Desertification, Drought Affect One Third of Planet, World’s Poorest People, Second Committee Told as It Continues Debate on Sustainable Development

8 November 2012
General AssemblyGA/EF/3352
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

24th & 25th Meetings (AM & PM)

Desertification, Drought Affect One Third of Planet, World’s Poorest People,

Second Committee Told as It Continues Debate on Sustainable Development


Speakers Continue to Highlight Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy Security

Desertification affected one third of the earth’s surface and about 1.5 billion people globally, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told today as it continued its general discussion on sustainable development.

Nigeria’s representative said drought and desertification threatened the livelihoods of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Africa, including those in his own country.  He called for international to support efforts by the Nigerian Government to check desert encroachment in terms of monitoring land degradation and mitigating its effects.

New Zealand’s representative said he looked forward to the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in Samoa, expressed hope that the Committee would use the current session to decide on the key modalities for that event.  It was essential that the Cook Islands and Niue participate as States, having been excluded from participation in the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Several other speakers made reference to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, among them Saudi Arabia, whose representative also stressed his country’s efforts to ensure stability in the global oil markets in order to avoid speculation and secure supplies.  Saudi Arabia also encouraged the use of renewable energy, including solar and other sources of clean energy, he said, adding that his country had invested in the renewable energy sector and had implemented many programmes on the use of different energy sources.

Japan’s representative said climate change was already responsible for several disasters and more were likely in the future without a strong international response.  He added that despite the magnitude of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, his country’s building standards had minimized the destruction, while its “bullet” trains had suffered no accidents thanks to the rail network’s early-warning system.

Argentina’s representative emphasized that the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities was vital in addressing sustainable development and moving forward from Rio+20.  It was justly part of the negotiating rationale because obligations did indeed differ between countries.  Different States were at different levels of development, were affected differently and shouldered different levels of responsibility for climate change, she pointed out.

Several delegations discussed biodiversity, including Malaysia’s representative, who recalled the commitment made by his country’s delegation at the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago.  Malaysia had pledged to keep at least 50 per cent of its land under permanent forest cover, he recalled, pointing out that today the country had 56.4 per cent of its territory under forest cover.  The Government had made good on its promise, he added.

The United Kingdom’s representative welcomed the results of the of the recent Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Hyderabad, India, saying that its reaffirmation of the Nagoya Protocol was significant.  She was also pleased to see that the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime recognized illicit wildlife trafficking as such a crime.  Of particular concern was the illegal poaching of rhino for their horns, which must be urgently addressed.

Though many delegates were generally positive about the Rio+20 outcomes, Cuba’s representative said that many results achieved in Rio fell short of those achieved at conferences.  Some countries felt that they had the right to make up rules by which the rest of humankind must comply, he said, noting that the outcome document contained weak language because developed countries had blocked language aimed at truly addressing the issues.

Bolivia’s representative described the concept of green economy as a new model of exploitation and colonialism, saying it was a way to commercialize the resources of life and to convert every tree and drop of water into commodities to be sold at market.

Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced that body’s report to the Committee via video link from Bonn.

Also speaking today were representatives of Switzerland, Nicaragua (for the Central American Integration System), Brazil, Bangladesh, Mexico, Haiti, South Africa, Ukraine, Thailand, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Syria, Malta, Australia, France, Jamaica, Canada, China, Niger, Singapore, Mongolia, Monaco, Belarus, Nicaragua, Morocco, Jordan, Peru, United States, Namibia, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Congo, United Republic of Tanzania and Cameroon.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Israel and Syria.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Friday 9 November, to conclude its discussion of sustainable development.


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to continue its general discussion on sustainable development.  For background information, see Press Release GA/EF/3351 of 7 November.  Among the documents before members were reports submitted by the heads of environment-related conventions (document A/67/295), including the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa.  For further background information, see Press Release GA/EF/3351 of 7 November.

Introduction of Report

LUC GNACADJA, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced that body’s report via video link.  He reminded the Committee to consider that demand for food was expected to grow by 50 per cent by 2030, energy and water by 45 and 30 per cent, respectively.  That would lead to greater demand for land as well as more deforestation and environmental degradation, unless the international community committed to restoring degraded land to a healthy and productive state.  Following the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, the Rio+20 Conference constituted an historic milestone, raising the profile of the Convention and its core mandate to a higher political level.

He went on to recall that the Conference had resolved to support and strengthen implementation of the Convention’s 10-year strategy, including by mobilizing adequate, predictable and timely financial resources.  By agreeing to strive for a land degradation-neutral world, it was important to monitor that phenomenon around the globe and to restore the health and productivity of degraded lands in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, he said.  Encouraging the Assembly to endorse commitments on desertification, land degradation and drought, he invited Member States and the United Nations system to implement them as a matter of priority, with a view to accelerating the pace and scale of sustainable development.

Mr. GNACADJA, responding to a question from the representative of Iran on how to solve problems related to dust and sand storms, said they were consequences of land degradation and desertification, and restoring degraded land was the way to address it.  Regional cooperation was needed to replenish the land and share the relevant data with all countries affected or potentially affected by such storms.

