Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

21 June 2012

Secretary-General's remarks to the Major Groups of Civil Society

Good morning, Bom Dia, Bonjour.

It is a great pleasure to meet you. It is a great pleasure for me to start this day early with so many distinguished members of the Major Groups. Thank you for your support, your contribution, your engagement and your commitment to work together with the United Nations and to make this world better for all. Your support, your active engagement, your voices have been very much important.

Indeed, your community of civil society actors are most closely connected and committed to sustainable development.  You are on the ground making a difference every day.  You are shaping the world we want, the future we want. L’avenir que nous voulons, these are two, in English and French, catch words for all of us.

The nine major groups established by Agenda 21 are the most comprehensive structure of civil society engagement within any intergovernmental process.

As such, I would like to recognize all of you here.  You represent: women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, workers and trade unions, local authorities, NGOs, business and industry, the scientific and technological community, and farmers.

In a larger sense, you do more than represent your groups.  You also represent a model of civil society of which we are rightly proud.  It has served as an inspiration to so many other intergovernmental processes.

The nine Major Groups remind us of the richness and complexity of engaged actors and their growing weight and influence throughout the world.

Through your diligent work you have helped shape the negotiating text of the Rio+20 outcome document.

The nine Major Groups contributed more than 80 per cent of the inputs to the zero text. You know how thick this zero text was, compiling all the inputs from all Major Groups and governments. It amounted to 6,000 pages. We are going to have 53 pages in all [in a] very concise, action-oriented outcome document.

Throughout the meetings, your statements and expressions have served as signposts and valuable reminders to negotiators.

You have reminded negotiation delegations not to lose their commitment to such hard-won concepts as a rights-based approach to development; common but differentiated responsibilities; the precautionary principle; and the rights of the most vulnerable groups of society.

You have provided valuable perspectives and nuances on the key building blocks of the outcome document.

These include the Sustainable Development Goals, the green economy, the institutional framework, and 26 areas of focus.

I urge you to continue to play such an essential role in the follow-up to the Rio+20 Conference, and as we articulate the post-2015 development agenda.

The follow-up to Rio+20 depends on more than just governments.  We need all of you continuously. We will be adapting the outcome document tomorrow afternoon.
I have been hearing various opinions still among Member States, civil society, particularly among civil societies. You may not be totally satisfied with what negotiators have agreed.

But, I would encourage you to understand this very delicate and complex process of negotiations. Negotiations have been painfully slow, painfully difficult. I have been urging them that this is not the end of our processes. This is just the beginning of many processes that will come. You’ll be continuously engaged in the follow up of this Rio+20 outcome document. I believe [this] as Secretary-General of the United Nations who is the convener and who has been responsible for this.

I am encouraged by such a sense of flexibility and compromise and more importantly commitment and vision of Member States to agree on this ambitious outcome. It’s extraordinary that the Member States have been able to agree after such a long negotiation. They have realized that this is a real political and moral responsibility to make this world better for all, equitable for all. This is justice and fairness. They have realized the limitation of our planetary resources.

I really appreciate your strong input, your voices. At the same time, we have to be practical, realistic. We have limited resources, we have limited time. And, sometimes, national governments, their leaders have also limited capacity, they have domestic constraints. I believe this is a very good document, a very good vision, but we will have to build upon that. For example, we will have to build on MDGs, that’s what Member States [inaudible] Sustainable Development Goals.

I have to work to make this committee of experts, intergovernmental process, a success. I have to work with my high-level panel of eminent groups to have all their political and scientific and expert-level input so that this will go to intergovernmental process and we’ll be able to agree on these Sustainable Development Goals to carry on what would have been left over by the end of MDG 2015.

So I need your continuous support, major nine groups. I think you represent most of our lives, all aspects of our lives. You can be very strong voices. So please continue your voice. The commitment the leaders will leave in Rio and which will remain in many, many years, will be an important legacy that leaders and Major Groups like you will carry forward so that together we can build the future we want.

Twenty years ago in Rio, the world put sustainable development on the map.

Now it is up to us to use that map and drive the agenda forward.

Now is the time for implementation, transformation and action.

That is my message to particularly the world leaders and you have your legitimate right and voices to see whether leaders will carry on their words they had made in Rio.

Again, I thank you very much for all your support, all your engagement. Please continue to be engaged, raise your voices. We will always be ready to listen to your voices. You are the voices of the world, you are the future, you are the owners of our world. Let’s work together so that we can make a world better for all, so that we can shape the future we want, so that we can realize our dream we want for our children, the succeeding generation.

That’s our responsibility, moral and political and also as civil leaders.

Thank you.