Rio+20 Conference ‘A Crucial Milestone’, Second Committee Told as Speakers Stress Urgent Need to Address Climate Change, Build Post-2015 Development Agenda

7 November 2012
GA/EF/3351

Rio+20 Conference ‘A Crucial Milestone’, Second Committee Told as Speakers Stress Urgent Need to Address Climate Change, Build Post-2015 Development Agenda

7 November 2012
General Assembly
GA/EF/3351
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

23rd Meeting (PM)

Rio+20 Conference ‘A Crucial Milestone’, Second Committee Told as Speakers Stress

Urgent Need to Address Climate Change, Build Post-2015 Development Agenda

 

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference had been a “crucial milestone” for the international community and had ushered in “a new era of sustainable development”, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today.

As the Committee began its consideration of sustainable development, Indonesia’s representative hailed the Rio+20 outcome document as a “solid foundation on which to build and improve the human condition”.  In that regard, the Second Committee must move forward on certain significant issues, he emphasized, highlighting, in particular, the importance of developing a set of Sustainable Development Goals by 2015 and ensuring that the renewed spirit of sustainable development was reflected in the post-2015 development agenda.

Speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said adequate financing was essential and the transfer of technology vital to the achievement of sustainable development.  However, no clear conclusion on those two issues had been reached at the Rio+20 Conference and the Second Committee must provide clear guidance on expectations for the outcome of efforts by the working group on financing and those of the United Nations system to facilitate a mechanism to promote the development, transfer and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies.

As several speakers echoed that call, Algeria’s representative also reiterated the need for development partners to increase the levels of new and additional financial resources as well as sustainable development actions on the ground to tackle the question of eradicating poverty, identified in the Rio+20 outcome document as the today’s greatest global challenge.  Speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, he also noted the seriousness of the threat posed by climate change, underlining the fact that developing countries continued to suffer most from its adverse impacts.

The representative of Barbados, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), agreed, calling for renewed urgency in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The “cloud of climate change” hung particularly heavily over small island developing States, he pointed out, emphasizing the undeniable link between that phenomenon and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather in the Caribbean region.  The upcoming Conference of States Parties to be held in Doha must focus on concluding a legally-binding second commitment period for the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol, establishing an international mechanism to address climate-related loss and damage, and increasing clarity on climate-related financing pathways.

Reiterating those concerns, Sudan’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, also stressed the negative effects of desertification, land degradation and drought, saying they affected biodiversity and agriculture.  Water was also essential for achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication, especially for Arab countries, he said.

Also vital in the fight for sustainable development was a commitment to biological diversity, the representative of the European Union delegation said, welcoming the successful outcome of the recent Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Hyderabad, India.  The European Union had committed to doubling its total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows by 2015, and to, at least, maintaining that level until 2020.  In addition, it was committed to promoting and mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation across policies and financial instruments, he said, noting that the bloc’s support to the resilience strategies of partner countries would be a central objective in its approach to humanitarian aid and development cooperation.

Norway’s representative called for implementation of the decision taken at the Rio+20 Conference to strengthen and upgrade the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), calling for the necessary steps to enable the agency’s new universal governing body to gather in Nairobi for the first time in 2013.

The Committee heard two video messages, the first by the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, who discussed the special challenges facing small island developing States, particularly on health matters, and the second by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, who raised the possibility of island States fulfilling all their energy needs from renewable sources.

Also taking part in today’s general discussion were representatives of Nauru (speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States), Costa Rica(for the Green Group), Maldives, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Libya, Egypt and Nepal.

Presenting reports for the Committee’s consideration were the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction; the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity; a Senior Programme Officer at the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme; and a Senior Liaison officer from the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 8 November, to conclude its debate on sustainable development.

Background

For its general discussion on sustainable development this afternoon, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) had before it several reports of the Secretary General and United Nations bodies.

Among them was the report of the Secretary-General on the Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/67/341) dated 30 August 2012, which expresses grave concern over poor implementation of General Assembly resolutions, particularly in relation to the reparations and compensation due to the Government and people of Lebanon and Syria.

