On 13 and 14 February 2014, over 150 civil society representatives gathered at the EESC to discuss their positions on a global Post-2015 framework for sustainable development. Participants from local, regional and national authorities, EU and UN level policy-makers, social partners, environment, development, human rights, agriculture and consumer organisations; industry, business and academia brought a wealth of perspectives into the debate.
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This workshop is exactly in line with what we had declared we would be doing to bring Rio home: we keep up the momentum for further promoting sustainable development, we want European civil society to be involved and we want to contribute with concrete proposals.
Sustainable development is a long-term objective and needs continuous action, and in particular civil society involvement all over the world. Rio+20 was an important mobilising factor for civil society around the world, we need to keep up the momentum and to hold our governments accountable for what they have agreed to in Rio de Janeiro last June.
It has been one of the very positive experiences during my Presidency at the EESC to see how much we Europeans and you Brazilians agreed on key elements that were on the table of the negotiators at the Rio+20 Conference.
In February last year, Mrs Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, talking about EU-Brazil relations said that this is a relationship that is important, but she didn’t think that the EU had made it as important as it ought to be. We support the need to go deeper in our relations with Brazil. And here’s the evidence: we are again meeting today, keeping up the regular pace of our exchanges, willing to produce joint work that will be useful also to our political leaders.
So we will send the result of this Round Table to Mrs Ashton, and to the Brazilian authorities, as we always do, in order to provide a civil society contribution to her important work. And we are doing it right in time for the next EU-Brazil Summit that will take place in Brasília in two days from now.
The hearing this afternoon is focussed on the topics "inclusive green economy" and "sustainable development goals" because these were the two topics that the stakeholders stressed most when we had our Rio de-briefing session in early July. ..."
The European Economic and Social Committee is following up on its engagement to "bring Rio home". On 18 December the EESC organised together with the European Commission a public hearing in order to enhance the impact of the Commission's ongoing consultation on the EU follow-up to Rio+20 by giving civil society representatives the opportunity to discuss statements related to the questions raised in the consultation.
The EESC has been very actively involved in the run-up to Rio, enhancing civil society dialogue in preparation of the Conference and at the Conference.
We were committed to contributing to the EU's position and to mobilising EU civil society in order to push EU and world leaders towards an ambitious outcome.
We know now that the outcome text has not been as ambitious as we Europeans would have wished it to be. Now we have to work to make the agreement a success by advancing further on the processes that were launched and by implementing at least here in Europe the proposals that we have put forward in New York and in Rio de Janeiro.
The EESC President Staffan Nilsson and the EESC member Ms Evelyne Pichenot took part in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Public Forum, where governments, non-governmental organizations, academics, businesses and students come together to discuss the latest issues regarding the multilateral trading system.
Based on an intensive civil society dialogue the EESC contributed to establishing the EU's position on Rio+20. In February 2012, the major EESC conference Go sustainable, be responsible! European civil society on the road to Rio+20, sent out a list of messages to take on board at Rio+20 and called on our political leaders to step up their efforts to arrive to an ambitious outcome at the UN conference.
The European Economic and Social Committee played a very active role in the run-up to the Rio+20 Conference, and during the conference itself, facilitating broad civil society dialogue and input. EESC president Staffan Nilsson is determined to push implementation of the UN conference results at EU level, and to give civil society a pivotal role in framing the Sustainable Development Goals.