Remarks by Achim Steiner at Launch of Global Institute for Green Technology & Employment Mon, Jun 4, 2012

Rio de Janeiro, 4 June 2012 - UNEP welcomes Brazil’s commitment to accelerate a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient, job-generating Green Economy as a pathway to realizing sustainable development.

The urgency and the arguments as to why nations need to pursue such a path will be underlined in just two days’ time when UNEP and scientists across the globe release the findings of our Global Environment Outlook-5.

Its sobering analysis of where the world is and where it is heading without a fundamental shift in course asks each one of us on the eve of the Rio+20 Summit to look into the mirror and re-enthuse, re-engage and re-focus on the ambition of achieving sustainabity in the 21st century.

The establishment of the new Global Institute for Green Technology and Employment at the University of Rio de Janeiro puts Brazil and the State of Rio de Janeiro into a pioneering group of governments who are putting in place the institutions, infrastructure and centres of excellence needed to fast forward the ‘Future We Want’.

The news comes the day before the UN’s World Environment Day under the global theme Green Economy: Does it Include You?-it reflects the reality that a Green Economy transition should and must be as much people-centered as it needs to be environmentally and economically focused if its full potential is to be realized.

The naming of the new Institute with its emphasis on clean technologies and employment underlines the fact that Brazil and UNEP share that common vision and collective goal as the world looks to Rio+20 for leaders to agree on defining and implementing decisive outcomes.

Let me reiterate that while we know that greening the economy is not without risks and will demand leadership, the risks of remaining with the status quo and business as usual are far higher.  Indeed, UNEP’s Green Economy Report shows that, if properly designed, green economy strategies increase growth and income, and creating new jobs, while improving resource efficiency, reducing ecological footprints and enhancing social equity.

This potential is also confirmed in "Working towards sustainable development: Opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy"?a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), with UNEP, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) released just five days ago in Geneva and which it gives me great pleasure to launch today with my colleagues from the ILO, in an Executive Summary for policy makers in Portuguese.

It suggests that a transformation to a greener economy could generate 15 to 60 million additional jobs globally and lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty.  And those jobs will be had by those countries whose leaders have the foresight and vision to foster growth and income without destroying the underlying source of our wealth - the environment.

UNEP congratulates Brazil and the State of Rio de Janeiro on its vision and commitment to these pillars of a Green Economy transition and the emphasis on the building of skills and the education of workers into new clean-tech sectors.  UNEP is confident that the work of the Institute can provide a further beacon able to illuminate and accelerate the pathways to a sustainable century nationally, regionally and internationally.

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