- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Member State
- Submission Document: Download
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Submission by Egypt for the draft compilation document for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD 2012), Rio+20
Twenty years after the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio, much has been done to address the challenges related to the achievement of sustainable development. However, many of the challenges still exist, others have grown more acute and new issues have emerged.
We have been addressing at length the causes & implications of the global challenges & crises that are still hampering growth & development and in spite of our efforts & sporadic positive signs, the prospects for the future are still daunting.
It is evident that something is not working properly, and we all need to reflect on how to redirect the helm of multilateral action into the right direction so as to succeed in making the transition to a more resilient world economy, one that is effectively based on sustainable development.
A careful consideration of the challenges facing us reveal that a more integrated approach is needed to confront them. One that recognizes their interlinkages, avoids dealing with them in separate tracks and incorporates the economic, environmental & social aspects, so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.
Rio+20 conference should offer the opportunity to assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in implementation, thereby allowing us to learn from past mistakes and translate the concept of sustainable development into concrete actions at all levels. while the 1992 Rio Conference laid the foundation of the concept of sustainable development, we look forward that the Rio+20 Conference will launch the era of sustainable development through the elaboration of an international , long term action oriented agenda that would include the establishment of clear mechanisms for the implementation of commitments that will take into consideration the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and take a supportive approach towards developing countries and an effective enforcement approach towards developed countries.
As the lack of integration of the sustainable development dimensions, and the lack of implementation of sustainable development commitments, were both identified as the major obstacles to achieving sustainable development, the Rio+20 Conference should focus on both, integration and implementation of sustainable development and give it due and full consideration.
The Conference should identify a framework of action focused on implementation and full integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, in order to achieve tangible outcomes.
Objective of the Conference
The objective of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD Rio+20 2012), is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.
1- Securing renewed political commitment
Based on the outcome of international negotiations within different fields of sustainable development, there are alarming signals on the lack of political commitment to achieve sustainable development.
In this respect, the reluctance of developed countries to adhere to their commitments as well as to the previously agreed principles & objectives in the economic, social and environmental fields is a major source of concern. Also their attempts to renegotiate those commitments agreed by consensus, as have been witnessed in recent intergovernmental processes, are alarming. This puts into question their political commitment to sustainable development. Developed countries must fulfill all their obligations towards developing countries.
The renewed political commitment in Rio should lead to the full implementation of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (?Johannesburg Plan of Implementation?) and should fully support national efforts to achieve sustainable development in particular eradication of poverty and food security. Poverty eradication cannot be achieved without the collective commitments and efforts of the international community.
2- Assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development
Rio+20 Conference should renew and strengthen the political commitment needed to achieve what we have agreed to back in Rio in 1992, and in all major summits on sustainable development. Indeed, time has changed and the situation in which we are now is different than the one that was 20 years ago. But we have to recognize that the agreed upon objectives in the context of sustainable development have not been fulfilled.
This is an additional reason to implement the job that has not yet been done, and develop, along the road, new solutions to the new and emerging challenges. In order to have a forward looking vision, we need to take stock of past experiences and to understand what went wrong so that the agreed upon sustainable development commitments were not fully implemented, before engaging in discussions on new ideas or concepts.
The overall gap in implementation is overwhelming. This gap has been incremental since the Rio Summit in 1992, through the Review Conference on the further implementation of Agenda 21 in 1997 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The main reasons for the implementation gap are the shortcomings in the fulfillment of commitments regarding the provision of financial and technological means of implementation.
Detailed information on the delivery of ODA, including the comparison between actual delivery and declared pledges is important to assess progress in implementation. Measurement, reporting and verification of financial and technological support are indispensable to address the shortcomings in a consistent manner.
Developed countries that have not yet done so, are urged to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for ODA; including 0.15 to 0.2 per cent of their gross national product to least developed countries. In order to meet agreed commitments and targets, it is important that developed countries establish clear and transparent timetables within their national budget allocation processes to reach the level of at least 0.5% for ODA for developing countries as well as 0.15% to 0.2% of GNP for ODA to LDCs, as urgently as possible, taking into account that the 2010 deadline was not fulfilled by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015, at the latest.
Also the commitment to doubling aid to Africa by 2010 as articulated at the summit of Gleneagles was not entirely reached and in this regard there is a need to make rapid progress in order to fulfill the Gleneagles and other donors' commitments.
