Briefing to the High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All on the substantive preparations for Rio +20
REMARKS BY MR. SHA ZUKANG, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE 2012 UN CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
15 January 2012, Abu Dhabi
I am pleased to brief you on the preparations for the Rio+20 Conference.
The Conference is about five months away.
Preparations are on track. At the intergovernmental level, two PrepComs have been organized, as well as two inter-sessionals.
Later this month, informal discussions will start on a zero draft of the outcome document. The zero draft is posted on-line.
Much of the substantive preparation has been driven by the five regional meetings, as well as by country-led meetings on the themes and priorities issues of the Conference.
All these meetings have served multiple purposes. They have:
- deepened our understanding of the key issues;
- revealed diverse views;
- contributed to the convergence of understanding; and
- helped formulate inputs for the outcome of the Conference.
Back in New York, retreats of Permanent Representatives have been convened, most recently by the President of the General Assembly.
Next week, Colombia will be hosting a retreat on sustainable development goals.
These events have deepened engagement of Member States. They have provided space for in-depth discussions.
As you are aware, Rio+20 has one primary objective: to renew political commitment for sustainable development. The two themes are meant to help expedite implementation.
Rio+20 will have to be a Conference of implementation.
What then should Rio+20 mean for the world? ‘
- generate economic dynamism;
- promote social inclusion;
- create jobs, especially for the youth; and
- protect natural resources.
In short, it should integrate the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. Secretary-General has been emphasizing this in his speeches, by using the metaphor of “connecting the dots”.
The first of the two themes for Rio+20 – the green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development – has generated considerable debate.
What has clearly emerged from the discussions is this: the pursuit of a green economy must take into account specific national circumstances.
The goals and targets relating to green economy will have to be voluntary.
One interesting idea is to have a green economy roadmap.
As part of the roadmap, there is also a proposal on developing a toolkit of good practices and lessons learned to expedite implementation.
There is also growing interest in the idea of sustainable development goals (SDGs), as I mentioned early. Such goals could help marshal political support and means of implementation.
Furthermore, 7 emerging priority areas have been identified by stakeholders in preparatory meetings.
- Combating poverty, including through green jobs and social inclusion;
- food security and sustainable agriculture;
- Sound water management;
- Energy access including from renewable sources, as well as energy efficiency;
- Sustainable cities;
- 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, education, science and technology.
All these have been captured in the zero draft.
All these also echo the draft recommendations of the Global Sustainability Panel.
Energy has figured prominently in the discussions on a green economy. Many emphasize the urgency of a rapid transition, driven by clean and renewable energy.
There is a convergence of views on the critical role of modern energy services in advancing sustainable development. Many feel Rio+20 provides a historic opportunity to this end.
It is also felt that climate change negotiations, recent advances in clean energy technology, including renewables, and even the price increases in fossil fuels, have combined to present a unique setting for bringing about a swift modern energy transition, anchored on low carbon, clean and renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy technologies, in particular, have a large untapped potential and provide an effective means to satisfy decentralized and remote electricity demand.
Another message that has emerged from the Rio+20 preparatory process is that we need to deal with energy in a nexus fashion – the nexus of energy and food security, energy and sustainable urbanization, energy and transport, energy and water, energy and poverty alleviation, energy and health, energy and green economy, energy and security, energy and finance and of course, energy and climate change.
It is just as the Secretary-General said last November – energy is the golden thread that runs through development challenges.
The Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative is therefore extremely timely.
Let me now turn very quickly to the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Let me summarize some important views:
1. At the global level there is a clear expression of interest in strengthening UNEP, with many advocating elevating UNEP into a specialized agency.
2. Along with ideas on strengthening the CSD and ECOSOC, there is also a deep interest in the creation of a Sustainable Development Council reporting to GA.
3. At the national level, many are referring to the need of activating Sustainable Development Councils at the national level.
Again, these have been captured in the zero draft.
Now looking ahead, as I mentioned early, informal discussions on the zero draft will start later this month, under the co-chairmanship of Ambassador Kim Sook, and Ambassador John Ashe.
Other informal negotiations are being scheduled for March and April.
Hopefully, the third PrepCom, to be held in Rio on 13-15 June, will complete the negotiations.
A good deal of work remains ahead of us.
We are grateful for the Secretary-General’s vision, leadership and guidance.
We’re also grateful for support by UN system – my colleagues Yumkella, Helen Clark and my friend Achim Steiner.
Working together, we have made important headway.
We can advance toward the future we want.
I look forward to active engagement of the High-level Group in the lead-up to Rio+20.