We join others in thanking the Co-Chairs for the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document. In our view, it provides a good basis for negotiations.
We also associate ourselves with the statement made on behalf of Pacific Islands Forum states which focused mainly on oceans and fisheries issues. These are a priority for New Zealand. We were pleased to see the references in the zero draft although, as the Pacific statement mentioned, we seek some further strengthening.
Today we comment on other aspects of the zero draft, starting with the structure. We commend the Co-chairs for a comparatively short document. Our aim now should be to make it even more concise and focused. The final text should be inspiring and action-oriented –one that is not only appropriate for Leaders but also captures the public imagination as that is critical for implementation. We should make every word count. One strong reference to an issue is better than a multitude which dilutes the impact.
We consider that there is scope for streamlining as highlighted in our written comments on paragraphs 1-24. Some of those comments are also applicable to other parts of the document. For example, we accept that there needs to be reaffirmation of relevant documents such as the various Rio documents. This should be done at the beginning of the document but then ‘taken as read’ without needing to mention commitments individually in later parts of the text. More generally, we should be disciplined when drawing on other texts, avoiding selective quotation.
Also, in what is to be an action-oriented document, we should carefully scrutinise “noting” paragraphs, ensuring whether they really are necessary and add value.
The draft currently contains three sections entitled “Framework for action”. This is potentially confusing. For example, much of Section V(A) seem to be green economy related actions. In our view there should be one such section - a clear list of agreed actions which can be easily located. This will also contribute to our streamlining efforts.
There are also a number of paragraphs scattered throughout the text that propose goals, targets, indicators, strategies or toolkits. Some rationalisation is needed. Before working through the proposals individually we suggest a general discussion at the March meeting to gain a clearer understanding of the objectives underpinning each proposal, including what each would be used for and how they relate to one another. We should be cautious not to invest too much time and energy in developing such tools unless we are sure that there is a demand for them, and that they would make a difference.
In a number of areas the zero draft mandates further work –while this is probably an appropriate approach in most areas, we need to ensure that the timeframes specified are realistic but also ambitious. We should not lose momentum.
We are pleased to see the draft contains a number of issues that New Zealand regards as priorities, including on the phasing out of fossil fuel, fisheries and agricultural subsidies. We would, however, like a much greater degree of specificity as well as more ambitious timeframes so intend to propose some amendments.
As we said in December, we are also open to discussing further the inclusion of text relating to the development of sustainable development goals. The draft lists priority areas including oceans, which New Zealand would support given that the importance of oceans as a global resource. However, there needs to be further discussion on how to determine which areas should be the subject of SDGs.
There are some general issues mentioned in the text which may benefit from more prominence, including:
We are all aware of the need for financial resources for implementation and also of the constraints arising from the current economic situation. We would like to see more emphasis on better use of resources which should therefore come from a range of sources. (The text refers to the private sector but does not, for instance mention, civil society and foundations, nor domestic resources such as taxation. Public-private partnerships should also be encouraged.) One aspect in that regard is building on the progress made on aid effectiveness, most recently at Busan, and we support the reference to the Busan Partnership.
Section IV, which deals with IFSD, contains some alternative paragraphs. New Zealand does not yet have final positions on these issues. We suggest that time be set aside at the March meeting for a general exchange of views on Section IV before starting on paragraph-by-paragraph consideration. In order to determine the precise shape of the institutional architecture there needs to be an emerging consensus around what we are trying to achieve. As we mentioned in December, form should follow function. The driver for change should be improved effectiveness, not just change for change’s sake.
One aspect that would benefit from a stronger paragraph is the one UN approach to operational activities at the country level, reflecting the progress made in reform initiatives, including delivering as one and the harmonisation of business practices.
We look forward to getting into discussion on the detail in the coming meetings.