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Opening Remarks by Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP during the 13th Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,

Dear Friends,

Am deeply honored to welcome you to this 13th Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum on the eve of the special session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.

It is now 40 years since the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden which led to the establishment of UNEP?an event and an outcome that would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of civil society.

It is also just four months to Rio+20 in Brazil - a conference and Summit that holds the promise of accelerating and scaling up the urgent transformations towards sustainable development that have been incubating in countries and communities since Stockholm 1972 and since Rio 1992.

This is the first time I am addressing this forum since taking up office as the Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.

Can I assure you that in my role here at UNEP, and in my previous capacity within the Government of the Republic of Kenya, civil society was and remains a crucial part of the fabric of sound policymaking and effective delivery.

Indeed there is little doubt that without the support and partnership of civil society in the decision - making process and in delivery on the ground, many governmental and intergovernmental decisions would barely have any impact.

I am glad to see that all regions of the world and all nine major groups are represented at this meeting.

Am equally pleased that this year we were able to attract more participation than in previous years. And I am sure that the collective expertise assembled in this room, will again contribute to make UNEP's Governing Council a success.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Among the many key issues at the Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum and its interface with GC/GMEF is the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document.

I know that many of you called for a more ambitious outcome document to which UNEP is committed to achieving.

However the zero draft, as it stands now is in our view a good starting point and foundation for an ambitious and result oriented outcome of Rio+20 under its twin themes of the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the International Framework for Sustainable Development.

Let us therefore work together to strengthen and enrich it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While UNEP is delighted to have evolved the concept of a Green Economy and mechanisms for coordinating a global analysis of how countries can kick start a transition to low carbon, resource efficient and job generating societies. But even then, we acknowledge that the original notion came from civil society itself.

Better still, the broad partnership of economists, academics, social scientists, cities, countries and international organizations cannot go unnoticed., It is unlikely that the conclusions and policy directions contained in the Green Economy report: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty, could have generated such interest and widespread support without their participation.

I must therefore mention that UNEP looks forward to you providing further insight and inspiration to this institution and to governments on how these pathways can be further refined and streamlined.

UNEP also appreciates your contribution onhow to reach out beyond these four walls to those groups and individuals who still have reservations - that a Green Economy is some kind of strait - jacket; an alternative Universe to sustainable development or a way of building eco - trade barriers.

It is UNEP's contention that while a Green Economy can resonate in all economies, it can benefit developing and least developed countries the most.

Equally, it must deliver social outcomes if it is to be a credible and supported concept as an 'implementer' of sustainable development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is also a great deal of animated debate about the second theme of Rio+20.

UNEP shares concerns that the International Framework must be more than environment - yet without a strengthening of International Environmental Governance, Rio+20 is likely to fall far short of its aims and aspirations.

As you may be aware, the latest assessment is that around 110 governments are supporting the upgrading of UNEP to an organization.

Other countries take a variety of positions from a strengthened UNEP but not to an organization; backing universal membership and a variety of other concerns.

This really is the moment for the voice of civil society to fully express its views, its aims and its requests to the Rio+20 Summit including the governance structure and inclusivity of any possible new entity

We live in a world where governments are no longer the only actors influencing the development path of this planet and its seven billion people. They should involve other major groups and stakeholders.

The question that we must then determine is the extent of involvement of these groups. In other words, what role could or should major groups play in any new institutional arrangements in order to strengthen the hand of the world's environment ministers and assist in realizing a sustainable 21st century? Enhancing the International Framework for Environmental Governance should also enhance the role played by civil society.

Another significant issue relates to how Rio+20 can equally deal with Principle 10 of the Rio 1992 Declaration: namely access to information - another promise from two decades ago that remains to be fulfilled for the vast majority of citizens.

In respect to this issue, UNEP believes that Rio+20 should at the very least initiate a process to look into establishing regional and global conventions on Principle 10 as well as the establishment of an Ombudsman for Future Generations.

Rio+20 has been described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a once in a generation opportunity to set the course and the compass for sustainable development.

A great deal has been achieved in partnership between UNEP and civil society to support national, regional and global ambitions towards sustainable development over 40 years.

But as UNEP's Global Environment Outlook-5 details - a summary for policymakers which will be launched here at the GC/GMEF in advance of the final full report scheduled for World Environment Day in June - too many of the sustainability dials are heading into the red.

There really is no time to lose, starting here today with the 13th Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am looking forward to engaging in your discussions and hearing your input into the GC/GMEF

You also have a pivotal role in assisting UNEP to think out of the box.

A pivotal role too to play beyond these few days: namely catalyzing and sensitizing your countries and communities - your media, families and friends - to the risks of inaction and the enormous opportunities for a sustainable future if leadership is shown in the run up to and at Rio+20 in June.

Thank you.