A report on Options for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies (document A/67/348), dated 4 September 2012, summarizes recent trends and outlines recommendations on the functions, format and working methods of a technology facilitation mechanism.  It proposes that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs provide secretariat functions for such a mechanism, with support from a pool of experts in working out institutional details, with a view to achieving an operational technology facilitation mechanism before the end of 2013.

Committee members also had before them the report of the Secretary-General Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations (document A/67/313).  Dated 15 August 2012, it contains a section on the possible legal and financial implications of the Caribbean Sea as a special area within the context of sustainable development.  It notes that the Association of Caribbean States is promoting the Caribbean Sea Commission as a coordinating body for ocean governance.

Also available for members’ consideration were reports relating to implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (documents A/66/218 and A/66/278).  The first, titled Review of United Nations system support to Small Island Developing States and dated 1 August 2012, stresses the importance of the Organization’s support for efforts directed towards the sustainable development of small island developing States.  Dated 8 August 2012, the second is titled Concrete recommendations to enhance the implementation of the Barbados Programme of 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.

The Committee also had before it a report on Implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/67/335) dated 27 August 2012, which says that a major breakthrough on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation across the sustainable development agenda is close.  An unassailable business case supports investment in disaster risk reduction as an essential element in fighting poverty and stemming wasteful losses from recurring disasters, it adds.

Another report of the Secretary-General, Harmony with Nature (document A/67/317) dated 17 August 2012, focuses on humankind’s evolving relationship with nature and draws upon key issues discussed at the interactive dialogue on Harmony with nature on 18 April 2012.

The report of the Secretary-General Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (document A/67/318), also dated 17 August, stresses the need for enhanced cooperation and action in that regard, citing “promising renewed interest” in renewable energy due to the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  Nonetheless, it notes that the boom is not balanced and many poor countries have seen relatively low growth in new and renewable sources of energy.

Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, 2012, (document A/67/314) dated 16 August 2012, which calls for strengthened partnerships linking academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, the media and the United Nations system in support of sustainable energy for all and other efforts to capitalize on the momentum built in 2012.

The Committee also had the following available:  Report of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/CONF.216/16) containing the outcome document from the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20-22 June 2012; a note by the Secretary-General on Sustainable Energy for all:  A Global Action Agenda (document A/67/175) dated 31 July 2012 and transmitting the report of his High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All; a Note verbale dated 11 July 2012 from the Permanent Mission of Morocco and addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/67/206), which forwards the texts of four resolutions adopted by the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, held in Kampala from 31 March to 5 April 2012; a note by the Secretary-General dated 10 August 2012 and transmitting three reports relating to Implementation of United Nations environmental conventions (document A/67/295); and the report of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum of UNEP, held in Nairobi on 20-22 February 2012 (document A/67/25).

Video Messages

The Committee heard two statements delivered by video link.

DENZIL DOUGLAS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said small island developing States faced structural problems due to their small sizes, populations and land masses.  Their resources were limited and they were vulnerable to natural hazards and external shocks.  They needed commitments by developed countries to identify resources and technical assistance if they were seriously to overcome their problems through partnerships, he stressed, pinpointing development goals under threat in the area of public health, particularly communicable diseases and HIV/AIDS.  The Caribbean was at the forefront in developing initiatives to tackle the problem, but current economic challenges could roll them back, he warned.  The middle-income country status of many small islands left them unable to access concessionary support to tackle such problems, he noted, calling for the revision of methods for measuring development in order to better account for highly indebted middle-income countries, especially in respect to the health-related Millennium Development Goals.

JEAN-PAUL ADAM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, also called attention to the challenges facing small island developing States, pointing out that international institutions were designed to support bigger units.  Development benchmarks, such as gross domestic product (GDP), did not take into account their limited infrastructure and the higher costs they faced.  In addition, they faced an existential threat in climate change, he said, urging greater attention to issues like ocean acidification and pointing out that his country provided 25 per cent of the tuna bought in Europe, which would be affected by further acidification.  Outlining inexpensive approaches to tackling climate change, he said his country was Co-Chair of the Global Island Partnership which worked to create protected marine areas and facilitate adaptation to the effects of climate change.  Innovative schemes to use islands as laboratories in exploring the possible impacts of renewable energy had been tabled, and it was possible to make such islands 100 per cent renewable-energy economies, he said.

