High-level International Forum on Ecosystem Management and Green Economy

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

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to address this High-level Forum.

I extend my warm wishes to Professor Chunli Bai, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and to my colleague, Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

Ecosystems are the foundations of human life and livelihoods.  The future of human civilization and sustainable development depends on sound, healthy, and resilient ecosystems.

For too long, humanity has ignored this fundamental truth at its own peril.

Over the past 50 years, rapid population growth and unsustainable consumption and production patterns have resulted in growing demands for food, fresh water, and fuel.

We have altered ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than ever before.

The long-term health of the planet’s ecosystems – the natural resource base of our development – has been endangered.

Just last month, the world welcomed its 7 billionth inhabitant. By 2050, the world population is estimated to reach over nine billion.

In the meantime, progress in changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns, is lacking. Some 20 percent of the world’s population consume 80 percent of the planet’s resources.

Social inequalities and income gaps are growing.  The world today is facing not one, but multiple environmental, social and economic crises.

The Rio+20 Conference offers a timely opportunity to tackle the inter-linked crises.  A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, a major focus of Rio+20, is an important avenue to address these crises and lead us to a sustainable future.

Sustainable management of ecosystems will play a critical role in advancing green economies.

But it requires valuing resources properly, addressing the inadequacies of markets and strengthening the policy, regulations and institutions necessary to protect and conserve natural resources.

Green jobs, food security, water, energy, sustainable cities, marine resources and resilience to disaster. These are some of the areas identified for priority attention during the preparatory process for Rio+20. In one way or another, progress in these areas will all depend on healthy ecosystems.

Distinguished Delegates,

The Secretary-General recently called sustainable development the imperative of the 21st century, and Rio+20 one of the most important meetings in the history of the United Nations.   Its success hinges on the progress we make on renewing political commitments and on strengthening our collective resolve to accelerate implementation.

Adapted to national circumstances, and supported by means of implementation, green economy is an important tool to operationalize sustainable development.

I wish the Forum great success. I am sure its outcome will be an important input to the preparations for Rio+20.

Thank you.