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TWN Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Jan14/01)
16 January 2014
Third World Network

Highlights of G77 and China statements at the OWG-SDG 7

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to hare with you the highlights of three statements by developing countries under the umbrella of the Group of 77 and China, made at the seventh session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals held on 6-10 January 2014 at the UN headquarters in New York.

The statements covered the following themes of the OWG-7:

  • Sustainable consumption and production, including chemicals and waste as one of the several key topics included in the session;
  • Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction; and
  • Sustainable cities, human settlements and sustainable transport.

The OWG is one of the key outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, tasked with preparing a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs). A total of eight meetings of the OWG comprising the “inputs” stage were scheduled through to February 2014. These meetings are based on interactive exchanges among the 30 groupings of Member States, supported by expert panellists and background papers prepared by the UN Technical Support Team.  Another 5 meetings will take place between March and July 2014 to negotiate the SDGs.

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate. The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

With best wishes,
Third World Network


Item 1

G77 calls for accelerated shift towards sustainable patterns of consumption and production (by Bhumika Muchhala)

At the outset of their statement, the G77 defined sustainable consumption and production as an overarching framework that encompasses a wider range of issues related to the way our societies and economies produce and consume, including consumer behavior, lifestyles, resource use efficiency, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation, among others.

The G77 stated that it believes achieving sustainable patterns of consumption and production is essential to the sustainable development agenda.   This view is consistent with the call made by political leaders more than twenty years ago at the 1992 Earth Summit.  Chapter 4 of Agenda 21 recognised that “the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, particularly in industralised countries,” and Principle 8 of the Rio Declaration urges states to reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.  This call was subsequently reaffirmed in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the Rio+20 Summit, which led to the adoption of the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (the “10 YFP”) in 2012 at Rio.

The G77 stressed that with a global human population projected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, and in which about 1.2 billion people currently live in extreme poverty and deprivation, there is great urgency for the present generation, to adopt sustainable production and consumption patterns that safeguard the rights of future generations. 

Current patterns in which increasing resource use, waste and pollution are undermining efforts for poverty eradication, global equity and prospects for future sustainable development must change.  Furthermore, the promotion of sound management of chemical and waste demands focused and effective action, especially, by means of capacity-building and technology transfer for developing countries.

As economies expand and populations grow, material extraction and food demand are expected to increase.  However, such an increase could be avoided if the current consumption and production patterns are changed, including the prevention of high rates of food losses and waste.

The G77 expressed deep concern on the current inequitable and severe imbalance in global consumption and call for time-bound effective implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, with developed countries taking the lead.  The 10YFP is a concrete and operational outcome of the Rio+20 Conference and is firmly based on Rio Principles, including, inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Chemical and waste management

Chemicals and waste management are closely related to sustainable consumption and production.  The release of chemicals adversely affects the atmosphere, water, soil, wildlife, our ecosystems and food chain, with serious consequences for the environment and on human health.  Waste generation on the other hand, is projected to increase from 1.3 billion tones per year today to 2.2 billion tones per year by 2025.  Such rapid increases on waste generation complicate global and national efforts for sustainable waste management. 

Some of the wastage impacts can be addressed through innovative disposals with positive economic returns.  For example, with developing countries generating approximately 50-70 per cent of organic waste, much of this waste can be used to produce energy or as fertilizers through methanisation and composting.

We welcome the implementation of several multilateral environmental agreements, including those targeting on the depletion of the ozone layer, hazardous waste, persistent organic pollutants, and those relating to the production and usage of chemicals in ways that help to minimize significant effects on human health and the environment. We note, however, that many developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and Small Island Developing States, lack the capacity for sound management of chemical and waste. 

We welcome the implementation of several multilateral environmental agreements, including those targeting on the depletion of the ozone layer, hazardous waste, persistent organic pollutants, and those relating to the production and usage of chemicals in ways that help to minimize significant effects on human health and the environment In this regard, we call upon the international community, the UN system and other development agencies to assist the efforts of developing countries to better manage chemicals and waste, including through technology transfer and capacity building.

International cooperation

The G77 stressed that embracing sustainable consumption and production policies and practices offer great opportunities for all countries to enjoy more sustainable paths of development.  To this end, enabling conditions must be created for new and innovative solutions by using a mix of regulatory and economic instruments, existing and new technologies, empowerment of stakeholders and a governance structure that entails decision-making founded upon inclusive and participatory approaches.  International cooperation on financing, innovation and technology transfer is essential to assist developing countries to progress towards sustainable development goals.

