Press Releases

    GA/EF/3125
    3 November 2005

    Need for Increased Funding, Greater International Cooperation Emphasized, as Second Committee Begins Discussion of Sustainable Development

    Speakers Call for Assistance to Poor Countries in Tackling Natural Disasters, Combating Effects of Climate Change

    NEW YORK, 2 November (UN Headquarters) -- Speakers emphasized the urgent need for increased funding and international cooperation to help developing countries meet sustainable development goals, especially in tackling the recent spate of natural disasters, the destructive effects of climate change, and the ravages of desertification, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up sustainable development today.

    Indonesia's delegate, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the devastating losses resulting from such natural disasters as the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami must be reduced in order for developing countries to attain their sustainable development objectives.  In attempts to minimize the impact of future calamities, South-East Asia had concluded a legally binding framework for implementing disaster-reduction activities in July 2005 -- the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

    Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, presenting the Secretary-General's report on disaster reduction, noted that the recent World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, had laid down a blueprint for further action, but warned that garnering commitments to reduce risks and strengthen capacities at local level would be challenging.  The global system for disaster-risk reduction called for stronger United Nations leadership; an expanded task force with active government input; a strengthened International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; and increased support from donors and scientific institutions.

    Focusing on climate change, speakers called attention to developed-country commitments to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, and to minimize the effect of other human activity on the world's climatic system.  China's representative stressed the importance of technological innovation and technology transfer, the removal of obstacles to international cooperation, and use of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as its Kyoto Protocol, as legal instruments to combat climate change.  China's new law on renewable energy, which would enter into force in January 2006, would create a policy-friendly environment for the commercialization, technological advancement and industrial development of renewable energy.

    The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), pointed to growing evidence that increased temperatures, sea-level rise, as well as the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes and flooding, were due to climate change.  While understanding the importance of integrating disaster-risk reduction into their national development strategies, small island developing and low-lying coastal States needed an improved and more rapid international response.  Despite numerous appeals for assistance to Grenada and Guyana, which had experienced severe weather conditions recently, the donor response had been inadequate, leaving the Governments of those countries to cope with few resources.

    Introducing the report of the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Climate Change on the work of the Conference of the Parties to that treaty, Richard Kinley, Officer-in-Charge of the Convention, said that a vehicle for financing sustainable development projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries had been created, with about 300 projects targeting renewable energy, energy efficiency, fuel switching, landfill, reforestation and afforestation.  A Special Climate Change Fund would provide $33 million for technology transfer and $1 million for capacity-building in developing countries, while voluntary contributions of $32.9 million to a Least Developed Countries Fund would boost adaptation in those countries.

    As the Committee took up desertification, Jamaica's delegate, speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, highlighted the huge gap between high-level political commitments and concrete actions in implementing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.  Although the instrument was one of the most underfunded and unsupported in the Organization, Member States had only approved a 5 per cent nominal increase in its core budget for the next biennium.  Alarmed by continuing arrears in contributions, the Group of 77 had asked the Convention's Executive Secretary to arrange for a "schedule of payments" for countries with unpaid contributions of two or more years.

    Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced reports on desertification, saying that the international Year of Deserts and Desertification in 2006 would raise public awareness of the hazard and protect the biological diversity, knowledge and traditions of affected communities.  Major initiatives would be undertaken during the Year on Youth and Desertification in Bamako, Mali; Women and Desertification in Beijing, China; Desertification and Migration in Almeria, Spain; Civil Society and Desertification in Montpellier, France; Science and Desertification in Tunis and Nairobi; and Poverty, Hunger and Desertification in Geneva.

    Several speakers also underscored the need to implement the Mauritius Strategy for Development Assistance to Small Island Developing States, emphasizing their need for technical support and enhanced global governance in creating an enabling environment.  Others focused on the difficulties faced by mountain countries in attaining development goals, noting that mountain regions were the source of up to 80 per cent of the planet's freshwater, and storehouses of genetic diversity that helped to feed the world.  However, diverse though their ecosystems were, they were exceedingly fragile and under constant threat from the effects of climate change, exploitative mining and unsound agriculture practices.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Bangladesh, Algeria, Ethiopia, Norway, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Mauritius (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Iceland, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Libya and the Republic of Korea.

    Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, also made a statement.

    Introducing reports prior to the general discussion were Cherif Rahmani, Algerian Environment Minister and honorary spokesperson for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, 2006; and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

    Other reports were introduced by officials of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office.  The Committee also heard from the Deputy-Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization.

    The Second Committee will meet again at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 3 November, to continue its general debate on sustainable development.

    Background

    The Second Committee met today to take up sustainable development.  Before it was the Secretary-General's report on implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/60/261), which updates actions taken by Governments, United Nations bodies and major groups to implement sustainable development goals.

    As the intergovernmental level, the report notes, the Commission on Sustainable Development has continued to focus on water, sanitation and human settlements during completion of its first two-year implementation cycles, which consists of review and policy sessions.  During its thirteenth (policy) session in February 2005, the Commission adopted decisions laying down 30 policy options and 100 practical measures to accelerate implementation in water, sanitation and human settlements.  The United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) continues to coordinate system-wide activities in sustainable development.  Through its High-level Committee on Programmes, the CEB provided overall guidance to the work of UN-Water, UN-Energy, UN-Oceans and other inter-agency cooperation initiatives in sustainable development.

    Regionally, United Nations regional commissions, regional development banks and other organizations continue to contribute to implementation of sustainable development goals, the report states.  The Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), for example, has been developing standards for sustainable transport, and promoting energy-efficient technology and investment projects, as well as sustainable forest management.  At the national level, Member States have provided significant information to the Commission on Sustainable Development, showcasing voluntary commitments, case studies and best practices.  Regarding partnerships for sustainable development, a total of 300 had been registered with the Commission on Sustainable Development secretariat as of February 2005.

    The report recommends that Governments continue supplying the Commission with success stories, best practices and case studies for broader dissemination, as well as contributing to the Commission's trust fund.  The CEB High-level Committee on Programmes should continue monitoring UN-Water, UN Energy, UN-Oceans and other inter-agency collaborative mechanisms, while donors and international institutions should fund developing-country policies and practical measures.

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (document A/60/180), which reviews implementation of the International Strategy, as well as follow-up to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held at Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, in January 2005.  The Conference adopted the Hyogo Declaration and Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, by which States, international and regional organizations, as well as other stakeholders, resolved substantially to reduce human, social, economic and environmental disaster losses over the next 10 years.

