Changing Direction Can Create New Risks, but Greatest Risk Is Leaving Challenges Unattended, Opportunities Unrealized, Says Deputy Secretary-General

16 March 2011
DSG/SM/543-GA/11057-ENV/DEV/1202

Changing Direction Can Create New Risks, but Greatest Risk Is Leaving Challenges Unattended, Opportunities Unrealized, Says Deputy Secretary-General

16 March 2011
Deputy Secretary-General
DSG/SM/543
GA/11057
ENV/DEV/1202
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Changing Direction Can Create New Risks, but Greatest Risk Is Leaving Challenges

 

Unattended, Opportunities Unrealized, Says Deputy Secretary-General

 


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the General Assembly’s interactive dialogue with the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, today, 16 March, in New York:


When the Secretary-General established the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability last year, he asked its members to think big, to be bold and to be practical in looking at the challenges of the twenty-first century.  He spoke of the 50-50-50 challenge.  How can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent while feeding and nurturing a human population that in 2050 could be 50 per cent larger than today?


We have to ask: will the 9 billion people who are expected to inhabit this planet in 2050 have the opportunity to thrive?  Or will vast numbers merely struggle to survive, or worse, see their world descend into chaos?  This is the fundamental question of sustainable development.  We need a practical twenty-first century development model that connects the dots between the key issues of our time: poverty reduction; job generation; inequality; climate change; environmental stress; water; energy and food security.


The Secretary-General has requested the Panel to “reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it”.  His intention is to feed the Panel’s recommendations into the preparations for Rio 2012 and other intergovernmental processes, including the Conferences of the Parties of various conventions as well as discussions on the way forward, following the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline.


The economic recession, instability and natural disasters we see in large parts of the world today are no reason for delaying action.  On the contrary, these events should inject renewed urgency.  Changing direction can bring new risks, but our greatest risk is to do nothing, leaving challenges unattended, opportunities unrealized and unsustainable trends accelerating to the detriment of all.  This is a message that all Governments, all decision-makers, need to heed.


Sustainable development depends equally on three pillars: economic, social, and environmental.  It is not just a topic for environment ministers, but for all areas of Government: finance; trade; energy; and at all levels, local, national and international.  In short, it requires a holistic approach to address the multiple, intertwined and complex challenges of our time.


Rio+20 represents a rare opportunity to decouple economic growth from waste, pollution and unsustainable consumption, and to focus our energies on ensuring a life of dignity and enhanced well-being for all.  Let us seize this opportunity.  I encourage Governments to support the work of the Panel, and I thank the President of the General Assembly for organizing this important and timely dialogue.


I wish you a productive meeting.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.