Welcome to Germany. I am pleased to greet all the participants in this year's UN DPI/NGO Conference. I especially welcome your focus on “Sustainable Societies; Responsive Citizens.”
Voluntary action is one of the highest expressions of our common humanity. To achieve the much-needed transformation to sustainable societies, we need people who understand that they need to take charge and initiate change. We need to harness the same energy and solidarity with which NGOs have traditionally come together to make a difference in support of causes dear to them in the service of humankind.
Next year's Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, and this year's upcoming General Assembly commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, are critically important opportunities.
You, the dynamic forces of civil society, are wonderfully well placed to spread the word about the transition ahead and about the need for civic engagement in making it happen.
The sustainable development agenda is the agenda for the 21st century. Both science and economics tell us that we need to change course –and soon. We need to lift people out of poverty, create jobs, and provide a dignified life for all while preserving the planet that sustains us.
Most of all, we need your voices, your networks, your ideas. Each of your, individually and collectively, has an important role to play. So please, let the message go out from Bonn: It is time for everyone to Commit, Encourage and Volunteer.
Thank you for your commitment and support, and please accept my best wishes for a productive meeting.