I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the EU and its Member States (MS). The acceding country Croatia aligns itself with this statement.
First the EU and its MS would like to thank you for taking the initiative to organize this meeting, which we find very helpful at the moment when we are engaged in discussions on the ECOSOC reform and on the modalities of the High level Political Forum and their interlinkages, as well as on the discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals. Today’s discussion on achieving sustainable development through better integrating its 3 dimensions is particularly timely, and we are looking forward to benefit from the discussion that follow the rich program of speakers which you have prepared.
The role of ECOSOC
ECOSOC is the principal organ in the integrated and coordinated follow-up of outcomes of all major UN conferences and summits in the economic, social, environmental and related fields. The Rio+20 outcome has reaffirmed that ECOSOC is a central mechanism for the coordination of the UN development system and recognized its key role in achieving a balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development.
The EU and its MS believe that the ECOSOC reform process provides a good opportunity to reflect on a better use of its convening power and core mandates, and could facilitate the establishment of a powerful high-level political forum on sustainable development agreed inRio. A strong link between the HLPF and ECOSOC would contribute to a high degree of consistency and convergence in sustainable development discussions and ensure an integrated approach addressing all its dimensions.
We approach the meeting today as a case in study that would also show how the Council would advance consideration of such issues in a coherent manner, while improving the added value of our discussions in this context.
The agenda of today’s meeting is very wide and we would not try to fully cover it, so let us concentrate on some specific aspects on the background note that relate to policy coherence for sustainable development.
Policy Coherence for Development
In the future we want we all have institutional frameworks and governance arrangements in place at regional and country level that can ensure that the policies we develop are sustainable and coherent in economic, social and environmental terms. This is no small challenge. The European Union and its member states will be able to draw on experience gained over the past decade with the concept of Policy Coherence for Development, which is an obligation enshrined in article 208 of the treaty. The aim of Policy Coherence for Development is to ensure that the objectives of EU development cooperation are taken into account when developing policies in 12 other specific areas including research & innovation, information technologies, environment and social policies. The Policy Coherence for Development methodology focus mainly on process and covers the whole policy making cycle from setting and prioritising of objectives, coordinating policy and its implementation and monitoring, analysis and reporting. Political and legal commitments have proven to be key underlying prerequisite.
Science technology and innovation for sustainable development
Regarding the theme of the Annual Ministerial Review “science technology and innovation for sustainable development”, the EU and its Member States are long standing partners for developing countries in the field of research and development including the area of cleaner technology, and keeping in mind the three dimensions of sustainable development. Support has been provided in terms of exchange of researchers and students, twinning arrangements and direct support to research institutions in developing countries.
In concrete terms and with a view of implementation, we last year put forward a new international strategy for research and innovation cooperation. Among other objectives, the strategy on “Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation” calls for joint actions in science, technology and innovation with both developing and industrialised or emerging countries to address global challenges in an integrated manner. The challenges include the green economy, climate action, improved agriculture, food security and health, taking into account their interconnections. The result will be to boost the EU and wider collective efforts towards the Millennium Development Goals, the post-2015 development framework, theRio+20 follow-up and various relevant G20 actions, with a clear imperative to ensure coherence, consistence and convergence.
The development and diffusion of technology and innovationis at the very centre of the discussion on sustainable development as a means that can accelerate the transition to this new development paradigm. Research and eco-innovation have a key role to play in this field. Technology-related research must not only consider the technical feasibility of eco-innovations, but also their economic viability and their adaptability and applicability to different socio-economic contexts. This calls for increased research cooperation between different actors and across different disciplines to ensure that environmentally-sound technologies are easily accessible, viable and socially acceptable.
Still on science technology and innovation, we would like to highlight two specific aspects: First, the need for reliable and consistent statistical data under the three dimensions of sustainable development. We give great importance to environmental monitoring, assessment, and early warning systems – and we need to develop more data related to the social pillar. Second, the need to build stronger links between science, policy and decision-making to support evidence-based and coherent decision-making inside and outside the UN.
Energy and Agriculture
On the two thematic issues that you suggested in your background paper, energy and agriculture which are crucial areas that need to be properly integrated in the preparation of the post 2015 agenda and the SDGs and for which the three dimensions of sustainable development need to be brought together. There are already concrete examples of initiatives integrating those three dimensions and the overall priority of poverty eradication, those also bring together a wide range of relevant actors, and let me highlight in particular Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) or Scaling up Nutrition (SuN) as good examples to build on.
More concretely, if we take the sector of agriculture for example, we have, through the updated EU development policy, the “Agenda for Change“, and the EU policy on food security, stressed the multiplier role of the agricultural sector and its interconnections with the three dimensions of sustainable development. To accelerate hunger reduction, economic growth needs to be accompanied by purposeful and decisive public action that creates a conducive environment including equitable access to resources and services by the poor, empowerment of women, and design and implementation of adequate social protection systems. We have supported developing countries in boosting their agricultural production and productivity, also by investing in research. Increasing agricultural productivity to meet the needs of the world’s population is constrained by the scarcity and mismanagement of natural resources. Sustainable productivity therefore needs to be further fostered, notably through demand-led agricultural research and innovation, with the imperative to take into account the environmental impacts of agriculture. Agricultural development and land management that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable also has important mitigation potential. The importance of this thematic area was reflected in theRio+20 outcome document.
Coherence and Consistency
Regarding the more horizontal need for coherence and consistency, let me briefly restate some general principles that the EU and its MS believe are relevant to both this discussion as well as the current discussions on establishing the sustainable development goals.
As you know, we believe the SDGs should be coherent with and integrated in the UN development agenda beyond 2015 with a view to an overarching framework for post-2015, without deviating efforts from the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. They should also address and incorporate the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced, holistic and coherent way. Let me also remind that, while taking into account different national circumstances, policies, priorities, capacities and levels of development, the SDGs should be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries, limited in number, action-oriented, easy to communicate and linked to concrete targets and indicators.
Finally, Mister Chair, and on a wider note, while we attach the highest priority to ensure policy coherence and consistency between the follow up to Rio+20, the post-2015 development agenda, and the Financing for Development process, we also need to be coherent and consistent with many other processes including broader ones such as those relating to democracy, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and empowerment of women, or population and development, including migration.
This is the next challenge of integrating those with the 3 dimensions of sustainable development, together with the overall priority of poverty eradication, and the EU and its MS are determined to contribute actively to those discussions, including by reflecting on the lessons from today’s debate.
Thank you for your attention.
 Trade, environment and climate change, security, agriculture, bilateral fisheries agreements, social policies (employment), migration, research / innovation, information technologies, transport and energy.