Hoppa yfir valmynd
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Women and Development

Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson

Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

at the

Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council

Agenda Item 13 (a)

Sustainable Development


New York, 20 July 2005


Mr. Vice-President

I would like to thank those who introduced the relevent documents this morning.  I would especially like to express our support for points of views on reforms of the work of ECOSOC expressed by Director Khan.

Iceland aligned itself with the general statement on Agenda item 13 of our colleague from the UK on behalf of the EU and I limit my intervention to issues under 13 (a).

First I would like to comment on the report of the 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, namely on the subject of water and sanitation.

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. Over half of the people in the developing world suffering from diseases are affected by unsafe water and poor sanitation. And every year almost three million people, most of them children, die from waterborne diseases. No measures give higher returns than investments in improving freshwater supplies and sanitation.

This is of course the nub of the issue and we are satisfied with the successful outcome of the 13th session of CSD.

Water is also 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. This important matter was among others highlighted by Iceland at the meeting.

Many coastal and island 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.

Mr. Vice-President

As we all know, the major theme for the 14th and 15th sessions of the CSD is “energy for sustainable development

It is impossible to reduce poverty effectively without taking radical measures 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. Countries without oil deposits could decrease their dependancy on imported fossil fuels by using hydrogen produced from local renewables for transportation. Hydrogen can also be used to store energy for use on demand from fluctuating renewable sources such as wind power and solar energy. 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.

Clean and sustainable geothermal energy is one of the fundamentals of Iceland’s economy and we have sought to share our 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.  Trainees work side-by-side with geothermal professionals in Iceland and then have an opportunity to extend their studies 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.

Thank you Mr. Vice-President



Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson

Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

 at the

 Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council

 Agenda Item 13 (l)

Women and Development


 New York, 21 July 2005


 Mr. President,

The Beijing Conference on Women marked a milestone in our common stuggle against poverty, when the international community agreed on the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action to advance the lives of women and girls around the world. The decade that has passed since has demonstrated that it is possible to improve women’s and girls´ lives.  However we still have a long way to go as we heard at the Beijing + 10 Special Session earlier this year.


As primary care-givers in all societies, women are central agents of development. This fact is reflected in the third Millennium Development Goal, which calls for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. However, this goal, while valuable in itself, is also fundamental for the achievement of the other MDGs, as few things are as important to successful development as the social, political and economic participation of women.


If our common global goal is to improve health and education, reduce child mortality, curtail the spread of HIV/Aids, support robust civil society, increase productivity and promote democracy – then development efforts must target women specifically.


Here, education plays a central role. Educated women have fewer children, provide better nutrition and health for their families, experience significantly lower child mortality, generate more income and are more likely to educate their own children, thereby creating a positive cycle for continuing development.


The Icelandic authorities have long recognized the importance of the education of women in developing countries. This has been exemplified by Iceland's support of adult literacy projects that have proved beneficial for women in our partner countries, and of grassroots projects that target widows and single mothers. Girls’ education is also becoming an increasingly important part of our development cooperation, for example through school feeding programs.


Mr. President

History has shown that there is a strong negative relationship between conflict and development. Moreover, women tend to be disproportionally affected by conflict, thereby diminishing their important contribution to successful development.


The role of women is also particularly important in post-conflict societies. In such circumstances, women often make up the majority of the population and have primary responsibility for raising the succeeding generation. Therefore, women need to be actively engaged in successful post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.


The Icelandic authorities acknowledge the nexus between gender, conflict and development, and an important part in Iceland's development cooperation is directed towards facilitating a smooth transition from conflict situations with special emphasis on women.  Here, UNIFEM plays an important role and  this year Iceland will more than triple its contribution to UNIFEM.  Moreover, for the past few years the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit has seconded gender experts to UNIFEM in Kosovo.


The ambitious poverty reduction goals set out in the Millennium Declaration will not be achieved without the promotion of gender equality. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the international community remain committed to advancing the Beijing Platform for Action goals and thereby work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


Thank you Mr. President



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