News

Second Committee Concludes General Discussion on Sustainable Development

3 November 2011: The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) concluded its general discussion on sustainable development (Agenda item 19). The discussion began on 31 October 2011, and covered ten sub-items, including on small island developing States (SIDS), climate change, disaster reduction, desertification, biodiversity, renewable energy, and implementation of Agenda 21. The Committee will meet on 10 November 2011 to begin consideration of draft texts on these issues.

Sub-items under sustainable development were: Implementation of Agenda 21 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD); follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation (MSI) of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS; International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind; implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the report of the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on its 11th special session; Harmony with Nature; sustainable mountain development; and promotion of new and renewable sources of energy (sub-items (a)-(j)).

During the opening session on 31 October 2011, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), provided by videolink a progress report including the outcomes of the Cancun Climate Chance Conference, and outlined the priorities for the upcoming Durban Climate Change Conference. These priorities are to complete the work from Cancun; and to address remaining political issues, including on further commitments of developed countries and long-term climate financing. Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, also presented his report by videolink. Additional reports were presented by: Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the Implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action; Juanita Castano, Director, UNEP New York Office; and Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary (via videolink).

The general discussion on Agenda item 19 took place on 31 October, and on 1 and 3 November 2011. The Group of 77 and China (G77/China) underscored that: the founding principles of sustainable development "should not be renegotiated or retracted;" the Group's priorities for the UNCSD are "eradication of poverty and sustainable development;" and the Conference should provide political impetus to bridge implementation gaps, as well as adopt action-oriented outcomes on financing, access to technology, and capacity building in developing countries. The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) urged that poverty alleviation and intergenerational well-being be kept at the center of discussions. He added that sustainable development should accord special attention to energy, water, sustainable agriculture, food security and biodiversity.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) called for the UNCSD to recognize that SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development, which has not been fully taken into account when considering SIDS' development, financial and trade needs. The Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) echoed calls from the UN Secretary-General and others to include the blue economy in Rio+20's outcome, with three priority areas: enabling SIDS' development aspirations in relation to the use of marine and coastal resources; eliminating overfishing and destructive fishing; and increasing marine resilience to climate change and ocean acidification. She added that PSIDS members will not be part of a UNFCCC outcome that treats them as "collateral damage." CARICOM, PSIDS and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) called for the UNCSD to agree to convene a Third Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS.

The EU said Rio+20 should have, as a main operational outcome, a green economy road map consisting of goals, objectives and actions at the international level, as well as reforms to the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), specifically upgrading UNEP into a specialized agency. Recognizing the need to reinforce and mainstream environmental issues, he stated that social issues must not be forgotten. The grouping of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ) supported a "blue economy approach," and said Rio+20 should result in practical actions on implementing existing commitments, and enabling research, innovation and cooperation. [Statement of UNGA President] [Statement of Sha Zukang, Introducing UN Secretary-General's Reports] [Statement of Christiana Figueres] [UN Press Release on Introductory Session, 31 October] [UN Summary, 31 October] [UN Summary, 1 November] [UN Summary, 3 November] [Draft Texts under Consideration]