3- Addressing new and emerging issues and challenges
Simultaneous actions to address the challenges related to all three pillars of sustainable development in a coordinated, integrated and balanced manner are needed, recognizing human beings are at the centre of concerns of sustainable development.
Egypt reaffirms the urgent need to address persistent and emerging sustainable development challenges, such as poverty eradication, job creation, food and energy crises and the challenges related to the limit and unsustainable use of resources, climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, drought and desertification, land degradation, population dynamics and urbanization, water and sanitation. All of these crises and challenges have significant and, in some cases, unforeseen impacts on developing countries, undermining their efforts to achieve the MDG.
In addition to these challenges, the imbalance between developing and developed countries with respect to international economic affairs is increasing. Therefore, the Rio+20 Conference could provide a good opportunity to address this imbalance, and deal with the question of equity on international level.
Furthermore, the current major challenge for developing countries is the impacts from the multiple crises, particularly the ongoing economic and financial crisis, food crisis, energy crisis, as well as the challenges related to climate change. The economic repercussions of these multiple crisis and challenges have aggravated poverty, social exclusion, increased unequal distribution of income and wealth, and undermined efforts to implement sustainable development.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and developing countries are particularly vulnerable to and are experiencing increased negative impacts from climate change. This is severely undermining food and water security, efforts to eradicate poverty, sustainable development. In this regard, all States need to fully implement the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in accordance with the Convention?s principles, particularly the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
Of particular concern, is the state of play regarding the financing aspects for the global efforts to address climate change. The developed countries should commit to implement the Cancun decision with regard to fast start finance, transitional and long term finance. Egypt is deeply concerned at the phenomena of the creation of empty shells, and of attempts to shift the burden of financing to the private sector. While the latter is naturally a complement to public sources of finance, it cannot become a substitute for them. It is also disturbing that many attempts to impose unilateral measures that increase the hardship on developing countries and represent a total disregard to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities are being undertaken. Moreover, the barriers created based on intellectual property rights are hindering the transfer of the needed technologies to the developing countries.
In order to address the impacts of these challenges, developing countries need a facilitated and direct access to the means of implementation, and developed countries should ensure providing developing countries with adequate, new and additional, predictable and sustainable means of support, in particular regarding finance and technology transfer.
There is a need for access of developing countries to technologies. Developing countries would also need to have access to the know-how and expertise required for the effective utilization of these technologies to achieve sustainable development. Effective mechanisms, enhanced means, appropriate enabling environments and the removal of obstacles to the scaling up of the development and transfer of technology to developing countries are all essential in this regard.
The Rio+20 Conference should consider establishing an International Mechanism to implement concrete actions focused on bridging the technological gap between developed and developing countries and facilitating transfer of technology in sustainable development. Such a mechanism should help in securing the availability of adequate and predictable means of support, to address the needs of developing countries both on technology and finance.
It is also necessary to solve the problem of the migration of developing countries? scientists to developed countries through the support of the latter in developing the environment necessary in developing countries to attract those scientists and develop scientific networks, which will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable development.
Themes of the Conference
The two themes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD 2012), ?Rio+20?, are ?green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication?, and ?the institutional framework of sustainable development?.
1- Green economy in the context of sustainable development
Despite the numerous studies, reports, meetings and workshops that took place in relation to green economy, divergences are still persisting over GESDPE, even on the conceptual level, as it is perceived differently among different regions and countries (green economy/ green growth). Therefore the concept of green economy needs to be defined in terms of the challenges and opportunities it raises and in terms of the means of implementation required to achieve it in developing countries.
Also developing countries believe that their concerns with regard to transitional costs/ green protectionism/ green conditionality are not properly addressed. Therefore it is thought that there is not enough consensus with regard to common view or arrangements with regard to GESDPE.
Green economy/ growth should be a means to achieve sustainable development through undertaking economic activities in an environmentally sound manner, while ensuring social equity.
This concept should be seen as one of many tools to achieve the overriding goals of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The Green Economy/ growth concept should not become a substitute for the paradigm of sustainable development, developed during the past twenty years. It should not be an attempt to put again the focus solely on the environmental dimension to the detriment of the other two dimensions. While there is convergence that the concept of green economy is yet to be defined at the global level, Egypt believes that it is important that such a definition be elaborated inter-governmentally, and that each country or region, as appropriate, be left to define for itself what it means by this concept. Countries should have the sovereign right to determine their development path and their model of green economy/ growth and ensure their policy space. Green economy/ growth should not become an obstacle to the realization of development goals of developing countries as per their national priorities.