The representative of Iran then asked how his country would be able to cooperate with the Desertification Convention and similar organizations dealing with the issue.

Mr. GNACADJA said the Convention promoted regional and subregional cooperation to deal with desertification and land degradation.  A meeting to be held in Tehran would establish focal points, mainstream action and share information, he said, asking Governments to consider even a fraction of what would be lost if sandstorms and land degradation continued.  Scaling up investment to deal with such questions was crucial, he stressed.


THOMAS GUERBER( Switzerland) said the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development had launched a negotiation process to define the format and organizational aspects of a universal inter-governmental high-level political forum.  It was necessary to define the instruments and procedures to fulfil its functions by establishing a clear process that would be coordinated with discussions on reforming the Economic and Social Council in order to avoid duplication and ensure complementarity.  The Committee should make the best use of the time and financial resources already allocated to the Commission on Sustainable Development.

He said that his country considered the adoption of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production to be a key outcome of the Rio+20 Conference.  It was a well-elaborated instrument with specific areas of work and a support mechanism for developing countries.  Switzerland was also pleased with the decision to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), he said, describing the introduction of universal membership of its governing body as a true milestone.  He also welcomed the fact that disaster risk reduction was reflected in the Rio+20 outcome document.

HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said his country was on a trajectory to become a developed nation by 2020 through economic and governance transformation programmes, supported by the Government’s five-year development plans.  Recalling that Malaysia had pledged, at the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, to keep at least 50 per cent of its land under permanent forest cover, he said the Government had made good on that promise, with 56.4 per cent under forest cover today.  As part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Malaysia aimed to increase the share of renewable energy in its fuel mix to 10 per cent by 2020.

He went on to note that his country was on track to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals, in aggregate terms, ahead of the 2015 deadline.  Hardcore poverty had declined from 1.2 per cent in 2005 to 0.2 per cent in 2011.  The successful implementation of poverty-eradication programmes was due to electric-power sharing and political stability over the past 55 years.  A rural development programme by the Federal Land Development Authority of Malaysia had lifted many citizens out of poverty through a land-distribution scheme that had brought social and economic benefits to 177,000 rural families to date.

PATRICIA BAJAÑA(Nicaragua), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System and associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed the need to reduce disaster risk.  Seismic phenomena caused loss of lives and serious material losses in Central America, while also threatening national sustainable development efforts through damage to infrastructure, especially in rural agricultural areas.  Climate change demanded efforts to adapt to and mitigate its effects, while reducing risk, she said, citing regional efforts to address the issue.  Comprehensive risk management was an essential new part of all planning, entailing specialized institutions, including the Coordinating Centre for Disaster Prevention in Central America, and the coordinated Central American Policy for Integrated Management of Disaster Risk, which provided a management framework that coherently linked the three pillars of sustainable development, while simultaneously stressing gender equality and cultural considerations.  The Central American Regional Coordination Mechanism responded to emergencies in one or more countries as they happened, and manuals establishing regional coordination procedures had recently been updated to facilitate easier access of humanitarian resources to affected populations.  Referring to the humanitarian response to Tropical Storm 12-E, she said the region had received timely support for rescue and assistance from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

JOSEFINA BUNGE( Argentina) underlined the importance of the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities in addressing sustainable development and moving forward from Rio+20.  The principle was justly part of the negotiating rationale on the subject because obligations did indeed differ between countries.  Different States were at different levels of development, were affected differently and shouldered different levels of responsibility for climate change, she pointed out.  In defining the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, an inclusive process was essential, she said, stressing that the Goals must be based on the principles that had guided action since 1992 as well as international law.  Implementation was the most important part, and Argentina was concerned about the slow progress in establishing the open-ended working group on the Sustainable Development Goals.  They must be compatible with the Millennium Development Goals, she emphasized.

PEDRO AURELIO FIORENCIO CABRAL DE ANDRADE(Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the international community had renewed its commitment to an environmentally, socially and economically responsible future at Rio+20 and it was time to act on implementing these principles.  “The Future We Want” reaffirmed the centrality of poverty eradication to sustainable development as well as the links tying the three pillars of sustainable development together.  Brazil welcomed the convening of the Third International Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in 2014, he said, expressing hope that it would renew and foster the political commitment to address national and regional sustainable development.  He said the doubling of international sources to support developing countries was crucial to enabling them to meet national biodiversity-related objectives.  Brazil welcomed the decision to increase the Biodiversity Convention’s budget, which would allow its secretariat to fulfil the mandates received during the Conference of Parties.

ABDULLAH KHALID O. TAWLAH( Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, stressed that internationally agreed upon development targets were key to achieving social stability.  The 2015-development agenda should be directed towards supporting the efforts of developing countries and to close the gap between the global North and South.  Emphasizing that sustainable development in regard to climate change, desertification and land degradation was of the utmost importance to his country, he said Saudi Arabia was striving to achieve stability in global oil markets so as to avoid speculation and secure global oil supplies.  It was important to establish a dialogue between oil producers and consumers, and to meet the global demand for energy, which was important in the struggle to eradicate poverty.  Saudi Arabia also encouraged the use of renewable energy, including solar and other sources of clean energy, he said, adding that the country invested in the renewable energy sector and implemented many programmes on the use of different energy sources.  However, while sharing the international community’s interest in cutting green house emissions, it was unrealistic to call for an end to the use of fossil fuels, he said.

