Note: Owing to the liquidity crisis impacting our Organization, only a partial summary of statements made in today’s meetings of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) is available at this time. The complete summary will be issued later as Press Release GA/EF/3520.
DOMA TSHERING (Bhutan) stressed that climate change must remain at the front and centre in pursuing a more sustainable future for people, the planet and prosperity. It is a global phenomenon, but its impacts are unevenly distributed, with small and least developed countries being the hardest hit. Small developing countries have the least capacity to adapt, which has a direct bearing on sustainable development in countries like Bhutan. She expressed concern that global actions are inadequate to prevent further rise in global temperature and that the international community is doing too little to harness the potential offered by rapid progress in science and technology to contain the impact of climate change. There is a need for renewed international solidarity and partnership to strengthen the resilience and response of vulnerable countries to the disproportionate burden they bear.
JANE CHIGIYAL (Federated States of Micronesia), associating herself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, Alliance of Small Island States, Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific small island developing States, said that all nations developed and developing must approach the crucial problems the environment faces with far greater commitment. The ocean is a critical component of the livelihood of island people like us in Micronesia, she emphasized. The vast oceanic area under its jurisdiction has been a source of livelihood not just for her nation but also for other countries and requires careful management to preserve it. The Federated States of Micronesia is partnering up with the Blue Prosperity Coalition to create a comprehensive climate smart marine spatial plan for its exclusive economic zone. This partnership is meant to further enhance national capacity to conserve marine resources and ecosystems, including by establishing marine protected areas.
VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova) said his country is firmly committed to the goals of the 2030 Agenda and that in 2017 it began a process of preparing the national Development Strategy for 2030, based on the Sustainable Development Goals. This new strategy also builds upon the Republic of Moldova European Union Association Agreement. The country will carry out a voluntary national review in 2020 to assess its progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. His country welcomes the Joint Inspection Unit system’s first ever system wide review on strengthening policy research uptake in the context of the 2030 Agenda. The report outlines important and timely recommendations meant to create a stronger system wide approach to research that will enhance the use of and impact of collaborative research within the United Nations system, particularly to support the Sustainable Development Goals. The country expects the findings of the Joint Inspection Unit report are considered and its recommendations implemented as appropriate.
VERONIKA BUSTAMANTE (Peru), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said the immediate consequences of climate change will require immediate action to counter them. She noted her country has witnessed its effects in melting glaciers, rising ocean temperature and havoc wrought on its biodiversity. Her Government is implementing cross cutting and gender-based measures to fight climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She stated the international community must step up implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 2030, and noted Peru is aiming to integrate disaster risk reduction with partnerships of Government and the private sector and highlighted the importance of the United Nations role in fostering multilateralism.
ANDRES CORDOVA (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the High level Political Forum on Sustainable Development attested to the global commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda. In Ecuador, State policy and programmes are fully harmonized with its national development plan and the Sustainable Development Goals. The international community must tackle the growing tendency towards hunger and malnutrition, preserve the environment and ensure that economic and technical progress is in full harmony with nature. Ecuador promotes life long education and learning in this regard and looks to draw on the power of women, harnessing their potential with respect to development.
MOHAMMED ELMAGHUR (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, called on the international community to ramp up efforts in technology transfer and capacity building to make sustainable development possible. His country is witnessing expanding desertification and vanishing drinking water and has launched a project for a great river running south north. He said the transport sector is the basis for sustainable development and his Government is working to implement transport strategies including an airport in Tripoli which could host 30 million passengers annually. However, all projects are paralysed due to instability, conflict and a lack of cooperation from Member States, who interfere in Libya’s affairs. He called for the return of funds illicitly removed from Libya.
LORENZO MORINI (Italy) noted that mountain regions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. He cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that smaller glaciers in Europe, Eastern Africa, the Andes and Indonesia are projected to lose 80 per cent of ice mass by 2100. Italy’s land mass is 35 per cent mountainous, while 670 million people worldwide live in high mountain regions and depend on its climate for food, water, energy and trade. Italy partners with countries including Switzerland in initiatives including the Mountain Partnership and remains committed to sustainable mountain development.
MOHAMED ALMASS (Bahrain) said his country has focused on economic development, overcoming challenges through the intelligent use of the private sector. Bahrain is working to implement development projects in every economic stratum and attract investment, despite the issues it faces as a developing landlocked State. In addition, Bahrain is creating conditions for social development. It has implemented a flexible work permit system which has contributed to a decrease in unemployment of 4 per cent over the past 10 years.