    Among its recommendations, the report suggests that the General Assembly endorse the Conference's proposed strengthening of the International Strategy system, its governance and secretariat, as well as roles and responsibilities among agencies to support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework.  In the absence of regular budget funding to ensure a sound financial base, States should contribute to the Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction.  Another recommendation relates to the strengthening of regional mechanisms that can support national and local efforts to reduce disaster risk, including early warning systems for tsunamis, tropical cyclones and adverse weather in the Indian Ocean and other risk-prone regions.  The Strategy system should also strengthen partnerships with intergovernmental organizations and international financial institutions, and collaborate with entities responsible for disaster preparedness and response, including military forces and national rescue services.

    The report also details follow-up actions by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction, the International Strategy's inter-agency secretariat, national and regional entities and international organizations.  It includes a section on disasters linked to natural hazards and highlights the role of disaster-risk reduction in lessening vulnerability and attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on the Mauritius Strategy for the Further implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/60/401).  The Mauritius Strategy -- a blueprint for action to support small island developing States that was created at the 2005 January International Meeting held on that island -- outlines development challenges facing small islands and ways to enhance the United Nations response to them; the strengthening of national efforts through civil-society participation and partnership initiatives; and the creation of a supportive regional and international network for economic development in small island developing States.  Concerns raised in Mauritius included the vulnerability of low-lying island and coastal States to environmental hazards; HIV/AIDS and other health matters; security threats; eroding trade preferences; the need to develop information and communication technologies; and the importance of protecting cultural diversity and promoting cultural industries.

    The Mauritius Strategy seeks to ensure the inclusion of small island developing States in the programming of United Nations bodies, the report states.  The Department of Economic and Social Affairs is coordinating implementation of the Strategy within the Organization, providing annual reports on implementation of the Programme of Action, and lending technical and advisory assistance to small island developing States.  Existing and prospective programmes that the Strategy is currently carrying out focus on climate change; waste management; supervision of coastal, marine and freshwater resources; capacity development and education; and governance, trade and finance.  The fourteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, expected to convene in April 2006, will review the progress achieved in implementing a cluster of items on the theme "Energy, atmosphere, climate change and industrial development".

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on sustainable mountain development (document A/60/309), which notes that many mountain regions face increasing poverty, migration to lowlands and loss of traditional cultures, livelihoods and agricultural practices, despite their potential to develop modern economies with small- and medium-sized enterprises.  An increasing number of networks, including non-governmental and disciplinary associations, are helping to ensure that mountain challenges and opportunities, both within such communities and beyond, are made known through seminars, conferences and other activities.

    According to the report, funding for sustainable development in mountains has proven inadequate, and there is a need for innovative funding mechanisms, such as debt swaps and microfinance.  The Mountain Partnership, a voluntary alliance of 123 members from 45 countries seeking to enhance long-term cooperation and commitment to mountain development, has been formed to improve the implementation of the mountain section of Agenda 21, and help implement the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

    The report recommends the creation of national institutions and mechanisms on mountain issues to support education and capacity-building programmes; ensure that indigenous cultures are respected in development policy; promote transboundary cooperation; and support global, regional and national efforts to integrate management considerations, including mountain biological diversity.

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, including the culmination of the World Solar Programme 1996-2005 (document A/60/154), which outlines current uses of those energy forms and their future potential, and notes that efforts to extend access to energy by the poor, reduce air pollution, mitigate climate change and expand energy resources have increased international awareness of renewable energy benefits.  Industrialized countries are increasingly using biofuels and generating electricity from wind and solar energy, while developing countries are using hydropower for additional renewable energy.

    At the international level, the report notes, the Gleneagles Plan of Action on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development (arising from the 2005 Group of Eight Summit in Scotland), will promote the International Action Programme of the 2004 International Conference for Renewable Energies, held in Bonn, Germany.  The Action Programme will be the focus of a conference to be held in Beijing at the end of 2005, jointly organized by the Governments of China and Germany, and assisted by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

    The report notes that the share of energy now derived from new and renewable sources remains far below its economic potential.  According to the latest available estimates, the share of new and renewable energy in the total global energy supply, including large hydropower but not combustible renewables and waste, has yet to reach 3 per cent.  Large segments of developing-country populations still lack access to modern forms of energy, while many indigenous energy sources, including renewable ones, remain untapped.  Increased local, national and international efforts will be needed to achieve the renewable energy elements of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

    In addition, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General's report on actions taken in organizing the activities of the International Decade for Action, "Water for Life", 2005-2015 (document A/609/158), which reviews activities prepared for the launch of that Decade on 22 March 2005, initial regional actions, proposals for a public information and communications plan for awareness-raising.

    The report recommends that Member States set up national committees or designate focal points to promote activities for the Decade, which focuses mainly on Africa's water development and management, as well as gender, water and sanitation initiatives.  Concrete, initial actions for the Decade have taken place in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and Western Asia.  They include efforts to raise the profile of water issues targeted towards policy makers; monitor progress in implementing regional and global programmes; and improve access to information on water resources.  Member States, national and international organizations, major groups and the private sector are urged to make voluntary contributions to the Decade.  Other interested stakeholders are encouraged to link their water-related activities to the Decade.

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on status of preparations for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, 2006 (document A/60/169), which reviews steps taken by the Executive Secretary to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its partners to prepare for the Year.  Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Year is expected to achieve long-term implementation of the Convention through the promotion of targeted local, national and international events; awareness of desertification as a major threat to vulnerable ecosystems and mankind; networking with all stakeholders; and the dissemination of Convention-related information.

    To ensure a high profile for the Year, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, Kenya's Deputy Minister for the Environment, and Cherif Rahmani, Algeria's Environment Minister, have been named honorary spokespersons.  Member States have been encouraged to set up national committees to prepare for, conduct and follow up on the Year, in close cooperation with the Convention secretariat, which to date has received 20 confirmations in that regard.

    Acknowledging the promising show of support for the Year, the report stresses the importance of more active support and a timely response from States parties, given the limited time available.  Given also that additional costs for the Year have been proposed as extrabudgetary, the General Assembly should encourage States parties to contribute to the Convention's Special Fund.

    The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretary-General transmitting a report by the World Tourism Organization on implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (document A/60/167), which provides guidelines for tourism stakeholders on the development of environmentally and socially sound tourism.  The World Tourism Organization's Executive Council has formed a working group to examine the question of travel advisories, which have not always treated tourist destinations fairly.  Though Governments should protect their citizens and inform them of dangers that they may encounter abroad, the warnings are often vague or disproportionate to the gravity of the situation.

