The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
For the purpose of today's debates I would like to concentrate on the EESC's key messages for the Rio+20 Conference:
At the Rio+20 UN Conference, world leaders have to commit to a concrete action plan leading to sustainable development and poverty eradication within the limitations of the planet. Promoting a green economy must be part of an overarching sustainable development strategy, striking a balance between social, ecological and economic aspects while achieving distributional and intergenerational equity.
Eradicating poverty and secure access to enough food, clean water and sustainable energy for all must be a top priority on the Rio+20 agenda.
The negotiating parties have to place much greater emphasis on the social dimension of sustainable development than envisaged in the zero draft. Increasing social and wealth inequalities within and between countries requires urgent action, since they are hindering efforts to achieve sustainable development and distributional equity. Moreover, a just transition must guarantee decent work and high-quality jobs for the workforce. Ratification and application of ILO Core Labour Standards is necessary, the ILO Social Protection Floor Initiative must be fully supported.
Political leaders at Rio have to commit to a green economy roadmap with clear goals and monitoring mechanisms, ensuring an economically efficient, socially just and environmentally sound transition to sustainable societies. The transition process must be based on continuous engagement with civil society, including social dialogue.
A new Council for Sustainable Development, replacing the Commission for Sustainable Development, should be created, as well as a new UN agency for the environment based on UNEP. Both of these bodies should provide for effective involvement of civil society, as represented by the Major Groups.
Political leaders have to agree at the Rio+20 conference on additional measures to improve effective civil society involvement and achieve empowerment at global, national and local level in the transition to sustainable societies. Legal and institutional frameworks ensuring public access to information, dialogue, democratic participation and scrutiny have to be established. Multi-stakeholder forums such as Economic and Social Committees and National Sustainability Councils have to be promoted as models to stimulate civil society debate. More awareness-raising campaigns and education programmes on sustainable development are needed.
President`s speech at the EP Intergroup event Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development