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International Mother Earth Day
22 April

Message of the Secretary-General for 2012

The annual observance of International Mother Earth Day honours our one and only planet and the place of human beings in it.  It is also meant as a call to action against human disregard for nature’s life-supporting resources and ecosystems.

In less than two months, the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  The first Earth Summit in 1992 gave us important legally binding conventions, the far-reaching Agenda 21 blueprint, and the conceptual breakthrough of sustainable development.  Rio+20 offers us a timely chance for a similar change in course — for a much-needed paradigm shift and a recommitment to implementation.

In the next twenty years, the world will need at least 50 per cent more food …
45 per cent more energy … 30 per cent more water ... and many millions of new jobs.  Our challenge at Rio+20 and beyond is to take a holistic, integrated approach to these linked challenges — driving at the interrelations such that solutions to one problem translate into progress on all.

Hard but necessary choices lie ahead.  We need an outcome that is simultaneously practical and transformational.  We must use Rio+20 to promote better respect for nature and to cultivate an environment – natural and social – in which all children feel safe and all people can prosper.  Mother Earth belongs to us all; Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that all of us must seize.

Ban Ki-moon

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