I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Human societies always have and always will depend on the goods and services healthy ecosystems provide. It is evident that any holistic and integrated approach to sustainable development guiding humanity to live in harmony with nature will have to acknowledge the fundamental value that nature provides.
Indeed, the treaty of the European Union states that Union policy on the environment shall contribute to preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, as well as the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources.
An approach that aims to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations will need to find ways and means to take into account this value nature provides. This is necessary in order to lead to a sustainable future, across its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental.
In this regard, the EU and its Member States believe that the outcome document of Rio+20, “The Future We Want”, constitutes a sound basis for further work in the on-going quest for achieving sustainable development, globally, regionally, nationally and locally. In particular, “The Future We Want” outlined the need for promoting the integrated and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems that supports economic, social and human development while facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration and restoration.
Also as underlined in the outcome of Rio+20, the green economy is one of the important tools for achieving sustainable development. Greening our economies in an inclusive manner can contribute to the achievement of long-term sustainable development that recognises the need for human activity to remain within planetary boundaries.
At the same time, the EU recognizes that in implementing green economy policies there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to individual countries in accordance with their national circumstances and priorities.
Many experiences within the EU and in other regions of the world in the area of sustainable development have followed concrete green economy type policy approaches. An essential component of such activity is based around the sustainable management of resources, including water, oceans, land and forests, as well as their underlying ecosystems and biodiversity.
Two of the most pressing challenges facing the world are eradicating poverty and ensuring that prosperity and well-being are sustainable. Around 1.3 billion people still live in extreme income poverty and the human development needs of many more are still not met. Two-thirds of the services provided by nature – including fertile land, clean water and air – are in decline and climate change and biodiversity loss are close to the limits beyond which there are irreversible effects on human society and the natural environment.
In this respect, ecosystem services offer considerable potential for developing approaches that simultaneously provide ecological stability and livelihood security as it promises to integrate concerns about the resilience of ecosystems with their broader developmental implications. This is especially true for the most vulnerable regions of the world where the degradation and loss of ecosystem services affects poor and vulnerable people disproportionately and is a significant barrier to reducing poverty.
The EU believes that in order to tackle the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development for all, one overarching framework post-2015 with a single set of goals will be needed. The fundamental link between ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future needs to be collectively addressed in years ahead. The sustainable management of natural resources, including biodiversity and ecosystems, will play an important role in achieving this objective. Eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development will not be possible without fighting climate change, as recently evidenced by the World Bank report “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided”. Our efforts ahead should thus be supportive of low carbon development, consistent with the objective of limiting global temperature increase below 2°C and of ensuring climate resilient societies and economies.
The European Union and its Member States believe that there is a real need for reliable and consistent statistical data under the three dimensions of sustainable development, and we give great importance to environmental monitoring, assessment, and early warning systems. We need to build stronger links between science, policy and decision-making to support evidence-based and coherent decision-making inside and outside the UN.
GDP is without any doubt an important indicator of our activity. But we need to include comprehensive accounting of the environmental aspects. Under “the beyond GDP” process, we are developing a composite index on environmental pressures and a Sustainable Development Score Card. Through international organizations such as the OECD and World Bank, which are working on the measurement of societal progress, through the ongoing work within the UN Statistical Commission, which has devoted attention to the reform of indicators at its last sessions, and through important new initiatives we are steadily progressing towards developing indicators that identify the relationship between growth, prosperity and the quality of life.
I thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.