Thank you Madam Chair. I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Let me first of all thank Ambassador Amrit Bahadur Rai of Nepal and his Bureau members for a job well done and congratulate you, Ambassador Frazier, together with the other members of the new bureau on your election and assure you, once again, of our full cooperation and support in the weeks to come.
Madam Chair, this year’s 2C General Debate theme “Crisis, Resilience and Recovery – Accelerating Progress towards the 2030 Agenda” captures the essence of this make-or-break decade, in which humanity is facing one overarching challenge: promoting sustainable development and tackling inequality while learning to live within planetary boundaries, in light of the increasingly disastrous effects of climate change. The pandemic has opened our eyes to the obvious: our lives and our health are inextricably linked to the health of our fields, forests, oceans and fauna. We share this planet with other living beings. It is time to stop waging war against nature. We need a peace treaty with our planet, for the generations to come. The pandemic has taught us that without increased international cooperation and strong multilateral institutions, we cannot successfully tackle the challenges we face, as reflected in Our Common Agenda report.
The European Green Deal is how we intend to fix our relationship with the planet. At the heart of it, is the objective of making Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. But this is not a task for the European Union alone. The latest alarming UN report on a possible 2.7 degree warming shows we need to step up efforts to reach our emission targets. COP26 in Glasgow is a vital opportunity for all Parties to enhance climate ambition. The EU has already committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. We all need to raise ambitions in our NDCs, as shown by the recent NDC synthesis report.
The upcoming COP is also a chance to close the climate finance gap. The European Union has the ambition to deliver. We have already announced an additional 4 billion euros for climate finance from the EU institutions until 2027 and we expect other partners to step up their climate finance too.
The fight against climate change involves reconciling economic growth with the health of the planet. It involves changing how we engage with nature, how we eat, travel, and consume. It will be impossible to achieve the SDGs without a shift towards sustainable and resilient food systems that empower our communities, strengthen our economies, and protect our planet. Protecting biodiversity is also a prerequisite to build stronger economies and safeguard our wellbeing. This is why the European Union has just announced the doubling of external funding for biodiversity protection, in particular for the most vulnerable countries. We must make the most of the Climate and Nature Super Year, which is now starting, to bring about the economic and social transformation we need: COP 26, but also the Biodiversity COP, the UN Ocean Conference, UNEA 5.2 and Stockholm+50 will play an essential role in this regard. At the heart of this transformation is the transition to a circular economy where we give back to the environment more than we take from it. In the EU, we have made this transition a necessary step to achieve climate neutrality, create sustainable growth and jobs, and halt biodiversity loss.
If we want to have a real chance to win the fight against climate change, we first have to build back better and greener from the pandemic. This global shock has tested multilateralism and global partnerships. Yet, it has also offered the opportunity to come together to work towards a more sustainable, inclusive, just, equal and resilient world. We believe that a global vaccination campaign is a first step in this regard. This is not a race against countries, but a race against time. Safe and effective vaccines, supplies as well as diagnostics and treatment, should be accessible to all across the globe. The EU has already committed to share 250 million doses of the vaccine to low-income countries and will donate an additional 200 million until the middle of next year. As one of the lead contributors to ACT-A and its COVAX Facility, the EU will continue to play a central role in ensuring fair access to vaccines, tests and treatments for all.
Strengthening health systems and universal health coverage are fundamental for the well-being of our societies and to prevent future pandemics. This must include a holistic One Health approach that looks at the root causes of epidemics, the environment’s effects on health, and the threat of anti-microbial resistance. Working as Team Europe, the EU and its MS have mobilised more than EUR 40 billion to help partner countries fight the pandemic, address immediate health emergency and humanitarian needs, strengthen health systems, and social protection and support the economic recovery. Additionally, President von der Leyen has called for a global recovery initiative that links investment and debt relief with the implementation of the SDGs and the goals of the Paris Agreement to secure a truly transformative post-Covid recovery that leaves no one behind.
Let me assure you that the European Union remains fully committed to strengthen partnerships and means of implementation to meet the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda, of which the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is an integral part
To ensure resilient, fair and sustainable recovery, the science-policy-society interface must be at the heart of our policies. The pandemic has demonstrated the crucial role of science, technology, and innovation in finding life-saving solutions, making well-informed decisions, and building resilient societies. The EU recognises the role of digital technologies in building more prosperous and greener societies and is committed to harness new technologies to accelerate sustainable development, including by taking steps to improve digital infrastructure and promote digital literacy and skills worldwide. To bring tangible benefits to people, digital technologies need to be human-centred, accessible to everyone, and fully respect human rights and freedoms.
The Second Committee has an important role to play and needs to do its part. The EU commends the dedication of the Bureau in preparing for the Second Committee this year, to show progress in our strive to reopen and gradually return to normal working conditions. We believe the Program of Work circulated by the Bureau acknowledges the improved situation while putting the health of all delegates and staff first. The EU also welcomes the 2C Modalities paper as it provides us with a clear and concrete path forward for this committee season.
Let me say however that it was in a spirit of compromise that we accepted the equal treatment of all resolutions instead of focusing on negotiating in depth a limited number of resolutions in-depth, which would have sent a strong and positive signal that the UN acknowledges the improved pandemic situation and is ready to go back to business to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The EU and its Member States aim to do so to the extent possible within the limitations of the modalities agreed upon by all of us. At the same time we expect strict adherence to these commonly agreed modalities in all resolutions, using the modalities paper and the guidelines on technical updates issued by the Secretariat as our guiding instrument.
We are fortunate that other major on-going UN processes related to issues on the 2C agenda are currently underway, such as the three Rio Conventions, and the LDC-5 Conference, including consultations on its Outcome Document. In that respect, we welcome the fact that this year’s modalities do not hamper these very important ongoing processes.
As during previous sessions, we do not plan to intervene in the debate on specific agenda items beyond the present statement.