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Speaking Points for Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at the High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation 1 - 3 December 2009

Nairobi, 3 December 2009 - Hon Wycliffe OPARANYA: President of the High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation

Ms. Amat Al Alim ALSOSWA: UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

H. E. Abdullah ALSAIDI; Permanent Representative of Yemen to UN and Co-Facilitator of the High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation

H.E. Dr. Gunnar PALSSON: Permanent Representative of Iceland to UN and Co-Facilitator of the High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation

H. E. Nassir Abdulaziz AL-NASSER, President of the UN High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation and Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN.

Mr. Yiping ZHOU; Director, UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great pleasures that I address you at the end of this important meeting and with this serious and significant outcome document before you.

South-South cooperation is now a very vibrant and tangible fact of modern life, especially in terms of trade and increasingly in terms of economic integration.

  • Africa's trade with the world's four largest emerging markets, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC countries), has grown from $20.3bn in 2001 to about $162bn in 2008,

    New forums accelerating these trends and cementing south-south ties are mushrooming as are trends towards common markets; common currencies and bilateral agreements

    • The Korea-Africa Forum; The Forum on China- Africa Cooperation

    • in Southeast Asia, there will be a free trade area by January next year.

    • in the Middle East, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is looking at the idea of a common currency.

    • and Latin America is moving towards the creation of a global South Bank.

    The UN system is responding to these rapid shifts in geo-political patterns, not least in supporting and fostering knowledge; best practises and technological exchange.

    Also in federating and disseminating norms and standards to assist all partners to maximize the benefits arising from the opportunities of South-South Cooperation.

    UNEP's principle vehicle here is the Bali Strategic Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building.

    UNEP has, in the past few years, been streamlining and better focusing this vehicle to maximize its impact and relevance to South South Cooperation.

    There are an increasing number of projects and initiatives that we can point to, many of which are also good examples of the UN delivering as One (see annex for more):-

  • Montreal Protocol -UNEP and India cooperating to assist south Asian countries to monitor and control illegal trade in ozone depleting substances.

  • Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles -assisting Asia's Clean Air Initiative to reduce air pollution from national vehicle fleets via training support in countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia: Trained experts in Asia are now training counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean including Argentina, Jamaica and Uruguay.

  • UNEP-Africa-China cooperation -UNEP and China's Ministry of Science and Technology are cooperating with countries in Africa on a wide range of projects ranging from ecosystem management; disaster reduction; climate adaptation and renewable energy

    Specific activities include monitoring of water quality in Lake Tanganyika; developing rainwater harvesting and the UNEP-LuoHong Young Environment Leaders programme for Africa on managing climate change disasters held at Tongi University last year.

  • Bioenergy -Cooperation with Brazil to facilitate South-South exchange with initially two African countries interested in bioenergy development also fitting UNEP's Bioenergy Policy Advisory Facility.

  • Climate Change Adaptation Network -Developing a Network of National Climate Change Focal Points in Southeast Asia, and Capacity Building in Development of Policy Framework for Promotion of Low Carbon Emission Societies in Central Asia are two sub-regional networks that UNEP is fostering in the Asia and the Pacific Region

  • Supporting the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia with 13 countries: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

  • Regional Cooperation in support of the "Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and Its Likely Transboundary Effects in South Asia". Participating countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    The important outcome document of this Conference here in Nairobi sets the stage for furthering South-South Cooperation and triangular cooperation-it is an expression of the logical development of a rapidly evolving 21st world reality.

    Another of those realities, which dovetails with the request for financing and innovative financial mechanisms, is climate change.

    In a few days time, the international community may put many if not most of the pieces together on a new climate change partnership between North and South.

    One that will also require ever more cooperation and solidarity between all nations- North and South; South and South; between developing and least developed nations as well as between the private sector and citizens everywhere.

    Indeed and in part through a new and invigorated climate change response, we have the possibility of accelerating technology transfer and of bringing the natural and nature-based resources of the South more centrally into economics and development globally.

  • Reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD and REDD+); carbon farming; peatlands and other terrestrial carbon; blue carbon and the oceans generally.

    The over-arching aim here is sustainable development-evolving existing and fostering new institutional and public-policy frameworks to catalyze a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient, global Green Economy.

    One that can allow six billion people, rising to nine billion by 2050 to live together and to thrive without undercutting the very life support systems upon which all ultimately depend.

    Copenhagen can be a manifestation of new kinds of cooperation and a living example of the fundamental principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that goes to the centre of the UN philosophy and its approach.

    The UN's strength rests in its impartiality and in its ability to bring together diverse social, economic and environmental interests together in common cause-in part through illuminating assessments and reports.

    In part through piloting; financing and demonstrating paths that challenge the status quo, overturn the barriers to new technologies and business and question the narrow interests of the few over the legitimate interests of the many.

    The UN's strength rests too on its ability to gather and show case transformational ideas and policies from one part of the world and bring them to the attention of other parts to deliver national, regional and global benefits.

    Because ladies and gentlemen,

    another reality that will define or common future is the fact that no nation or region has a monopoly on inspiring paradigm-shifting ideas.

    The challenge is to make sure they are more widely disseminated and perhaps understood within the context of differing circumstance and points of development.

    UNEP's Global Green New Deal and Green Economy initiative-involving many UN agencies and economists' world-wide-has gained resonance in capital cities across the globe.

    Increasing numbers of developing economies are requesting assessments as to how they might incorporate Green Economy policies in national development strategies.

    How Green Economy policies might assist in meeting multiple challenges-from food issues to climate change and from overcoming natural resources scarcities to generating new kinds of decent employment for the unemployed and under employed.

    Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this is the resonance the Global Green New Deal has had in the current economic recovery stimulus packages, especially in the countries of the South and particularly in Asia.

    Indeed it is China and the Republic of Korea who have embraced environmental investments as a key pillar of recovery and long term economic sustainability.

    Somewhere around 80 per cent of Korea's stimulus is green and over a third of China's has a similar hue.

    In terms of clean tech and renewable energy developments, companies in countries like China and India are now among the top ten of global leaders.

    And as we run up to Copenhagen, many developing economies are rising to the challenge of climate change putting voluntary emission cuts and reductions on the table despite having no formal or legal responsibility to do so.

    These include Brazil and China to Indonesia and Mexico-pledges that have transformed the dynamics of the negotiations in a way unthinkable only months ago.

    This underlines again that aspect of our evolving and changing world-namely that many countries of the South are no longer passive, by-standers waiting on the nations of the North to act.

    They are seizing the moment and defining the future in their own right. It is perhaps a signal towards where that global geo-political future is heading.

    For once there was simply North North cooperation and references to the West and to the East; then North South and now South South cooperation and triangulation.

    Perhaps in only a decade or two we will be meeting in Nairobi to discuss a different kind of triangulation and something called South North cooperation.

    Either way, the importance of global cooperation is unlikely to diminish-indeed far from it.

    Its relevance to a stable and prosperous world is perhaps more important today than when the UN was born over 70 years ago.

    The challenge here is for the UN to carry on evolving its relevance and its reforms to meet the challenges and the opportunities of the coming decades.

    And for its member states to recognize that a multilateral system is the best bet for realizing the kind of cohesive world that delivers stability and sustainable development for this and coming generations no matter from which part of the compass you are from

    Thank you.




    Further Resources

    UNEP: Division of Regional Cooperation


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