Allow me first to thank the Secretary-General for his report on ways and means of ensuring effective preparations for the 10-year review of Agenda 21 (A/55/120).
It is important that the agenda for the Ten-year review is forward-looking, taking stock of the situation with regard to the commitments from Rio and identifying the main challenges, but first and foremost identifying the most promising solutions, in the form of both strategy and practical examples of successful actions and policies that we can learn from and emulate. Such examples could be highlighted as "seeds of hope", not to avoid a frank assessment of the obstacles to progress, but in order to focus the debate on how we can overcome those obstacles.
The agenda should take into account the changes in the international system in the last decade, in particular accelerated rate of globalisation and the spread of new technologies. This should not distract the attention from a focus on sustainable development. Rio + 10 should produce a renewed commitment to the Rio-process and to sustainable development. This renewed commitment needs to be clearly communicated in a statement.
To maintain a clear focus on the key issues ahead of us we suggest to focus on broad themes that are recognized as the main challenges we face. There should not be a too narrow focus on specific issues or parts of Agenda 21. This is the role of the annual sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development.
The focus can be based on the three pillars of sustainable development, the social, economic and environmental, and new thinking in these fields that has emerged or been developed further in the last decade.
The first challenge or
focus area we suggest is: "Fighting poverty -raising the quality of
Poverty is the most pressing ethical, economic and environmental challenge we face today. Hundred of millions of people face severe malnutrition, many of them outright starvation. Basic environmental needs such as clean water and sanitation are denied much of mankind. We should focus the debate on poverty on some of the basic qualities of life, such as a secure supply of healthy food, clean water and air, and basic sanitation, and how these can be brought to everyone.
The second focus we
suggest is: "Resource efficiency: Decoupling economic growth from
One of the most promising developments in environmental and economic policy since Rio has centred around the ideas of resource efficiency or eco-efficiency, and the decoupling of economic growth from negative environmental impact. There is evidence that resource efficiency is increasing in many fields, and many countries and institutions are developing policy-relevant indicators to help them to escalate this trend. This is a crucial development in translating the basic ideology of sustainable development into concrete policy instruments. The greatest challenge in this area is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases while maintaining economic growth.
The third focus we
suggest is: "Maintaining functional integrity of ecosystems".
Mankind is dependent for its livelihood on a range of ecosystem services. Ecosystems and biodiversity is threatened by habitat fragmentation, persistent chemicals and overexploitation. Sustainable development puts human needs at the centre, as opposed to older approaches to environmental protection, that sought primarily to minimize human influence on nature. Sustainable development does not, however, imply that nature is not central to our efforts. Conserving biodiversity, habitats and wilderness should be a priority alongside f1ghting poverty and improving the quality of life. We need to focus on new innovative strategies to turn wilderness and biodiversity into assets to conserve, rather than spoils to exploit.
Finally Mr. Chairman,
Iceland supports holding Rio + 10 in a venue outside UN premises, in a