Secretary-General Ban Urges Delegates to ‘Face Existential Reality’ as United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Begins
Conference on Sustainable Development
1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Secretary-General Ban Urges Delegates to ‘Face Existential Reality’
as United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Begins
President of Brazil, Heads of General Assembly,
Economic and Social Council also Address Rio+20 Participants
RIO DE JANEIRO, 20 June — With the planet increasingly under stress from climate change and a human population exhausting life’s vital resources, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged delegates gathered in Rio de Janeiro to face “an existential reality”: the old model of economic and social advancement was broken and it was time to agree on a new blueprint to end poverty, ensure social equity and protect the environment.
“Let us not forget the most precious resource of all — time. We are running out of time [and] no longer have the luxury to defer difficult decisions,” he said as he opened the three-day United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20 after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (or “Earth Summit”) held in the vibrant Brazilian city two decades earlier. The previous conference, which gave birth to the landmark sustainability framework Agenda 21, saw agreement reached on major international treaties to tackle climate change, protect biodiversity and combat desertification.
Since 1992, however, the push for sustainability had slowed even as the world’s global footprint began to overstep the planet’s boundaries. Fresh water, clean air, affordable food, fuel and decent jobs were dwindling; the lives and well-being of all humankind, especially the most vulnerable, in increasing jeopardy. Yet, the Secretary-General said, “Rio+20 has given us a unique chance to set it right, to set a new course that truly balances the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable prosperity and human well-being.”
Achieving sustainable development required global leadership, he emphasized, calling on Heads of State and Government, business leaders and all major groups of civil society to work together in building “a global movement for change”. As leaders were poised to agree on an outcome document that could guide global efforts for sustainable development in years to come, it was important to “keep our eyes on the prize” and “act with vision and commitment in the largest sense”, he said. The long, hard negotiations had led to significant progress, especially in the final stages.
He commended Member States for having agreed to launch and take ownership of a process to establish universal sustainable development goals, which would build on the advances of the Millennium Development Goals and form an integral part of the post-2015 development framework. It was imperative to decide on the institutions needed to guide the world to economic, social and environmental well-being. Now was the time to rise above narrow national interests – to look beyond the vested interests of this group or that. “It is time to act with broader and long-term vision,” he said, adding: “Here at Rio+20, we can seize the future we want.”
Echoing the Secretary-General’s sense of urgency, Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil and Conference President, declared that “time is our most scarce resource”. Political leaders were gathered in Rio to take the boldest steps, to show the courage to take on the necessary responsibilities. Sustainable development required the eradication of poverty, which was inseparably linked to the environmental agenda and the need to carry out structural reforms capable of rescuing the multitudes of men, women and children living in poverty and exclusion. Ultimately, sustainable development was an “irreducible” commitment, she said. It was about confronting the “very harsh days” facing much of humankind.
She said that in their efforts to build sustainable development, States had “common but differentiated responsibilities”, but all acknowledged the need to do away with unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. Indeed, that fundamental principle, enshrined in 1992, had often been rejected in practice, but without it, there was no possibility of placing human beings at the centre of concerns. While many gains agreed in 1992 remained “on paper” only, world leaders had a responsibility to change that. The financial crisis and resulting uncertainty had made Rio+20 particularly significant, she said. Moreover, existing development models had exhausted their ability to respond to contemporary challenges. A similar crisis in Latin America during the 1980s and 1990s had proved that pro-growth and pro-employment policies were the only safe pathway to economic recovery.
Anticipation around the Conference was clear evidence of significant will to establish new sustainable development goals, she continued, underlining that her country had sought to do its part. Brazil had democratically carried out radical changes in its economy and had made much progress as it moved ahead in its sustainable development model — growth underpinned by social inclusion and justice. More than 40 million people had been lifted into the middle-class and 18 million formal job opportunities had been created, among other gains. The country was growing while expanding its environment protection areas. While the region’s development model was not the only one, it showed the possibility of moving towards a sustainable society.
In his remarks, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser declared that a global consensus had emerged, and the agreements reached in Rio “can and must inform our future actions”, which would naturally be driven by national policies and national measures. Development cooperation must help poor countries put in place policies and institutions that could spur sustainable development. That required more and better aid, as well as effective means to support implementation of the Rio+20 objectives and outcome. It also required the know-how and technologies to help developing countries “leapfrog” into more sustainable development paths.
He said sustainable development was becoming a truly collective endeavour, increasingly encompassing many other actors besides Governments. Twenty years ago, the first Rio Conference had marked the entry of civil society into the United Nations, spurring an alliance with non-governmental organizations, businesses and industry, farmers, women and other major groups. Those partnerships were now at the core of efforts to support sustainable development in all countries. “We can only do it together,” he stressed.
At the same time, sustainable development required rethinking international institutions, he said. The global institutions were not conceived to span across economic, social and environmental spheres, or to steer integrated policies. Nor were they always inclusive. At Rio+20, Member States would decide to reshape some of the organizations and intergovernmental bodies to better support sustainable development. The draft outcome text charted a path for that process over the next 20 years. Indeed, it launched a process for defining sustainable development goals and set the stage for the post-2015 development agenda, he said.
Focusing on the important role that the major groups had played in the sustainable development process – from the Earth Summit until today - Sha Zukang, Conference Secretary-General and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the collective will evident in the hall indicated to the world that by working together, the international community could respond to the interlinked crises that had brought the world to a tipping point.
“But will history prove this true? That depends,” he said, explaining that success depended on Governments turning pledges into action and implementing policy measures guided by the Rio Principles. It also depended on all nine major groups continuing to step forward and taking initiatives. “Will you remain on the frontline of action and implementation?” he asked. “Will you push forward sustainability with even stronger vigour?” “Will we live up to the expectations of our people? Will we honour our commitments and take the sustainable development forward and meet sustainable development goals, come what may?”
“I am hopeful that the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’,” he said, while emphasizing the importance of strengthening development cooperation in the true spirit of partnership. All countries must pursue economic growth, social development and environmental protection simultaneously. However, developing countries must do so within decades rather than over the span of hundreds of years. It was therefore in everyone’s interest that all countries — not just some or even most of them — advanced towards sustainable development. “This is one planet — with one common future, he said, declaring: “We are in this together. Today, history offers us a chance to make a difference. Let’s seize it and make it happen.”
Many of those themes were sounded by the senior Government officials and civil society groups who spoke during the Conference’s general debate. While speakers highlighted their national efforts to ensure sustainable development, many also emphasized that any agreements reached at Rio+20 must be grounded in the fight against poverty and hunger, and must build on, rather than detract from, the Millennium Development Goals. Officials from small islands States and least developed countries urged a focus on their specific and unique needs.
Participants hailed the outcomes of the Earth Summit, which, among other things, had led to elaboration of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Many expressed hope that Rio would transform the mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and strengthen the Economic and Social Council. Other speakers said that while it was vital to transition to a “green economy” that transformation must be smooth and take into account the specific development realities and priorities of each State.
Noting progress on a road map for sustainable development, President François Hollande of France pointed out, however, that a United Nations specialized agency for the environment had not yet been created. Establishing one would be vital and the best way to organize all the related issues and address them simultaneously. That agency could be set up in Nairobi, he said, stressing the need to confirm Africa’s role. He expressed regret that the proposal to establish innovative financing had not been given specific underpinnings, noting that without financing, developing countries in particular would not be able to achieve the established goals. France continued to levy a tax on financial transactions, he noted, adding that part of the proceeds would be earmarked for development.
Such commitments were vital considering that greenhouse gas emissions were reaching record levels and ocean resources were depleting, pushing millions of people into abject poverty, he said. There must be improvements in developing countries, he said, citing the need for changes to ensure that everyone had access to water and energy. He commended efforts to ensure food security, saying energy diversification was also vital. “Either we win this together or we lose it together,” he said. “We must not pit ourselves against each other.”
Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, asked: “Are we here to secure the future of each other’s children or just our own?” The answer to that question held the key as to whether or not the process had any credibility, and whether it had meaning for everyone, or just for some. “As a global community, we have failed to achieve sustainability for the most,” he said. That was partly due to mismanagement and partly the result of collective abuse of “global commons”. The mission at Rio+20 was to take stock of past performance and see whether it was possible to do better. He said world leaders “are back here again”, but with much more knowledge about ensuring that the planet remained sustainable.
Earlier in the day, following the Conference’s formal opening, representatives of major groups — Women, Children and Youth, Indigenous Peoples, Non-Governmental Organizations, Local Authorities, Workers and Trade Unions, Business and Industry, Scientific and Technological Community and Farmers — expressed strong opinions about the draft outcome document, on which consensus had been reached after long negotiations that had ended the previous afternoon.
Speaking on behalf of non-governmental organizations, Wael Hmaidan said that those in the room had the power to save the planet, but the draft outcome text had fallen far short, making no mention of planetary boundaries, tipping points for climate change or other critical concerns for the Earth’s survival. “NGOs in Rio in no way endorse this document,” he emphasized, adding that many had demanded the removal of language claiming that the text had been produced with the full participation of non-governmental organizations.
Similarly, before the voices of the major groups were heard, Brittany Trilford, 17-year-old winner of the “Date with History” competition, said promises had been made, but “our future” was still in danger. “The clock is ticking, and time quickly running out,” she warned, intoning “tick, tick, tick”. She urged gathered delegations to make bold decisions and do the rights thing. “Are you here to save face or are you here to save us?” she asked.
In his opening statement, Milŏs Koterec ( Slovakia), President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, maintained, however, that much had been accomplished in the lead-up to the Conference and, at the Earth Summit, in establishing the framework for sustainable development. Now what was needed was realistic implementation. “It has to be realized that avoiding human impact on the environment is no longer an option,” he said. “The issue at hand is how to manage the impact.”
Addressing the ceremonial opening of Rio+20 via video conference were astronauts from the International Space Station, who saluted delegations on their efforts to chart a course for the planet’s future.
The organizational segment was opened by a video presentation about the state of the planet, titled Welcome to the Anthropocene and commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure International Science Conference. It was introduced by Secretary-General Ban. Following that video, Mr. Ban presided over the decision to elect President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil as President of the Conference, and the Government of Brazil as the ex-officio vice-president, represented by Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, who then took over as Chair of the session and welcomed what he described as an “opportunity to reaffirm a commitment to life”.
