Renewable energy sources are the least expensive options in boosting electricity access, reducing air pollution and cutting carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, speakers stressed as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded sustainable development today.
Togo’s delegate noted that more than 1 billion people around the world live without electricity, exposing them to unsafe cooking methods and indoor pollution. Stressing that one of the best options in bridging the electricity gap is renewable energies, she said her country aims to become 100 per cent reliant on them by 2030 through public‑private partnerships and individual solar kits.
Underscoring that universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and renewable energy is key to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the representative of Viet Nam said his country is accelerating progress towards using renewable energy in the power sector. It is planning to triple electricity produced from renewable sources from 58 billion kilowatt hours in 2015 to 101 billion by 2020 and 186 billion by 2030.
Similarly, Tonga’s delegate said his country is a strong advocate of promoting renewable energy and efficiency, setting a target to use 50 per cent renewable energy by 2020. Stressing that the goal to keep global warming below 1.5°C is a necessity for the survival of humanity, the representative of Maldives said his country is implementing long-term policies to remove subsidies from conventional energy sources and promote renewables.
Highlighting an analysis from her organization, a representative of the International Renewable Energy Agency said renewable energy is the most cost‑effective way of providing 90 per cent of the required reduction in energy‑related carbon dioxide emissions. It will also bring significant socioeconomic benefits, boosting global gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 1 per cent, employing close to 29 million people and generating a 15 per cent increase in welfare, mainly through health benefits from reduced air pollution.
“The good news is that the business case for renewables has never been stronger,” she said, calling for a shift in policy and regulatory focus, a mobilization of financing and strengthened partnerships to substantially increase renewable energy’s share of end‑use sectors such as heating, cooling and transport.
Speakers also emphasized the need to change unsustainable production and consumption patterns, protect biodiversity, reverse deforestation and combat land degradation. They also urged the international community to fulfil its commitments to achieve sustainable development by mobilizing by meeting their official development assistance (ODA) commitments of 0.7 per cent of GDP.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Belarus, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cameroon, Libya, Myanmar, Turkey, Guatemala, Ecuador, Malaysia and Eritrea. Representatives of the International Labour Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Organization for Migration and the Holy See also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 October to take up eradication of poverty.
VITALY MACKAY (Belarus) said his country has created a system with a sound institutional base to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, pointing to the country’s fifty‑third ranking on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) human development index in terms of sustainable development. Belarus prioritizes the Parliamentary aspect, as well as partnership groups involving civil society, business, the scientific milieu and international parties. His Government will submit an impending report to the Eurasian Economic Union, and aims in 2019 to address all three levels of development — international, regional and national. The country has also proposed to establish a database on sustainable development for the United Nations.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the first steps have been made towards an ambitious consensus among the international community towards sustainable development, but progress depends on shared but differentiated responsibilities in that domain. As the world continues to fight poverty, hunger, malnutrition, new diseases and conflict, Nicaragua calls for the political will to shoulder commitments made on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — however, the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved unless developed countries uphold commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of GDP to official development assistance (ODA). Also demanding the end of coercive unilateral measures on developing peoples, he said the developed world must change unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The Second Committee plays an important role in sustainable development, and therefore all must act in good faith and solidarity.
Mr. AL-NAHDI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed the need for collective work to close the gap between developed and developing countries in achieving sustainable development. In preserving the environment, it is necessary to find modern technologies, limit pollution and optimize the use of water resources, including by protecting sea shores as well as special areas and islands. His country has taken steps to protect the environment as well as limit hunting and unruly grazing by setting up a council for protected areas chaired by the Crown Prince. It has also launched two initiatives to conserve forests by planting 6 million seedlings on 60,000 hectares of arable lands.
KOMPITA SENGDALAVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) associated himself with the Group of 77, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Group of Least Developed Countries. He stressed that the international community must fulfil its commitments to achieve sustainable development by mobilizing adequate resources to support developing nations, focusing on least developed and landlocked developing countries as well as small island developing States. He called on development partners to meet their ODA commitments so that development promises can be translated into tangible outcomes. He noted that his country has set up a National Steering Committee to ensure effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also continues to pursue the path of green growth and sustainable development, as reflected in its vision 2030, strategy 2025 and current national socioeconomic development plan 2016‑2020.
SERGE PAMPHILE MEZANG AKAMBA (Cameroon), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, stated his country is gravely impacted by pollution, climate change, thinning of the ozone layer, the proliferation of toxic waste and other related issues. His region holds 60 per cent of African biodiversity, but the drying of Lake Chad and advancing of deserts illustrate how northern areas have been vulnerable to climactic impacts. Cameroon is endeavouring to better manage forests, develop renewable energy and mitigate abuses of fossil fuels. The country has also established a national observatory on climate change, and asks for international assistance in its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2025 when compared to 2016. The Government continues to encourage its population to embrace resilience as part of its daily life, prioritizing education, aiming to eliminate all forms of exclusion and poverty, and implementing health care for all. He stated Cameroon is committed to the moral imperative of leaving no one behind, because the poor always suffer the greatest effects of climate change.