Moreover, it should not be a backdoor attempt to impose environmental barriers or development assistance conditionalities, or for gaining market access through the guise of environment, or a means to shifting to developing countries the mitigation targets for which developed countries should take the lead in implementing in light of their historic responsibilities and in application of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. In fact, it is the developed countries who should take the lead in changing their unsustainable production and consumption patterns and honor their commitments made Rio 1992 and thereafter in numerous UN conferences and summits. They should also support developing countries? sustainable development through finance, technology transfer and introducing the needed reforms to the global economic and financial governance structures.
Thus, green economy/ growth should not follow a top-down approach, or ?one-size-fits- all model?. The discussion of this theme should respect the different realities of economic, social and environmental developments of countries as well as their particular conditions and priorities. The policy space of each country to define their own paths towards sustainability in their economy and society, in accordance with their own circumstances and priorities should be reaffirmed.
Furthermore, green economy/ growth should not represent a pretext for new form of protectionism and conditionalities. It should not resort to any form of protectionism, unilateral measures or other border trade measures; should allow for expanded market access for products from developing countries and address trade-distortive measures; and should not generate conditionalities, new parameters or standards in the areas of financing, ODA and other forms of international cooperation. It should also not create any obstacles to hinder developing countries efforts to achieve
Sustainable development or be used as a pretext by developed countries to not implement their previous pledged commitments in support of developing countries in this regard. Also, It should not turn into a device for establishing corporate control over natural resources, noting the importance of developing standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations in order to make sure that such corporations support local efforts in achieving Sustainable development.
While Egypt recognizes that the transformation towards a green economy carries with it opportunities and challenges, we call for both to be clearly evaluated in open-ended settings with the full participation of developing countries scientists and policymakers. Developing countries should receive the needed means of implementation to assist them in such transformation, and to address the resultant costs associated with them, particularly social and economic costs. Opportunities for developing countries to make use of the transformation to create jobs and to contribute, through employment-intensive projects, to poverty eradication need to be reinforced. Developing countries need better access to new investments in a number of sectors such as renewable energy. Also technology transferred to developing countries should be safe, cost effective, and provided to them on favorable terms. In this regard, Egypt reminds of the need to develop the national capacities and systems of innovation, and to develop global arrangements that increase international cooperation and accelerate the diffusion of green technologies to developing countries. Of particular importance is expanding the scope of technologies in the public domain, and stimulate the transfer of publically-funded technologies to developing countries.
The creation of an enabling environment, through ensuring the flow of needed technologies and adequate financial resources to developing countries, and incentivizing their voluntary actions, policies and strategies that aim to enhance shifting to environment friendly growth patterns within their sustainable development strategies is paramount. Developed countries have a leadership role to create and enhance such global enabling environment, so that all countries wishing to do so can shift to green economy/growth on a voluntary basis.
In this respect , the conference could consider creating a green stimulus/ or accompanying mechanism that would help developing countries make the transition to green economy/growth, by providing to them adequate finance and technology transfer through a mechanism that facilitate the transfer of appropriate technology, as well as provide capacity building, as needed and identified by developing countries, including the necessary support to developing countries? scientists and scientific institutions to foster their efforts to, inter alia, develop green local technologies and use traditional knowledge in this field . A thorough discussion of solutions of IPR issues in this context will be needed to support developing countries in this field.
2- Institutional framework of sustainable development
Establishing the link, once again, of what was reflected in the introduction, regarding the necessity that the Rio+20 Conference focus on concrete measures on how to achieve integration and implementation of sustainable development, these same two overarching parameters: integration and implementation should govern IFSD.
Egypt believes that the institutional framework for sustainable development should not be looked at as an end in itself but rather as a means to accomplish the new directions and objectives to be set out in the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference. To this effect, there is ample need to have a critical look at the experience to date with the Commission on Sustainable Development, the ECOSOC, and the General Assembly. The objective of any reform should be to guarantee better intergovernmental guidance for the norm-setting exercise at the United Nations, to achieve better integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development at the three levels; international, regional and national, ensuring better coherence and coordination and synergies between the different components of the United Nations system, and between them and the UN funds and programs, specialized agencies, and international financial institutions, so that they all collaborate to ensure better implementation and tangible results on the ground.