At the outset of the meeting, the Conference adopted its rules of procedure (document A/CONF.216/2) as well as its provisional agenda for the remainder of the week (document A/CONF.216/1). The Conference also elected several of its 25 agreed Vice-Presidents: Bangladesh, Japan, Kazakhstan, Jamaica, Nepal, Tajikistan, Armenia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Ecuador, Canada, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Botswana, Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia. The remaining Vice-Presidents were expected to be elected at a later date.
John Ashe ( Antigua and Barbuda) was elected Chair of the Conference’s Main Committee, while China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Italy, Maldives, Panama, Russian Federation, Senegal and the United States were elected, by acclamation, to serve as its Credentials Committee.
The Conference heard statements by the Heads of State of Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Iran, Guinea, Republic of Korea, China, Kenya, Niger, Peru, Chile, Chad, Congo, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Namibia, Benin, Hungary and Uruguay.
It also heard from the Vice-Presidents of Sudan, Algeria and Angola.
The Prime Ministers of Tuvalu, Nepal, Barbados, Fiji, Bhutan, Djibouti, Antigua and Barbuda, Spain, Vanuatu and the Central African Republic also spoke.
Other speakers included ministers and other Government officials from the Republic of Moldova, New Zealand, Paraguay, Burkina Faso, Japan, Bahamas, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
Also addressing the Conference was the President of the European Commission, who spoke on behalf of the European Union.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will reconvene at 10 a.m. on 21 June.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development opened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today and will run until 22 June. For background information, see Press Release ENV/DEV/1292 of 20 June.
MILŎS KOTEREC ( Slovakia), President of the Economic and Social Council, said much had already been accomplished in the long lead-up to the Conference, on top of what had already been established at the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago. There were high expectations for further results, but it was important to dispel any unrealistic hopes at the outset. There were many win-win situations in sustainable development, but others required trade-offs, he said, adding that success required factoring costs into policies with the overall priority of ensuring that later generations would have the capacity to live as well as the present ones.
He called on participants to resist the urge to simply create more legal documents and institutions, urging them to focus instead on strengthening the institutional capacity to take action through institutions that had already been established. In the Economic and Social Council, for example, the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development had become firmly entrenched. Closer ties were being forged with international financial institutions, innovation was continuing and contacts with youth were being strengthened, he said, adding that outreach to the private sector was also being scaled up.
The Council’s inter-disciplinary approach placed it in a good position to coordinate international development responses for the post-2015 developmental framework, he continued, noting that its influence was expected to grow in the years ahead. However, the Council must do far more, he emphasized, proposing more high-level attention throughout the years between major conferences, constant monitoring of implementation and the elevation of sustainable development to its rightful place as a major United Nations priority. “It has to be realized that avoiding human impact on the environment is no longer an option,” he stressed. “The issue at hand is how to manage the impact.” Better planetary impact was needed, he said. “The hope for a brighter, more prosperous, more sustainable future demands nothing less.”
Statements by Major Groups
HALA YOUSRY, speaking on behalf of women’s organizations, said the women in her country had been at the forefront of the recent revolution there, and had led the fight for democracy, gender equality and social protection. “Here in Rio we will continue the struggle for our rights, basic needs, jobs, equality and social development,” she said, noting that those elements were the very basis of life. With that in mind, she said it was shameful that such a “timid” text had been agreed, especially since it did not include commitments on reproductive rights or concrete targets and timelines for women in leadership positions. “The document does not give us the urgently needed means to address the massive challenges of our time,” she declared, adding that while Egyptian women had won two seats in the recent parliamentary elections, women in the wider civil society had got “much less than they had hoped for” in Rio.
KARUNA RANA, speaking on behalf of children and youth organizations, noted that, in view of the current unprecedented challenges, never before had there been such a need for decisiveness. Yet, two decades of negotiation had led to 50 pieces of paper, leaving the planet’s future “bracketed or in danger of being deleted” altogether. No ombudsperson had been appointed to ensure that the voices of the youth were heard today and into the future. The rights to food, water and health were not assured, and neither were sexual and reproductive rights. “This is not the future we want; it’s not even the future that some of you want,” she said, stressing that the world’s youth were frustrated by the weak draft outcome document. Urging Government delegations to recognize the urgency of the moment, she emphasized: “This is about the future we need.” Rio+20 could still be a success if negotiators had the compassion and wisdom to make the right decisions, she added.
JOJI CARIÑO, speaking on behalf of the indigenous peoples major group, said that major group had held a conference on sustainable development earlier this month. While that event had heard a wealth of views on diverse topics, all participants had agreed on the need to protect traditional knowledge, ensure diverse local economies and strengthen traditional livelihoods as a means to ensure community well-being. Moreover, improving ecosystems management was the key to “collectively renewing our relationships with each other and Mother Earth”, she said. Calling on all nations to adopt a new paradigm based on “living well”, she said the Earth and all life upon it was in a state of peril. Indigenous people had experienced the terrible and negative impacts of extractive industries, and Governments must allow indigenous peoples to have a say in what was being done on — and to — their lands, she declared.
WAEL HMAIDAN, speaking on behalf of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), said science was clearly showing that without a change in current practices, humanity’s survival was threatened. Those in the room had the power to be the planet’s saviours, but the draft outcome document had fallen far short of that goal. It made no mention of planetary boundaries, tipping points for climate change or other critical concerns for the earth’s survival, he noted, emphasizing: “NGOs in Rio in no way endorse this document.” Many had already signed on to a declaration protesting the draft, titled “The Future We Don’t Want”. They demanded that the removal of language claiming that the text had been produced with the full participation of non-governmental organizations.
He went on to note that the text failed to secure a future for coming generations, including the children of those present. The economic crisis could not be used as an excuse, since hundreds of billions were being spent to prop up banking institutions and other frameworks that persisted in their harmful practices. Eliminating harmful subsidies, eliminating the “wild west” abuse of the high seas and a host of other actions could be taken immediately, he said, pointing out that there were three more days to turn the situation around. Non-governmental organizations called for the exercise of the political will that would “make us stand up and applaud you as our leaders”.
DAVID CADMAN, speaking on behalf of the local authorities major group, said that, with unprecedented global urbanization expected in the coming years, local government leaders were faced with unprecedented challenges. Cities had already become, of necessity, incubators of innovation and agents of change in order to develop viable options for future life. There was a need for complementarity through multilevel governance for sustainable development, permanent and effective consultation mechanisms to influence the implementation of global agreements, and access to funding mechanisms. Greater coherence in resilience planning was also critical, he said. In that light, Habitat III must focus on the creation of a new urban agenda.
TRINE-LISE SUNDNES, speaking on behalf of workers and trade unions, described the crises faced by working people, saying the United Nations needed to show that it could deliver for them. Rio+20 needed to show that global equity could be achieved. A vision alone would not be enough; concrete measures were needed to ensure social equity, decent work and environmental protection. While the trade union movement provided workers with a voice to those ends, inequalities had increased, as had daunting environmental challenges. At the same time, trade unions had promoted the decent work agenda and were working to build bridges with environmental efforts and bring new ideas to the sustainable development agenda. The world of work would have to achieve a major transformation to achieve sustainability, along with sound, clean progress, she said, adding that strong, multilateral responses were needed for that purpose.
KRIS GOPALAKRISHNAN, speaking on behalf of business and industry, said many roads had led to Rio, and at every entry point the business community had stressed that inclusiveness, partnerships and concrete deliverables were the keys to sustainable development. The aim should be “green growth” and poverty alleviation as a way to more effectively address the diverse challenges of the day. The business community must be involved in the conversation and it looked to the United Nations to continue to provide a forum for discussions on disseminating technology, deploying resources and providing technical training. The transformation to a green economy was a shared responsibility, and while the private sector would continue the transition, all elements of society must work together to that end.
YUAN TSEH LEE, speaking on behalf of the science and technology major group, said that science had sounded the alarm that humanity was putting enormous pressure on the planet. Diversity loss and widespread pollution were exacerbating other ills such as rabid consumption and over-production. “Fundamental transformations are required, both personal and systemic,” he said, explaining that science, engineering and technology had driven the development of humankind for years and the scientific community would continue to provide sound analysis on the path of change. “We are ready to step up to ensure the future we want,” he declared. “There is no time to waste. We must act together.”
HARRY SARAGIH, speaking on behalf of the farmers’ major group, said it was clear that sustainable agriculture was essential to sustainable development. The key issue for farmers was the need to develop sound polices on land tenure as well as ensuring food sovereignty for all and access to local, regional and international markets. The path towards a more sustainable future must balance human needs with those of the ecosystem, he said, stressing that promoting sustainable farming lay at the heart of that. The matter was very straightforward, he declared: “No farmers, no food, no future.”
EMOMALI RAHMON, President of Tajikistan, said the efficient and rational use of natural resources was an integral part of reforms in his country. Sustainable energy for all was a key part of those efforts, which included increased use of hydropower, with accompanying efforts to ensure the comprehensive rehabilitation of the entire region’s watershed. The International Year of Cooperation on Water Resources, 2013, would help put a focus on the importance of the sector.
The threat to water resources from climate change was particularly acute, he stressed, calling for support to the fund to preserve threatened glaciers, he said. Related disasters in a mountainous, landlocked developing country like Tajikistan required special consideration, including relief from its debt burden. Turning to overall expectations for Rio+20, he signalled his support for the establishment of a high-level intergovernmental forum for sustainable development at the United Nations.
ROBERT G. MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, recalled that during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, world leaders had adopted Agenda 21 and a wealth of international conventions. They had also agreed on a paradigm shift from unsustainable growth to sustainable development. Yet, in the years since that “Earth Summit” and its 2002 follow-up in Johannesburg, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the world had witnessed back-tracking and reneging on important commitments. There had been a lack of will to support the three pillars of sustainable development. Unilateralism seemed to be overtaking multilateralism and the gaps between developed and developing countries were widening. The principle of “separate but differentiated responsibilities” agreed in 1992 was increasingly ignored, he said.
As for the present conference, the term “green economy” meant different things for different stakeholders, he said, urging delegations, when taking decisions in that regard, to be sure to look at the issue holistically and not inadvertently create new conditions. Green economy initiatives must, first and foremost, bolster sustainable development and strengthen poverty eradication efforts. Smaller Governments were concerned that some powerful countries continued to implement unilateral and punitive economic measures that would further hamper their sustainable development strategies, he said.
Further, the world economic crisis had further marginalized small countries at a time when many had seen some success in pursuing the Millennium Development Goals, he said. With talk this week of adopting “sustainable development goals”, it was to be hoped that the vital Millennium targets would not be “sacrificed”, and that vital bodies such as the Economic and Social Council would not be superseded by newly created but less efficient or redundant organs. Further, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) must be reinforced, not undermined, he emphasized. “There is no room for exclusive clubs in sustainable development,” he declared, calling on negotiators to work hard to achieve concrete results that would benefit all countries.
MOHAMED WAHEED, President of Maldives, said he was from one of the planet’s smallest nations, and was in Rio because its people’s very survival depended on the decisions that would be taken over the next two days. Maldives’ advocacy on environmental issues, especially regarding climate change, was well known. The Government was keen to promote sustainable development strategies that would ensure the survival of the islands and their people. “But the people of the Maldives want not just survival,” he stressed. “We want to thrive.” The country was seeing some success to that end. Its tourism sector was based on sustainable practices and was growing, while its economy, based on both tourism and sustainable fishing, was also expanding.
He announced that Maldives had put in place a broad strategy that would see it become the first country to be recognized as a marine preserve — the largest in the world — hopefully within the next five years. Maldives had also been the first country to be “graduated” from least-developed status. Yet, despite all its efforts to protect the environment and preserve its fragile biodiversity, one small island State could not alone make the changes that would secure “the future we want”, he said, calling on all delegations to work hard to agree on concrete results in Rio. He reiterated his delegation’s call for a follow-up summit on the state of small island developing countries, calling for specific attention to beach erosion and ocean pollution. “It is my hope that world Governments will seize this moment for sustainable development.”
MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, said the people of his country had been integrating sustainable practices into their everyday lives for 2,000 years. Indeed, sustainable land management and environmental protection had long been routine in Sri Lanka. As such, the land, seabed and fragile biodiversity must be protected, including from external encroachment. Sri Lanka had waged a long war against terrorist factions and over that time it had continued to pursue sustainable development.
As the country moved beyond that period, it would continue to follow a path that would lead to sustainable development and economic growth, he continued. As for the work of the Conference, he urged delegations to make concerted efforts to strike a balance between man and nature. “We must establish a road map based on separate but differentiated responsibilities,” he said, stressing that Sri Lanka stood ready to honour its pervious commitments, and expressing hope that the Conference would live up to the high expectations to ensure a better future for all.
AL HAJ ADAM YOUSUF, Vice-President of Sudan, recalling the accomplishments of the Rio Earth Summit, said there had not been appropriate follow-up to the Rio commitments because developed countries had not come through with financing, transfer of technology, debt relief and climate change mitigation. The problems of Darfur had their roots in climate change, which had caused land degradation and conflict between farmers and herders.
The challenges facing Sudan were many, and it was subject to sanctions, he said. It had also lost income from the oil-producing lands it had lost to South Sudan. Sudan participated in many programmes for producing cleaner energy, including hydro and solar energy. Policies had been put in place for many other areas of sustainable development, but they needed international support. Internationally, more cooperation was needed between the various development bodies, he said, adding that his country was committed to all the environment-related conventions to which it had signed up.
ABDELKADER BENSALAH, President of the Council of the Nation of Algeria, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the need to strengthen sustainable development was more important than ever. The human right to a proper environment lay at the heart of all three pillars of sustainable development. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be the basis of international action, while taking into account the needs of all levels of developing countries. It was now necessary to accelerate global equity and restore the complementarity of the three pillars established at the Earth Summit, he stressed.
He said that a green economy must be based on all three pillars, taking into account national sovereignty, the lifting of trade barriers, the transfer of technology and the provision of necessary assistance to developing countries, including debt relief. The global financial crisis could not be used as an excuse to delay implementation of commitments. Describing his country’s agenda on sustainable development as “ambitious”, he said it had taken an integrated approach to the use of natural resources, established goals for increasing renewable energy, and undertaken extensive water-management and major efforts against land desertification.
WILLY TELAVI, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said it was critical to act on all agreements made on sustainable development, since implementation had not been encouraging. Greater efforts to that end were needed from every segment of the global community. Much more must be done to save the planet and achieve “the future we want”, he said. Oceans and seas were critical for the Earth’s ecosystems, food security and sustainable economic prosperity. As a “sea-locked” country with a vast exclusive economic zone of 900,000 square kilometres compared with its small land area of only 24 square kilometres, Tuvalu’s green economy was actually a blue economy, he noted.
Overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as biodiversity loss, among other factors, must be addressed immediately, he emphasized. Oceans produced more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and absorbed the most carbon from it, he pointed out. Describing his country’s efforts in sustainable development, he stressed that it was critically threatened by climate change and needed further international assistance. Supporting the draft outcome document, he said it was particularly important that all developed nations fulfil their commitments relating to official development assistance (ODA).
BABURAM BHATTARAI, Prime Minister of Nepal, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that while the world was more prosperous today than it had ever been, millions of people remained mired in dehumanizing poverty, and millions more were hungry, unemployed or treated as second-class citizens. Globalization had given birth to a world that was imbalanced and unjust. He urged all delegations to keep the world’s poorest nations in mind as they proceeded with negotiations, especially the commitments made in May 2011 at the Istanbul Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
Turning specifically to the situation in his own country, he said that throughout his Nepal’s history, it had been an example of the perfect harmony of humanity and nature. Recently, however, it had been experiencing the impacts of climate change and had found itself on the frontlines of the battle to mitigate its deleterious effects. With that in mind, it was vital that all countries not only pursue a path of sustainable development, but do more to ensure such a paradigm was integrated at all levels. “Let all of us march towards the goal of prosperity and sustainable development together,” he said.
FREUNDEL STUART, Prime Minister of Barbados, said the world remained a long way from developing sustainably, and “we have strayed from the pathway we set two decades ago”. In addition, the world was presently undergoing an extraordinary and unprecedented period of turbulence. “The intersection of sovereign debt, jobs and growth crises places us on the brink of a prolonged global economic downturn,” he said. “Discontent around the world has triggered a wave of political change with far-reaching consequences for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Extreme weather events were becoming more frequent and severe, and climate change, recognized as a potential threat in 1992, was now a current and devastating reality.
Despite the magnitude and scope of those and other challenges, the opportunity was ripe to move beyond “incrementalism” to real systemic change, and return to the pathway defined at the Earth Summit, he said. “We must seize this historic opportunity to ensure that significant progress is made and not allow old or new divisions, or finger-pointing, to block progress.” There was a need to embrace sustainable development in a fresh and operational way and to bring that paradigm into the mainstream of the global economic debate. Expressing support for the decision to launch a process aimed at developing a set of global targets as tools for pursuing focused and coherent action on sustainable development, he said those goals must be science-driven and evidence-based, adding that Barbados supported a robust technical approach to defining and developing them.
JOSAIA V. BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Commander of the Military Forces of Fiji, said the unique vulnerabilities faced by small island developing States must remain central to sustainable development negotiations, especially as the world worked together to tackle the myriad challenges posed by climate change, land degradation and rising sea levels. Fiji continued to face significant and mounting challenges in a number of key areas, including: developing and maintaining effective and adequate human capacity for development; establishing and maintaining viable and diversified economic development bases and value added industries; securing foreign investment; and accessing adequate resources to effectively reduce vulnerability to disasters including climate change.
He said that in the face of such significant and mounting challenges, the Pacific small island States should re-invigorate the principle that had once been known as the “Pacific Way” to further develop and strengthen their ability to work better together in an integrated manner towards the sustainable development goals. Fiji and its island neighbours would continue forever to exist in the “Blue World” of the Pacific Ocean. “The ocean feeds us — and a large part of the global community,” he said. But it also endangered island inhabitants through cyclones, storm surges, and tsunamis, and underpinned the challenges they faced, such as isolation from markets as well as the high cost of imports, exports and internal transport. Noting that the draft outcome document contained a proposal for a third international meeting on small island developing States in 2014, he offered to host that important event. “In making this offer, I would like to give all delegates the assurance that we will do our utmost to welcome you all to our shores around the middle of 2014.”
LYONCHOEN JIGMI YOEZER THINLEY, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said that, propelled by technology and fuelled by greed, the costs of “reckless speeding along the highway of development” had been great. Humankind’s own extinction drew near, and it was in that context that world leaders had returned to Rio after 20 years. “Let us not underplay the dire state of humanity,” he stressed, adding: “Sustainable development is not a choice, it is an absolute necessity.” Unless a guiding vision could be agreed upon, the situation would continue to be perilous. The ultimate dream of happiness transcended all the dividing contours of society and had the power to unite all humanity, he said. That was the universal goal that all must seek to reach. Beyond providing the perfect motivation for survival, happiness asked people to live well. It was not about consuming material wealth, but about peace, security and justice, equality and meaningful relationships. Happiness, well-being and sustainable development were interrelated, and one could not be enjoyed without the others. With regard to the outcome document, he said that while consensus was important, “life is not negotiable”. A negotiated document that accommodated all would fall far short of expectations. The Conference was the last chance not only to prevent human extinction, but also to allow civilization truly to flourish.
DILEÏTA MOHAMED DILEÏTA, Prime Minister of Djibouti, said the time had come to take stock of actions achieved and identify actions to be taken in the coming decade. Since the 1992 Rio Summit, Djibouti had made great strides, achieving an annual growth rate of more than 5 per cent. It had implemented numerous projects to improve access to basic social services and to improve food security. While access to water remained a major challenge, action was being taken to rely more on desalination. Waste was being dealt with, and increasing oil prices were being tackled.
However, much remained to be done to ensure sustainable development, he said. Djibouti’s poverty level was high, and unemployment among young people was a cause for concern. Many in Djibouti still lacked access to basic services, and desertification was a larger threat than ever. For those and other reasons, the Rio Summit must take “concrete and tangible” decisions to ensure that meaningful financial resources were available for sustainable development.
WINSTON BALDWIN SPENCER, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, recalled that, 20 years ago, world leaders had gathered in Rio to take a serious look at the state of technology, poverty, health and the environment. They had realized the seriousness of those problems, but had agreed that there was no problem facing the world community that could not be solved. Twenty years later, they had returned to “look with fresh eyes” at those very same issues. Moreover, the first Summit had been only a “nascent being”. The road to development, which one had hoped would resemble a multilane highway after 20 years, was today a “narrow, winding and treacherous road”, he said. Development was inequitable and the impacts of climate change disproportionately affected small island developing States.
Over the last 20 years, many accords, reports, agreements and agendas had been drafted, he continued. “We have shown that we can work together, but have we shown that we can do the work together?” he asked. The main limiting factor was the lack of access for developing countries to financial capital to captain reforms in a fair and equitable manner. He called for a development plan and a process that would identify mechanisms to “level this ever-growing uneven playing field”. To that end, Antigua and Barbuda supported reform of the international financial system in order to take those matters into consideration, and favoured debt forgiveness for small island developing States.