    Also before the Committee was the report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at its twenty-third session (document A/60/25, Supplement Nos. 25 and 25A), and the report of the Economic and Social Council on the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development at its thirteenth session, and on the United Nations Forum on Forests at its fifth session (document A/60/3, Supplement No.3).

    The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretary-General on implementation of United Nations environmental conventions (document A/60/171), which transmits reports from the secretariats of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa; and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

    Statement for Under-Secretary-General

    JOMO KWAME SUNDARAM, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, speaking on behalf of Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted that implementation of sustainable development goals had accelerated at all levels.  This past April, he said, the Commission on Sustainable Development had focused on practical and action-oriented policy decisions to speed up implementation of such objectives in the areas of water, sanitation and human settlements.  Earlier this year, the international community had gathered in Mauritius to assess progress in implementing the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.  The resulting Mauritius Strategy laid down specific actions to strengthen the capacity of those nations in addressing their vulnerabilities.

    One of the key decisions of the 2005 World Summit was to "move forward the global discussion on long-term cooperative action to address climate change", he said.  It stressed that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was the appropriate framework for addressing future action at the global level, recognizing that climate action and energy use were linked, and that the two must be approached in the wider context of sustainable development.  In addition, the latest session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in Nairobi last month, adopted several recommendations on implementing the Convention, and preparation to celebrate the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, 2006, were under way.

    Despite encouraging progress in the Johannesburg summit, sustainable remained a major challenge, he said.  A common obstacle continued to be the lack of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building in developing countries, often compounded by persistent poverty and global imbalances.  The international community must step up international economic cooperation, and development partners must meet commitments made at Monterrey for financing for development.  Such efforts must be matched by good governance and accountability at the national level.

    Introduction of Reports

    DAVID DE VILLIERS, Deputy-Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, introducing the Organization's report on the implementation of the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, said that tourism was a cluster of economic activities with significant impact on many societies around the world and on the environment.  During the first half of the last century, tourism was elitist; modern tourism began in 1950s with the development of the jet aircraft as passenger carrier.  That had led to the total of tourists in 2004 reaching 760 million.

    He said tourism was one of the world's largest export industries, responsible for 7.5 per cent of the international export of goods and services, often powered by small and micro-businesses, in addition to being a service sector leader.  It was also responsible for employment creation in remote and rural areas, and was, thus, of strategic value for poverty alleviation.

    However, he added, not all forms of tourism were good or responsible.  There were potential negative impacts on the cultural environment of receiving destinations, particularly in developing countries.  Efforts to maximize the positive impacts of tourism were needed and, to that end, a voluntary code of ethics was developed to help promote tourism on the basis of sound values.  The prime tasks of the World Tourism Organization were: to promote and disseminate the code, evaluate and monitor its implementation, and help facilitate the settlement of disputes.  The code was increasingly being recognized and welcomed by those in the tourism industry as a means to develop sustainable tourism; its 10 articles provided clear direction for socially responsible, environmentally sound, and culturally sensitive tourism.

    JAN EGELAND, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, introduced the report on the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and on the outcome of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction.  He said that disaster-risk reduction was currently at the top of the world's agenda, especially in light of the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and droughts that had taken place during the year.  While natural disasters could not be avoided, the capability to warn of, and respond swiftly to, such disasters could save many lives and livelihoods.

    He noted that at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Hyogo, Japan, a blueprint for further action -- the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015:  Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities -- was produced.  However, obtaining a higher-level commitment for systematically reducing risk and strengthening institutional capacities at local and national levels proved challenging.  The global system for disaster-risk reduction called for the strengthening of the leadership role played by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations system, in general; closer partnership between the humanitarian and development programmes of the United Nations; an expanded task force with a programme committee and active participation of Governments; a strengthened International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; and increased support from donors and scientific institutions.

    He said effective disaster prevention meant that all development programmes and investments should be disaster-risk sensitive.  Also, more resources must be allocated to the core needs of the International Strategy from Member States and also from its own budget in the United Nations.  In addition, there was a need to increase technical and scientific understanding of disaster risk, and build a capacity to share with decision-makers and the population at large knowledge on solutions and on what was "doable" during a crisis.

    HAMA ARBA DIALLO, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced the reports on implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification (document A/50/169), and on preparations for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, 2006 (document A/60/169).  The third session of the Committee for review of the Convention had assessed implementation in Africa by considering participatory processes involving civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations.  It had also considered legislative and institutional frameworks; resource mobilization and coordination; links with other environmental conventions or national development strategies; measures to rehabilitate degraded land and for early warning systems to mitigate the effects of drought; and drought and desertification monitoring and assessment.

    He said the International Year of Deserts and Desertification was a unique opportunity to raise public awareness of the issue, and to protect the biological diversity, knowledge and traditions of affected communities.  Major initiatives would be undertaken during the Year on such key issues as Youth and Desertification, in Bamako, Mali; Women and Desertification, in Beijing, China; Desertification and Migration in Almeria, Spain; Civil Society and Desertification in Montpellier, France; Science and Desertification, in Tunis and Nairobi; and Poverty, Hunger and Desertification, in Geneva.  As a finale, Algeria would be hosting a Heads of State Summit on Desertification, Migrations and Security.

    RICHARD KINLEY, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, introduced the report of the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on the work of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, saying that many recent events had demonstrated the world's vulnerability to climate-related disasters.  Projected climate change impacts would affect agriculture, further endangering food security in developing countries.  The eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties was expected to adopt a five-year programme of work on the scientific, technical, and socio-economic aspects of climate impacts, as well as vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.

    In addition, he said, a vehicle to finance sustainable development projects that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in developing countries had been created, with about 300 projects in the pipeline targeting renewable energy, energy efficiency, fuel switching, landfill, reforestation and afforestation, in places like India and Honduras.  A Special Climate Change Fund would provide resources for technology transfer and its associated capacity-building, to the tune of $33 million for adaptation and $1 million for technology transfer.  An amount of $32.9 million in voluntary contributions had been given to a Least Developed Countries Fund to help those countries meet pressing needs in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

    It had been recognized at a high-level debate that efforts needed to be stepped up if the Convention's objectives were to be attained, he said.  Climate-friendly technologies were already available, such as hydrogen-based technologies and the capture and storage of carbon dioxide.  They had the potential to combat climate change, and more countries must be encouraged to use them.  A historic first meeting of the States parties to the Kyoto Protocol would take place in Montreal, Canada, in November-December 2005, involving 10,000 participants.  It was hoped that it would provide an opportunity to advance action in a number of key policy areas.

