(As delivered)Thank you, Mr. Chair,
His Excellency Mr. Sukhrob Kholmuradov, Deputy Prime Minster of Uzbekistan, Excellencies,
The discussion this morning has already proved to be very informative and inspirational, and it is our honour to co-organize this High Level Event alongside the Government of Uzbekistan, the Permanent Missions of Nigeria and Norway, and UN organizations.
The rapid shrinkage of the Aral Sea, which the Secretary-General once called “probably the biggest ecological catastrophe of our time”, is having a devastating impact on the ground. As has already been mentioned, it has ruined the fishery on the Sea, and local agriculture has been rendered impossible due to rising soil salinity. Dust clouds carrying toxic contaminants have disrupted economic activities, threatened food security, and endangered the health of many people in many parts of the world. The death of traditional economic activities, such as fishing and agriculture, could lead to the dysfunction of local communities, and could eventually translate into an outbound migration of people in search of economic opportunities.
In this way, this is no longer an issue of national insecurity, it is an issue of global relevance. In order to tackle an issue of this magnitude, multiple efforts are required both nationally and globally, but a human-focused approach is going to be an integral part of the whole, because this catastrophe has affected the lives of a large number of people, and it tends to hit the most vulnerable people the hardest, both physically and psychologically. So, the people and communities around the Aral Sea are under immediate threat of “being left behind” from our shared goals of sustainable development, of Uzbekistan, and the world as a whole.
A project called “Building resilience, sustaining livelihoods and enhancing the well-being of communities affected by the Aral Sea disaster”, implemented in one of the most severely affected areas from 2012, with funds from the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, that is called UNTFHS in short, has been instrumental in bringing about a positive change for people and their livestock. Although not of a large scale, the project took a comprehensive approach based on the particular needs of the people and the local communities. The Government of Japan, which led, actually, the establishment of the UNTFHS, and has contributed continuously to this fund since then, welcomes the success of the project, for the following 3 reasons:
First and foremost, the project is exemplary in terms of its application of the human security approach. As agreed in General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/290, adopted in 2012, UN Member States share a common understanding of human security as, I quote, "an approach to assist Member States in identifying and addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people", end quote. This project identified the concrete needs of 130,000 people on the one hand, while better equipping more than 3,000 health experts and civil servants, on the other. Focusing on the distinctive needs of the people in vulnerable situations, the project aimed at protecting and empowering each individual, thereby strengthening local communities and governments in a difficult situation. Indeed, the project can be considered as a model in applying the most comprehensive and a 360 degree perspective of the human security approach.
Second, I believe that the human security approach applied in Uzbekistan has contributed to the realization of the SDGs in Uzbekistan, by helping Uzbek authorities, with assistance from the United Nations, to focus their efforts on protecting and empowering the lives of those people who were placed under catastrophic environmental threat and who would otherwise have been left behind. The project’s positive impacts have been directly conducive to achieving eight of the SDGs in the region; namely, SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 3 (good health), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequality), SDG 11 (safe and resilient settlements), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals). Thus, we can see that human security and implementation of the SDGs are complementary to each other and can be understood as "two wheels of the same cart". In other words, I think that the project exemplifies the potential of the human security approach as an effective policy tool to directly advance the SDGs. From this perspective, we welcome that the project has been replicated under the strong ownership of the Government of Uzbekistan after its initial implementation period.
Last but not least, I would like to point to the fact that, in many ways, the nature of this project is in alignment with the direction of the United Nations Sustainable Development System reform efforts led by Secretary-General Guterres himself. In financial terms, this was not a large scale project to address the worst environmental disaster; but what made it possible for such a modestly scaled project to have a significantly positive impact on the ground may be that UN organizations on the ground; namely the UNDP, WHO, UNFPA, UNV and UNESCO, worked together, under the able leadership of RC, Ms. Helena Fraser, – I am happy to meet you Helena today – and with the strong ownership and political will of the Uzbek authorities on the formulation, implementation and monitoring of this project, utilizing the comparative advantages of each stakeholder in a collaborative manner, thereby realizing “delivery as one”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For over a decade the UN Trust Fund for Human Security has called on UN organizations utilizing its funds to collaborate under the Resident Coordinator. This policy has had the positive side-effect of forcing UN organizations to work together as “One UN”. As we all know, “One UN” is easier said than done, given that each organization has a different set of mandates, business culture, lines of reporting and so forth. The Trust Fund’s pioneering approach has helped underwrite the realization of “One UN” on the ground, which we all aspire to today, in line with SG Guterres’ UN reform. The Government of Japan would like to invite a wider range of Member States to join in supporting the Trust Fund for Human Security.
Human Security remains a main pillar of the Government of Japan’s foreign policy and international cooperation. We remain committed to the realization of a world where “no one is left behind” through the application of the human security approach. We look forward to working closely with other Member States, UN organs and all other stakeholders in addressing the challenges in realizing human security.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.