In the context of the SDGs, the G77 stated their view that the 10YFP should serve as a global cooperative framework to help accelerate the shift towards sustainable patterns of consumption and production, including sound chemical and waste management.  Making this global shift requires strong leadership from developed countries, as recognised in a number of international declarations.  With developed countries taking the lead and developing countries following a similar pattern, global collective efforts could mitigate or even reverse the damage to the global environment, thereby preserving a sustainable future for future generations.+


Item 2

G77 on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

The Group of 77 (G77) and China stressed the importance of global efforts to strengthen action on climate change and disaster risk reduction as part of the international sustainable development agenda.

The Group underscored that the international community, particularly the developed countries, given their historical responsibility, need to take the lead in addressing the climate change challenge within the UNFCCC and its principles and provisions, particularly, the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and provide financial and technology support to developing countries. 

The G77 and China also reiterated their view that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the primary inter-governmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. 

At the outset of their statement, the G77 stated that climate change and disaster risk are serious threats to poverty eradication and sustainable development, and for many developing countries, climate change and disaster risk represent one of the biggest threats to food security in the 21st century.  Developing countries are facing significant risks from the adverse impacts of climate change, and are already experiencing increased impacts, including persistent drought and extreme weather events, massive flooding, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, glacial retreat, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, desertification and ocean acidification.

Their impacts are already causing disruptions in the livelihoods in many parts of the world, particularly for those that are dependent on predictable weather and arable land.  For small island developing states for instance, climate change and sea level rise represents the gravest of threats to their survival and viability, including for some the loss of territory. 

The G77 stated deep concern over the fact that over 226 million people globally are affected on average by disaster associated with natural hazards every year.  While hazards are natural, disasters are preventable.  The scientific community demonstrates that the current drivers of risk are linked to poor policies and practices in land-use planning, governance, urbanisation, natural resource management, ecosystem management as well as increasing poverty levels. 

In light of the evidence available, the G77 recognizes that the current model of development needs to be realigned to the changing world in order to address climate change and disaster risk reduction.  It must be a model that is inclusive, equitable, risk sensitive, adaptive and disaster resilient.

Climate change and disaster risk reduction

With regard to climate change, the G77 reiterated its view that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the primary international, inter-governmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. 

The Group’s central position on climate change is the following: “The international community, particularly the developed countries, given their historical responsibility, need to take the lead in addressing the climate change challenge within the UNFCCC and its principles and provisions, particularly, the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and provide financial and technology support to developing countries.”

To mitigate damage from climate change and to reduce disaster risk, the G77 called for the fulfilment of climate-related and environmental commitments by developed countries, in particular those under the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, as well as all commitments made under the various sustainable development frameworks applicable to developing countries, including the MDGs.

Development partners were called upon to honour their commitments made through the Cancun Agreement at the 16th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC.   These commitments include a work programme on Loss and Damage; a Technology Mechanism; and the establishment of the Green Climate Fund which developed countries have expressed broad agreement to mobilise 100 billion US dollars per year both for adaptation and mitigation by 2020.

The G77 stated the urgency of climate change negotiations in accordance with the principles and provisions of the climate change convention.  It is important to ensure coherence between climate negotiations and other inter-governmental agreements such as a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action.  In the context of the SDGs, due consideration should be given to a global goal and targets to address disaster risk and resilience in the context of sustainable development.

Disaster risk reduction

The G77 underscored the importance of global efforts to strengthen action on climate change and disaster risk reduction as part of the international sustainable development agenda. The climate change challenges are multi-dimensional while disaster risk reduction is cross-cutting, both of which are intricately linked to different elements of the three dimensions of sustainable development. 

To address climate change and build resilience to disaster and climate impacts, the international community should embrace a multi-stakeholder, multi-sector approach within the global development agenda.  This requires coordinated policies and actions across all sectors and at all levels of decision-making with all aspects of sustainable development. +

In conclusion, the G77 recognized the inter-relationship between climate change, loss of biodiversity and desertification and the need to intensify efforts to combat desertification and promote sustainable land management, and stress the need for enhanced cooperation and coordination among the Secretariats of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, UNFCCC and the Convention on Biological Diversity, while respecting their individual mandates.  

All Parties were called upon to fully support the implementation of these Conventions in all their aspects, including the promotion of the exchange of knowledge on best practices and lessons learned from global and regional cooperation.+
 


Item 3

G77 statement on sustainable cities, human settlements and sustainable transport

The Group of 77 (G77) and China stressed that the way in which the multi-dimensional challenges of urban development are addressed will be of paramount importance to the post-2015 development agenda. 

Central to urban development is the improvement of the lives of slum dwellers, including access to basic urban services, inclusive housing, job opportunities and the creation of a safe and healthy living environment for all city dwellers, which also entails strengthening urban resilience and adaptation.  The challenge of sustainable transportation calls for serious actions to implement paragraph 133 of the Johannesburg Plan of Action for the development of 'sustainable transport systems, including energy efficient multi-modal transport systems, notably public mass transportation systems, clean fuels and vehicles, as well as improved transportation systems in rural areas'.

