Plenary Meeting of the Pre-Conference Informal Consultations

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)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am sure you have all reached the tipping point of physical exhaustion. Day and night, we have been working so hard. It has been very tough.

So I am especially pleased to join the host government of Brazil in announcing that the negotiations have come to a successful conclusion.  We now have a text, which will be formally adopted by the Conference.  

I wish to emphasize that we are highly appreciative of the leadership of the Brazilian government, and the inclusive manner in which they led the consultations. 

We think the text contains a lot of actions. Let me highlight quickly some salient features of the text. There are many others.

You have agreed to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on Sustainable Development Goals, with a view to developing these goals to be agreed by the United Nations General Assembly.

You have agreed on a path-breaking chapter on the green economy, as one of the important tools for achieving sustainable development.

You have established a universal intergovernmental high level political forum, which will energize the follow-up of Rio+20.

You have agreed to strengthen UNEP.

You have agreed to enhance the engagement of the private sector and partnerships.

You have invited, for example, the private sector to make ‘corporate sustainability reporting’ a part of their responsibility.

And, you have taken concrete steps to ensure the focus on means of implementation, especially of finance and technology.

You have reaffirmed all past principles from Rio 1992 and Agenda 21, including common but differentiated responsibilities.

You have reaffirmed political commitment to sustainable development and the future we want.

You have adopted a 10-year framework on sustainable consumption and production.

You have made significant advances in sectoral and cross-sectoral issues, including energy, oceans and many other issues.

You have recognized the importance of voluntary commitments and called for a registry of voluntary commitments.

And the role of civil society and Major Groups has been emphasized as never before.

The role of science in the service of policy for sustainable development is another strong achievement.

If these actions are implemented, and if follow-up measures are taken, it will – indeed – make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change.

Of course, this document is the product of intensive protracted negotiations.

And therefore, it is a compromise text. 

Like all negotiations, there will be some countries that feel the text could be more ambitious. Or, others who feel their own proposals could be better reflected. While still others might prefer to have their own language. 

But, let’s be clear, multilateral negotiations require give and take.

The spirit of compromise is the mark of a good consensus. And, it is crucial if all countries are to be on board, take ownership, and share a collective commitment.

This is the only way forward if we want to harness the necessary action for advancing, together, on a path of sustainable development. 

And personally, I am very pleased that delegations have come together for the success of the conference.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Government of Brazil, the State and City of Rio de Janeiro and especially the people of Rio de Janeiro.

I thank all the Member States for showing their solidarity in these negotiations.

I thank civil society, which has made a major contribution to this process, especially in terms of inputs. You provided over 70 per cent of the total inputs to the zero outcome document.

I thank the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee and the Co-Chairs, Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda and Ambassador Kim Sook of the Republic of Korea.

I also want to thank my team. The United Nations Secretariat is often said not to be efficient or coherent, so fragmented. But occasionally we meet expectations.

Thank you very much.