|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Outcome of First Session of Preparatory Committee
for United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
The first Preparatory Committee in the run-up to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as “Rio + 20”, had decided at its conclusion last night to hold intersessional consultations, since the eight days originally allocated for preparatory meetings would not be enough, Committee Co-Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) said at Headquarters today.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Ashe recalled General Assembly resolution 64/236, which set the course of the preparatory process, and made clear that there would be three sessions of the Preparatory Committee. Three days would be allotted this year, two in 2011 and three again in 2012, for a total of eight. Those meetings would have no additional financial implications, added Tariq Banuri, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who accompanied Mr. Ashe. (For coverage of the first session, see Press Releases ENV/DEV/1138, ENV/DEV/1139, ENV/DEV/1141 and ENV/DEV/1142.)
Noting that the Conference would be returning to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the original birthplace of Agenda 21, the Chairperson said the relevant resolution requested a look back to assess implementation gaps, and a look forward to set the course for full implementation and identify challenges. It asked the Conference to look at two areas that had recently come to the fore — the green economy and institutional arrangements for sustainable development. Describing the current institutional framework as “somewhat fragmented”, he noted that institutions had been set up to deal with the environment conventions — the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on that side and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the development side. Since sustainable development was supposed to marry the environment and development, while also examining the social and economic aspects, “what is in place clearly does not work”, he said, adding that the preparatory process would decide whether or not to put a new structure in place.
Elaborating on the two themes for the Conference, Co-Chair Park In-kook (Republic of Korea) said they should shed new light on the future of the environment and sustainable development. In the first session of the Preparatory Committee, “we had a better chance to bridge the gap from perception and ways and means to achieve the goals”, he said, adding that it had laid a solid basis for future preparations. There would be more focus on regional concerns and more tailored approaches to make the process a success. Participation by civil society would be encouraged, he added.
Responding to a question, Mr. Ashe pointed out that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had announced at the conclusion of the Commission on Sustainable Development last Friday that Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, would serve as Secretary-General of Rio + 20. He had also indicated his intention to appoint two Executive Coordinators, from the global North and South, and a dedicated secretariat.
Asked whether the Conference would produce an outcome document, Mr. Park said it “definitely” would. A Chair’s summary was expected at the end of each session of the Preparatory Committee and those texts would inform the outcome document in 2012.
To questions concerning additional meetings and the European Union’s participation in the Conference, Mr. Park said there had been long discussions on those issues, but he was not in a position to elaborate, except to say “a good agreement” had been reached to have extra meetings during the preparatory process.
Asked how prominently climate change would feature at Rio + 20, the panellists said that, in assessing gaps in implementing Agenda 21, those most affected and disadvantaged would clearly want to discuss that subject.
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