Introduction of Reports

NIKHIL SETH, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report on the facilitation mechanism to promote the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.  He said the Department and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would convene an inter-agency technical support team to support the efforts of the open-ended working group on the Sustainable Development Goals to define the post-2015 development agenda, using the best talent within the United Nations.  Recalling that Rio+20 had established a universal high-level inter-governmental political forum that would ultimately replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, he said the Conference had also resulted in strengthening UNEP and in recognition of the power of the “green economy” to aid poverty eradication.  The report reflected inputs from various United Nations agencies, but the final decision on the way rested with Member States, he said.

MARGARETA WAHLSTRÖM, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, introduced the report on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.  She said that Hurricane Sandy, which had recently devastated parts of the Caribbean and the east coast of the United States, had again highlighted that while significant investment in early warning and preparedness saved lives, inadequate action, or even inaction, in addressing other components of disaster risk reduction, continued to cause the all too familiar scenes of ruined homes and damage to critical infrastructure and economic assets, while impacting jobs and lives.  The report recommended that Governments share progress on the implementation of the broader disaster risk reduction agenda, and that as Member States considered the post-2015 development agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals, it would be critical to ensure the inclusion of disaster risk reduction considerations in pursuit of the overarching goal of resilience.  The next year would be critical in laying the foundations of the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework, which required building on the extensive knowledge and lessons generated from the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, she said.

BRAULIO FERREIRA DE SOUZA DIAS, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, introduced that body’s report, emphasizing that preserving the Earth’s biodiversity was essential to humanity’s future, to sustainable development and to uplifting the poor.  Describing biodiversity as the natural wealth and capital of nations, he said the outcomes of the Eleventh Conference of Parties clearly demonstrated that Governments had begun to prioritize implementation.  Developed countries had agreed to double funding in support of efforts in developing countries to meet internationally agreed biodiversity targets, and developing countries had said they would double biodiversity-related international financial flows by 2015.  Marine biodiversity had also been a major focus at the Eleventh Conference of Parties, and the decisions taken there built on the commitment of countries at Rio+20 to protect and restore marine ecosystems and maintain their biodiversity.  States parties had provided guidance on their preparations for the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol, and had agreed on the need for a third meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol in the coming two years.

MUNYARADZI CHENJE, Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme New York Office introduced two reports on behalf of Deputy Executive Director Amina Mohamed.  He said this year’s UNEP Governing Council meeting had taken place ahead of the Rio+20 Conference and had contributed to its success.  The Rio+20 outcome document called for strengthening and upgrading UNEP and making the 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production operational.  UNEP had already begun enhancing partnerships with Governments, the United Nations system, civil society, local authorities and business in areas that were ripe for rapid action, he said, adding that one such area was corporate sustainability.  UNEP had been working with the Global Reporting Initiative since 1992 in support of sustainability reporting, and hopefully a road map on the matter would be drawn up by the end of the year.

MARCELA MAIN SANCHA, Senior Liaison Officer, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, described the Durban Conference as the most encompassing, furthest-reaching meeting in the history of the climate change negotiations.  It had accomplished crucial and ambitious outcomes, including confirming a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, to start in January 2013.  The Conference had also launched a process to negotiate a new legally-binding instrument, under the Convention, that was applicable to all States parties.  It advanced the institutional infrastructure to support the actions of developing countries in fighting the effects of climate change and also carried a message that their level of must be raised even further.  As such, countries agreed an immediate work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition.

GEORGE TALBOT ( Guyana), Committee Chair, then said that Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, would introduce that body’s report tomorrow by video-link from Bonn.

The representative of Lebanon then thanked UNEP for its report on the oil slick affecting his country’s shores.

Statements

JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the CARICOM and associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, conveyed his sympathies to the United States following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, pointing out that people in the Caribbean had also sustained loss of live and property.  Alarmed by the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather in that region, he said the link between climate change and those events was undeniable, and particularly threatening to small island developing States.  Thus, climate change must return to the top of the global agenda, and a renewed urgency must be injected into negotiations under the Climate Change Convention.