MD. TAUHEDUL ISLAM ( Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the impact of climate change was clear and growing.  It was reversing progress on the Millennium Development Goals, and least developed countries, although the least responsible for it, bore its severest consequences.  However, while their vulnerabilities were greatest, their needs were overlooked in international policy responses.  To move forward successfully, the climate change discourse must be de-politicized immediately, he emphasized.  Greenhouse gases simply needed to be cut, and developed countries must make the commitment to do so.  Developing countries must follow suit.  Developing countries, especially the least developed, also needed better access to cost-effective and environment-friendly technologies that would allow adaptation.  Given their reliance on rain-fed agriculture, floods, drought and other events generated by climate change were magnifying the challenges they faced in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

JORGE LAGUNA ( Mexico) said there was a unique opportunity to transform and revitalize the United Nations development agenda by implementing the Rio+20 outcomes and strengthening the Economic and Social Council.  Progress on the agreements reached in Rio was vital, but Mexico also hoped for convergence on a universal and sustainable development agenda.  He said he was pleased that “development” and “sustainable development” were no longer viewed as separate subjects, and that the focus was due to fall on small islands during the International Year of Small Island Developing States and the Third international Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, both in 2014.

Turning to the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, he said there should be three objectives when assessing investment in disaster prevention:  proven, successful approaches; taking the post-Hyogo Agenda into account; and coordination with the post-2015 development agenda.  Describing erosion and degradation as a global problem, he said he looked forward to achieving better integration of the three regional conventions on that question.  Mexico had ratified the Nagoya Protocol on biological diversity, and called on other countries to follow suit.  The environmental pillar of sustainable development was of great importance and progress was needed on the follow-up to strengthening UNEP, he said, adding that the agency should extend cooperation, particularly on technology transfer, capacity-building and enhancing the environmental dimensions of sustainable development policies.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE ( Haiti), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, as both a least developed country and a small island developing State, her country attached great importance to both the Barbados and Mauritius Programmes of Action.  The lack of human resources in small islands left them highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks.  Data collection and the sharing of information and experiences had played a part in helping the country combat poverty and promote sustainable development.  The Government had made reducing the energy deficit one of its top five priorities, and although Haiti was constrained by financial resources, it was working to make the Caribbean a special zone rich in biodiversity while exploring the expansion of its tourism market.  Addressing climate change was crucial, she said, adding that her country’s vegetation was vulnerable to high levels of precipitation.  Rising sea levels and ecosystem degradation was the subject of great scientific research in Haiti which made clear the need to integrate sustainable development.  The current economic system treated the planet as though it were humankind’s property, she said, calling for a “general revolution” in the treatment of the environment.

THEMBELA NGCULU (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, warned that unbridled use of resources could easily lead to stagnating economic growth, persistent social inequity and environmental degradation, all of which threatened a sustainable future.  During Rio+20, world leaders had agreed to start looking at the post-2015 development agenda, specifically the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to renew commitments to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  In relation to the green economy, he pointed out that resource efficiency in developing countries depended on sustainable consumption and production patterns, a trend that developed countries needed to promote.  As well, clear timeframes for strengthening institutional arrangements for the implementation of sustainable development commitments must be agreed.  Stressing the gravity of continued biodiversity loss, he called on all States parties to the Biodiversity Convention to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing as soon as possible.

DMYTRO KUSHNERUK (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said that while the Rio+20 Conference had acknowledged important advances in promoting sustainable development and eradicating poverty, it had been mixed and uneven, varying from region to region and from country to country.  In that regard, the persistent challenges that threatened the most vulnerable countries, particularly those in Africa, required an urgent response.  As well, middle-income countries, faced with serious constraints in their pursuit of sustainable development, needed the international community’s support, he said.  Ukraine had supported the establishment of an inter-governmental high-level political forum to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development as a follow-up mechanism to review progress in the field.  It had also supported the adoption of a related General Assembly resolution in hopes that the process would culminate in a World Environment Organization under United Nations auspices.  Efforts were also under way in Ukraine to translate the Rio+20 outcomes into concrete action.  Ukraine had also voluntarily acceded to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, undertaking a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

APISAKE MONTHIENVICHIENCHAI (Thailand), associating himself with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that, since most of the world’s poor lived in middle-income countries, the development needs of that category should be taken into account in designing the post-2015 development agenda.  He emphasized the need for sustained and inclusive economic growth that would focus on creating productive and meaningful jobs, particularly for youths, in order to ensure economic and social stability.  Providing access to quality education for all was vital for the creation of valuable human capital, which would aid economic development efforts, reduce social inequality and help raise public awareness of environmental issues.  The post-2015 development agenda should incorporate mechanisms that could assist the international community in absorbing shocks and strengthening resilience, while being responsive to emerging global challenges, in particular biodiversity loss, drought and desertification, and other negative impacts of climate change.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said Africa had contributed the least to climate change, but had seen the worst of its adverse impact.  Increasing climate variability as well as more frequent and severe droughts and floods continued to pose enormous challenges to the continent’s development, its agriculture sector in particular, thus adversely affecting efforts to ensure food security, poverty reduction and sustainable development.  Adaptation to climate change was therefore the most important and urgent priority for African countries, he said.  Noting that access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy was also essential to reducing poverty, empowering vulnerable groups and promoting sustainable development, he noted that more than 47 per cent of Ethiopians enjoyed access to electricity, a four-fold increase from the early 1990s.  The Government planned to provide 75 per cent of the population with modern energy by 2030.  To conquer poverty and ensure rapid and equitable development, massive investment in infrastructure was necessary, he said, adding that Ethiopia aimed to become a middle-income country by 2025 on the basis of carbon-neutral growth.

MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that although the Rio+20 outcome did not meet all expectations, it reaffirmed the international community’s resolve to strengthen the sustainable development framework.  It was unfortunate that the open-ended working group had not yet been established, he noted, calling on all concerned to show flexibility and move beyond political positions, which had thus far inhibited the international community from undertaking important work.  Climate change was the “biggest development emergency”, as demonstrated by the intensity and ferocity of recent climate events.  As an energy-deficient country particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, Pakistan was interested in forging international approaches and processes promoting sustainable energy and modern energy services for all.  Pakistan was also deeply conscious and sympathetic to the small island developing States, especially in the wake of the difficult global economic environment, compounded by the growing threat of climate change.  For most of the developing world, early-warning systems remained a challenge and they were often inoperable before or during crises and disasters, he noted.

RABEE JAWHARA (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that ending foreign occupation was a key step towards sustainable development and removing obstacles to poverty eradication.  He also called for an immediate end to unilateral financial and economic measures imposed upon developing countries for purposes of political coercion.  Noting that this was the seventh year in which the oil slick on the Lebanese shores had been discussed in the Committee, he said there had been no compliance by Israel with General Assembly resolutions on that subject.  Calling upon Israel to pay compensation to Syria and Lebanon, he highlighted efforts made by his country’s Government to clean up its shores using only local resources.  Syria had the right to assess the costs it had incurred and looked forward to prompt compensation from Israel, he said, calling on other Member States to pressure the latter to honour international commitments and ignore its presentation of draft resolutions on sustainable development as a cover up for its own disregard of United Nations decisions.

JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said the segment of the Rio+20 outcome document on oceans and fisheries represented “real progress”, and the reference to fossil fuel subsidy reform was also pleasing, though he would have preferred stronger language.  Subsidy reform was important for freeing up resources to meet the challenges of financing sustainable development and eradicating poverty.  An important part of the post-Rio work would be done in the Second Committee, he said, urging it to approve substantive draft resolutions this year to build on what had been agreed in Rio.  Convening the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2014 had been a key decision at the Conference, and New Zealand looked forward to the Committee’s decision on key modalities for the event.  He stressed the importance of ensuring that the Cook Islands and Niue participated in the Conference as States, particularly after their exclusion from Rio.  On the importance of renewable energy, particularly in the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, he said New Zealand was on track to generate 90 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

KATSUHIKO TAKAHASHI ( Japan) said that the Rio+20 outcome document would only be a development milestone if follow-up efforts were made, he said, noting that his country had hosted the post-Millennium Development Goals Contact Group which had informally discussed the Sustainable Development Goals.  Japan’s national efforts in pursuit of sustainable development included the Green Future Initiatives, comprising three sub-initiatives, “ Future City”, the Green Future Action Corps and cooperation to reduce disaster risk.  Japan would host an international conference on “ Future City” in 2013, he said.  Turning to disasters, he said that despite the magnitude of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, his country’s high building standards had minimized destruction, while “bullet” trains had suffered no accidents thanks to the rail network’s early-warning system.  There was a duty to share lessons learned with the international community, and the issue of human security should be a major principle integrated into economic policies.  He said that he hoped for the Second Committee’s formal approval to proceed with formal preparations for the Third United Nations Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.  Japan was also committed to low-carbon growth through the East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership, and its partnerships with African countries through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development process.

BERNARD HAMILTON (Malta), associating himself with the European Union delegation and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said that his country’s greenhouse gas emissions were low due to its size, demography and economy.  At the same time, due to those very factors, Malta was relatively more vulnerable to climate change than other nations.  Current indicators showed that its climate was gradually becoming drier and warmer, he said, adding that its vulnerability to sea-level rise and extreme climactic events was of particular concern.  One sector that Malta had identified in tackling greenhouse gas emissions was the energy sector, including transport.  In 2008, it had generated 91 per cent of national emissions, making it an obvious priority in the implementation of reforms to reduce emission levels.  Malta also was committed a single binding instrument committing all States parties to address climate change, and, with the European Union, would work to sustain the momentum reached in Durban.

FREDDY MAMANI (Bolivia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the combined effect of the global economic, financial, food and energy crises had been to signal that capitalism had reached its limits of growth.  The modern capitalist plan had in fact destroyed the climate and provoked environmental degradation, which had probably reached the point of no return.  “We are using the equivalent of 1.4 planets to fuel the consumption of the people living on Earth, which is obviously highly unsustainable,” he said.  It was not possible to achieve harmony with nature before achieving harmony in humanity, he emphasized.  However, that would not happen as long as 1 per cent of the population controlled 50 per cent of global wealth, he warned.  It was the international community’s responsibility to recognize that Mother Nature had rights and limitations, since markets adhered only to profit and not balance.  Describing the green economy as a new model of exploitation and colonialism, he said it was a way to commercialize the resources of life, converting every tree and drop of water into commodities to be sold at market.  Integral development and balance with Mother Nature was necessary so that all could live in harmony with each other and with the environment, he stressed.

LAURIE FERGUSON (Australia), welcoming the Rio+20 outcomes that sought to improve the conservation and sustainable management of ocean resources, said they recognized the importance of oceans to the livelihoods and food security of millions of island and coastal inhabitants, many of whom were in the world’s smallest and most vulnerable developing countries.  It was crucial to refrain from introducing or extending subsidies that contributed to over-fishing and excess capacity, he stressed, adding that it was equally critical to reduce marine pollution, address the enormous challenge of ocean acidification and address oceans governance issues for marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.  If sustainable development was to be seen as incorporating progress in the economic, environmental and social fields, measurement tools must include measures that complemented gross domestic product (GDP).  Developing such new measures should make use of existing national as well as international experiences, he said.  Australia had developed a “Measuring Sustainability” programme that sought to provide decision-makers with better information on the interaction between the economy, the environment and society, as well as on the effects of today’s decisions on future generations.

ALEXANDRA DAVISON (United Kingdom) welcomed the results of the recent Conference of Parties to the Biodiversity Convention held in Hyderabad, India, saying she was pleased about the agreement reached on a resource mobilization strategy and the complementary decision for at least 75 per cent of States parties to include biodiversity in their national priorities by 2015.  In addition, the Conference’s reaffirmation of the Nagoya Protocol had been significant, and it was time to focus on implementation of the Strategic Plan and achievement of the Aichi Targets.  The United Kingdom was pleased to see that the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime recognized illicit wildlife trafficking as such a crime, and urged all countries to support enforcement action, especially where that was required across national borders.  Of particular concern was the illegal poaching of rhino for their horns, which must be urgently addressed.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ ( Cuba) said that despite the efforts of Brazil, as host country of Rio+20, many of the results achieved at the Conference had fallen short of what had been adopted previously.  Some of the countries participating in Rio+20 had felt as though they had the right to make up the rules with which the rest of humankind must comply, he said.  The language of the outcome document was weak as the developed countries had blocked the stronger language necessary to emphasize the need to address underlying issues.  Developed countries had refused to adopt concrete initiatives on the transfer of financial and technological resources of benefit for least developed and other countries in need, he said.  It was the Second Committee’s responsibility to work in a timely and transparent manner to implement what had been agreed at Rio+20, he stressed.  Calling for a broad-based and transparent inter-governmental process for the implementation of sustainable development, he underlined, more specifically, the need for a transfer of resources from the global North to the South.

MARTIN BRIENS (France), associating himself with the European Union delegation, described international governance of the environment as “broken” and “segmented”, welcoming the establishment of the high-level political forum.  One of the major outcomes of Conference was the decision to define the Sustainable Development Goals in a universal fashion, which presented the opportunity to address the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development in an integrated manner.  The post-2015 development agenda should be integrated, inclusive and focused on inequality, he said, adding that concluding the process should take different national aspects into account as well as the role of national Governments.  There was a need to go beyond the exploitation of the ocean to a “blue economy”, he said.  On energy, he expressed support for the Energy for All initiative, saying it was necessary for the sustainable development of all countries and for building capacity for new energy sources.

SHORNA-KAY RICHARDS ( Jamaica), associating herself with the Group of 77, CARICOM and AOSIS, expressed support for the designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States.  Jamaica anticipated the continued support of the international community for the efforts of the wider Caribbean Community for the protection and sustainability of the Caribbean Sea, which was vital to the livelihoods of millions of people in the region.  Expressing her abiding commitment to supporting efforts to develop the post-2015 disaster reduction framework as well as the broader post-2015 development agenda, she said that her country was very vulnerable to extreme weather patterns, as demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy two weeks ago.  That event had underscored the importance of adaptation to climate change and of ensuring that urban and housing development was sustainable.  Many socioeconomic factors were undeniably linked to sustainable development, she said, adding that the aspirations reaffirmed at Rio+20 were just as relevant now as they had been 20 years ago.

GILLES RIVARD (Canada) highlighted several of the “practical and concrete” actions taken at Rio+20, including efforts to promote better coherence and coordination in addressing the three pillars of sustainable development, while fostering the sharing of best practices, encouraging the exchange of information, measuring progress, and actively engaging all stakeholders, including the private sector.  Canada also welcomed the decision to create a high-level political forum to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, he said, noting that a “revamped” forum could provide the necessary political leadership and guidance to the United Nations system.

