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UNGA Speakers Outline Expectations Ahead of Rio

27 September 2011: During the general debate of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, US, a number of speakers outlined their expectations ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), and some addressed the sustainable development challenges facing small island developing States (SIDS).

Botswana expressed concern over the "negative trend in negotiations towards a global policy on sustainable development," and urged a spirit of cooperation to prevail.

Maldives underscored the need to include in the UNCSD agenda a review of progress made by the international community to address the sustainable development challenges facing SIDS. He expressed the hoped that the UNCSD would create the necessary impetus to reform international support of island States. He added that discussions at Rio+20 should be based on three pillars: reform of UN support for sustainable development of SIDS; a political declaration and strategy to give impetus to the roll-out and mobilization of renewable energy and green technologies; and improvements in the integration of sustainable development principles into international and domestic policy at both strategic and project levels. 

Bahamas stated that Rio+20 is expected to take into account the unmet needs in each of the three pillars of sustainable development - social development, economic development, and environmental protection. Saint Lucia said the preparatory negotiations should more strongly focus on oceans, noting their role in ensuring food security, mitigating climate change, generating energy.

Dominica called for the creation, under the UNCSD process, of a special SIDS technology fund to address financing for sustainable energy technology transfer. Uruguay called for the UNCSD to address issues related to technology transfer, technical training and financing for developing countries. Noting that climate change already impacted his country, Benin called on Rio+20 to produce decisions that were in line with “the perils that await us.”

In his closing remarks, UNGA President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser summed up the discussions of the general debate, noting that: many member States had called on the UN to tackle climate change, through supporting countries to adapt to its effects, and for developed countries to address emissions reduction targets; and that Rio+20 will be an important opportunity to consider new strategies for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. [UNGA Plenary Summary 26 September 2011] [UNGA Debate Summary 27 September 2011] [UNGA President's Remarks]