New York

16 March 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at informal General Assembly Plenary on Global Sustainability Panel Report

When I addressed you in January to outline the Action Agenda for my second term, the challenge of sustainable development was at the top of the list.
Today, I am pleased to present the report of my High-level Panel on Global Sustainability entitled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”.
I thank the Panel Co-Chairs, H.E. President Zuma of South Africa and H.E. President Halonen, now former President of Finland, as well as the other Panel members, for their hard work and commitment and leadership.
I asked the Panel to formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it.
I asked them to be bold yet practical.
I thank the Panel for delivering on its mandate.
I hope that all will rally behind the Panel’s report.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Panel’s vision is to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, to make growth inclusive and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries.
The report makes 56 recommendations on how to implement this vision.
They fall under three main headings: empowering people to make sustainable choices; working towards a sustainable economy; and strengthening institutional governance.
The report emphasizes that there are many opportunities available to individuals, governments and businesses to influence our common future for the better.
The Panel highlights good practices, without claiming to have found the perfect solution for all of today’s interconnected challenges.
Rather, it calls for a range of coordinated measures that can be implemented, that take us beyond regimented silos, and that have the potential to set us on a more sustainable path.
I encourage Governments to closely examine the recommendations addressed to them. 
Many will involve long-term measures and changes in mindset. 
But let us also ensure that those which are ripe for immediate action become part of the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference.
Four points from the report are especially important to bear in mind.
First is the nexus approach.
Food, water and energy security are inextricably linked and must be pursued together.
Second, we need to dramatically change the way we value and measure progress.  
Thinking solely in terms of quantitative growth, as measured by gross domestic product, is not adequate.
Third, the international institutional architecture needs to be improved.
I urge Governments to look at the shortcomings of current bodies and processes, and consider a fresh start through new or reformed arrangements that integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, social and economic.
Fourth, we need to bring together all relevant actors. 
In addition to national Governments, the substantive involvement of civil society, the private sector and the scientific community, as well as subnational and regional authorities, is necessary for the right discussions to be held, the right decisions to be made and implementation to happen on the ground.
We also need to mobilize public support around the world for the vision of finally building a sustainable world that guarantees the well-being of humanity, while preserving the planet for future generations.
Some of the Panel’s recommendations are addressed directly to me, as Secretary-General.
Some relate to initiatives that I have already set in motion, including the Sustainable Energy for All initiative and a sustainable development strategy for the United Nations system.
Others, on which I intend to proceed, include the development of a new sustainable development index or set of indicators, as well as of a set of sustainable development goals.
I also see the value of a periodic global sustainable development outlook report, and I will explore the modalities, including the availability of resources, for such an important and ambitious undertaking.
Finally, I will work to strengthen the ties between the global scientific community and the United Nations, so that science occupies the central place it should in policy-making.
I look forward to your views on how we can build on the Panel’s report.
I count on you to maintain a high level of ambition for Rio+20 and beyond.
We need everyone to work together to create a future worth choosing, the future we want.
Thank you very much.