Astana, Kazakhstan

23 May 2012

Secretary-General's message to Fifth Astana Economic Forum [delivered by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs]

Over the past five years, the Astana Economic Forum has become an important gathering for discussing key economic policy issues and practical steps to enhance and expand international cooperation.

Bringing together global participants from government, academia, business and culture, the Forum offers opportunities for constructive dialogue among major groups working on economic development.

This is a time of great challenge and transition.  Our world faces an increasingly complex set of realities, from rising joblessness to growing inequality to the increasing dangers of climate change.  Many people are disillusioned with the established order; there is distrust in institutions; and a general sense that the playing field is tilted in favour of entrenched interests and elites.

We need to forge a common agenda that can help build a world of sustainable peace, prosperity, freedom and justice. 

The international community has a vital opportunity next month when leaders gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  Meeting the demands ahead will require all our creativity and commitment.  By 2030, the world will need at least 50 per cent more food … 45 per cent more energy … 30 per cent more water…and many millions more decent jobs.  These and other challenges are linked.  We need to start connecting the dots in our policies and our programmes. 

Quite simply, we need a revolution in our thinking about the foundations of dynamic growth and the well-being of future generations.  The Rio Conference is our opportunity to set out a new paradigm for growth – building on what works, discarding what does not. 

I encourage all of you gathering in Astana to work for solutions that can help make our collective efforts a success.  As you deliberate on solutions and steps forward for our common future, I wish you a fruitful exchange of ideas.