More than 100 Heads of State and government gathered on Wednesday for the opening of the United Nations Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development which seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon at the Opening of The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 in Brasil © UN Photo
In opening remarks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "We are now in sight of a historic agreement. Let us not waste this opportunity. The world is watching to see if words will translate into action, as we know they must."
The Secretary-General was flanked by President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, the Rio+20 Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, and the President of the UN General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
The conference opened just a day after representatives of 191 countries meeting in New York reached agreement on the conference outcome document. The text will now be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at the conclusion of Rio+20 on Friday.
"I am pleased that negotiations have reached a successful conclusion and I commend the Presidency of Brazil for facilitating this resolution," Mr. Ban said.
More than 40,000 people – including parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders – are attending Rio+20 from 20-22 June. 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," Mr. Ban said, adding that since the Earth Summit 20 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."
The so-called Rio +20 outcome document, entitled The Future We Want calls for a wide range of actions. They include: beginning the process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN-Habitat's Nairobi-based sister agency; promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures; taking steps to go beyond gross domestic product to assess the well-being of a country; developing a strategy for sustainable development financing; and, adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production. Click here for details.