AMY ADAMS, Minister for the Environment of New Zealand, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said the use of resources must be based on sustainability, science and engagement with civil society. That kind of growth was as important as how much growth there was, she said, stressing that the relevant policies must take account of each national situation.
Calling for the elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies, including those relating to fossil fuels and fishing, she said she was delighted with commitments proposed at Rio+20 in that regard. Pacific leaders also welcomed proposals on better, more integrated ocean management, she said, adding that small island developing States needed support in order to gain greater benefits from their ocean resources. They also required assistance to improve ocean management.
JORGE LARA CASTRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, said the prioritization of markets over life had exacerbated social, economic and environmental crises around the world. While South America was rich in all sorts of energy resources, and a main supplier of food and natural resources to the rest of the world, a large part of its population went hungry and lived in extreme poverty. The region’s countries were seeking solutions to that situation but it was important first to redefine the development paradigm and change the fundamental way of living in order for the situation to improve. Nature must be respected and used in a rational and sustainable way because it was the source of life, he stressed. Violence and colonialism must no longer be used to take the resources of sovereign nations.
He went on to emphasize that the notion of common but differentiated responsibility should be more than a slogan, adding that countries must be helped to deal with crises that they had had no part in creating. Paraguay had enormous water resources and had high hydroelectric energy production levels, but needed the transfer of technology to further development. He called on the international community to give priority to binding agreements on reducing greenhouse gases, with penalties for those countries that failed to participate in a meaningful global regime. Real political will was crucial to solving that crisis. A new economic framework was needed for equitable, just and sustainable development, he said, adding that it would require clear, ambitious goals and adequate means of implementation.
LA CELIA PRINCE ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), noting that “we pretend that we don’t breathe the same air and share the same planet”, stressed that it was time to be honest. After much negotiation during the current meeting, “we have created [an outcome] document that only a diplomat could love”. It was lengthy and unwieldy, lacking coherence, cohesion and a genuine sense of political commitment. However, there was still fertile ground in that draft for action by States, she said. Cautioning that green principles could not be applied in a “one-size-fits-all” manner, she underscored that under no circumstances should their application be used as a justification for iniquitous barriers to trade. Urgency, ambition and commitment must be essential elements of the Rio+20 Conference, since any commitment made without follow-through was empty. The Conference’s legacy must be measured by commitment and implementation, rather than by a litany of broken promises.
HAMZA RAFEEQ ( Trinidad and Tobago) said his country had much to share, and more to learn, about striking the proper balance between sustainable development goals and development strategies. Building an eco-friendly economy could help countries find an initial path towards sustainable development, and in that respect, Trinidad and Tobago was taking steps to better facilitate activities fuelled by oil and gas in a more efficient and sustainable manner. Indeed, the country was on its way to becoming the world’s second country, after Qatar, to generate 100 per cent of its electricity through natural gas, the cleanest form of energy available. Additionally, since social inclusion was one of its major goals, the Government was bringing together all its stakeholders to help develop a social compact, he said. Reiterating his expectation that Rio+20 would renew commitments to address challenges to sustainable development, he expressed hope that a “comprehensive policy mechanism” would emerge that would be internationally acceptable while keeping the “bigger picture” in mind.
LAURA CHINCHILLA MIRANDA, President of Costa Rica, said Costa Rica was highly committed to protecting its great biodiversity and serving as a model for others. Thanks to the adoption of strategies for sustainable development more than 40 years ago, today 25 per cent of Costa Rica’s territory was under a special protection regime and more than half was under forestry cover. Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of forestry cover in the world. More than 90 per cent of electricity consumed was generated at home. Costa Rica was one of five greenest countries in the world. Costa Rica saw its commitment to environmental sustainability as an ethical responsibility as well as a successful strategy for growth and development. Costa Rica had a competitive ecotourism industry. It drew on forestry products for sustainable chemical and pharmaceutical use, which had attracted greater investment in green activities. Costa Rica’s experience showed that environmental protection did not inhibit growth. Rather it promoted it. Forestry conservation mitigated climate change and contributed to biodiversity protection. Conservation of water resources contributed to the sustainability of the planet. But Costa Rica’s path had not been easy. While it was committed to conservation, other nations continued to evade their responsibility to mitigate climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
Costa Rica was Chair of the Forest 11 Group, known as F-11, of 14 countries with tropical forests, she said. That Group promoted political dialogue to achieve sustainable forestry development and conservation. During a recent ministerial conference, the F-11 had signed a declaration of its commitment towards that end. A sustainable development model required solid international alliances. Costa Rica was shaping solid alliances with other nations for sustainable development. Still, such a commitment was lacking at the highest level in some nations. At a time when economic crisis had demanded the attention of world leaders, it was important not to overlook the many other challenges humankind was facing. Overlooking such challenges would lead to economic suicide. The challenges of the current time required leaders to understand that all the planet’s inhabitants were global citizens. That which restored human life for some, restored it for all. That sense of responsibility must be conveyed to everyone. There must be harmony with nature. That was essential for guaranteeing prosperity for future generations.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran, said the world needed a new global plan. The widening gap between the North and South, wars, occupation and animosities, the economic crisis and declining moral standards, among other ills, were plaguing humanity. He warned against focusing on just materialistic aspects of life, while neglecting other needs. If the focus remained on individuality, consumerism and profits, the global situation of the last centuries would not change. Certain forces and peoples sought to guarantee their own peace and security at the expense of others, under the deceitful slogan of “development”. A long period of world wars and the imposition of self-serving lifestyles had led to environmental degradation. In developing countries, people had mobilized resources to rectify that situation, but problems still prevailed. Under the current global order, a small group of developed countries were forcing the rest of the world to follow in their footsteps. All those events were interconnected. Economic, financial and even human rights issues had been designed to serve the same small group focused only on tightening its grasp on wealth.
He called for creation of a new world order focused on solving the world’s fundamental problems and achieving development through an enlightened definition of human beings and a better knowledge of social ties. Mankind had the ability to be the successor of God on earth. To attain happiness, human beings should not be rivals. They must work in tandem, showing love and compassion for others and sharing their wealth and resources. Protecting the environment would contribute to society’s spiritual and moral development. No one had the right to ruin the environment, which belonged to all. Human life and property must be respected. He called for adoption of a holistic approach to human development based on participation, cooperation and understanding. The new global order must serve mankind’s material and spiritual needs and it must institutionalize justice and compassion. The family as an institution must be strengthened, with a particular emphasis on the role of women. There must be good governance based on true humanitarian principles. Moreover, all nations and democratic Governments must participate constructively to manage the world in good faith and commit to build a global society devoted to promoting human capacity.
ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said despite the environmental degradation and crisis plaguing the planet, there was cause for hope. In the face of many development challenges in Guinea, the Government aimed to put sustainable development at the heart of its national economic programme as a way to promote a green economy in West Africa. It aimed to make the green economy the backbone of economic and social development. Guinea had begun a silent revolution in the country with creation of sustainable energy systems. Given its important position as a water source for Africa, Guinea had great hydroelectric potential for its population and for those of neighbouring countries. The Guinean Government had adopted the same green approach to develop its mining sector, which was the engine of economic growth. Such a strategy was important in a country rich in natural resources. During the coming years, Guinea’s mining industry would advance from simple extraction and production to providing a whole range of clean energy products such as aluminium iron.
He stressed the urgent need for international consensus to develop a road map to create a green economy and achieve sustainable development. All actors must work together towards that end. Guinea fully endorsed the African Consensus Declaration adopted in October 2011 in Addis Ababa during the Regional Preparatory Conference for Rio+20, particularly the push to turn the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) into a specialized agency, with a reinforced mandate and bolstered human and financial resources. New economic models such the ones being developed in Guinea were the future of green growth. Guinea was among the countries that had developed innovative elements of developments. The key was to creatively devise ways to develop the world’s available technology and resources in a sustainable way instead of continuing the harmful practices of the past. “Let us listen to our planet. We need to calm it if we wish to continue to benefit from its wealth,” he said.
LEE MYUNG-BAK, President of the Republic of Korea, said the pace of global economic growth had increased greatly in 20 years, but so had global vulnerabilities. Greater change was taking place, including global warming, which was shaking the very nexus of life, and desertification was spreading rapidly while biodiversity decreased. That was not the legacy world leaders intended to bequeath to future generations, he said. A new way of thinking and acting was needed, and a renewed concentration of efforts. He said that was the point of the Conference and the reason why the Republic of Korea had chosen a new path for itself in 2008, when he had taken office. The country had created a new development paradigm by thinking “outside the box” in responding to climate change and resolving pressing energy and environmental issues. The Government had established a Commission on Green Growth and devised a Green Growth Five-Year Plan.
There was still some way to go, but many of the changes had taken root. Improved water infrastructure was helping to overcome floods and droughts, and the country was prepared for extreme weather, he continued. Extra-long bicycle paths had been created, and a shift from highways to high-speed railways was under way. Electric automobiles were also gaining traction, he said. Even in the midst of the economic crisis, new policies had led to new jobs for 750,000 people in the past three years, particular from the lower-income segment of the population. The Global Green Growth Institute represented a strategy for prompting collective action and would become an enduring asset of international society. Additionally, a technical centre in Seoul would serve as a bridge for education and a platform to nurture global talent in the field. The Republic of Korea strongly supported a green climate fund and would remain dedicated to the “future we want”, he said.
Speaking via video-conference, members of the International Space Station expedition greeted participants with a “warm welcome from space”, saying that from their vantage point, they could admire the “beauty of our home planet”. They saluted all Conference participants seeking to chart a sustainable future for all.
DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil and Conference President, declared that “time is our most scarce resource”. World leaders were gathered in Rio to take the boldest steps, to show the courage to take on the necessary responsibilities because the world required changes. The 1992 Earth Summit had set a world consensus around sustainable development and had supplied key principles from which action must flow, placing human beings at the very centre of global concerns. Sustainable development required the eradication of poverty, which was inseparably linked to the environmental agenda and the need to carry out structural reforms capable of rescuing the multitudes of men, women and children living in poverty and exclusion. It had been agreed then that the well-being of the present generation could not be built to the detriment of future ones, and that environmental protection should be part and parcel of development.
