(New York, October 27, 2008)
Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Item 49:Sustainable Development
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, as well as with the statement delivered by Mexico on behalf of the countries of the Rio Group.
In his speech before the General Assembly, President Álvaro Uribe emphasized the seriousness of the environmental challenges that the world faces, and reaffirmed Colombia's firm commitment in the field of sustainable development.
Climate change constitutes a global problem that should be confronted urgently and under a fair and equitable perspective from the International community. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities embodies that perspective. It is required a more decisive commitment from the part of developed countries, consistent with their historical responsibility. It is crucial to provide greater support to developing countries, which are more vulnerable to global warming and to its impacts in the subsistence and economic and social wellbeing of their people.
My country, even though merely accounts for 0.35% of greenhouse gas emissions, is highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Colombia has had the highest occurrence level of disasters in Latin America in the last 30 years, with an average of 597.7 incidents per year. Floods, earth sliding and urban fires are the most frequent incident. These disasters have cost thousands of lives, as well as material losses that affect development. It is necessary to deepen international actions in support of efforts of adaptation to the changing climate.
Colombia ratifies its commitment with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as the main process where the various aspects related to this issue should be addressed. The Second Committee should focus its work in this field on the promotion of the prevalence, autonomy and independence of the Convention. Following the important decisions achieved in Bali, which established a clear road map, we cannot afford the luxury of creating parallel agendas.
Colombia is a megadiverse country, blessed with natural wealth. With an extension that is equivalent to 0.7% of the world's continental surface, it hosts nearly 14% of the existing biodiversity in the planet. We have 578.000 squared kilometers of forest and we are committed to the protection of this wealth, as a significant contribution to global environmental wellbeing. In recent years we have been working in the conservation, restoration and management of the biological diversity at the ecosystem-level, with the implementation of strategies such as the consolidation of our System of Protected Areas and the development of sustainable productive alternatives. The Environmental Performance Index 2008 (prepared by the universities of Columbia and Yale) placed our country in the ninth place in the world.
Higher levels of international support for the enormous human and financial efforts that countries such as Colombia make to protect the environment are required. For instance, today we are implementing programs to eradicate illicit crops and programs to promote alternative rural development, which are also a priority for UN entities such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Illicit crops cause deforestation, desertification, destruction of valuable ecosystems and the depletion of water resources. The international community should honor the principle of shared responsibility with regards to the world drug problem. For every gram of cocaine that is consumed, 4 squared meters of our forest are destroyed.
In the area biodiversity, Colombia believes that it is crucial to significantly advance in the process of negotiations of an international regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), within the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The decision adopted by the Conference of the Parties in Bonn on this matter constitutes an important step in that direction. There is a need for a clear regime, which will fundamentally focus on the distribution of benefits and which will provide a regulation on access subject to national legislations.
Colombia recognizes the relevant role of the United Nation System in the area of environment. We are convinced of the importance of better-coordinated and more efficient international governance in this field. In this regard, the work that the General Assembly can carry out to promote the strengthening of the United Nations Environment Programme should constitute a priority.
To conclude, Colombia reaffirms its willingness to constructively contribute towards this objective, bearing always in mind the imperative to safeguard the appropriate balance among economic, social and environmental aspects, as pillars of sustainable development. This approach is essential to produce outcomes that will be of advantage to present and future generations, and will contribute effectively to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
I thank you.