Rio+20: UN chief tells nations ‘not to waste opportunity’ at sustainable development summit (21 June)

By Ed King
RioPlus Business in Rio

Ban Ki-moon warns governments they are running out of time (UN/Mark Garten)

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has opened the high-level segment of the Sustainable Development summit talks with a warning to all nations that time is running out for a deal.

More than 100 heads of state and government have arrived in Rio for the talks, which aim to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

191 countries reached agreement on the Conference’s outcome text. The document will now be put forward for adoption by heads of state at the conclusion of Rio+20 tomorrow.

There has been considerable anger amongst civil society, state delegations and some UN leaders over the apparent weakness of the text. UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres told RTCC yesterday that there had been too much talk and too little action.

Addressing the main plenary Ban 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.”

“We have been given a second chance. Rio+20 is not an end but a beginning. It is time for all of us to think globally and locally.”

“Let us not forget the scarcest resource of all: Time. We are running out of time. We no longer have the luxury to defer difficult decisions.

“We have a common responsibility to act in common cause, to set aside narrow national interests in the name of the global public good and the betterment of all.”

17-year-old New Zealander Brittany Trilford, here with climate campaign group tcktcktck opened the high-level segment of the summit with a call to all delegates to take into account future generations when they embark on negotiations.

“We, the next generation, demand change. We demand action so that we have a future and have it guaranteed. We trust that you will, in the next 72 hours, put our interests ahead of all other interests and boldly do the right thing.”

“I am here to fight for my future. That is why I’m here. I would like to end by asking you to consider why you’re here and what you can do. Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us?”

Away from the text, progress does appear to have been made from a business perspective. Former UNFCCC chief and now KPMG advisor Yvo de Boer tweeeted: “A great outcome of #Rioplus20 for business is the creation of practical policies unlocking global capital flows for green economic growth”.

The Asian Development Bank plan to pump $175Bn into sustainable transport measures over the next decade, while UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that companies listed at the London Stock Exchange will have to report their greenhouse gas emissions.

VIDEO: 17-year-old Brittany Trilford addresses main Plenary


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