Opening Intervention at Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting, UN Commission on Sustainable Development -19

John M. Matuszak
Division Chief, Sustainable Development and Multilateral Affairs, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Office of Environmental Policy
Opening Plenary - February 28 Morning Session
New York, NY
February 28, 2011

Thank you chair.

The policy goals of CSD-19 – to increase the sustainability of development in the areas of chemicals, mining, sustainable production and consumption, transportation, and waste management – provide us with both challenges and, more importantly, opportunities. Our challenge is to change the way we view and use our natural resources while developing economically. Economic growth should not and does not need to be “development at all costs.” It should be balanced in a way that takes into consideration the environment, natural resources, and social issues addressing poverty and improving the statues of women. This is a challenge, but, as we saw in CSD-18, one in which we are making great strides. Collectively, there are many efforts already in progress and future collaborative efforts can successfully push us towards our goals. This week my delegation will highlight a series of policies and programs in our short interventions and extended remarks. While we do not believe in a “one size fits all,” we do believe that we can take collective action and utilize successful programs as models to be adapted more broadly.

President Obama’s commitment to sustainable development is exemplified in his recent State of the Union Address with his call for a clean energy future. The President has also committed the United States to a strong new Global Development policy as a pillar of our foreign policy. This policy seeks to make economic growth and sustainable development mutually reinforcing. It begins with a commitment to science and innovation. Achieving Sustainable Development will require new products and approaches that utilize resources more efficiently. Governments need to build the capacity of their citizenry, including women and girls, as agents of change for economic advancement, poverty eradication, and environmental protection. Governments should invest in science and establish policies that unleash the power of the private sector to seek innovative new approaches and products.

Meeting the challenge of sustainable development for the CSD-19 themes will also depend upon improving governance at all levels while understanding the primary responsibility for sustainable development, including environmental protection, is with national governments. For development to be sustainable, it must be transparent and inclusive. We need to strengthen participation in decision making at the national sub-national and local levels and include underrepresented groups, including women where they are not fully involved. In many cases government’s role is to empower civil society, business and other non-state actors to do their part in bringing about sustainable development. It is only with the support and participation of civil society that the sustainable solutions we develop can be durable and self-sustaining.

This week we will share policies and programs we have found effective and which we hope to include in our policy outcome for consideration in May for broader application. We understand that a tailored approach will be necessary to achieve sustainable development. We will propose a portfolio of tools including voluntary and regulatory policies and standards, incentives and penalties, monitoring and data exchange, education and awareness raising.

As we propose solutions to achieve sustainable development of the CSD-19 themes we must not forget our ultimate goal. The measure of our success will be improving human well being, while utilizing the environment in a way that does not diminish it for future generations.