“RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE”
H.E. LYGIA KRAAG-KETELDIJK
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
REPUBLIC OF SURINAME
On the occasion of the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations
October 3rd, 2007.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour for me to address this gathering today and on behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of Suriname I extend to you, Mr. President, my sincere congratulations for having been entrusted the task of leading the work of the General Assembly during this Sixty-second Session. We pledge our full support and cooperation as we collectively continue our work on the many challenges the world is faced with today.
Allow me to salute your predecessor, Madam Haya Rashad Khalifa, President of the 61st Session of the General Assembly for so fervently guiding the ongoing process of reform of the United Nations and for her dedication and commitment towards the strengthening of multilateralism.
To the newly appointed Secretary General of the Organization, His Excellency Ban Ki Moon we also pledge our support in furthering the ideals of the Charter towards sustainable development, international peace and security and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The current international scene predominantly speaks about the devastating effects of climate change, also the recent findings of the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” has confirmed the warming of the climate system, and clearly linked it to human activities.
Today, the international community more than ever before offers scientific evidence to indicate and proof that human activity in many ways continues to contribute to the deteriorating situation of the global climate.
While running the risk of presenting a lecture right now, I must note that finding a solution for a problem starts by identifying and acknowledging that problem and its roots causes. In that regard I would like to bring to your attention that while we are in this room debating our actions to climate change, out there in the world the activities that contribute to global warming are continuing and in some cases increasing.
Finding effective and permanent solutions may not be easy, since many of these activities relates to our ways and standards of living and our aspirations.
For instance Mr. President, the human population keeps, aspires and promotes lifestyles which lead to over consumption of energy and other sources, as well as appliances that contribute to global warming. These consumption patterns are unfortunately presented, accepted and sometimes promoted as the norm of standards of living, to be pursued by those who are not on that level and way of consumption.
In many parts of the world we maintain unsustainable production patterns for many reasons. Most of the times because of business demands. Maybe more efficient production systems are too costly to produce or to acquire, or maybe because of the mere fact that current not-climate friendly systems yields to more economic benefit in the short term.
The global community will not be able to present an adequate and responsible response to climate change and global warming, if we are not able to look beyond the short term gains/ benefits/ effects. We need to support strategic and balanced approaches, which take social, economic and environmental aspects into consideration.
The majority of the developing world faces significant tests how to respond to their development challenges, life styles and standards of living. As well as demands from their populations, which in many cases require increasing use of energy sources at one hand and responding to climate change, which may require decreasing use of energy sources, on the other.
For developing countries this challenge is greater since they lack the resources to invest in the acquisition or production of alternatives which use renewable energy and/or are energy efficient.
Known for its richness in natural resources and amidst the growing worldwide urge to exploit natural resources, the Government of Suriname finds itself in the position to reevaluate the balance between economic development and thus, the improvement of the welfare and well-being of its people on one hand and protection of the nation’s vast environment on the other hand.
Suriname has realized an economic growth of approximately 5% per year during the past 5 years and we need an increased energy availability to continue or increase this growth rate. The availability and affordability of energy for households, industries and the transportation sector are undoubtedly crucial if we want to succeed
As a low-lying coastal state in the north of South America, the Republic of Suriname like many other nations is already being affected by the dangers of climate change. The flooding in the interior last year and its effects on the indigenous and maroon communities have induced the Government to accelerate its actions to reduce the negative effects due to climate change. Adaptation of measures such as sea defense systems are underway as well as education of the general public on the effects of and coping with climate change.
Many countries especially the SIDS and disaster prone countries do not have the means to invest in adaptation and mitigation measures. As a global community we need to make the financial resources available to support the countries to meet adaptation and mitigation challenges either by re-adjusting the current mechanisms or creating new ones.
This for sure warrants the international community to respond to climate change and stop doing business as usual and concentrate on ways and means to sustain the existence of human and other forms of life on planet earth.
My delegation views the role of the United Nations as crucial in addressing the challenges to climate change.
In this regard we commend your predecessor for taking the groundbreaking initiative for highlighting the issue at the United Nations at the first-ever meeting exclusively devoted to climate change.
The Secretary-General’s initiative to discuss at the highest political level a comprehensive approach is also commendable. Other noteworthy initiatives at the global level are all testimony of a growing recognition that action is needed more than ever in order to translate the emerging scientific consensus into political consensus.
Our ultimate goal has to be a comprehensive agreement under the UNFCCC process. Such an agreement must tackle climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies, deforestation and resource mobilization. We must encourage our leaders to reach this agreement by 2009, and to have it in force by the expiry of the current Kyoto Protocol commitment period in 2012.
As most countries, Suriname is also putting its efforts in at least realizing the targets set forth in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. These efforts have been expressed in different documents including both our Government Declaration 2005-2010 and Multi-Annual Development Plan 2006-2011.
In this regard the Government of Suriname has taken actions, although recently in 1997, to mainstream environmental management by among others establishing a Ministry of Environment and its technical bodies. Nevertheless, since the 1950s nature conservation has been key to the protection of the environment in the Republic of Suriname. To date Suriname has about 12% of the total land area, approximately 20,000 square kilometers, established as nature protection areas.
The Government of Suriname aware of its responsibility for the sustainable development of its people accepts this global challenge, although it recognizes that it will not be easy, to provide the necessary energy which is critical to bring about development in every part of the country, including the remote areas and the interior that are mainly, populated by indigenous peoples and maroons.
At present, Suriname produces most of its electricity, approximately 75%, through hydropower and the rest through generators that run on Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), which is produced by the domestic State Oil Company. In addition the National Energy Company is responsible for the production and distribution of electricity. Recently the State Oil Company has been assigned with the production of electricity, thereby liberalizing the sector. This electricity, however, is distributed to the population through the National Energy Company.
Currently we produce enough electricity to satisfy the local needs; however, an estimation of our energy needs for 2024 at a growth rate of 6% indicates a 3 fold increase of these needs in the next 15 years. To fulfill that demand we are currently looking at the expansion of our hydro facilities and thereby controlling cost of electricity production and thus electricity rates to the population.
The Government of Suriname is fully aware of the environmental consequences of this exercise; however it is momentarily in the process of evaluating all its potential. Plans also exist to enlarge the availability of electricity, by the creation of small hydro-power systems, to the indigenous and maroons communities in the remote areas of the interior. This will be realized with limited to no inundation and adverse effects to biodiversity by making use of the natural hydrological conditions.
Major efforts are also in process to improve the efficient use of energy in Suriname in cooperation with the Cuban, Dutch and Venezuelan Governments. In cooperation with Cuba, we are currently replacing all regular light bulbs with the fluorescent bulbs.
When this project is accomplished, more then 80% of the existing high energy light bulbs in the country should have been replaced, resulting in the use of less energy for the same amount of electric light.
With the assistance of the Netherlands we are presently on route to establish an energy fund, thereby creating co-financing for projects to be carried out in the energy sector in Suriname.
Mr. President, the Republic of Suriname has proven and is willing to play its role in the sustainable development of our planet, but obviously acknowledges that it does not stand alone in this struggle.
Therefore, it calls on the international communities and partners to both step up their efforts and, where currently available, continue their technical and financial support to safeguard the world environment on behalf of current and future generations.
Finally, we would like to reiterate Suriname’s commitment to support all efforts by the International Community that regards sustainable development.
Thank you very much for your attention.