Ceremony to launch a campaign to give ample public knowledge of Rio+20

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

The Honourable President of Brazil, H.E. Ms. Dilma Rousseff
Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes,
Governor of the State of Rio, Sérgio Cabral,
Minister of External Relations, Antonio Patriota,
Minister of Environment, Izabella Teixeira,
Excellencies,
Colleagues and Friends,

I am honoured to be here with you all on this important and happy occasion.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to my Brazilian hosts for inviting me to this event.

It marks one year to the historic United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20.

One year from now – from the 4th to the 6th of June 2012 – we will once again gather in this great city, together with leaders from each nation and with thousands of civil society and business stakeholders from across the globe.

We stand here today looking both backwards and forwards: back to the historic occasion of the UN Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – held in this city 19 years ago. Thank you, Rio; Thank you, Brazil, for hosting that epochal UN Summit.

And we look forward to next year, Rio+20, and to the next twenty years and beyond.

In looking back, we take note of the important accomplishments of Rio in 1992 – the Rio Principles, Agenda 21, and the three Rio Conventions – to name some key achievements.

Rio in 1992 changed the world.

These international agreements have since guided the work of the international community, of governments, of local authorities and of major groups in pursuing sustainable development.

We have seen extraordinary progress. Brazil has led that progress.

Developing countries have now become the new engines of the global economy. We celebrate our shared successes.

But challenges remain and there is more to be done.

In many parts of the world, we are confronted with extreme poverty, hunger and diseases. Food insecurity is on the rise; so is unemployment, and social unrest. And the world is yet to fully recover from the global financial and economic crisis. Progress in seeking solutions to climate change remains inadequate.

Our world is more integrated today than in 1992. Our mutual economic, social and environmental interdependence calls for unprecedented international cooperation and partnership. We share a common challenge and we share a common fate.

Rio+20 is the occasion for reinvigorating the spirit of Rio and re-launching our world on the pathway to a sustainable future.

Never before has it become so urgent that we join hands in seeking shared and cooperative solutions to our shared challenges … solutions for providing everyone with food and nutrition, for bringing safe drinking water and sanitation to all … solutions for universal access to clean and affordable energy … solutions for adapting agriculture to climate change … solutions to the disease burden that afflicts millions of people … solutions to social inequity and unemployment and other economic problems facing both developed and developing countries.

The list goes on …

Rio+20 cannot provide immediate answers to all these problems. It can however give us the momentum for joint, collaborative action. Sustainable development brings us together; … sustainable development unites North and South, East and West. We live together on this planet.

Rio+20 will make that happen. Rio de Janeiro will be a city of the Rio State, of Brazil and of the world.

Let us all do our utmost to make Rio+20 a milestone on the road to global sustainable development. Let the “plus” to Rio also be the plus in political commitment, development partnerships and actual progress in implementation.

Thank you, Rio.

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