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Achim Steinerís statement at the 2nd Special Session of the Committee on Science and Technology and 9th Session of the Committee for the Review and Implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Statement delivered by Stephen Twomlow, Senior Program Officer Biodiversity and Land Degradation, UNEP- GEF, on behalf of the UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner

16 - 25 February 2011

Bonn, Germany

Distinguished delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honor for me to deliver this statement, on behalf of Mr. Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, at this Second Special Session of the Committee on Science and Technology and Ninth Session of the Committee for the Review and Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) here in Bonn.

Let me start by offering apologies from Mr Steiner for not being here with you in person, but as many of you will be aware UNEP as its GC/GMEF starting today in Nairobi, with a strong theme on Rio plus 20. Yes, nearly 20 years on, we are again traveling the Road to Rio and the twin themes forming the pillar of the discussions in Nairobi for the coming week echo the agenda next year in Brazil.

The Green Economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and an International Framework for Sustainable Development, including International Environmental Governance (IEG).

Thus this week's meeting in Nairobi of the ministers responsible for the environment takes on special meaning and a special responsibility. It is no longer a question of if we should act, or that it would even be sensible to act, we live in an age of the imperative to act.

Rio+20 represent a real opportunity to mature and to evolve the sustainable development landscape from a 20th century of potential threats to meet a 21st century of real and all too tangible challenges-economic, environmental and social. The decisions taken over this year and next are also likely to define in whole or in part the future of both UNEP and UNCCD within the UN system and beyond.

In doing so, it will define not only the direction of sustainable development for many years to come, but the scope and contribution of environment ministers to sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Today UNEP is launching Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication-A Synthesis for Policymakers-part of a larger macroeconomic report that is being made available today on-line and for comment by governments, the private sector and civil society.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has already stated his intent to inject the findings into the work of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability that is also informing preparations for Rio+20.

Today's report, a collaborative effort with experts, UN agencies including the International Labour Organisation and civil society, is neither the final say nor is it a preliminary draft. The report is designed as a review and an analysis of where the current economic models have brought us.

These are contrasted against the 'green shoots of a green economy' that are literally sprouting across the globe, with focus on ten key sectors in developed and developing economies alike.

It cites India where over 80 per cent of the $8 billion National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which underwrites at least 100 days of paid work for rural households, invests in water conservation, irrigation and land development.

This has generated three billion working days-worth of employment benefiting close to 60 million households

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© Samira Chalal



Further Resources

Coordinating Global Action to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation

UN Convention to Combat Desertification

UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification


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