Ways to meet the world's increasing energy needs while protecting the global environment will be among the issues topping the agenda of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, which opened today its two-week session in New York.
The Commission, which is charged with monitoring the implementation of the "Agenda 21" action programme adopted at the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, is expected to focus much of its attention on reducing world consumption of fossil fuels and developing alternative sustainable energy options. It will also examine ways of targeting energy subsidies in order to reduce the use of dirty fuels and encouraging research and development in cleaner fuels.
Addressing the Commission this morning, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Nitin Desai said that for the first time an integrated discussion of energy as a sectoral issue was taking place at the UN, adding that it was one of the areas where the Commission had demonstrated its capacity to "add value" to Agenda 21.
Mr. Desai emphasized that one of the major changes in the world since 1992 was the growing concern about globalization and its social and environmental impact. Energy was central to many of those concerns, he noted, for energy consumption had great consequences for the global environment and was closely connected to many other issues, including poverty eradication. Other important issues that required discussion included the management of environmental disasters, technology transfer, the impact of emissions on people's health and the fact that energy was a major consumer of financial resources.
Immediately upon the conclusion of the current session, the Commission will reconvene to begin preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002. The 2002 Summit will assess implementation of the agreements made at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and consider the way forward.