Yeşil İş Konferansı "Sürdürülebilir Kalkınma, Yeşil İş"17.Eyl.2013
United Nations Resident Coordinator,Turkey
Resident Representative,UNDP Turkey
Honorable Minister Yıldız,
Distinguished representatives of Civil Society, Private Sector representatives, Media Representatives and colleagues from the UN family.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to address you this morning at this fifth Green Business Conference, one of the most powerful sustainability platforms in Turkey.
Let me start by congratulating the Sustainable Academy for its success in raising awareness about the different dimensions of Sustainable, Green Business, and for vigorously advocating and engaging such a large number of stakeholders around this topic.
Sustainable Development, Green Growth and Business
Green growth is central to why we are here as it can be regarded as a centre and indeed central piece of the broader topic I wish to reflect on –sustainable development.
Sustainable development as a critical outcome, reaffirmed most recently at the 2012 Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, has three equally important legs, economic, social and environmental, with the goal of equitable and sustainable prosperity for all. Since the Stockholm Conference on Environment and Development in 1972, the report of the Brundtland Commission over a quarter of a century ago and the UN Rio Conference in 1992, when they were but forward, the interrelation between the three pillars of sustainability (the social, economic and the environmental), have now become undisputed and were formally affirmed at Rio +20 last year. Sustainable development now also has the status of a timeless, universal vision.
How it can best be pursued, however, will change over time as circumstances, risks and opportunities, capabilities and interests evolve. Four major and interlinked trends should be highlighted here: a growing global population beset by structural inequality, environmental stress, a multipolar leadership landscape and finally, the end of the era of cheap environmental assets, finance and labor. This is not a definitive list, but establishes key contextual factors that need to be taken into account in considering the global community’s future potential pace in realizing sustainable development.
In this context, let me highlight the recommendations of the UN Secretary General`s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability. The Panel`s recommendations, whilst broad based, highlight the core economic imperative of addressing sustainable development and focus on policy measures to support an accelerated transition towards an inclusive, green economy, including through:
- Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reduction: reducing such subsidies, currently amounting to in excess of US$400 billion annually, to incentivise greener energy and production systems and unlock public resources to enable their deployment more effectively in support of vulnerable communities.
- Getting Prices Right: Establishing price signals that incorporate environmental externalities, as appropriate, using fiscal and regulatory measures such as carbon taxes and emissions trading systems.
- Sustainable Public Procurement: Applying sustainable development criteria that leverage the huge potential of an estimated annual US$3-4 trillion global public procurement market.
- Guiding Investment: Encouraging widespread adoption of sustainable development criteria in investment, including by sovereign wealth funds, public pension funds and export credit agencies.
Although such economic measures were not adopted multilaterally at Rio+20, there was a clear recognition that national economies need to transform themselves. Different views remain, however, on what the priorities should be, which policies are likely to be most effective, and who should bear the costs and risks.
The global debate on this and on sustainable development goals (SDGs) which are “coherent with and integrated into the UN Development Agenda beyond 2015” is currently ongoing.
Much of this debate is focused on green growth. Whether couched in terms of “green growth” or “equal access to sustainable development”, it is clear that securing the benefits of a green economy is no longer a luxury or optional but a clear necessity; failure to do so offers only increasing instability, damage to vulnerable communities, and over-time, regressive development.
The world has no option but to address the goal of sustainability at scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to address the underlying risks to development. In turn, the scale and pace of action needed requires that the private sector, including capital markets, are mobilized, and that the growing level of South-South (development) cooperation is leveraged.
The central argument is both simple and powerful: when we invest in green growth, we benefit both the economy and the environment. When we innovate with clean technologies, when we reduce, recycle and even recover energy from waste, when we invest in education for sustainability, we are investing in a sustainable future. And of course, investing now in green solutions will be cheaper –- and ultimately more profitable –- than spending much more, later, in a catch-up race for global damage control and competitiveness.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UN has long been urging governments, businesses and civil society to take concrete actions which contribute to sustainable development, and green growth in particular.
