RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, June 20, CMC – More than 100 Heads of State and government gathered here on Wednesday for the start of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, which seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
This week’s talks follow on from the Earth Summit in 1992, also held here, during which countries adopted Agenda 21 – a proposal to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the opening session that progress has been too slow since the Earth Summit, and much more needs to be done.
“Let us not waste this opportunity. The world is watching to see if words will translate into action, as we know they must,” Mr Ban said.
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.
Rio+20’s outcome document, entitled “The Future We Want,” calls for a wide range of actions including starting the process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be utilised to achieve sustainable development, and strengthening the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
There are also calls for the promotion of corporate sustainability reporting measures, the formation of a strategy for sustainable development financing, and adoption of a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production.
The document also focuses on improving gender equality, the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development, and the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy.
“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 following negotiations for the outcome document 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.
More than 40,000 people – including parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders – are attending the Rio+20 conference from June 20-22.