As for the upcoming climate change conference in Doha, he said the focus there should be on finalizing arrangements to ensure a legally binding second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, establishing an international mechanism to address loss and damage from the effects of climate change, and increasing clarity from developed countries on financing pathways, among other things.  Noting that the Second Committee would consider a resolution on sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea and citing an integrated management approach as the best option for protecting that body of water, he called for international support for those measures.

Turning to Rio+20, he expressed support for the process launched at the Conference to develop the Sustainable Development Goals, which must be science-driven, evidence-based and defined through a robust technical process.  To ensure that the deadlines agreed at Rio were met, the 30-member open-ended working group on the sustainable development goals must be constituted as soon as possible, he emphasized.  He expressed support for efforts by the Statistical Commission to develop broader measures of progress than GDP, and the establishment of a universal high-level inter-governmental political forum to review progress in sustainable development.  Additionally, he called for strengthening the role of the UNEP as the lead authority for setting the global environmental agenda and defining modalities for the third international conference on small island developing States in 2014.

Mr. HASSAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, called Rio+20 a landmark event that had reaffirmed global poverty as one of today’s most pressing global challenges, and launched a new era that called for an integrated global approach to dealing with international issues.  Climate change was the greatest challenge facing the Arab region, he said, adding that the Climate Change Convention should serve as the primary inter-governmental forum for negotiations.  The Arab Group stressed the importance of full and timely implementation of the package endorsed in Durban and of a second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Underlining the importance of water as essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication, especially in the Arab countries, he said they suffered from desertification, land degradation and drought, which in turn affected biodiversity and agriculture, thus leading to their potential failure to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  He called on the international community to scale up efforts to provide the necessary resources for tackling climate change and combat desertification in developing countries, particularly those in Africa.  It was also time it upheld its responsibilities and paid attention to the people living under occupation in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian lands, he said, calling on all States to press Israel to stop measures hindering sustainable development in those territories.  He also called for greater attention to the oil slick on Lebanese shores, asking Israel to provide compensation to Lebanon as well as Syria.

YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of ASEAN and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, described Rio+20 as a “crucial milestone” for the international community which had ushered in a new era of sustainable development, complementing efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Through continuous commitment and concrete actions, what had been achieved in Rio 20 years ago, and again four months ago, could develop, flourish and advance.  Indeed, the outcome document known as “The Future We Want” was a solid foundation on which to build and improve the human condition, he said.

However, a number of matters required the Second Committee’s further consideration and deliberation, he said, citing the process of elaborating the Sustainable Development Goals first.  Given the spirit renewed at Rio that process could give provide a fresh perspective for the post-2015 development agenda.  In addition, poverty eradication remained a main concern, as did the need for integrated and balanced treatment of the three dimensions of sustainable development.  The high-level political forum should lead to fulfilment of sustainable development commitments and contribute to reform of the principal development arm of the United Nations.

He emphasized that sustainable development clearly would not be achievable without adequate financing and appropriate transfer of technology.  Despite their importance, a clear direction had not be reached at Rio on those two issues, and the Second Committee should therefore provide clear guidance on what was expected from the working group on financing, and the United Nations system’s efforts to facilitate a mechanism to promote the development, transfer and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies.  The future mechanism on financing must be actionable and reflect the priorities of developing countries, he emphasized.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, reiterated that sustainable development was the comprehensive conceptual framework that the United Nations had agreed as the basis for addressing the multi-dimensional challenges of economic growth, social development and environmental protection.  The Group also welcomed the reaffirmation by the Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, that poverty eradication was the greatest global challenge today.  It called for the successful and expeditious launch of follow-up processes agreed at Rio+20, and reiterated the call for development partners to provide increased financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building for the full and prompt realization of sustainable development actions on the ground.