IGNACE GATA MAVITA WA LUFUTA (Democratic Republic of Congo), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the effects of climate change are becoming more and more devastating, reversing efforts at development. The phenomenon is having an impact on ecosystems, food security and economic development, which has exacerbated poverty in his country. Noting the abundance of forests in his region, he said the heads of State in Central Africa are committed to combating deforestation by bolstering the green economy.
KWAMI GNALEDOME AMEHE (Togo), aligning himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted the contrast between advances and progress in sustainable development. While poverty has decreased in Togo, recent advances have stalled. He stated that developing countries lack aid for development and face natural hazards and conflict, undermining their actions. He cited the importance of the three pillars of social, economic and financial cooperation. He said Togo was a pilot country in signing onto the Goals, and remains committed with its national development plan, aiming to become a middle-income State. Rising ocean levels threaten Togo’s coastal population, just one element of climate change affecting the country, and it is focused on achieving greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050.
KHALID SAEED MOHAMED AL SHUAIBI (Oman), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the 2030 Agenda is essential to his country, which is adopting policies and programmes to ensure its implementation. That development in Oman faces major challenges including changes in oil prices, global recession and geopolitical situations. He noted that Oman is a pioneer in supporting international solidarity on climate change, reducing emissions among other initiatives. His Government is aiming to reduce dependence on oil and has a national energy strategy to replace 50 per cent of that resource with other sources of fuel by 2025.
FRANCOIS ABOU SOUMAH (Guinea), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said disaster risks are emerging more quickly than efforts to contain them. Guinea has established a disaster management committee to set up a national disaster plan and monitor its implementation. Stressing that protecting the global environment is the job of all, he said many negative impacts of climate change are human caused. Developing countries are particularly affected by the phenomenon, which threatens food security and comprises global efforts to eradicate hunger. Adding that adaptation to climate change is an international priority, he emphasized that unilateralism must give way to multilateralism, as no country can combat its disastrous effects on its own.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said his country, as one that is mountainous and landlocked, faces specific development challenges that are exacerbated by the maintenance of closed borders of some neighbouring States. Armenia’s main resource, throughout its history, has been its human capital and it has placed human rights and self realization of the individual at the core of its ambitious reform agenda. This was announced when the Prime Minister launched the Transformation Strategy of Armenia 2050. To create quality education, the Government has made the development of an environmentally friendly, high tech economy a priority, as well as protection of the ecosystems and disaster risk reduction. Comprehensive measures to address the problem of deforestation include strengthening local ownerships; providing alternative energy sources and eco friendly job opportunities; combating corruption; and countering wildfires. Since natural hazards don’t recognize borders, Armenia stresses the importance of international and regional cooperation. It is committed to implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and supporting institutional capacity building.
OLIVE VAAI (Samoa), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, Pacific small island developing States, Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of 77, said the challenges her nation faces as a small island developing State will never stop it from trying to put its own house in order. Noting that her country has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development strategy, she said non communicable diseases are a burden that requires immediate action. Minimizing climate action, integrating disaster risk measures into national plans and using natural resources in a sustainable manner are national priorities. She underscored the instrumental role of development partners, welcomed the Secretary General’s decision to establish a multi country United Nations office in the Northern Pacific and encouraged the Organization’s funds and agencies to integrate the Samoa Pathway into their plans.
MERIEM EDDAOU (Morocco), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and African Group, noted many countries on her continent are affected by climate change. Her country has faced droughts and floods causing death and destruction, and has launched a national sustainable development strategy aiming to create better living condition and derive 52 per cent of its energy from green sources by 2030. She noted that her Government tabled a resolution on the management of coastal zones to step up cooperation between Member States in that domain. Morocco further prioritizes national education for all. She called on all stakeholders to work together propelled by a spirit of cooperation, especially regarding Africa.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), aligning himself with the Group of 77, noted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that an increase in temperature of 2C will preclude achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. He said the world must develop new patterns of consumption, treating nature with kindness. Expressing concern over the slow pace of implementing the Goals, he called on developed countries must uphold their official development assistance (ODA) commitments. He noted that Nicaragua has experienced a decade of prosperity in progressing towards the Goals and has reduced abject poverty rates from 14.6 per cent in 2009 to 6.9 per cent in 2016. His Government provides free education to 1.7 million students and has some of the best roads in Central America, thereby improving the tourism sector. In addition, Nicaragua is now the third least violent country in the region.
