The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
SECOND COMMITTEE of the
60th SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Item 85: Sustainable development
New York, 2 November 2005
Since this is the first time Iceland takes the floor in the Second Committee during the 60th Session of the General Assembly, allow me at the outset to congratulate you and the members of the bureau on your election. I wish to express our support and we stand ready to work with you.
I will today limit my comments to two Items on our agenda, namely Item 85(b) on follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; and Item 85(f) on the promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, including the implementation of the World Solar Programme. I welcome the Secretary-General’s comprehensive and balanced reports on these issues.
These two items are interlinked. Few Small Island Developing States are energy self-sufficient and many of them are economically vulnerable to external factors such as fluctuations in energy prices. This is especially relevant today with record high oil prices. Many SIDS and other developing countries have, however, the potential for using geothermal energy for producing electricity power. This is a real option, it is economically viable today and it would decrease the vulnerability of these countries.
Iceland, an island state, shares many of the Small Island Developing States’ concerns in the area of sustainable development. There is scope for cooperation in many areas, including the sustainable use of energy.
I had the privilege to take part, on behalf of my country, in the successful International Meeting on SIDS held in Mauritius last January. At that meeting I announced the decision of the Government of Iceland to launch a special Small Island Developing States’ initiative to make available one million US dollars in a special fund to support programmes on sustainable use of natural resources in the SIDS. We are committed to doing our part in promoting the implementation of the Mauritius strategy to ensure its realization and we are in the process of finding the most effective ways of using the fund, in particular in regard to programmes in the fields of sustainable fisheries and renewable energy.
Iceland has already gone through important steps in utilizing its own geothermal energy potential. This has not only made us less vulnerable to external price shocks, it has also made a significant contribution to environmental protection. Today about 87% of all housing in the country is heated with geothermal energy.
Iceland has done its best to share its expertise in a number of ways. The United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme is located in Iceland. Over three hundred students from 39 developing countries have received training in geothermal energy use since the school started operations in 1979.
Although almost all energy for stationary applications comes from clean renewables, Iceland imports considerable amounts of oil. Nearly 30% of all primary energy used in Iceland originates from imported fossil fuels mainly used in the fisheries and for land-based vehicles. Only 20% of the technically feasible hydropower has been harnessed and only a small fraction of the country’s geothermal potential available for electricity has been utilized. There is, therefore, still a large potential for using clean energy for these purposes as well. The most promising option is to use electricity to make hydrogen for use as the primary energy carrier for ships and vehicles.
We are committed to working with others to develop this technology for the benefit of all. International consensus for sustainable energy solutions is, however, necessary to accelerate technical innovations.
In November 2003, ministers from 15 countries and the EU announced the creation of the International Partnership for a Hydrogen Economy (IPHE), a global effort for partnerships among countries and to promote the conduct of advanced research on hydrogen. The Government of Iceland has offered Iceland as an international platform for hydrogen research and experimentation with a view to facilitating the sharing of its pioneering experiences.
For these and other reasons, Iceland has high expectations of CSD 14 and 15. Energy issues are moving up the international agenda and must be seen in context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We have a longstanding commitment to international cooperation on the sustainable use of energy. At CSD we will encourage the development of new technologies, including deep-drilling for geothermal sources and to use hydrogen as a major energy carrier. Our aim is to make full use of CSD 14 and 15 to present these and other opportunities in the energy sector, through a side-event, learning center and other possible means.