The last two years have seen a growing momentum for change and rejuvenation in the United Nations system. We have had the High Level Panel Report, the Millenium Project report and the report by the Secretary-General. Member states have just concluded a high level meeting on the financing of development. We are now heading for September when it is to be hoped that we will be able to make an assessment of where we stand on development goals at heads of state and government level.
The clear linking of development, security and human rights will be a powerful conceptual tool for analysing solutions as well as problems in the future. Successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals as well as being important of itself will also be a major contribution to security in the world.
Central to the ideal of the UN is the concept of our common humanity. The Millennium Development Goals have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.
Development is a shared responsibility of the developing and developed countries in line with the Monterrey Consensus. Investment strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals will not work in practice unless supported by transparent, accountable systems of governance grounded in the rule of law, encompassing civil and political as well as economic and social rights and underpinned by accountable and efficient public administration. Iceland also recognizes that the Millennium Development Goals will not be met in the least developed countries – particularly in Africa – in the absence of increased ODA. Iceland will have doubled its ODA by 2009.
At the same time, it is clear that economic growth, led principally by the private sector and a fair international trading regime will be the key drivers towards the MDGs.
Iceland is strongly committed to the multilateral trading system. The Doha negotiations keep a special focus on developing countries and it is in our common interest to make sure that we achieve substantial progress at the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in December.
As the Secretary General pointed out in his report, human health is a prerequisite for successful development. Thus the health-related goals of the Millennium Declaration are of crucial importance. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as a number of other devastating diseases, affect entire populations in some parts of the world with dire consequences for development. We must continue to strengthen health care systems to make sure that people in the developing world have access to basic health services and treatment.
The Beijing Platform for action, which was reaffirmed during the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, aimed at economic development through the creation of societies built upon gender equality, where women can actively contribute to the economy. While we continue our efforts to further implement the relevant documents, it is equally important that we safeguard the progress already made for women and the promotion and protection of their rights.
My Government concurs with the view that there is a direct link between achieving the MDG´s and achieving gender equality. The MDG´s will not be reached unless gender equality strategies are incorporated in our work at the global level and the national level.
It is impossible to reduce poverty effectively without radical measures being taken to improve access to energy. Around 2 billion people at present do not have access to electricity. Measures that should be considered include more efficient use of energy resources, the development of new technologies and increasing the share of renewable energy resources. Attention should be paid to the development of new energy carriers, such as hydrogen, which could help developing countries leap-frog their way into the modern industrial economy. Technological innovations in the energy sector deserve the backing of the international community. Such innovations can help countries mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Geothermal energy is fundamental to Iceland’s economy. Iceland has sought to share its experience on the use of this renewable and clean energy source with other countries. The UNU Geothermal Training Program, which was established in Reykjavik in 1978, gives university graduates engaged in geothermal work intensive on-the-job training in their chosen fields 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.
Mankind fundamentally relies on ecological systems and resources for its existence and development. We must guard against the physical degradation of the environment and the depletion of living natural resources which must be harvested responsibly and sustainably.
Water and sanitation are basic foundations of human life and health. Lack of water and adequate sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness. Water is crucial for preserving biodiversity from freshwater lakes and rivers to mountain regions, wetlands, coastal zones and oceans. Coastal zones are the most productive ecosystems on earth. They are today particularly at risk due to pollution from land-based activities. Such pollution causes local health problems and affects the marine ecosystem as a whole.
Many coastal and islands developing states, including the SIDS, are heavily dependent on living marine resources. In 1995 108 governments and the European Commission adopted The Global Programme of Action for Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA). The GPA is the only global mechanism explicitly addressing the linkages between freshwater and coastal and marine environments.
The JPOI (The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation) reiterates the value of GPA as a tool for achieving internationally agreed goals and targets, including those associated with the Millennium Declaration. Bearing this in mind Iceland urges governments, who have committed themselves to the GPA, to further strengthen its effective implementation.
Finally Mr President, Iceland looks forward to working actively and constructively with member states in this session of ECOSOC, which began so auspiciously with the informative and challenging interventions of the voices against poverty and the interventions from the Bretton Woods institutions.