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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Distinguished Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its 27 Member States.

Let me first congratulate you once again for you election as chair of CSD19, we are convinced that under your leadership, we will reach meaningful agreement on a complete set of decisions on the thematic issues of the current cycle of CSD.

Much has changed in the world since the Johannesburg Summit in 2002 when we looked at the challenges related to the thematic issues of the current CSD cycle: transport, chemicals, waste, mining and sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

On the one hand, we can see remarkable improvements, both in the well-being of many societies and in the state and availability of science and technology. However much remains to be done to address the global challenges of tackling poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, and misuse of available resources.

We would like to express our recognition to the work done, including at the intersessional meetings, since the last CSD 18 last year in order to make progress on the different topics of this CSD cycle.

Mr Chairman,

At the Conference of Rio, governments committed to promote patterns of consumption and production that reduce environmental stress and will meet the basic needs of humanity. Ten years later, the international community recognized in Johannesburg the need to shape and launch at CSD19 an ambitious and actionable 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production (10YFP on SCP) for the period 2011-2021 in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production.

This need has been reconfirmed in the Chair’s summary of CSD18, stating that Sustainable development calls for fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume. In order to carry out effectively these fundamental changes, the EU wants to reaffirm the urgency for all countries to endorse a 10YFP at the latest at CSD19.

In this reagard, the adopted 10YFP will be an important step towards a successful outcome of UNCSD2012. Indeed it will be a crucial response to various challenges on the way to green the economies worldwide while addressing social concerns and ensuring competitiveness, prosperity and high quality of life. We would therefore strongly welcome any initiative of the Chair to build consensus towards the elaboration of the negotiating document.

Mr Chairman,

Addressing the specific difficulties of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is a standing challenge and we welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue after the crucial High-Level Review Meeting on the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy which took place last September. We have a long standing concern for the difficult conditions that SIDS face, taking into due account their increased vulnerabilities, in addressing their most vital challenges: adaptation to climate change, promoting renewable energies, making a shift to more sustainable agriculture, protection of fragile ecosystems, and overcoming isolation and vulnerabilities (like expensive transport costs and communications, access to and provision of financial resources, access to science and technology, waste management, freshwater and land resources…).

We would like to reiterate the call we made last year for an urgent implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. While SIDS have largely made progress in formulating and implementing strategies and policies to advance sustainable development, there are still important challenges ahead. Regional efforts must be encouraged and complemented by the international community’s response particularly regarding capacity building, technology transfer and the financial resources mobilisation. The EU and its Member States will keep on supporting SIDS in addressing these challenges.

Mr Chairman,

Transport is an essential part of a sustainable world, especially for a high standard of living, international trade and tourism. However, transport can cause significant environmental and health problems and since it is largely dependent on fossil fuels, is one of the big drivers of climate change.

Sustainable mobility can improve the quality of life and human health, and helps to protect the environment, too. Furthermore, equal access to mobility is essential to achieve the MDGs.

We believe that sustainable transport solutions are directly linked to the objective of promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns. CSD 19 should promote a globally harmonized and consistent progress in developing sustainable transport patterns worldwide, thus stimulating job creation in the framework of green growth. In our view, CSD 19 should call for an international target to decouple transport growth from its energy consumption and its negative environmental and social impacts.

We would like to recall that waste is linked to many of the Chapters of Agenda 21 – either as a cause of a number of environmental problems, or as a result/output of human activities. There are clear connections between waste management issues and the need to change unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, as well as to protect and manage the natural resource base of economic and social development. The EU and its Members States aim to achieve, both internally and internationally, a decoupling of environmental degradation and resource consumption from economic growth.

This can be done by promoting the waste hierarchy, by favouring waste prevention over its reuse, followed by recycling, recovery of energy embedded in waste, and with disposal as the last resort. In addition, it is also our priority to continue to combat illegal shipments of waste, improving the overall environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle, and addressing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.

Mr Chairman,

(Mining) Minerals and metals are essential for modern living. Access to and affordability of mineral raw materials are crucial for the sound and sustainable functioning of the world economy and modern societies. Mine operations, when properly managed, also have an enormous potential to create, contribute to and support sustainable development of communities.

In the 21st century, mining mineral extractive industries will continue to be a fundamental sector for sustainable development and poverty eradication. Therefore, an integrated and holistic approach is necessary in the mining sector to address the above mentioned challenges.

It will become ever more necessary to minimise the generated waste, increase recycling and reuse of water and other resources, and minimize the energy used to produce raw materials and products.

Access to raw materials could be increasingly limited in the future. Therefore, it’s necessary to have i) an improved knowledge of the fundamental changes in the global markets which are threatening the principles of competitiveness, ii) the promotion of transparency to avoid measures that distort international trade in raw materials and iii) an ensured access to raw materials from international markets under best possible conditions for all competitors, through enhanced dialogue between producers and consumers. The specific interests of Least Developed Countries should be taken into account in this dialogue.

Mr Chairman,

Chemicals provide us with both great benefits but also raise important challenges. As part of our daily life, chemicals contribute to improved living standards, but their production often makes demands on consumption of natural resources unsustainable. If chemicals are not managed soundly over their whole life-cycle, they can negatively influence human health and the environment.

The EU regulation system of chemicals, REACH1, aims to address the above challenges, by setting out rules for registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals. Through REACH, responsibility has moved from governments having to prove risks to requiring manufacturers, importers and downstream users to make sure that the substances they develop, place on the market or use, do not harm human health or the environment throughout their life cycle.

We believe that the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) constitutes an important global framework for strengthening capacities for sound chemicals management and narrowing the capacity gap between the developing and the developed world. All countries should use the SAICM process actively, in order to achieve the 2020 goal of ensuring that chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimise adverse effects on the environment and human health.

Thank you for your attention.

1 Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It entered into force on 1st June 2007 and streamlines and improves the former legislative framework on chemicals of the EU.

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