I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this statement.
Allow me to thank the distinguished panelists for their extensive presentations. The reports form an important basis for this Committee’s deliberations.
We are only, on the latest count, 34 days and 15 hours away from a historic climate change meeting in Copenhagen. Evidently, it will require hard work, political leadership and painstaking compromises to seal an ambitious, fair and binding deal. It is the European Unions profound belief that we have no alternative to a successful outcome in Copenhagen.
The imminent threat from global warming and the opportunities that are within reach in Copenhagen create scenery that accentuates the relevance of our work in the General Assemblys Second Committee. Climate change is the most urgent responsibility on our agenda, and yet it is far from our only challenge. The EU remains determined to also work with partners to reverse the loss of biodiversity, to safeguard ecosystem services, to promote sustainable land water management and to achieve these objectives while stepping up effective efforts to eradicate poverty. We hope that our discussions in the committee will be guided by a spirit of partnership and dialogue, and a sense of urgency. The EU looks forward to a fruitful discussion about the diverse topics within the sustainable development cluster.
Mr Chairperson, let me now turn to the different agenda items, of which the EU would like to address four at some depth today.
Implementation of Agenda 21
With appreciation for the G77 proposal, the EU values a High-level Event on Sustainable Development in 2012 as an opportunity to make further progress on the mainstreaming of sustainability policies that foster green economy and reduce poverty. For an event to be meaningful there has to be broad agreement in this Assembly on how it can complement already ongoing processes in the field of sustainable development and be planned so as not to divert resources from or negatively affect them. The EU looks forward to engage actively in the forthcoming discussions on developing the content and agenda of the HLESD. We are very much encouraged by the quality of the debate held in this Committee last week on green growth.
It is vital to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is the essence of sustainable development, from health and education for individuals to trade or biosafety regimes at the global level. The EU believes that promoting and integrating economic, social and environmental strategies is a core UN system function. We have 40 years of multilateral effort and experience to build on since Sweden proposed the first UN conference on the human environment. A new era could now be in the making, ushering an ecoefficient economy and an equitable development model.
Important conclusions were reached at the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in May this year, building on the review of CSD-16. It is in our common interest that CSD decisions are taken up by relevant agencies and used to guide coordinated UN operations on the ground. To this end, member states should monitor its implementation while taking necessary action to ensure implementation at national level.
The EU looks forward to the next cycle of Agenda 21 review. We attach great value to CSD18 and 19 as a forum for learning and partnership that results in concrete, coherent and well-coordinated policy solutions to step up the implementation of commitments related to mining, transport, chemicals, waste management and the ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production. CSD18 and 19 also offers an excellent opportunity to address the interlinkages of these themes and to deal with cross-cutting issues identified at CSD11.
Through you Mr Chairman the EU wishes to congratulate the Secretary General for the success of the Summit on Climate Change on 22 September. We welcome the determination of world leaders to urgently address this defining challenge of our time and their support for the imperative to step up action and financing. This message from the highest political level should translate into a global, ambitious and comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen. The UN General Assembly should make all possible efforts to support this objective.
There is a need to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change, floods, drought, and increasingly extreme weather. To this end, it is imperative that we concretely, swiftly and adequately support the poorest and most vulnerable, especially the LDCs, SIDS and countries in Africa, where social and economic systems are in many cases less resilient to these pressures. A gender perspective on climate change is necessary to achieve effective, durable and equitable outcomes. Women are important agents for development and should therefore be active participants and decision makers in both adaptation and mitigation to climate change.
The EU emphasises the need for a legally binding agreement for the period starting 1 January 2013 that builds on the Kyoto protocol and incorporates all its essentials. We want all developed countries to commit to internationally binding, quantified emissions reductions in the order of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. And all countries should take immediate action. A deal on financing will be a central part of an agreement in Copenhagen. A gradual but significant increase in additional public and private financial flows is needed to help developing countries implement ambitious mitigation and adaptation strategies. The EU is ready to take its fair share of the global effort by setting an ambitious mitigation target, allowing for offsets and providing its fair share of public support.
