H.E Bergdís Ellertsdóttir,
GA73 / Item 20 – Sustainable development
15 October 2018
Since this is the first time I take the floor, allow me to congratulate you and the members of the bureau on your election and assure you of my delegation´s full cooperation.
Iceland is firmly committed to Agenda 2030, with its inclusive and bottom-up approach to development. It is a key policy priority with strong ownership and participation of the private sector, civil society and young people. We look forward to Iceland’s Voluntary National Review next year and are hoping for constructive feedback.
In our development cooperation we focus on human rights and gender equality, social infrastructure and peace-building, as well as sustainable management of natural resources. We take part in projects where we believe Iceland has specific know-how to share. There are particularly four areas of focus, namely land restoration, oceans, renewable energy and gender equality, all of which are a part of the UN training programmes in Iceland. Almost 5.000 experts from 100 countries have been trained since the first program was established almost forty years ago.
Iceland was honored to chair the 56th session of the Commission for Social Development. The Commission plays a crucial role in advancing the social dimension of the 2030 Agenda. At its session early this year, the Commission tackled innovation and interconnectivity in social policy and considered poverty through the lens of inequality. We welcome the continued focus on inequality next year and believe the Commission can contribute immensely to the universal commitment reflected in SDG 10.
Climate change is fast becoming the single most serious challenge to global peace, security and development. The recent IPCC Special Report on Global Warming paints a dark picture of the magnitude of the problem and the urgency to accelerate our actions. The Government of Iceland has recently put in place ambitious new climate strategy to meet our Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and make Iceland carbon neutral by 2040. Already, all electricity and heating in Iceland is produced from renewable resources. Our plan aims to phase out fossil fuels in transport and increase afforestation and restoration of wetlands.
Iceland started its green energy transition decades ago and we continue to assist other countries in this regard. We cooperate with the Nordic Development Fund and the World Bank on research in East Africa on geothermal exploitation. With renewable energy becoming more competitive we must strengthen our cooperation and strive towards universal access to modern energy services. Iceland cooperates with different actors in this field, including the World Bank and Sustainable Energy for All.
Sustainable use of marine resources, through successful science-based management, remains one of the backbones of the Icelandic economy and a clear focus in our foreign policy. We cooperate with many partners, inter alia the World Bank through the PROFISH program. This program promotes fisheries and aquaculture with regards to poverty reduction, sustainable economic growth‚ better nutrition and economic opportunities for women.
Land restoration is another natural priority for my country, having historically lost large areas of our land to erosion. We proudly chair the Group of Friends on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) along with Namibia. Achieving land degradation neutrality, in accordance with target 15.3, accelerates progress on many other SDGs. I would highlight its contribution to ending poverty and ensuring food security, its role in ensuring a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply and its empowerment of women and girls. The nexus between DLDD issues and current security threats, such as climate change and forced migration, is also clear and merits serious consideration.
My last and final point is our strong belief that gender equality is the master-key to unlocking sustainable development in all countries. This conviction has led us to steadily increase the emphasis on women empowerment in our development policy. We have also put a particular focus on engaging men and boys in these efforts, as we must all stand together for gender equality.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.