United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Rio de Janeiro from Los Cabos, Mexico, on Wednesday, 20 June. He joined his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek, who was already in the country.
Upon arrival, he attended the opening meeting of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. He also held a press conference at which he briefed global media on his vision for this meeting of political, business, and civil society leaders.
That day, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati of Lebanon; President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan; Vice-President Adam Youssef of Sudan; President Leonel Fernández Reyna of the Dominican Republic; Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai of Nepal; President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran; and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia.
He also attended the ceremonial opening of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where he said that “Rio+20 has given us a unique chance to set it right, to create a new model, to set a new course that truly balances the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable prosperity and human well-being”. (See Press Release SG/SM/14356.)
In the evening, the Secretary-General witnessed the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of the Global Green Growth Institute, where he said that “the Institute has been at the forefront of the transition to a green economy. As a think tank and laboratory, it is supporting the global push for a low-carbon economy. Through partnerships and projects, it is helping the United Nations to address poverty and environmental degradation.” (See Press Release SG/SM/14357.)
He later attended a reception hosted by President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil for Heads of State and Government.
On the morning of 21 June, the Secretary-General participated in a meeting with major civil society groups. (See Press Release SG/SM/14366.)
He then attended a side event on “Energy, Gender and Economic Growth” with Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway (see Press Release SG/SM/14367), followed by another on Green Growth for All (see Press Release SG/SM/14374).
Following a side event with MDG Advocates on Youth (see Press Release SG/SM/14368), he participated in another meeting on the Human Dimension of Sustainable Development, organized by Turkey and the United Nations Development Programme (see Press Release SG/SM/14364).
In all of these, the common thread of his discourse was the need to invest in sustainable development to create jobs, revive economic activity and create the sustainable economies the world needs.
During the morning he also met with Premier Wen Jiabao of China.
He also held an impromptu press conference with Brazilian media that morning, at which he lauded the role played by President Rousseff and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry in achieving a final document for the Conference.
After a luncheon for Heads of State and Government hosted by President Rousseff, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation.
He then participated in a high-level side event on least developed countries (see Press Release SG/SM/14371); a “Cities Leadership Day” hosted by the local government of Rio de Janeiro; and a side event on Oceans, organized by Monaco, Kiribati and the World Bank (see Press Release SG/SM/14372).
Following a Sustainable Energy for All high-level gala reception (see Press Release SG/SM/14373), Mr. Ban attended a side event on “The Zero Hunger Challenge” with the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Food Programme and Biodiversity International (see Press Release SG/SM/14374).
On the morning of Friday, 22 June, the Secretary-General met with United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and participated in a meeting with representatives of the People’s Summit. He also attended a meeting of the Chief Executives’ Board, and was part of a forum on “Food Security and Dry Land Countries” hosted by the Qatar National Food Security Programme.
He also participated in the Closing Session of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where he said that “the speeches are over, and now the work begins”.
The Secretary-General said it had been a successful conference. He noted that world leaders had renewed their commitment to sustainable development. Nearly 700 commitments worth hundreds of billions of dollars had been publicly announced in Rio by Governments, multilateral development banks, the private sector and civil society.
He said these huge numbers gave a sense of the scale and growth of investment going into sustainable development.
Noting that the road ahead is long and hard, the Secretary-General said that too many people remain poor, hungry and vulnerable to easily preventable disease.
The environmental base that will improve their opportunities for prosperity is under unprecedented threat. He concluded that we can no longer afford to recklessly consume scarce resources, nor can we carelessly pollute fragile ecosystems. No longer can we mortgage our future for our short-term needs. (See Press Release SG/SM/14375.)
During her visit to Brazil, Madam Ban participated in the Rio+20 Spouse’s Programme organized by the Government of Brazil. She also visited the “Crianca Esperanca” centre, a project supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the community of Cantagalo, Rio de Janeiro, which benefits local youth.
The Secretary-General departed for New York, with a refuelling stop in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Saturday, 23 June.