Press Conference on Preparations for 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

8 March 2011

Press Conference on Preparations for 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

8 March 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Preparations for 2012 United Nations


Conference on Sustainable Development


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next June, would give the international community a unique opportunity to build a global economic development model aimed at improving people’s lives and ensuring social equity while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity, the event’s Secretary-General said today.

“Rio 2012 is humanity’s chance to commit to a transition to a green economy, to lift people out of poverty.  We cannot wait another 20 years.  The time to commit is at Rio 2012,” said Sha Zukang, who is also the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. 

It was fitting that the Conference, known as “Rio 2012”, would be held in Brazil because that South American country had an impressive track record in economic growth, poverty eradication and environmental conservation since it hosted the historic United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or “Earth Summit”, in 1992, Mr. Sha said during a press conference at Headquarters. 

“ Brazil has certainly shown the world how to put sustainable development into practice,” he said, adding that the Secretariat would work closely with Brazilian authorities to ensure the event was successful.  He made his comments as the second of three intergovernmental consultations of the Preparatory Committee for the Rio summit concluded today in New York.  (Please see Press Release ENV/DEV/11201).

Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Director-General of the Department for Environment and Special Affairs in Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations, said the Conference would allow the international community to take stock of progress in achieving the three pillars of sustainable development — economic growth, social development and environmental protection — as well as address emerging challenges towards that end. 

The third session of the Preparatory Committee would be held from 28 to 30 May 2012, just ahead of the actual Conference, scheduled to take place from 4 to 6 June 2012, Mr. Figueiredo Machado said.  Its main themes would be creation of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for that.

Laudemar Aguiar, Minister-Counsellor of Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations, said the Conference would be held in downtown Rio, near the city’s port, and that related civil society activities would be staged close by to enable more interaction between people attending the official venue and side events.  Stelio Marcos Amarante, International Relations Coordinator of the Office of the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, added that his Office would work closely with federal and State authorities to ensure the Conference facilities were well-equipped.

Asked if the Conference itself would be “green event”, Mr. Aguiar said indeed it would and that Brazilian authorities also aimed to showcase recent efforts, such as installing energy-efficient transportation and sewage management systems, to make Rio a green city in general. 

Mr. Figueiredo Machado said the intention was to “make what is clean cleaner”, drawing on Brazil’s already widespread use of renewable energy such as biomass fuelled power stations and hydroelectric power technology.  “We’re not coming from a dirty matrix, we’re coming from a green matrix,” he said.

Asked what Conference outcomes they envisioned, Mr. Sha said participating Member States were supposed to come up with a focused political document based on the event’s three objectives:  renewing political commitment for sustainable development; identifying progress and obstacles to achieving it; and addressing emerging challenges.  Much had been accomplished already in environmental conservation, but the institutional framework for achieving sustainable development was largely fragmented.  

He hoped the Conference would result in bolstered United Nations support for sustainable development, a strengthened Commission on Sustainable Development and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), creation of guidelines to define the green economy, and a greater commitment by Member States to provide the financing and technology needed to build it.  

Mr. Figueiredo Machado said the Conference would provide a platform for specialists in many fields, including from the business community and civil society, to hold ongoing debates on issues of importance to societies worldwide such as poverty eradication. 

Asked about Brazil’s focus on tolerance and diversity and how they related to the Conference, Mr. Figueiredo Machado said they would help create the best possible atmosphere for such a large-scale event and the widest level of participation among all sectors of society.

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