Since last time we met in this committee, we have made tremendous progress in reaching a global consensus on the need for urgent action to save our common future on this planet.
We know that the current model of development is unsustainable. And we know that we are living beyond our means. Way beyond.
A widely-used and accepted international definition of sustainable development is: 'development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.
Globally we are not meeting the needs of the present - let alone safeguarding the needs of future generations.
It is now 20 years ago since the World Commission on Environment and Development – the Brundtland Commission - produced its seminal report, ‘Our Common Future’. Last week, UNEP released the latest of its flagship reports on the state of the environment, the GEO 4. The theme of the report is ‘Environment for Development’. The main recommendation is to move “the environment from the periphery to the core of decision making”.
In other words: We must have “environment for development, not development to the detriment of the environment”.
Let me stress that economic development in developing countries remains as imperative as ever. Without economic development, the MDGs will be nothing but lofty dreams and further global poverty reduction will be out of reach.
At the same time, our understanding of the close interconnection between sustainable development and the challenge of climate change is more advanced than ever. Sustainable development can reduce vulnerability to climate change. On the other hand, climate change could impede nations’ abilities to achieve sustainable development pathways.
Addressing climate change and pursuing economic development is therefore not an either/or proposition. The challenge is to find new, low-carbon growth models that allow countries to grow and prosper, without repeating the mistakes and the unsustainable growth paths followed in the industrial world.
In a recent re-organization of the Cabinet, the Norwegian Prime Minister asked the Minister for International Development to take over the post of Minister for the Environment in addition to his current portfolio. This move illustrates how Norway sees poverty alleviation and tackling climate change and environmental degradation as closely interconnected challenges.
The Norwegian Government has also since last time we met in this room announced comprehensive policies on climate change, as well as policies for integrating environment in our development cooperation. The Government has decided to over-fulfil our emissions commitment under the Kyoto Protocol by 10 per cent. We have also decided that we will commit to cut global emissions equivalent to 30 per cent of Norwegian emissions in 1990 by 2020. We expect that between one half and two thirds of this effort could come through domestic emissions reductions. Finally, Norway aims at becoming carbon neutral by 2050 by significantly reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting the remaining emissions through purchase of emission reductions abroad.
The Committee will be discussing many issues under this agenda item, all equally important. To save time, we will briefly refer to one of the sub-items that we wish to focus on, namely item c) International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
The UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction is a key element in the global drive toward sustainable development.
To ensure that Norway plays a constructive and effective role in this global drive, the Norwegian Government is about to finalise a White Paper on Prevention of Humanitarian Crises. This White Paper will include policies to step up our efforts to prevent humanitarian crises caused by climate change and environmental factors. It also argues for closer linkages and synergies between short term humanitarian assistance and long term development assistance. Furthermore, the White Paper will focus on the links between sustainable development and conflict and peace-building, as highlighted in a recent UNEP report on Sudan.
During the days to come we will discuss issues covered by the three Rio-conventions: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity. We think it is of utmost importance that the work under these three conventions and their subsidiary bodies are done in a holistic and integrated way. We will encourage continued and strengthened cooperation in order to promote complementarities and synergies at national and local level, and to make sure that measures to mitigate climate change are not undermining the goals of the two other conventions and vice versa.
‘There have been enough wake-up calls since Brundtland’, UNEP’s Director General Achim Steiner said last week during the launch of GEO 4. - Now too much talking can make even the best diplomats sleepy.
I will therefore end my intervention by pleading to the honourable committee members: Let us all work hard to ensure that the forthcoming meetings in Bali result in forceful decisions that transform our common concerns into a new consensus on the way forward. Thank you!