Staffan Nilsson`s keynote speech at the "Think Green! The opportunities of sustainable development and of the green economy"

With the ever more evident effects of the combined economic, financial, social and environmental crises, people are realizing that existing economic models and patterns do not work any more. That we not only have to talk sustainable development but that we have to act on our words.

World leaders in Rio de Janeiro this year have to commit to a concrete action plan leading to sustainable development and poverty eradication within the limits of the planet. And we feel this is urgent! This is why right from the start I have made "Engaging people for a sustainable Europe" my political message for the term of office and I have placed preparations for the Rio+20 Conference high on my political agenda.

We need to continue our public deliberations on the new kind of development we want to foster. We need open debates to promote public consensus on the measures we want our political leaders to take. And we need an active civil society showing which practical examples work, where we need to change established patterns and values and which political decisions are needed to enable civil society action towards sustainable development.

After a one year long effort of consultations with European civil society organisations we have agreed on a list of messages for EU and world leaders to take on board at the UN Rio+20 summit. We organized various hearings and organized a major European civil society conference "Go sustainable, be responsible" on 7 and 8 February 2012, at which some of you were present. At this conference a number of key messages were agreed, which were endorsed by an additional Rio+20 EESC opinion adopted in February 2012.

At the international level, we are discussing Rio-related topics and the list of messages European civil society agreed on with our counterparts in various parts of the world, like Brazil, China, Russia, India and the ACP region as examples.

Among the EESC's key messages for the Rio+20 Conference, I can mention a few, and in particular those messages related to green economy. I hope you have found our message for Rio+20 summit in your files.

We expect that EU leaders will negotiate for a more ambitious global roadmap on sustainable development with targets, timing, financing, legal commitment and follow-up. We have to speak with one voice to both the European public and the rest of the world.

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 Councils 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.

Coming back to green economy, the Rio conference should generate a new political commitment to the transition to a green economy throughout the world. The Committee suggests that six main pillars could be included in a mandate for the further work of UN bodies on sustainable development:

  • measuring progress towards a green economy;
  • regulatory measures to encourage the transition to a green economy;
  • education about sustainability to promote a green economy;
  • fiscal policy instruments to promote a green economy;
  • public spending and investment in a green economy;
  • setting targets for a green economy.


Staffan Nilsson keynote speech at the "Think Green!..." event

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