Speech 12-525 en 5


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Speech 12-525 en 5

  1. 1. EUROPEAN COMMISSIONJanez PotočnikEuropean Commissioner for EnvironmentStatement on the outcome of Rio+20Debate in the European Parliament on the outcome of Rio +20Strasbourg, 5 July 2012 SPEECH/12/525
  2. 2. Mr President, Honourable Members of Parliament,I would like to start by thanking the Members of Parliament that, in spite of the manydifficulties, decided to join the Conference in their personal capacity. I appreciate theexchanges we had during the conference and am pleased that you can now share yourimpressions of the complex negotiations with the other honourable members.I want to recognize upfront that the Rio+20 outcome document is less ambitious thanwhat the EU had planned. However, after long negotiations, the EU and its MemberStates decided to support its adoption as a step in the right direction.There are a number of areas where the EU would have hoped for a more ambitiousoutcome. This applies, for instance, to setting concrete timelines for the specificcommitments in the priority areas, or to institutional aspects.On the other hand, however, the final outcome still remains close to a range of initialobjectives of the EU and, more importantly, it provides a basis for further work in theright direction, if properly implemented. But, this must be done with a sense of urgency,because the planet, and the poorest in the world, cannot afford delays. This is why wedecided that it is better to have this agreement, than no agreement at all. Thechallenges are global and so are the solutions, so we need to keep working with ourinternational partners in the future.Green economy, beyond GDP and social aspectsThe outcome document acknowledges the important role of an inclusive green economyin achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. It is recognized as animportant tool for achieving sustainable development for all countries. It will enhanceour ability to manage natural resources sustainably, increase resource efficiency andreduce waste. It relates to changing the way we consume and produce today to adaptour economies to the boundaries of our planet and to allow future generations to meettheir own needs.Overall support for this was confirmed by a number of countries during months ofpreparations and by the positive references to the green economy in the final statementsmade by most Heads of State, including Heads of State from the majority of developingcountries.The document also recognises the need for broader measures of progress tocomplement GDP in order to have more solid policy decisions, as well as the importanceof corporate sustainability reporting. The outcome document provides the necessarybasis to turn these words into action at various levels.At a time when our societies suffer widespread unemployment, we are also satisfied thatRio+20 has given a stronger social angle to sustainable development, on matters suchas decent work, green jobs, and social protection floors, thereby enhancing the linkagesbetween its three dimensions.We have also contributed actively to highlight that democracy, human rights, rule of law,good governance, and gender equality and empowerment of women are indispensable toachieve sustainable development. These are the European values we will never backfrom. The fact that these concepts have been made more operational at Rio, for instancein relation to the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, is importantprogress. 2
  3. 3. Civil society and private sectorThe EU has also fought for and secured a good outcome in relation to the fundamentalrole of civil society and stakeholders in the realisation of sustainable development. Wewill keep working, throughout the next reforms, to increase their participation in thedecision-making process. In the new UNEP, for instance, we have agreed to ensure theactive participation of all relevant stakeholders and to explore new mechanisms topromote transparency and the effective engagement of civil society.I would also like to highlight that the Rio principle 10 on access to information, publicparticipation in decision-making and access to justice has been extended at Rio+20 fromenvironmental matters to sustainable development as a whole.The inclusive green economy can bring fundamental changes to progress towardssustainable development, because it will change the economic fabric. We have seenenormous engagement of the private sector in Rio. This gives me hope that the topdown endorsement, alas weaker than we wanted, and a strong bottom up movement willactually bring about change faster than we could have hoped for.The private sector, if given the direction and framework ensuring public goods, canthrive, can create investments, prosperity and wellbeing, decent employment and greenjobs, and help to promote sharing of know-how and development and diffusion ofinnovation and technology.And this will be fundamental for the necessary mobilisation of all means ofimplementation from all sources. This is the key to move away from focus on the officialdevelopment assistance approach only.Means of implementationThis is why the EU has taken the position that, first and foremost, each country musttake the necessary measures to put in place an enabling environment of domesticpolicies that