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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

The Eighth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
3 - 7 February 2014
Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan
Oceans and seas, forests, biodiversity
Mr. Co-Chairman,
I have the honour to express these views on behalf of India, Sri Lanka and my own
country Pakistan.
Our Troika aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of
Bolivia on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
We thank the guest speakers for their contribution and for the scientific analysis they
have shared with us.
We also recognize the Technical Support Team’s steadfast and supportive role in our
Mr. Co-Chairman,
The oceans cover more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the
planet’s water. Oceans and seas contribute to development, as well as livelihoods,
employment generation, biodiversity, and food security through fisheries and marine
aquaculture, shipping and shipbuilding, ports, tourism, oil, gas, mining, and maritime
transportation industries. The list is much longer. The UN Convention on Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS), once described as the constitution of the oceans, provides the framework for
managing the oceans and seas but our knowledge of this vast area has improved and our
challenges have become more complex. With global warming, sea level rise,
pollution, increased acidification and fish stock depletion, not only are the livelihoods of
millions threatened, the very existence of many low lying states, home to millions
including in our troika region, is brought in to sharp focus.
Against this background, we must determine goals with an emphasis on the long-term
sustainability of the oceans and seas, while being conscious that many related issues are
being addressed elsewhere.
At least 90 % of the volume of the global trade is seaborne. Over three billion people,
some 40 percent of the world population, depend on marine and coastal resources for
their livelihoods. Oceans play a vital role in the economic, social and political
development of the small island states.
For each nation, forests play a crucial role in environmental sustainability, food security
and agriculture, energy, clean water, biodiversity conservation, mitigation of and
adaptation to climate change, combating desertification and land degradation, and
disaster risk reduction.
Estimates suggest that more than 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for
food, medicines and fuel, as well as for their livelihoods. Forests cover 31% of the global
land area and contain more than 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Forests, most
of which remain in developing countries, must not be treated as a cost free air purifier for
those who have historically over-occupied the space in global commons. There must be
an equitable sharing of the real costs of preserving globally important forests.
Similarly, biodiversity is critical for the Earth’s life support system. Without fully
acknowledging the role of biodiversity, a sustainable development goals’ framework will
remain deficient. We know that the three-quarters of the top-ranking global prescription
drugs contain plant extracts. Genetic diversity is central to the seed industry. Insects and
other animals that carry pollen between crops, fruit and vegetables contribute billions of
dollars every year to the global food economy. We should not forget the increasing
importance of oceanic biodiversity. Thousands of new patents are based on biodiversity
from the oceans as our knowledge base increases exponentially. The exploration,
management and exploitation of marine biological diversity in areas beyond natural
jurisdiction needs to be a collective effort and must address the financial and
technological needs of developing countries. Biodiversity conservation is also intimately
connected with the livelihood of people particularly in developing countries and plays a
crucial role for eradication of poverty.
Mr. Co-Chairman,
We believe that any sustainable development goals’ framework that the Open Working
Group crafts should include the vital aspects of the eco-system, not in parts but as a
The Group’s mandate is to ensure that we agree on a set of SDGs that are concise, limited
in number and integrated between and amongst them.
An important lesson we have learnt from the MDGs is that we should not operate in silos.
Lone, singular and numerous SDGs removed from their entire context are not likely to
produce desired results. Our troika therefore strongly recommends that we build on the
knowledge base we have acquired to craft a holistic goal on the ecosystem.
Mr. Co-Chairman
The issues that we want to address under this theme relate to the management of an
integrated eco-system in its entirety and the delicately balanced interrelationships
between residents, living resources, and habitants. In this effort, we should not encroach
upon the natural boundaries necessary to sustain interdependence of natural elements
such as birds, animals, plants, water and soil. Also, there are several other areas - water,
food security, energy, health, to name a few – that are linked directly to the healthy
functioning of oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity.
We therefore favor a holistic approach along the lines of an integrated goal on eco-system
management. At this point, we are offering a conceptual, not a drafting suggestion.
Whatever goal we adopt should be easy to communicate. Our effort should be to design
a crisp goal, not a goal that is cumbersome, cluttered and easy to communicate. Such an
inclusive goal could have conservation and sustainable development targets on oceans
and seas, forests and biodiversity; and cover water, fisheries, tourism, health, food
security, natural resources management and animal life, recognizing and building on the
linkages of such issues with poverty eradication.
While doing so, as many other delegations have also emphasized, we need to recognize
the important work being done under the relevant international instruments relating to
forests and biodiversity. The SDGs should promote synergies with such instruments, and
avoid duplication. Under the Convention for Biological Diversity, parties have already
agreed to a Strategic Plan for the decade 2011-2020 and the detailed Aichi targets. In the
11th Conference of Parties to CBD held in India in 2012, there is also the commitment by
Parties to double total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to
developing countries by 2015 and at least maintaining this level until 2020. These
commitments need to be reinforced and strengthened.
In terms of promoting the conservation of global biodiversity, the international
community took a historic step in 2010 with the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on
Access and Benefit Sharing. However, even after three years of its adoption, the Nagoya
Protocol is yet to enter into force. Early ratification of the Nagoya Protocol for Access
and Benefit Sharing would itself be a big contributor to global efforts to conserve
biodiversity and is an issue that needs to be prioritized. Having crossed the halfway mark
for required ratifications, a further push is needed to expedite ratifications. This is a lowhanging
fruit for protection of biodiversity that can be achieved even before the SDGs
come into play.
Mr. Co-Chairman,
Our troika underscores the importance of a global partnership for development as a
decisive factor in achieving a host of targets that we may set under an integrated ecosystem
management goal. This partnership is important and inevitable. Right now the
global partnership includes debt problems of developing countries, ODA, market access
under trade, new technologies and pandemics such as HIV. Now a global partnership for
development should be extended to cover the eco-system management, supported by an
international financing mechanism, to achieve the targets that we would set under this
goal. Such a financing mechanism must be based on tangible and verifiable deliverables.
To this end, we believe that integrating mechanisms such as the Global Fund, the Green
Climate Fund, Climate Investment Fund, and the Bio-diversity Fund should be associated
more closely with the UN system to enhance the effectiveness and coherence of the
global partnership.
I thank you Co-chair.