    CONROD HUNTE, of the Convention on Biological Diversity, presenting the Executive Secretary's report (document A/60/171), said that the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice had developed a draft programme of work on island biodiversity, which included goals, global targets, time frames and island-specific priority actions.

    He said that the Ad-Hoc Open Ended working Group on Protected Areas had begun to compile and synthesize existing ecological criteria for the future identification of potential sites for the protection of marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, as well as applicable biographical classification systems and recommendations on cooperation and coordination among various forums for establishing marine-protected areas.  It had also agreed on options for mobilizing financial resources for implementing the programme of work through a variety of funding mechanisms; and recommendations on the process, guidelines and mechanism for monitoring progress in implementing the programme of work on protected areas.

    CHERIF RAHMANI, Minister for the Environment of Algeria and honorary spokesperson for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, 2006, made an intervention in relation to the Secretary-General's report on the status of preparations for the International Year.

    He said that, while desertification of the physical environment was an old concern, what was new was the globalization of deserts and their encroachment into the areas of security, economic development and culture.  Desert territories had now gone beyond the limits between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and begun spilling into the Iberian Peninsula, bringing with them a "triple decoupling" effect.  First, they decoupled humans from land and natural resources.  The destocking of natural resources and the growth of deserts was linked to extreme poverty, which forced people to immigrate out of those lands, potentially affecting international security.  Because it was impossible to increase the productivity of the soil, that decoupling meant the risk would be carried into the future.

    The encroaching desert also decoupled humankind from its traditional know-how and ancient best practices, he said.  In Algeria, it had been known for 3,000 years that underground tunnels that fed water to oases.  Once a tunnel reached an oasis, the water was distributed in an equitable way.  After modernization, however, wells had been drilled deep into the ground, depleting the water table and turning the water into brine.  Thus, not only had deserts depleted natural resources, they had also succeeded in wiping out cultural knowledge and good governance.  Along with the disappearance of such know-how, desert dialects, dances, and a myriad of other arts had also been lost.

    Third, the resultant poverty and difficulties in accessing water made it more difficult to reach internationally agreed-upon development goals, he said.  Deserts had, therefore, become a global question, and it was to be hoped that the International Year of Deserts could raise the issue's visibility in the eyes of the world's population.  Because the issue of deserts touched upon so many other areas, discussions should extend to the World Heritage Conference; to festivals celebrating desert civilizations; to the conference for women; and to eco-tourism and food security conferences.

    He said that perhaps the most appropriate symbol for the encroaching deserts were the men who threw themselves at barbed-wire fences in an effort to escape.  The developed world would never be able to live in peace if deserts were not properly managed.

    ADNAN AMIN, of the United Nations Environment Programme, introduced the report on the twenty-third session of UNEP's Governing Council.  The meeting had begun with a ministerial segment, focusing on the preparation of materials for the 2005 World Summit, as well as for the Commission on Sustainable Development.  Ministers had agreed that environmental sustainability was essential for the successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, echoing the principal message of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  At the same time, they had highlighted the failure to operationalize the link between sustainability and the Goals.

    Ministers had also recommended further efforts to provide adequate funding for environmental sustainability, he said.  To that end, they had called for the financial base of the Global Environment Facility to be substantially increased, for external debt to be eliminated or substantially reduced, and official development assistance (ODA) commitments to be fulfilled in a timely fashion.  The meeting had also underscored the importance of water for the viability and long-term sustainability of the world's ecosystems.  In the area of human settlements, it had noted the need for more affordable, smaller-scale and more environmentally sustainable infrastructures.

    FLORENCE CHENOWETH, of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office, introducing the report on sustainable mountain development (document A/60/309), noted that mountains were the source of up to 80 per cent of the planet's freshwater, and storehouses of genetic diversity that helped feed the world.  Yet, as diverse as they were, mountain ecosystems were also exceedingly fragile and under constant threat from the effects of climate change, exploitative mining and unsound agricultural practices.  Of the world's more than 840 million chronically undernourished people, a disproportionate number lived in mountain areas, where as many as 245 million in developing and transition countries were threatened by hunger and food insecurity.

    Despite growing awareness and positive results, key challenges to achieving sustainable development and poverty alleviation remained in many mountain areas, she said.  Growing demand for water and other natural resources, the consequences of global climate change, growth in tourism, increasing migration, conflicts and the pressures of industry, mining and agriculture in a world of increased globalization were some of the main concerns of fragile mountain ecosystems.  The recent devastating earthquake in Pakistan and India had painfully demonstrated just how precarious living in remote mountain regions could be.  To tackle such obstacles effectively, there must be better coordination among Governments, civil society and development agencies, higher levels of funding and investment in mountain areas, and a stronger enabling environment with supportive laws, policies and institutions.

    Discussion

    Opening the discussion, Mr. AMIN provided details about the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, explaining that its main purpose was to examine world ecosystem trends.  The main finding was a worrying degradation of the world's major natural resources.

    Addressing early warning systems for natural disasters, a representative of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction secretariat said her office had received 50 responses from Governments to a survey on early warning, which would be ready by the beginning of next year.  Coordination in early warning systems was being organized in Perth, Australia, and Governments were developing their own national systems.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was working towards a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean, which should be in place next year.  There were also plans for a similar mechanism to increase natural disaster capacity in the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions.

    To a query about the balance between tourism development and protection of natural resources, a representative of the World Tourism Organization stressed that tourism must maintain environmental health, but also provide opportunities for both developing and developed countries to benefit from the industry.  The purpose of the Global Code of Ethics was to guide the various stakeholders on how tourism should move forward.

    On funding for the Convention on Climate Change, Mr. KINLEY said the treaty's core budget contained an important increase due to exchange rate changes.  There were also voluntary funds, but the secretariat would need to carry out some fund-raising to finance certain activities.  The Participation Fund, however, had an excellent contribution record, and would include extra support this year for least developed and small island countries.

    ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said that the Mauritius Strategy would achieve a much better record of implementation if the process was taken closer to the small island developing States themselves.  There was a need for greater involvement of regional intergovernmental organizations in promoting the implementation of the Mauritius outcome, as well as engaging them more constructively in monitoring the implementation process.  Monitoring should not only be an exercise in stocktaking, but also a more proactive and dynamic process.  The high capabilities of regional organizations should be maximized.

    Regarding the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, he said that the least developed, landlocked and small island developing countries had limited capacity to react.  The impact of disasters was often doubly magnified for them because the areas where they could evacuate affected people were few.  Without international assistance, they could not effectively deal with food, fuel, and medical shortages, let alone economic reconstruction.

    However, he said he was happy to note that the approach to implementing the Hyogo Framework involved regional organizations, resources, capacity and expertise, for example, the African Union, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, and the Organization of American States in the Caribbean.  Several countries, including Bangladesh, Mauritius and Uganda, had incorporated disaster-risk measures into their common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance frameworks, and all least developed, landlocked and small island developing countries were urged to do the same.

    Statements

    BYRON BLAKE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that the second implementation cycle of the Commission on Sustainable Development would focus on energy, climate change, industrial development, and air pollution.  There were some 300 partnerships registered with the Commission, which should continue to monitor them as the vast majority were among Governments or intergovernmental organizations, and few were private/private or private/public, which could bring new financial and technical resources.  Moreover, many of the partnership proposals were still being formulated or developed, and few were being implemented.

    Turning to the Mauritius Strategy, he said he was concerned that the Secretary-General's report lacked proposals for enhancing the delivery of vital technical support to small island developing States.  Moreover, no activity had been identified to enhance coherence in global governance and create an improved international enabling environment.  The report also did not include indications of work being carried out by the World Trade Organization in the areas of trade and finance.  Hopefully, the World Summit's recognition of the special needs and vulnerabilities of small island States, and its reaffirmation of commitments to take urgent and concrete action to fully implement the Mauritius Strategy, would be a more positive response from all international institutions and donors.

    Welcoming the international community's quick response in developing an early warning system for tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, he stressed the need to create a Global Tsunami or Multiple Hazard Early Warning System, a proposal that had been accepted by the World Summit.  As for climate change, there had been commitments made at the highest political level to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with developed countries taking the lead.  States had also made commitments under various international conventions to mitigate the impact of people on the world's climatic system.

    Regarding desertification, he pointed out the huge gap between commitments made at the highest political levels and actions by the Conference of the Parties, as well as individual countries.  The Convention was one of the most underfunded and unsupported in the United Nations, but States had only approved a 5 per cent nominal increase to the core budget for the next biennium.  Even more alarmed by the continued arrears in contributions, the Group of 77 had requested that the Convention's Executive Secretary arrange with any developing-country State party that had not paid its contributions for two or more years to unilaterally agree on a "schedule of payments" to clear all outstanding unpaid contributions within six years, depending on the financial circumstances of that State party, and to pay future contributions on time.

    ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the Union was strongly committed to working with international partners to implement commitments in the area of sustainable development.  In that regard, the European Union welcomed the 2005 World Summit agreement to build a more coherent institutional framework for environmental activities in the Untied Nations system.

    He said the European Union was promoting improved water governance through multi-stakeholder dialogues and an integrated water-resource management approach to improve the management of transboundary water-management issues.  In addition, the Union remained committed to assisting developing countries to prepare integrated water-resource management plans of their own.  Furthermore, in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami and in the face of environmental degradation, the Union had discussed how to improve the coordination of its disaster-reduction efforts by exploring options for better global financing.  At the forthcoming United Nations climate change conference in Montreal, Canada, the Union would emphasize the importance of fully operationalizing the Kyoto Protocol and would soon put in place comprehensive measures to deliver on Protocol targets.  The Union also planned to initiate a process among States parties to the Convention on Climate Change on ways to build a global carbon market.

    In order to enhance private investment, transfer of technologies and capacity-building to developing countries, he said, the Union would work with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Region Group, through an energy facility, to catalyse funding in the delivery of rural energy services and facilitate investment in cross-border connections.

    REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said sustained economic growth was the best tool to mobilize resources that could uplift living standards, provide adequate health and educational facilities, and promote environmental protection.  While each country bore the primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, as well as national policies, that must be complemented by international and regional efforts.  Internationally, developed countries must redouble their efforts to create an enabling international framework, recognizing that developing countries were at different stages of development and lacked the necessary financial, institutional and technological capacity.

    The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami disaster of December 2004 demonstrated that developing countries could not attain sustainable development objectives if natural disasters were not effectively addressed, he said.  Sustainable development must be pursued in a way that helped reduce losses from disasters.  In July 2005, ASEAN had concluded an Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, which was a legally binding framework for implementing disaster-reduction activities in the region.

    He added that rising world oil prices were also having a major effect on sustainable development and poverty reduction.  High priority was now being given to energy efficiency, especially in the transport and industrial sectors.  Such efforts, however, required technological innovation, technology transfer and capacity-building for developing countries.  Considering the region's commitment to increase the share of renewable energy in power generation to 10 per cent by 2010, ASEAN had agreed to promote public-private partnerships in order to boost solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and biomass energy.  The Commission on Sustainable Development review process on atmosphere, climate change and industrial development was vital in measuring the outcome of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and promoting further efforts and collaboration in achieving sustainable development goals.

    VSEVOLOD GRIGORE (Republic of Moldova), speaking on behalf of the GUAM States (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova), said sustainable development was a key element of the overarching framework for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets.  Countries bore the primary responsibility for their own development and the GUAM States had adopted national programmes to build on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and Agenda 21.  On the issue of the environment, the GUAM States recognized a need for more efficient environmental activities, the primary objective of which should be more coherent, coordinated and integrated environmental institutional frameworks.  The GUAM States welcomed the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

    He said the GUAM States also welcomed the United Nations Millennium Review Summit's commitment to address in a more concerted manner the causes of land degradation and desertification.  The Indian Ocean tsunami and other disasters made it clear that nature could have devastating effects.  The GUAM States supported the view that disaster-risk reduction considerations should be an essential part of development strategies, and relevant initiatives should be built into development needs.  The increased focus on capacity-building and knowledge-sharing design in disaster-risk reduction measures would underpin the creation of a culture of safety and prevention.  The increased use of new and renewable sources of energy could offer manifold benefits for sustainable development.  Major advances in renewable-energy development could not be achieved unless international research efforts for greater application of renewable energy technologies were intensified.

