Sha Zukang, head of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday. Chen Bei / China Daily
WASHINGTON - The head of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs on Tuesday called on government and business leaders in the United States to maintain their commitment to a green economy after the global financial crisis dampened many countries' enthusiasm for the cause.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Sha Zukang, who is also secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), explained the role of key global and national stakeholders and the vision of the conference.
The gathering to be held next year from June 4 to 6 in Rio de Janeiro will mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The 1992 meeting produced the action plan Agenda 21, the Climate Change Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
But Sha noted that many countries have been very slow in implementing the agreements, particularly since the recent economic slowdown in many major developed countries.
"All these principles, conventions and action agendas continue to be valid but are not consistently applied," he said.
"They have run up against major challenges in implementation. That is one reason our progress has been too slow, especially in climate change negotiations."
He said Rio+20 - also known as the 2012 Rio Earth Summit - will not be just another UN conference but "the most important meeting in the history of the United Nations", quoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"So, at Rio+20, our focus is not on new principles or new conventions. What we need is renewed commitment," Sha said.
He praised the United States for taking a crucial and leading role in sharing its knowledge, technology and financing, as well as its innovations in green technology.
He called for more US leadership in public health, sustainable agriculture, information and communication technology, entrepreneurship, and public and private partnerships.
In addition to the US government, businesses, local governments, the philanthropic community, scientific and academic institutions and non-profit organizations have an important role to play, he said.
The 2012 Rio Earth Summit is expected to be held at "the highest possible level, including heads of state and government or other representatives", according to its website.
It will be the first time since 1992 that the international body has organized an event like this, combining environmental, development and economic policy.
The UN official highlighted a number of emerging challenges, such as green jobs and social inclusion, energy access, efficiency and sustainability, food security and sustainable agriculture.
The conference will focus on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
During the conference, a new public and private financing initiative will be launched, such as a global green economy fund, according to Sha.
(China Daily 06/30/2011 page11)