Statement of Iceland on sustainable development in 2nd Committee of the 70th Session of the General Assembly

Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations

Statement by

Ms. Maria Mjoll Jonsdottir, First Secretary


GA70 / Item 20 – Sustainable development

2nd   Committee


20 October 2015


Mr. Chair,

Since this is the first time I take the floor, allow me to congratulate you on your chairmanship and wish you the best for the remainder of our session.

A lot has been said already, so allow me to focus on a couple of issues that are a priority for Iceland.

Firstly, Iceland is a strong proponent of sustainable energy and continues to contribute to knowledge dissemination, technical transfer and investment in the field of geothermal energy, an underutilized renewable source of energy. This is done through one of four United Nations University Programmes in Iceland, the UNU Geothermal Training Programme, as well as in cooperation with IRENA and the World Bank, among others.  In this regard, Iceland commends the work of the SE4All initiative, which has made much progress in bringing this issue to the forefront in our discussion. Sustainable energy for all is widely accepted as necessary to end extreme poverty, tackle inequalities, and last but not least mitigate and facilitate adaptation to climate change.


Secondly, allow me to touch upon an issue that better belongs under agenda item 79, discussed in plenary, namely, the importance of healthy oceans and the sustainable use of marine resources. This issue has been rightly highlighted in our discussions on sustainable development over the past months.

Iceland looks forward to participating constructively in shaping the way forward both as regards hard-fought Goal 14 and the BBNJ process. In both these issues, a scientific approach will be fundamental. Most importantly, the legal framework for the sustainable management of the oceans is firmly grounded in UNCLOS and its implementation at the local and regional level will be key to our success.

Thirdly, I would like to underline an issue that the Icelandic Government believes needs urgent attention. This is land. Land is addressed in Goal 15, and in particular in target 15.3, which aims to achieve Land-Degradation Neutrality.


In past decades, unsustainable land management, including the use of pesticides, monocropping, overgrazing and deforestation has caused the degradation of approximately one third of the world’s arable land. On top of this, climate change has exacerbated this trend.

Desertification and land degradation disproportionally affect the poorest and most marginalized. It has been identified as a driver of forced migration and the security implications of this trend have been gaining recognition.

But there are good news too: If we act now we can reverse the trend, rehabilitate much of this land, which in turn will help us mitigate climate change, alleviate poverty, contribute to peace and stability and of course, feed the Earth’s growing population.

We await the outcome of UNCCD COP12 in Ankara, where our Ministers are meeting this week, which will produce benchmarks for our progress towards reaching goal 15.3. The outcome must also feed into UNFCCC COP21 in Paris to highlight the inextricable link between land degradation and climate change.

Lastly, sustainable development will not happen without the economic and legal empowerment of women. We must continue to mainstream gender equality and women’s human rights into all discussion and action on sustainable development.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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