. It was also necessary to link integration into national risk-management frameworks that would allow early, more predictable, and more effective responses to disasters, he said.
MICHELE KLEIN SOLOMON, Permanent Observer, International Organization for Migration (IOM), welcomed the focus on urbanization in the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of Agenda 21, but noted that it did not take population mobility factors into account. City governments must identify and address rural-urban migration flows so that adequate planning, including for sustainable settlements and inclusive social development, could occur, she said. International aid was needed to build capacities in urban centres, especially those located in low-income areas struggling to deal with both population growth and the effects of climate change.
She said that while the Secretary-General’s report noted the challenges related to food security and sustainable agriculture, and acknowledged the links between fragile environments, poverty and land degradation, it did not specifically consider population matters. With land degradation making it increasingly difficult to sustain livelihoods in certain areas, and being a significant “push factor” for migration, targeted responses were needed to address such movements, she said, adding that the international community must stand ready to provide support, including programmes of assisted movement and relocation.
Managing movements through temporary and circular migration policies could alleviate the impact on fragile ecosystems and increase long-term environmental resilience, she continued. Stressing the importance of mainstreaming migration into disaster-risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies so as to minimize forced movements, she said that State-appointed focal points for the Hyogo Framework for Action could facilitate national and regional cooperation. If displacement was unavoidable, however, measures should be put in place to facilitate movement and ensure recovery and rehabilitation in new locations.
RALF BREDEL, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), New York Office, said that addressing the energy-access and energy-security challenges of developing and transition countries in an appropriate manner required a much greater role for renewable energy in national energy strategies. But success would depend on the choice, mix and appropriateness of technologies, the human capacity to use them effectively, and establishing the right policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks, finance instruments and finance mechanisms. Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 was a bold, ambitious, but doable target, he emphasized, saying it would require support and commitment on the part of key stakeholders.
In that regard, UNIDO had taken on a significant leadership role through its Director-General, who chaired the Secretary-General’s High-level Group on Sustainable Energy, he continued, adding that, as Chair of UN-Energy, the agency also played a key role in coordinating United Nations efforts in previous years. Additionally, UNIDO worked closely with Member States to promote development and the transfer and deployment of innovative, resource-efficient and low-carbon technologies as part of its broader green industry initiative. Its support for Member States in the next few years would focus on promoting private-sector investment in replicating and scaling up integrated renewable energy solutions, he said, noting that UNIDO was working with more than 20 Member States to develop market-based renewable energy projects. Public-private partnerships were imperative in that regard.
PYTRIK DIEUWKE OOSTERHOF, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), welcomed the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report on implementing the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction and the results of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held in May. In view of preparations for the Rio+20 Conference and the remainder of the Hyogo Framework for Action, it was critically important to scale up efforts and provide practical support for disaster risk reduction, including financing mechanisms for pooling and guaranteeing long-term disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies.
The IFRC had developed a long-term performance framework for such strategies, he continued, saying it had also conducted three cost-benefit analyses in Nepal, the Philippines and Sudan. They showed that community-based disaster risk reduction programmes were cost-effective if properly implemented. However, it remained difficult to access sufficient resources for disaster prevention and risk reduction, he said. In that regard, the IFRC was looking to develop new funding instruments such as community safety and resilience funds that would provide seed funding for innovative new proposals as well as longer-term financing. In line with its commitment to scale up risk reduction and climate change adaptation in high-risk communities, the IFRC was considering the formal allocation of at least 10 per cent of funds from international disaster response appeals to disaster risk reduction, he said.
ANA PERSIC, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), called for a break from “business as usual” and stressed the importance of green economies in achieving the aims of sustainable development, which would result in fair, equitable and inclusive societies. Despite the adoption of Agenda 21, sustainable development remained elusive for many African countries, she pointed out, urging greater support for their efforts in favour of peace, democracy, good governance and respect for human rights. She also stressed the importance of tapping into the potential of women through investment in girls’ education, and the need for quality education across the board, emphasizing that education provided the skills, competencies and knowledge needed to impart indispensable values and practices conducive to sustainable development.
Underlining the fundamental importance of preparing people for green jobs, she said that investing in science, technology, and research and development was also essential in that regard. There was also a need to mitigate the rapid degradation of the oceans due to their important role in poverty alleviation, she said, stressing also the importance of secure access to safe drinking water for all. As for the looming water crisis, it called for strengthening education, training, capacity-building and awareness-raising efforts on sustainable management of freshwater resources, she said. Biodiversity was also crucial to reducing poverty, she said, adding that UNESCO’s Biosphere reserved ideal places for testing and demonstrating innovative approaches to sustainable development that reconciled the conservation of biological and cultural diversity with economic development through partnerships between people and nature. She said a holistic approach was essential to climate change, especially with the increased frequency of disasters, which were down, at least in part, to climate change and unsustainable development. Sustainable development and peace were intrinsically linked, she said, adding that one could not exist without the other.
FIAMMA ARDITI MANZO, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, reiterated that organization’s commitment to disaster prevention and relief, saying she agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that it was essential for disaster risk reduction to be focused and implemented at the local and community levels. The Order had established multiple disaster relief and training programmes around the world aimed at disaster prevention, she said, noting that on-the-ground projects ranged from the reinforcement of structures against earthquakes and cyclones to the construction of flood-safe emergency shelters. The Order also trained village emergency teams and volunteers in establishing early-warning systems, she continued. Most recently it had become involved in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey, distributing blankets, food, baby formula and wood ovens. It was also educating children and youth in Viet Nam on disaster risk reduction. In Pakistan, the Order’s efforts focused on making the population aware that simple measures could help avoid high numbers of victims during and especially after disaster struck.
The Committee then returned briefly to the item on people’s empowerment as one delegation requested the opportunity to deliver a statement.
ELYES LAKHAL (Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that people’s empowerment was of particular importance to his country and called for the extension of liberty, equality, social justice as well as inclusive and equitable development. Nine months after the revolution, Tunisians had come out for their country’s first ever free, democratic elections, he recalled. That demonstrated that the democratic process was positive, with the people of Tunisia the biggest winners and helping to put their country on the path to sustainable development. However, peace was still a dream for many, he cautioned, emphasizing that lasting peace required social justice on an international scale.
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