New Zealand
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Member State
  • Name: New Zealand
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Marine environment (1 hits),

Full Submission


New Zealand welcomes this opportunity to make a submission on the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. We look forward to engaging with other stakeholders through the process of consideration of a focused, action- oriented outcome document.

New Zealand has not sought to comment on every element of the sustainable development agenda in this submission. Rather, we have focused on our top priority issues for the purposes of this document.

New Zealand is currently Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum. The annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders? meeting in Auckland in September 2011 contained a number of themes that are of direct relevance to Rio+20. We have highlighted several in this submission. The relevant outcomes of the Forum meeting will also be relayed separately to inform the Rio+20 process of the priorities of the Pacific region.

Expectations for the outcome of Rio+20 and preference for the format of the outcome document

New Zealand notes that the objective of Rio+20 is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.

Accordingly, New Zealand envisages Rio+20 producing a short, focussed outcome document containing implementable political outcomes. We wish to see an emphasis on political commitments and actions to achieve them.

Working within that context New Zealand wishes to highlight a number of priority areas which it regards as strong candidates for international agreement and action.

Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

New Zealand considers pursuit of a green economy to be a pragmatic approach, not a new paradigm ? it is as much about how we grow as it is about how much we grow. New Zealand supports mutually reinforcing environmental, social and economic policy that makes the most of opportunities to develop new industries, jobs and technologies to clean up polluting sectors, seek efficiencies in resource use and transform consumption patterns. New Zealand does not consider that it is desirable or possible to take a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving a green economy. A flexible approach to the green economy will allow countries to implement polices and activities suitable to their own national context. It is vital that the pursuit of a green economy avoid trade distorting measures and imposing new, green, barriers to trade.

Oceans and Marine Living Resources : The?Blue Economy?:

For us, and for other Pacific Island Forum countries, a crucial element of the ?green economy? is the ?blue economy?. Capitalising on the potential of our oceans is crucial for the future of the Pacific and the livelihoods of its peoples. In the Waiheke Declaration on Sustainable Economic Development of September 2011, Pacific Islands Forum leaders recommitted to pursuing a goal of ensuring a sustainable economic environment for all.

In September 2011, PIF Leaders noted the region?s unique dependency on the Pacific Ocean as the basis for their livelihoods, food security and economic development. New Zealand as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) reiterates the PIF Leaders? call for the Rio+20 conference to recognise the significant global value and contribution of the Pacific Ocean to sustainable development, and to acknowledge the stewardship of Pacific Island Countries.

New Zealand also reiterates the PIF call for the international community to work towards integrated oceans management, for which the Pacific Oceanscape1 could be a model, with the aim of realising relevant international goals to contribute to the health and vitality of the ocean environment, and the maximisation of returns to Small Island Developing States from the sustainable use of ocean resources.

Health of the Oceans:

New Zealand strongly supports the completion of the first global integrated assessment of the state of the Marine environment (Regular Process for the Global Marine Assessment) by 2014, which was mandated by the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and calls for adequate resourcing for the first assessment. New Zealand emphasises the importance of the Regular Process for the Global Marine Assessment as a credible, robust process and calls for a commitment to an ongoing process of assessments after 2014. New Zealand calls on states to take account of the Regular Process for the Global Marine Assessment outcomes and act upon them in formulating national, regional and global oceans policy. We note ongoing concern about ocean acidification and other climate change effects on the oceans especially in the Pacific region.

Sustainable fisheries management including greater return to small island developing states from their fisheries resources:

New Zealand emphasises that generating greater returns from sustainable fisheries is a high priority for the Pacific. Support for sustainable development of Pacific fisheries and securing a greater proportion of returns for Pacific Island countries and territories are key themes of New Zealand?s Pacific fisheries engagement, in terms of our participation in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and our development assistance.

New Zealand urges renewed commitment to improved oceans governance, including adherence to the key principles of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, including a reinforcement of the precautionary approach. We recognise the important link between fisheries and food security. We call on RFMOs dealing with highly migratory

1 The Framework for Pacific Oceanscape was agreed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in

August 2010.

species to continue to coordinate among themselves to develop and adopt best practice in the conservation and management of these species and their ecosystems. We also call on RFMOs dealing with straddling stocks and on coastal states to cooperate in the sustainable management of stocks. We underline the need for quality, targeted and better-resourced science and for RFMO decisions to be made on the basis of that science. New Zealand also urges a focus on improved fisheries management within Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). This would involve analysis of and emphasis on fisheries sustainability within EEZs (which is where more than 90% of global fishing takes place). States must also take action to ensure their management of fisheries within their EEZs faithfully implements the UNCLOS requirement to conserve and manage fisheries resources, in accordance with international commitments.