Another important outcome was the reaffirmation of the need to strengthen international environmental governance, he said, applauding the consensus decision to strengthen UNEP, including by establishing universal membership of its Governing Council.  “We should all be members of the body that shapes the global solutions to the global environmental challenges that we face,” he stressed.  The common goal should be to equip UNEP so that it could provide leadership within the United Nations system on international environmental issues and facilitate coherence among the many existing instruments and institutions.  Finally, he said Canada was pleased with the decision to establish the Sustainable Development Goals, which should be guided by the advice and expertise of relevant stakeholders, including the scientific community.  Most importantly, the international community must never lose sight of its common objective, as affirmed in the Rio+20 outcome document — focused and coherent action on sustainable development.

DONG ZHIHUA (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said he hoped that Member States could demonstrate the political will and hard work needed to fulfil the mandates of Rio+20 during the present session.  Urging the international community to redouble its efforts to promote sustainable development around the globe, he said the Sustainable Development Goals should build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals and give priority to poverty eradication as they balanced the economic, social and environmental pillars.  The institutional framework must be strengthened, and the Assembly should quickly initiate the inter-governmental high-level political forum, he emphasized, adding that it should also start talks on financing strategies and mechanisms for the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.

He went on to express hope that the high-level political forum would build upon the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development by enhancing its overall efficiency, meeting the needs of Member States and building synergy within the United Nations system while avoiding functional overlap with the Economic and Social Council.  He also emphasized that the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol would be the priority at the upcoming climate change conference in Doha, as well as that event’s most important outcome.  China hoped to see the effective implementation by all parties of the political consensus reached at Rio+20, and expected developed countries to show good faith by further elevating their level of emission reductions and honouring their financing and technology-transfer commitments.  China also hoped that negotiations on the Bali Roadmap would end as soon as possible.

SAMADOU OUSMAN (Niger), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the fact that the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development had been considered at Rio+20 made the Conference outcome that much more relevant.  For a least developed country like Niger, energy was fundamental to development prospects, which made partnerships with development partners very important.  He said he had followed with particular interest the agenda and conclusions of the high-level meeting on combating desertification, because desertification and land degradation were highly prevalent in his country.

BORG TSIEN THAM (Singapore), associating himself with the Group of 77, the ASEAN, AOSIS and the Green Group, said that although the Rio+20 outcome was a significant milestone, there had been criticisms that it did not go far enough politically in committing the world to sustainable development.  On the contrary, “The Future We Want” was a balanced document that reflected political, economic and social realities, he said, stressing that it was better to have a realistic vision than an unattainable aspiration.  Implementing commitments would be the key to demonstrating progress after Rio+20, he said.  Pointing to the tight deadlines set at the Conference, he strongly urged the open-ended working group on the Sustainable Development Goals to convene as soon as possible after its composition had been made final.  Although the focus thus far had been on those Goals, the other Rio+20 commitments should not be neglected, he emphasized, saying it was politically important to demonstrate to the world that the United Nations was making progress towards meeting its Rio+20 commitments.

OCH OD ( Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his landlocked country was located in an extremely fragile ecosystem, affected by severe degradation.  In the last 70 years Mongolia’s average temperature had risen 1.9° Celsius, causing severe droughts, an imbalance in normal precipitation and an increase in the frequency of disasters.  The country’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change was seen particularly in the shrinkage of rivers and lakes, change in the composition of forest tree species and a greater frequency of forest fires caused by excessive dryness.  Mongolia was working at the national level to protect affected areas, adopt special reforestation programmes and amend relevant laws.  It was crucial to intensify the construction of convenient housing, systematically eliminate air pollutant sources, improve the technical conditions of old sources and establish new ones as far as possible from the capital city.  That would require both financial and advanced technological resources, which Mongolia would welcome in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI), environmentally friendly technology and efficient cooperation with development partners.

ISABELLE F. PICCO ( Monaco) said her Government had implemented a climate and energy plan addressing the effects of climate change and demand for energy security.  Controlling energy demand and reducing carbon emission was a part of the agenda.  In fact, most of the energy produced in the principality came from hot water pumps, she said, adding that the Government had begun a project of applied research, the main objective of which was to build hot water sea pumps for effective implementation in coastal cities.  The Government had also established a study centre to research the use of solar energy, and was also carrying out studies on converting sea water into drinking water, she said.

