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The Secretary-General remarks to media on First Meeting of Global Sustainability Panel

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I have just launched the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which is co-chaired by President [Tarja] Halonen of Finland, and President [Jacob] Zuma of South Africa. President Zuma participated by video. Because of an unavoidable situation, he was unable to participate in person, but he participated through video. He is represented by Ambassador Zulu.

I am very much delighted to be joined by President Halonen of Finland and also Ambassador Zulu.

The challenges of 21st century require vision and fresh thinking.  

That is why I have invited some of the world’s leading policy makers and thinkers to help us on the key question of sustainability.  

The Panel just had its first meeting to discuss the outlines of its work over the next 15 months. I encouraged Panel members to think big, to connect the dots between poverty, energy and food, water, environmental pressure and climate change -- I asked them to draft a bold but practical blueprint for how countries can develop in a sustainable manner.

The challenge is considerable, and extends far beyond the timeframe for the Millennium Development Goals.  For example, by the year 2050, the world’s population will have grown by nearly 50 per cent. We will have 9 billion people by that time. By that same year – 2050 – we will need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent if we are to keep climate change in check.  I call this the “50-50-50 challenge”.

We will need to provide a dignified life for nine billion people while at the same time preserving the resources and ecosystems that sustain us. The Panel will report back at the end of next year.

Their recommendations on how to meet the 50-50-50 challenge and other challenges will feed into preparations for the UN Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development and other inter-governmental processes, including the climate change negotiations.

I am very excited by the expertise on this Panel. I have high hopes for its work. I would now like to ask President Halonen to say a few words, to be followed by Ambassador Zulu. Thank you very much.