is designed to be self-sustaining.Secondly, progress towards sustainable development entails providing the right financinginstruments. We repeated our commitments to Official Development Assistance (ODA),but ODA alone is not the answer. Public and private funding and business expertiseshould go hand in hand in establishing appropriate financing strategies. Innovativesources of financing should be encouraged. And emerging economies should take astronger role, proportionate to their evolving international status.Thirdly, moving towards more sustainable development also depends on skills, know-how and technology diffusion. In this regard, the European Union research frameworkprogrammes are open to all countries, including support to researchers in developingcountries. The green economy can also make a real difference in the development anddiffusion of green technologies to the countries having most natural resources.Goals, targets and SDGsThe EU has made efforts to make the text more operational, including by proposinggoals and targets with timelines in several areas. We have not obtained the timelines wesought, with exceptions such as the commitment to achieve substantial reductions ofmarine litter by 2025. But the EU has achieved the integration of most of its proposedtargets into the main text in the form of express commitments, for example on futureaction concerning extending the protection of marine biodiversity in areas beyondnational jurisdiction. 3
  4. 4. This has reinforced the text to make it more action oriented. These efforts of the EU tofocus the attention on key issues such as sustainable energy, water, oceans, land andbiodiversity, food security or resource efficiency, should also bring fruit in the nextmonths, in the process to develop Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.The decision at Rio to develop Sustainable Development Goals and make themoperational is indeed one of the main outcomes of Rio+20.For the EU, the work on SDGs should be coordinated and coherent with the reviewprocess of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), without deviating efforts fromtheir achievement by 2015. It would be important to have an overarching framework forpost 2015 that encompasses the three dimensions of sustainable development withgoals that address key challenges in a holistic and coherent way.In addition, the agreement to launch the SDG process also means bringing a freshimpetus to a concept that was shown to be at risk at Rio: I refer to sustainabledevelopment, taken as a holistic notion. Indeed, at Rio+20, in spite of initial difficulties,we have reaffirmed the need to put together our efforts to eradicate poverty and tosecure sustainability within our planetary limits. In retrospect, reaffirming this holisticvision was more important than we initially thought, in view of resistance from manysides to continue to address these two matters in conjunction.IFSDOverall, we also welcome the agreement to reinforce the Institutional Framework forSustainable Development (IFSD).Rio has reinforced the international environmental governance by strengthening andupgrading UNEP. It will now have universal membership and must become our commonhome to set the global environmental agenda. In this new set up, a truly global UNEPwill have a new authority that will allow it to take actions that were until now beyond itsreach. We already started the strategic reflection on this new potential strength. We willhowever continue to work, together with our partners, towards the creation of a fully-fledged United Nations Environment Organization, to allow it to function on an equalfooting with other UN organizations.The other institutional reform is the decision to establish a new High Level PoliticalForum on Sustainable Development, which will replace the Commission on SustainableDevelopment. It should allow the regular participation of Heads of State in reviewingprogress of all our commitments. The EU has ensured that it will have most of thefunctions required and it will be important to make sure that this reform brings realchange.ConclusionAt Rio, we reaffirmed that we share the same planet and that we share a commonresponsibility towards future generations. None of the countries and regions present atRio achieved in full what was wanted initially. This also applies to the EU. But we haveworked together with all the other countries to develop common ground. It is a fact thatthe document would be less ambitious and less concrete without the work of those onthe EU side.Rio+20 has not gone as far as most of Europeans would have wanted, but the keymessage today is that we agreed on many useful elements, many more than firstreactions would lead us to believe. And this is why we should now focus on implementingthem and building on them. 4
  5. 5. Fate of the question of whether Rio+20 was a failure or a success is still in our hands. Itwill depend on what we do with it from this point in time in implementing it in full.The European Commission intends to do the necessary to build on what has been agreedat the highest level. We are looking forward to the European Parliaments views on howthis can be best done and count on you to keep the ambition and positive energygenerated in the run up to Rio alive in the years to come at international, national andlocal level. 5