    GILLES NOGHÈS (Monaco) said the poorest nations were the most vulnerable to economic and environmental problems, thwarting their efforts to achieve sustainable development.  The consequences of environmental degradation could render all development efforts futile and threaten the very survival of the human race.  Environmental protection should be integrated into all actions taken by the international community.  Disaster-risk reduction was a precondition of sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Goals.

    He said his country would be taking action at the international level to further sustainable development, implementing specific projects with the cooperation of developing and transition countries, and assisting partner countries to combat desertification.  The growing number of instruments in that area of environment and sustainable development underscored the need to integrate international actions in that area.  The UNEP should be transformed into the sole United Nations environmental organization to provide more coherence in combating environmental hazards.

    ABDUL ALIM (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that timely sharing of information and data was vital to the success of early warning systems.  Experts believed that tens of thousands of people could have been saved during last December's tsunami had they been alerted on time.  Disaster-prone countries should have unrestricted access to early warning information.

    He said his country sought to reduce the vulnerability of its people through a comprehensive disaster-management programme, encompassing disaster preparedness, early warning, risk reduction, prevention, mitigation and development.  Bangladesh was one of the first countries to institute a national platform to guide risk-reduction efforts.  It was modelled around the professionalization of the disaster-management system; mainstreaming disaster management and building strategic partnerships; empowering the community; expanding risk reduction across a broader range of hazards; and strengthening emergency response systems.  That national effort would be accompanied by a 2005-2009 corporate plan and framework for action, which formed a road map for the development of internal strategic plans.

    However, despite pragmatic polices and programmes, the reality was marked by resource and technology constraints, he said.  Due to seismic faults, Bangladesh ran a high risk of earthquakes and was regularly tormented by cyclones.  Hopefully, international cooperation towards establishing a state-of-the-art disaster-warning system in the Bay of Bengal would be forthcoming.

    MOHAMED SOFIANE BERRAH (Algeria) said two thirds of African territory was made up of deserts or arid lands that were constantly faced with intense drought.  Combating that problem was a major endeavour that did not stop at political borders, but required international and regional cooperation to obtain the necessary technical and financial assistance.  The Convention on Desertification must build up synergies between itself and other United Nations treaties to promote sustainable development.  Regional and subregional cooperation was particularly vital in Africa, where drought threatened food security and actual existence.

    He said that his country's determination to combat desertification was reflected in its national plan for agriculture and rural development.  That plan aimed to give agriculture a more sustainable role in achieving food security by promoting reforestation in an integrated manner.  Algeria was also active internationally, where it was trying to heighten awareness of desertification by promoting links between research and technology.

    FESSEHA TESFU (Ethiopia) said his country had embarked on an aggressive programme to accelerate the allocation and mobilization of finances, improve institutional arrangements, encourage grass-roots participation, engage in capacity-building, and seek appropriate international partnerships to promote sustainable development.  Reducing pressure on natural resources had resulted in visible benefits to the ecosystem, while targeted subsidies had led to more home ownership for low-income groups.  Good urban governance was encouraged through decentralization, local government reforms, and increased civil-society engagement.  Capacity-building for sustainable urban development was carried out with support from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

    He said his country supported sustainable development by strengthening and expanding the continuing efforts to address land degradation, deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, loss of soil fertility and disruption of the hydrological cycle, by paying special attention to highly degraded drought-prone and food-insecure areas.  At the same time, regulations and institutions relating to the preservation, development and management of natural resources were being strengthened.  A national action programme to monitor the effects of drought had been formulated, and environmental science had been incorporated in the school curriculum alongside awareness-creation through public and private media.  At the federal level, the Government had formed a crisis-management group to evaluate the effects of disaster, desertification and drought for immediate action and resource mobilization.  However, efforts to gain access to external financial and technical assistance had been minimal, and there were insufficient funds to implement the national action plan.

    WANG QI (China), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the global agenda for sustainable development must be powered by national strategies, and that the international community must create a sound external environment for the sustainable development of the developing countries and give them reasonable policy space. Water shortages, urban air pollution, soil erosion, desertification, natural disaster and ecological degradation should be considered at the regional level.  In China, a scientific approach to the development of a harmonious society was the guiding principle for the next five years, and the Government would protect natural resources and the environment as both a means to development and an end in itself.

    As for climate change, he said the key to a solution lay in technological innovation and transfer.  To that end, it was necessary to remove obstacles to international cooperation and to use the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol as legal instruments to address climate change.  Furthermore, international cooperation on renewable energy would contribute to increased use of renewable energy around the world.  In China, a law on renewable energy, which would enter into force in January 2006, would create a more enabling policy environment for the market application, technological advancement and industrial development of renewable energy.  Meanwhile, the country's hydropower, wind-power, solar heating and biomass gas and power-generation technologies were ready for large-scale commercialization.

    LARS ALASKER (Norway) said his Government put great emphasis on the environmental agenda and would like to see a stronger United Nations follow-up.  The Millennium Development Goals obliged everyone to do something about the situation of the many, not just the few.  The Outcome Document called for a more efficient and coherent framework for environmental activities in the United Nations system.  The Norwegian Government would like to see that intention put into practice, as well as stronger links between the normative work of the United Nations system and its operational activities.  It was important to build on existing institutions like UNEP and major operational institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  Establishing a United Nations environmental organization would be instrumental in promoting sustainable development.

    Strengthened efforts must be made to reach the 2010 target on biodiversity, which was vital for securing the future of the changing world, he said.  The fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources provided important means to achieve sustainable development.  Developing countries were home to most of the world's biodiversity, but it was often the developed countries that had the necessary technology to utilize those resources.  The users of genetic resources should share the benefits arising from their commercial application with the countries providing the resources.  Access to secure, reliable and affordable energy was fundamental to economic stability and development.  A true, global effort was needed, where all countries played their part in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

    CINTHIA SOTO (Costa Rica) said national strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals must be dealt with as an integrated whole, rather than in isolation.  The sustainable use and conservation of natural resources concerned all and should not be treated as a luxury.  It was important to acknowledge the fundamental role of forests.  The Kyoto Protocol recognized just one of the multiple services that they provided:  carbon sequestration.  Regrettably, clause 3.3 of the Protocol compensated only those who practised reforestation, but offered nothing to developing countries that prevented deforestation.  Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and others had founded the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, seeking compensation for environmental services provided by all forests and fair prices for forest products.

