Achim Steiner on Mobilizing African Leadership for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
Statement delivered at the African Union Commission -United Nations Environment Programme -UN Economic Commission for Africa -African Development Bank Round Table on Rio+20
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, 29 June 2011 - H.E. Mr. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of Republic of the Congo and heads of state from across Africa
Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission
Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, Under-Secretary-General and Executive
Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Mr Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank
Thank you for inviting me to this important meeting and roundtable in the presence of such distinguished and knowledgeable speakers and guests.
We are here to contribute to the focusing and formulating of Africa's collective position on Rio+20 in Brazil next June.
Rio+20 can be another date in the long and demanding international calendar of events-or it can be an opportunity for this generation of world leaders to catalyze a paradigm shift in Africa's 21st century growth and its cooperative relationships across the developing and developed world.
Africa is a region with perhaps the most to gain from a world-wide shift towards a Green Economy.
- An abundance of the kinds of natural resources that in many other parts of the world are becoming constrained and highly sought after including 40 per cent of the world's biodiversity and 16 per cent of world forest cover.
- The potential for generating high levels of clean, sustainable and renewable energies able to propel lives and livelihoods in a way that maximizes development and minimizes humanity's pollution footprints nationally and internationally while combating poverty.
- An opportunity to broaden the economic sectors from oil, minerals and agricultural 'extraction' to sectors that meet the needs of one billion Africans now and an estimated 2 billion by 2050 while supplying global markets with the goods and services likely to be in demand over the coming decades
- An opportunity too to find better, decent 'green jobs' for the 10 million new young people a year looking for work in areas from natural resource management to sustainable agriculture and high-tech, clean tech jobs that are likely to grow 21st century economies but in a way that keeps humanity's footprint within planetary boundaries.
In short, Rio+20 could represent an evolution of sustainable development that recognizes and values Africa's assets in a way that reflects the economic, social and environmental realities of a world markedly different from Rio 1992.