Mobilizing Voluntary Stakeholder Contributions for an Inclusive Green Economy

Opening Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

Minister Zhang Xinsheng,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to join you at this event, with a dual focus on green economy and stakeholder contributions.

As you know, Member States have diverse views on green economy. 

On a personal level, I am convinced that a green economy, adapted to national circumstances, can be an important tool for sustainable development.

Yet as Conference Secretary-General, I must respect the concerns of Member States.

They have raised a number of questions during the preparatory process. 

  • What are the common characteristics of green economy?
  • What are the barriers to achieving green economy?
  • How can a country transition to a green economy?
  • How can green economy serve as a pathway to sustainable development?
  • How can we strengthen our knowledge base?
  • How can we ensure that a green economy does not lead to new trade barriers? Will not widen technology gaps? Will not erode competitiveness?

Many also keep reminding us that the General Assembly has called for the Rio+20 Conference to focus on “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

They highlighted the need for technology transfer, concessional finance, capacity building and market access for developing countries.

In negotiations, developing countries called for an annual $30 billion fund to support their transitions to a green economy.

Along with these concerns are positive messages:

  • A green economy can create jobs;
  • It can improve efficiency in resource use, and it can help restore vital ecosystems.
  • If properly designed, policies for a green economy, including access to sustainable energy, can increase long-term growth, reduce poverty and improve welfare.

Both the concerns and the positive messages deserve to be addressed carefully, as they have significant long-term policy implications.

I invite our experts and participants to share your views and perspectives during your discussions.

Let me now turn to the role of stakeholders.

As I mentioned on several occasions, Major Groups stakeholders have multiple roles to play. For example, the scientific and technological community plays an important role in sharing knowledge and information on green economy.

An increased number of NGOs, including youth NGOs, are engaged in awareness raising, supporting mobilization and capacity building at the ground level.

In addition, business has a vital role to play.

We cannot underestimate the importance of business and industry in our quest to seek a sustainable future.

 Business and industry can adopt and implement cleaner production technologies and greener value chains. 

And business and industry can also play a leading role in providing employment and livelihood opportunities. 

Many pioneering corporations have already shown the way towards a greener economy.

The message is loud and clear – we need both government commitment and voluntary stakeholder contributions – to advance a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

In conclusion, let me share with you a few thoughts of my own for your consideration.

First, think green, think long-term, and think differently.  We should foster a new mindset about economic planning and economic growth.

Look across sectors and identify synergies. If we stick to narrow sectoral planning, we will never achieve the potentials of green economy.

If we focus on quarterly profits, we risk losing sight of social, economic and environmental benefits in future. 

Secondly, we need to invest in Research and Development and provide incentives for business to innovate. Governments can and should do more to share risks in partnership with business. Investment decisions in green economy should not be based on monetary returns alone.

Third, think in terms of “best available”. We must promote and share the best available technologies, through trade and technological cooperation.

Fourth, do all of this in partnership with business and civil society groups – scientific and technology communities, environmental NGOs and youth groups and others. 

Their knowledge and enthusiasm and commitment will help advance green economy on the ground.

I look forward to a dynamic discussion.

Thank you.