Statement by H.E. Mr. Aslam Shakir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs at the General Debate of Second Committee (4 October 2011)
Distinguished Mr. Chairperson,
Let me begin by congratulating you and the members of the Bureau on your election to guide the work of the Second Committee during its 66th session, and in commending the outgoing Bureau on the successful completion of the 65th session.
I take this opportunity to assure the Committee that the Maldives will be giving utmost support and cooperation throughout the session. We look forward to a productive round of deliberations and negotiations under your guidance.
Maldives’ commitment to Rio+20 process is unquestionable. Our hope is that in Rio, an agreement could finally be reached on concrete ways in which States can translate the principle of sustainable development into real policy improvements. There is now a broad political consensus, among the international community, that this policy formulation and implementation should be premised on promoting economic, social and environmental progress in a mutually reinforcing and balanced manner.
To achieve these policy improvements it is key that there are mechanisms in place to provide countries with both the technical expertise and financial means to effectively assess the impacts of high-level strategic policy decisions on sustainability, particularly with respect to energy efficiency, renewable energy and green technology.
We hope that Rio will mark the moment when the world awakens from its carbon-induced paralysis, and redefines the rules of global economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development. We hope that we will use the tremendous opportunity in Rio to set us on a new development pathway.
The natural environment is the single most significant determinant of our sustainable development, and as we are all well aware, it faces an increasingly perilous future. We need to find a way to live in harmony with our natural environment, through the use of soft solutions that work with nature, instead of approaching development as something that requires the submission of nature through hard engineering.
The Maldives has been vocal in stressing the threat of climate change for decades now. Since the highest point in Maldives is only 1.5 metres above the sea, the threat of climate change is not an abstract notion but very real and stands to threat our very existence as a nation state. Cutting global carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions is not just an environmental issue, but is also an issue of national security, and a key component of a sustainable future for the world as a whole.
For these reasons Maldives is shifting to indigenous, renewable sources of energy. In 2010, the Maldives submitted to the United Nations a unilateral target to become carbon neutral by 2020, which we aim to achieve through the generation of 60% of our electricity from solar power and the remaining 40% from wind and biomass. We also proudly announced at the General Debate of the Sixty-Sixth General Assembly that we would dedicate a minimum of 2% of our government revenues to renewable energy investments.
To assist us in achieving our goal of carbon neutrality, the Maldives believes that one of the key pillars that should be discussed and acted upon in Rio next year is a political declaration and strategy to facilitate the transfer, promotion and management of green technologies.
We look forward to the international community assisting us, and other states, with the transition to carbon neutrality, and particularly with helping us to overcoming the complex issues associated with a shift to renewable sources of electricity.
As has been noted repeatedly in the past, including at our statement in this very forum last year and at our address to the General Assembly this year, the current institutional support systems are tremendously under-equipped to deal with the unique challenges faced by SIDS, many of which risk being overlooked by the international community by virtue of their middle-income country status.
We call on the international community to turn its full attention to following through on pledges made to support the sustainable development of SIDS. At the Mauritius International Meeting held in 2005, the donor community made a pledge to increase the levels of support towards the sustainable development of SIDS. Unfortunately these promises still remain largely unfulfilled. Therefore, all development partners are urged to honour without delay all commitments related to SIDS.
Additionally, we once again call for the creation of a formal SIDS category, based on objective, transparent and consistent criteria, within the UN system.
Maldives has been listed as a Least Developed Country since 1971. In January this year, Maldives has proudly graduated from this list. It should be noted that, so far, only three countries have graduated from this list. The transition from LDC to Middle-Income status has not come without difficulties for Maldives. Our experience has shown that in order to achieve sustainable development, we need access to international assistance to both create and strengthen the state institutions and organs that will support these efforts. Such investments will ensure that our policies and projects make our economy more resilient and will further ensure that we are able to consolidate the progress made to date.
The Maldives stands strongly with the people of Palestine. As was evidenced by the strong support voiced by many states at the General Debate of the Sixty-Sixty session of the General Assembly, the time for Palestine to join the international family of nations is long overdue. Just as Maldives welcomed the independent state of South Sudan, and as we welcomed the NTC as the legitimate authority of the Libyan people, the Maldives calls on all Member States to support a two state solution with the recognition of a Palestinian state with permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people over their natural resources.
With these issues in mind and with your guidance, Mr. Chairperson, we hope that this, the 66th session of the Second Committee, will be one of action, implementation and progressive reform.