- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Forward-looking decisions on strengthening Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development;
- Decisions on sharing experiences and knowledge of green economy policy options, as tools to advance sustainable development and poverty eradication; and
- Action-oriented outcomes in areas such as energy, water, food security, oceans, cities, womenís empowerment, education and others.
- that renews political commitment, reaffirms Rio principles and builds upon earlier agreements;
- that is action-oriented in spelling out the Future we Want;
- that contains inspiring agreements for future generations on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and on the institutional framework for sustainable development;
- that contains ambitious universal goals - the Sustainable Development Goals;
- that contains concrete deliverables in priority areas; and
- that creates or strengthens the institutions we need for the post-Rio+20 period.
The last two months have seen intensive efforts to strengthen the zero draft of the outcome document. Member States provided amendments and comments to all five sections of the zero draft. A compilation text incorporating all those amendments and comments was circulated to Member States ahead of the informal negotiations that started in the week of 19 March.During the informal negotiations, delegations focused on a first reading of sections 3 to 5 ? covering the two themes (a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development), as well as the framework for action and means of implementation. The discussions also included a second reading of sections 1 and 2 of the compilation text. Under the guidance of the Co-Chairs, delegations worked hard on the outcome document. There is no doubt that Member States are working extremely hard to ensure that world leaders renew political commitments for sustainable development at Rio + 20. During the exchange of views on the outcome document, many delegates underscored the urgent need for changing course, for changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns, and for building a sustainable future - a future we all want, for us, and for our children. The broad-ranging discussion demonstrated the magnitude of the challenges our world faces and the eagerness for shared action. There was a clear sense of purpose in seeking common ground. In my closing remarks at the conclusion of the informal negotiations, I shared with delegates my perspectives on the complexities of the negotiations yet to come. The compilation text emerging from the informal negotiations was 206 pages in length; yet the time for negotiations is short. Clearly, to reach agreement on a focused political document, as called for by the General Assembly, the business-as-usual approach will not work. Indeed, many delegates pointed out that the outcome of Rio+20 should not merely be a repetition of Agenda 21 or other treaties or agreed outcomes. They stressed that the Rio+20 outcome should build upon the earlier achievements. It should focus on actions and concrete steps forward that address implementation gaps, and that give shape and form to our shared vision and to the future we want. I expressed my hope that delegations will focus on deliverables of fundamental significance to poverty reduction and the common wellbeing of all nations in priority areas ? such as food, water, and energy, and to deal with emerging challenges, such as urbanization, jobs, oceans, and disasters. During the informal negotiations, delegations also held extensive discussion on sustainable development goals (SDGs). There was an emerging convergence of views that at a minimum the Rio+20 Conference should launch a process leading to the SDGs, and define the guidelines that guide their elaboration, preparation and implementation. It was felt that agreement on SDGs at Rio+20 would send a strong expression of renewed commitment for sustainable development. Delegates also emphasized a proposal on a compendium of voluntary commitments, which may complement the official outcome document. The second round of informal negotiations will start on 23 April and continue through 4 May. I believe we all share the hope - and belief - that significant progress will be made in this round of negotiations.
Last week, member States had initial consultations on the zero draft of the outcome document. It is encouraging that the zero draft tabled by the two Co-Chairs was accepted as a starting point for negotiations.The three-day discussions pointed to a number of MUST HAVES for Rio+20. First, sustainable development goals could well be one of the important contributions of Rio+20. At the very least, the Conference should define these goals, in a clear timeframe, so that by 2015 the United Nations will have one clear set of goals with sustainable development at their core. These goals could also help guide a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. Second, discussions clearly pointed to the need for a robust framework for action, including: (i) mobilization of financing from all sources; (ii) technology cooperation and transfer; (iii) capacity building; (iv) engagement of all stakeholders in implementation, including through innovative partnerships, and (v) putting science, education, innovation in the service of sustainable development. Third, delegations stressed that Rio+20 must put in place a strengthened institutional framework to advance integration, implementation and coherence. Clearly, on this important and complex issue there is ? as of yet ? no clear consensus on the possible options of how to strengthen UNEP. Discussions also continued on whether to strengthen the Commission on Sustainable Development by transforming it into a Sustainable Development Council, while enhancing the role of the General Assembly and ECOSOC in sustainable development. The discussions took place in an atmosphere of engagement and dialogue. I hope this spirit of collaboration and engagement will continue as negotiations move ahead. In my closing remarks, I invited delegations to keep up a brisk pace of consultations and to make every effort to conclude negotiations by the 3rd Preparatory Committee Meeting. I stressed that we must present to the world leaders and, indeed, to the world?s people, an outcome that will make a difference in our shared undertaking to achieve a sustainable future ? a future we all want. The moment of truth has arrived.
