The Brundtland report “Our Common Future”, which was released in 1987, put sustainable development on the international agenda. The principle of integrating the three pillars of sustainable development – the environmental, economic and social dimensions – is even more important today than it was 20 years ago.
Norway is pleased that it is widely accepted that we must deal with environmental challenges if we are to reduce poverty and solve the development problems the world is facing.
Norway believes that the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) should continue to lead the effort to follow-up on the Rio and Johannesburg documents.
Norway considers the CSD to be an important arena for all stakeholders engaged in sustainable development efforts. It has an important agenda-setting role, and initiates processes that are taken up in other forums. It promotes interlinkages between environment and development, as well as cross-cutting issues. These functions are the CSD’s strongest assets.
The two-year cycle of CSD 14 and 15 is a good example of energy being addressed in a truly comprehensive manner. The cycle highlights the importance of energy access in fostering economic growth and reducing poverty in developing countries, and the importance of taking into account issues such as climate change, environmental degradation, air pollution and health effects. Norway considers these issues to be of the utmost importance, and is ready to work with all interested parties to make CSD 15 a success.
The most important follow-up on Norway’s national strategy for sustainable development is conducted by the different ministries within their fields of responsibility.
The Ministry of Finance, however, has special responsibility for coordinating economic policy to ensure the efficient use of resources, and is responsible for the use of economic instruments in environmental policy.
Consequently, it has also been made responsible for coordinating Norway’s work on sustainable development.
In line with the recommendations of various UN summits, the Norwegian Government cooperates closely with civil society on sustainable development efforts.
Frequent meetings, consultations and hearings are held to enable the exchange of views. As a part of its follow-up of National Agenda 21, Norway has prepared a national set of indicators for sustainable development.
We have also asked our neighbour Sweden to conduct a peer review of our work next year, to recommend improvements that could be made.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the main threat to global sustainable development is posed by climate change and its negative effects. These effects are already being felt all over the globe, with the harshest impacts falling on the regions that are least able to tackle them, such as Africa or SIDS.
We see the effects of climate change daily in the Arctic, as documented in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). Moreover, climate change in the Arctic is taking place at a faster pace than in the rest of the world, and is accelerating change elsewhere.
GHGs (greenhouse gases) have to date accumulated to such a degree that the question is no longer one of avoiding climate change, but rather of curtailing its negative impacts. It is therefore imperative that a truly global regime to reduce emissions, in which all major emitters participate, be put in place as soon as possible, and in time to avoid any gap after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The Norwegian Government has adopted the objective of limiting global warming to a maximum of 2˚C above the pre-industrial level. Being responsible for less than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, the countries that have accepted emission commitments under the Kyoto Protocol will be unable to achieve this objective on their own.
While much deeper and broader efforts to mitigate GHG emissions are essential, we must not forget the plight of those who have not contributed much to the build-up of GHGs in the atmosphere, but who are most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change: the world’s poorest and least resourceful countries, often the least developed countries and SIDS. Efforts to help these countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change are sporadic. The international community has a responsibility to expand significantly assistance to the most vulnerable countries in this area.
About two-thirds of humanitarian disasters are caused by climate hazards. We agree with those who say that humanitarian crises are major impediments to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Climate change and environmental destruction are widening the gap between rich and poor.
Reducing GHG emissions will be a crucial contribution to global-level disaster risk management. In parallel, adaptation efforts should be fully integrated into general development plans. ODA will not be sufficient. New and innovative financial mechanisms for supporting adaptation are necessary. A good start has been made with the Clean Development Mechanism and its 2 per cent levy for the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund, but more will be needed.
Both aspects of climate change – mitigation and adaptation – will be central themes at the upcoming conferences of the parties to the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
Norway would in this context urge all parties to refrain from further quibbling and concentrate on making real progress on both aspects.
It is also vital that decision-makers all over the world fully realise the importance of biological diversity as the living foundation for human survival and wellbeing. We are all dependent on goods and services provided by ecosystems, and we have to continue our efforts to develop and fully exploit synergies across thematic borders and between different management levels.
The 2010 Biodiversity Target, first adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), refers specifically to the critical role that biodiversity plays in sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. Norway welcomes the recent inclusion of the 2010 Biodiversity Target as part of Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability. This contributes to the environmental credibility of the MDGs, and has the potential to ensure that actions are better targeted at safeguarding the ecosystem services on which we all, and most of all the poor, depend for our livelihoods.
Meeting the 2010 Biodiversity Target is vital for achieving MDG 7, and indeed for achieving most other MDGs., given the dependence of the poor on natural resources as sources of food, fuel, medicines and building materials, and on ecosystem services like the provision of fresh water and climate stability for their livelihoods and traditional ways of life.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment contains information on the current status of and trends in ecosystems and biodiversity, and on possible responses to the challenges facing them. We have to use this knowledge to determine the steps needed to achieve results on the ground. We have to continue to incorporate biodiversity into relevant policy areas, and we need to improve existing indicators to track the results of our work.
Norway strongly supports the current focus on implementation of the commitments made under the CBD, but also sees the need to achieve positive outcomes in key areas that are still the subject of negotiations. Norway is particularly interested in access and benefit-sharing under the CBD.
We have to work together to develop systems to fulfil the third objective of the CBD – the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources. We need a legally binding regime, in the form of a protocol to the CBD, to address these issues comprehensively. The new regime will need to take into consideration the agreements and provisions that already exist under other regimes. Better mechanisms for benefit-sharing will be an important incentive for countries to secure their biodiversity.
We welcome the progress made under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This treaty is addressing an important aspect of biodiversity – genetic resources – and we are confident that this development will be beneficial for food security.
Genetic resources provide us with a natural insurance against pests, diseases and climate change. However, as with biodiversity elsewhere, agricultural genetic resources are also under serious threat.
I am pleased to inform you that the Norwegian Government has decided to build a global seed vault in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic.
The seed vault will contain duplicates of seed varieties that are already stored in gene banks elsewhere.
The Svalbard facility will provide an additional safety net for the world’s genetic heritage, for use in emergency situations.
Finally, Madam Chair, sustainable development is about linkages between issues, and the ability to see these linkages and act on them. In this, the CSD plays an important role. Let’s get on with it!