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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2013

Second Committee of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly Agenda item 20: Sustainable Development

Statement delivered by H.E. Mr Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand 4 November 2013


Mr Chairman –

The sustainable development cluster of resolutions covers a range of diverse issues, including, this year, the modalities for two major conferences.  Our work this session is clearly framed.  We have the approaching deadline for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and – as General Assembly President, John Ashe has declared -  we must work to help “set the stage” for the post-2015 development agenda.  All that is no small task.  It is a process in which we must not lose sight of the overarching objective – what we seek to achieve is sustainable development; which, as outlined in the Secretary General’s report, means development that integrates and mainstreams all three dimensions: economic; social; and environmental. 

New Zealand welcomed the decision to hold the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2014 in Samoa, our Pacific neighbour.  It is now our collective task to make the decisions needed for the Conference itself and the associated intergovernmental preparatory process.  New Zealand is strongly committed to supporting the Conference and ensuring its success.  Its outcome will articulate concrete actions to be taken to address the special needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS and, by establishing priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS, it will also provide an important input into the post-2015 development agenda,

We have, moreover, every expectation that this, and future development conferences, will be inclusive, with full participation by states, including those that are members of specialised agencies, like the Cook Islands and Niue, as well as with full representation for relevant stakeholders including civil society.   

Disaster risk reduction is another priority for New Zealand, and so, we strongly support arrangements for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai, Japan in early 2015 to adopt a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action.  We see disaster risk reduction as a key component of the post-2015 development agenda.  Recently New Zealand suffered its own natural disasters: a series of earthquakes devastated our second largest city, and, last summer, an extreme drought was the most widespread and severe that New Zealand has experienced in nearly 70 years.  We know, first-hand, the importance of investment in preparedness and building resilience particularly at the local and national levels and we are keen to share this experience and capabilities internationally

As New Zealand continues to rebuild, our dependence on and responsibility towards the natural environment – sustainable management and conservation of both our land and our oceans – comes to the fore.  We were therefore pleased that last year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) identified a range of issues and actions required to progress sustainable development objectives, including globally important issues like fish subsidies reform. 

New Zealand continues to take positive action through our development programme to promote renewable energy, particularly in the Pacific region.  Earlier this year, with the EU, we jointly hosted the Pacific Energy Summit which mobilised donor commitments of US$525 million for more than forty renewable energy projects in Pacific SIDS.  Reform of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is another dimension of sustainable energy which New Zealand strongly supports because we believe it can unlock significant environmental, fiscal and social benefits.

In policy terms, alongside the international community New Zealand is rising to the climate change challenge.  We are taking responsibility for our emissions and, like others, we face the task of adapting to a changing climate.  We are therefore committed to doing our fair share to address climate change and will work constructively at this month’s conference in Warsaw to develop the new, comprehensive climate change agreement to apply from 2020.  New Zealand’s unconditional target under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is to reduce emissions to five per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.  To achieve this target, our domestic policy lynchpin is an extensive emissions trading scheme.  We are also working collaboratively with 39 partner countries through the Global Research Alliance, where we are researching new ways to grow more food to feed a growing global population without increasing agricultural greenhouse gases. 

Mr Chairman,

In the context of this cluster of resolutions, the many challenges we face require global solutions.  Our discussions here must seize the opportunities presented by Rio+20.  We look forward, with anticipation, and with determination, to our collective work in this cluster.

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 26 November 2013 11:59 NZDT