VILIAMI VA'INGA TŌNĒ (Tonga) said his country understands the importance of conserving its biodiversity as it is crucial for supporting people’s livelihood, well‑being, economic prosperity and social as well as environmental sustainability. Tonga continues to enhance implementation efforts towards fulfilling its commitment under the Convention on Biological Diversity and is pleased to confirm that its mission will join the delegation of the Kingdom of Tonga to the Convention’s meeting in Egypt in November. Adding that Tonga also continues to be a strong advocate in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, he said the Government is setting a target to use 50 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
BUI THAI QUANG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, acknowledged that universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is key to the 2030 Agenda, as is promotion of renewable forms. Viet Nam is proactively committed to accelerating its progress towards the use of renewable energy in the power sector, planning to triple electricity produced from renewable sources from 58 billion kilowatt hours in 2015 to 101 billion by 2020 and 186 billion by 2030. He said the country also seeks to cooperate in the research, development and transfer of advanced technologies in mining and processing rare‑earth minerals to create value‑added and environmentally friendly products, minerals essential to green‑energy technologies including wind turbines, electric car batteries and solar cells.
OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77, said countries with financing problems or internal conflicts continue to face challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Stressing the right to development, he said it is important that the international community joins together in efforts to meet the needs of current and future generations. Libya suffers from a migration problem involving an influx of people from southern Africa, which has placed a great burden on its economy in terms of humanitarian needs. It is necessary to put an end to the illegal and risky trafficking of persons by sea from Libya to Europe. Noting that financing is the cornerstone of sustainable development, he said the international community must mobilize resources by recovering property stolen from countries and restoring it to assist in funding development plans.
SU NANDAR HLAING (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said urgent action is needed to promote inclusive and collaborative partnerships for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Myanmar has been mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals into its national strategies and development plans, she said, emphasizing that in recent years, it has gone through multiple and complex transitions, fulfilling in March 2018 all criteria to graduate out of least developed country status. She underscored Myanmar’s progress in the areas of foreign and domestic investment, quality education, and gender equality and women’s empowerment. On climate change, she said Myanmar is taking serious steps towards reducing the impact of natural hazards.
Mr. ZAHIR (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, reiterated there is no substitute for smart investment that promotes sustainable development, builds the capacity of countries to adapt to and mitigate against climate change, and reduces the risk of disasters. The Maldives has created a business environment dominated by tourism and fisheries, attracting investors given their capacity to protect and preserve sustainable practices. Fishermen catch tuna one‑by‑one with pole and line and hand and line to minimize by‑catch. In tourism, the country’s key attractions are its clear water, blue lagoons and sandy beaches, making key economic priorities of preserving the ocean and marine biodiversity and protecting beaches from erosion, he said. Noting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reminds that keeping global warming below 1.5°C is no longer a goal but a necessity for the survival of humanity, his country is implementing long‑term policies to remove subsidies from conventional energy sources and incentivize renewables.
TIFOUMNAKA KOUBODENA (Togo) noted that more than 1 billion people live without electricity worldwide, exposing them to unsafe cooking methods and indoor pollution. Her country is convinced that the best options in bridging the gap in access to electricity are based on renewable energy resources. It is difficult for her country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without access to sustainable energy, so it has set up an energy policy and framework for action based on public‑private partnerships, renewable energy and individual solar kits. The Government’s aim is to make the country 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy by 2030. Adding that energy is a focus of the 2030 Agenda and is closely related to many of its objectives, she called for stronger cooperation in energy to meet the challenges of sustainable development.
AYŞE ŞEBNEM MANAV (Turkey), noting her country’s exposure to sand and dust storms from North Africa and the Middle East, said the transboundary nature of such storms calls for comprehensive efforts by both source and affected countries as well as regional cooperation. Source area mitigation strategies should be developed and implemented, based on reliable scientific data and information, she said, emphasizing the importance of regional schemes as well as relevant United Nations programmes and projects. For its part, Turkey has been stepping up its capacity to monitor and forecast sand and dust storms, she said, adding that an inclusive, science‑based platform is needed to address their impacts.
SHARON BERNADETH JUÁREZ ARGUETA (Guatemala), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said her country looks to define strategies and mechanisms to coordinate goals, targets and indicators with a long‑term view on sustainable development and ensuring deep-seated transformation. Given the importance of viewing sustainable development from a community and global perspective, she said all sectors must therefore be involved, leaving no one behind based on the principles of shared but differentiated responsibilities. Guatemala notes the support of Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and calls for assistance to bolster its work. Her Government is always seeking low‑cost high‑value solutions. Joining the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Clean Seas campaign, she noted Guatemala has developed a programme using nets made of recovered plastic waste to collect and remove pollution, installing them in 87 locations and reducing pollution along the Caribbean coastline. She urges the United Nations system to continue supporting developing and middle‑income countries like hers in achieving sustainable development.
HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), associating herself with the Group of 77, said the global community must step up its rhythm given the urgency and scale needed to achieve sustainable development, especially in developing countries. Poverty must be eliminated, emphasizing the principles of equity and shared but differentiated responsibilities, inclusiveness and accessibility. With the El Niño phenomenon recurring and worsening, she noted 2013‑2016 was one of its strongest seasons in her region. However, neutralizing the degradation of land can speed up achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Stating the importance of fostering renewable energy, Ecuador emphasizes that human beings and Mother Earth must live together, recognizing nature as a subject with its own rights.
AZIZAH BINTI ABD AZIZ (Malaysia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said her country has pledged to accelerate reduction of disaster and climate‑related risks through implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030. It has established a national disaster management agency as the country’s focal point for disaster risk management. A policy will be formulated to support and strengthen disaster management capacity through integration of risk reduction measures in planning and development across all sectors. Noting that developed countries are in a more favourable position to take the lead in addressing climate change, given their stronger economies and more advanced technological capacities, she called on them to take responsibility for historical emissions. She further called on developing countries to contribute towards reducing the current and future impacts of climate change.
Ms. MICAEL (Eritrea) said her country is committed to land degradation neutrality, as it will greatly assist in economic development. Lessons it has learned have shown that sustainable soil conservation will improve yields and enhance resilience. Land degradation is a serious problem requiring strong international and regional partnerships if neutralizing it is to be successful. Her country is also greatly affected by climate change and food insecurity. It is mobilizing various civil society groups in working on water conservation and has also been improving its dams, which will lead to expanded irrigation for farming.
BERNARDITO AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, emphasized the need for people‑centred and environmentally sensitive ethics in implementing the three dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals. Indicators for the Goals cannot become what GDP indicators have become, namely a statistical goal that substitutes for the lived experience of real people. Tourism must be seen not only in terms of economic and material benefits, but also for its possibilities for mutual enriching encounters of peoples and cultures. “Unfortunately, too often we see the opposite,” he said, citing walled‑off tourist areas in developing countries where affluent visitors see the beauty of nature without meeting the people living on the other side. Such a lack of physical encounter can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses that neglect parts of reality, he said, citing by way of example solutions to the problems of the poor that are based on progressively reducing birth rates.
AMBER BARTH, of the International Labour Organization (ILO), noted that 1.2 billion jobs or 40 per cent of worldwide employment, most of which is in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, depend on ecosystem services and a healthy planet. Preserving these jobs requires transition to a greener planet. ILO research indicates limiting global warming to 2°C above pre‑industrial levels, as stated in the Paris Agreement, will lead to 6 million job losses, offset by the creation of 24 million, for a net increase of 18 million. Moreover, she stated these jobs will be of better quality, especially in agriculture. The need for a greener economy is urgent given the unsustainable pressure on the environment. Heat stress will become more common, reducing working hours by 2 per cent by 2030, with the damage of unmitigated climate change undermining GDP growth, productivity and working conditions. In response, ILO has issued guidelines for a just transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies, favouring social justice and fair transition for workers, enterprises and communities.
XOLISA MABHONGO, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said nuclear science and technology has helped countries to reduce poverty and hunger, generate electricity, manage water resources, diagnose as well as treat non‑communicable diseases, including cancer, and respond to climate change. The Agency’s technical cooperation programme is a unique mechanism that has allowed it to promote the use of nuclear technology and build capacities in developing countries. It has provided thousands of fellowships helping scientists from developing countries to significantly improve their skills on nuclear technologies. The Agency’s eight nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna, Austria, train scientists, support research in human health, food and other areas and provide analytical services to national laboratories. A new Insect Pest Control Laboratory was inaugurated in 2017 to help countries use nuclear techniques to better control pests like mosquitoes, tsetse flies and fruit flies.
EMMA ÅBERG, International Renewable Energy Agency, recalling the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on global warming, said her organization’s own analysis shows that renewable energy and energy efficiency represent the most cost‑effective pathway to provide 90 per cent of the required reduction in energy‑related carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, an energy transition in line with global climate objectives will also bring significant socioeconomic benefits, boosting global GDP growth by 1 per cent, employing close to 29 million people in the renewable energy sector and generating a 15 per cent increase in welfare, mainly through health benefits from reduced air pollution. “The good news is that the business case for renewables has never been stronger,” she said, calling for a shift in policy and regulatory focus, a mobilization of financing and strengthened partnership to substantially increase renewable energy’s share of end‑use sectors such as heating, cooling and transport.
CHRISTOPHER RICHTER, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said all regions of the world are affected by the adverse impacts of climate change, but small island developing States, least developed nations and landlocked developing countries bear a disproportionate burden. They are least able to recover from the impacts of climate stresses on their economies, significantly hampering their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This translates into increasing levels of forced migration. It is estimated that some 320,000 people were displaced in the Pacific because of natural hazards between 2008 and 2017. More than 3 million people from small island States are currently residing in low‑elevation coastal zones, threatened by sea level rise and coastal erosion. IOM strives to develop and implement solutions to support climate migrants as well as States having to respond to migration challenges in a changing climate. Developing adequate policies that integrate climate and migration concerns is critical to addressing these issues at both national and regional levels.