Statement by Ambassador H.E. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

Initial Discussion of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development on the Zero Draft Document
25 January 2012

Mr Co-chair,

Sri Lanka welcomes the Zero Draft as the basis for further discussions and improvements on the burning issue of the day, Sustainable Development, and commends the efforts of the UNCSD Secretariat on its document “The Future We Want”. We associate ourselves with the statement of G-77 and China delivered by Algeria.

Sri Lanka has recently graduated to middle-income status, but remains at the lower end. It has achieved many socio-economic targets, largely through its own efforts, including many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the past two decades. It has demonstrated remarkable success in the areas of poverty eradication, infrastructure development, public health, gender equality and education. Along with our development priorities, Sri Lanka has always been committed to the protection of the environment, even in the challenging context of the current global economic and financial circumstances. “Haritha Lanka”, the National Action Plan towards Greener Sri Lanka, encompasses many elements of sustainable development.

Sri Lanka endorses the concept in the Zero Draft that sustainable development goals (SDGs) should be centered on human development.  We believe that a clearer definition of SDGs is required. A mere compendium of voluntary commitments, without specific, measurable goals or review processes, appears to be a weak framework for the document. In this regard we observe that the specific definition of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has enabled developing countries to plan their development strategies. We also note that defining a comprehensive roadmap with definitive timelines and goals between 2012 and 2030 is imperative. Funding for the MDGs remain a key issue. If funding does not materialize, innovative formulations will do little to help.

While addressing the inclusion of countries with special sustainable development concerns such as the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States, my delegation proposes that a well-focused political commitment be included in the Zero Draft to support graduation and maintain the achievements of these countries. The inclusion of middle-income countries is equally important as the countries in this category also have to expand their industrial and agricultural bases to sustain and advance their sustainable development objectives.

Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment in relation to the protection and preservation of the marine environment and the use of its resources to meet sustainable development goals. We therefore propose that the Zero Draft give prominence to the sustainable use of marine resources, with special reference to the issues of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and over exploitation in accordance with the previous General Assembly Resolutions and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) commitments. The oceans are crucial for many aspects of our survival on this planet.

We must recognize the necessity of elaborating political commitments to address bridging the implementation gap and seriously addressing the insufficient steps that have been taken at the international level to support sustainable development efforts of developing countries. In this context, special attention must be given to countries that are incapable of managing multiple crises – both natural and man-made.

Sri Lanka wishes to renew its commitment to share its development experiences with other countries, especially with the developing world. We hope that the deliberations in this preparatory meeting would make a constructive contribution to the sustainable development agenda of Rio+20 and the way forward.

Thank you.

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