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Steiner addresses the 64th Annual UN DPI NGOs Conference

Bonn, 3 September 2011—Thank you for inviting me to address this important meeting.

Unequivocally and unreservedly the process that is leading to Rio+20 needs not only the voice but the passion, experience, vision, creativity and determination of civil society.

Without your involvement and without the broad alliance represented in this room bringing its full potential and focus, this process is unlikely to succeed in terms of delivering a defining, decisive outcome.

Major groups, from women and trades unions to the private sector, environmental NGOs and indigenous peoples, know more than anyone that we live in an increasingly unequal world; that the environmental services upon which we all depend—and especially the poor—are also fast hitting limits as a result of decades of pollution, damage and degradation.

Enlightened sections of the private sector can already see the writing on the wall—we live on a planet where climate change and the loss of productive ecosystems can and will increasingly disrupt global supply chains.

Those of you who work in communities and on the ground daily confront the mismatch between the ambition of the Stockholm Conference of 1972 and the Rio Earth Summit of almost 20 years ago and the reality of today.

An extraordinary level of achievement has occurred in some areas—millions have been lifted out of poverty in places like China and India and the world's network of protected areas for example has grown substantially.

But the development path of the intervening years has by-passed far too many; brought prosperity to the few rather than the majority and is running an ecological bill that is paid by the poor and the vulnerable every day and will ultimately be picked up by the coming generation.

The status quo is simply a road to nowhere rather than a Road to Rio 2012.

The Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication stirs strong emotions-this can only be welcome, we need a strong and animated discourse but only so long as it is more light than heat that is generated.

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Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secreraty General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme