Rio+20 opens after countries reach agreement to spur action on sustainable development

Rio+20 Pavilion (UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco)

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, astronauts and cosmonauts, and youth open Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development today, a day after countries reached agreement during informal deliberations on a wide range of activities to accelerate the implementation of sustainable development.

Negotiations for the outcome document for Rio+20, entitled “The Future We Want,” concluded on Tuesday after round-the-clock negotiations by 191 countries resulted in countries agreement to a text that could be sent to Heads of State and Government to adopt at the end of the Conference this Friday.

At the conclusion of the negotiations, Rio+20 Secretary-General Sha Zukang told the Conference “I am especially pleased to join the host government of Brazil in announcing that the negotiations have come to a successful conclusion. We now have a text, which will be submitted for formal adoption.”

“We think the text contains a lot of action,” Mr. Sha added. “And, if this action is implemented, with follow-up measures taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change.”

He noted that the agreement was the result of compromises by all parties. “Like all negotiations, there will be some countries that feel the text could be more ambitious. Or, others who feel their own proposals could be better reflected. But, let’s be clear: multilateral negotiations require give and take.”

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said the agreement provides a new vision for the future. “We are giving indications to the future, a new vision for the future. This is a common vision for the future, a vision for sustainable development. It was a puzzle that was not easy to complete.”

“For me it was a great personal satisfaction to see how constructive the process was and how all parties showed a wish to take the collective responsibility for the text.”

Minister Patriota added, “Now we have a solid base on which we can build solidarity, not just immediately, but also in the mid and long term. Multilateralism has been one of the most remarkable aspects of this Conference.”

The outcome document calls for a wide range of actions, including: beginning the process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme; promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures; taking steps to go beyond GDP to assess the well-being of a country; developing a strategy for sustainable development financing, adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production; focusing on improving gender equity; recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development; and stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy; among other points.

Delegates congratulated Brazil for its leadership and work to bring about the agreement. Countries noted that their satisfaction that the document was balanced and considered their concerns.

Conference opening
Just prior to the procedural Conference opening in the morning, Brittany Trilford, a 17-year-old blogger from New Zealand who won a video speech contest sponsored by the NGO Tck Tck Tck will address Conference participants. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will open the Conference. In the afternoon, astronauts and cosmonauts working at the International Space Station will deliver a message to Rio+20 before the formal opening, which will be attended by world leaders and civil society representatives. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the session, followed by statements from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Mr. Sha, and President of the UN General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

Rio+20 is about commitments, initiatives and actions
Beyond the negotiated outcome document, Rio+20 will see the launch of many other actions, announcements, initiatives and commitments. A set of voluntary commitments by civil society groups, businesses, governments, universities and others is being tallied with nearly 500 registered on the main Rio+20 website as of today. In addition, the UN’s Global Compact concluded its Corporate Sustainability Forum yesterday, and announced more than 200 commitments to sustainable development by businesses.

Also as a lead up to Rio+20, the Government of Brazil hosted a series of Dialogue Days, which brought participants together to consider and discuss ten major sustainable development issues, including oceans, food security, energy and water; topics with action points in the outcome document. The Dialogue Days concluded this evening. Recommendations from the Dialogue Days will be included in discussions for consideration at the four High Level Roundtables planned that will look at ways to move the outcomes of Rio+20 forward and feature several Heads of State.

Initiatives on many important sustainable development issues are expected during Rio+20, such as on sustainable transport, food security, access to clean water, biodiversity and the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Some have already been announced, such as the World Bank’s announcement of more than 80 countries, civil society groups, private companies and international organizations have declared their support for the new Global Partnership for Oceans.

Source: UN Department of Public Information

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