On the occasion of The Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature
Closing Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainalbe Development
20 April 2011, New York
Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae, Acting President of the General Assembly,
Ambassador Solon, Permanent Representative of Bolivia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me, as Secretary-General of the Rio+20 Conference, to address the closing session of this Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature.
My special words of appreciation go to both the President of the General Assembly, Minister Deiss, as well as the Government of Bolivia, for convening this dialogue, as called for in General Assembly resolution 65/164.
My department is privileged to have supported the substantive preparations for this event, as well as the follow-up reporting to the General Assembly on this topic. I see today’s dialogue as an important milestone on the path to the Rio+20 Conference.
Today’s dialogue leaves no doubt about one thing – humanity must urgently rebalance its relationship with Nature. Only then can we all survive as a civilization. This, for me, is a key message from this dialogue for the Rio+20 preparatory process.
In July of this year, there will be seven billion of us on Planet Earth. Experts tell us that we are collectively consuming each year one third more resources than can be regenerated by the Earth herself in a single year.
Yet so many people in developing countries do not yet have enough for their basic needs. World consumption and production needs to converge towards a sustainable range, with developed countries taking the lead. We must strive for well-being for all humans, as well as for the Earth’s ecosystems.
Wealth, knowledge and technology make a valuable contribution. But they alone will not save us from our excesses and their impact on Mother Earth. We are witnessing accelerating deterioration of Mother Earth. We must accept that we ourselves are an intrinsic part of nature. By contaminating and depleting Mother Earth, we are also contaminating and depleting ourselves. We are contributing to the forces and imbalances that cause the increasing natural disasters that are striking us.
As the main cause of the Earth’s degradation, it is our responsibility as humans to take decisive action to reverse it. We must do everything that we can to consume and produce sustainably, and implement the decisions that will benefit both Mother Earth and humankind.
Changing how we act on the planet is one important step to stop the vicious circle of economic, social and natural crises that we face. This will require a major shift in values towards sustainable development as defined by Agenda 21, including harmony with Nature, and away from unsustainable consumption and production. The bottom line of today’s dialogue is that our survival depends on the wise choices of how we co-exist with Mother Earth.
We must be remembered as the generation that left Rio+20 with the consensus that brought civilization back to its roots, in harmony with its source: Mother Earth.