We welcome the operationalisation of the Adaptation Fund and the progress in discussions to establish mechanisms to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and to promote conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. We are also discussing ways to enhance cooperation in the area of safe and sustainable low carbon technologies.
The time has come for the international community to make the commitments and take the action needed to limit global warming to below 2°C. This can only happen if all countries contribute in accordance with their responsibilities and respective capacities. Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak no later than 2020 and be reduced by at least fifty per cent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. EU leaders agreed Friday 30 October on the objective of emissions reductions of 80-95 % by 2050. And emissions must continue to decline thereafter. The scientific findings of the IPCC provide a common platform for action. The decision by the World Climate Conference 3 to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services can further support decision making. As scientific evidence evolves, there is a need to adjust national, regional and international climate change policies.
Alongside these negotiations, it is important for the United Nations system to continue improving the coherency of its response to climate change. It is in this light that the EU fully supports the efforts made under the leadership of the Secretary-General and carried out by the Chief Executives Board to achieve a more coordinated UN approach to climate change.
Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy
We find ourselves on the threshold of a major transition to a global low-carbon economy. This involves identifying and implementing policies to address climate change, poverty reduction and economic competitiveness. Access to modern energy is critical in peoples daily life and is yet unattainable to 1,6 billion people. It is also essential to industrial progress and urban development. The decline in energy investments this year is no doubt particularly problematic to the poor. This situation calls for a clean new deal to promote clean technology and the most effective use of energy. Increasingly, international competitiveness will depend on the ability to produce and distribute reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services.
Undeniably, one of the key solutions to effectively controlling climate change is to reduce and ultimately eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, arising from the production and use of energy. Underpinning this move will be the promotion of new and renewable energy sources, strong action on enhancing energy efficiency, energy savings as well as increased research and development (R&D) for environmentally sound and socially acceptable low-carbon technologies.
The International Energy Agency recently projected that the share of primary world energy from renewables will remain at 13 percent between 2005 and 2030. But the potential is vastly greater. The transition necessary will not happen by chance but it can be realized by choice. In this context, the EU welcomes the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA and the potential contribution it will make in the promotion of a rapid global transition towards the sustainable use of renewable energy. The EU recently decided to join IRENA and will actively promote a fruitful partnership between IRENA and the UN.
Much international attention continues to be focused on the high and fluctuating primary energy prices, the increasing global demand for energy and the uncertainty of supply. Consequently, there is a serious need for global efforts to guide investments and technology transfer to the energy sector. The common aim must be to ensure sustained growth based on an environmentally sustainable development for all countries while sources are diversified to increase security of supply.
The European Union believes that the adoption of time-bound national and regional targets and commitments to increase energy efficiency and the share of renewables , as well as targets on access to affordable energy, are essential elements to achieving the MDGs. Policies that maintain the necessary support for energy access without hindering the growth of renewables and energy efficiency and energy savings should be encouraged.
Development and use of renewable energies should be undertaken in a sustainable manner, which is for instance fostered through the development of sustainability criteria for biofuels. Capacity building and adequate financial resources, both public and private, are required for the promotion of renewable energy. Many members of the UN family have a role to play in the effort to support renewable energy and a coherent approach supported by UN Energy will be essential.
The world is currently not on track to meet the biodiversity goals, objectives and targets established since 2002 to significantly reduce the biodiversity loss by 2010. The EU is deeply concerned by this ongoing and unprecedented human-induced depletion of species, ecosystems and genes. We reiterate our commitment to implement a strong policy response to achieve all the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Vigorous efforts and further concrete actions must be undertaken to reverse this trend, at all levels, taking into account the significance of partnerships with indigenous peoples and local communities for sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Furthermore, a new, ambitious and credible global biodiversity post 2010 target has to be identified. At the General Assembly High-level Event on biodiversity in September next year, we would like to give Heads of State and Government a prominent role in the establishment of a new global vision, to be supplemented by concrete biodiversity targets to be adopted at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, in keeping with the decision of CBD COP 9 on the process for the revision of its Strategic Plan. The EU stands ready to actively participate in the International Year of Biodiversity.
