Statement by Amina Mohamed, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNEP Deputy Executive Director at the 66th Session of the General Assembly Informal Thematic Debate of the UNGA on Road to Rio +20 and Beyond Thu, May 24, 2012

It is an honour for me to contribute to this important Informal Thematic Debate on the Road to Rio +20 and Beyond.

Mr President, our distinguished panelists, delegates,ladies and gentlemen:

It is an honour for me to contribute to this important Informal Thematic Debate on the Road to Rio +20 and Beyond. The road to Rio +20 is littered with crises - and the sustainability crisis encapsulates all challenges: social, economic and environmental.

The day after Rio +20 - 23 June - the world will be nursing a massive hangover of crises. It's what we do from the Day After and beyond that will determine how successful sustainable development eventually becomes.

Mr President, the sustainability crisis is a threat to what we hold dear: the life we value; the way we develop; and the world on which we depend for our well-being. But a crisis is an opportunity to weave the strands of national interests into a strong cord of common interest: a secure world free from want and deprivation.

I believe that this informal thematic debate today is one of the most strategic ways to plan for the Day After and Beyond. The UN, General Assembly has a critical role and is the fora for universal engagement to identify common interests sensitive to national aspirations. There is therefore a huge expectation that the General Assembly will rise to the occassion

Below the GA, are other equally important structures of the United Nations, which provide member states with the opportunity for more focused discussion on common challenges and achieve consensus on collective action. Ultimately, national ownership and implementation will determine our collective success.

At the level of UNEP, the Governing Council is the fora mandated by the General Assembly to, among others, keep under review the world environmental situation and ensure that emerging environ¬mental problems of wide international significance receive appropriate and adequate consideration by Governments.

Established 40 years ago in 1972, the international community agrees that strengthening UNEP is critical to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The strengthening of UNEP has been on the UN agenda - in the General Assembly, GC and other fora - for decades now. Rio +20 will determine the level of ambition and political will to anchor UNEP so that it can effectively discharge its mandate as the principal United Nations body in the field of the environment, and to be the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda.

Strengthening entails the respect which comes with legitimate authority and the means to turn policy into tangible results on the ground. Policy on its own is no substitute for effective implementation. For example, in the 40 years since UNEP was established, the Governing Council has adopted about 700 decisions and four declarations on environmental challenges. They are building blocks for sustainability, but responsibility to act goes hand-in-hand with responsibility to deliver. Sustainable and reliable resources are critical to delivery.

Finally, Mr President, we in UNEP, stand ready to work in service of UN member states in discharging our responsibilities within the environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Thank you Mr President.

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