Rebeca Grynspan: Opening Ceremony of the Global South-South Development Expo

19 Nov 2012

Statement by Ms. Rebeca Grynspan
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator
on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the Global South-South Development Expo
Hofburg Palace, Vienna 19 November 2012

I congratulate the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation for bringing us all together and I warmly thank UNIDO and his Director General Kandeh Yumkella, for the generous hosting.

The focus of this year’s Expo - “Investing in Energy and Climate Change”: Inclusive Partnerships for Sustainable Development” couldn’t be more relevant and timely.

As the Human Development report of 2011 clearly showed, the effects of climate change and rising inequality threaten to undermine hard won human development gains around the world.  In fact, the impact of severe drought and flooding suggests that it already is. Therefore, not only does the world have to take action to preclude further damage, but resources for adaptation are needed to face the irreversible impacts already happening.

I come from New York where the wide spread devastation of Hurricane Sandy reminds us how destructive extreme and volatile weather can be.  Right now thousands of people are still without electricity and heat, many lost their homes, and too many lives were lost – in the U.S.A. and in the Caribbean, where Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Bermuda, were largely affected although the hurricane’s impact in those countries was grossly under-reported.

For people living in developing countries the impact of climate change can be particularly catastrophic - not to mention in least developed countries and small island developing states where vulnerability threatens their mere existence.

Over the past decade, more than 200 million people annually have been affected by extreme weather and climate-related disasters.

In November 2011, the International Energy Agency warned that the world may be fast approaching a tipping point concerning climate change, and suggested that the next five years would be crucial for greenhouse gas reduction efforts. The Doha Climate Change Conference starting next week in Qatar represents a fundamental opportunity to move this agenda forward with all the parties involved, and where expectations have been set high.

The challenges involved with tackling climate change and more broadly sustainable development may seem insurmountable, but proven solutions and strategies do exist and significant climate finance schemes are already on the table.

Many of these solutions and strategies originate from countries of the South, which are using innovative approaches to tackling climate change, while at the same time expanding economic opportunity, increasing access to energy, and promoting social inclusion. The three South- South Cooperation awards that will be given in this expo to India Impex (Sunlite) for its innovative off grid solar lighting initiatives, to the National Institute of Biodiversity of Costa Rica for its innovative partnership, and to Brazil and Mozambique for its leadership in biofuels production; these are very good examples of  what we have called in UNDP “triple win solutions”. So I hope that in the following days we move from talking only about trade-offs, to talk about triple wins where we stop to oppose growth to environment or environment to poverty reduction!

Let me just give you some other examples that are showcased at this Expo: The Yasuni-ITT Initiative in Ecuador that fights climate change, while simultaneously protecting one of the world’s richest areas in biodiversity, as well as the rights and livelihoods of the indigenous people who depend on it. UNDP is proud to have supported this initiative.

Nepal, Kenya, and China show us very good practices on renewable energy and south- south cooperation, the efforts of UAE that is an oil exporting country are to be noted, as is the innovative scheme of a South-South trust fund established by India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) and the partnership with countries like Japan on triangular cooperation. 

Many of these solutions will also contribute to the goals of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All Initiative’, which our host, Mr. Yumkella, is leading. Tackling climate change requires shifting to alternative sources of energy to move to a low carbon development path, and it is well established that energy is fundamental to MDG achievement and to lift people out of poverty.

Sustainable and safe energy in the home and the community has many benefits for the lives of men, women and children – from health to education and economic empowerment. We have no doubt that universal access to energy will be a key driver for inclusive development and that more efficient and clean energy will help to drive more green jobs and industrialization efforts for more diversified and productive economies.

In 2012, an estimated 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity at all, 1 billion have only access to unreliable electricity networks and 3 billion people do not have access to modern energy sources, with more women and children dying from respiratory related illnesses due to home pollution than people dying from malaria.

This agenda will require strong partnerships involving governments, international organizations, civil society and community based organizations, academia, and very importantly: the private sector.

We in the UN family also need to work together to deliver as one for member states in their efforts to scale up proven solutions to advance sustainable development and to support their demands for adequate policy frameworks, institutional capacities, technical expertise and long term planning. Our experience with UNIDO, UNEP, IRENA, the World Bank, the regional banks and with other important partners within the UN system will be fundamental.

In this regard, I am very happy to see over twenty United Nations agencies represented here. I am also pleased to see in this room so many representatives of Member States, public- and private sector organizations, civil society, academia, and community-based organizations.

As said before, partnerships are central for success.  Not only because we are in an unavoidable interconnected world, but because we live in a different cooperation space.  We could say that the geography and the geometry of the cooperation space has changed.  We don’t have a donors/recipients dynamic anymore, or countries that give while others receive.  We have countries that are donors and recipients at the same time. Developing countries have increasingly established their own cooperation agencies - many of their directors are here with us today!.  We have relevant experiences, policies, technologies and investments that go from the North to the South, from the South to the North and from the South to the South / in a linear, triangular and quadrangular way. 

This is what this expo is all about, this is what we try to harness and potentiate in our organizations, to share and scale up an array of options and solutions for the development challenges of today, where there is no one size fits all, but a lot to learn and exchange from each other.

I would like to conclude by urging all of you as you engage with each other here during the next days to keep in mind how best to invest and scale up our triple win solutions to support and promote sustainable human development and build the future we all want.

I wish you all a very productive and rewarding Expo.