She said that in their efforts to build sustainable development, States had “common but differentiated” responsibilities, but all acknowledged the need to do away with unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. Indeed, the fundamental principle of common but differential responsibilities enshrined in 1992 had often been rejected in practice, but without it there was no possibility of placing human beings at the centre of concerns. Brazil acknowledged that many gains agreed in 1992 remained “on paper” only. World leaders had a responsibility to change that, she stressed. The financial crisis and resulting uncertainty had made Rio+20 particularly significant, she continued. Important economies had experienced very slow growth patterns, while others remained mired in recession. Many development models had exhausted their ability to respond to contemporary challenges. A similar crisis in Latin America during the 1980s and 1990s had proved that pro-growth and pro-employment policies were the only safe pathway to economic recovery, she said.
In the recent past, developing countries had accounted for an increasingly substantial share of global growth, but they were keenly aware that recovery must be global in scope, and must be stable, she said. In most uncertain economies, there was a strong temptation to attach absolute priority to domestic interests, she said, noting that political willingness to enter binding agreements weakened as a result. That must not be allowed to happen, she warned. Rio was clear-cut evidence that significant will existed to establish new sustainable development goals, she said, underlining that her country had sought to do its part. It had democratically carried out radical change in its economy and had made much progress as it moved ahead in its sustainable development model — growth underpinned by social inclusion and justice. More than 40 million people had been lifted into the middle-class and 18 million formal job opportunities had been created, among other gains. The country was growing while expanding its environment protection areas. Indeed, it upheld a clean energy mix and was currently producing more wealth while reducing deforestation in the Amazon region. The country was an agricultural powerhouse, helping to feed the world, yet it had also succeeded in the use of new and more efficient technologies.
Sustainable development was the best possible response to climate change, she continued, adding that it meant economic growth, as well as access to health education and public security, among other things. Latin America, including South America, had travelled the path of regional and social integration. While the region’s development model was not the only one, it showed that it was possible to move towards a sustainable society. Sustainable development was ultimately an “irreducible” commitment. It was about facing up to the “very harsh days” facing much of humankind. The cost of inaction was greater than taking the necessary decisions. The draft outcome document was the result of a major effort to establish compromise solutions and strive for concrete progress, she said. It stood as a clear-cut decision not to go backwards. But it was not enough to uphold past gains, she cautioned, stressing the need to build upon the legacy of the past. Outlining the broad reaches of the document, she called attention to a 10-year programme aimed at fostering sustainable production and consumption patterns, adding that gross domestic product was no longer a sufficient measure by which to measure development.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that, 20 years since the Earth Summit had put sustainable development on the global agenda, international efforts had not lived up to the challenge. The old model for economic development and social advancement was broken. Rio+20 provided a unique chance to set a new course that truly balanced the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable prosperity and human well-being. It had brought together all stakeholders in a great global movement for change.
He said today there was too much political strife, grave economic troubles, widening social inequalities, and a planet increasingly under stress due to climate change and growing scarcities of life’s vital resources — fresh water, clean air, affordable food, fuel and decent jobs. In the past 20 years, the global population had grown from 5.5 billion to more than 7 billion. “By 2030, we will need 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water — just to continue to live as we do today,” he said. “Beyond a shadow of doubt, we have entered a new era … a new geological epoch, even, where human activity is fundamentally altering the Earth’s dynamics.”
The world’s global footprint had overstepped the planet’s boundaries, and the lives and well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable, in particular, were increasingly in jeopardy, he continued. Emphasizing that achieving sustainable development required global leadership, he called on Heads of State and Government, business leaders and all the major groups of civil society to work together to build a global movement for change. Since leaders were poised to agree on an outcome document that could guide global sustainable development efforts for years to come, it was important to “keep our eyes on the prize” and “act with vision and commitment in the largest sense”.
Warning that time was running out, he said: “We no longer have the luxury to defer difficult decisions. We have a common responsibility to act in common cause to set aside narrow national interests in the name of the global public good and the betterment of all.” He commended all who had come to Rio with commitments for change, saying that the billions of dollars worth of actions and investments pledged would have the power to transform lives across the globe. The long, hard negotiations had led to significant progress, especially in the final stages. He applauded Member States for having agreed to launch and take ownership of a process to establish universal sustainable development goals, which would build upon the advances of the Millennium Development Goals and be an integral part of the post-2015 development framework.
“I will spare no effort to implement the mandate given to me by Member States to realize our vision of sustainable development goals that build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals,” he said. “I commend clear decisions and strategies on jobs, food security, energy, water, oceans, transport and cities. And I am glad to see a clear emphasis on gender empowerment and quality education throughout the document.” It was now imperative to decide on the institutions needed to guide the world to economic, social and environmental well-being, he said. The world had made significant progress, and now it was time to take the final big step. He urged leaders to live up to Rio+20 with commitment and action. “Let us not ask our children and grandchildren to convene a Rio+40 or Rio+60,” he said. “Here at Rio+20, we can seize the future we want. Let us not pass it by. He called on leaders to make Rio their legacy — a foundation upon which future generations could build.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly, describing the Summit as “the opportunity of a generation”, said it was a chance to transform ideas and aspirations into bold actions and everyday realities — a moment to take steps to shape “the future we want”. Although much progress had been made, large parts of the developing world faced poverty, disease and abject living conditions. “We cannot put a cap on today’s silent emergencies, but we must strive for solutions that do not jeopardize the future of generations to come.”
Declaring that “international consensus has emerged”, he said the agreements reached “can and must inform our future actions”, which would naturally be driven by national policies and national measures. Development cooperation must help poor countries put in place policies and institutions that could spur sustainable development. That required more and better aid, and the effective means to support implementation of the Rio+20 objectives and outcome. It also required the know-how and technologies to help developing countries “leap-frog” into more sustainable development paths.
Moreover, he cautioned, the world financial and economic crisis must not be allowed to dampen the commitment to development cooperation, which must play a key role in promoting solutions and must become “wider and deeper”, going far beyond development assistance. Most of all, the international community must reach basic consensus on key long-term policies. “We need to get the economy and the development process back on track,” he emphasized.
He said sustainable development was becoming a truly collective endeavour, increasingly encompassing many other actors besides Governments. Twenty years ago, the first Rio Conference had marked the entry of civil society to the United Nations, spurring an alliance with non-governmental organizations, businesses and industry, farmers, women and other major groups. Those partnerships were now at the core of efforts to support sustainable development in all countries. “We can only do it together,” he stressed.
At the same time, sustainable development required re-thinking international institutions, he continued. Global institutions had not been conceived to span across economic, social and environmental spheres, or to steer integrated policies. Nor were they always inclusive. In Rio, Member States would decide to re-shape some of those organizations and intergovernmental bodies to better support sustainable development. The draft outcome text charted a path for that process over the next 20 years, he said. Indeed, it launched a process for defining sustainable development goals and set the stage for the post-2015 development agenda. Rio+20 “is not an end, but a new beginning, a promise of a better life for us, for our children and for future generations,” he added.
SHA ZUKANG, Conference Secretary-General and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said there were moments when both political commitment and broad participation converged to change the course of history. The 1992 Earth Summit had been one such moment, having launched sustainable development across the world. Describing today as another such moment, he said it promised to be another historic turning point that would re-energize action and reinvigorate partnership. The collective will, evident in the plenary hall, indicated that by working together, it was possible to respond to the inter-linked crises that had brought the world to a tipping point.
Whether history would bear that out depended on Governments turning pledges into action and implementing policy measures guided by the Rio Principles, he said. It also depended on whether all nine major groups, in particular, would continue to step forward and take initiatives, remaining on the front line of action and implementation, and pushing forward sustainability with even stronger vigour. “Finally, it depends on each and everyone here — will we live up to the expectations of our people?” he asked. Saying he was optimistic, he recalled that over the last two years of preparation, he had, as Conference Secretary-General, seen sustainable development in action.
He said there had been successes since 1992 — for example, in reducing poverty, improving child and maternal health, providing access to clean water, electricity, housing, and in ensuring education for all. Such successes bore testimony to one basic truth — that given political will, leadership, broad participation and global partnership, it was possible to advance sustainable development. However, the multiple global crises had sounded the alarm, he said. Laudable though it might be, what had been achieved was not enough, and action was needed on a scale that matched the magnitude of the crises. Gaps in implementation must be addressed head-on, rather than delaying. Priority must be given to people’s livelihoods.
Adapted to national circumstances, green economy could be a tool to that end, he said. Institutions must be strengthened for sustainable development at all levels. Development cooperation must be strengthened in the true spirit of partnership. All countries must pursue economic growth, social development and environmental protection simultaneously. But developing countries must do so within decades, rather than over the span of hundreds of years. It was in everyone’s interest, therefore, that allcountries, not just some or even most of them, advance towards sustainable development. “This is one planet with one common future,” he said. Born as a simple idea, sustainable development was an inexorable historical trend. “Nothing binds us more closely. We are in this together.” Today, history offered a chance to make a difference. “Let’s seize it and make it happen,” he urged.
WEN JIABAO, Premier of the State Council of China, said the concept of sustainable development was becoming more widely accepted as progress was made towards achievement of the Millennium Goals, but its benefits were not being evenly shared. Indeed, today there appeared to be no safe harbour from the adverse impacts of globalization; what affected a single nation affected all nations in one way or another. The international community should therefore ensure the right to development for all, while continuing to promote poverty eradication. Diversity was the defining feature of today’s world and the international community should be more open to the unique paths that countries took in pursuit of sustainable development. Moreover, the long-agreed principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be respected, as should the reality that the transition to a green economy would be a long-term process, especially for developing countries.
Indeed, there was no one path to a “green economy”, and as such, mutual trust should be enhanced, he continued, adding that the United Nations should drive the broader sustainable development process. Developing countries needed a bigger voice in that effort, he said, pointing out that China was a major developing country that was ready to live up to its responsibilities. The more China developed, the more it helped the world at large. With that in mind, he announced that his country planned to give $6 million towards the establishment of a UNEP trust fund for projects that helped other developing countries launch environmental protection projects. China would also help other countries train professionals in forest protection. It would build a global network for technical cooperation and make available 200 million yuan to help least developed countries and those in Africa tackle climate change. In conclusion, he urged delegations to consider what kind of world they wanted to leave their children and grandchildren, and expressed hope that the Conference would draw up a blueprint that would write a “new chapter” of sustainable development for all.
MWAI KIBAKI, President of Kenya, said his Government was committed to the international community’s efforts to chart a course towards a brighter future for all. It was important to note that progress achieved since the Earth Summit had not been evenly shared, and that as the sustainable development agenda moved forward, all stakeholders must do more to ensure decent jobs, poverty eradication, environmental protection and economic development. The transition to a green economy must be inclusive while also addressing social issues and respecting each country’s level of development.