Ms. LESHKOVA ( Belarus) said an important outcome of Rio+20 was the continuation of targeted assistance to middle-income countries.  Belarus looked forward to the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals, including one on cooperation in the energy sector, she said, expressing hope that the United Nations would formulate a consensus-based energy agenda.  Belarus had made progress on renewable energy, particularly energy efficiency, energy saving and new and renewable sources.  While noting that middle-income countries had increased their role as global energy sources and their efforts to establish renewable energy sub-sectors, she expressed concerned about the growing commercialization of the renewable energy technologies sector.  She called for regional and interregional cooperation on the subject, stressing that she expected the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) to work on establishing a favourable investment climate for the use of renewable energy in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Mr. JIMÉNEZ (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world was taking “giant strides” towards the extinction of the human race, adding that unbridled growth and expansion could not continue without respect for the environment.  There was a need for a shared view of values and principles that would lead to the guarantee of life for future generations.  Nicaragua had signed the Universal Declaration on the Good of Mankind, he said, emphasizing the importance of access to water and sustainable forest management.  Noting that greater emphasis was falling on renewable energy sources, he said the 25 per cent renewable level of 2007 was expected to rise to 94 per cent by 2017.

EMMANUEL OLUWADARE OGUNTUYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that mitigation and adaptation to climate change required a simple, non-bureaucratic funding mechanism devoted to those most in need.  Addressing climate change required more efficient and prudent use of available natural resources.  Lack of access to clean, affordable and reliable energy hindered achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he said, commending the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  Affecting one third of the earth’s surface and about 1.5 billion people globally, drought and desertification threatened the livelihoods of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Africa, including Nigeria, he said, adding that his country’s Government was implementing measures to check desert encroachment, including the Green Wall Sahara Programme, which entailed planting trees in the north.  He called for international support for monitoring land degradation and efforts to mitigate its effects.

Mr. SOUISSI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Rio+20 outcome document could be considered the “springboard” of a new sustainable era, but while it restated the international community’s commitment to sustainable development, it was just the first stage of action.  The establishment of the open-ended working group on the Sustainable Development Goals should be completed in a timely fashion so it could submit a report to the General Assembly.  Formulating the post-2015 development agenda called for concrete measures and achievable goals, and should reflect practical action.  It required the international community to identify the particular needs of certain countries.  A new international system must be inclusive of developing as well as developed countries, the private sector and the “new power of citizens”.  He expressed support for the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative and the post-2015 development agenda, emphasizing that it was not possible to carry on growth while destroying the environment because socioeconomic development and protection of the environment went hand in hand.

DIANA ALI AL-HADID (Jordan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, emphasized the critical need for additional financial resources for sustainable development, and for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies, developing countries in particular to, and on favourable terms.  It was also important to strengthen the Hyogo Framework for Action on disaster risk reduction, as well as measures on preparedness, rapid response and recovery.  Turning to the importance of biological diversity to environmental sustainability, a critical Millennium Development Goal, she detailed the steps that Jordan was taking nationally to ensure the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity.  In closing, she said:  “[A]s we approach the MDG countdown and the initiation of the discussions of the post-2015 development agenda […], a more inclusive approach to poverty eradication and a better integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in the policy framework can substantially stimulate development worldwide to the benefit of all.”

Mr. THORNBERRY (Peru), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that a review of production and consumption patterns should take place in the context of the general objectives of poverty eradication, technology transfer and the other goals agreed at Rio+20.  The pattern of how society consumed was of utmost relevance and developed countries must spearhead that discussion, in which the private sector must be included.  Biodiversity was also crucial, he said, emphasizing the need for fair and equitable participation in the Biodiversity Convention.  Expressing concern over failure to implement all its provisions, he stressed the need to avoid reopening them for negotiation and to implement them in a timely manner.

Ms. ROBL ( United States) said she agreed with the new and more dynamic alignment of priorities on sustainable development and growth for the future.  The United States hoped to see a more coherent and dynamic development agenda taking shape for the post-2015 period, she said, pointing to the exciting potential reinvigoration of development on the back of proven measures for promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.  Impressed by the achievements of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, she said it had attracted dozens of countries, mobilized billions of dollars and spurred commitments at all levels.

Highlighting the specific challenges faced by small islands, she said she looked forward to a focused and action-oriented agenda for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States that would identify concrete steps they could take to help them achieve sustainable development.  While swift implementation of the Rio+20 outcomes was needed, the outcome document contained some flexibility, and there was value in thoughtful sequencing.  She noted that the Secretary-General had reported on clean and environmentally sound technologies mere months after Rio+20 despite limited opportunities for consultations, adding that, with additional tasks ahead, there was a need to streamline, focus and balance discussion of perennial issues with responsiveness to new ones.

WILIFRIED EMVULA ( Namibia) said the issues of sustainability and environmental conservation had come into sharper focus because of the increasingly visible effects of climate change around the world.  Namibia was in the process of incorporating emerging issues of the green economy as part of its planning processes, and had enshrined the environmental protection and the prudent use of natural resources into its constitution, the first African country to do so.  “Our point of departure should be to discard the notion that environmental management hinders development,” he stressed.  Instead, environmental management and sustainability should be repositioned and viewed as one of the major contributors to job creation and the fight against poverty.

Indeed, the aim was to make the green economy part and parcel of industrial development by promoting investment in renewable technologies, he continued.  In November 2011, Namibia had finalized the Green Economy Stakeholder Dialogue Report.  It aimed to create a better understanding of that new concept, identifying opportunities and challenges on the way towards a greener economy, and identifying ways in which such a transition could be managed, he said.  As one of the countries most affected by desertification, drought and land degradation, the country was pleased that the topic was discussed in the “Future We Want” outcome document, he said.  Namibia’s achievements in combating desertification the “Country Pilot Partnership”, undertaken with the cooperation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification secretariat and funding from the Global Environment Facility.

