General Assembly: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Sustainable Development

May 22, 2013

(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig on behalf of Germany, France and Sitzerland at the 3rd Meeting of the General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals)

"I am making these introductory remarks on behalf of the French-German-Swiss team.

One of the main outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 was the agreement by Heads of States and Government to launch the process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have already had two substantive sessions of our working group and today we are looking forward to another substantial and interactive discussion. We welcome the UN issue notes prepared by the inter-agency technical support team (TST) as a helpful input for the next three days.

When developing SDGs it is fundamentally important that the three pillars of sustainable development are factored into decision making processes and policy design in a balanced manner. Development processes affect and are equally affected by economic, social and environmental conditions. Hence, existing interlinkages need to be taken into account in order to create synergies and policy coherence and to avoid negative feedback. For instance, the creation of green and decent jobs is as much an economic challenge as it is a social and environmental one. Therefore, a holistic approach, such as promoted by the concept of an inclusive and equitable green economy, and smart decision making processes are essential for sustainable development.

Moving to more sustainable consumption and production patterns in all countries is of paramount importance. Business-as-usual is not the remedy for the future.

To respond to current challenges, the post-2015 agenda should focus on sustainable development and propose bold, universal, action-oriented and aspirational goals taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities, which are easily communicable and compelling. We have to keep in mind that the success of the MDGs depended inter alia on their limited number and clarity. In this spirit, we suggest to use a set of overarching clusters covering and interlinking different thematic areas.

The issues we are going to discuss during the next days are crucial for the design and development of a post-2015 agenda addressing sustainable development and poverty eradication. Food security and nutrition, water and sanitation are globally recognized as human rights, but they are not enjoyed by everyone. Sustainable agriculture and the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought are prerequisites to meet these challenges. It is obvious that they have to be adequately reflected within the future agenda.

Water is at the core of sustainable development, at the core of human life and of ecosystems, and sanitation is a prerequisite for a life in dignity and health. With the integration of water in a new framework for sustainable development, we advocate the following:

Equitable and universal access to safe and sustainable water, and especially sanitation and hygiene, while focussing on the poor and disadvantaged.

Ground and surface water should be monitored and governed sustainably and in an integrated manner to satisfy human needs while respecting ecosystems requirements.

All used water and wastewater should be collected and treated before it is returned to nature and managed under the principles of pollution prevention and safe reuse.

I repeat: Water and sanitation, food security and nutrition are globally recognized as human rights, but they are not enjoyed by everyone. Hunger, mal- and undernutrition are a consequence of limited physical and economic access to fundamental natural resources and unequal distribution of food. Crop failure and other losses in livelihoods due to drought, desertification, land degradation and climate change increase the vulnerability of people, with the highest incidence on the poor.

Including "food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, desertification, land degradation and drought" in a Post-2015-/SDG Agenda would mean to ensure that the right to adequate food, access to healthy and affordable food and nutrition for all is recognized and that management of natural resources is sustainable, with a view to enhancing agricultural productivity and resource efficiency.

There are significant opportunities to strike a better balance between food supply and demand through in particular improved land governance and resource-efficient farming practices, appropriate and adapted technology, innovation and responsible investment, education and capacity development with special focus on smallholders.

Rural development is the basis for reducing hunger and securing global food supply.

We want to contribute to creating a holistic approach and deliver one single bold universal post-2015 agenda on sustainable development that is people-centred and respects the planet’s limited capacity for recovery and absorption. This agenda should merge SDGs and MDGs.

We are also looking forward to the report of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda at the end of May. This report will certainly give fruitful inputs to the discussion in our OWG."

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