Every effort must be made to ensure that the international trade environment was devoid of barriers, he emphasized, expressing hope that the Conference would make progress towards establishing a global sustainable development financing mechanism that would help developing countries transition more effectively to a green economy. He said that with the approach of the 2015 deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals, he was pleased that the international community was on the verge of agreeing on a set of sustainable development goals based on the pillars of sustainable development and which would take specific national concerns and priorities into account.
The Conference should provide direction for strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development and thus ensure the launch and monitoring of national and regional green initiatives. In that context, Kenya supported strengthening the Economic and Social Council, the main United Nations organ dealing with such issues. Kenya was also pleased with the decision to enhance UNEP, including by increasing the participation of developing countries in its Governing Council and consolidating its headquarters functions in Nairobi, he said. Those and other new functions “must be implemented as soon as possible” to give effect to many of the decisions that would be adopted by the Conference. Ultimately, UNEP would need to be transformed into the “United Nations Environment Organization”, with a mandate similar to that of the world body’s other major agencies. In that way, it could ensure progress regarding the three pillars of sustainable development, he said. As UNEP’s host country, Kenya planned to support such transformations and to ensure full participation of all Member States in UNEP’s Governing Council.
MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, said that after 20 years and countless conferences, humankind had not been successful in managing its relationship to the planet. The current development model did not alleviate hunger, conserve resources or mitigate the effects of climate change, and promises of official development assistance were not being met. New national and international commitments were needed, he said, noting that proposals for an improved institutional framework would provide an opportunity to change that.
Niger had an ambitious sustainable development programme, with a genuine agricultural programme to achieve a green revolution, as proposed by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil. There was a need for innovative financing for such initiatives, such as taxes on financial activities as well as for scientific cooperation, he said, calling on the international community to help save bodies of water endangered in West Africa. Sustainable development Governance needed to be improved, he said, stressing the crucial duty to bequeath a viable planet to future generations.
OLLANTA HUMALA TASSO, President of Peru, said his country was rich in natural resources and was part of the Amazon Basin. It had the most productive sea on the planet, and its economy was growing at approximately 6 per cent annually, the highest growth rate in the Andean region. Peru was an attractive destination for investment, but for years its growth had been driven by extensive extraction of resources that had not taken environmental sustainability into account. The Government’s new vision aimed to create a new way to use natural resources and extract minerals, he said. He stressed Peru’s strong commitment to a plan that would promote economic growth, human well-being, cultural heritage and sustainable land use, adding that the Government would work to preserve and sustainably exploit its valuable biodiversity, while addressing the challenges of global climate change.
He went on to state that the Government had decided to improve its national environmental governance and update its national normative framework in line with global environmental standards. The Government also aimed to create a new relationship with the mining and extractive industries, based on an inclusive, sustainable vision of social and environmental development. It would promote civic participation in environmental vigilance, he said, adding that Peru would be the first country to ensure regulation of what was called for in the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169 in terms of prior consultation with indigenous communities affected by development projects, especially mining and energy projects. Since 1992, Peru had made progress in creating the foundation for environmental institutions, he said. It had strengthened its systems in protected areas, which now covered 17 per cent of the national territory. Urging all countries to focus on protected areas and to create natural parks and reserves, he said Peru had become a model for sustainable growth in the region.
FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said there had been progress on a roadmap for sustainable development goals and agreement on preserving the oceans. The debate on the green economy and action on social issues, including poverty eradication, were noteworthy achievements driven by civil society’s efforts. But those results fell short of responsibilities and expectations. A United Nations specialized agency for the environment had not yet been created, he noted, emphasizing that its creation was vital and the best way to organize all the related issues and address them simultaneously. That agency could be set up in Nairobi, he said, stressing the need to confirm Africa’s role. He expressed regret that the proposal to establish innovative financing had not been given specific underpinnings, noting that without financing, developing countries in particular would not be able to achieve the established goals. France continued to levy, with willing States, a tax on financial transactions, part of the proceeds from which would be earmarked for development, he said.
Such commitments were vital considering that greenhouse gas emissions were reaching record levels and ocean resources were depleting, pushing millions of people into abject poverty. There must be improvements in developing countries, he said, citing the need for changes to ensure that everyone had access to water and energy. He commended efforts to ensure food security, saying energy diversification was also vital. “Either we win this together or we lose it together,” he said. “We must not pit ourselves against each other.” The world was not just experiencing a financial crisis but also an ecological crisis. To end it, priority must be given to environmental conservation, he emphasized. Sustainable development was not a constraint but a tool for conservation and protection. It was a way to promote humankind, he said, underlining his commitment to make development, poverty eradication and environmental protection a top priority of his presidency.
SEBASTIAN PIÑERA ECHEÑIQUE, President of Chile, said that what was at risk was really the survival of life on earth, not the earth itself. Years ago, nature had sent out signals to warn and motivate humankind to change course. Humankind must “take the bull by the horns” and change the direction of development, he said. It was not possible to continue polluting water and damaging forests and fauna. That was why the Rio+20 Conference was so important and taking place at an opportune time. Despite the global economic and social difficulties, it was necessary today more than ever before to reaffirm commitments to change the course of development towards sustainability. In order to be genuinely sustainable, it was necessary to make the three pillars of sustainable development — economic, social and political — much more compatible, he added, noting that the pillars were complementary. The absence of one would significantly compromise the others. If environmental deterioration continued, it would harm future development.
He pointed out that one out of every seven of the world’s people lived in poverty and many children suffered from malnutrition. Time was not on their side. Urgent action was needed to tackle contamination of the air, water and space, as well as global warming, organized crime and drug trafficking. Water and energy were becoming scarce, as was food for many people. To tackle those challenges, the world must act in unison, he stressed. Chile took those challenges seriously and had attempted to strike a balance among the three pillars of development. Its economy was growing robustly at 6 per cent annually, and job creation was greater now than ever before. He said that by the end of his term, extreme poverty would have been eliminated and Chile would become a developed country by 2020. It was among the nations in the vanguard of environmental protection. It had a new environmental ministry and board, a biodiversity service, new air-quality standards, and national water-conservation strategies. A few days ago, Chile had ratified the convention pertaining to the regulation of maritime resources in the Pacific, he recalled.
IDRISS DEBY ITNO, President of Chad, said that, as the current Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States, and being active in the effort to fight drought in the Sahel region, he could gauge the seriousness of the tenuous environmental situation, coupled with the economic challenges facing African countries. Chad, located at the very heart of Africa, was fighting the “galloping encroachment” of the desert and the negative effects of climate disturbances in the forest basin of the River Congo, one of the world’s greatest biodiversity zones. Chad stood with the international community and had ratified the three conventions that had emerged from the Earth Summit. It had also undertaken to ensure their effective implementation.
He said his Government was seeking to establish priorities for implementation of Chad’s sustainable development efforts. Some 80 per cent of the population lived in rural areas, so the first three years of the country’s five-year plan focused on their well-being, with an emphasis on fighting poverty and establishing a green economy. The economy focused on rural economic activities, which depended on geo-climatic factors, he said. Since 2003, Chad had become an oil producer, and it allocated oil revenues to rural-development projects. Its promotion of a green economy was extremely promising. The country had participated actively in African meetings in the run-up to the Rio+20, he said, reaffirming his support for the common African position, as well as Chad’s political commitment to ensuring transition to a green economy, through specific measures and new green projects, and by deepening international cooperation, especially South-South cooperation.
DENIS SASSOU NGUESSO, President of Congo, said that 20 years after the Earth Summit, it must be acknowledged that “no significant progress has been made towards sustainable development”. Thus, it was with deep conviction that Africa had mobilized to speak with one voice at Rio+20. The region was united and committed to the negotiations, which hopefully would meet its expectations and the aspirations of its people. The consensual African declaration expressed the continent’s ambition, while recognizing that it was in open debate that international commitments would be furthered. Africa had enormous natural capital, hosting 40 per cent of the world’s biological diversity, 20 per cent of forestry reserves, and more than half the planet’s potential in solar, water and wind energy. Despite those assets, its development was compromised by a lack of funding and capacity for implementation, he noted.
Similarly, the continent was facing new challenges linked to the harmful effects of climate change, the advancing deserts and the drying up of Lake Chad, as well as biodiversity loss, damage to ecosystems, increasing pressure on water resources, and low capacity to respond to disasters. Added to those challenges were the food and energy crises and rapid urbanization. The global financial and economic crisis had exacerbated poverty and unemployment, particularly among young people, he said. That was why Africa had chosen the green economy as a way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development goals as an opportunity to promote economic diversification and stimulate fair and just development. African countries called for respect by developed countries for existing commitments, and expected that the means for implementing sustainable development would be established “once and for all” at Rio+20.
Grand Duke HENRI of Luxembourg said the challenges of 20 years ago had not disappeared and were now on a grander scale, affecting more and more people. Today was a chance to work together to create “the future we want” and to arrive at a dynamic and sustainable development model that took into account the aspirations of all peoples. In 1992, and in Johannesburg in 2002, Luxembourg had committed to elaborating and implementing a national sustainable development policy, as well as to actively participating in international efforts to that end. Over the last 20 years, it had done so, increasing its ODA commitment from 0.7 per cent of gross national product in 2000 to cross the Millennium Development Goals threshold and contribute 1 per cent since 2009. Only a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister had confirmed the country’s commitment to maintaining that level in the coming years.
That was not the only instrument in Luxembourg’s toolbox in the area of sustainable development, he continued. To fight climate change, the Grand Duchy had decided that its climate and energy fund would also be used to help developing countries put adaptation and mitigation measures in place. Broadly speaking, Luxembourg’s political will derived from its determination to meet its international agreements, including the development goals. Sustainable development might be seen as an obligation, but it was already an opportunity — to make policies more effective. The process could make more effective use of resources, he said, emphasizing also the need to protect the “global commons”, such as oceans, forests, soils, and ecosystems, while ensuring sustainable energy for all. Clean oceans, rich in biodiversity, as well as access to clean drinking water, were the right of all human beings and must be guaranteed for all by 2030 at the latest, he said.
DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, called for exceptional global solidarity to commit to the same sustainable development goals. Action must be smart, sensitive and responsible, she said, adding that innovation and smart incentives were needed to more effectively use energy and natural resources. Lithuania had decreased carbon intensity faster than its per capita growth, based on its strong belief in the need to balance growth with environmental protection. The country relied heavily on local biomass energy, which had significantly improved the air quality in forest areas. Agreement on the responsible use of natural resources must be compulsory, she said.
