Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Statement
High-level Expert Group Meeting for the Global Sustainable Development Report
Strengthening the science policy interface:
Global Sustainable Development Report and National Inputs

Vice Minister, Mr. Wang Weizhong
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege to be here with all of you today.

On behalf of the United Nations, let me express my sincere gratitude to the Government of China for hosting this High-level Expert Group Meeting. 

I am particularly pleased to welcome today experts and delegates of developing countries representing the overwhelming majority of the world population. We need your ideas and inputs! Your engagement and cooperation can trigger real global sustainable development progress.

I expect today’s meeting to be an important contribution to a strengthened science and policy interface.  In particular, it will help to guide future editions of the Global Sustainable Development Report.

Last year in Rio, many scientific and policy assessment reports were presented at side events for the Rio+20 Conference. Some of these assessments have enormously influenced Governments’ negotiation positions. However, much evidence arising from thousands of existing sustainable development assessments was not readily accessible to decision-makers. The need for an authoritative global report, that can bring together the many assessments and perspectives, is clear.

Member States at Rio+20 called for a Global Sustainable Development Report. The Report is envisaged as one instrument of the newly created high-level political forum for sustainable development, in order to strengthen the science-policy interface.  

In response, my Department has worked on a prototype version of a Global Sustainable Development Report. I presented a summary of the prototype Report at the inaugural session of high-level forum in September. I hope the prototype Report will support Member States’ deliberations on the precise formal role and approach of the Global Sustainable Development Report in the coming years.

The Report sketches alternative sustainable development pathways for the future, based on findings of leading global scenario modelling teams.

It shows that, if we significantly adjust our current development models, we can help to build a more sustainable world in 2050.Today’s world continues to face many challenges. Examples include persistent poverty and high unemployment in many countries; food and fuel crises; climate-related stresses; natural disasters and their impacts on poor people’s livelihoods, infrastructure and vital ecosystems. These challenges can undermine poverty eradication, social and economic development.

We need coordinated actions on sustainable development, which is no easy job.  The political aspirations expressed by the world’s leaders at Rio in 1992, and in Johannesburg in 2002, have not yet been met.  There is an implementation gap.  Developing countries continue to face serious technology, finance trade and capacity constraints. 

We all share the same planet.  Failing to live up to our own expectations is no option.  Cooperation between developed and developing countries, and among developing countries, will make a decisive difference for our future.

Greater efforts are needed especially on finance and technology. Estimated global investment requirements are on the order of tens and hundreds of billions of dollars per year in key areas of sustainable development. Infrastructure investment in developing countries needs to more than double.

We also need to enhance technology cooperation and capacity development.  The Secretary-General has made proposals to the General Assembly on options for technology facilitation to promote development and transfer of clean and environmentally sound technologies. 

At the national level, planning and assessment must take into account the inter-linkages among sectors and interdependencies across national borders. Many countries are adopting innovative policies that take into account the inter-linkages for example among climate change, land, energy, and water.  This can help Governments and others achieve important synergies and extend the range of options for tackling both local and global challenges.

In the future, the Global Sustainable Development Report could look at these broad issues deemed important by Government policy makers.

I believe we need an institutional mechanism to make sure your guidance and inputs are considered in the Global Sustainable Development Report.  The suggestion of the creation of a working group or advisory group comprising of national focal points might be a step forward in this regard.  On this, we therefore need to hear your views.

Before I conclude, let me say a few words about our host.

Since I joined the UN Secretariat, my Department has worked in close collaboration with the Chinese Government on a wide range of issues, on sustainable cities, water, and now on the Rio+20 follow-up: the Global Sustainable Development Report.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chinese Government, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21, for your leadership, commitment, collaboration and generosity.

Vice Minister, Mr. Wang Weizhong


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I look forward to hearing your views during the discussions, particularly on how to define the scope and methodology of the future of the Global Sustainable Development Report.

Ultimately, I believe the Report will help improve the science-policy interface for sustainable development.

I very much look forward to joining you in these discussions.

Thank you.

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