Fisheries subsidies:

New Zealand believes that Rio+20 must address harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, and impact negatively on sustainable development. Fisheries subsidies can undermine fisheries management decisions, contribute to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, create perverse economic incentives which impact on the long term sustainability of global fisheries, and add pressure on the last remaining, not fully exploited fisheries. Ultimately the impacts of subsidies will fall most heavily on countries and communities that depend on fisheries resources for livelihoods, development and employment. In this context, as a complement to ongoing WTO negotiations, countries should re-commit at Rio+20 to eliminate subsidies which contribute to overcapacity, as well as subsidies for activities that affect already overfished stocks, and subsidies for vessels and enterprises found to be engaged in IUU fishing. Countries should also undertake to pursue further unilateral or plurilateral reform of subsidies that contribute to overfishing, commit to significant improvement in the transparency of current subsidy programmes, and consider greater accountability for non-notification.

Marine Conservation and Marine Protected Areas:

New Zealand reaffirms the importance of creating, based on sound science, an environmentally sound, representative network of Marine Protected Areas that advance biodiversity. We recall the international commitment, by 2020, for at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, to be conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascapes. We endorse ongoing work to identify and protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU):

New Zealand urges the international community to take effective measures against IUU fishing including: increased monitoring, control and surveillances measures; commitment by the flag state to enforce RFMO and coastal state measures against their vessels, including full compliance with reporting obligations; implementation of port state measures, including ratification of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement and development of RFMO IUU vessel blacklists; implementation of clear and equitable market measures, including the development of appropriate catch certification schemes and international standards for fisheries product certification; and encouraging states to

take action against those responsible for IUU fishing, including their own companies and nationals. We urge governments, industry and NGOs to work together to combat IUU fishing. We call for the IMO and FAO to continue their joint work on flags of convenience. We reiterate the importance for the Pacific region of actions to combat IUU fishing and improve monitoring, control and surveillance, and recognise progress to this end, including under the Niue Treaty.

Reform of inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies:

A key impediment to the successful transition towards a green economy is the existence of perverse incentives that continue to encourage practices harmful to the environment and which inhibit new sources of economic growth.

One of the key commitments in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development Johannesburg Plan of Implementation was to ?remove [energy] market distortions including the restructuring of taxes and the phasing out of harmful subsidies?.

In 2009, under the leadership of G20 and APEC Leaders, this issue received attention again. Since then G20 and APEC, together representing 54 economies2, have repeatedly recognised that subsidies for fossil fuels encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change. The Report of the Secretary-General?s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing found that freeing up fossil fuel subsidies in developed countries alone could raise up to $8 billion/year that could potentially be redirected to climate change finance.

G20 and APEC Leaders have committed to rationalise and phase-out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, while recognising the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services (through targeted case transfers and other appropriate mechanisms, for example).

In addition, the 2011-2020 Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan, agreed in Nagoya in 2010, calls for the removal, phase out, or reform by 2020 of incentives, including subsidies, that are harmful to biodiversity.

New Zealand acknowledges the leadership shown by G20 and APEC economies. New Zealand believes that Rio+20 should join these other international efforts to reform inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term, while mitigating adverse impacts on vulnerable groups.

New Zealand urges Rio+20 to extend to all UN members the G20 and APEC commitments to phase out over the medium term, inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and undermine sustainable development, while mitigating adverse impacts on vulnerable groups, to all Rio+20 Parties. Mechanisms to support such a commitment should include regular reporting of expenditures and actions taken to reduce subsidies; technical assistance underpinned by research and development; and the sharing of tools needed to achieve reform.

2 19 members of the G20 plus the EU Presidency, which represents an additional 23 European countries, plus 12 member economies of APEC (in addition to those G20 members of APEC already counted).

An outcome from Rio+20 in this area would complement and build on the commitments made by G20 and APEC leaders. A Rio+20 outcome on inefficient fossil fuel subsidy reform would help address a current impediment to green growth.

New Zealand is working with the other members of the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform group to highlight the potential climate, economic, trade and energy security benefits of fossil fuel subsidy reform and support the G20 implement their commitments.


New Zealand sees access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy as essential for sustainable economic development, including in our own region the Pacific. In the Pacific, there is an extraordinarily high dependence on imported fossil fuel for transport and electricity needs. Projects to reduce this dependency have the potential to improve energy security, provide greater access to energy services, and decrease vulnerability to price volatility - all of which are positive for sustainable economic growth. New Zealand is supporting the Pacific region in actively exploring enhanced use of renewable energy sources for electricity generation, including solar, wind, hydro power, bio-energy, and geothermal energy, including through fast start finance contributions. Enhanced energy efficiency measures are a fundamental part of this ongoing work.

