Remarks by Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director UNEP On the Occasion of the Launch of the Global Environment Outlook-5 Report in Chinese di, sep 4, 2012

Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I am here today to launch the Chinese language edition of the Global Environment Outlook-5 (GEO-5).

Let me extend my gratitude to the Elion Green Foundation and its support for this translation-a translation that will assist enormously in transmitting the findings of GEO-5 to the Chinese people and policymakers across the globe.

It will, I am sure, also assist you in taking forward your excellent work on environmental sustainability including improved management of drylands and arid areas; local community development and education in Inner Mongolia.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are many, many reports on the state of the environment, on trends and the way forward. GEO-5 is special, however.

The three years it has taken to produce this report has involved almost 600 science and policy experts from across the globe.

It is the most comprehensive and impartial assessment of its kind.

The report was targeted at the Rio+20 Summit which took place in Rio de Janiero in June. It served as a reminder that while the globe has many aims and aspirations and many agreements and treaties covering the atmosphere to the oceans, the collective response is falling far short of the challenges.

And yet GEO-5 underlines by a legion of case studies that many countries, cities and communities are pursuing sustainable paths and projects.

The challenge and the opportunity are to accelerate and to scale these up to secure the future for seven billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050.

Did world leaders listen to the scientists and put in place the kinds of actions and implementation policies necessary at Rio+20?

Did the outcome document - The Future We Want -echo to GEO-5's sobering conclusions and inspiring ways foreword`?

In part yes - there are in the seeds of the Rio+20 decisions some quite powerful new frontiers to be explored and if backed fully by governments, business and civil society could take the sustainable development agenda significantly forward.

The upcoming UN General Assembly will begin a process to produce a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to compliment the poverty-related Millennium Development Goals post 2015.

The SDGs will bring both the developed and developing world into cooperative goal setting, recognizing the reality that sustainable development is everyone's business.

Sustainable procurement by governments and local authorities was backed by Rio+20 - the spending policies of states and cities can play a big role in tipping markets into the sustainability space in areas from sustainable energy to sustainable fisheries and timber.

Corporate sustainability reporting was also taken forward at Rio+20 and nations approved a Ten Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption covering sectors from tourism to the way we produce and consume food.

The Green Economy is now accepted as an important took for realizing a sustainable century - a point that is already shaping the thinking and pathways of many economies including China with its 2011-2015 National Economic and Social Development plan and its emphasis on reducing energy intensity by 16 per cent; reducing carbon intensity by 17 per cent and increasing forest cover by 1.3 per cent over 2010 levels.

After 40 years of discussion and debate, governments agreed to strengthen and upgrade UNEP including with universal membership and improved funding - thank you also to the Government of China for moving swiftly to increase its voluntary support for UNEP announced at Rio+20.

Strengthening of the science-policy interface is also a key outcome of Rio+20 - because UNEP and the United Nations as a whole, through reports such as GEO-5, do not simply wish to be a compiler and librarian of environmental destruction and decay.

When the world's scientists speak, that collective voice of wisdom and authority needs to be heard and to be acted upon by policymakers if the world is serious about its sustainability.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are living in exciting times as governments and wider society takes the Future We Want into the future we need.

GEO-5, including now in this Chinese language version, will continue to serve as a reminder of the reasons and the urgency to act.

Equally its remarkable examples of where the difference is already being made can also shape the dialogue at the UN General Assembly and beyond - providing courage and confidence that change is possible and empowering transformative actions that can move every man, woman and child forward.

UNEP will continue to keep the global environment under review through assessments like GEO-5.

Perhaps today, as a result of scientific assessments like GEO-5, summits such as Rio+20 and on-the-ground measures being taken by communities everywhere through foundations like Elion Green, we can look forward to reports that are less about where we are going wrong and more about how we are rapidly going right as a result of the innovative policies, commitments and actions put in place in 2012.

 
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