SOLANGE AURRECOECHEA (Mexico) said the international community fails to fully appreciate the urgent need to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change. Adding that the consequences of climate change are terrifying in terms of economic as well as human loss, she quoted the Secretary General in stating you can’t negotiate with nature. She pointed to the enormous challenges in protecting biodiversity and preventing the extinction of fauna, which means tackling illicit trafficking to end the scourge. Noting that the common denominator in issues she has cited is the need to modify patterns of consumption, she emphasized that production models must be more efficient, or greenhouse gases would not have reached the levels they have.
STEPHANIE MUIGAI (Kenya), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that her country is among the world’s top 10 producers of geothermal electricity and recently launched a 300 megawatts wind project, the single largest wind power project on her continent, with several similar renewal energy projects in the pipeline. Drawing attention to the need for shifting to the blue economy, she said that Kenya in November 2018 hosted the first ever global conference on sustainable blue economy, expressing hope that the outcomes of the event will galvanize and deepen collaboration between and among Governments and stakeholders, and align it with the needs of society. Kenya and Portugal will co host the second ocean conference in Lisbon in June 2020 under the theme Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of [Sustainable Development] Goal 14.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of 77, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Alliance of Small Island States, noted his Government is working with Canada in the Group of Friends of Sustainable Development Goal Financing to unlock private sector financing for critical investments in sustainable infrastructure. He noted that ODA targets remain less than half of what has been pledged by Development Assistance Committee countries. He also called for United Nations system wide support for better national, regional and interregional coordination among small island developing States. With Jamaica located in the second most disaster prone zone in the world, it accords high priority to reducing vulnerability. His Government therefore has a contingency fund used only in the event of natural hazards, secures credit from multinational financial institutions and uses catastrophe bonds and insurance when facing those natural crisis events.
QAMARINA PG LUBA (Brunei Darussalam), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the Sustainable Development Goals start with food security. All countries must continue to share knowledge and best practices including the development of resilient strains of staple crops to mitigate the impact of climate change. Noting that the Goals dovetail with her country’s Vision 2035 programme, she said modern technology and techniques have contributed to increased productivity in both agriculture and fisheries. She underscored the significant role that youth can play in agriculture as well as Government initiatives to promote food exports. Conscious of the need to focus on nutrition and food safety, Brunei Darussalam has introduced guidelines for school food and taxes on both high sugar content drinks and certain foods flavoured with monosodium glutamate.
CHEIKH AHMADOU BAMBA GAYE (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and African Group, said the international community must not lose sight of the fact that progress in development is still far from the goal of achieving a stable and prosperous world. Countries must intensify joint efforts now and throughout the next decade to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. Adding that aligning national policies with the Sustainable Development Goals is also essential, he said his country is developing the Senegal Plan, which has a broad scope and is accompanied by the implementation of specialized programmes, including ambitious ones to expand drinking water and rural roads.
FREDRIK HANSEN, observer for the Holy See, cited the 2030 Agenda in saying that the future of humanity and Earth lies in the hands of today’s generation. He cited Pope Francis in encouraging people to ask themselves what kind of world they want to leave future generations. Genuine care for the planet requires more than changing our models of production and consumption, he said. It requires giving attention to every person, as well as to future generations. Solidarity among generations is not only essential to attaining sustainable development, but also a basic question of justice. The past few years have seen encouraging signs in the fight against environmental degradation, he said. However, there must be efforts to promote a type of progress that is healthier, more human, more social and more integral.
EWA STAWORZYNSKA, Technical Officer, International Labour Organization (ILO), said natural hazards caused or exacerbated by humanity have decreased working life years by 0.8 per cent of a year’s work, and will drive global productivity loss equivalent to 80 million fulltime jobs by 2030. While achieving the 2C target of the Paris Agreement and moving away from fossil fuels may generate 24 million new jobs by 2030, 6 million jobs will likely be lost in the coal, oil and gas sectors. ILO and its social partners advocate for policies to support a just transition to sustainable development, ensuring the economic, environmental and social consequences of the ecological transformation of societies maintains decent work for all, reduces inequalities and promotes social justice. She noted that momentum to address those issues, including building green jobs in key sectors, has been steadily increasing.
