Amb. Ittiporn Boonpracong, Permanent Representative of Thailand to UNEP, welcomed G-77/China delegates, in Thailand’s role as chair of the Group. He noted that the lunch marked the G-77/China’s 50th anniversary as a “historic and special occasion,” and invited the guest speakers to make their remarks.
Calling for people-centered development and inclusive economic growth, Oyun Sanjaasuren, President of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) and Minister of the Environment and Green Development, Mongolia, commended UNEA’s progress on putting sustainable development on a path in harmony with nature and society. She underscored that the voice and needs of the G-77/China should be heard, given its size and membership, and identified the role of the Group as helping countries mobilize support, including technical and financial resources. Recognizing achievements toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she noted that some challenges remain to be taken up under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in the areas of health, water security and sanitation.
Sanjaasuren urged the G-77/China to stand with one voice on key priorities at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), such as sustainable consumption and production (SCP). She urged attendees to reach a successful result that their children and grandchildren can look back on.
Referring to the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Kenya, asserted that scientific evidence of climate change is “overwhelming." She called for “ambitious action” in the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and adequate, sustainable and predictable funding.
Calling illegal trade in wildlife a “major impediment to sustainable development,” Wakhungu urged the international community to unite to combat this vice.
She welcomed UNEA’s adoption of a decision on Chemicals and Waste on the road to achieving sound management of chemicals, which she said would lead to minimizing adverse effects on health and the environment. In this vein, she applauded the Minamata Convention on Mercury, calling for assistance for developing countries that do not have the expertise and capacity to effectively deal with harmful substances.
On ecosystem management, she called for decisive action to enhance ecosystem-based adaptation, endorsing an integrated and flexible approach that encompasses the three dimensions of sustainable development.
Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), offered some reflections on UNCTAD’s role as the traditional partner of the G-77/China, and its involvement in the challenges of closing the financial gap to achieving the SDGs.
Kituyi recounted the origins of the G-77 at a 1964 UNCTAD meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, where Ernesto Che Guavera, then a cabinet minister for Cuba, was present. According to Kituyi, Guavera suggested to Gamani Corea, who represented what was then the Government of Ceylon, to draw up a resolution on the commitment of the developing countries present to “being one team.” The resolution, he said, was drawn up and adopted within 48 hours, and thus the Group of 77 was born.
Kituyi underscored the responsibility of the G-77/China to highlight collective international responsibility while emphasizing the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR), saying, “The weakest among us cannot carry the same burden.”
Kituyi stressed that the world is facing current threats to multilateralism, including the forming of ‘mega-regional’ partnerships including trans-Atlantic and Pacific partnerships. He highlighted that the G-77 now has 133 members, making it the largest grouping in the UN system, and he urged its members to maintain “the discipline of belonging.”
Kituyi said that mega-regional negotiations will not resolve critical issues such as European Union fisheries subsidies, unless the G-77 makes its voice heard. Referring to the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), he noted that SIDS will need the G-77 to promote an agenda of protection.
A representative of the Royal Thai Embassy in Nairobi warmly thanked all guests, before they adjourned to resume the High-Level Segment of UNEA.