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UN Secretary-General Launches High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability to Create New Blueprint for Achieving Low-Carbon Prosperity in 21st Century

NEW YORK, 9 AUGUST 2010 — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today launched a new High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability that brings together some of the world’s leading policymakers and thinkers to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable growth and low-carbon prosperity for all on a planet under increasing strain, not least from climate change.  

The Secretary-General said he has instructed the 21-person Panel to “think big, to be bold and also practical.”  He said, “The time for narrow agendas, narrow interests, and narrow thinking is over. The challenges of 21st century require nothing less.”

The Panel will be led by two co-chairs, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma. Members include high-ranking government officials, representatives from the private sector and civil society from both developed and developing countries. The Panel’s membership is geographically balanced and diverse. 

In launching the Panel, Mr. Ban noted that the accelerating pace of climate change has injected fresh urgency into efforts to provide a dignified life for all on a planet under severe – and growing - strain.  Climate change is a prime example, but it is far from the only sign of planetary distress.  Increasing water scarcity, the loss of biodiversity, and the destruction of ecosystems are others. 

Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, a member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability and former chair of the World Commission that produced the landmark report “Our Common Future,” noted the work of the new Panel was both timely and important.

“A quarter century has passed since the world first grappled with the challenge of sustainable development,” said Ms. Brundtland. “Since then, the pace of climate change and ecosystem destruction has accelerated, deeply affecting humanity and its potential. The time is right to re-examine these issues with a sense of urgency. I am honored to join the Secretary-General’s Panel and look forward to contributing to this important undertaking.”

Panel member Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment of India, noted that for the developing world, “accelerated economic growth is essential, but equally, sustainable development is imperative. I look forward to joining the UN Secretary General's Panel to re-explore this balance and to craft a global agenda that makes it a reality, an agenda of real tangible actions.”

The High Level Panel will issue its final report by the end of 2011. Its inputs will feed into inter-governmental processes, including preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 2012), and the annual meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Panel will be supported by a small team within the Secretary-General’s office in New York.

In conducting its work, members of Panel are expected to hold extensive discussions with government officials, members of the business community and representatives of civil society.

Lord Nicholas Stern, Professor, London School of Economics, welcomed the work of the Panel. As Lord Stern noted, “Low-carbon growth offers the only way to rising to the two defining challenges of our century – managing climate change and overcoming poverty. If we fail on one, we fail on the other. Low-carbon growth will be very attractive: more energy secure, cleaner, quieter, and more biodiverse, as well as essential for managing climate change. I wholeheartedly welcome this Panel".

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underscored the urgency and importance of our stewardship of the Earth. “"We welcome the inspired establishment of a High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability by the U.N. Secretary General. It is our fervent prayer and sincere hope that it will serve to advise world leaders on the urgent task that lies before us. It is time that we understood how critical it is to think uncompromisingly, talk openly and act resolutely about global warming and other related challenges of sustainable development."

In addition to the Co-Chairs of the Panel, Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland and Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, members of the Panel include: H.H. Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al Nahayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates; Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair, Senior Special Assistant/Advisor to the President of Nigeria on MDGs; Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey; James Lawrence Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research in Motion, and Chair of the Board, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Canada; Alexander Bedritsky, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Climate, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation on Climate Change, President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and former Head of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring; Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and former Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development; Micheline Calmy-Rey, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland; Julia Carabias, Environmentalist and former Secretary of the Environment of Mexico; Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for Development Cooperation of Sweden; Luisa Dias Diogo, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister of Mozambique; Han, Seung-soo, Director of the Global Green Growth Institute and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea; Yukio Hatoyama, Member of the House of Representatives and former Prime Minister of Japan; Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Change; Cristina Narbona Ruiz, Spanish Ambassador to the OECD and former Minister of Environment of Spain; Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment of India; Susan E. Rice, United States Permanent Representative to the UN and member of the United States President’s Cabinet; Kevin Rudd, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister of Australia; David Thompson, Prime Minister of Barbados; Zheng, Guoguang, Director of the China Meteorological Administration.


Further information can be found at the website:  www.un.org/en/gsp

For further information, please contact Dan Shepard, UN Department of Public Information, shepard@un.org, tel. 1 212-963-9495.