Small island nations commit to new steps at UN forum to reduce fossil fuel use
Twenty small island developing nations have announced new actions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and end poverty, as they wrapped up a sustainable energy conference organized by the United Nations and the Government of Barbados.
The “Barbados Declaration” calls for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting the environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth, according to a news release issued by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The declaration – adopted ahead of next month’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) – includes an annex with voluntary commitments of 20 small island developing States (SIDS) to take actions toward providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
It emphasizes that there are commercially feasible options in many SIDS for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.
“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities,” stated the declaration. “In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS.”
The host country announced its plan to increase the share of renewable energy in Barbados to 29 per cent of all electricity consumption by 2029. Among other commitments, the Maldives plans to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by year 2020, while Seychelles will seek to produce 15 per cent of its energy supply from renewable energy by 2030.
The declaration also recognized the importance of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last September, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.
The two-day conference, which ended yesterday, brought together more than 100 Heads of State, ministers, leading development experts, civil society activists, business executives and UN officials from 39 SIDS.Back to Top
Ban urges progress in Rio+20 negotiations, names post-2015 High-level Panel co-chairs
“We are at a crucial stage,” Mr. Ban told the members of the General Assembly in New York this afternoon. “We have about 40 days – and 40 nights – to Rio. We must use every moment.”
He added that although he was encouraged by the level of participation shown by countries so far, making progress on issues will largely depend on the ambition of the outcome document endorsed at the conference.
Last Saturday, representatives from governments negotiating the outcome document agreed to add five more days of deliberations to bridge differences that have kept them from making further progress in negotiations.
The UN chief appealed to all countries to show flexibility to reach an agreement on substantive issues and finalize the document ahead of the conference in Rio de Janeiro.
“Quite simply, we need a negotiated outcome document before Rio to ensure the high-level participation that we have worked so hard to generate,” he said.
Mr. Ban emphasized that the outcome of the deliberations over the next few weeks would help shape actions on the main issues to be addressed at Rio+20, such as the management and protection of oceans, ensuring universal access to sustainable energy and water, and improving life in the world’s cities, among others.
The Secretary-General also underlined that there should be an agreement to establish Sustainable Development Goals that build on the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the anti-poverty and social development targets that have an achievement deadline of 2015.
“We must harness the power of partnership to shift the world onto a more sustainable trajectory of growth and development. Rio should be a concrete step forward in this regard,” he said.
In his remarks to the General Assembly, Mr. Ban also announced the co-chairs of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on planning for post-2015.
“I am pleased to announce that the following leaders have accepted my invitation to serve as co-chairs of this High Level Panel: His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia; Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; and His Excellency Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom,” Mr. Ban told the Assembly. “I am grateful to these three leaders for their commitment.”
He added that he intends to conduct further consultations regarding the composition of the High-level Panel, “mindful of the appropriate balance across geography, gender, generations, and constituencies” and plans to announce the full panel following the Rio+20 Summit Meeting.Back to Top
Better use of water leading to positive impacts on development
Sustainable water reforms are having a positive impact on countries’ development, according to the results of a United Nations survey released today.
The survey reveals that countries that have implemented water reforms backed by Member States at the UN Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years ago have had significant improvements to drinking water access, human health and water efficiency in agriculture.
“[The survey] shows important successes regarding integrated water resources management, where a more sustainable approach to water has resulted in tangible benefits for communities and the environment,” said the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner.
More than 130 governments participated in the survey, which focused on progress towards implementing internationally-agreed approaches to the management and use of water, known as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which was backed by countries in Rio.
The survey, which was coordinated by UNEP on behalf of the UN inter-agency coordination mechanism for freshwater issues (UN-Water), asked governments for their feedback on governance, infrastructure, financing and other areas relating to water management, to gauge how successful countries have been in moving towards IWRM.
Overall, 90 per cent of countries surveyed reported a range of positive impacts from integrated approaches to water management following national reforms. However, the report showed that global progress has been slow in the areas of irrigation, rainwater harvesting and investment in freshwater ecosystems.
The report provides examples of countries that have shown progress since implementing water management measures. In Estonia, for example, the introduction of water charges and pollution taxes contributed to improved water efficiency and a reduction of pollution in the Baltic Sea.
In Costa Rica 50 per cent of revenues gained from water charges are now re-invested in water resource management, and in Ghana, 40 per cent of irrigation schemes for more effective water use and productivity have been rehabilitated.
Mr. Steiner emphasized the importance of these findings to build on water management initiatives at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil next month. The survey includes recommendations and suggested targets designed to inform policymakers at the conference.
“At Rio+20, governments will have the opportunity to build on these innovations and chart the way forward for sustainable development, where the water needs of a global population set to rise to nine billion by 2050 can be met in an equitable way,” he said.Back to Top