UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged nations to step up efforts to arrive at concrete decisions in the upcoming UN conference on sustainable development for reducing poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and more sustainable and fair use of resources.
"Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make real progress towards the sustainable economy of the future," Ban said at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, referring to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) due in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20 to 22.
More than 100 heads of State and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, Chief Executive Officers and civil society leaders are expected to attend Rio+20, which is aimed at shaping new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
The Rio+20 conference follows the 1992 Earth Summit, also held in Rio de Janeiro, during which countries adopted Agenda 21 - a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
Ban acknowledged that there is still much work ahead, but noted that foundations were in place for agreement on the remainder of the negotiating text that is expected to become the outcome of the conference.
"I expect the negotiators to accomplish this in the days before ministers and world leaders arrive in Rio. Leaders will then act to resolve all outstanding issues. Their job is to achieve renewed political commitment for sustainable development. We aspire to nothing less than a global movement for generational change," he said.
Negotiators concluded the last round of Rio+20 preparatory talks in New York last Saturday. The talks focused on the gathering's outcome document. During the talks, an agreement was reached on more than 20 percent of the document, with many additional paragraphs close to agreement. The next and final preparatory talks will be held in Rio de Janeiro from 13 to 15 June, ahead of the Conference.
The Secretary-General cited several "concrete outputs" he expects from Rio+20 to improve the lives of people around the world, including the defining path to an inclusive green economy that will lift people from poverty and protect the global environment.
Ban urged world leaders to agree to define sustainable development goals with clear and measurable targets and indicators, which he said will be a central part of the post-2015 global development framework.
He also called for decisions on key elements of the institutional framework for sustainable development, as well as strong, action-oriented outcomes on a wide range of cross-cutting areas, such as food security and sustainable agriculture, oceans, gender equality and women's empowerment, education and energy.
Ban noted that progress is still required in implementing past commitments and initiatives on trade, financing for development, technology transfer and capacity building. He also called for more partnerships with civil society and the private sector, saying that such strategic alliances can galvanize global public support and drive change.
"Ultimately, Rio+20 will be measured in the transformation it sets in motion - the lives it changes for the better. Our hopes for future prosperity, health and stability, rest on finding a path that integrates the economic, social and environmental pillars of development. Sustainable development is an idea whose time has come. It is the future we want," he added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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