|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
World Is Watching Rio+20, Says Secretary-General, Warning ‘We Cannot
Let Microscopic Examination of Text Blind Us to the Big Picture’
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address to the informal thematic debate of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly on “The Road to Rio+20 and Beyond”, in New York, 22 May:
Thank you for convening this important thematic debate. Rio+20 is one month away. We are one month from a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform ideas and aspirations into bold action for sustainable development. One month from seizing our chance to scale-up the policies and solutions that we know deliver profound results. One month from building the future we want, a future made to last, a future of greater prosperity and equitable growth on a healthy planet for ourselves and our succeeding generations. But what we achieve one month from now will depend on what we do today and every day to Rio.
Above all, we need a fundamental re-think of our current economic model and new tools such as green economy policies and strategies. We have the opportunity to forge agreements and bold action on many thematic issues. Today, let me point to seven: First, decent jobs. Within the context of sustainable development, the green economy should help generate decent jobs, especially for the nearly 80 million young people entering the workforce every year. We can also scale up social protection safety nets. Let me emphasize that social progress and job creation require bold action on education — the basic building block of any society.
Second, we can advance food security and sustainable agriculture and push for a goal on “zero hunger” or “food security for all”. Third, we can enhance support for universal access to more efficient and cleaner energy sources. Fourth, we should endorse action on universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation. This is closely linked with the achievement of universal health goals and the reduction of poverty. Fifth, Rio+20 should also provide political guidance on the way forward for the sustainable use, management, and conservation of the world’s oceans. Sixth, we need institutions that can effectively support sustainable development at all levels. While strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Governments should decide what institutional framework can best advance the sustainable development agenda and provide space for civil society, local authorities and the private sector. Seventh and finally, we can help advance a process for defining sustainable development goals that build on and reinforce the Millennium Development Goals.
Leaders should agree in Rio that sustainable development goals with clear and measurable targets and indicators will be a central part of the post-2015 global development framework. Sustainable development goals would give concrete expression to renewed high-level political commitment for sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to make progress in all these areas while re-vitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development — essential partnerships with civil society, local authorities and the private sector.
The world is watching. The media are focused. People — young and old — are demanding action. Yet, the current pace of negotiations is sending all the wrong signals. We cannot let a microscopic examination of text blind us to the big picture. We do not have a moment to waste. It is time for ambitious leadership. It is time for us to focus on what really matters. It is time for common ground, for the sake of our planet and our children. Thank you.
* *** *