Programme for UN Communication Segment on 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

Thank you, Mr. Akasaka.

Dear Colleagues,

I welcome this opportunity to address the UN Communications Group on a very important matter. Conveying the right messages about Rio+20 is critical to our success.

My sincere thanks go to my colleague and friend Kiyo Akasaka for convening this meeting and for inviting me to join you today.

Rio+20 is an event for the whole UN system. It is an event for all Governments as well as non governmental organizations; for North and South, and East and West. Of course Rio+20 is a Member State driven event. Our messaging on Rio+20 needs to remain both consistent and mutually reinforcing.

Allow me to share a few personal thoughts.

First, I suggest we present information about the conference in language that elicits the interest of the general public, attracts supportive headlines and creates media “buzz”.

At the same time, our messaging needs to be balanced. We need to consider the perspectives of the full range of countries that make up the United Nations.

Second, our vision for this Conference is clear: to re-launch the world on a sustainable development pathway. How do we do this? By injecting new vigour and momentum into our actions and initiatives, and by focusing on accelerating implementation.

Third, Rio+20 must address three challenges: renewing political commitment, strengthening the global partnership for sustainable development, and ensuring adequate action on the ground at country level.

For renewing political commitment, we need high-level participation, at the Heads of State and Government level.

For ensuring action on the ground and strengthening global partnerships, we need a focused political outcome document.

And why is it needed?

It is worth reiterating the reasons here.

The enormous progress in material welfare over the past two decades since the first Rio conference has come at huge costs.

Incomes are greater but their distribution is more skewed. Our natural resources are under more severe stress. The long term implications of the multiple crises – energy, food and climate – threaten to derail development goals.

We know what must be done. Simply put, it is time to take action and accelerate progress in implementation of our sustainable development goals.

In a growing number of countries, recent experience has shown that a green economy can create jobs and stimulate growth. It can also protect ecosystems.

A green economy can fulfill both of these objectives. But it must take into account country-specific concerns and equity considerations.

The challenges in strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development are likewise serious. Sometimes, I wonder which one of the two major themes will turn out to be more difficult.

Despite these challenges, I remain optimistic about a successful outcome at Rio+20. Of course, the actual shape of the outcome lies in the hands of Member States. But, I am hopeful to see several key elements.

Let me share these with you:

First, I envision a green economy roadmap or guidelines with a broad menu of policy options, toolkits, and possibly a set of targets.

Second, meaningful commitments are needed on the resources front. Perhaps this can include a green economy fund for promotion of research, development, transfer and deployment of clean technologies. Developing countries, in particular, would benefit from this kind of fund.

Third, the outcome should include possible mechanisms for enhancing capacity building, as well as for sharing knowledge, experience and practices. Learning and sharing can facilitate the creation of an inclusive green economy.

Finally, on the institutional framework, I see possible decisions on strengthening UNEP, CSD and ECOSOC, through an incremental approach.

In your messaging on Rio+20, I would urge you all to share my optimism and generally convey an upbeat view of the Conference. The general public and the media should be our allies. Their support will play an important part in creating an outcome of which we can all be proud.

In conclusion, I look forward to seeing concrete ideas and proposals, including specific information products, such as posters, essays, OP-Eds, and UN commemorative stamps among others.

Thank you and I wish you great success in sharing the message of Rio+20.