Partnerships are a very important model for involving civil society actors in sustainable development. They bring together governmental authorities and non-governmental actors, in particular NGOs and stakeholders from businesses in order to pursue common objectives. This makes transformative partnerships so important to us, the EESC.
The purpose of today's meeting is two-fold.
We thought it would be good if we, representatives from European organised civil society, would meet to exchange information about planned activities in Rio and to see how we could further foster our common values and positions throughout these diverse activities.
The second reason for today's meeting turns out to be very timely. Originally we had invited Timo Makela, Director of DG Environment, to give us a de-briefing on ongoing Rio negotiations in New York.
We have in place for many years now the EU-China Round Table. Within this framework (which was started10 years ago, and was supported in the EU-China summit 2004), the EESC meets regularly with the Chinese Economic and Social Council. Just a few weeks ago we had our EU –China Round Table in Hangzhou. Our declaration adopted by the end of our discussions in April focused on sustainable urban development. Our two rapporteurs, Evelyne Pichenot on the European side, and Professor Zou Ji on the Chinese side, have done a huge work together.
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The moment for this conference is very well chosen. Only some days ago negotiators from all over the world gathered again at United Nations headquarters in New York for so-called informal contacts trying to prepare agreements that enable the world community to shape the future we want.
Because we have to be aware that they are negotiating on our behalf and on behalf of our grand-children about the future we all want to have on our planet. Therefore they need to get our messages about what it is what we actually want and that we care and don't let them go home without a result!
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.
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 inter-generational equity.
We do not need more recommendations, but a green economy roadmap which political leaders need to commit to, 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.
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.