Biodiversity plays a crucial role in fighting poverty and in achieving the MDGs since many poor countries and their citizens rely heavily on natural resources and ecosystem services for their immediate subsistence. National conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as well as access and benefit sharing of its components should be strengthened and integrated into development strategies and programmes.
The European Union encourages progress to be made in negotiating an international regime on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing arising from their utilization. The EU underscores the goal of concluding these negotiations at the earliest time before the Nagoya meeting 2010.
We are convinced that biodiversity will play a crucial role in combating desertification and land degradation, as well as climate change. Greater cooperation and coordination at global and national levels in these areas will contribute to promoting sustainable development policies. We also underscore the need for an effective cooperation between the three Rio Conventions in order to strengthen synergies among these issues.
Item 53 covers a number of additional issues, institutions and geographic areas that are of universal importance. In the interest of time, I will limit EU comments on these to a few remarks.
The European Union has a long history of cooperation with the SIDS and we are strongly committed to the implementation of the Mauritius Declaration and Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. We welcome the many positive accomplishments made and acknowledge the threat that climate change poses both to human and national security on small island states. The EU believes that the Mauritius + 5 High-Level Review could offer an opportunity to address collectively the challenges concerning the sustainable development of SIDS, including those posed by climate change. Climate change and its adverse impacts, in particular on sustainable development, migration and security, pose an additional burden on countries and increases the costs of reaching the MDGs.
Sustainable Mountain Development
Mountains and highlands are home to 600 million people and the source of water for more than half the world’s population plus an irreplaceable reserve of valuable mineral resources. The EU encourages sustainable spatial planning including biodiversity protection and the safeguard of the cultural heritage of man-made ecosystems. The European Union notes the importance of pro-poor policies to ensure sustainable development in mountain regions. We strongly support the strengthening of women’s right to resources and their role in their communities and culture in mountainous regions.
Desertification and land degradation are endangering the very existence of hundreds of millions of people and may undermine the stability of the most fragile States. In many areas, combating desertification is a practical and effective ways of adapting to the effects of climate change. Consequently, these challenges cannot be addressed without continued cooperation and reinforcing synergies between all the three Rio Conventions. The EU welcomes the forward-looking decisions taken by the 9th Session of the Conference of Parties to the UNCCD in Buenos Aires in Argentina on, inter alia, reforming the convention process on the basis of results-based management, engaging the international scientific community in the work of science and technology, strengthening regional coordination arrangements and establishing a performance-focused knowledge management system of monitoring the implementation of the Ten-Year Strategic Plan and Framework to Enhance the Implementation of the UNCCD.
Implementation of integrated water resource management, at the basin level, and transboundary cooperation are central to climate change adaptation and the increasing concerns for food production, energy security, economic stability and conflict prevention. Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and good water resources management is crucial for sustainable development, economic growth, health and well-being. Both water resources management and water supply and sanitation should feature prominently in national sustainable development strategies and poverty reduction plans. The effects of climate change will further impact water scarcity.
Water is inextricably interlinked with the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Therefore they play a crucial role in all water activities and investments. The EU considers water issues as an important topic to be addressed at a possible High-level Event on Sustainable Development in 2012 proposed by the Group of 77 and China. The EU will also engage in the proposal from Tajikistan to address water issues half-way through the International Decade for Action Water for Life.
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
The EU reaffirms its commitment to improve the capacities of communities at risk by supporting the Hyogo Framework for Action. We believe that a comprehensive approach should be embraced throughout the whole International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) system and, in this regard, encourage Member States to make full use of the mechanisms of the system, such as the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction. By linking disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, policy coherence can be enhanced and resources more effectively used.
The EU welcomes the outcome of the 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council and of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The outcome of the reform process together with the new Medium-term Strategy for 2010-2013 will facilitate setting up strategic frameworks and pursuing results-based management. The agreement to start preparations for a legally binding instrument on mercury is of paramount importance. The EU welcomes UNEPs process to establish an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and we hope that discussions on how best to mobilize and draw on research-based advice can be concluded in a constructive and time-efficient way by 2010. The EU would like to see a strengthening of UNEP and will plead for an ambitious reform of the International Environmental Governance system.
We look forward to working with you Mr Chairperson and with colleagues.
* Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.