Mr. KASYMOV ( Kyrgyzstan) said humanity continued to suffer poverty, inequality and disasters as climate change threatened to wipe out decades of progress, noting that the phenomenon had an increasing impact on water, food, and fuel security.  Kyrgyzstan was a landlocked developing country and nearly 90 per cent of its land was mountainous.  Water was an important issue, he noted, emphasizing the need for regional cooperation on the integrated use of water and energy resources.  Another key element was access to modern energy and guaranteeing energy security, he said.  The development of hydro-energy in Central Asia should be seen as a way forward.  The Rio+20 outcome document noted the importance of mountains to sustainable development, he said, urging the international community to review its attitude towards mountains ecosystems and recognize their contribution to the environment.  He also called the development of strategies to ensure food security in mountainous region.

Ms. BEN-DOR ( Israel) said it was imperative to implement the Rio+20 outcomes and to ensure that they were translated into concrete progress.  Israel’s livelihood depended on limited resources, as arable soils, fresh water, forests and biodiversity were under growing pressure.  Facing those challenges, Israeli innovators had devised solutions that made efficient use of natural resources, she said.  Today, the country led the way in sustainable energy through innovation and policy.  More than 100 solar companies operated in Israel, and 90 per cent of Israeli homes were fitted with solar water heaters.  Electric cars could drive clear across the country with infrastructure supporting them the entire way, she said.

Water was another field in which Israeli expertise had made a significant contribution, she said.  The country recycled 70 per cent of its wastewater, far more than any country in the world.  Israeli farmers constantly researched and introduced new botanical species that required less water and were more resistant to heat and pests.  This year, Israel had introduced a new draft resolution that highlighted the power of entrepreneurship to create jobs and generate economic growth, improve social conditions, and help confront environmental challenges, she said.  Failure to choose the sustainable way forward would intensify the threat of climate change, an issue that currently affected the livelihoods and physical security of billions, she warned.  That made resource scarcity an even more acute problem with the potential to exacerbate conflict and threaten world peace.

Mr. DINGHA (Congo), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that while every country bore primary responsibility to combat poverty, it was also true that national Governments must implement internationally agreed upon development targets and commitments.  He renewed an appeal by all stakeholders for the effective strengthening of the institutional framework of sustainable development, emphasizing that the transfer of technology was a fundamental aspect.  Regarding the contribution of biodiversity, he said the Congo basin was second after the Amazon basin in forest hectares.  The Congolese Government in the importance of preserving its forests, and each year, every Congolese person planted a tree on the designated international day.  The President had urged the Congolese people to be aware of the role of trees in their lives and well-being.  Congo was the leading African country in forestry management and the Government had invested in programmes to protect the biodiversity of the Congo basin, he said.

TUVAKO MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that combating desertification would help his country meet the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in terms of eradicating poverty, fighting diseases and ensuring food security and environmental sustainability.  In that regard, implementing the Desertification Convention was a matter of urgency, he stressed.  In response to climate change challenges more generally, the United Republic of Tanzania had diverted resources to address infrastructure and food scarcity, in addition to integrating climate change adaptation measures into national policies.

Mr. FOUDA NDI (Cameroon), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said it would be useful to begin looking now at strengthening the Economic and Social Council so as to better reflect the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.  It was also crucial to ensure the coherence of the post-2015 development agenda, he said, noting that desertification, drought and land degradation exacerbated poverty, posing environmental, economic and social threats.  Loss of fertile land jeopardized food security and biodiversity.  Noting Cameroon’s position as Africa’s second largest forest country after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said 42 per cent of its territory was under forest cover, and the forestry sector employed a large number of people, many of them informally.  The Government’s reforestation campaigns aimed to preserve the environmental and social functions of forests and to preserve traditional knowledge for the future, he said.  Following the floods that had devastated its northern part, Cameroon called for a disaster reduction strategy to play a central role at the international level.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, in response to Sudan’s statement on behalf of the Arab Group, and Syria’s statement this morning, said it was irritating that some Member States politicized everything.  The Syrian regime was in no position to criticize Israel, she stressed, pointing out that it continued to slaughter its own people, including women and children.  Regarding claims that Israel was responsible for the oil slick on Lebanon shores, she said it was Hezbollah who had launched an attack against her country.  Ignoring such facts was not accidental but a deliberate attempt to slander Israel, she said.

The representative of Syria said Israel’s delegate was trying to hide her country’s crimes.  The Rio+20 outcome document reaffirmed the importance of ending the occupation so that the Palestinian people and those in the occupied Syrian Golan could exercise their right to life.  The oil slick on Lebanese shores had been caused by Israel’s bombardment, he stressed, adding that, most recently, Israel had “barbarically” set fire to agricultural land and uprooted 7,500 olive trees in the occupied territories.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.