APPOLINAIRE DINGHA (Congo), aligning himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Central African Group, said his country recognizes the importance of eradicating poverty in all dimensions. He noted mitigated success in developing countries, with many at risk to miss the Goals by 2030 unless there is a global consciousness raising on the issue. He noted some progress has been made, with declining maternal mortality rates in sub Saharan Africa, and access to electricity in least developed countries more than doubled. He emphasized that with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the country has been able to integrate 92 per cent of the 2030 Agenda into national policy, addressing the economic, social and environmental sectors. He stressed there can be no sustainable solutions without a global framework and partnerships.
CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) New York Liaison Office, noted that world hunger trends reverted in 2015, with over 820 million hungry worldwide. At the same time, increasing pressure on land, water, forests, oceans and the continuing depletion of biodiversity are being intensified by climate change and weather shocks. The consequences are particularly harsh for rural as well as mountain communities and disproportionately affect least developed countries and small island developing States. While food insecurity persists, the number of overweight and obese people increases at an alarming rate, both in developed and developing countries. Often food insecurity and overweight people coexist in the same household a trend particularly prevalent in small island developing States, where dependence on often-imported ultra processed foods had led to worrisome levels of obesity.
AHMED ABDEL LATIF, International Renewable Energy Agency, noted that renewable energy and energy efficiency can deliver 90 per cent of energy related emissions reductions needed to meet global climate objectives. This global energy transformation would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.5 per cent in 2050 and every dollar spent on it provides a payoff of between $3 and $7. It is possible through renewables and energy efficiency to advance climate action while fostering greater prosperity and enabling a just source of electricity in many parts of the world. However, to realize a climate safe and prosperous future the pace of renewables deployment must accelerate six fold. Annual renewable energy investments must double from about $330 billion to nearly $750 billion per year until 2030.
Joint Meeting with the Economic and Social Council
MONA JUUL, President of the Economic and Social Council, delivering opening remarks, said the world today is characterized by climate change and species loss that are accelerating at an unprecedented and alarming rate as well as natural hazards that are becoming more frequent and significant in scale. Ecosystems are collapsing and agricultural land is being lost to desert. Millions of people face food or water shortages and are fleeing their homelands as conflict over natural resources intensifies. The international community must identify and implement solutions with transformative effects on climate change adaptation and mitigation. It must utilize new technologies, and rethink and incorporate practices of the past and indigenous knowledge. Nature based solutions to climate change, if grounded in sound biodiversity science, can be low cost and low risk while also protecting ecosystems.
CHIEKH NIANG, Chair of the Second Committee, said that without forests, mountains, wetlands, arable lands and deserts, there would be no life. The quality of our food and water depends on healthy ecosystems, which also provide livelihoods for millions of people worldwide. However, he noted biodiversity is in decline in all global regions, largely due to human activity. He warned if humanity does not change its management of ecosystems, both the Sustainable Development Goals and survival itself will be at risk. To build future sustainable societies, he stressed that people must transform their thinking about nature and its inherent value. However, he noted the good news of growing awareness of Governments, the private sector and civil society of the importance of a more holistic approach to sustainable development and more accurate and meaningful measurements of the true value of nature. He then introduced the first of three speakers for the joint meeting.
SANDEEP SENGUPTA, Global Coordinator for the Climate Change Portfolio at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said nature based solutions aim to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges for example, climate change, food and water security or natural hazards simultaneously providing human well being. Nature based solutions can provide over one third of cost effective climate mitigation needed by 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2C. Carbon rich peatlands could store three years’ worth of the world’s total fossil fuel emissions, according to scientists. The Bonn Challenge, an initiative carried out by the International Union and the Government of Germany, will bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. This would sequester up to 1.7 billion tons of carbon per year, equal to 14 per cent of global emissions.
Continuing, he said wetlands helped avoid $625 million in direct flood damages during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Coastal wetlands in the United States have been estimated to provide storm protection services worth $20 million per year. At least 66 per cent of Paris Agreement signatories include nature based solutions in one or another form to help achieve their mitigation/adoption goals. But more concrete, evidence based targets for these solutions are urgently needed. There is a major opportunity to scale them up in non forest, carbon rich ecosystems. Low income countries currently include nature based solutions more prominently in their nationally determined contributions. All countries can step up nature based solutions that address climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as support sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. There is a strong reason for optimism, he continued, noting there is growing global awareness of the role and importance of nature based solutions and increasing investments in them by countries and other social actors.
