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Commission on Sustainable Development

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  • Commission on Sustainable Development

    The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development this morning opened its week-long session to consider policy options and possible actions to equip Governments with better tools to address energy for development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change, complex and interlinked issues unparalleled in their importance for achieving agreed development goals.

    The meeting, which kicked off with presentations from the United Nations regional commissions and major groups, and an introductory panel discussion on challenges faced by small island developing States, was convened to lay the groundwork for the Commission?s second policy segment ?- set for 30 April to 11 May. It will draw on the obstacles, lessons learned and best practices identified in those priority areas since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, and its environment-targeted Action Plan, known as ?Agenda 21?.

    Opening the preparatory meeting?s first day, Chairman of the fifteenth Commission on Sustainable Development, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry for Qatar, said that, given today?s global challenges, few were as urgent, complex and inter-linked as the four themes of the Commission?s current work cycle -- energy for sustainable development; industrial development; air pollution/atmosphere; and climate change -? ?which affect every part of our economies and every segment of our societies, and impact on the health of our planet at local, regional and global levels?.

    Further, the issues in the Commission?s current cycle posed daunting global environmental challenges, he said, noting that developing countries, including small island developing States, bore the brunt of rural and urban air pollution, as well as indoor air pollution. They also faced the greatest risks from climate change. He also stressed that industrial development could not take off without an efficient and reliable modern energy infrastructure. Lack of access to modern energy services, lack of institutional and human capacities, and limited availability of modern technologies and financial resources, were further inhibiting progress in sustainable development in many developing countries.

    Recalling that the Commission?s fourteenth session had focused on constraints and obstacles for implementing measures in those areas, he said the Intergovernmental Meeting must use the next four days to come up with policy recommendations. Going forward, the Commission must take decisions on the specific policy options and practical measures to overcome barriers and to expedite implementation, in partnership with United Nations agencies and other international and regional organizations, as well as other major groups. The fifteenth Commission should, therefore, be a forward-looking and policy-oriented session.

    [In 2003, the Commission, the key United Nations forum bringing countries together to consider ways to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development -- economic growth, social development and environmental protection -- approved a multi-year programme of work organized on the basis of seven two-year cycles, featuring different thematic clusters of issues for each cycle. The first, addressed in 2004 and 2005, was water, sanitation and human settlements. The 2008/2009 cycle will focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.]

    After Joanne Disano, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented the relevant reports of the Secretary-General that will guide the work of the meeting, representatives of the key United Nations regional negotiating blocs -? the ?Group of 77? developing countries and China and the European Union -- as well as the United States, made brief statements and highlighted their expectations for the outcome of the Intergovernmental Meeting, as well as for the fifteenth Commission session......

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    Re: Commission on Sustainable Development

    ...?A world in which one third of its population lacks access to modern energy services will not be sustainable,? he declared, adding that, when they had to trek miles to gather biomass fuels, only to suffer from health damaging pollutants, girls and women would never be truly empowered to pursue sustainable livelihoods. Moreover, when children?s reading time was cut short at dusk because of a lack of electricity, they would never reap the benefits of schooling. And, when they had only an intermittent power supply, hospitals and clinics could not provide basic medical services, not to mention maintain refrigeration as part of the ?cold chain? required for storing vaccines....

    Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry for Qatar