More than 100 Heads of State and government on Wednesday gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the start of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
"We are now in sight of a historic agreement," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his address to Rio+20's opening session, calling on the participants "not to waste this opportunity. The world is watching to see if words will translate into action, as we know they must."
After intensive and protracted informal negotiations on how to accelerate the implementation of sustainable development, 191 countries reached agreement on Tuesday on the Conference's outcome document. The text will now be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at the conclusion of Rio+20 on Friday.
Ban expressed happiness that negotiations have reached a successful conclusion and commended the Presidency of Brazil for facilitating this resolution.
More than 40,000 people - including parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders - are attending the three-day Rio+20 conference. The event follows on from the Earth Summit in 1992, 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.
"We have been given a second chance," the UN chief said, adding that since the Earth Summit twenty years ago progress has been too slow, and much more needs to be done. "Rio+20 is not an end but a beginning. It is time for all of us to think globally and locally," he added.
Rio+20's outcome document, entitled "The Future We Want," calls for a wide range of actions.
"We think the text contains a lot of action, and if this action is implemented, and if follow-up measures are taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change," Rio+20's Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, said after the conclusion of the outcome document negotiations on Tuesday.
In addition to the outcome document, there have been nearly 500 voluntary commitments on sustainable development activities by civil society groups, businesses, governments and universities. In addition, the UN's Global Compact initiative, which concluded its Corporate Sustainability Forum on Tuesday, announced more than 200 commitments to sustainable development by businesses.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org