• Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Member State
  • Name: Iceland
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Women (7 hits), Woman (0 hits),

Full Submission


Submission by Iceland for the preparations of the Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

General Content

Although progress has been made since the Rio Summit in 1992, major challenges remain in the quest for sustainable development. The international community has an opportunity at the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development to reinvigorate the agenda set twenty years ago.

Sustainable development underpinned by the green economy will create new and better jobs and improve the lives of people, both globally and at home. We envisage a Green Economy Roadmap that reflects a broad political commitment with a set of actions at the global, national and local level. The Roadmap should include measurable indicators to assess progress. Last revision of Iceland?s National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2002), took place in 2009, placing particular emphasis on sustainable consumption and production and education on sustainable development. Iceland 2020 is a newly adopted governmental policy statement encompassing a future vision with 20 measurable macro objectives. Three objectives are directly related to sustainability and green economy; that by 2020 Iceland shall have made commitments comparable to those of other European nations with regard to the UNFCCC; that by 2020 75% of new cars under 5 tons registered in 2020 run on renewable fuels and by 2020 20% of all fuel used in transportation and fishing shall be from renewable energy sources. A motion for a Parliamentary Resolution on the Green Economy is currently under consideration by the Icelandic Parliament.

An important outcome of Rio +20 will be a commitment to implement international policy on sustainable development at the country and local level. This is best done through active engagement of governments with non-state actors and civil society, by increasing public awareness and allowing international policy to feed into national policy making and implementation at all levels. Partnerships for sustainable development need to be strengthened as stressed in Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Partnering with civil society organizations and businesses can be a productive tool for knowledge and capacity building, financing and innovation. The private sector should also be encouraged to work further towards greening their production and services.

Specific elements

The outcome of Rio + 20 must be a renewed political commitment and a shared vision for advancing sustainable development. The marine environment, renewable energy, sustainable land management and gender equality are areas that should be prioritised in this endeavour.

i. The ocean.

Economic prosperity and food security is dependent on healthy oceans. Sustainable use of living marine resources contributes substantially to human food security, as well as dietary variety. It provides for the livelihood of millions of people and is a central pillar of many national and regional economies, especially low-income food-deficit countries and Small Island Developing States.

The protection of the marine environment is one of the greatest global environmental challenges. Ocean acidification is a relatively new concern, and in a longer- term perspective it could become one of the most worrying aspects of climate change. Progress in fisheries is of particular importance to improve the living conditions of inhabitants in many developing countries. The improved management of fish stocks and improved handling of catches, together with an increase in the supply of fish from aquaculture, will improve the food security of the communities in question and create a basis for increased export revenues. Implementation of fisheries management programmes based on scientific advice is also important to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

ii. Renewable energy

Renewable energy is central to the transformation to a green economy. Renewables now provide 19% of global energy consumption, but could supply more than three quarters of the worldīs energy by 2050 if supported by strong policies.

At the Conference in Rio we should focus on the pivotal role that the world?s vast renewable energy resources can play in the green economy and that promotion of sustainable utilization of renewable energy resources should be at the core of our deliberations. Such promotion can i.a. be in the form of cooperation and sharing of scientific knowledge, or by means of financing investments and research in renewable energy projects.

Renewable energy plays an important role in eliminating energy poverty. Renewable energy technologies and supportive energy policies promise to make a significant contribution to improving living standards and health in low-income areas. Viable solutions should include increased usage of geothermal energy, which is an underutilized energy source in many developing countries. Harnessing geothermal energy resources is gaining a growing recognition and offers great possibilities in many areas, such as in Central and South America, East Africa and Southeast Asia.

iii. Sustainable land management.

Land degradation and desertification rank among the worldīs greatest environmental challenges, greatly affecting a range of issues such as climate, biodiversity, soil quality, food and water security, peace and human well-being, especially for the more vulnerable rural poor. An increased focus on land degradation and the measures needed to revert land degradation processes is therefore of key importance. It further impacts generally more rural Women than men, especially in the least developed countries where most people derive their livelihoods from self-subsistence agriculture and Women carry most of the burden of on-farm labour. Iceland proposes that the Rio +20 Summit deliver a strong message for a joint action by the international community on land management as a major aspect of advancing sustainable development.

iv. Gender issues

Mainstreaming gender perspectives into green economy policies and ensuring equal participation of men and Women in decision making at all levels is fundamental to a more inclusive outcome of sustainable development. Adequate resources have to be provided in order to ensure full and equal participation in decision-making, implementation, equal benefits, financing and access to funding. Agriculture is an example were capacity building - focusing on Women - is important for sustainable development. Women in poor countries are disproportionately involved in subsistence farming and water collection, and therefore face greater adverse consequences of environmental degradation. Finally, different roles of Women and men as consumers, not least in the developed countries has to be addressed and gendered policies must also include new behavioural patterns for both Women and men.

* * *

Over the past twenty years the international community has put in place a governance structure for sustainable development. To further strengthen this framework our main focus should be on accountability, implementation and coherence. The most feasible way forward is to improve the effectiveness of existing structures and better coordinate between all relevant institutions. The move towards a green economy aims to increase access to knowledge, improve services and develop infrastructure as a means of alleviating poverty and improving overall quality of life. The Government of Iceland has recently adopted a strategy for international development cooperation for the period 2011 ? 2014. The strategy emphasizes natural resources, human capital and peace-building. Within those areas focus is on fisheries and renewable energy, education and health, good governance and reconstruction. Furthermore, special emphasis is given to gender equality and environmental considerations as cross-cutting themes. The strategy outlines a time-bound plan for increased contribution to Official Development Assistance (ODA), thus underscoring Icelandīs commitment to the mutual responsibility of developed and developing countries to address the global challenges of sustainable development.
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