New Zealand strongly supports the Secretary General?s initiative to achieve the goal of Sustainable Energy for All by 2030 through three interlinked targets3. We see access to clean and affordable energy as a key element of sustainable economic development.

A comprehensive, planned approach is required to develop the energy sector. In this respect the use of "energy roadmaps" pulling together country-specific information, including the availability of energy resources, current and future energy use, distribution and transmission constraints, proposed improvements, policies, targets and regulatory issues, can provide a robust framework for donors and partners to coordinate their development efforts, including financing. New Zealand would encourage more widespread use of energy roadmaps as part of the broader consideration of sustainable development at Rio+20.

Sustainable agriculture

For New Zealand and for many other Pacific Islands Forum members, immense potential rests in our productive sectors, including sustainable agriculture. Capitalising on this potential is crucial for the future of the Pacific and the livelihoods of its peoples.

New Zealand believes that efforts to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions must not compromise global food security. New Zealand has been a lead voice in calling for greater international attention to, and investment in, agriculture greenhouse gas mitigation research and better coordination of efforts. To this end, New Zealand launched the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases in

3 - achieving universal access to modern energy services; improving energy efficiency by 40 percent; and producing 30 percent of the world?s energy from renewable sources.

December 2009 in the margins of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over 30 countries, spanning all continents, are now members of the Alliance.

The Alliance is focused on research, development and extension of technologies and practices that will help deliver ways to grow more food (and more climate-resilient food systems) without growing greenhouse gas emissions. The Alliance seeks to deepen and broaden existing networks of agriculture mitigation research and build new ones; enhance scientific capacities; increase international investment; improve understanding and measurement of agricultural emissions; and improve access to and application of agricultural mitigation technologies and best practices. The Alliance invites new members and partner organisations to support this vitally important work for the benefit of all countries.

Fresh Water Resources

New Zealand considers the issue of wise management of water resources to be critical for sustainable development. In the Pacific and particularly for those living on small islands the availability of a safe and reliable supply of fresh water for both potable use and for agriculture is a critical issue. In many cases it is the limiting factor in agriculture development and the supply is precarious at best and unseasonal periods without rain can cause severe shortages (as is occurring at present in Tuvalu, Tokelau, and the outer islands of the Cook Islands). Population growth, development pressures and climate change are making the situation more unstable and less reliable. Options for increasing supply are very limited as many islands have no surface water sources and very limited ground water sources and are required to depend on rain water collection.

Institutional framework for sustainable development

There are various proposals for structural changes to the United Nations? institutional framework, some of which are potentially far-reaching. Before embarking on change it is necessary to have agreement on the objective - what are we trying to achieve? New Zealand considers that form should follow function, that is, the institutional structures should not be an end in themselves but should enable achievement of the objectives set by the international community.

The UN?s institutional framework for sustainable development has two main functions: to set international norms relating to sustainable development and to assist countries with implementation. It is timely to review the effectiveness of the current framework. We recall that the 2005 Millennium Summit outcome document flagged the need to explore system wide coherence in relation to environmental activities. This is relevant for all the pillars of sustainable development.

In reviewing the institutional framework for sustainable development, it is necessary to consider the following elements:

- effective policy integration of the three pillars of sustainable development at all levels (ie aspects of each should be considered in the development of policies

for the other.)

- closer cooperation and coordination between and among institutions;

- avoidance of overlap and duplication;

- continuation of the principles of partnership at multiple levels arising from the

Rio Declaration and Agenda 21;

- good value for money for member states and effective delivery of assistance;

- adequate resourcing;

- monitoring results (in particular, the effectiveness of development assistance).

New Zealand does not want to prejudge the final format of the institutional framework, particularly on the question of intergovernmental bodies. New Zealand?s preference has to date been to focus on pragmatic reform of existing institutions, rather than larger-scale institutional change, ensuring that reforms are practical, achievable and effective at the national level. We would look, however, to apply the elements listed above to any proposals. Further, it will be important that States have a full understanding of the financial, legal and comparative advantages of all proposals for structural reform.

New Zealand is a strong supporter of the Delivering as One initiative, considering a unified and coherent UN structure at the country level is beneficial both for the UN system and the country concerned. In our view, the pilots have worked well as they have reduced waste and improved delivery on the ground and demonstrably supported national strategies, institutions and systems to achieve the particular government?s development goals. The initiative should be expanded and applied to sustainable development generally.

Sustainable development goals

New Zealand is interested in the proposal that Rio+20 consider a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). New Zealand considers the proposal to have some merits and would support further development of the concept. It would be important that the focus of the SDGs be tightly defined. We consider it important that any process established should not detract from the continuing collective international effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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