2011 is drawing to a close. It has been a year of intensive preparations for Rio+20. As of December, a total of 676 submissions have been received for inclusion in the compilation document. This is thanks to a year-long preparatory process.At the intergovernmental level, the PrepCom convened its second meeting in March providing critical guidance on the preparatory process. During the year, two inter-sessional meetings were also held, one at the start of the year and the other, at the end. The convergence of understanding on emerging areas for priority attention, on the two themes and on the expectations and outcomes of Rio+20, is encouraging. Clearly, the guidance by the Co-Chairs and Bureau members has been indispensable. Working in a spirit of collegiality, the Bureau has met more than a dozen times during 2011 to discuss and to provide guidance on various aspects of the preparatory process. Much of the progress in the preparations has been driven by regional and country-led processes. In 2011, the five Regional Commissions each organized official regional preparatory meetings in support of Rio+20, thus providing critical regional inputs to the global preparatory process. 2011 also saw a number of country-led meetings, focusing on the various priority areas, as well as the two themes of the Conference. These meetings have proven to be important platforms for frank and in-depth dialogues, contributing to mutual understanding and to the convergence of views and perspectives. As Conference Secretary-General, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the governments that have taken the initiative in organizing these dialogues. Our major groups partners have been active participants in the preparatory process. They have spoken out candidly, and have inspired us with their enthusiasm, hope and ideas. We welcome their contributions, including their submissions to the compilation document. One recurrent appeal to member States during 2011 relates to fundraising. While we still fall far short of the requirements necessary for effective participation of representatives from developing countries and major groups, I wish to thank those governments that contributed to the CSD Trust Fund for their support. I also invite those in a position to do so, but have not done so, to make contributions to the Trust Fund. In coordinating the preparatory work for Rio+20, I received outstanding support from colleagues in the UN system. UNDP, as Chair of UNDG, UNEP, as Chair of EMG, as well as many Heads of UN Funds, Programmes, specialized agencies, and other entities, have all offered support for Rio+20. Many have seconded staff to the Rio+20 Secretariat or organized workshops and expert group meetings dedicated to the themes of Rio+20. Indeed, through the CEB the UN system adopted a common statement on Rio+20. Our colleagues in DPI successfully launched outreach campaigns, including the global conversation on ?The Future We Want?. Needless to say, my own team ? the two Executive Coordinators and the Rio+20 Secretariat ? have been working tirelessly in servicing the preparatory process. 2011 also has seen significant progress in the logistic aspects of the preparations for Rio+20. Our host Government, Brazil, has dedicated significant resources to the organization of the Conference. I twice visited Brazil this year and was deeply impressed with the enthusiasm, dedication and the level of resources Brazil has committed to Rio+20. Thank you, Brazil. The UN Secretary-General has called Rio+20 one of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations and he has called upon world leaders to engage in Rio+20. Indeed, our world is facing inter-linked crises on economic, social and environmental fronts. Sustainable development provides a coherent strategic framework for tackling these crises and for laying the foundation for a sustainable future ? a future we all want. As I said at the closing of the second inter-sessional meeting, ?If I were to try to distil the rich interventions of the past two days in a single clear message, it would be one which was stated by one of the Member States -- the outcome should be strong in will and strong in action. Only in this way will Rio+20 be an historical and ground-breaking conference.? History has given us an opportunity to make a difference. Let us all seize that. As negotiations start in the coming months, let us all work harder in 2012 to make Rio+20 a success. Let Rio+20 be a big plus in political commitments, in action, in development cooperation and in partnerships. Let us make it happen in Rio.
During the preparations for Rio+20, Member States identified a critical emerging challenge: increased frequency and severity of disasters and the need for enhanced resilience.
Disasters have always been with us. If they are now considered a critical, emerging challenge, it is because they occur more often, with greater impact and more devastating consequences.
Without sustainable development, we lack the ingredients to build resilient societies to be able to withstand disasters.
Unfortunately, we have a ways to go. Our resilience capacity is not matching the increased frequency and severity in disasters. Nor do we seem to be coming to grips fully with the environmental impacts of disasters, be they natural or human-made. In particular, I deplore the lack of action in addressing their impact on ecosystems. This fallout may be less visible and less immediate. But the environmental, social and economic consequences are no less significant. We need to do a better job in protecting and managing the natural resource base of our social and economic development.
In recent years, among other disasters and emergencies, we have seen earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, droughts, nuclear accidents, marine pollution and waste dumping, impeding progress towards sustainable development at various levels. Whether caused by nature or humans, the human toll these disasters inflict are devastating and their economic costs run into billions. According to a recent estimate, worldwide economic losses from natural catastrophes and human-made disasters reached some $218 billion in 2010, more than triple the 2009 figure of $68 billion.
In his address to the 66th session of the General Assembly on 21 September, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed:
?To prevent runaway damage from natural disasters, we must work for better disaster-risk reduction and preparedness.?
In his address to the Assembly on the same occasion, the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, identified four key areas for the work of the 66th session of the General Assembly, one of which is ?improving disaster prevention and response?.
The United Nations, supported by humanitarian organizations and NGOs, including environmental NGOs, have been doing an admirable job ? in saving lives and in providing emergency relief. Yet in addressing social, economic and environmental consequences of disasters, especially long-term needs for recovery and post-disaster development, the multilateral system is overwhelmed.
Rio+20 offers an opportunity for strengthening governance and institutional frameworks for multilateral action in improving disaster prevention, preparedness and response, and in integrating these actions with long-term development. In addressing disasters and environmental emergencies, we should aim to be equally effective in saving lives, as well as livelihoods. We need to take a sustainable development approach.
I invite readers of this blog to share with the Rio+20 Secretariat your ideas and proposals.
A few weeks ago, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C, I spoke to an enthusiastic audience on Rio+20. In my speech I elaborated on new and emerging challenges, as well as the two main themes of Rio+20. It is the first time that I dwelled on new and emerging challenges. While the speech itself is posted online, I would like to share with you in this space a recap of the main points I made on new and emerging challenges.I underscored the following challenges that Member States and other stakeholders had highlighted for priority attention. They include:
- green jobs and social inclusion;
- energy access, efficiency and sustainability;
- food security and sustainable agriculture;
- sound water management;
- sustainable cities;
- management of the oceans; and
- improved resilience and disaster preparedness.
- I hope that Rio will produce a blueprint for a coherent pursuit of sustainable development, including:
- Renewed political commitment for sustainable development.
- Mobilization of the entire UN system in support of sustainable development. This requires strengthening of the three pillars - including social and economic, not just environmental.
- A strengthened Commission on Sustainable Development
- A strengthened UNEP.
- Guidelines on the Green Economy.
- Actionable commitments in financing and technology cooperation.
- The challenges we face now are greater than they were when they were identified at the Earth Summit 20 years ago.
- It's not that countries think these issues are any less important. In fact they believe there is more urgency to implementing sustainable development.
- They need to see their efforts going toward implementation. So Rio + 20 itself will be an example of a sharper focus on implementation - and we believe we can achieve tangible results.
- Regarding the question of 'a summit versus a conference'. First of all, let me highlight the Resolution, which states, in paragraph 20, that the General Assembly "decides to organize, in 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government..."
- So, of course, it is up to each Member State on what kind of level they wish to participate.
- Financing is critical for developing countries to transition to a green economy. So is the need for easy access to clean technology.
- Without financing, people in developing countries will have no choice but to continue to use high polluting, high emission technologies.
- That said, the financial crisis that many of the donor countries are facing will necessarily affect what is possible. The outcome of Rio will need to provide a consensus solution to these challenges.
- There are a lot of things many of us need to do differently, wherever we are. Together, we cannot continue using resources as if there is no tomorrow.
- It's been estimated that if everyone in the world lived the current unsustainable lifestyle, we would need five planets to supply those resources.
- And yet, we have only one world. Every person should have the opportunity to lead a full and dignified life - including the poor and most vulnerable.
- So, given the natural limits on the Earth's resources, we need to do things differently, not to live poorer, but to live smarter in terms of our use of the Earth's resources.
- Finding ways to reduce waste and use resources more efficiently is a major goal of this Conference.
- No countries are there yet, but several, both developing and developed countries, have made significant efforts to green their economies.
- Costa Rica, the Maldives, Denmark, and the Republic of Korea are perhaps among them.
- But other large economies have taken this onboard as well.
- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa are among the countries that have all made great strides in this respect, for example.
- According to the report, the financial needs for investment in a green economy would amount to some 2 per cent of GDP per year for the next 40 years.
- In this regard, I wish to highlight the importance for developing countries of easy financing for the transition to a green economy, as well as of easy access to technology.
- These challenges will remain a constant throughout the preparatory process and the Conference must find a solution to achieve such challenges.
- There is no simple answer. Technology gaps are already wide between rich and poor countries.
- Some green technologies are relatively mature and their markets are already large - like wind turbines. For these, economies of large-scale production can make a big difference to affordability. China and other developing economies are emerging as large producers, helping to force down costs and make the technologies more affordable.
- That should benefit developing countries interested in deploying renewable energy technologies, including through North-South-South triangle cooperation.
- For state-of-the-art green technologies, it may be that developed countries will maintain a technological lead for some time.
- For countries that are far behind technologically, and that cannot afford to deploy the latest green technologies, international cooperation should be reinforced to provide access to these technologies on favorable terms.
- The simple answer is this: a green economy should not raise trade barriers or be a justification for "green protectionism".
- On the contrary, countries should work to provide increased market access for green products from developing countries. Rio Principle 12 says it all: "Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. ..."
- At Rio + 20, in the context of renewing commitment to sustainable development, countries should reaffirm commitment to the Rio Principles.
- So, any agreement on a green economy in Rio next year should adhere to the Rio Principles. There are areas of possible disagreement which will need clarification of WTO rules, including how they relate to subsidies for renewable energy.
- Developing countries also have concerns that the trade policy rules not unduly restrict policy space to develop their own domestic green industries.
- From our perspective, the report complements very much the approach taken in the intergovernmental discussions on Rio + 20 so far.
- It focuses on strategic sectors for promoting a transition to the green economy rather than focusing on definitional issues.
- There is an expectation that Member States will in Rio try to build on the work done so far on the long-standing discussions on international environmental governance (IEG).
- Several options for institutional reform are on the table, including upgrading UNEP to specialized agency. Consensus has not emerged on any particular option.
- The UNCSD will also consider role of bodies such as ECOSOC and the Commission on Sustainable Development.
- Effective integration of the three pillars of sustainable development requires a strong and capable environmental pillar.
- Therefore we need to strengthen the environmental pillar in the context of sustainable development.
- In this context, both the CSD as well as UNEP needs to be enhanced and strengthened in order to fulfil their mandates.
- IEG will be an important ingredient for a successful outcome in Rio. But the institutional framework for sustainable development theme extends beyond IEG. Both the economic and social pillars are also in need of strengthening.
- The Conference will look at strengthening mechanisms that integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development.
- That means considering the role of bodies such as ECOSOC, and the Commission on Sustainable Development.
- But it also means supporting integrated governance at national and local levels. For instance, strengthening those institutions involved in ensuring access to clean water, sanitation, shelter, and energy.
- Rio + 20 is not a climate change conference. That is what the UNFCCC process is about.
- Nevertheless, greening our economies can address many of the underlying causes that are driving climate change.
- For example, using energy more efficiently has major ramifications for climate.
- Switching to cleaner cooking stoves and vehicles also will have an impact on climate.
- No, not at all.
- There may be outcomes in Rio that can help the UNFCCC process, but Rio + 20 will in no way detract from the UNFCCC negotiations.
- The Secretary-General has designated me as the Conference Secretary-General and I am accountable to the Secretary-General and I serve under the guidance of the Secretary-General.
- One of his top priorities for 2011 is sustainable development.
- That is also our priority and we are not only thinking along the same lines. We are also supporting the Secretary-General in delivering as ONE.
As this is my first blog in 2011, I would like to begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year.
I also wish to be very clear: 2011 will be a critical year in the preparation of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20.
We begin the year with the first Intersessional meeting, which takes place next week, providing a much needed opportunity for Member States, UN system organizations and Major Groups to have a broad and constructive dialogue on the objectives and themes of the Conference, and to identify critical elements.
Indeed, following the PrepCom of last May, this is the first global preparatory meeting dedicated to the preparation of Rio+20.� It will build on regional and expert group meetings organized last year.
In this space I want to share a few personal thoughts on the preparatory work that lies ahead.
Since the start of the preparatory process, much attention has focused on the question of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.� As I highlighted last October in my speech at the Expert Group meeting held in Geneva, concerns remain over the impact of a green economy transition on macroeconomic management, on sustainable livelihoods and on trade.
At the same time, experience also shows that, managed properly, a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication can be an effective tool to speed up implementation.
At the Intersessional next week, further elaboration on the benefits, success factors, risks and challenges in relation to a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, will help define a forward-looking strategy for implementation.
While questions have arisen with regard to a green economy, there have also been discussions on the institutional framework for sustainable development. Though a key part of the discussion has been on international environmental governance, other issues such as strengthening national and local capacities for sustainable development, implementation, monitoring and accountability, as well as governance of economic and social pillars, have also attracted increasing attention.
To facilitate discussion on these and related issues, the Secretariat has prepared a Synthesis Report, drawing on the replies to the questionnaire circulated last October. A Report of the Secretary-General on the objectives and themes of the Conference is also available online. The two reports should be read together.
In addition to the two themes, member States have had preliminary discussions on new and emerging challenges, such as climate change, land degradation, loss of diversity, food insecurity, lack of access to modern energy services, lack of preparedness for natural disasters, urbanization, etc. Further elaboration on these challenges and on how to address them at next week?s Intersessional will undoubtedly help advance the preparations for the Conference.
If the Interessional meeting can help participants reach common ground on the issues outlined above, the second PrepCom will be better prepared to focus on those critical elements of an action-oriented, forward-looking outcome of the Conference, which will help launch our world on a trajectory towards global sustainability in the 21st century.
Looking at the timelines ahead, we will have an intervening period of approximately eight months between the end of the PrepCom II and the start of the second Intersessional, scheduled for November 2011.
I am confident that the PrepCom will come to a decision on how to utilize the intervening period to enhance the preparatory processes at the national, regional and global levels.
An intergovernmental outcome that is encapsulated in a focused political document will guide action on sustainable development for decades to come. And, complemented by voluntary commitments, such as multi-stakeholder partnership initiatives launched in the lead-up to or at Rio+20, it will add further momentum to implementation after the Conference.
In this regard, I invite colleagues and friends who are following the preparation of Rio+20 to share with the dedicated secretariat your ideas, proposals and recommendations on what innovative, concrete and effective actions and initiatives can emerge from Rio+20.
The dedicated secretariat for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is located in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Collectively, DESA possesses perhaps the best reservoir of knowledge and experience in coordinating support for UN conferences and summits on development issues.
After all, DESA served as the secretariat for UN conference and summits on aging, finance for development, population, women, sustainable development and small island developing States, as well as several Special Sessions of the General Assembly.
This pool of knowledge and expertise notwithstanding, DESA needs the broad engagement from other secretariat Departments, Regional Commissions, Funds and Programmes and specialized agencies - in other words, the entire UN family organizations - in order to provide effective, efficient and coordinated support for the preparation and organization of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
There are a number of reasons for this imperative. As those who have worked on sustainable development know well, the range of issues covered within the framework of sustainable development is so broad that it goes beyond the expertise and competence of any single entity. Further, the three pillars of sustainable development and its inherent emphasis on integrated and balanced approach underscore the need for broad-based, inter-disciplinary and coordinated perspectives and solutions.
Sustainable development also requires multi-stakeholder participation at all levels - local, national, regional and global.� Governments alone cannot meet the multiple challenges they face.� They need ownership and support from businesses, NGOs, scientific and technological communities and academia, among others.
Indeed, Member States are fully cognizant of the importance of this participatory approach.� In resolution 64/236, the General Assembly invites relevant stakeholders, including organizations and bodies of the United Nations, international financial institutions and major groups involved in the area of sustainable development, to provide ideas and proposals reflecting their experiences and lessons learned as a contribution to the preparatory process for Rio+20.
We take this participation seriously.� In my capacity as the Convener of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, I have put preparations for Rio+20 as a standing item on the EC-ESA Principals? and Deputies? meetings. After consultations with members of EC-ESA, we have also invited Rio Conventions, Funds and Programmes and specialized agencies to join us in EC-ESA meetings (known as EC-ESA Plus).
In addition, we have been working, through UNEP, with the members of the Environment Management Group (EMG) on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. We are also seeking to get the active engagement of the member entities of the United Nations Development Group in support of the preparatory process, in particular at the country level, through UN Country Team (UNCT).
This collaboration had already led to specific initiatives.� DESA, UNEP and UNCTAD have organized expert meetings on green economy, with inputs from other organizations, including ILO, IADB, and civil society and business stakeholders.� More expert meetings and workshops to be jointly organized by UN family organizations are under preparation.� I have also had discussions with the executive heads of a number of specialized agencies, including ILO, UNIDO, WIPO and WTO.� All expressed interest in supporting the preparatory processes.
In addition, UN entities are considering my request for seconding staff to the dedicated secretariat.� ECLAC has already responded by seconding a senior staff member to work with the dedicated secretariat on green economy issues.� UNEP also is in the course of making arrangements for seconding a senior staff member. �
At Headquarters, we are working with the Department of Public Information (DPI) on outreach campaigns for Rio+20.� An inter-departmental taskforce has been set up to review the logistic preparations for the Conference.
On 4 November EC-ESA Plus Principals met in New York to brainstorm on the strategic vision for supporting the preparations for Rio+20. A total of 37 entities, including agencies, Funds, Programmes and Regional Commissions participated.
The Principals engaged in an active discussion of the two thematic focuses: ?a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication? and ?the institutional framework for sustainable development? (IFSD), and shared their views on the expected results of the Conference, ideas on concrete initiatives that could be launched there, and on how best to support national and regional preparations, which are an integral part of the overall preparatory process.
Five major messages emerged from these discussions. First, there was a consensus among Principals that the Conference should refrain from re-opening Agenda 21 or the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI); rather, it should aim to uphold the principles of Rio and the JPOI framework, which remain relevant to sustainable development, and address the gaps and the reasons behind the lack of progress on relevant issues, i.e., the implementation deficit.
Second, there was a consensus that the concept of a ?green economy? should be interpreted in such a way as to enhance national strategies, especially of developing countries. In this regard, it should take into consideration national systems and policies that have proved successful in supporting sustainable development, and examine national experiences based on in-depth analysis from the ground up in developing countries. ?Green economy? should not be translated to ?green protectionism? or aid conditionality.
Third, several key sectors were identified as critical towards progress. These include access to energy services, sustainable management of water resources, agriculture and food security, sustainable urbanization, and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Similarly, the cross-cutting themes of gender equality and empowerment of women, employment, population dynamics, technology and financing were highlighted. It was hoped that the Conference would help in shaping a shared global vision for addressing these challenges.
Fourth, Principals called for further reflection on the issue of institutional arrangements for sustainable development; they emphasized that the better coordination among the existing arrangements should be promoted. There should be system wide effort to build synergies.
Finally, they identified a number of initiatives and concrete actions that each agency/entity would launch for this Conference. These range from analytical papers, studies to joint projects and programmes.
Overall, they agreed that the UN system should develop an integrated response to the challenges of sustainable development, which would be crucial for the success of the Conference. The participants agreed to continue this intensive engagement on substantive issues.
We had gotten off to a good start and we will continue along the path of collaboration. It is no exaggeration to say that it takes the whole UN family to support a successful UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
Staying on the subject of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, I would like to share with you the highlights of my remarks at an Expert Meeting on the Green Economy organized by UNCTAD in close collaboration with UNEP and my Department. The meeting aims to explore ways in which the green economy, through trade-led growth, can become a pro-development, income-generating instrument which will directly contribute to sustainable development.
In my opening remarks at the meeting, I took a quick retrospective look at the journey that has brought us here today.
In Stockholm in 1972, the United Nations shone a spotlight on the state of the global environment. It raised the alarm then about the human impact on the environment. The follow-up to the Conference was timely, with many governments establishing a ministry of environment. The UN responded by creating UNEP.
Although there was significant action after Stockholm, the world economy remained heavily dependent on high consumptions of resources and high emissions and wastes, which resulted in worsening degradation of the environment and an increase in poverty.
In Rio in 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or the Earth Summit) adopted the Rio Principles and Agenda 21.� Sustainable development, with its three pillars and emphasis on integrated and balanced approach, has since provided an overarching policy framework for tackling development challenges.
Today, Rio continues to be regarded as perhaps the most historic UN conference in development, with the Rio Principles continuing to guide intergovernmental decision-making.� Ten years after Rio, in Johannesburg in 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development focused on implementation and a reaffirmation of the three pillars of sustainable development.
Yet implementation remains a daunting challenge, especially in the aftermath of the financial, food, and fuel crises and the global impact of climate change. In this setting, the General Assembly has decided to convene the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, 20 years after the Rio, to focus on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Member States have identified the two themes as critical for accelerating implementation, through harmonizing the relations between growth and environment and through building up institutions for advancing implementation.
In that sense, a green economy is seen as holding the key to faster implementation of sustainable development. A green economy provides the missing entry point to accelerated progress. It offers new avenues and opportunities for pursuing the integration of the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
In this setting, I asked the question of how to make trade work for a green economy by ?greasing the wheels of a green economy?.� Right now, one concern seems to be the need to ensure that a green economy will not become sand that clogs the channels of trade. An open multilateral trade regime with enhanced market access for developing countries is crucial ? both for accelerating their development and for ensuring the sustainability of that development.
Beyond the economic and social development benefits of an inclusive and open international trade system, trade is also ? together with investment ? a vital channel of green technology flows between countries.� And the costs of those technologies are being driven down, in no small measure by large-scale production for a global market (as for example with solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines). Trade offers benefits to the suppliers of green technologies in a larger market and to buyers in lower prices.
But concerns over a green economy transition remain, as it will mean structural changes in economies. How so? Think about the structural changes that occur during the process of economic development: Developing economies move from agricultural dependence towards a growing industrial orientation before services become the predominant sector at high levels of development. Some sectors grow, others shrink; jobs are created, jobs are destroyed; but incomes and living standards rise sustainably with overall productivity.
Transition to a green economy will involve similar changes. The important thing is that those changes promote economic diversification and yield sustainable improvements in well-being for all, now as well as in the future,
No doubt concerns are being voiced in various quarters - and we must listen. There is concern that a green economy transition could become justification for interference with the rules of international trade, or ?green protectionism?. That if some countries move ahead of others with green economy policies, this may erode competitiveness in some sectors which will then seek protection. But this is not a new issue. It has long been a staple of trade and sustainable development debates.
What is clear is that an open and fair multilateral trade system is an integral part of the global sustainable development architecture. Discussions of how to promote a green economy cannot be separated from the multilateral trade system.
Only by addressing the concerns of all countries, developing countries in particular, can Rio+20 succeed in reaching agreement and producing shared and actionable outcomes.
I concluded my remarks by inviting experts to share new ideas, strategies and most of all, inspiration, for aligning government and business practices with the needs of our environment, and most importantly the needs of the poor and vulnerable in our societies so as to advance sustainable development for all.
As in 2009, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which I head, joined the Government of Republic of Korea in organizing this year's Green Korea Conference, on 9-10 September in Seoul. The theme of this year's Conference was: Strengthening Global Green Growth Strategy and Green Economy.
The first day of the Conference was devoted to high-level plenary addresses and panels of Korean and international experts. At the opening session, I delivered the message of the Secretary-General, which was well received. In my own keynote address to the Conference, I stressed the importance of the topic to the preparations for Rio+ 20 and highlighted the important example Korea has set of high-level political commitment to a green growth strategy.
Speakers came from government, the' private sector and academia. A common theme throughout the presentations was that, while there are daunting challenges in making a transition to green growth and a green economy, there are also significant opportunities, especially for early movers who establish technological competence in the emerging clean technologies.
On the opening day of the Conference, Korean President Lee Myung-Bak test drove Hyundai's new BlueOn electric vehicle at the Blue House, showcasing the commitment of Korean businesses to developing and commercializing the technologies of the future.
On the following day, DESA, in collaboration with the Korean National Research Council for Economics, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, organized an Expert Group Meeting (EGM). The EGM was designed as a brainstorming session on the theme for UNCSD: "a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication". The presentations covered: the concept of green economy; the macroeconomic aspects of a green economy; the employment, livelihood and poverty aspects of a green economy. A follow-up EGM on the trade and competitiveness aspects of a green economy is being organized by UNCTAD in Geneva on 7-8 October 2010.
The discussions have proven useful in clarifying the issues to be addressed by PrepCom2. Among the key points which emerged from the discussions are:
- Conceptual issues: Green economy implies strong economic performance combined with sound environmental stewardship. It has been used in different senses: sometimes referring to a "greening" of existing practices (i.e., incremental improvements), sometimes to a more fundamental economic transformation (e.g., towards low-or zero�carbon energy and transport systems).
- New growth poles and adjustment costs: A green economy transition may afford new opportunities, creating new industries, firms and jobs, but it will also involve adjustment costs, with some industries, firms and jobs disappearing. Minimizing costs and maximizing opportunities will be crucial to political success.
- Macroeconomic and trade aspects: The growth and trade implications of a green economy transition need to be better understood. If it should result in a slowing or even decline in global demand for oil, metals and other minerals, and other raw materials, the adjustments for resource-dependent economies could be particularly pronounced.
- Job creation: There are definitional problems relating to "green jobs", especially if one adopts a life-cycle perspective. So, for example, making wind turbines may be classified as a "green job", but these consume large quantities of steel, not usually considered a green industry. What matters is net job creation of the shift to a green. economy, as there will be both creation and destruction of jobs. Also important is the productivity of the jobs created, as that is what determines per capita incomes in the long run.
- Agricultural and rural real incomes: While much of the discussion of poverty impacts of a green economy has focused on job creation, there are other important transmission mechanisms to the incomes and well-being of poor people.
- As most poor people still depend on agriculture, it is important to understand what a green economy means for subsistence agriculture in developing countries. Could it help boost productivity and incomes of small farmers on a wide scale?
- Also important is how a green economy transition would affect the prices of goods and services (food, water, energy, etc.) which the poor need to consume to improve their living standards.
- Policy instruments to shift towards a green economy were discussed, including eco-tax and subsidy measures, support to green technology development, and public investment in green infrastructure. There is also a need to consider innovative mechanisms for sharing the intellectual property generated in the development of new technologies.
At the invitation of the Government of Brazil, the host country of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, I led a small delegation on my first official visit to Brazil in mid- August to discuss the preparations and organization of Rio+20.
On 18 August, we met with Mr. Edward Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, and his team, as well as officials of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and discussed possible arrangements for the conference venue. The host Government assured us that the City, the State and the Federal Government would work together to meet all commitments of the host Government regarding conference and other related facilities.
On 19 August, we met with officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, of Environment, and of Social Development, as well as senior officials of the Chef de Cabinet to President Lula (Casa Civil). I also had very productive meetings with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and Minister of Environment Ms. Izabella Teixeira.� We discussed a broad range of issues, including the vision and expectations for Rio+20, the expected outcomes and achievements, the innovative approaches to the organization of the Conference and the follow-up to the Conference.� We also had preliminary exchanges of views on a green Rio+20.
In addition, we discussed technical issues relating to the Host Country Agreement.
On 20 August, we met with the UN Country Team in Brazil. I briefed colleagues from UN system organizations on the current status of preparations for Rio+20 and answered their queries.� I expressed my deep appreciation of the collaborative spirit of UN system organizations and my confidence in the full support of the UN Country Team, from whom we will surely benefit as preparations for Rio + 20 accelerate in the coming months.
On the same day we also met with Brazilian civil society representatives who flew to Brasilia to meet with the UN delegation.� The representatives shared with us their aspirations and expectations for Rio+20, and their commitment to its success. They were enthusiastic and eager to contribute. I was very much moved by their commitment and encouraged them to stay engaged throughout the Rio+20 processes.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the on-line community engaged with preparing for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The 2012 Conference, also known as Rio+20, is one of the most important on the UN agenda. The Secretary-General ranks sustainable development as a top priority. I am honored that he has designated me Conference Secretary-General for Rio + 20.
Preparations for Rio+20 are taking place against the backdrop of multiple crises. The financial turmoil and its aftermath continue to reverberate throughout the world economy. Food insecurity, as well as lack of access to modern energy services, along with volatility in energy prices, continues to loom large in the lives of millions of vulnerable people. On a global scale, climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, and water shortages, are some of the cross-border challenges threatening prospects for long-term growth and sustainable livelihoods.
The sad truth is that despite two centuries of spectacular growth on our planet, we have failed to eradicate the scourge of poverty. Five million infants still die every year of preventable diseases. Two billion people live in poverty, many lacking access to basic services like health and primary education. If we continue on our current path we will bequeath material and environmental poverty, not prosperity, to our children and grandchildren.
Our stopgap solutions in response to these crises, with short-term timeframes and sector-based approaches, can no longer suffice in tackling the multiple crises. Only sustainable development, with its inherent emphasis on inter-linkages to address social, economic and environmental challenges in a balanced and integrated manner, can provide long-term and durable solutions to the crises.
Our only recourse is to pay urgent attention to sustainable development. Yet, indicators show that support for sustainable development has waned in recent years. The General Assembly decided to convene the Rio+20 Conference, not as a commemorative event, but to renew political commitment to sustainable development, to identify gaps in implementation and to address new and emerging challenges. There has never been a more urgent time to drive political will and action to make our societies more economically strong and socially and environmentally sustainable. We need to reinvigorate support here and now.
Work must begin immediately in order to ensure that the Conference meets the high expectations of a Member States, major groups, and, most importantly, the youth of our world.
How can you as members of the online community interested in the success of Rio + 20 - the friends of Rio +20- help us achieve these aims?
The Secretariat of the Conference welcomes your views on the themes of the Conference. The themes centre on building a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and an institutional framework for sustainable development. How do you understand the concept of a ?green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication? Can this theme underpin a new development paradigm? How can countries develop tangible action plans for a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication? We want to hear from you.
In terms of an institutional framework, how can we, the international community, strengthen the global architecture on sustainable development? How can the UN Commission on Sustainable Development itself be strengthened? What do you see as the key ways that governments can prompt action at regional and national levels?
We need clear definitions and a common understanding of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and an institutional framework if Rio+20 is to succeed.