Statement of Helena Fraser at public hearings on the implementation of the national SDGs until 2030
World Environment Day helps to focus global attention on pressing environmental issues and to renew our resolve in overcoming environmental challenges.
World Environment Day helps to focus global attention on pressing environmental issues and to renew our resolve in overcoming environmental challenges, together in solidarity.
This year’s theme is biodiversity.
Recent events, from bush fires in Brazil, United States and Australia to locust swarms to the global COVID-19 outbreak, highlight how meddling with ecosystems and biodiversity is creating unprecedented challenges for humankind on a global scale. The globally agreed goal of living in harmony with nature cannot be achieved, unless we act together to stop the loss of biodiversity by 2030.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I commend the Oliy Majlis for organizing this public hearing. Public oversight of climate commitments is vital: inclusive, participatory and transparent monitoring of both progress and shortcomings in progress in Uzbekistan’s national SDGs – including on the environment – helps to ensure both Government accountability and community mobilization.
I am also grateful for the active participation of the parliament and civil society organizations in the recent public consultations of the draft Voluntary National Review of Agenda 2030 progress last month. Over 200 civil society representatives and 30 MPs participated in a series of online consultations bringing valuable perspectives and recommendations on the draft report and sustainable development issues in the country.
Today’s discussion focuses on environmental commitments of the Government of Uzbekistan:
- National SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation for all;
- National SDG13: Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;
- National SDG 15: Sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and reduced biodiversity loss.
Uzbekistan has achieved much progress on climate and environment commitments in the past three years.
Uzbekistan ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2018. The progress so far, and the Government’s robust attention, are promising evidence of increased commitment to climate action.
A particular achievement is the creation of the Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea region to support progress toward the national SDGs and to ‘leaving no one behind’ in communities hit hard by the devastating human-made disaster.
The Trust Fund provides a common platform for international cooperation on integrated activities to improve the environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea Region. In parallel, the government has recently articulated a vision to transform the Aral Sea into ‘…a Zone of Environmental Innovation and Technologies’. Linked to this, Uzbekistan is tackling deforestation and conducting intensive afforestation in the dried bottom of the Aral Sea. The UN Country Team is proud to cooperate with the Government and civil society on all these initiatives.
Despite much progress, there is much more to do! Allow me to share three reflections and suggestions.
The first is on the importance – for every country – of building back better and greener after the COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic has encouraged reflection on our relationship with the environment. Human activities such as pollution, unsustainable use of land and sea, climate change and invasion of alien species, are leading to biodiversity breakdown, the decline and degradation of natural ecosystems and faster disease transmission. All at an unprecedented scale.
Regional cooperation and policy coordination on all these issues can help to protect and restore ecosystems as a means of strengthening resilience to future pandemics and building back better. The COVID-19 crisis also presents an opportunity to strengthen regional frameworks to tackle trans-boundary risks and strengthen environmental resilience.
The opportunity to invest in a green recovery must not be lost:
Greening the recovery efforts can increase resilience to future crises by ensuring a healthy environment that backs healthy people.
Green fiscal stimulus packages and green financing can include the centrality of green and decent jobs; investments in public wealth and social and ecological infrastructure; circularity to advance sustainable consumption and production; responsible finance for climate stability and ecosystems integrity; and socially inclusive outcomes.
But without substantial scale-up of resources, achievement of environment priorities will be at risk. Thus, introducing new innovative financing instruments to address the issues of green development should be prioritized.
Promoting gender-responsive, climate and disaster risk governance systems to reduce risks and vulnerabilities, through improving multi-hazard early warning and enabling rapid recovery is also essential.
In particular, creating jobs in labour-intensive green industries will have both short and long-term benefits. For example, jobs in increasing the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings will help to achieve climate goals.
My second reflection is on the need for a comprehensive national strategy on climate change adaptation and mitigation. Although climate change concerns are included in most national policies and plans, with a focus on energy efficiency for mitigation and water-saving measures for adaptation. The lack of a comprehensive national strategy on climate change adaptation and mitigation is a barrier to the country achieving progress on targets 13.1 and 13.2.
My third suggestion is on the need to fill the gap in data collection on environmental SDG indicators. This is crucial for evidence-based planning and measuring environmental and climate SDGs, and of course is important for public accountability.
On this World Environment Day, the need to heal our relationship and start living in harmony with nature, has never been so evident.
The United Nations family is calling on the government, businesses and civil society to work together in building global understanding of nature’s key contribution to our survival.
From conversations across the country, I know well that citizens of Uzbekistan care deeply about their natural heritage and about protecting our common planet.
I invite all of you here today, government, parliament, civil society, media, to keep making your voice heard, keep holding world leaders to account for the promise of Agenda 2030!
And please do join us in completing our one-minute UN75 survey, on the future of international cooperation as we prepare for the UN’s 75th anniversary. Our aim is to reach as many people as possible: to listen to your hopes and fears and learn from your experiences. Please join us!
Dear participants, the UN Country Team looks forward to continued partnership and cooperation on all the issues I have outlined today. Working together, we can accelerate progress over the next decade to help achieve the national SDGs, including in the area of environment and climate action, by 2030!