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Interview: Rio+20 secretary-general "cautiously optimistic" about summit results

2012-06-18 20:42:43 GMT2012-06-19 04:42:43(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

By Xinhua writers Wang Xiangjiang, Niu Hairong

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Sha Zukang, secretary- general of the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit,has expressed cautious optimism for the UN conference to make progress on important issues relating to sustainable development.

"I am cautiously optimistic about the achievement of important and substantive outcomes at this summit," said Sha, who is also UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, in a written interview with Xinhua recently.

He expected the meeting to make progress in four areas -- political commitment, green economy, sustainable development goals (SDGs) and institutional framework.

POLITICAL COMMITMENT

First, Sha urged world leaders to "renew political commitment" at the summit.

"Agenda 21, adopted in 1992, remains the guiding principle of sustainable development," he said. "All of the 27 Rio principles confirmed in the document should be adhered to, particularly the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities."

He called on developed countries to take "concrete actions to continue to help developing countries in fund, technology and capacity building."

"No attempts should be made to overturn or distort the Rio principles, and no backtracking from the principles that had been committed to 20 years ago should be tolerated," Sha stressed.

GREEN ECONOMY

Second, Sha hoped for a consensus on green economy, "a tool in achieving sustainable development and poverty reduction, and conducive to the coordination of economic development, social development and environmental protection through integrated approaches."

"In pursuit of green economy, ample consideration should be given to the development stages and practical conditions of developing countries," he said.

"No goals that are being implemented by developed countries should be forced on developing countries. The so-called green standards must not be used as the precondition for the provision of official development assistance or the excuse for new trade protectionism," he said.

Sha hoped that a package of policy recommendations would be made on the development of green economy during the Rio+20 summit.

SDGs

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight poverty reduction and social targets pledged by world leaders will meet their deadline in 2015.

"The United Nations is now preparing for the post-2015 development framework," he said.

A great majority of countries have expressed "earnest support" for developing the SDGs, which, they have agreed, should be the extension and development of the MDGs.

He expected the summit to "at the least, establish the process of the SDGs, and take preliminary steps to set priorities that have already been agreed upon."

The MDGs were designed to help developing countries better develop themselves, while the SDGs aim at promoting the harmonious development of three aspects -- economic development, social development and environmental protection, he said.

"The SDGs will not only target developing countries, but also developed countries. In this sense, in order to realize the SDGs, developed and developing countries will cooperate with each other so as to achieve a win-win situation."

"That is to say, the SDGs will help promote the common development of all countries in the world," he added.

INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK

Sha also called for political decisions to be made on strengthening the institutional framework of sustainable development, integrating global relevant institutions and enhancing planning as a whole and coordination.

"Decisions should be made on how to reform the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, strengthen the coordinating functions of the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in mainstreaming sustainable development, solidify the functions and coordinating role of the UN Environment Program," he noted.

ECONOMIC CRISIS

"Undoubtedly, the current international economic crisis and geopolitical factors will have some negative effects on the Rio+20 summit," said the secretary-general of the Rio+20 summit.

"But I want to emphasize that economic crisis will be over sooner or later, our responsibility for history and the future of the humanity should not be overtaken by geopolitics."

He called on world leaders to "abandon political biases, and unite for the health of the Earth and the sustainable development of humanity."

"I believe that my idea is shared by all the leaders and delegates of all nations attending the Rio summit," Sha added. "We must succeed, because we can not afford to fail in the sustainable development of humanity."

On June 20-22, more than 130 heads of state or government and tens of thousands of delegates will gather here to discuss sustainable development blueprint and make important decisions on the global sustainable development process.

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