Meeting with representatives of major groups organizing partners

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

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to brief the Major Groups on Rio+20.

We are seven months away from the Conference. The 1 November deadline for inputs from Governments, UN systems and major groups, has just passed.

As of this morning, we have received some 416 contributions – 47 from Member States, 37 from UN entities, and 332 from the Major Groups, as well as 3 from Political Groups (EU, G77, Pacific Island Forum).

It is indeed significant that the overwhelming number of contributions come from the Major Groups. I wish to thank you for sharing such valuable information about your work and for sharing your views and perspectives on the outcome of the Conference. I encourage you to stay engaged, and also use social media to help create a buzz around the Conference.

Let me take this opportunity to welcome CIVICUS as a new organizing partner for the NGO Major Group.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Preparations for Rio+20 have been very active.

Regional meetings have been held in Santiago, Cairo, Seoul and Addis.

Meetings on themes related to the Conference, have also been held in Solo, Beijing, New Delhi, Warsaw, Oslo, Tel Aviv and Copenhagen.

Meetings are also planned to be held in Geneva, Bonn, Monaco and Palo Alto. And this is not even a complete listing.

All these preparatory meetings, including the PrepComs and intersessionals at the global level have served multiple purposes. They have:

  • deepened understanding of the key issues involved;
  • revealed different approaches and perspectives;
  • heightened appreciation of the challenges involved; and
  • helped formulate inputs for the compilation document.

I often stress the importance of Rio+20’s primary objective – to renew political commitment for sustainable development.  The two themes are meant to help expedite progress.

Rio+20 therefore should be a Conference of implementation. By assessing progress and gaps in existing commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges, we can figure out what our next steps should be.

First, let us consider what Rio+20 should mean for the world.

  • Foremost, it should lead to economic dynamism and stability; promote social protection and inclusion; create jobs especially for the youth; and protect the natural resource base on which the future of our planet depends. In short, it should integrate the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
  • Second, it should lead to a more energized implementation of the sustainable development agenda – which has been one of the major gaps over the past 20 years.
  • Third, it should lead to coherent policies and programmes at all levels.

Thus, the three magical words for Rio+20 are integration, implementation and coherence.

The meetings in preparation for Rio+20 have helped create a better understanding of expectations. Let me share some of these with you today.

The first theme, the green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, has generated considerable debate. Member States have expressed both interest and concern over green economy. One interesting idea is to have a green economy roadmap that would be a pathway to sustainable development. Such a roadmap with clear goals, objectives and timelines could be a useful product of Rio+20. As part of the roadmap, a toolkit of good practices and lessons learned, and a process for assessing progress on sustainable development, have been proposed.

Linked to the idea of goals, is the continuing interest in the idea of sustainable development goals (SDGs), which will help assess progress on the road to sustainable development.  These proposed goals will obviously need to be balanced, complement the MDGs, and be integrated with current discussions on the post 2015 development agenda.
As preparations for Rio+20 gain momentum, Member States and stakeholders have identified 7 emerging issues as priority areas for action.  As we receive more and more submissions, we hope to have an update on these priority areas.  As of now, these include:

  • Combating poverty, including through green jobs and promoting social inclusion;
  • Advancing food security and sustainable agriculture;
  • Sound water management;
  • Energy access including from renewable sources, as well as efficiency and sustainability;
  • Sustainable human settlements;
  • Management of oceans; and
  • Improving resilience and disaster preparedness.

In addition, Member States have stressed cross-cutting issues, including sustainable consumption, means of implementation, gender mainstreaming, youth, education, science and technology.

I encourage you to submit concrete proposals and partnerships to advance the dialogue and actions on these 7 priority areas.

Let me now turn to the second theme for Rio+20 – the institutional framework for sustainable development.  Let’s refer back to the three magical words – integration, implementation and coherence.

We must approach institutional reform through the prism of such an analysis.

Many views and options have emerged, including:

  1. Strengthening UNEP and its possible elevation to a specialized agency;
  2. Creating a Sustainable Development Council, along with strengthening the CSD and ECOSOC;
  3. Strengthening the Regional Commissions and their interface with other regional entities;
  4. Reorienting national decision making so as to integrate sectoral portfolios and engage stakeholders; and
  5. Strengthening the UN system’s contribution, especially at the country level.

The next step in the Rio+20 process will be the issuance of a compilation text with a glossary, by late November.

In mid December, governments, at an intersessional meeting (15-16 Dec.), will comment on the structure, format and content of the outcome document. These comments will help the co-chairs draft the first negotiation text (zero draft), by mid-January.

On this basis, the negotiations will start in earnest, under the leadership of the co-chairs.

As we move ahead with our preparations, I hope major group stakeholders will stay engaged. You remain essential partners in sustainable development.

We need you to mobilize your constituencies. Impress on heads of state and government, that they must attend Rio+20 in person.

We need you during the preparatory meetings to present your insight on “how to deliver” sustainable development.

Finally, after the conference, major groups will serve as key partners in implementing the outcomes.

Thank you very much.

I would like to learn more about your views, aspirations and my colleagues and I would be ready to answer your questions.