Statement to the Second Committee on Sustainable Development by Nikulas Hannigan, Deputy Permanent Representative
The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
Deputy Permanent Representative of Iceland
10 October 2017
Since this is the first time I take the floor, allow me to congratulate you and the members of the bureau on your election and assure you of my delegation´s full support.
Iceland recognizes the universal and interlinked nature of all the SDGs. Nevertheless, different countries inevitably face different challenges for each SDG. Iceland stands ready to deliver on the SDGs, at home by integrating them into all our policies and programs, as well as in our cooperation with other countries. Iceland´s aims in its development cooperation are to reinforce programs for eradicating poverty on the basis of sustainable development and the reinforcement of human capital. There are four areas where we have specialist experience to share with others, namely land restoration, oceans, renewable energy and gender equality.
SDG15.3, combatting desertification and restoring degraded land and soil, is central to eradicating hunger and contributing to around half of all SDGs. My delegation would like to stress the importance of reaching SDG 15.3 on a land-degradation neutral world by 2030. This will speed up the ability of land-dependent populations to reach other SDG targets, such as food, water and energy supplies, poverty eradication and empowerment of women and girls. This recognition of the accelerator effect of target 15.3 should be reflected in our work on this important topic.
UNCCD estimates that up to 50 million people could be displaced by the land degradation due to climate change before 2030. Achieving goal 15.3 is therefore a key element of sustaining peace agenda, as well as of sustainable development.
Along with other colleagues we welcome the outcome of the recent COP meeting in China of the UNCCD. With land degradation neutrality the Convention has entered the real of measurability. We are happy that 113 member states have embarked on target setting. We also welcome the new UNCCD strategy aligned to coincide with the end of Agenda 2030. We look forward to helping focus the next HLPF on land degradation neutrality.
Land restoration is a natural priority for my country having historically lost large areas of our land to erosion. We are proud to make our contribution to addressing this worldwide challenge by hosting the Land Restoration Training Program of the United Nations University (UNU). A large proportion of the fellows of this program come from sub-Saharan Africa. We also work with our colleagues here in New York and have with Namibia led a Group of Friends on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought. The Group of Friends will endeavor to showcase success stories at the coming HLPF.
Sustainable use of marine resources, through successful science-based management, remains one of the backbones of the Icelandic economy and a clear focus in our foreign policy. Iceland has shared this experience and expertise for almost 20 years through the UNU Fisheries Training Program. Iceland took an active part in the Ocean Conference, earlier this year. The Conference mobilized world leaders behind attaining SDG 14. We are delighted to welcome Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st General Assembly as the Secretary General’s special envoy for the Ocean. We have underlined the importance of good coordination between different UN oceans-related processes, including the FAO and all relevant parts of the Secretariat, to ensure coherence in oceans work at various levels in supporting the implementation, the follow-up and review of SDG 14.
Iceland places great importance on global access to clean and renewable energy as key to tackling climate change and combatting poverty. Iceland started its green energy transition decades ago and we continue to assist other countries in this regard, including through the UNU Geothermal Training Program for almost 30 years. We cooperate with the Nordic Development Fund, and the World Bank on research in East Africa on geothermal exploitation with the aim of increasing use of this resource. The objective is to assist countries in early exploration, where the highest financial risk is to be found. If these exploratory projects bear fruit it is hoped that exploratory drilling will be begun with support from the WB, the AU and others.
Lastly, allow me to emphasize the importance of mainstreaming gender equality and women’s human rights into all discussion and action on sustainable development. The full and meaningful participation and representation of women in all our endeavors under the Agenda 2030 are a prerequisite of success. Iceland continues to put a particular focus on engaging men and boys in the promotion of gender equality. We are also proud that the youngest member of the UNU family in Iceland is dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing countries and post-conflict societies through research and education.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.