A Commitment to Sustainability

United Nations, New York Headquarters. 8 January 2014

coal_fired_power_plantThe keynote speaker, Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, opened the discussion with a presentation on the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and their inadequate support for sustainable development. He said that people need to feel personal ownership of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) for them to be effective. He also recommended a stand-alone SDG on resource efficiency for a more thorough effort at making sustainable development possible and economical. He urged delegates to consider a raise in yearly resource allocation proportionate to the increase in efficiency, the revenues from which would go towards further improving the efficiency. Developing countries will be able to become cleaner faster than developed ones, explained Dr. Weizsäcker. He went on to describe how locked in developed countries are to wasteful infrastructure, and the ways developing countries can use todays knowledge to grow with green technology.   

The floor was opened for questions, and the representatives of Guatemala, Italy, Mexico and Pakistan asked Dr. von Weizsäcker to elaborate on the indicators that would be used to measure resource efficiency. Italy inquired as to how to proceed on the issue of resource consumption, seeing as developing countries produce, and developed countries consume. Dr. von Weizsäcker said that an indicator of resource efficiency would be the rate of consumption of the resource. He said that there would need to be a system of exchanging emissions credits, in which developing nations, who would implement clean infrastructure and therefore be producing less than their credit allows,  sell to the developed nations, who would be much slower at implementing clean infrastructure. This would promote sustainable development on both sides, as the developing nations attempt to sell more of their credit, and developed nations strive to save money on credits by developing their own clean infrastructure. He concluded by saying that using intelligent economic instruments in both production and consumption of resources will encourage nations to maximize resource efficiency and sustainable resource consumption.

Green-energy-investment-l-007

The floor was then opened for general discussion of the SDGs, and Fiji began with a statement from the G77+China. Asking the leaders and officials in the room to adopt Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) for the next generation, G77+China also called for a time bound framework to get nations to SCP. The representatives of Barbados, Colombia and Chile both called for developed countries to take the lead in assisting developing countries to better handle chemicals and waste, “Chemicals are not things in a lab, they are things that we are living with in this world. It needs to be an issue.” The representatives of the EU and Sweden called for the reduction not only of industrial waste, but also food waste, especially post-harvest. Currently, post-harvest waste can reach up to 50% in some areas. The representatives from the UK and Croatia said that efficient use of natural resources is critical for expanding economic and social choices, and promoting social justice. Finally, the representatives of Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Denmark,and Bangladesh said that achieving the SCP will require not only a change in infrastructure but also a change in lifestyle, and for that, the public must be committed to becoming sustainable.

Meeting Title: Follow-Up to the Outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Relating to a Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals

Key Speakers: Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Co-Chair, International Resource Panel; Representatives of Guatemala, Fiji (on behalf of the G77+China), Barbados, Colombia, Chile, EU, Sweden, United Kingdom, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Denmark, Bangladesh

Written by WIT Intern: Jacob Roth

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