At the outset of their statement, the G77 stated that in light of the fact that humanity is now half urban, with projections that some 70% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, sustainable cities and human settlement will be a major development challenge over the next several decades. 

The rural-urban drift will occur largely in developing countries such as Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the bulk of extreme poverty is concentrated.    The grim reality of approximately one billion people living in urban slums highlights the gravity of the challenges.  Poor people living in slum houses in unhealthy environments, which co-exist with modern high-rise buildings in many developing countries, is a stark contrast that depicts poverty and inequality - two important issues that should have priority in the post-2015 development agenda.  

With the overarching objective of poverty eradication in the post-2015 development agenda, the G77 calls on Governments and UN-Habitat agenda partners to use planned city extension methodologies to guide the sustainable development of cities experiencing rapid urban growth, in order to prevent slum proliferation, enhance access to basic urban services, support inclusive housing, enhance job opportunities and create a safe and healthy living environment for all city dwellers. 

At the 2012 Rio+20 Summit, political leaders recognised the importance of sustainable cities and sustainable development as essential to poverty eradication and moving to a sustainable future.  The G77 stated that it is possible for the world’s cities to promote the three dimensions of sustainable development resulting in the creation of sustainable cities and urbanisation, if well-planned and developed through a holistic approach, integrating proper planning and management. 

Cities are the primary engines of economic activity, growth, development, research and innovation.  With urban areas set to expand and be built by 60% before 2030, cities also represent unparalleled opportunities to transform the social and economic fabric of nations.  However, if current trends continue with the 'business as usual' approach where many local governments and cities are in general not well equipped, are under-resourced and disempowered to address emerging urban challenges, many countries do not stand to reap the benefits of sustainable urban development. 

How the SDGs address the multi-dimensional challenges of urban development in order to improve the lives of slum dwellers, provide access to basic services, including infrastructure services, how they protect local and regional ecosystems, and strengthen urban resilience and adaptation is all of paramount importance to the post-2015 development agenda.

The G77 believes that policies and development efforts targeted at poverty eradication must be responsive to the challenges as well as opportunities of sustainable development at both international and national levels.  In the context of sustainable cities and urbanisation, it is important that all UN organisations, including the international community, financial institutions, UN-Habitat agenda partners and all relevant stakeholders play a constructive role in assisting developing countries to address the multiple challenges facing cities. 

It is imperative that adequate resources are mobilised and allocated for the attainment of development goals such as those highlighted in the Habitat Agenda, the MDGs and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation relevant to human settlements, as well as relevant commitments contained in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled 'the future we want'. 

Governance for sustainable urban development and human settlement

Sustainable urban development and human settlement require transformative policies at multiple levels of governance.  It requires a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder approach that engages all relevant stakeholders.  In this regard, we call for new modalities of interaction between nations at the international level, as well as between central and local governments at the national level, in order to fulfil their respective roles as governmental stakeholders in global efforts on sustainability. 

Other non-state actors such as the private sector, civil society, foundations, academia, regional and global networks of cities also play important complementary roles in ensuring the sustainable development of cities which are responsive to the needs of their citizens.  At the local level, city planners should tackle urban development challenges through inclusive policies that favour people-centred objectives and participatory decision-making that include the disadvantaged and marginalised members of society.

Natural resources and sustainable cities

As cities remain large-scale consumers of water, energy and natural and processed products as well as significant generators of greenhouse gas emission and waste, the future sustainability of cities in a world of resource scarcity demand our urgent attention and appropriate responses. 

The greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector are growing faster than any other sector and are estimated to increase from one quarter today to one-third of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.  Outdoor air pollution, with the transport sector as a major contributor, is estimated to result in more than 3.2 million premature deaths annually.  Many cities in all regions of the world have serious traffic congestions resulting in major impacts on economic development and human mobility.

All these challenges call for our serious actions to implement paragraph 133 of the Johannesburg Plan of Action for the development of 'sustainable transport systems, including energy efficient multi-modal transport systems, notably public mass transportation systems, clean fuels and vehicles, as well as improved transportation systems in rural areas'.   

Transport infrastructure projects should not only focus on highways but include dedicated bus lanes for rapid transit systems, and integrate safe walking and cycling facilities when building or upgrading urban roads. A sustainable society and a healthier environment is possible if we shift towards a more sustainable transport path and move away from our dependence on individual car use to greater utilisation of public transport and other environmental-friendly modes of transport.

The G77 also proclaimed 31 October of every year, beginning in 2014, as World Cities Day, which will raise global awareness on the importance of sustainable cities and human settlement, as well as the need for sustainable transport.  The G77 anticipates the outputs of the World Urban Forum to be held in Medellin, Colombia in April 2014, and welcome the offer by the Government of Ecuador to host the UN-Habitat III conference in Quito in 2016.

 


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