The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson,
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
at the SECOND COMMITTEE of the 61st SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Item 53: Sustainable development.
(a) Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(b) 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
New York, 25 October 2006
I will today limit my comments to two Items on our agenda, namely Item 53(a) on the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and Item 53(b) on the follow-up and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States.
I would like to thank the Secretary General for the report on the implementation of Agenda 21. I am pleased to see in the report that many Governments have taken the lead in moving the process of implementation forward.
We are satisfied with the outcome of the fourteenth session of the Committee on Sustainable Development. At this review session we focused on identifying barriers and constraints, as well as lessons learned and best practices in implementation in the thematic cluster. We highlighted important issues such as air pollution, increased energy access for the poor, energy efficiency and the importance of increasing the role of renewable energy. Iceland holds high expectations for the policy session, due to take place in the spring.
The cluster of themes on the agenda of these two sessions of the CSD is highly relevant for all of us. As we come to understand that improving energy services in developing countries is key to eradicating poverty, we learn more and more of the complex relationship between the use of energy resources and changes in the global climate. Our challenge is to find a way to safeguard the world’s ecosystems, while raising the level of development and fostering economic growth. We should not have to make choices between development and a clean environment.
We realise that in the foreseeable future most countries will continue to rely on fossil fuel, and much can be done to diminish the negative impact on the environment, including improving energy efficiency. But over the long term we will also have to reduce our dependency on fossil energy and substantially expand the share of renewables in the world energy demand.
Increased use of renewable energy offers various economic, environmental, security and reliability benefits. The basic technologies are already at hand. What is needed is an enabling policy framework and leadership. The International Financial Institutions should be encouraged to raise the profile of renewables in their lending strategies. Therefore, Iceland was pleased to hear the special representative of the World Bank to the UN announce, at the General Debate of this committee, that the Bank is developing a Clean Energy Investment framework to meet the challenge of securing affordable and cost-effective energy for growth while preserving the environment. He also said that the Bank would continue to explore financing the options to support investment in clean energy. We commend the World Bank for this initiative.
Iceland’s journey from poverty to economic growth was mostly fuelled by harnessing the country’s resources, including its renewable energy sources. Today geothermal energy and hydropower account for more that 70 percent of Icleand’s primary energy consumption. Iceland has a long-standing commitment to international cooperation on the sustainable use of energy and the Geothermal Department of the United Nations University, hosted by Iceland, has for many years been a valuable tool for the sharing of expertise with developing countries.
Madame Chair, now I briefly turn to Item 53(b) on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. We would like to thank the Secretary General for the two reports on the issue. Although much has been done to implement the Mauritius Strategy, we need to shift from framework setting into real implementation. I am pleased to see that the regional infrastructure has been strengthened and that the three SIDS regions; Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific, have all identified targets and priorities for the implementation. We look forward to receiving the outcome of their work in a consolidated format, which will undoubtedly serve as a guide to our cooperation for successful implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.
We are committed to doing our part in promoting the implementation of the Mauritius strategy. As an island state, Iceland shares many of the SIDS concerns in the area of sustainable development. There is scope for cooperation in many areas. At Mauritius, Iceland pledged one million US dollars over a three year period to support projects and programmes promoting the implementation of the strategy, which is just the beginning of a fruitful partnership and cooperation.