    She said that, since nature had no boundaries, sustainable activities should include resources in marine zones outside national jurisdictions.  In that regard, Costa Rica insisted on a moratorium on bottom-fish trawling, one of the most destructive practices for the marine ecosystem.  In September, Costa Rica had hosted the Second International Expert Meeting on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which had addressed the "cost of inaction", as in many cases remediation could be more expensive than preventive investment.  Participants flying to Costa Rica voluntarily paid a symbolic amount for the carbon dioxide absorption provided by forests, and the money collected was deposited in a National Financing Forestry Fund that protected more than 450,000 hectares of Costa Rican forests.

    THOMAS GASS (Switzerland) said that the participation of all countries was essential to combat global climate change effectively, and two instruments -- the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol -- were of great use in that regard.  Switzerland invited those industrialized countries which had not already done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

    Turning to the issue of desertification, he noted that a lack of vision threatened international efforts to combat it.  The international community must also strengthen its commitment to the sustainable management of forests by strengthening the United Nations Forum on Forests; effectively implementing the Convention on Biodiversity and its Protocol on Biosecurity; and ensuring that chemical products were managed in a viable way.  The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction should also be strengthened.

    He said the issue of sustainable development in mountain regions was at the heart of his country's concerns, and it was pleased to see a growing number of countries and regions responding to the challenges faced by mountain communities.  While regional agreements dealing with the fragility of mountain environments were working well, much remained to be done in repaying mountain communities for the ecological services that they provided to lowland populations.  Ways must be found to help mountain communities finance the development of their agricultural and rural economies.

    JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said the AOSIS regions had now completed their review meetings on follow-up to implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.  The Caribbean region had paid special attention to the need for capacity-building, highlighting the need for technical support and a supportive network of experts, and stressed the importance of national sustainable development policies.  The Pacific region had emphasized the need for cooperation and partnerships in implementing the Barbados Plan of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, and had also agreed that implementation of the Strategy must be nationally driven.

    While acknowledging an improvement in the flow of information on sustainable development, in general, he stressed the need to strengthen the Small Island Unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, as agreed by the General Assembly in previous resolutions.  Efforts must be made to retain those doing the most productive work, to fill remaining gaps in staff, and to establish stronger working relationships with all relevant United Nations bodies.

    Turning to climate change, he said that poverty, drought, floods, and warming temperatures had become more intense and frequent.  They were all closely linked to climate change, as was the spread of diseases like malaria.  Small island States had maintained that patterns of rising sea levels and climate change would probably continue for some time, even if the Kyoto Protocol was fully implemented, and that the time to adapt was right now.

    KAZUO SUNAGA (Japan) said the world's experience with the Indian Ocean tsunami had shown that a recovery process was difficult despite concerted efforts by the international community.  Greater emphasis must be placed on preventing or reducing damage by building communities that were resilient to disasters and by establishing early warning systems.  The Hyogo Framework for Action provided a set of priorities for the coming decade, and it was encouraging to see many countries also aligning their activities with that framework.  Japan, too, was contributing to its implementation, and had been supporting the speedy establishment of a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean.  It would provide tsunami watch information, in cooperation with the United States once the system became fully operational.  There was no clear index that could objectively measure the vulnerability of small island developing States, and one should be created to help donor countries determine the most effective level of assistance that they should give.

    He said the discussion on climate change needed to consider actions beyond 2012.  To that end, Japan had been hosting informal meetings to encourage frank exchanges on possible further action involving government officials from both developed and developing countries.  Japan had also joined the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a regional initiative aimed at promoting environmentally-friendly development.  It would continue to support the transfer of technology to developing countries in that field.

    OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that changes in the climate could increase the frequency of droughts which, in turn, could cause water and food scarcity.  Along those lines, a report prepared by the United States Pentagon seemed to suggest that tensions over food production could even compromise international security.  Furthermore, hurricanes, higher tides, and the retreat of glaciers could generate great socio-political disturbances to island, coastal and mountain settlements.  The rise in natural disasters was tied to global warming, provoked by unsustainable consumption patterns, and the message from Mother Nature was very clear:  the international community must reconcile its economic activities with the world's ecology or she would do it herself.

    He said Peru supported, and shared in the implementation of, the Mauritius Strategy, and saluted those instances where links between disaster-risk reduction and climate change were made, as in the Convention on Climate Change.  Member States should act urgently within the Hyogo Framework for Action to properly identify the disaster risks related to climate change and create mechanisms for reducing them.  Furthermore, the secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction must coordinate its activities with the points contained in the Convention on Climate Change.

    MOHAMAD RAZIF ABD MUBIN (Malaysia) noted that the world was paying greater heed to biological diversity as increasing exploration and resource development demanded serious attention to preserving and sustaining the environment.  International cooperation was vital in assisting developing countries to explore fully the potential of their biological diversity resources.  Access to and transfer of relevant technology and expertise, especially from developed partners, was essential.  As a nation blessed with dense tropical forest, Malaysia had taken steps to ensure its development strategies were carried out sustainably to protect the richness of its biological diversity.

    He said the many natural calamities that the world had witnessed recently clearly indicated the need to pay serious attention to climate change, especially global warming.  The international community must muster the political will to implement effectively what it had agreed upon, and find ways to prevent disasters through international cooperation.  Changes in climatic conditions would not only adversely impact human lives, health, food security and economic activities of many nations, but could even submerge many low-lying islands.

    HJALMAR HANNESSON (Iceland) noted that few small island developing States were energy self-sufficient, and many were economically vulnerable to external factors like fluctuating energy prices.  Many of them, however, could use geothermal energy to produce electric power, which was economically viable and would decrease their vulnerability.  Iceland would be launching a special small island developing States initiative to make available $1 million in a special fund to support programmes on the sustainable use of natural resources.  Iceland had already taken steps to use its own geothermal energy potential, which had made the country less vulnerable to external price shocks, and contributed significantly to environmental protection.

    Although almost all energy for stationary applications came from clean renewables, Iceland imported considerable amounts of oil, he said.  Almost 30 per cent of all primary energy used in the country originated from imported fossil fuels used mainly in fisheries and land-based vehicles.  Only 20 per cent of technically feasible hydropower had been harnessed and only a small fraction of the country's geothermal potential that was available for electricity had been used.  The most promising option for clean energy was to use electricity to make hydrogen for use as the primary energy carrier for ships and vehicles.  Iceland was committed to working with others in developing such technology, but an international consensus for sustainable energy solutions was needed to speed up technical innovation.

