I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
Mr. Under Secretary General and Secretary General of the conference, Co-chairs, Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Rio+20 presents an historic opportunity for all of us to renew our political commitment to the sustainable development and poverty eradication agenda and furthermore to initiative a profound, world-wide transition towards a sustainable future. As we embark on the process of inter-governmental negotiations on the outcome document in the coming days, it is our hope that member states will seize this opportunity and work together in order to reach a truly ambitious and forward-looking outcome document with the potential to transform the global sustainable development agenda and enable people, private sector and governments to make sustainable choices through the years to come.
In this regard, the EU and its Member States strongly believe that in Rio we should agree to accelerate and broaden the worldwide transition towards a green economy that promotes sustainable development and contributes to poverty eradication around the world, and we should agree on improved governance for sustainable development, including by strengthening the environmental pillar in this regard.
The EU and its Member States would like to thank the co-chairs for their leadership and their hard work in providing us with a zero draft for the outcome document of the Conference and we count on both co-chairs to continue their able guidance in the crucial months to come.
We also wish to express our appreciation for the open and inclusive process, guided by the Bureau, and allowing all interested parties to make their views known before the 1 November 2011 deadline. We recognize that the task of sifting through all the submissions and distilling their main points, concerns, and suggestions into the zero draft before us was a daunting challenge.
During this opening session the EU and its Member States would like to take the opportunity to underline that broad public participation in decision-making and implementation is one of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development. We call on all member states to remain open towards major groups, civil society and the private sector, as we now embark on a process of intergovernmental negotiations in order to reach agreement on the outcome document.
Though we have concerns on a number of points in the zero draft, we believe that we cannot afford to waste time in some lengthy, abstract discussions on possible alternative bases for negotiations.
Hence, our main message at this opening session is that, in an effort to bridge diverging views on the outcome, the zero draft can serve as a useful common basis for starting the negotiations. The most important thing at this point is to start the negotiation process and we are committed to work with all delegations through the coming months to develop the ambitious text we would like to see as an outcome.
While being prepared to negotiate on the basis of this zero draft, the EU and its Member States would also like to state that a number of crucial issues have not been adequately addressed – or have not been addressed at all in the draft. We are also concerned about the overall balance and consistency of the text, and the lack of ambition in certain domains. Furthermore, we are of the view that the outcome of Rio+20 must be concise and operational, so as to enable our political leaders to make decisions in Rio on the different issues at stake, and based on concrete goals and a clear identification of the tasks ahead.
At the end of the day, what is crucial is that the outcome document is able to catalyse action on the ground to achieve sustainable development.
I thank you for your attention.
*Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.