Thirty-fifth Annual Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77

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

Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellency, President of the General Assembly,
Honourable Ministers,

I am honoured to address this annual ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 and China in my dual capacity as Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and the Conference Secretary-General of Rio+20.

I would like to express my appreciation to the Argentine Republic for the spirit of cooperation displayed in their stewardship of the Group.  Under your Chairmanship, Honourable Minister, the Group of 77 and China have made vital contributions to the work of the United Nations and the cause of multilateralism, including in particular to the work of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Let me not miss this opportunity to also express my deep appreciation for the leadership provided by Ambassador Jorge Argüello.

I congratulate the distinguished Minister and the Permanent Representative of Algeria on assuming the leadership of the Group next year. 2012 will be a very important year for development.

I would also like to congratulate Republic of Nauru for its admission to the Group as a new member.  My department looks forward to an even better cooperation with the AOSIS through the Division for Sustainable Development SIDS Unit.

I also wish to assure you of the continued support of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the period ahead.


Next year, the Rio+20 Conference offers an opportunity to renew political commitments for sustainable development.

A successful Rio+20 will bolster the strong linkages between the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.  It will advance implementation in all countries, backed by financial, technology and capacity building support to developing countries.

In the preparations for Rio+20, several areas for priority attention are emerging from discussions by Member States and other stakeholders. These are:

1.    Green Jobs and Social Inclusion;
2.    Energy access, efficiency and sustainability;
3.    Food security and sustainable agriculture;
4.    Sound water management;
5.    Sustainable cities;
6.    Management of the oceans;
7.    Improving resilience and disaster preparedness; and
8.    Sustainable consumption and production.

It is critical that Rio+20 reach decisions on these priority areas.  We look forward to the views and perspectives of the Group of 77 on actions required for ensuring tangible outcomes at Rio, guided by the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

On the issue of green economy, a great number of Member States have emphasized that green economy is not a replacement for sustainable development.  It is a tool for operationalizing sustainable development.

Some developing countries have concerns about whether a green economy implies new market barriers, larger technology gaps and additional investment costs.  These concerns must be addressed collectively, in accordance with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

We should be able to find common ground. Transition to a green economy should be tailored to the specific situation of each country. Therefore emerging from discussions has been the idea of a road map, accompanied by a menu of policy options and tool kit for countries to consider in building up their green economies. These should be voluntary and serve the specific needs of each country.

On the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD), there are a number of options being discussed.  These range from establishing a Sustainable Development Council to strengthening UNEP.  I hope that the Group will explore the various options and find an optimal solution for creating effective, efficient and inclusive Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.

Your continued engagement with the Rio+20 consultations in the lead-up to the conference is critical. In fact, it is key to the success of the Conference.

Finally, the idea of sustainable development goals, which the Secretary-General just mentioned in his statement, has been raised as part of a post-2015 development agenda. While it may not be feasible to see an agreement to such goals at Rio+20, a process could perhaps be proposed to further define them in the period up to 2015. We need to rethink the approach to development and start the process at Rio.

Once again, the Group’s guidance and contributions will be critical to advance the discussions.


The Group of 77 and China must be at the centre of any global strategy for sustainable development.

As the current drivers of global economic growth, any proposed changes to global economic governance can only succeed with the full support from G‑77 members.  The Group of 77 represents diverse yet closely connected development concerns. The Group should be instrumental in shaping the new global economic governance architecture.


The year ahead will offer a historic opportunity for the Group to strengthen multilateralism and to enhance prospects for sustainable development. I look forward to continuing our close collaboration. We are here to serve you, our Member States.  And to that end we will do our very best.

Thank you.