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.