Aim High, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Commission on Sustainable Development; Keep Rio, Kyoto, Johannesburg, New York Promises

13 May 2010

Aim High, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Commission on Sustainable Development; Keep Rio, Kyoto, Johannesburg, New York Promises

13 May 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Aim High, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Commission on Sustainable

Development; Keep Rio, Kyoto, Johannesburg, New York Promises

Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s statement to the high-level segment of the Eighteenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, yesterday, 12 May, in New York:

I am pleased to welcome you to the high-level segment of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

The areas of focus at this session are integral to our overarching objectives.  Transport, waste management, chemicals, mining and sustainable consumption are directly linked to the fight against climate change — our work to restore weakened economies — and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

I am pleased to report that preparations for the September Millennium Development Goals summit are gathering momentum.  The Millennium Development Goals are a commitment to the world’s most vulnerable people.  They are not just a moral and economic imperative, they are achievable — on deadline.

The September summit is an opportunity to agree on an action plan for the period between now and the agreed deadline of 2015.

The Commission on Sustainable Development is thus an important step on the way, not just on the road to the Millennium Development Goals summit, but to the Rio + 20 Conference in 2012.

Agenda 21 remains our guide to a sustainable future.  The lack of progress on too many of the key planks of Agenda 21, and of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, has made our task that much harder.

But there is growing awareness about sustainable development.  World leaders are more and more comfortable with the phrase — and the concept.  Sustainability is even becoming something of a consumer buzzword — a clear asset in product advertising.

The unprecedented participation of so many Heads of State at last year’s climate change conference in Copenhagen is just one example of this growing momentum.

So, we should aim high — here at the Commission on Sustainable Development, in September at the Millennium Development Goals summit, and in 2012.  Rio + 20 is an opportunity to renew political commitments to sustainable development.  We can identify where we are falling short.  We can address new challenges that have emerged since 1992.  And we can set out a concrete plan of action.

To make Rio + 20 a success, we will need clear leadership — from Governments, from business and civil society, and from within the United Nations.  Between now and 2012 we have a number of opportunities to lay the ground for success in Rio.

We have the Millennium Development Goals summit in September — the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in October — the climate change conferences in Cancun this year and Johannesburg next year.  And we have the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Let me now turn to the areas of focus of this eighteenth session.

First, transport.  Increasing demand for transport is undermining efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, of which the transport sector is responsible for 24 per cent.

Local and national Governments need to cope with these demands in a sustainable way.  We must, therefore, devise and roll out policies that support investment in sustainable transport infrastructure — rapid transit schemes, cleaner fuels and vehicles, better design of cities and towns.

Second, waste management.  Urbanization, industrialization and economic growth have vastly increased the amount of waste our society generates.  Governments are struggling to cope, especially in the developing world.

We need policy frameworks that support the idea that waste is actually a resource — and that waste is one component of a life-cycle perspective.  We need to move from the throwaway society to one that embraces the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle.  We need more research and information exchange about waste management technologies, and we need to transmit knowledge among countries faster and more efficiently.

Third, chemicals.  There is too little analysis and information about how chemicals are produced, used and traded.  We know too little about the impact of chemicals on human health and the environment.  We must support more research and a global agreement on chemical use.

Fourth, mining.  Mining supports millions of people in developing countries.  But it often leaves communities without a sustainable future — environmentally and economically.  I urge you to explore how we can improve national and local planning, as well as enforcement of environmental, safety and health regulations.

Fifth and finally, sustainable consumption and production.  This encompasses all the topics for this session, and defines the foundation for any green economy.  The Marrakech Process has met some success in supporting the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.  However, the activities that fall under the Process need to be scaled-up and spread wherever they are needed.  Let us share best practices and plan for the future of the Marrakech Process.

This Commission on Sustainable Development session should pave the way for concrete decisions next year that will themselves feed into a successful outcome in Rio in 2012.  All the issues you are considering have an important role in averting the threat of climate change and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

However, to reach our goals, we need commitments from Governments and from all implementing partners to implement Commission decisions.

Only through our collective dedication and adherence to these decisions can sustainable development be achieved.

We made plans and promises in Rio and Kyoto, in Johannesburg and here in New York at the turn of the Millennium.  Let us keep the promises we have made to each another, and to our planet.

I wish you a very productive and inspiring session.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.