To The Foundation Roundtable for Rio+20

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secreatry-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Mr. Pablo Farias,
Ms. Rachel Leon,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome you to the United Nations. I would first like to extend my sincere appreciation to the co-convenors of this Roundtable – the Environmental Grantmakers Association, the Ford Foundation and the United Nations Foundation – for rallying in support of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20.

I understand that, in addition to the Foundations that are here in the Conference room, there are many others who are joining us by phone.

I extend my welcome and greetings to all.

Many of you are sustainable development advocates. You have undertaken bold initiatives of your own to contribute to the implementation of sustainable development goals and targets.

From the UN perspective, we also very much appreciate your work on the ground to implement the outcomes of major UN conferences. Each Foundation brings unique expertise, networks and resources to this table. Today, we are gathered to explore how you can best contribute to the preparations of Rio+20 and the role you can play in resource mobilization.

We believe that Rio+20 will be a milestone event and it will build on the achievements of Rio in 1992 and Johannesburg in 2002.

Its goals are to renew the political commitments for sustainable development, assess gaps in implementation and identify new and emerging challenges.

The Conference will focus on two themes – a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

These themes were selected in response to the multiple crises facing the world in recent years, including the food, energy, climate and financial crises, which showed us that sustainable development goals are more important than ever.

In June 2012, leaders from government, the private sector and civil society will endeavor to chart a pathway to accelerate the implementation of sustainable development, by agreeing on a roadmap for green economy and by strengthening the institutions for sustainable development.

At the intergovernmental level, there is already much debate about what a green economy means for each country, but one thing remains certain: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication needs to be built from the bottom-up and with inclusive participation. It also needs to be responsive to national and local priorities and challenges.

To achieve this, we must galvanize all major stakeholders to participate in the decisions that will affect them over the next decades. This is a tremendous task and we need your support, expertise and initiatives in resource mobilization.

The institutional framework for sustainable development, if it is to be strengthened, will need to include a stronger role for the nine major groups, and for stakeholders like foundations.

The preparatory process starts at the national level. Governments, civil society and businesses have already been organizing consultations about the outcomes of Rio+20.

It is important that all stakeholders are involved in order to build consensus and ensure ownership of outcomes. In particular, we need to ensure the participation of vulnerable groups; otherwise, they will not have a say in the decisions that affect them. As many of you work with these groups already, you can help make certain that their voices are heard.

We need your concrete initiatives – in raising awareness and in supporting participation of these groups in the Summit. In addition to mobilizing financial resources, you can work with us in raising awareness, by organizing poster and essay contests, and by supporting rallies for sustainable development.

Rio+20 is expected to guide the international development agenda for the next decade. It will affect the work we do at global, regional and local levels. It will also likely impact your programmes on the ground. So it is important that you also join in the preparations of Rio+20, and encourage the strong support of your stakeholders to participate in deciding their future.

We are at a decisive point in history. I am aware that some of you were at the 1992 Earth Summit and are veterans of the “sustainable development” movement.

I hope you will share your wisdom on how to create the momentum and mobilize resources to secure the broadest participation in Rio+20. Please identify areas of collaboration that match your foundation’s priority areas of interest and funding, and get involved in the process.

Rio+20 is about tomorrow and about the future. We have been given a unique historic opportunity to make a difference. Let us seize that opportunity and make it happen.

Thank you.