Briefing to Delegations on Preparatory Process for Rio+20

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Thank you, Ambassador Ashe for inviting me to share the Secretariat’s perspective on the progress made so far since the first PrepCom held in May of this year.

Let me start by saying that in general the preparatory process is moving ahead satisfactorily, knowing that we are in the early phase of the process. However, it is evident that we need to intensify our efforts on many fronts to ensure that the Rio+20 Conference meets its objectives. Let me report the progress to-date under five broad categories, which are: (i) status of preparation of documentation, (ii) UN system coordination, (iii) regional and national preparations, (iv) host country preparations and (v) organization of the secretariat.

Concerning the status of preparation of documentation, the first PrepCom mandated us to prepare two reports. First, a Synthesis Report on experiences, success factors, risks and challenges with regard to objective and themes of UNCSD to be presented at the first Intersessional meeting. Second, the Secretary-General’s report on objective and themes of the Conference to be presented at the second PrepCom. Preparation of both these documents is in progress and will be ready in time for the meetings in which these are to be presented. In view of the limited feedback received from the Member States, especially developing countries, the Bureau decided to postpone the presentation of the Synthesis Report until the Second PrepCom, although preliminary results will be presented at the first informal Intersessional meeting. All inputs received so far from different stakeholders for both the reports have been posted on the UNCSD website.

We have made concerted efforts to secure UN System Coordination in an effort to provide an integrated and coordinated support to the preparatory process. In this regard, we are capitalizing on the existing coordination mechanisms such as EC-ESA, UNDG and EMG. These mechanisms offer important opportunities to bring together the capacities of the UN system in support of the UNCSD preparatory process. Conveners of these three mechanisms regularly exchange views to enhance the effectiveness of UN system support to the preparatory process.

Let me also inform you that we recently organized a brainstorming session of the Principals of ECESA member entities to articulate a collective vision for the Conference, and to share ideas on concrete initiatives that could be launched. Along the same lines, the Bureau also held a dialogue with the Principals of relevant UN system entities. The heads of agencies stressed their commitment to making the Rio+20 Conference a successful event. Also, they shared their expectations that the Conference would build upon Agenda 21 and JPOI. In addition to addressing critical implementation gaps and new and emerging issues, they see Rio+20 as an opportunity to enhance linkages and synergies between high priority policy goals, including those pertaining to climate change, the MDGs and the sustainable development agenda. In this regard, they identified several priority issues such as: access to energy, urbanization, food security, sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity, as well as several cross cutting issues.

Regional preparations are being led by the Regional Commissions who have programmed a number of meetings and events to support the global preparatory process. In some regions, even sub-regional activities are planned. List of all these meetings is available on the UNCSD website. We are coordinating with the Regional Commissions within the framework of ECESA, as well as through two distinguished Bureau members responsible for liaising with them. The issue of national preparations however remains a source of concern. Developing countries lack capacities and need support, but funding needed for providing such support is not forthcoming yet. We have however reached out to agencies with country level presence to extend necessary assistance to countries in their preparatory activities.

Concerning coordination with the host country, I have had several meetings with senior officials of the host country Government and exchanged views on the preparatory process as well as expected outcome of the Conference. More recently, I met Ambassador Antonio Patriota, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. The Government of Brazil has expressed full political commitment and support for the UNCSD and its preparatory process. We were informed that preparations on the part of the host Government are proceeding well. Moreover, the President-elect, Ms. Dilma Rousseff has been well briefed on the Rio+20 Conference to which she accords very high priority. We are awaiting the proposal of the Government of Brazil with regard to dates, venue and other programming details of the Conference.

Finally, let me inform you that the UNCSD Secretariat is now fully functional. It had already put in place the necessary structure to support different aspects of the preparatory process. A master plan and separate cluster plans have been developed to guide and monitor our efforts during the preparatory process. To strengthen the capacities of the Secretariat, some UN agencies–especially UNEP and ECLAC–have already seconded staff while others are considering similar support. I am happy to inform you that the Secretary-General has appointed Ms. Elizabeth Thompson and Mr. Brice Lalonde as Executive Coordinators in the UNCSD Secretariat. They will assist the Secretariat in ensuring a successful preparatory process leading up to the Conference. More specifically, I look forward to having their assistance in mobilizing political support, reaching out to respective regional groups and Major groups to secure their active engagement in the preparatory process, participating in expert group meetings as well as other meetings relevant to the preparatory process, mobilizing resources and engaging with host country. Ms. Thompson has already assumed her functions, while Mr. Lalonde is expected to join in early January 2011.

Distinguished Delegates

After having provided you with the synthesis of the progress to-date, I would like to draw your attention to an important challenge we are facing: that is the lack of availability of funds to support the preparatory activities, especially for providing technical assistance to country level preparations. In addition to my request to the donor community, the Deputy Secretary-General also held a meeting with the donors encouraging them to contribute to the CSD Trust Fund. Also, the Bureau and Secretariat is reaching out to several Foundations and private sector. Importance of this issue has been strongly emphasized in the resolution recently adopted by the Second Committee, and rightly so, especially for ensuring broad participation of developing countries in the preparatory process and Rio+20 Conference.

In closing, let me assure you that I am strongly committed to making the preparatory process very transparent and open, ensuring that all stakeholders are able to contribute to it in line with their mandates and comparative strengths. I believe that only through a collective sense of ownership we can advance the goal of sustainable development.

I thank you.

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