Nairobi — World environment ministers have committed to make the forthcoming Rio+20 conference on sustainable development a success.
The ministers and representatives from close to 150 countries who attended the 12th UNEP governing council meeting in Gigiri, said the conference would offer a unique opportunity to address the economic, social and environmental challenges in the context of sustainable development.
The Rio +20 conference set for June will be the 20th annual conference of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. This year's summit aims to reignite the commitment of world leaders to the cause and also recognises the significance of the 1992 Earth Summit.
"We commit to make Rio+20 a success and developing concrete actions to address the pressing environmental issues that we face as a global community," the ministerial statement read.
UNEP Governing Council President Federico Ramos de Armas from Spain said the three-day meeting had agreed that a Green Economy was the pathway to achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication and decent job creation.
"This is by increasing resource efficiency, supporting the shift to sustainable consumption and production patterns and facilitating low carbon development," he said.
However, some countries expressed concerns that a Green Economy could lead to trade protectionism and signaled that it was vital that more engagement across all sectors of society and between countries would be important to address these risks.
"Many of the activities under the Green Economy approach can provide new opportunities for women to become key players in the local economy, especially in the energy, land management and water sectors," the governing council president said.
Earlier on at a press conference, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner had said the Rio+20 conference must address the contentious issue of transitioning to Green Economies and create a pathway that countries could pursue.
Steiner said although the Green Economy transition was happening in certain sectors in a number of countries, the Rio+20 conference needed to come up with provisions especially for least developed countries that don't have technologies and industrial might.
"That is the discussion in Rio that needs to take place because if you do not address this issue, then I can guarantee you that the balance sheet in Rio+40 will be even worse and the success of countries around the world in implementing elements of this new ways of addressing the economic, environmental and social sustainable dimensions speak for themselves," Steiner said.
A green economy is one that results in improved human well being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
Steiner said the transition needed to be an inclusive process for all countries.
"But I can assure you, if anybody comes out of Rio and says that the Green Economy is not happening or is not going to happen, then they will have looked at a different world than we have and we have documented it black and white or green and white, ," he said.
The first Earth Summit in 1992 led to outcomes like the signing of climate change convention; convention on biological diversity and Agenda 21 document which was a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organisations within the UN system and governments.
Sustainable development is measured in three pillars- economic growth, human development and environmental protection.
"The world's ministers responsible for the environment have sent a clear signal to the Rio+20 summit. There needs to be an urgent focus on scaling up implementation of sustainable developments and that bold, transformative decisions need to be taken in four months' time in Brazil," Steiner said.
At the end of the governing council, governments also took several decisions on specific issues ranging from how best to bridge the environmental data gaps in the world and chemicals financing to a 10 year Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production.