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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr Secretary General, Mr Chairman,

I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States.

We are pleased to participate in this important exchange of views on the expectations we have for Rio+20. We would like to express our appreciation for the many inspiring thoughts that have been shared here today.

Although since the Earth Summit in 1992 progress has been made in a number of areas, we still face many pressing global challenges, in particular poverty eradication and environmental degradation.

Rio+20’s two themes – green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development – offer an unique opportunity to address these challenges – an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. While both themes need to be addressed in their own right, there are also important linkages between them and synergies need to be identified and exploited.

Mr Chairman,

Let me start by saying a few words on how moving towards a green economy can lead to sustainable development and help eradicate poverty. Eradicating poverty cannot be achieved without the sustainable management and use of our natural resource base. The poor in particular depend on these resources for their livelihoods: economic activities and growth, jobs, food security, health and sanitation are all inseparably linked with the earth’s natural capital and its capacity for renewal.

To ensure sustained economic growth, we need an economy that puts the management of natural capital and the efficient use of resources at the center: land, water, forests, oceans, energy etc. Such an economy requires identifying the value of ecosystem services and biodiversity and internalizing external costs and benefits, but first we need to define -what and how- this needs to be done.

The better management and more efficient use of natural resources will help underpin the livelihoods of millions of people. For example, policies to stimulate sustainable agriculture contribute to food security, and renewable energy and energy efficiency contribute to reducing climate change and to energy security. Investing in more sustainable management of these resources will stimulate the economic growth of the future – the kind of growth that benefits the environment, people and society at large.

To enable the transition towards such an inclusive green economy, we must start putting into place the right regulatory and market conditions, including the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies and the use of fiscal incentives. We must enhance access to public, private and public-private finance and explore innovative means to increase investments. And we must significantly improve private sector engagement, as well as the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.

Measuring and ensuring progress will be crucial. At the same time we realize that a “one size fits all approach” will not work. Different national circumstances must be taken into account when defining policy tools. In our view, a UN Green Economy Roadmap would help all countries – based on their own leadership and respecting national differences – to accelerate their own transition towards the green economy. Such a roadmap could clarify which steps are needed at national and international level. It could include a menu of actions and a timeline for their implementation, indentify key actors and set targets and appropriate indicators, while building on existing national initiatives.

Mr. Chairman,

This leads me to the other Rio+20 theme: the institutional framework. We need better governance structures to achieve sustainable development and to help trigger the transition to the green economy. In fact, this transition cannot take place without an ambitious reform of global governance for sustainable development as well as international institutions. To achieve this, a balanced and interconnected approach across the three pillars of the sustainable development is necessary.

First, better environmental governance is a major key to an improved institutional framework for sustainable development. In our view, transforming UNEP into a specialized agency would be an important component of institutional reform. We need a modern organization working together with existing bodies (such as the Bretton Woods institutions and others) that is able to provide a strategic view on how to best advance the environmental agenda. We need to streamline and better coordinating the range of multilateral agreements. We need a leading global voice for the environment that can better inform global decision making, and to mobilize the necessary resources to effectively respond to the challenges we face.

Second, we must also improve governance for sustainable development more broadly, that is across the economic, environmental and in particular the social pillar. Perspectives could include: strengthening ECOSOC’s role on sustainable development, improving the functioning of the Commission for Sustainable Development, as well as the stronger involvement of international financial institutions.

Thirdly we need to strengthen governance at local, subnational, national, and regional levels. The successful implementation of sustainable development depends on coordination and cooperation mechanisms between public authorities departments, business and civil society, at all these levels.

Finally, to make progress, much more interaction is needed between different areas and policies such as environment, economics, financing, and science and innovation. We must also ensure stronger participation and engagement of business. All this needs to be taken further through dynamic public/private partnerships, new business networks and alliances, consistent regulatory frameworks, as well as financing facilities to accelerate green business and innovation.

Mr Chairman,

Rio+20 can mark the start of a profound, world-wide transition towards a global green economy and better sustainable development governance.

Let us now all work together to ensure that Rio+20 will meet our pressing global challenges and that will be a success that will resound across the world.

Thank you for your attention.


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