Despite Reservations, General Assembly Endorses Rio+20 Outcome Document; Will Study Modalities for Its Implementation, Budgetary Implications

27 July 2012

Despite Reservations, General Assembly Endorses Rio+20 Outcome Document; Will Study Modalities for Its Implementation, Budgetary Implications

27 July 2012
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly


123rd Meeting (AM)

Despite Reservations, General Assembly Endorses Rio+20 Outcome Document;

Will Study Modalities for Its Implementation, Budgetary Implications


The responsibility now rested on the world to demonstrate its deep commitment to translating sustainable development into concrete results, according to the much-anticipated “Rio+20” draft resolution adopted unanimously by the General Assembly today.

Member States, despite reservations, endorsed the outcome document, which had been the result of intense negotiations at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro last month and commonly known as Rio+20.  Today’s draft text, titled “The Future We Want” (document A/66/L.56), annexes that document, which outlines the international community’s common vision of an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable future for present and future generations.

“Member States have their work cut out for them,” said Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, Assembly President.  “By adopting this resolution today, we are opening a new chapter.  Rio+20 is not an end but a new beginning.”  The Conference had defined a new vision of development for the future, which would be equitable and inclusive and take into account the limits of the planet.  “We have defined the future we want, now what was important was implementation,” he said.

For that, Ion Botnaru, Director of General Assembly Affairs, told Member States before adoption of today’s resolution it contained key paragraphs, which could give rise to additional resource requirements.  Consultations would begin with all stakeholders to determine how the text’s decisions would be implemented, following which the Secretary-General would submit a detailed report on programme budget implications to the General Assembly at its upcoming session.

The Rio document contains a set of time-bound targets to end poverty and hunger while preserving the environment — to be known as the Sustainable Development Goals.  Affirming that poverty eradication was the greatest and most urgent challenge facing the world today, with more than 1 billion people living in extreme want, the text advocates a transition to a “green economy” and outlines a stronger role for women, non-governmental organizations, small-scale food producers, the private sector and the academic, scientific and technological community.

Among other proposals, it recommends the creation of a high-level standing forum on sustainable development to replace the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, and the strengthening of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  The text, containing nearly 300 paragraphs, stresses that the Sustainable Development Goals will build on the Millennium Development Goals, the framework for cutting extreme poverty and other global ills by 2015.

Following the Assembly’s adoption of the orally revised resolution, a number of representatives emphasized that the landmark document was an important guide along the path towards sustainable development.  For instance, the representative of the European Union said an inclusive green economy should address the economic, social and environmental dimensions, thereby significantly contributing to achieving poverty eradication, fair and decent jobs, food security and ecosystem resilience.

New Zealand’s representative summed up the tone of consensus, saying it was now clear that sustainable development was the only acceptable form of development.  Quoting a Maori saying used in that indigenous community, he told Member States that “we are all in this canoe together”.

Some delegations, however, expressed reservations to the wide-ranging Rio text for a variety of reasons, which included questions surrounding the definition of a “green economy”.  The outcome document, said representatives of Papua New Guinea, on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, and Nauru, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, highlights commitments of particular relevance to their countries, but fell short of those outlined in the Barbados Programme of Action and Mauritius Strategy.  They were concerned that, as long as those gaps remained, their countries’ needs would not be met.

Also explaining their position after the vote were the representatives of Venezuela, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Bolivia.

The representatives of the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Japan and the United States delivered statements after the adoption.

Speaking on a point of order, France’s representative said the delegation had reservations on the French translation of the document.

Before the draft resolution was considered, delegations observed one minute of silence in tribute to the late John Evans Atta Mills, President of Ghana, who died 24 July.  Afterwards, speakers highlighted Mr. Mills’ deep commitment to his country.  Ambassador Ken Kanda of Ghana thanked the General Assembly and Secretary-General for their kind tributes.

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