Even small countries like Lithuania had fostered growth and development of a green economy, she said. Small actions towards that end mattered and sometimes led to big change. Citing her country’s “Let’s do it” campaign, she said it brought citizens together to clean up the environment in their local communities each spring. The campaign had become a global phenomenon and was a testament to the fact that the world shared the same problems and must therefore face them together. “That is the only way to ensure the future we want becomes the future we get, so let’s do it together,” she said.
HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, President of Namibia, said the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should guide the world’s actions towards sustainable growth. The draft outcome document should ensure that global leaders were committed to sustainable solutions. In Namibia, sustainable development was a constitutional imperative and its national policies were aimed at maintaining ecosystems and biological diversity. The country had introduced laws, policies and programmes to promote and coordinate community-based sustainable development initiatives. Protected areas now covered 44 per cent of the national territory, and the Government had set up a national planning commission and environmental investment fund. An environmental commission appointed under the Environmental Management Act 2007 was fully operational.
Turning to poverty reduction, job creation and sustainable resource development, he said Namibia was poised to mainstream green economy principles into national planning. He called on the international community to commit to the 1992 Rio Principles, including that of common but differentiated responsibilities. “Let us renew our resolve to build the future we want,” he said, calling on all countries to strengthen the means to implement sustainable development initiatives. Without clear strategies to address critical areas, any success from Rio+20 was likely to be short lived. The global community, especially developing countries, should work hard to build adaptive capacities to promote and implement sustainable development initiatives. He asked Member States to support Namibia’s request to establish the Secretariat of the Green Fund in Windhoek.
BONI YAYI, President of Benin, said it was necessary to leave future generations with a habitable world. Action thus far to conserve the planet was insufficient. Famines, floods, disease and poverty continued, despite multiple efforts in recent decades to promote development. Poverty still affected more than 3.4 billion people. Ecosystems were not as productive as before and they were very much threatened by human activity. The current challenges were greater than those of the past. Human activity had led to significantly greater greenhouse gas emissions. Benin had been affected by such phenomena and despite its financial difficulties, had courageously faced environmental challenges. With partners, it had implemented special projects to protect coastal areas while adapting to and mitigating climate change.
He went on to say that his country would launch a “9 million souls” project very soon, in line with the priorities of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to promote sustainable development on the continent. Confirming Benin’s support for the African common position at Rio+20, he reiterated the statement by the President of Congo, setting forth the region’s concerns during the negotiations on the outcome document. He hailed the proposal to upgrade UNEP to a United Nations specialized agency with a clear mandate and lines of action. He also expressed support for the establishment of sustainable development goals after 2015, and affirmed Africa’s commitment to achieving them. He stressed the need to cooperate and forge new partnerships in the spirit of solidarity to achieve the outcome document, improve performance and ensure appropriate and adequate funding.
JÁNOS ÁDER, President of Hungary, said the common responsibility now was to overcome sometimes selfish human nature and come to understand the elemental issues of sustainable development. Noting that the issues of 20 years ago were “still towering over us today”, he said the question marks of that time had become “exclamation points in front of our eyes”. The facts presented an alarming picture. More resources had been consumed over the past five decades than in the planet’s entire prior existence. That footprint exceeded Earth’s biological capacity, and it thus could not be maintained in its current form, he stressed. As thoughts today revolved around sustainable development, it was important to define it, he said, describing his view of sustainable development as being about lives, those around today and those still to be born. It was about chances and quality of life, “for our children and grandchildren”, he added.
“We possess most of the knowledge and technologies required, so there is nothing left than to get down to action,” he declared. It was not declaration after declaration that was needed, but “executable, implementable” programmes. The focus should be on water — the source of life. It was taken for granted when one had it, but when one did not, one died. The true weight of the issue was not being confronted, he said, stressing that the problem was not “knocking on tomorrow’s door, it was knocking today”. More than 1 billion people lived without access to safe drinking water, and the situation would deteriorate further unless something was done about it now. Hungary was ready to contribute its experience in water management, he said, suggesting a conference on the matter.
ANOTE TONG, President of Kiribati, said the many challenges provided an opportunity to rethink approaches. The main question was whether enough had been done and whether the process was headed in the right direction. “Are we here to secure the future of each other’s children or just our own?” he asked. The answer to that question held the key as to whether or not the process had any credibility, and whether it had meaning for everyone, or just for some. “As a global community, we have failed to achieve sustainability for the most.” That was partly due to mismanagement and partly the result of collective abuse of “global commons”. The mission at Rio+20 was to take stock of past performance and see whether it was possible to do better. He said world leaders “are back here again”, but with much more knowledge about ensuring that the planet remained sustainable.
Today, there was a much greater likelihood of making more informed decisions. Some suggested that the issue was striking a balance between development and opportunities for future growth. However, he said that his sense of justice also insisted that the development of one country must not be at the cost of another or of the “global commons”. Over time, new definitions had arisen, such as green growth, he noted, saying that while he was a firm believer in that concept, such pathways must be sustainable for all and not just a few. That was social and moral justice. Support for such initiatives as global green growth should be accompanied by a “clear and loud warning” that available science must not be ignored. The international community’s lack of commitment had not allowed it to meet the challenges posed by climate change, and the countries on the “front line” were already feeling the impacts of that human-induced calamity. No others should follow suit in the future, he said.
JOSÉ MUJICA, President of Uruguay, said many speakers had expressed their willingness as Governments to support all agreements, but it was essential to “do some thinking out loud and ask some questions”. When talking about sustainable development and lifting huge numbers of people out of poverty, the production and consumption patterns of the rich societies must be considered. What would happen if the Hindus were to have the same numbers of cars per families as the Germans? he asked. How much oxygen would be left? The world today had the material elements it needed. Civilization had to do with competition and material progress, an explosive process that produced market societies and gave only a monetary-wide view of events. “Are we governing globalization or is it governing us?” he asked. How was it possible to talk about solidarity and pulling in the same direction when economies were based on unfair competition? Was that really about fraternity?
The challenge at hand was “colossal”, and the crisis was not ecological; it was political, he said. The fight must be for another kind of culture. People did not want to be governed by the market; they needed to govern the market. He saluted the efforts being made at Rio+20 and the agreements being concluded, but said that as President of a Government, he felt that while some of his points might not be popular, he wished to make participants aware of the issues. Water, for example, was not a cause of environmental degradation; the cause was the model of civilization people had themselves set up. The solution was to revise their way of living, he said. Uruguay had just over 3 million inhabitants, but they were among the best cattle and sheep herders in the world, he said. They exported milk and meat, and almost 90 per cent of the country’s land was arable for farming.
JOSÉ MANUEL DURAO BARROSO, President of the European Commission, stressed the bloc’s unwavering commitment to sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and to sending a clear message on a common vision and an agenda for change. Sustainability must transcend generations, he said, welcoming the Conference’s focus on the green economy, which was about promoting inclusive and environmentally friendly growth. That would enhance the ability to manage resources efficiently, a process that would be carried out differently in each country. It would require promoting decent work and green jobs, fostering social cohesion and enhanced food security, sustainable management of water, arable land management, and the promotion of healthy and productive oceans and seas. Sustainable development also improved resource efficiency and waste management, he said. That was why the European Union had focused on sustainable energy and water; sustainable land management and ecosystems; and oceans and resource efficiency.
Thanks to its efforts to make the outcome document more action-oriented, it now better reflected those priorities, he said. He welcomed the fact that the document would define future sustainable development goals and called for an overarching post-2015 framework with specific goals that would address the three dimensions of development in a holistic manner. All countries must take the necessary steps to put an enabling self-sustaining environment in place. The European Union would remain the world’s largest donor of aid, with most going to “ Rio” priorities. It would mainstream sustainability considerations into cooperation programmes and other European Union policies. European Union aid totalled €8 billion, he said, adding that he would propose another €400 million to ensure implementation of the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. ODA alone was not the answer, he said, adding that innovative sources of financing should also be encouraged. He called for UNEP to become a fully-fledged United Nations specialized agency.
FERNANDO DA PIEDADE DIAS DOS SANTOS, Vice-President of Angola, said that at a time when there was an acute need for a change in global consumption and production patterns, sustainable development was vital, he said. Stressing his country’s commitment to attain the Millennium Development Goals, he called for a paradigm shift in the use of natural resources. Since the adoption of Agenda 21, Angola had remained firmly committed to implementing subsequent sustainable development agreements. The country had worked to improve national health services and infrastructure. It had successfully reduced infant mortality, increased grade school enrolment to 6 million, and expanded the energy and industrial sectors.
Those measures had improved living conditions, he said. Angola had also adopted structural measures for environmental conservation and natural resource preservation, he continued. The Government had drafted a national environmental management plan and entered into cross-border initiatives to protect biodiversity. He cited initiatives with neighbouring Congo and environmental protection projects with Gabon, which would bolster protection in rural communities. He went on to reaffirm the importance of non-interference as well as the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The Government was working with universities, civil society, local communities and the private sector to build the foundations of a green economy, which must serve as a tool to eradicate poverty and ensure food security, he said.
MARIANO RAJOY BREY, Prime Minister of Spain, said that to further the common cause of sustainable development, all peoples must work together as partners. In that context, he welcomed the establishment of the sustainable development goals as well as the agreement on strengthening institutions of the United Nations, particularly the Economic and Social Council, which he described as the perfect forum for sustainable development. UNEP should also be strengthened to improve its capacity in as ambitious and effective way as possible.
A green economy was also necessary and should prioritize employment, as well as food security, he said. Greater efficiency in productive systems and agriculture must be pursued, particularly as it regarded the use of water. The survival of fish stocks must be pursued, he said, emphasizing that non-regulated fishing should be prohibited. In the area of energy, new technologies must be incorporated as much as possible in order to increase the use of renewable energies as much as possible. Spain welcomed the inclusion of those priorities in the draft outcome document, he said.
MELTEK SATO KILMAN LIVTUNVANU, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, saying his country knew the challenges of a sustainable future, expressed hope that the Conference would help the world move away from a reactive to a long-term perspective in planning for that future. Welcoming the acknowledgement of the special problems of small island developing States in the draft outcome document, he said in that regard that a green economy would only be possible in his region if it rested on a “blue backbone”, stressing that the oceans could only sustain the world’s peoples if they were managed wisely. Climate change presented particular challenges to Vanuatu, he said, calling on all countries to face the difficulties of that crisis under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. A global effort was needed to move beyond rhetoric to actual implementation of commitments, he stressed.
FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, welcomed the “noble objectives” of the Conference and expressed hope that it would lead to a new mode of managing the planet’s resources. He supported, in addition, Africa’s common consensus position at the summit. Since the Earth Summit, he said, the Central African Republic had taken many measures to work for sustainable development, including the enactment of a forest code, an environmental code and an environmental fund. Forest management, participation in the Kimberley Process and management schemes for other extractive industries were important elements, he said, adding that the relevant policies were intended to integrate the environmental element across all sectors and to engage grass-roots communities.
He said that his country’s ecological diversity and low population should help it deal with challenges, but the extreme poverty of the population presented great obstacles. However, the development of renewable energy would help alleviate those conditions. Strategies for managing the country’s forest resources, including timber and game, were being established, and water-management policies were also being developed. The Central African Republic wished to benefit from the carbon credit market and reforestation projects were being considered in light of the potential partnerships in that area. Describing the national poverty-reduction strategy, he said reforms were being planned to support it. The Central African Republic needed the international community at its side in all those efforts.
MIHAI MOLDOVANU, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, said his country intended to consolidate the socio-economic components of Agenda 21 into its national policies. However, in the era of globalization, no country could face environmental challenges alone, and strengthening cooperation was therefore inevitable. That was part of the reason for the Republic of Moldova’s aim of integrating into the European Union and the structural reforms associated with that effort, as well as its accession to the Union’s position on the green economy. Lessons had been learned from the experience of the last 20 years, he said, recalling that for a country that imported energy and other necessities, energy effectiveness was critical. He expressed full support for the idea of establishing a green fund, for improving awareness of environmental issues and other measures, as well as for a central role for the United Nations in helping shape a better future for all.
JEAN COULDIATY, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development of Burkina Faso, called for greater mobilization of the international community in the struggle against drought, and expressed support for the goal of zero net loss of arable land. The effects of climate change, food insecurity, social crises and many other ills were exacerbating the problems of the countries of West Africa, he said. More binding cooperation was needed and developed countries must take responsibility for their emissions of greenhouse gases.
The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities was critical, he said, adding that Burkina Faso had already taken measures to bring about conditions essential for sustainable development, including institutional reforms. Its accelerated growth strategy was part of that effort, as was the launch of a green economy initiative. It was critical to move beyond speeches and to put in place the means to achieve sustainable development through new cooperation between nations, he said, adding that Burkina Faso renewed its support for the consensual African position at the Conference.
KOICHIRO GEMBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, expressed gratitude for international support following the earthquake and tsunami earlier in the year. Due to that disaster, Japan felt a particular urgency to pursue development in harmony with nature. All stakeholders must unite towards that goal, and all individuals must realize their potential to the utmost in the context of human security, he said.
Japan pledged to help create sustainable cities all over the world by contributing the development of all countries. The Government would invite urban planners from all over the world to work on that initiative. Some 10,000 environmental experts would also be mobilized, and funds would be provided to developing countries to develop human resources in that regard. Describing other initiatives for cooperation in disaster reduction, he invited all participants to investigate technological innovations being pursued by his country, which had a long tradition of coexistence with nature.
FREDERICK MITCHELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Bahamas, hailed the consensus on the draft declaration, which offered significant opportunities. The Bahamas was increasingly vulnerable to hurricanes due to climate change, and was challenged by the need to import fossil fuels and other commodities. Its people were inextricably tied to the environment for sustenance and the tourist industry, which in turn hinged on the sustainable development strategies established now. Renewable energy and the management of resources, particularly marine resources, were critical. Policies must be people-centred, with youth, in particular, engaged in all efforts, he said, emphasizing that green initiatives must not put macro-development at risk. For that reason, technological and institutional capacity must be improved, and financing must respond to the needs of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development. Above all, the right of the Bahamas to develop sustainably must not be constricted, he stressed.
JAFAR ABED HASSAN, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan, said the green economy must benefit everyone, particularly youth, who made up 70 per cent of the population and the poor. Political and economic reform must happen together, he said, adding that Jordan was committed to integrating those elements into its sustainable development goals. For that purpose, resources must be channelled to developing countries through innovative financing that could set the right value incentives in various key sectors and put other mechanisms into motion. He welcomed the role of international financial institutions and other funds in supporting private-sector investment. Stressing the connection between sustainable development and peace, he said the status quo in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was not sustainable.
NURLAN KAPPAROV, Minister for Environment Protection of Kazakhstan, describing sustainable development measures taken by his country in partnership with others, including the expansion of natural parks, said that many problems remained, including those caused by the shrinking of glaciers and other water sources in Central Asia. At the same time, there were considerable investment opportunities in facing those challenges. Joint action by developed countries and the developing world were needed in that context. Kazakhstan had integrated regional cooperation and sustainable energy supplies into various initiatives of its existing development paradigm, he said, expressing appreciation for the incorporation of his country’s proposals into the draft outcome document. There was no alternative to a green economy and sustainable development. “We owe it to our children to make a decisive break with the practices of the past,” he said.
EDWARD NALBANDYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, recalled that his country had been actively involved in the Earth Summit, and for the next 20 years, under the difficult conditions of transition, had sought to fulfil its commitments. Among other initiatives, Armenia had established a national council on sustainable development. In 2011, a national coordinating committee had been established to ensure the country’s constructive participation in Rio+20. Intensive discussion and public debate had gradually made sustainable development principles a reality in Armenia, which supported not only green economy education, but a strengthening of the institutional basis for sustainable development at the national and global levels.
He said his country was engaged in several regional partnerships, but from the perspective of sustainable development, the region remained divided and unstable. Income was directed towards an arms race, which had created dangerous tensions. The Millennium Declaration had devoted an entire section to peace, security and disarmament, which were crucial to overcoming poverty and underdevelopment. In that context, weapons proliferation continued to threaten not only peace and security, but also economic and social development. Armenia faced the unprecedented growth of Azerbaijan’s military budget, he said, adding that the neighbouring country’s militaristic stance was a real threat to regional security and stability. Still, Armenia was fully confident that the global commitment displayed at Rio+20 would form a solid base from which to set in place the desired goals and ways to achieve them.
VERA KOBALIA, Minister for Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, said the world faced difficult challenges, but also huge opportunities. It was up to each individual — and the international community — how to address them. Georgia’s contribution to sustainable development was to build a “green Georgia” from clean and renewable sources. Today, more than 90 per cent of the country’s electricity came from clean and renewable sources, and used just 18 per cent of the country’s hydro potential. Georgia already exported clean electricity to all neighbouring countries, including Turkey and the Russian Federation, and was on its way to exporting it to markets beyond the region. A clean energy pool was an engine of growth for a wide range of industries in Georgia, which sought to build a diverse and robust green economy.
The private sector was in the best position to drive the green economy, and Georgia was ready to “go the extra mile” to create the best conditions for business to thrive, she said. Recalling that her country had been a “typical post-war country hopelessly stuck in transition” just 10 years ago, she said only a privileged few had enjoyed access to the economy, education and health care. In just a few years, however, Georgia had managed to defeat corruption and become “one of the most transparent and clean places to do business”. It had rid itself of bureaucracy and red tape, and had set up a system oriented towards the needs of citizens and businesses. It had turned itself into the seventeenth “easiest country to do business in”, according to the World Bank. Those reforms were the primary basis of sustainable development, and good governance was the key to the whole process, she said.
BERHANE GEBREKIRSTOS, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said Rio+20 should avoid back-tracking on the commitments made 20 years ago. The least the Conference could do was to renew those commitments and take small steps forward towards a consensus in terms of means of implementation. It seemed the Conference would endorse certain policies, and participants must not fail to take their realization seriously. Stressing that greening the economy was the only way forward, he said Ethiopia had launched a climate-resilient green economic strategy, which aimed to improve crop- and livestock-production practices, protect forests and expand electric generation, among other things. The commitment to a green economy had become a common African position, and the transition offered a new prospective of speeding up the continent’s progress towards sustainable development.
However, committing to a green economy at the country level, or even continent-wide, was not enough, he said. Developed countries must acknowledge their responsibilities in view of the pressures that their activities placed on societies. He said the Conference outcome had long been anticipated, but it required implementation. As a country wholeheartedly committed to the green economy, Ethiopia required enormous support and cooperation to ensure the strategy’s success. For example, the country needed considerably more investment, greater business opportunities, and support in terms of technical transfers and capacity-building, he said, adding that conditionality with respect to technology had no place in the effort to promote the green economy.
BATKHISHIG BADAMDORJ, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, said the Conference would catalyse the political will needed for sustainable development and balanced, pragmatic results. The process had achieved positive results, but much more needed to be done to address such challenges as climate change, land degradation and desertification. Climate change required urgent action on many fronts, as it posed a serious threat to sustainable development and the planet’s future, he said, adding that no one nation could solve it alone. Global technology transfers would enable developing countries to pursue the sustainable development agenda, but landlocked developing countries required a deeper commitment to address their special needs.
Since 1992, the Government of Mongolia had actively pursued a socio-economic policy aimed at achieving sustainable development goals. Significant achievements had been made, policy documents formulated — particularly on climate change — and there had been progress towards ecologically clean products. Poverty had been alleviated and there had been steady economic growth, due to a booming mining industry. However, that was not without its problems, as the economy had become too dependent on the mining sector, which was having an increasingly negative impact on human health and eroding the pasture of nomadic livestock, among other things. Mongolia was committed to a green economy and to the effective use of renewable energy resources as it strove to develop solar, wind and hydro power, he said.
MIRKO ŠAROVIĆ, Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stressed his readiness to work with the international community to turn the environmental crisis into a set of environmental opportunities. Expressing support for all European Union efforts in the negotiating process, he said it was only through dialogue with other countries that such problems could be solved since environmental issues were global while problems were local. Bosnia and Herzegovina was working to strengthen regional cooperation and encourage development of the green economy. Noting that climate change and biodiversity loss caused environmental disasters, he said challenges could be seen as possibilities and opportunities. Investment in green infrastructure could be a way to address those challenges successfully.
In line with global challenges, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was directing future investment to renewable sources of energy, eco-transport and organic agriculture among other areas, he said. It would try to create sustainable mountain systems and manage ecosystems based on scientific findings. Sustainable development was impossible without social justice, he said, adding that harmony with nature was also crucial. Over the last three years, Bosnia and Herzegovina had experienced major problems with flooding, and this year, the entire South-Eastern European region had posted record temperatures and snowfall, which had led to large numbers of casualties and ecological damage. Much had been achieved in the spirit of consensus to address that, but much more must be done, he said.
* *** *