Durban, South Africa

6 December 2011

Secretary-General's message to Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability

Your Excellency President Zuma of South Africa, Excellencies, Distinguished Nobel laureates, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to send greetings to this Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability.

Last August, I established my High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. Its members include some of the world's most experienced and distinguished policy-makers. I asked them to look at some of the fundamental drivers of change over the coming decades, to examine links between issues, and to provide recommendations for the way ahead.

The world faces many challenges: water, energy and food and nutrition security, the sustainability of land and oceans, economic and financial uncertainty. Meanwhile the global thermostat continues to rise.

Leaders will have to make tough choices. We need to provide for the needs of today, while investing in tomorrow. We need to advance opportunity and equity for all, while preserving the natural capital that is the foundation of prosperity.

We have no time to lose. The world population has now reached 7 billion and rising. Science tells us that we are approaching tipping points, irrevocably altering the climate, ecosystems and the existence of multitudes of species.

For the sake of this and future generations, we must learn to live sustainably.

The Panel has received a wide range of inputs, including from Member States at the last briefing. Its work continues.

The issues are complex. They concern us all. Sustainability is not about developed or developing countries. It is about our common future.

I have asked the Panel members to be bold but pragmatic, to find the opportunities that will take us to where we need to be.

They must draw on their political experience, and provide a roadmap that policy-makers, business leaders and civil society can use to build a sustainable future.

We must accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. And we must develop a new generation of sustainable development goals for the post-2015 period. I look forward to the suggestions of the Panel on this issue.

I look forward to the Panel's report as we move toward the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to complete the unfinished business of 1992 -- to make sustainable development a reality in the marketplace, in the halls of government, and in our daily lives.

Achieving this will require a fundamental transformation in how we fuel and manage our economies, in how we value goods and services. It will require changes in our consumption patterns, life-styles and values. It will require greater accountability and good governance by all.

The role of the state in advancing these goals is fundamental. Equity, not only within societies but globally, will need to become more fully integrated into our institutions and our policies.

I will count on the leadership of legislators and Heads of State and Government, in Rio and beyond.

I wish you a productive meeting, and I encourage you to carefully consider the Panel's report when it is released in January


Thank you.