Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma has returned from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, which focused on the green economy and institutional arrangements for sustainable development.
The President arrived back in Pretoria from the three-day summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday.
"The Rio+20 negotiations discussed and assessed progress and implementation gaps of the outcomes of major summits on sustainable development, and focused its main business on two key themes of the conference, namely, the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as well as institutional arrangements for sustainable development," said the Presidency.
A commitment to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals that should be coherent with the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015 as well the establishment of an intergovernmental process under the UN General Assembly to assess financing needs were some of the key achievements that were central to South Africa's negotiating position.
Other key achievements include the consideration of effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing financial instruments with the view of developing an effective sustainable development financing strategy to facilitate mobilisation of resources, with this work set to be concluded by 2014.
Additionally the outcome of Rio + 20 affirmed that green economy policies can be undertaken by interested parties, based on their national sustainable development strategies to advance their transition to sustainable development.
Developing countries choosing to undertake this route will need the necessary technical and technological support.
The conference discussed key sectoral issues that include energy, the green economy, financing for development and an array of environment, oceans and seas, water, poverty eradication, sustainable cities as well as sustainable consumption and production were negotiated and actions to advance sustainable development in those areas were agreed to.
On institutional arrangements, Rio+20 advanced negotiations spanning more than a decade by agreeing to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme and to establish an intergovernmental high level forum for sustainable development.
The conference called for financial institutions to integrate sustainable development programmes into their programmes and planning and agreed to establish a process leading to an international financing mechanism by 2014.
"The conference outcomes have refocused the attention of world leaders to the daunting challenges of addressing global poverty, inequality, and the deterioration state of the environment and human development, by adopting a Political Declaration and a Framework for Action.
"The latter will require countries both collectively and within the UN as individual member states to step up efforts in meeting the Millennium Development Goals," said the Presidency.
President Zuma was accompanied by the Ministers of Water Affairs and Environment, Edna Molewa; International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Finance, Pravin Gordhan; Energy, Dipuo Peters; and Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.
Prior to the Rio + 20 conference, Zuma attended the G20 Summit in Mexico.