11 October 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the 71th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee debate on agenda item 19: Sustainable Development
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Mr Chair, Excellencies,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The EU and its Member States are fully committed to effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which integrates all three dimensions of sustainable development and which is grounded on a human rights-based approach to development.
This Agenda calls for a paradigm shift in our working method. As mentioned in the General Debate, we must rethink the agenda of the Second Committee to align it better with the 2030 Agenda and make it fit to successfully deliver on new tasks and challenges ahead. In order to increase the relevance and added value of the Committee, we will need in particular to reconsider the way we deal with the sustainable development agenda item, and its related resolutions under discussion today, which make it challenging for all delegations, to give appropriate attention to important issue.
We are worried that the current number of resolutions under the sustainable development agenda items will make it impossible to have substantive discussions on the important issues and might bring us back to the difficult situation of last year, something we all want to prevent. We don’t see the need for a substantive resolution on Agenda 21 and we think it would be wise to consider tabling mere technical updates for those resolutions where substantive discussion take place elsewhere and at political level.
The international community made a big step forward to combatting climate change last year with the adoption of the Paris agreement (COP21). Now, with the EU ratification, we have crossed the 55% emission threshold triggering the entry into force of the Paris Agreement taking effect on November 4th.
Nearly 190 countries’ made commitments under the Paris agreement. This not only includes plans to curb GHG emissions, but also for many countries represents the first ever comprehensive strategy to shift towards a more sustainable future, forming an important part of their mainstream development planning. The Paris Agreement defines climate change as an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. This is especially true for those countries that are most vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change, such as the SIDS.
Twelve SDGs involve taking action on climate change, in addition to the specific climate SDG 13. Through the Paris Agreement, the international community has committed itself to binding obligations in view of a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient economy. This will require significant changes to our economy and ultimately societies. The implementation of the Paris Agreement offers one of the best ways to fulfilling the 2030 agenda and the EU is fully committed to both processes. Our collective task is to turn our commitments into action on the ground. The European Union and its Member States have long been committed to international efforts to tackle climate change and felt the duty to set an example through robust policy-making at home. It is already on its way to adopt new legislation to reduce emissions in the European Union by at least 40% by 2030. We invite all countries to join forces in this collective effort. We should ensure universal ratification of the Paris Agreement and swift implementation. Looking at the upcoming COP22 in Marrakesh, we reiterate our readiness to support projects that will allow swift implementation, for example on renewable energies, and we fully support the launch of the 2050 pathways platform, in partnership with all countries, cities, and businesses. A critical number of participants will be key to facilitate the 2018.
Europe is the largest contributor of climate finance to developing countries and the biggest aid donor. We remain committed to contributing our share towards the developed countries’ goal to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020, extended up to 2025 as part of the Paris Agreement. The funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, to push for the implementation of NDCs while striving for synergies to achieve the SDGs.
Within this context 20% of the EU’s 2014-2020 budget will be spent on climate action. We will also provide around EUR 200 million for disaster risk reduction projects between 2014 and 2020. And in addition the EIB provides about EUR 2 billion per year in climate finance to developing countries. The EIB has committed itself to increasing the proportion of its external climate finance activity to 35% by 2020.
The Paris Agreement makes energy a central part of the solution, sending a clear signal to all stakeholders that investments have to shift away from fossil fuels onto a low-carbon path that continues to support economic growth and sustainable development.
We should also align other multilateral frameworks with the Paris Agreement goals. We therefore welcome the landmark agreement reached by the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly. From 2021, flights between 65 states – including all EU countries – will be covered by a Global Market-Based Measure to offset CO2 emissions. This is the first-ever global agreement to address C02 emissions in a specific sector of the economy. Action is also needed on shipping. And next week, we are hopeful that we will conclude an HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol in Kigali.
We welcome the adoption of important resolutions during the second meeting of the UN Environment Assembly, held in May in Nairobi, which focused on how to deliver on the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030 and on a healthy environment. The European Union played an active role in the negotiations.
Now we need to ensure that the resolutions of the Environment Assembly, which cut across most of the SDGs on issues such as sustainable consumption and production, oceans, climate, ecosystems and human health, are duly absorbed and followed up are duly absorbed and followed up by the UN system.
Conservation of biodiversity and the services our ecosystems provide, such as clean air, water and food security, are crucial components needed for achieving sustainable development and human well-being. Further efforts are notably needed on the protection of wildlife. From our perspective, the just finished CITES CoP 17 was a great success. The meeting demonstrated the capacity of the global community to reach compromises on very divisive issues, such as domestic ivory markets and the shared commitment to the cause of protecting endangered species.
We also look forward to the 13th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in Cancun, Mexico in December. The main theme of the COP13 – mainstreaming – is particularly fitting to address the integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
We are about to adopt the New Urban Agenda in Quito in the Habitat III conference in a couple of weeks. We welcome the agreement on this new agenda, which reaffirms human rights for all and includes the right to adequate housing as a component of an adequate standard of living.
We are fully committed to its implementation which reflects the EU’s vision of a holistic, integrated and place-based approach to sustainable urban development that takes into account the diversity of cities and their wider territorial context. This vision underpins our ongoing and future engagement. We are committed to promote good urban governance, socially inclusive and safe, resilient, accessible, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable as well as economically prosperous cities. We also, while recognizing the central role of culture, alongside the availability of quality public space which is a fundamental condition for participation and ownership of all. We subscribe to the commitment to a renewed partnership between national, sub-national and local authorities, to the promotion of decentralization policy framework, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality. Local authorities must be involved and consulted at all stages of the policy cycle, from planning to implementation. We reaffirm and count on the role and expertise of UN Habitat to continue to act as a focal point for sustainable urbanization and human settlements, in collaboration with other UN system entities. However, we call upon the entire UN system to effectively collaborate in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in order to help fully harness the enormous potential of the ongoing urbanization process.
Having in mind the comprehensive nature of the agreement we achieved in September, we do not see the need for a substantive resolution on Habitat III in the Second Committee this year.
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