The European Economic and Social Committee is very keen to engage with youth on sustainable development as we are preparing to give input and participate in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development that will take place in 20-22 June in Rio de Janeiro. This Conference is a crucial opportunity to send a clear message for a global change towards a green and sustainable economy and poverty eradication.
With the ever more evident effects of the combined economic, financial, social and environmental crises, people are realizing that existing 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.
This urgent need felt by citizens makes this year's UN Conference on Sustainable Development so important. 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.
European integration must move forward and be strengthened. We must concentrate on opportunities, growth and jobs, social justice and a sustainable Europe and European Union. And I hope the Irish Presidency will go in this direction when taking the helm of the EU.
EU leaders and members of the other EU institutions have on numerous occasions paid tribute to the EESC’s knowledge and experience and the added value they bring to our endeavours. The European Economic and Social Committee is there to advise and support the Irish EU presidency, based on the grassroots experience of its members and on its long-standing tradition of cooperation with EU presidencies.
The history of the European Consumer Day dates back to 15 March 1999, when the first event of this kind was organised by our Committee in Brussels. This year we meet again, for the 14th time.
The theme of this year's conference, "Sustainable consumption in a time of crisis" is an important, but at the same time very difficult subject. Its importance is obvious, as it is crucial to find a way to meet everyday needs without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
This urgent need felt by citizens and their associations makes this year's UN Conference on Sustainable Development so important. 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 limited resources of our planet.
For that to happen, civil society is giving a strong signal and is calling on the world leaders that these decisions are needed, wanted and expected. We need to have 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.
Europe is facing difficult times. The economy is stagnating, consumer and business confidence has declined sharply. These problems are symptoms of unsustainability. I am very persistent on questions of sustainability and I have dedicated my Presidency at the EESC to "Engaging people for a sustainable Europe".
One of the key priorities of my Presidency is the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June in Rio, for which the EESC is preparing on various topics and levels.