    LENNOX DANIEL (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that his region was heavily dependent on fossil fuel combustion, with petroleum products accounting for an estimated 93 per cent of commercial energy consumption.  Conventional electricity production through fossil fuel plants was among the most significant contributors to air, land and water pollution, and the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions.  At the same time, expanding electricity generation was a key aspect of economic development in the Caribbean.  In addressing those concerns, the CARICOM nations had developed the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme to remove barriers to the use of renewable energy and foster its development and commercialization.

    Turning to climate change, he pointed to growing evidence that increased temperatures, sea-level rise and the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events were due to climate change.  Small island developing and low-lying coastal States were particularly vulnerable to those phenomena, particularly hurricanes and floods.  While it was important to integrate disaster-risk reduction into national development strategies, such States also needed an improved and rapid humanitarian response, including financing.  Despite numerous appeals to assist Grenada and Guyana, which had experienced severe weather conditions, donor response had been inadequate, leaving those Governments to cope with few resources.

    R. PRABHU (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was largely due to the industrial revolution and the use of fossil fuels by developed countries for the attainment of their present levels of prosperity.  While developing countries had hardly contributed to the problem, they were the most affected in terms of precipitation patterns, ecosystems, agricultural potential, forests, water resources, coastal and marine resources, and an increasing range of disease vectors.  A rapid increase in energy use was imperative for developing countries to meet internationally agreed development goals, but policies for sustainable development by way of energy efficiency and pollution abatement had resulted in a relatively benign growth path of greenhouse gases.

    He said research and development institutes from both developed and developing countries should establish networks to research new technologies to help implement Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  Collaborative work done through the network could be made available to developing countries free of charge.  There was also room to share benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, and in that regard, India welcomed the decision of the Johannesburg World Summit to negotiate, within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international regime to promote and safeguard the fair and equitable sharing of such benefits.  It was to be hoped that, as a practical modality for benefit-sharing, the regime would include provisions mandating disclosure of the country of origin of genetic resources and prior informed consent in intellectual property rights applications.  Regarding the Convention to Combat Desertification, the effectiveness of arrangements to combat it depended on the allocation of resources to affected countries.

    XOLISA MABHONGO (South Africa), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that many people in southern Africa still lacked access to energy and were yet to be connected to electricity grids, which perpetuated poverty and limited opportunities for advancement.  The current global trend of rising prices for energy and energy services was a serious cause of concern, as it had a broad inflationary impact on economies.  There was a need for increased international support for technology transfer and technical, as well as financial, resources to African countries.  Donors and international financial institutions should also increase funding for infrastructure at the domestic and regional levels.

    Climate change was a serious and long-term challenge that would negatively affect developing countries, especially in Africa, he said.  Studies had shown that some countries in southern Africa would not only suffer changes to their economic base, but also the impact on food security, exacerbating problems that had already been caused by incessant drought in some countries.

    AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said there was a clear relationship between disasters, rehabilitation and development.  Natural disasters severely affected hard-earned development gains in poor countries, and efforts to achieve sustainable development must now include better preparedness for dealing with them.  Humanitarian assistance should, therefore, be provided in a manner that supported and facilitated long-term development.  Furthermore, the unprecedented scale of death and destruction in Pakistan following the October earthquake had highlighted the need for a permanent international mechanism guided by the United Nations, which was able to respond quickly to catastrophes and to engage the international community in a well planned reconstruction strategy.

    He said the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had reached near universality and the Kyoto Protocol had been ratified by 152 States, Pakistan being one of them.  Changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, particularly in the developed world, remained crucial, as was the transfer of technology to developing countries.  In that regard, Pakistan called for coordinated efforts by United Nations agencies to implement the Bali Strategic Plan for Capacity-Building and Technology Support.  The country had also taken significant measures in that regard.  In partnership with the UNDP, the Government was implementing the National Environmental Action Plan, through which it would achieve economic growth without causing environmental damage.  Pakistan was also promoting renewable forms of energy so as to increase its share of total power generation from wind, solar and biogas to at least 10 per cent by 2015.

    NIKOLAY CHULKOV (Russian Federation) noted that the next session of the Commission on Sustainable Development would consider complex topics like energy and atmospheric pollution, and would hopefully arrive at balanced and practical solutions.  There was a need to improve the manner in which the Commission was prepared and conducted.  As for the United Nations Forum on Forests, its next session should achieve coordinated progress on the forest agenda and raise it to a new level of cooperation.

    He added that future implementation of the Mauritius Strategy should be focused on enhancing the efficiency of the implementation process, including the optimal use of international assistance, the development of partnerships, and the exchange of positive experiences.  It was also vital that attention be paid to sustainable development in mountain regions.  Emphasis should be placed on implementing relevant sections of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and assistance should help mountain regions overcome obstacles in social and economic sectors.

    LEL MEHDI EL MEJERBI (Libya), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that progress on Agenda 21 was insufficient despite renewed efforts by Member States, specialized agencies, and regional institutions, due to the lack of financial resources and technologies.  In light of that, the international community must concentrate on building cooperative networks between North and South, within the framework of shared responsibility.  In terms of policy, UNEP must be given additional support in implementing the Bali Plan of Action and in carrying out other aspects of its mandate.

    Regarding small island developing States, he said aid must be given to reinforce their ability to deal with natural disasters.  The Kyoto Protocol was an important tool for reducing dangers associated with climate change, and Libya was currently submitting that Protocol for ratification.  Developed countries must step up their efforts to implement the Convention on Desertification, particularly in light of its link to poverty in smaller developing countries.  Libya reminded each Member States to shoulder its responsibilities towards the environment for the benefit of the current and future generations.

    PARK CHUN-KYOO (Republic of Korea) said that reaching consensus on sustainable development was not easy because each State had its own priorities.  Nevertheless, the international community should address those issues in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, while working towards results-oriented recommendations that could be translated into substantive actions.  One effective way to achieve successful cooperation was to encourage regional partnerships, which would then be expanded to the global level when they had demonstrated their worth at the regional level.

    He said the Republic of Korea valued the work done by the Commission on Sustainable Development and noted that regional implementation forums, partnership fairs, learning centres and the active participation of major groups had contributed to its success.  It was to be hoped that the Commission's next session would result in policy discussions regarding the use of energy for sustainable development; sustainable industrial development; ways to curb air pollution; and how to deal with climate change.  It was also expected that calls for prompt action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases would be made at the upcoming Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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