Describing climate change as one of the most serious global challenges, he said developing countries continued to suffer most from its adverse impacts, calling upon Member States to take urgent action to reverse desertification, land-degradation and drought, as appropriate, with the assistance of the United Nations system, relevant regional and international organizations, multilateral agencies, major groups and other stakeholders.  He welcomed the “significant decisions” taken by the Eleventh Conference of Parties in Hyderabad, India, last month, on financial issues, recalling that they had settled on an interim target of doubling biodiversity-related international financial-resource flows to developing countries by 2015.

He reiterated calls for effective measures and actions to remove obstacles impeding sustainable development for peoples living under foreign occupation, noting that illegal actions taken under such circumstances continued to cause socioeconomic and humanitarian hardships, including destruction of property and land.  He also affirmed support for the efforts of small island developing States to achieve sustainable development, pointing out their vulnerability to sea level rise, coral bleaching due to rising ocean temperatures and extreme weather.  Emphasizing that sustainable development remained elusive for Africa, he said the continent’s challenges were compounded further by the continued loss of biodiversity, desertification, land degradation and persistent drought.  The international community must ensure full and timely delivery of commitments made to Africa, including in the form of official development assistance (ODA), capacity-building and technology transfer.

LARA ERAB DANIEL (Nauru), speaking on behalf of Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Hurricane Sandy tragedy was a reminder of life’s fragility and an important occasion to reflect on the new realities brought on by climate change.  Small island inhabitants coped with many struggles, but their stories largely escaped international attention because they occurred in places far from the media spotlight, she noted, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that their voices were heard and that they had the resources necessary to adapt to the impacts of climate change which were now unavoidable, and that they recovered after disaster struck.

The 2014 third international conference on small island developing States and International Year of Small Island Developing States would draw world attention to the continuing challenges that they faced in their aspirations to develop in a sustainable manner.  Despite the progress they had made in that regard, it had been uneven.  The international conference would provide those countries with the opportunity to renew their political commitment to sustainable development and to strengthen meaningful partnerships.  Urging the United Nations system and the wider international community to enhance efforts to help prepare for the conference, she also called upon partners to make voluntary contributions to the conference trust fund.  All countries, particularly developed ones, must take the lead in intensifying efforts to match the scale of the problem, she said.  It was also important to mobilize the means of implementation in the areas of finance, technology and capacity-building, she said, calling for the adoption of a legally-binding, ambitious second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

AMERICO BEVIGLIA ZAMPETI, representative of the European Union Delegation, emphasizing that the follow-up to Rio+20 required commitment by all partners, said the bloc would be fully engaged in various talks on the Sustainable Development Goals, the high-level political forum, upgrading UNEP, the financing mobilization strategy for sustainable development and the Third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States.  It would also work to promote the green economy and develop follow-up initiatives in a range of areas covered by the Rio+20 outcome document’s framework for action.  The Sustainable Development Goals must address key global challenges and promote sustainable development worldwide.  They must be universally applicable, while allowing for country-specific approaches.  “We will need to collectively strive for improving the current framework, while keeping it simple, with goals limited in number; action-oriented, easy to communicate and operationalize on the ground,” he said.

Expressing supported for the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the key universal standard-setting body on employment and social protection, he strongly welcomed the Group of 20 (G-20) outcome on quality employment.  He also welcomed the results of the 2011 Durban Conference, saying it had marked an important step forward in global efforts to combat climate change.  This year in Doha, it would be necessary to continue to make progress on what had been agreed in Cancun and Durban, and to pave the way for the adoption of a single global, comprehensive legally-binding agreement applicable to all parties by 2015.  All efforts must be made to close the “ambition gap” to stay on track in limiting the rise in global temperature to below 2° Celsius, notably during the transition phase.

Welcoming the successful outcome of the recent Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of States Parties in Hyderabad, India, he said the European Union had committed to doubling total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries by 2015, and at least to maintain that level until 2020.  It was committed to promoting and mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation across policies and financial instruments, he said.  Its support to the resilience strategies of partner countries would be a central objective in its approach to humanitarian aid and development cooperation.  It looked forward to negotiating the modalities of the Third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States and to a focused preparatory process that would ensure the event’s success, he said.  It would also pursue the same approach in negotiating the Habitat III modalities in order to address urban environmental challenges and promote environmentally sustainable cities.

