Press Conference on Contributions of Sustainable Development Commission to Rio+20

9 May 2011

Press Conference on Contributions of Sustainable Development Commission to Rio+20

9 May 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Contributions of Sustainable Development Commission to Rio+20


Three days before the high-level segment of the nineteenth Commission on Sustainable Development, Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang and Chairman László Borbély highlighted the session’s crucial focus on the need for more efficient use of natural resources during a Headquarters press conference today.

“We are focusing on concrete ways to use resources more efficiently,” said Mr. Sha, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  “We want to produce and consume more, but with fewer resources.  The goal is to make our limited natural resources go further and support more people… particularly the more than 1 billion poor of the world.”  He pointed to the release by his Department’s Population Division of figures showing that the world’s population was expected to reach 7 billion later this year, 9.3 billion in 2050, and about 10 billion by 2100 if current trends continued.

“This year’s [Commission on Sustainable Development] is an important moment; the issues that we’re facing go to the heart of the sustainable development agenda,” added Mr. Borbély, Minister for Environment and Forests of Romania.  “It’s about how we use our resources.  It’s what we call the ‘materials’ cycle.”  The session will consider five issues:  mining; sustainable consumption and development; transport; chemical use; and waste management.

The Commission’s 10-day session began on 2 May and is the last before the Fourth United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or “Rio+20”, to be held in Brazil in June 2012.  The session aims to recommend policy options geared to promoting more efficient, equitable and safer use of natural resources.  The Rio+20 Conference will mark the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development, which was agreed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or “Earth Summit”, also held in Rio de Janeiro.

In response to a question, Mr. Sha said the host country had been “very involved” in the preparatory process and Secretariat officials were satisfied with its constructive approach to the Conference.

Mr. Borbély said two working groups were now “nailing down” text for the draft outcome document that ministers would consider when they gathered for the three-day high-level segment on Wednesday.  Without specifying, he said 50 countries had confirmed their intention to send ministerial-level officials, many holding the environment portfolio.  There had been solid progress in the negotiations, even as countries ironed out many competing ideas, he added.  “I think most important, however, is that there is a good negotiating atmosphere that can help us reach a successful outcome.”  Mr. Borbély added:  “This was a policymaking year and I am optimistic in this moment.”  It was important to have a comprehensive outcome enveloping all five issues under consideration, he said.

Asked about a proposed 3 per cent cut in the budget of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Under-Secretary-General said it was a difficult time for all and many Governments were undertaking austerity measures.  New technology could offer ways to provide savings and the Department would have another look at doing more with less.  As part of the Secretariat, and with 90 per cent of its budget going for posts, it enjoyed minimal budget flexibility, he said.

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