National Preparatory Meeting for
the National Report on Sustainable Development
“Toward Rio+20 United Nations Conference”
12 March 2012
Your Excellency Dr. Mok Mareth, Senior Minister of the Ministry of Environment
Excellencies, Development Partners, Honourable guests,Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Environment for their leadership in organizing this important event. It is my privilege to be here this morning to participate in the opening session of the National Preparatory Meeting for the National Report on Sustainable Development “Toward Rio+20 United Nations Conference”.
This meeting will provide an opportunity for discussion among the Inter-Ministerial Green Growth Working Group, Development Partners, and stakeholders to exchange ideas about the Rio+20 preparatory process and requirements and agree on the scope and preparatory plan for the National Report.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Much has happened since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set a forward looking agenda for sustainable development. Since 1992, many developing countries have seen their GDP levels increase due to strong economic growth. However, the gap between the lowest and highest income countries remains large, with many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia still below the global average. In addition, the economic growth of recent decades has resulted in depletion of natural resources, and widespread ecosystem degradation and loss. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit, will enable all UN member countries to take stock of achievements, assess the progress achieved in the last twenty years, and set a forward-looking agenda.
The Rio+20 process presents key opportunities to promote sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth as well as urges us to revisit the institutional arrangements for multilateral cooperation and development assistance in accord with sustainable development goals and countries’ own development objectives. It calls for a holistic, integrated approach to development by bringing three pillars - social, economic, and environmental - together at all levels. In addition, the Rio+20 process emphasizes the importance of strengthened governance in all the three pillars of sustainable development.
Rio+20 can help us identify building blocks for the post-2015 framework of development goals, which should focus on advancing sustainable human development for all by addressing both remaining deprivations as well as changing consumption and production patterns that undermine livelihoods and opportunities of the poor while also causing global damages.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Rapid economic growth has resulted in Cambodia's GDP increasing from USD 4.2 billion in 2002 to approximately USD11.5 billion in 2010, and to an expected level of around 12.5 billion in 2011. According to the Human Development Report 2011 on Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All, Cambodia’s Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.523, which gives the country a rank of 139 out of 187 countries. This is below the regional average for East Asia and the Pacific of 0.671.
International studies and debate on sustainable development argue that for too long, nations have used a dominant economic growth model based on increasing GDP above all else. While this approach has improved incomes and reduced poverty for hundreds of millions of people globally, it has also been accompanied by significant and potentially irreversible social, environmental and economic costs. In the ASEAN region, pockets of poverty persist among the 600 million people with significant degradation noted in coastal zones, eco-systems and rainforests. The gap between the rich and poor has increased in more than two-thirds of countries world-wide, including ASEAN member states.
The question that we are confronted with is whether the GDP-fostered development model will generate the benefits to address all three pillars of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social. How do the key policies reflect an appreciation that the Earth is reaching its limits in the use of water, land and other natural resources? How to identify the environmental and social costs of current economic growth models? How to align to sustainable development based on a ‘green economy” – one that simultaneously promotes sustainability and economic growth? National Rio+20 process provides the framework to examine these questions.
To promote a global consensus on the Rio+20 agenda for action, a zero draft of a future common position has been released for all stakeholders to indicate their proposed contributions to this global agenda. The national Rio+20 process provides an opportunity to situate the country’s vision and priorities within this emerging global agenda.
There are good examples in the region where new sources of growth are environmentally sustainable. One example is clean energy. South Korea has adopted a national green growth strategy which provides for two per cent of its GDP to be invested in green sectors such as renewable energy and clean technology. The national Rio+20 process gives an important space to review relevant examples and experiences from other countries, as is already taking place in Cambodia where Korea provides support to the work of the Inter-Ministerial Green Growth Working Group and the development of the Green Growth Master Plan. This is an encouraging example of regional knowledge exchange and bilateral partnership.
Overall, as we can see, the national Rio+ 20 process can be very instrumental in determining whether development progress risks to get undermined in the coming years by unsustainable policies and practices, or whether progress in sustainable development can, in fact, be accelerated through the application of more inclusive, equitable, and environmentally responsible development approaches.
For such a national Rio+20 process to be effective, it is important that different sectors and stakeholders be engaged and contribute with their views and objectives encompassing economic, social and environmental agendas.
The National Rio+20 process gives an opportunity to review progress in all three pillars, examine the gaps and new needs, and help reach agreement on how to move ahead. Recommendations that will emerge from this process need to set out these directions going forward.
UNDP, in cooperation with UN Department for Social and Economic Affairs (UN-DESA) are working with national partners in a number of countries to support national preparatory processes, especially by assisting in organising consultative, participatory dialogues, preferably around existing national mechanisms. The national dialogue in Cambodia will therefore be framed within the context of the Green Growth Working Group and the Green Growth Master Plan preparation.
Today we gather here to give further impetus to this process in the framework of the preparation of the Rio+ 20 national report and recommendations. We hope discussions will be active and help to set agreed parameters for the Rio+20 preparatory process.
Very warm welcome again to all the participants, and best wishes for a successful workshop.