SAUL WEISLEDER (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Green Group, said that the foreign ministers of its five member countries — Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Singapore, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates — had joined together to shape a common voice in addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development, renewable energy and sustainable water management.  It was not news that climate change and variability were becoming more worrying each year, and its negative impacts were already being felt by ecosystems, people and nations.  The Green Group countries were aware that climate change was the ultimate global challenge and called for global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

He warned that climate change would aggravate existing environmental problems and impact social and economic development as well as international peace and security as conflicts emerged over scarce resources, the loss of territory and induced migration flows.  Some estimates indicated that more than 4 billion people were already threatened by political instability sparked by the phenomenon.  Water issues should be given more visibility as water was essential to satisfying basic human needs, ensuring social and economic development and preserving ecosystems.  It was time for action on the issues outlined at Rio+20, he said, stressing that a balanced approach to the Sustainable Development Goals was crucial in addressing all three dimensions of sustainable development.  It was also important to maintain the momentum towards building a global climate agreement during the negotiations in Doha later this year.

AHMED SAREER ( Maldives) said that while Hurricane Sandy had battered the Caribbean and North America, his country had suffered extensive damage caused by Cyclone Neelam in the Bay of Bengal.  It had affected more than 30 of 196 inhabited islands, damaging critical infrastructure including water and sewerage systems, houses, schools and agricultural lands.  The Maldives had alerted the international community 25 years ago to the threat of unprecedented storms and sea-level rise due to climate change, he recalled, adding that today the phenomenon was a global issue.  Even though its share of emissions accounted for less than 0.01 per cent of the global total, the country was among the most vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rises.

He went on to say that his country had made an ambitious commitment to a low-carbon economy and hoped to generate 60 per cent of its electricity from solar power and 40 per cent from wind and biomass, without increasing the cost to consumers.  At the upcoming Doha meeting, the international community could make progress on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and move from lengthy negotiations to implementation as of 1 January 2013, he continued.  Rio+20 had provided a glimmer of hope for the Maldives and other low-lying countries that feared for their territorial integrity owing to sea-level rise, coastal erosion, coral bleaching and ocean acidification.  It welcomed the Secretary-General’s ocean initiatives, launched on 12 August in the Republic of Korea, to more effectively deliver ocean-related mandates in a manner more consistent with the Rio+20 outcome.

DMITRY I. MAKSIMYCHEV ( Russian Federation) expressed support for the policy outcomes of Rio+20, saying they reflected compromise on key global decisions and reaffirmed multilateral agreements in the social and economic fields.  Effective implementation of the Rio+20 decisions was key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and establishing the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Russian Federation intended to be actively involved in that process, he emphasized, calling for a fair and pragmatic decision to establish a General Assembly working group to improve existing institutions.

He went on to welcome the decision to strengthen UNEP in order to establish a global environmental agenda and raise public awareness of it, saying his country intended to work actively and constructively on the post-2015 development agenda.  Lowering greenhouse gas emissions required the participation of all countries.  Finally, he said the Russian Federation was committed to providing official development assistance to help the development of small island States, and encouraged those countries to engage in the sharing of knowledge and experiences that would benefit multiple countries in similar situations.

SUL KYUNG-HOON ( Republic of Korea) said the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development had provided the international community with historic momentum and the follow-up should be implemented in a coherent and coordinated manner.  Agreeing that the green economy was one of the most important tools for achieving sustainable development, he said that his country had embraced green growth as the new development paradigm.  Its Global Green Growth Institute, initially launched as a non-governmental entity, had been transformed into an international organization about two weeks ago, and was dedicated to supporting and diffusing green growth as a means to achieve sustainable development on the basis of partnerships between developed and developing countries.

He went on to emphasize that the Sustainable Development Goals should be built on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and should be at the core of the post-2015 development agenda.  It was important to define the format and organizational aspects of the new high-level political forum for enhancing sustainable development governance, he said, calling also for the adoption of a resolution strengthening and upgrading UNEP.  The text should contain specific follow-up measures for universal membership on the agency’s Governing Council, as well as secure, stable and adequate financial resources.  Given the magnitude of the financing requirements for sustainable development, resources must be mobilized from a wide range of public, private and mixed sources, he stressed.

ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, emphasized that the General Assembly should remain the main United Nations body to review matters relating to implementation of the sustainable development agenda.  Regarding the Millennium Development Goals in particular, he said that several States, especially in Africa, would have difficulty in achieving them, and called upon developed countries to honour their ODA pledges and commitments.  Climate change was also impeding Africa’s progress on sustainable development, and land degradation had a major impact on food security and poverty eradication efforts.   Libya, which had been affected negatively by climate change, was benefitting from international expertise on combating desertification, he said.  Calling for concerted efforts to increase cuts in greenhouse gases emissions, he also emphasized the importance of joint action to preserve biodiversity.  With respect to sustainable energy, he called for greater use of renewable sources, as well as for more research into new ones.

MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt) stressed the need to start developing a clear vision of the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda that was inclusive, fair, sustainable and pro-development, and to ensure the efficiency of their implementation mechanisms.  On climate change, he said any international response must enhance implementation of the Climate Change Convention and ensure compliance with its principles, particularly equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.  It was important to implement fully the package endorsed at the Seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban and to establish a credible, legally-binding second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol as of January 2013.

He went on to emphasize that his country did not accept any State’s withdrawal from the Protocol, the only global legal agreement with binding emission-reduction commitments for developed countries.  Expressing concern over Canada’s withdrawal, he called on States that they would not join a second commitment period to reconsider that position.  Climate change was a clear and present danger with global repercussions, he emphasized.  Just as the global community did not accept withdrawals from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), it should adopt a similar position on in respect of the Kyoto Protocol.  He called for doubling its funding in the first intermediate period of the post-fast-start phase from 2012 to 2015, to at least $20 billion annually over the next three years in order progressively to meet the annual target of $100 billion by 2020.

MANI PRASAD BHATTARAI ( Nepal) said that in the age of globalization and interdependence, poverty was the antithesis of sustainable development and its eradication must be an overarching goal.  That notion would open up avenues for more reliable and far-reaching solutions to sustainability issues, particularly in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.  Given Nepal’s natural resources and traditional practices, the promotion of a green economy that would contribute to inclusive and equitable economic growth while respecting local cultures and promoting sustainable consumption patterns was welcome, he said.  “We believe people-centred development is necessary for creating social and economic infrastructure for sustained economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.”

Turning to climate change, he stressed the critical need for global support for implementation of the Convention.  Failing to address that issue as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda would exclude half of the globe from achieving sustainable development.  Since mountains were home to 12 per cent of the world’s population, not to mention their value as ecosystem services reaching half its people, appropriate attention must be paid to the full integration of sustainable mountain development into the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development process, he emphasized.  He called for global partnership in all relevant areas, including finance, technology transfer, knowledge and research, and capacity development so as to ensure development for all, especially the most vulnerable countries.

GEIR O. PEDERSEN ( Norway) said the Sustainable Development Goals must be built on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, stressing that they must be concrete and measurable.  Social, economic and environmental concerns must be tackled in an integrated way, not separately.  Norway was eager to contribute and looked forward to the establishment of the open-ended working group on the post-2015 development agenda.  With the high-level political forum set to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, it was important to use the current “window of opportunity” to ensure that it would be more effective than the latter, he said, emphasizing that the forum would need a mandate and new instruments that would promote implementation at the national and international levels.

Calling for implementation of the decision to strengthen and upgrade UNEP, he expressed hope that the necessary steps would be taken to enable its new universal governing body to gather for the first time, in Nairobi in 2013.  Noting that the Achieving Sustainable Energy for All initiative would have an immense impact on poverty-reduction efforts, economic growth, the environment and climate change, he said that his country would continue its efforts to fulfil its goals through the International Energy and Climate Initiative (Energy+), and welcomed the excellent cooperation between the United Nations, the World Bank and the private sector.  Emphasizing that disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness saved lives, he said that greater efficiency — meaning more lives saved — required closer integration of prevention and preparedness on the one hand, and development activities on the other.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.