Rio De Janeiro — Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has reaffirmed his administration's commitment to sustainable development.
In his speech at the plenary session of the ongoing UN Conference on "Sustainable Development", in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, the President reaffirmed his administration's determination to create greater employment opportunities for Nigerians.
"In our sustainable development agenda, under our medium to long term National Plans, we have developed several sectoral initiatives, particularly in agriculture, petroleum, solid minerals, power supply, and renewable energy.
"The initiatives also covers trade and investment, water and sanitation, according priority to environmental and wider development issues.
"Our goal is simply to create more jobs and opportunities for our people to rise out of poverty, and to create wealth to ensure sustainable development," the President said.
Noting that the presence of many world leaders at the Summit gave credence to the fact that global cooperation was necessary for ensuring sustainable global development.
Jonathan said the leaders had an obligation to eradicate poverty and promote green economies for sustainable development.
"For us in Africa, the Green Economy is an agenda for growth, wealth creation and employment generation. We believe that the promotion of a Green Economy must be underlined by clear national objectives, social and economic development imperatives and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals,"the President said.
He drew attention to the constraints to sustainable development in Africa by challenges such as the global financial crisis, migration, rapid urbanisation, the energy and food crisis, low resistance to natural disasters, desertification and the loss of the eco-system resulting from climate change.
Jonathan called for more assistance from the rich and developed nations of the world to help African countries to cope with these challenges.
"While we recognise that the developing countries have primary responsibility for implementing their own sustainable development agenda, there is no doubt that they need the support of the international community to achieve these objectives.
"In effect, Rio+20 can only be seen to be successful if the thorny issue of the means of its implementation is adequately addressed.
"We must bridge the yawning gaps undermining the fulfilment of international commitments on sustainable development, especially in areas of finance, external debt, trade and investment, capacity building and technology development,"Jonathan stressed.
He added: "Today, we have a unique opportunity to reshape the future and redefine the relationship between human advancement and environmental sustainability, by ensuring that we join, in a collective effort, to reduce the conflict between human development and environmental conservation.
"Twenty years ago at the 'Earth Summit', we made a number of pledges. Today, twenty years later, it is evident, that there is still a lot more that we need to do. Working together to develop 'green economies' offers us a greater chance of a sustainable future.
"And that work must be intensified now."
"As our challenges are collective, both in nature and consequence, our responses must also be collective, for them to have the desired impact.
"And because the circumstances that confront us are extraordinary, the kind of change that is needed must also be extraordinary. To serve as a catalyst to advance this, Nigeria believes that the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, should be strengthened," he said.
Jonathan said that this had become imperative to make UNEP a more robust UN agency dedicated to advancing environmental and sustainable development issues.
The UN Conference, due to round off Friday, attracted over 100 heads of state and government, thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers of organisations and the media.