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

Distinguished Co-chairs,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by expressing my deep appreciation for your hard work over the last two weeks.

You have worked tirelessly through day and night.

Under the able leadership of Ambassador Ashe and Ambassador Kim, you have carried forward important but complex and difficult informal negotiations.

The views and positions of the groups and Member States are by now well known. 

The negotiations must continue with a sense of urgency, aiming for agreement on critical issues and a balanced outcome.

We must ensure that the outcome emerging from this process is one that Heads of State and Government can subscribe to.

Time is running out. We have only three mandated, formal, negotiating days left before the start of the Conference.

More time is needed. We have heard from the Co-chairs that there is a proposal from the Bureau to have more time, but only with a new approach to negotiation.

If more time is allocated, then the working methods need to change.

The present negotiation approach, necessary as is, has run its course.

At the meeting of the Secretary-General with the Bureau this morning, he repeated his personal dedication and that of all of us in the Secretariat for the success of this Conference.

As the Conference Secretary-General, I and my team will continue to support you in your endeavours, going to all the necessary lengths to make the Conference a success.

But this is an intergovernmental process, and it is rightly in your hands to deliver on the objective and two themes of the Conference.

Despite the strenuous efforts and the progress made over the past two weeks, we remain far from reaching agreement on actions in priority areas.

The negotiating text, as it stands now:

  • is a far cry from the focused political document mandated by the General Assembly;
  • contains too much duplication and repetition; and
  • is losing its readability, with action lost in words;

In short, it is not looking like a focused political document to be adopted by Heads of State and Government.

Our objective should be to arrive in Rio with at least 90% of the text ready. The most difficult 10% should then be negotiated in Rio with the highest political support.

Distinguished delegates,

With your commitment and dedication and with able leadership of the two Co-chairs and the Bureau, the vast challenge before you can be met.

I also appeal to you to accept the way forward proposed by the Bureau. 

We can have an outcome document:

  • that renews political commitment, reaffirms Rio principles and builds upon earlier agreements;
  • that is action-oriented in spelling out the Future we Want;
  • that contains inspiring agreements for future generations on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and on the institutional framework for sustainable development;
  • that contains ambitious universal goals – the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • that contains concrete deliverables in priority areas; and
  • that creates or strengthens the institutions and body we need for the post-Rio+20 period.

Let me assure you once again that as Conference Secretary-General, I as well as the Secretariat remain ready to support you, the Co-Chairs and the Bureau in this tremendous undertaking. 

I appreciate the deeper involvement of all the major groups.  Your voice must be heard loud and clear.

I remain optimistic that with your dedication, this Conference will really deliver in the way it should to fulfil the expectations of all.

I thank you.