Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
Second Committee of the
Fifty-ninth Session of the United Nations
Agenda item 92(b): United Nations University
New York, November 2004
I will today limit my comments to Agenda Item 92(b). It gives me great pleasure to address the topic of the United Nations University (UNU) and I would like to congratulate Rector Hans van Ginkel on this year?s Annual Report. The work undertaken by the UNU in fields such as research, capacity building and dissemination activities is admirable, and it is clear that the UNU has established itself as a major builder of capacities in developing countries.
Geothermal energy and sustainable use of living marine resources are fundamental to Iceland?s economy and are issues which we work actively on in the international context. Iceland has sought to share its experience with other countries by hosting two United Nations University Programs providing training on key aspects of sustainability. These are the UNU Geothermal Training Program, which was established in 1978, and the UNU Fisheries Training Program, founded in 1998.
The UNU Geothermal Training Program gives university graduates engaged in geothermal work intensive on-the-job training in their chosen field of specialization. The aim is to assist developing countries with significant geothermal potential in building up expertise on most aspects of geothermal exploration and development. Trainees work side-by-side with geothermal professionals in Iceland and have an opportunity to extend the studies for a MSc degree at the University of Iceland. A total of 318 specialists from 39 countries have completed the program. Graduates are among the leading specialists in geothermal research and development in many developing countries and as such, contribute to the development of renewable energy in the world.
The highly successful Geothermal Program gave impetus to the establishment of the UNU Fisheries Training Program in 1998. Over the past decades, in-shore and coastal stocks are increasingly being over-exploited, threatening food security in numerous developing countries. At the same time, many developing countries have taken increasing control of their marine resources, providing these countries with possibilities to expand their fisheries. To address these challenges the UNU Fisheries Training Program was established with the aim of assisting developing countries in promoting sustainable development in their fisheries sectors. Students come from the public, private and academic sectors, in various fisheries fields. A total of 103 professionals from 20 countries have graduated from the program.
Over the years, the Government of Iceland has placed special emphasis on the UNU programs in Iceland. The programs are an integral part of our development policy, and a part of our efforts in honouring the commitments we all made at the Johannesburg Summit. The programs are the receivers of the largest financial contribution that Iceland makes to a single UN agency and I am particularly proud to announce that in the coming year, the Icelandic authorities intend to increase this contribution considerably.
We look forward to a long and fruitful continuation of the good cooperation with the United Nations University.