November 25, 2017

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos at the High Level Meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Delegates,

At the outset Mr. Chairman, I would like to congratulate you and the members of the Bureau, for your election to the chairmanship of the Ninth Session of the Commission of Sustainable Development, as well as, for the leadership that you have shown through the year in preparing for this session. I would also like to sincerely wish you every success in bringing about a positive outcome of our deliberations.

Cyprus has aligned itself with the statement delivered this morning by H. E. Mr. Larsen, Minister of Environment of Sweden on behalf of the European Union and I will thus limit my remarks to some issues that are of particular interest to my delegation.

Mr. Chairman,

In our effort to achieve a sustainable future, it is imperative that we pursue a concerted effort at all levels of government and the private sector. In this respect, I would like to welcome the inclusion in the Commission’s programme of work of the multi-stakeholder dialogue, focusing this year on sustainable energy and transport. The active involvement of representatives of energy and transport-related businesses, trade unions, non-governmental organizations, local authorities and relevant scientific and technological communities, will contribute substantially, both to the Commission’s deliberations and to the work of other United Nations Agencies. Every effort aimed at enhancing cooperation between Governments and major groups towards sustainable development should be encouraged and we fully support the UN system’s engagement in developing modalities to enhance partnerships and cooperation in policy development.

Mr. Chairman,

In facing the common challenges that lie ahead, international cooperation has been well identified as of utmost importance for the implementation of Agenda 21. There is an urgent need for intensifying national, regional and international cooperation as many issues lend themselves to constructive dialogue and genuine partnership based on mutual interests and benefits. In this respect, Small Island Developing States, given their size, limited resources, geographic dispersion and in many cases, isolation of markets, face special challenges and unique vulnerabilities of an environmental and economic nature in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus was honoured to host the Third AOSIS Workshop on “Climate Change, Energy and Preparations for CSD 9”, last January. The workshop was organized by the Alliance of Small Island States in cooperation with the Division for Sustainable Development of UNDESA and was generously sponsored by the Governments of New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, as well as the Global Environment Facility.

The workshop, by bringing together both climate change and energy experts, has presented the opportunity to make a contribution on behalf of the Small Island States to the work of the Commission. Indeed, Mr. Chairman, the Workshop’s Report, which was circulated as a document of the Commission on Sustainable Development (with reference E/CN.17/2001/11), contains a series of proposals and recommendations on all the key issues as identified by the Secretary-General in his Report on Energy and Sustainable Development.

The representatives of 38 small island states, which participated in the Cyprus Workshop, had the opportunity to share experiences; elaborate on the common challenges they face and forge common positions to further promote support for sustainable development. In addition and more importantly, Mr. Chairman, the successful outcome of this endeavour, as reflected in the Workshop’s Report, could be considered as a conceptual framework of an energy agenda for SIDS. (Proceedings and documentation are available on sidsnet). We had wished to see this Report taking a more substantial part of the Commission’s conclusions. Nevertheless, we sincerely hope that the positions contained therein will be taken into account in the formulation of the policies of the United Nations agencies and other international organizations, the GEF, the donor countries and the international community at large.

Mr. Chairman,

In addressing the issue of energy and sustainable development, I would like to focus on one of the key issues, namely the issue of renewable energy. The main objective of my country’s comprehensive energy programme currently implemented, is the reduction of the country’s dependence on imported energy through the rational use of energy and greatest possible exploitation of renewable sources of energy. The deployment of such sources, especially the use of solar power as an alternative energy source is viewed as extremely beneficial. Our commitment is best demonstrated by the extensive use of solar water heaters. Since their first production and installation on a small scale in 1960, a remarkable expansion in the use of this project has taken place, ranking Cyprus among the leading countries in terms of installed solar collectors. Over 92% of households and 50% of hotels are currently using this renewable energy method. Furthermore, Cyprus is currently proceeding with two new programs for renewable energy, photovoltaic and wind energy. In our effort to fully realize my country’s significant potential for the use of renewable energy, through the established practices and new initiatives, we are confident that Cyprus will meet the target set by the European Union of 12% of renewable energy by 2010.

Joint action in such fields as better and more reliable energy technologies, strengthening of energy conservation measures and applied research concerning the use of clean and renewable forms of energy, could also have a high value- added contribution in national energy policies. Naturally, we cannot ignore the negative side of the equation. Currently, in the absence of credits and uncertainty, the incentives for industry participation are limited. Awareness raising is thus very important and the correct messages through the market have to be sent to all actors. Support for a fair and equitable harmonized system of energy taxes, fees and charges, coupled with appropriate credits and incentives, could prove to be instrumental in diverting private capital flows into climate friendly technologies.

Mr. Chairman,

In addressing the different areas covered by each of the themes before us, one cannot overemphasize the importance of identifying all aspects of the interlinkages between them, especially between the sectoral themes of energy and transport on the one hand and the issue of atmosphere on the other. It is incumbent upon us to take them into consideration, especially in terms of putting forward recommendations for global action and preserving the integrity of international endeavours and strategies like the one envisaged in the Kyoto Protocol. In this respect, and consistent with its longstanding commitment to international norms, Cyprus has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and actively supports all efforts to finalize the negotiations on its implementation. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that Cyprus fully shares the European Union’s position on the need for having the Kyoto Protocol enter into force before the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

Mr. Chairman,

Implementation of the commitments made at the international level is not enough. Continuous review of the implementation is also important, in order to monitor, build on the progress already made and further promote sustainable development. Public access to information and public participation is of equal importance. In this context, the Aarhus Convention, to which Cyprus is a signatory, is a major step forward in promoting access to environmental information and public participation in decision-making. Globalization and new information technologies can serve our goal for effective, wider and faster collection and dissemination of information.

Equally, Mr. Chairman, the role of globalization in the context of international cooperation for an enabling environment, is significant. In our view, globalization should not only have a human face, it should also recognize that the problem of the environment is as crucial as the promotion of markets and prosperity. Indeed, our actions should not be geared toward the ephemeral pursuit of short-term objectives, but rather, should be governed by the belief that we are only the custodians of this planet, which we should improve for future generations. It is ironic that this concept, so prevalent among indigenous people, is lost in our greedy self-centered, advanced societies.

It is obvious that in our globalized world, we will need to intensify the dialogue among all stakeholders so that we pursue policies of inclusion and preservation of our planet’s natural heritage and biodiversity. We must, therefore, act individually and collectively as states, as well as support the valuable efforts of civil society, for managing change for the common good.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.