The response more recently has been somewhat encouraging. Countries, communities and companies are sharing these ideas and taking action. For example, over 80 Governments have engaged and committed to support the goals of energy access, efficiency and renewables within the framework of Sustainable Energy for All, the initiative the UN Secretary General launched last year at Rio+20. While Turkey is yet to join or commit to this initiative, the UN and UNDP in Turkey have strongly encouraged it to do so as soon as possible.
More than 700 voluntary commitments and more than $500 billion dollars were registered and pledged during the Rio+20 conference by businesses, development banks, cities and regions, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society activists.
- The 1,800 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange who committed to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions,
- The cities of Beijing, Cairo, Delhi, London, Moscow, New York, and Sydney, among others, who committed to reducing a gigaton of carbon emission reductions, and to report on their progress, and
- Eight development banks, which committed to spending $175 billion in grant and loan funding by 2020 to support sustainable low carbon transportation.
As you will hopefully agree, the private sector can and should play a significant role in making a difference. We all recognize that to address the challenges of sustainable development and green growth, a joint effort and genuine commitment of individuals, sectors, and countries is needed.
Many actions are now underway, many companies are reducing their own footprint, reducing the energy consumption, using only renewables and becoming carbon neutral.
This suggests that motivated leaders from across economic and social sectors and sub-national governments can help accelerate sustainable development. Many of these private sector efforts are well ahead of many governments at the national level, and certainly well ahead of what UN member states can and have agreed on globally. Such leaders are not waiting for governments to act – nor should they. The need to act is urgent!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Having the meeting here, in Turkey, is also very pertinent, as Turkey offers many good examples in this area but also needs to show more commitment in other areas.
The Government of Turkey's commitment to Sustainable Development is well recognized internationally, and not only through its very active and high level participation during the past and on-going sustainable development deliberations, at global, regional and national level. Examples of the latter include the participation of Mr. Kadir Topbaş, the Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. I met to discuss these and related issues only last evening and he reiterated his commitment to the UN’s goals in this area. Mr. Kemal Madenoğlu, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Development of Turkey is also a member of the Open-Ended Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). It is, therefore, not a coincidence that the UN’s Europe and Central Asia consultation event on the Post-2015 Development Agenda will take place here, in Istanbul, between November 6-8, 2013.
In terms of the economy, Turkey’s economic development to date has been characterized by a relatively low, but rapidly increasing environmental footprint. The country has lower emissions and energy use per capita than many other emerging or industrialized economies. Turkey has adopted progressive environmental legislation in the context of aligning its laws and regulations with EU Directives.
Turkey has made big commitments to develop renewable energy resources. But clearly Turkey remains below the international technological frontier in resource efficiency in many areas and, as earlier indicated, has yet to sign on to the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Resource use efficiency remains a challenge, because of the perception that policy efforts to reduce waste and pollution could come at the cost of declines in profitability and international competitiveness. But this is also an opportunity, because if such policies are complemented with measures to promote the adoption (and the discovery of new) green technologies, a greener but not necessarily lower growth path may be possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At this point, let me stress the strategic and global nature of the UNDP- Turkey partnership, which includes joint work on sustainable human development that could help not only Turkey but other countries as well.
For example, under the leadership of the Ministry of Development, we have provided support to integrate sustainable development principles in national policies as well as; developed and piloted solutions in several areas, such as energy, climate change, water, forestry, biodiversity, and chemicals.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by emphasizing that we will continue working with the Government of Turkey on these and many other initiatives and will also support global cooperation around the key development challenges facing the world.
We have in front of us a unique opportunity to manage our future and the planet which we all share. We have the opportunity to manage development differently. Human development can be advanced and the integrity of ecosystems maintained only if we genuinely transition to a green and inclusive economy. Conversely, a failure to make this transition will condemn the world’s people and our planet to an unsustainable and inequitable future which is not conducive to peace, harmony, or stability, which is particularly important in this religion.
I hope that this event will inspire many of us gathered here to take further significant steps to integrate the principles of sustainable development into our daily life and work, and to generate new ideas that can help us to significantly move this agenda forward.
I thank you for your patience.