Preparing for the future we want

Farming for Development (UN Photo/John Isaac)

“Let us not for a moment lose sight of the gravity of the task before us. There are high expectations for Rio+20. We must resolve to deliver. Failure is not an option. At Rio+20 we must chart a clear course to the future we want,” said Rio+20 Conference Secretary-General and DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang as the 2nd Intersessional Meeting of Rio+20 opened today.

As Member States and other stakeholders gathered for this preparatory meeting taking place in New York on 15-16 December, Mr. Sha underscored: “This is a critical meeting. We have important work to do. The Conference is only six months away.”

Today’s meeting will be the first step towards the negotiations, which will start with a “zero-draft outcome document”, combining the suggestions, comments, proposals and ideas of 672 contributors, including Member States, international agencies, non-governmental organizations and political groups.

“We need to decide how ambitious we want to be at Rio. The Secretary-General and I have reiterated many times that for the United Nations this is a hugely important Conference. At stake is no less than the effectiveness of multilateralism in addressing humanity’s common future,” Mr. Sha stated further.

“We all know that we face huge sustainable development challenges in the coming decades. Thanks in no small part to Rio 1992, the international community has processes underway to address some of the most pressing challenges – the climate change, biodiversity and desertification conventions; the forest principles and the permanent forum on forests, to name a few.”

Mr. Sha urged for governments to be ambitious and to aim high at Rio+20. He also highlighted proposals made in the submissions, saying that “some common messages and common priorities are beginning to emerge.”

“One of the most interesting – and I dare say unanticipated – developments is the broad interest in measuring progress through a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs for short),” said Mr. Sha.

He also mentioned other priority issues with support including promoting sustainable consumption and production, energy for all, water, oceans, food security, sustainable agriculture, sustainable cities, green jobs, employment, social inclusion, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity and forests.

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