SIOBHAN McQUAID, Innovation Catalyst at Trinity Business School, Dublin, presenting the work being done in Europe on nature based solutions, said much of the heavy lifting in that domain comes from the natural sciences. The Connecting Nature programme helps cities implement nature-based solutions, which has 31 participants from 16 countries worldwide. City authorities, urban communities, academics and smallto medium sized enterprises also participate. She noted nature based solutions are inspired by nature and cost effective, and that the European Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 has invested Euros 200 million in nature based solutions heading towards 2021. Above all, the initiative contributes to biodiversity, with Horizon 2020 involving 68 European cities in urban demonstrations of nature based solutions.
She noted that nature based solutions bear impact on many of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 11 on cities. Over 80 per cent of Europeans will live in urban areas by 2050 and 60 per cent of people worldwide, with cities responsible for 75 per cent of CO2 emissions. One solution, she highlighted, is the planting of trees, which provide buffering against flooding, filtering air and offering shade and escape from urban heat. Green walls are also increasingly popular, along with mobile green living rooms. She emphasized the importance of civilian buy in, pointing out that financing of nature based solutions breaks down into 34 per cent large scale and 40 per cent small scale projects, with 75 per cent of it paid for by public sector funding and only 2 per cent by financial institutions. She recommended alternative forms of financing including crowd funding. Compartmentalization of nature based solutions creates silo funding with projects competing for public sector financing. She called for collaborative governance in nature based solutions, and further research into the potential of nature based enterprises and entrepreneurship.
BEN GUILLON, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Conservation Investment Management, said such investments combine financial returns with a measurable, positive impact on the environment. Over 1,300 projects in the United States have been built in less than 15 years through conservation investments. The company receives over $3 billion of private investments per year, growing at 18 per cent annually. Drivers of conservation investments include Government mandates of incentives, actions taken in anticipation of Government mandates or independent third party endorsements of environmental practices which can drive consumer behaviour to marketing and public relations benefits of corporate social responsibility.
In the United States, he said legislation drives the most established markets by requiring mitigation of certain environmental impacts for example, impacts on wetlands or endangered species. It also uses natural systems to meet pollution reduction obligations, such as crediting entities that build wetlands for the water cleaning impact. There are also cap and trade markets like California’s state legislation that caps carbon emissions and creates a market for offset, including from sequestration.
Turning then to private capital, he said that in the United States and Europe, socially conscious investors seek out investments that align with their values, including green infrastructure and nature based solutions. Governments can document and disseminate information about existing green projects, engage international investors and educate them about local opportunities and key partners or offer blended finance to allow projects to be tested in developing countries.
In an interactive discussion that followed, the representative of Norway, saying we need more nature, not less, called for more nature based climate solutions for oceans, which provide jobs, protect biodiversity and enhance food security.
The Russian Federation’s representative noted the need for the sustainable use of ecosystems in and by all categories of countries, citing the importance of nature based technologies.
The United Kingdom’s representative highlighted the need for global cooperation in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, adding that efforts must be redoubled in how energy is used, which goes beyond what was stated in the presentations.
The representative of the United States noted that his Government is engaged in nature based solutions at home and abroad and cited the role of tax incentives in promoting and expanding them.
The representative of Armenia said his Government prioritizes economic and environmental policies in tandem, targeting the expansion of forests to double cover by 2050.
The representative of Ethiopia cited the horrendous climate challenges threatening his State’s development, but said that nature based solutions can reduce climate stressors and noted that his Government planted 4 billion trees over the last three months.
The representative of the European Union called for a mix of regulatory measures and research, and noted that eco based solutions often need more time to reveal their benefits.
The representative of China noted that nearly 40 per cent of climate initiatives are connected to nature based solutions, which bring a new perspective on the relationship between man and nature, and cited his Government’s dedication to vigorous climate action.
The representative of the International Renewable Energy Agency noted that renewable energies are themselves nature-based and are inherently interrelated, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach that breaks down silos.
Mr. Sengupta said his group is developing a global standard for nature based solutions. He pointed to the market and society-wide element in the approach to those solutions.
Ms. McQuaid said she was heartened by the support for nature based solutions, which are gaining momentum and being mainstreamed. She acknowledged the representatives who had offered political commitments to combating climate change and biodiversity loss.
Mr. Guillon stated he was pleasantly surprised by the support of the delegates, as People get it and we’re moving forward, and stressed the interrelation of all climate action initiatives.
Ms. Juul noted the message of the meeting was that nature-based solutions offer concrete answers to problems plaguing our world and are not incompatible with technology.
Mr. Niang cited the Great Green Wall in the Sahel as a perfect example of a nature based solution, reclaiming 100 million hectares of degraded land and creating 10 million rural jobs across 20 participating countries.
Source: United Nations