Therefore, the institutional framework should ensure the integration of the 3 dimensions of sustainable development, as well as its implementation. Its functions should include: international sustainable development agenda setting/ coordination and coherence/ monitoring of implementation (e.g. through yearly reports on the global outlook of sustainable development incorporating all relevant international organizations in economic, social and environmental fields, thus making sure they are all involved)/ enabling and supporting developing countries efforts to achieve sustainable development.
Egypt believes that there is a need to strengthen the economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. Of particular concern is the participation of developing countries in global governance of these two important pillars, particularly in the context of the international financial institutions and the WTO. Egypt is deeply concerned at the shortcomings in this regard, preventing developing countries from having the needed participation in decision-making, norm-setting and elaboration of policies in these institutions. The lack of progress in the ongoing Doha round negotiations is also of particular concern as it results in preventing developing countries from benefitting from the multilateral trading system, particularly in operationalizing the provisions which are in their favor and constantly making their achievement contingent on the renegotiation of other commitments, effectively resulting in a constant shifting of the goal-post to their disfavor.
In this regard, developing countries are in dire need of the effective implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, so that they can be better able to finance their development efforts. The attempts by some countries to deny developing countries the access to the needed sources of finance, particularly from trade, debt relief, official development assistance, trying to shift the responsibility to the private sector actors and to the markets in general, are of major concern. Such attempts represent an imminent danger for the realization of the legitimate priorities of developing countries, namely poverty eradication and sustainable development as they deny them the needed predictability of resource flows and subject them to the profit motives of the private sector.
The social pillar needs also to be reinforced. Issues of social justice and of a rights-based approach to sustainable development should carry a special place in upcoming discussions. There is a need for a paradigm shift, beyond the focus on achieving economic growth to address the manner in which the fruits of such growth are equitably distributed; lifting people from poverty, providing them with needed jobs, social safety nets, and social protection in general. Among the other important social pillar issues to be examined in the context of the preparatory process is the phenomenon of migration and how to ensure that it provides a win-win solution to both sending and receiving countries and to the migrants themselves bearing in mind the changing characteristics of ongoing migration flows.
Egypt is open to examine proposals to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development at the regional and international levels. Any such consideration is contingent to careful examination being made at the intergovernmental level of the lessons of the institutions in existence to date, including the pros and cons of the different proposals in terms of their financial, institutional, organizational, political, legal, and systemic implications and the manner in which they achieve the desired balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The guiding principle to any such exercise should be to improve on what is already there, and how to ensure that all components of the system work in unison towards realizing the same objectives, and above all how they can more effectively assist developing countries, particularly developing countries, to implement their national sustainable development policies, learning from experiences in different countries, and mobilizing for them the needed means of implementation to this effect. Furthermore, any such proposals should not depart from the fundamental requirement of universality in membership and decision-making, and should be financed with new additional resources, without exerting any additional burden on developing countries.
In this regard, the possibility of establishing a ?Sustainable Development Council?, whether through transforming the Commission on Sustainable Development, or reviewing the mandate of the ECOSOC, is worth considering. In the case of the first option, the cycles? pattern of the CSD could be reviewed and changed from two cycles: Policy and review, to three cycles: economic, social and environmental in order to address and incorporate all three dimensions of sustainable development.
On the other hand, the starting point for any improvement is for countries to examine ways and means to ensure coherence at the national level first, as this would in turn contribute to improved coherence at both the regional and international levels. Therefore, out of concern for modernizing and strengthening our national institutional framework for sustainable development. Egypt looks forward, in the context of the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference to benefit from the experiences of other countries in making this framework more effective, result ?oriented, and participatory. Egypt looks forward for improved efforts to realize a stronger partnership with civil society organizations and scientific institutions, in designing, implementing, and evaluating national sustainable development policies and efforts.
In this regard, UNEP ought to be strengthened financially and organizationally to be better able to accomplish its existing mandate, and to provide better coordination, coherence among the multitude of players in the environmental field, as well as between the multilateral environmental agreements while respecting their independent legal nature. UNEP should be better able to provide programmatic support to developing countries at the national level, and its science-based capacities for analyzing the state of the global environment and for reporting on environmental challenges should be strengthened.
In this context, we support the strengthening of UNEP and transformation it into a successful action oriented implementation programme with sufficient resources, comparable to the UNDP, through reviewing its mandate and increasing its resources, in order to give UNEP a clear operational mandate to enable it of supporting the integration and implementation of sustainable development on national level.