New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to make a statement covering the Environment and Sustainable Development cluster. Ahead of us over the next two years will be some significant milestones in our global quest for sustainable development. As a General Assembly, through this cluster of items we should give clear direction, identify priorities and signal the relevance of environment and sustainable development to our own communities and countries and to the international community at large.
This General Assembly, and this Committee in particular, has the important task of agreeing on the manner in which we prepare for the ten year review of the Rio Earth Summit. Time is already short, and we must be clear on what needs to be done, now, at this session. We must agree on the arrangements for the preparatory process. New Zealand supports the proposal made in the Secretary- General's report that the tenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development should be the preparatory committee for the ten year review. We strongly believe that this process must be open and participatory .It must have input from local communities, from a national perspective and from the sub-regional and regional level. It must not be driven from the top, but fuelled by the ideas and concerns of those who live and work in our local communities. We must agree on where and when the review will be held. New Zealand supports an event with the highest level of participation possible to enable us to show a renewed political commitment to sustainable development. We believe that the event is best held in a developing country location. We look to those who have offered to host the summit to reach agreement on a common position and then present this to the Committee in a united manner
A major challenge for us is to reach agreement on how the ten year review will deal with the myriad of environment and sustainable development challenges we are facing. New Zealand believes that our work will be best facilitated by taking a cross sectoral approach. We must look forward to see what we need to do to fully implement Agenda 21, identify the obstacles and find and share the solutions, partnerships and innovative mechanisms to solve them. We must also identify new challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable development, and begin to map out our global response to them. Above all we must leave no one, politician or person in the street, in doubt as to the importance of meeting the challenges of sustainable development. This will require us to identify clear, focused media friendly messages in the preparatory process that will explain why we are meeting in 2002 and why a positive outcome is crucial for us all.
The more immediate milestone of significance will be the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to begin on 13th November in The Hague. It is our hope, and indeed our expectation, that COP6 will reach agreement on sufficient issues to enable developed countries to move to firm commitments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Certainly New Zealand will be working hard with others to ensure this is the outcome and, if so, New Zealand will work to ratify the protocol by the time of the Rio+l0 Summit.
New Zealand is committed to playing our part in implementing the commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. We recognise that to meet these commitments developed and developing countries alike, especially those with a large share of greenhouse gas emissions, have to acknowledge that the protocol reaches to the heart of economic activity , in particular to our addiction to fossil fuels. COP6 will give us the opportunity to see if we can reach beyond our addiction and the comfort it bestows on us and find a sustainable solution for future generations. Certainly a major challenge of COP6 will be to get the balance right between the need of the protocol to have clear and unequivocal environmental integrity while enabling economic development to move ahead, for all countries, not just the rich and powerful.
In the end COP6 will be a true test of political commitment to the Protocol and to moving beyond the traditional positions which regions and groups bring to these negotiations. We have faith that this will happen and entry into force of the Protocol in 2002 will, as the Secretary-General has said, be a fitting celebration of how far we have come in the last ten years.
Mr Chairman, while all nations are affected by climate change, none are more demonstrably so than Small Island Developing States. SIDS are vulnerable both environmentally and economically, and New Zealand strongly supports work of a number of organisations to ensure that this is properly recognised in developmental decision making, including in the criteria for establishing the list of least developed countries. In this regard we are pleased to continue to support the work of the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission on the development of an environmental vulnerability index. The re- commitment to implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action which was made last year at the twenty-second Special Session of the General Assembly must now be matched with action by the international community to support the development efforts of SIDS. New Zealand continues to accord high priority to assisting SIDS, particularly those in the Pacific region, to overcome their vulnerability and isolation and achieve sustainable development.
Mr Chairman, I am pleased to inform this Committee that at the Millennium Summit the New Zealand Prime Minister signed the instrument of accession to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, rectifying a gap in New Zealand's commitment to supporting sustainable development. We look forward to attending the Convention' s fourth meeting of the conference of the parties in December. New Zealand was also pleased to be an early signatory to the Cartagena Protocol, and we look forward to the work of the ICCP in December. We would also like to express our strong support for the improvements being made in the operations of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In particular, the efforts being made to improve the scientific and technical work of the Convention, and to prioritise the work in meetings. New Zealand looks forward to seeing the Convention make major progress in its technical and implementation work during 200 1, and is committed to actively supporting this essential UN work.
New Zealand continues to believe that a key to our success in meeting the challenges of sustainable development lies in coordination and cooperation between the various conventions, and we will join with other delegations again this year in seeking to emphasise this point through the resolution on complementarities between environmental instruments.
There are many other issues to mention, but in the interests of time, we would like to end on a note that shows what can be achieved when we work together. 2000 has seen the first meeting of the informal consultative process on Oceans, as proposed by the Commission on Sustainable Development last year and agreement, just yesterday, to establish the UN Forum on Forests. In both these examples the UN has shown the ability to take the lead in establishing processes to assess and work on these vital sectors in an integrated and coherent manner. It is with leadership such as this tha1 the UN can playa crucial role in protecting our environment and achieving sustainable development for all.