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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2011

Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Statement delivered by Juliet Hay, Counsellor, New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations, 16 December 2011

New Zealand is looking forward to Rio+20 as an opportunity to re-energise and realise our common objective of sustainable development.  For us, an ideal outcome would be a renewed political commitment to sustainable development, underpinned by agreement on focused forward looking actions.  We must not only bank the achievements made since the first Rio Conference under each pillar of sustainable development, but also update and strengthen them to reflect today’s reality and look towards to a more sustainable future for us all.

We have been asked to consider today the structure and format of the zero draft document.  There are a number of possible precedents, some of which are long and detailed.  Time is not in abundance to complete our work.  New Zealand values quality over quantity.  We need a document that will inspire us all, one that is tightly focussed on future action and concrete outcomes.  In that regard, we should be ambitious yet pragmatic.  We should be clear in our vision, yet take into account the multitude of different circumstances.  Our blueprint for the future needs to be challenging yet attainable.

This week we have heard much about creating Sustainable Development Goals, a proposal that has potential to capture the imagination at Rio.  New Zealand is open to constructive dialogue on coverage, content and measurability of possible SDGs.  Like others, we would see this as a separate process from achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which should remain a key priority.

New Zealand’s submission focused on areas where we see potential to make real and substantial differences.    

We mentioned yesterday, in the statement given on behalf of Pacific Islands Forum members, some specific concrete outcomes that we are seeking relating to oceans.  Priorities for New Zealand are commitments relating to:

To underpin these outcomes, the institutional framework for sustainable development must become more effective and efficient.  We first need a common understanding about what we want reforms to achieve.  Institutional structures should not be an end in themselves but should facilitate the achievement of objectives that the international community sets.  Form must therefore follow function.  Perhaps the zero draft could begin by identifying the elements where there is common ground in the submissions rather than suggesting a particular structure at the outset.

For instance, before supporting the creation of new structures New Zealand would want to be sure that they would result in improved policy coherence and implementation of sustainable development objectives.  We would also want to avoid the short-comings of the current international environmental governance framework which are well known.  Change –whatever form it takes- should not provide an opportunity to shelter continuing poor coordination, communication and out-dated processes.  And whatever structures we have must represent good value for money.  All stakeholders, and particularly the institutions involved, should prepare themselves to work in new and innovative ways to support sustainable development.

We look forward to working together on these issues over coming months, and to a successful conference in Rio.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT