CSD Intersessional Meeting on Sustainable Consumption and Production
Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development
13 January 2011, Panama City
Representatives of Major Groups,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I trust that today has been a productive one for you.
The UN system and the Government of Panama, along with civil society entities, have worked hard to bring about this capacity-building event and I hope it is meeting your expectations.
As I share some thoughts with you at the close of this first day, I begin by linking our discussions here to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – also known as Rio+20.
It is a flagship event on the United Nations calendar.
I want to stress that all of our work here in Panama City will support its preparations.
The UN Secretary-General has designated me as the Secretary-General for the Conference and my team and I have been working tirelessly to execute its preparations.
A dedicated secretariat has been established to support the Conference – housed in my Department – with additional staff seconded by UNEP and ECLAC and other UN offices.
We have made concerted efforts to ensure that the entire UN system will contribute to the preparatory process.
The Regional Commissions are also conducting preparations at the regional level and in some cases, sub-regional levels.
The objectives of Rio+20 are to ensure renewed political commitment for sustainable development; assess progress to date and remaining gaps in implementation; and address new and emerging challenges.
The thematic focus areas are: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.
Sustainable consumption and production patterns are intrinsically linked to these objectives and themes.
Indeed a green economy is predicated on them.
Progress made on sustainable consumption and production patterns enhances the productivity of economies that use less carbon, use more renewable energy, and grant our children healthier, safer communities in which to live.
I know many of you are contributing directly to the Rio+20 preparatory process and I thank you for it.
We need more support, however, to maximize its success.
The lack of financial resources poses a serious threat.
I encourage donor countries to contribute generously to the Trust Fund to enable a full, meaningful and productive preparatory process.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to move on and review progress made in sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Greening of markets has been one prominent component of sustainable consumption and production policies. This has been promoted through the work of the Marrakech Process Task Force on sustainable products, but is also happening through a variety of other initiatives.
Sustainable public procurement has been making headway. Governments are using it more and more to steer businesses toward environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible products.
The Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement has helped developed and developing countries green their procurement policies and operations.
On the production side, cleaner production centres and value chain work have delivered significant benefits worldwide.
UNIDO and UNEP have worked with many governments to support small and medium sized enterprises with greening their production processes. So has the EU’s SWITCH project in Asia.
A growing number of global companies are working with their suppliers to improve social and environmental practices.
Despite these strong positive steps, however, we have not seen enough progress at the national and local levels. The success or failure of sustainable development rests on implementation there.
International meetings and conferences garner support and hammer out agreements, but ultimately we rely on country leaders to live up to their commitments.
Let us remember that least developed countries need our assistance with implementation – through capacity building efforts and access to financial and technical resources.
I also remind you that sustainable consumption and production cuts across all economic sectors. This is an agenda for all government agencies, not just for environmental ministries.
The 10-Year Framework, if adopted and translated into specific initiatives and actions, can become an important engine to support implementation.
It can promote rapid improvement towards decent living standards for all human beings while at the same time significantly reducing environmental impacts of consumption and production.
It is an important building block for an ambitious international agreement at Rio+20.
The Commission on Sustainable Development, in its 19th session in May, will need to decide on the type of framework to endorse to ensure progress in the coming decade.
You have been discussing options for the Framework… what should go in and what should stay out. I know it is a complex matter.
We in the Secretariat are here to serve you, the Member States, to facilitate your decision-making process.
I know that there are many differences of opinion, but I urge you to use this meeting to bridge divides and reach consensus.
We need the outlines of the 10-year framework to take shape by the time we leave our gracious hosts here in Panama City.
I urge you to maximize the remainder of this conference to learn as much as possible from each other…to share information, ideas, and discuss the sorts of partnerships which you may choose to launch in May.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Commission on Sustainable Development is the only intergovernmental forum which regularly offers Member States a chance to share experiences, assess risks and challenges, and make informed decisions based on an integrated perspective on economic, social, and environmental objectives.
Since the first Rio Conference in 1992, the CSD has led the sustainable consumption and production agenda. UNEP is also a strong champion, and other UN agencies like UNIDO have made important contributions.
We are making progress, slowly but surely.
I encourage you to agree to an ambitious 10 Year Framework at the 19th Commission on Sustainable Development in May.
Not only will this advance SCP and sustainable development at the national level, but it will create a firm foundation for Rio+20 negotiations.
Let us use CSD-19 and Rio+20 to quicken the pace of our progress towards sustainable development.