'Mistrust between Rich, Poor Nations on Climate Change'

Singapore, Nov 22 (IANS): There is a lot of mistrust among developed and developing countries on various issues ahead of the United Nations (UN) climate change talks that start in Qatar next week, said a senior UN official.

The time has come for the transition of powers from countries like US and European Union (EU) to developing nations like China and India, said Surendra Shrestha, director of focal point for sustainable development goals, office of the executive coordinators for UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Speaking at the 'Sustainable Development Assessment: Towards Measurable Goals' seminar organised by Asia-Europe Environment Forum here, Shrestha said: "If you look at financial results, US and EU are no more financial powers. The power is shifting to India, China, South Africa, Brazil and others."

"There are people sitting there (financial institutions like World Bank) who no longer have same amount of share holdings so we need transition of powers. People who are power-to-be have to be given the powers and that has not yet happened and that is transitions we need to do," Shrestha told IANS.

He said the delay in transition of powers had led to mistrust between G77 plus China and developed countries and that was the reason for the difficulties in climate change talks.

The UN climate change talks start in Doha, Qatar, from Nov 26-Dec 7.

Shrestha called for shaking the whole international system -- the UN Security Council, International Monetary Fund and World Bank -- to give equal representation to developing countries.

"US have a debt of $16 trillion and it is China, India which is bailing it out. We look at technology, the new technologies patents are from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries and not from US, EU as they don't have enough money to invest in education," said Shrestha.

On the rift over the world agreeing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the lines of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), that ends 2015, Shrestha said: "We need to understand that our population is growing and headed towards nine billion. We assume water, land, air and natural resources like fossil fuel, minerals to everything we need is infinite but we know these are finite and lot of things are running out."

"We just cannot continue with MDGs where the developed world telling the least developed world here is pot full of money and you need to address this. We know we need something different and we need something universal...These international laws should be applicable to all countries rich and poor."

"We have to include all three dimensions -- we need to address environment, economic development and social cohesion. MDGs mainly address social issues. We cannot just copy US...Globally all countries have to look at a new development paradigm and new goals...," he said.

Shrestha added that the goals have to be aspirational and each country has to decide how they want to achieve those goals depending upon their socio-economic conditions and also working to protect the environment.

There has been some rift over proposed SDGs as according to developing countries the targets of MDGs are not yet met and SDGs are a way to curb their development and economic growth.


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