Remarks by Achim Steiner at Brazil's Presidential Palace on World Environment Day 2012 Tue, Jun 5, 2012

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Brasilia, 5 June 2012 - H E Dilma Rousseff, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil,

Isabella Texeira, Minister of the Environment of Brazil, Honourable ministers, distinguished guests, ambassadors, colleagues, dear friends,

Your Excellency, thank you for giving us the honour of sharing World Environment Day 2012 with your government and your guests in this historic setting of the Palacio do Planalto.

We meet just weeks before the Rio+20 Summit when over 130 world leaders will join you in Rio de Janeiro to forge a decisive and defining response to the challenges but also the opportunities of our contemporary world.

Let me here also recognize UN Under-Secretary General Sha Zukang, who carries the heavy burden of running the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012,

Excellency, World Environment Day, a global celebration embracing all countries and all cultures is no stranger to Brazil.

Two decades ago and linked with the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 Brazil also hosted World Environment Day under theme Only One Earth.

In a rapidly changing world, some things do surprisingly remain the same-we indeed only have one Earth.

But the way we can articulate and envision the solutions to the dilemmas all peoples face can change, in part because the perspectives alive in the world have changed too.

In 1992 we glimpsed the challenges, debated the scenarios and built upon the agreements that had been put in place since the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972.

Today that future has or is fast becoming part of the present-we live in a world transformed geopolitically as well as socially, economically and environmentally.

Climate change is real and present danger to the future of our societies and economies; food security and ecosystem services are under threat, poverty and inequity in a globally interdependent economy are threatening the social fabric of our societies as never before.

Indeed the answers promulgated from the past have to date seen no resolution to the future if sustainable development is the measuring stick.

True, millions have been lifted out of poverty as a result of globalization. But there has been a cost.

The disparity between rich and poor within countries and between nations has in many ways grown.


tomorrow UNEP will launch its Global Environmental Outlook-5-a state of the environment report involving hundreds if not thousands of scientists around the globe.

It will unsurprisingly to some underline that in far too many dimensions and in far too many areas the nature-based services upon which nations depend are heading slowly but surely into the red.

But Excellency,

your country as host of both World Environment Day and Rio+20 has a lot it can offer a world looking for answers.

Brazil under President Lula, and expanded and evolved under your Presidency, has pioneered a range of inspiring initiatives from the Hunger Zero programme to Bosa Floresta.

And your pioneering of the ethanol economy when many said it could not be done-in doing this Brazil has reduced the environmental footprint linked with the need for mobility and in doing so has generated jobs and livelihoods: an inclusive Green Economy measure if ever there was one.

UNEP's Green Economy report, a contribution to Rio+20, cites Brazil's recycling policies that already generate returns of $2 billion a year, while avoiding 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions; a fully recycling economy here would be worth 0.3 per cent of GDP.

On 11 June, UNEP in collaboration with others will release findings from its annual assessment of world-wide investments in clean energy.

It will spotlight the transformative policies that are catalyzing the uptake of wind power in Brazil and other renewable resources that are fast tracking a future of more diverse energy generation.

The world has watched and noted also the extraordinary efforts Brazil has undertaken in conservation and sustainable management of the Amazon-the reductions in the rate of deforestation place Brazil as perhaps the country with the biggest cuts in greenhouse gases in recent years.

Your Excellency,

The two overarching themes of Rio+20 are the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

And an Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development-which also speaks to Brazil's long standing commitment to multilateralism.

And the reform of the UN system to meet the challenges and opportunities of this very changed world including those organs of the UN responsible for realizing all three pillars of sustainable development in an ever more complex and interdependent world.

As we enter the final lap of Rio+20, some nations outline the urgency to eradicate poverty and others to conserve natural resources and reduce humanity's environmental footprint.

But perhaps through the lens of the inclusive Green Economy nations are recognizing that these are not irreconcilable positions, but sides of the same coin.

An outcome at Rio+20 that does not address poverty is no outcome at all.

But an outcome that fails to address the economic models that propel a mining operation of planet Earth is equally no road to Rio, but a road to nowhere and especially for the poor and the vulnerable.

This inclusiveness-a key tenant of Brazil's position-is reflected in UNEP's theme for WED: Green Economy: Does It Include You?

Indeed it does and can increasingly can do so if we embrace such a transition.

Only last week the International Labour Organization, the trades unions and UNEP published an insight on its green jobs work.

The new report concludes that a transformation to a greener economy could generate 15 to 60 million additional and new kinds of jobs and livelihoods globally over the next two decades while lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty.


again our deepest thanks for inviting us to your 'home' and thank you again for inviting UNEP to share in your key announcements on World Environment Day 2012.

In celebrating World Environment Day in Brazil in 2012, we are returning to the roots of contemporary sustainable development in order to forge a new path that reflects the realities but also the opportunities of a new century.

In celebrating World Environment Day in Brazil, we recognize that in a new world the leadership and the answers to the globe's challenges are being formulated in an ever more diverse range of nations and peoples than has ever been the case in the history of humanity.

Excellency, as we look forward to Rio+20 please be assured that the UN system including UNEP and from the UN Secretary-General to the humblest staff member is-as you are-committed to make the Summit the success it needs to be.

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