Launch of the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development

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

Minister Sook, Professor Il Sun Yang,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to welcome you today on the occasion of the launch of the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development.

It is particularly fitting that the Office is located here in the Republic of Korea, a leader in green growth policies and sustainable development.

Without the generous support of the Korean Government, the establishment of this office would not have been possible.

I would like to thank in particular our three partners: the Ministry of Environment, the City of Incheon, and Yonsei University for their generous support and sponsorship.

Let me take this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to this office.

We want to ensure that it will deliver and meet the high expectations that have been placed upon it.

The launch of this Office takes place at a time when the world prepares for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, otherwise known as Rio+20, next June.

In the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, Rio +20 will be one of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations.
Rio+20 offers us a chance to put the world on a sustainable development path, to protect the ecosystems on which life depends, eradicate poverty, improve access to water, sanitation and energy, address the challenges of climate change, and ensure food security for generations to come.

The United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (or UNOSD) will have an important role in this process.

I look forward to the Office becoming a gateway to knowledge on sustainable development.

It can be a dynamic centre that will support practitioners throughout the developing world in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

In its first years, t he Office will focus on: supporting developing countries with their national sustainable development strategies, the sustainable energy for all initiatives, and sustainable development indicators to assess progress.

The Office will also initiate research and provide training opportunities for policy makers and experts from developing countries and major groups.

For now, its focus will be on preparations for Rio+20.

In the longer term, the Office will contribute to advancing the implementation of the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference.  This will include developing relevant programmes and tools.

The Office will work in partnership with other institutions and UN entities active in the region. In particular, it will build partnerships with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In addition, the Office will work in close consultation with countries to address gaps in implementation and new and emerging challenges related to sustainable development.

The Government of the Republic of Korea will provide resources for the Office, ensure the security and safety of United Nations personnel, and facilitate the work of the Office as required.

UN DESA, as the implementing partner, is expected to ensure that the resources are used in accordance with the rules and regulations of the United Nations.

I would like to stress the strong experience that DESA has in implementing project offices around the world.

DESA has continued to support developing countries in their development efforts through its project offices which focus on various aspects of sustainable development.

Some examples include: the Zaragoza Office on water resources issues, the Office in China on statistics, its other office in Incheon on governance, and its office in Nagoya, Japan, on regional development and disaster readiness.

In conclusion, I hope that all concerned will work with us to ensure that the UN Office for Sustainable Development, here in Incheon, becomes a leading source of sustainable development knowledge, expertise and capacity building in the years to come.

Thank you.