Introductory Remarks by ACP Secretary-General, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas at the Special Session of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors with United Nations Under Secretary General and UNDP Administrator on the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
Thursday 10 May 2012, Brussels

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 20-22, 2012 and provides us with the opportunity to review the progress which has been made with the implementation of Agenda 21, developed 20 years ago.

You would agree with me that, developing countries, and in particular ACP Member States, have made demonstrable progress in achieving sustainable development. Many have mainstreamed environmental into their national development plans and ratified a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). However, there are significant gaps which still remain with respect to implementation.

Gaps which have been exacerbated by the global economic and financial crises, volatile energy and food prices, new and emerging challenges, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, desertification and natural disasters.

It is against this backdrop, we need to work together to ensure an ambitious outcome at the Rio+20 Conference, that will address, in a concrete manner, the issues related to sustainable development, and fill the gaps in implementation so that the lives of the millions of people in developing countries can be improved.

We believe Rio+20 is the perfect opportunity to ensure renewed political commitment for advancing the sustainable development agenda in a comprehensive manner. Therefore the Secretariat has been actively preparing for Rio, in order to ensure that the concerns of the ACP Member States are taken into consideration in the outcomes of the Conference.

In this regard, we have established an Ad-Hoc Working Group to mobilize the ACP Member States to formulate a common ACP Position Paper.

The draft ACP Position Paper, (which you have before you) was developed using the outputs of the meetings of the Working Group, other relevant documents and meetings reports and submissions from ACP Member States. It was presented to the Committee of Ambassadors on Thursday 26th April, 2012, which indicated that the document was a good preliminary draft and encouraged the Secretariat to actively follow-up with Member States to obtain additional comments to ensure the paper fully captures the concerns of all the ACP Member States.

At the Rio + 20 Conference, two critical themes to be discussed, including a Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development. Therefore allow me a few minutes to share with you briefly our positions on these very important issues.

There is no doubt that transitioning to a green economy or developing along a low carbon path will have many benefits for developing countries. However, I would want to stress that this would not be possible for many, if not all of the ACP Member States, if this process is not accompanied by adequate means of implementation, including new and additional financial resources, capacity-building and technology development and transfer.

I would also want to indicate that the ACP Member States fully supports the concept of a green economy, given that it is a new pattern of economic development which uses natural resources in a sustainable manner, reduces carbon dioxide emissions and protects the environment from degradation while taking into consideration poverty eradication.

The current global Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development is inadequate to effectively respond to the new and emerging challenges, and for ACP Member states we see the need for an improved Institutional Framework that takes fully into account the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

It is the position of the ACP Member States that the Institutional Framework can be improved through the transformation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), into an international specialized institution for the environment, as some international organizations as the AU and the EU have suggested, and locating this Institution in a developing country can further enhance its effectiveness and efficiency.

I would also like to stress that collaborating and working together is key towards achieving an ambitious outcome at Rio, and therefore the ACP is working closely with the EU to draft a joint statement/declaration/resolution, for the Rio+20 Conference, in an attempt to formalise our positions for the Conference and our commitment to working together post Rio+20 to ensure that the implementation of the outcomes becomes a reality.

This joint statement/declaration/resolution will be delivered/table/presented at the ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting, to be held 14-15 June in Vanuatu.

Additionally, we will be collaborating with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, to host a side event on the theme “South-South Cooperation: Innovative Solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals”.

We are particularly excited about this side event as we hope to have the participation of a number of high level officials and experts to speak on the theme and the outcomes of this event will contribute to the comprehensive outcome we expect in Rio.

Given the importance of the Conference, I would personally head the Delegation. This is testimony to the Secretariat’s commitment to not only the outcomes of the Conference but its commitment to ensuring that these outcomes are implemented in ACP Member States.

We therefore look forward to strengthening our collaboration with the UNDP as we see your organization as an important partner to ensuring an ambitious outcome and more importantly to ensure that concrete action is taken after the conference.

With these remarks, allow me to introduce to you, Mrs Helen clerk, UNDP Administrator and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

H.E Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas
Secretary General
ACP Secretariat