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Developed countries must honour principles of equity: Indian environment minister

Jun 29, 2012

Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment & Forests, Government of India at the High Level Round Table of the Rio+20 Conference stressed on the need for a balanced, integrated and inclusive approach for sustained growth and a prosperous future.

Natarajan also feels that the developed world should commit adequate public funds for transferring to developing countries for sustainable development and transfer technology to developing countries at concessional rates. She said the developed countries cannot forgo their obligations and responsibilities in this regard and must honour the principles of equity.

Natarajan believes the idea of sustainable future cannot be accomplished without putting people at the centre of the concern of sustainable development and without a strong commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Following is the full text of the speech by Jayanthi Natarajan.


• “Sustainable development encompasses social, economic and environmental aspects. A balanced, integrated and inclusive approach is essential for sustained growth and a prosperous future.

• About 1.3 billion people in the world live at less than $ 1.25 per day. We cannot foresee a sustainable future without putting people at the centre of the concern of sustainable development and without our strong commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger. The rhetoric needs to be backed by equally strong efforts and actions.

• I must first of all congratulate our Brazilian hosts for the commendable way in which this conference is being organized. These are turbulent times in international economic affairs and sustainable development despite notable successes since 1992, is under stress. Rio+20 could not have come at a better time.

• I am also thankful to the Brazilian Presidency for their proactive and astute leadership in ensuring the speedy conclusion of the outcome document in a manner that addresses not only many of our concerns and interests, but one that is balanced and finds acceptance with all of us. This is no mean achievement and deserves to be recognized.

• I am particularly happy that the centrality of the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities has been restored in Rio+20, particularly in the climate change negotiations. We have also reaffirmed the Rio Principles of 1992. This is important. We cannot chart a common future, without reaffirming our past commitments. We are equally satisfied that the importance of the principle of Equity has been clearly recognized for guiding the climate change negotiations. India has raised its voice for this cardinal principle for international cooperation, and I am glad that this voice has been recognized here.

• We are committed to work constructively with the international community to actively participate in the process under the UNGA define the Sustainable Development Goals. While these SDGs will be part of the post-2015 architecture, we remain convinced that these SDGs should not constrain development. As we have agreed here, the SDGs should be based on Rio principles, in particular, the principle of CBDR.

• Another area where we are very happy with the Rio+20 outcome document is the clear call for the international community to avoid unilateral measures to avoid to deal with environmental challenges. This is another area which India has been consistently highlighting. There should be no space for unilateral measures in a multilateral context.

• We are prepared to do our bit in the areas that enhance sustainable development. India as a developing country has taken a number of ambitious domestic actions in several areas. We are prepared to work with the international community to enhance these actions globally. But, the key issue is that of principles and the means of implementation. This applies to all areas included in our discussions and the new processes that the document emerging from this conference envisages - be it green economy, climate change, sustainable development goals, HFCs under chemicals and waste, or sustainable consumption and production. Responsibilities must be differentiated and the limitations on capabilities and technologies must be respected.

• Adequate Means of Implementation (MoI) are critical. They would need to be clearly provided for, not only in the context of SDGs but also to achieve various other possible outcomes of the conference including action on green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. Apart from providing for the required financing, MOI would include technology transfer to and capacity building in developing countries.

• The developed countries need to commit adequate public funds for transferring to developing countries for sustainable development, technology transfer to developing countries at concessional rates and assist developing countries in capacity building. The developed countries cannot forgo their obligations and responsibilities in this regard. The principles of equity and CBDR must be honoured by them.

• As regards financing, not only the past commitments of funding should be honoured by the developed countries but they should also commit new and predictable public funds if one is looking for new SDGs. It is ironical that some of the developed countries are not even sticking to their earlier commitment to give 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for official development assistance to developing countries. The developed countries are trying to shirk their responsibility by using the terms like “South-South Cooperation”, “innovative financing”, “private sector financing”, etc.

• The developing countries require significant international financing support to promote green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and pursuing SDGs. The intergovernmental committee, under the UNGA, to work out financing strategy for sustainable development, proposed in the outcome document is likely to achieve this.

• On the issue of technology transfer, the developed countries are advocating such transfer on voluntary basis and on mutually agreed terms and conditions. If the technology transfer was to happen on commercial terms between the corporates, there was no reason for us to discuss this issue in this Conference.

• The facilitation mechanism proposed in the outcome document should - identify technology use areas in Small and Medium Enterprises in developing countries which could effectively gain from the adoption of available or easily adaptable clean energy technologies; finance the development of available technologies to incorporate best available practices which are needed to convert them into cleaner technologies; enhance and strengthen the capacity of developing country industries to manufacture, market, and support these technologies; and enable lines of credit to developing country financial institutions that could provide attractive financing for the adoption of these technologies.

• Another important issue is to have a proper institutional framework for sustainable development to monitor and follow up the outcomes of this conference. We believe that the International institution on sustainable development should have democratic representation of member States, should work under the UN General Assembly system and should adequately address all the three dimensions of sustainable development.

• To sum up, I would like to emphasize that if we are looking for quality outcomes from this Conference, we would need to be true to ourselves and accept our obligations, based on the principles of equity and CBDR.  Successful implementation of the outcomes would depend upon the provisioning of adequate means of implementation and a sound institutional framework for sustainable development. We all need to collectively work in this direction”.

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