Address by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma to Member States on The Global Sustainability Panel
20 October 2011
I thank my co-chair President Halonen, for her excellent overview of the Panelís work.
I will not elaborate further on her good comments concerning the report as it currently stands.
Instead, I would like to make a few comments concerning the context in which the Panel is conducting its work.
In particular Iíd like to focus on the timeliness and relevance of the Panelís report for these turbulent times in which we live.
I would also like to say a few words on its significance, in particular for developing countries.
The Panelís work is more important than ever given the multiple crises now enveloping the world.
The economic models of the past have run out of steam and out of time. With the world slipping further into recession, policymakers are hungry for ideas that can help them navigate these shifting waters and chart a more stable, prosperous course.
In this climate of uncertainty, the Panel has a unique opportunity to offer up bold recommendations to policymakers.
We have to emphasise that sustainable development is about finding a more equitable, cost effective path to long-term prosperity in the 21st century.
It is about forging a better future in a world buffeted by volatility and environmental constraints.
This is one reason why the Panelís work is particularly relevant for developing countries.
Because when we speak of the future, be it in terms of economic growth and opportunity, population dynamics, or resource usage, we are primarily talking about the developing world.
From our work on the Panel, it is clear that Rio+20 must be about far more than the environment. The sustainable agenda is about equity, the economy, and the environment as an integrated whole.
From this, it follows that we need stakeholders from across the spectrum at Rio+20 Ė not just environment ministers, but finance, trade, social welfare, and other senior officials as well as civil society and private sector leaders.
As Panel co-chair, I welcome the opportunity to help shape an agenda for sustainable development for decades to come.
As President of the Country hosting COP17, I also welcome the opportunity to address climate change through the broader framework of sustainable development.
We are all familiar with the list of challenges now confronting us.
Rising food and fuel prices, climate change and more extreme weather, energy insecurity, poverty, youth unemployment, economic recession Ė these issues exacerbate social unrest and political instability in many countries, particularly those that are still developing.
But this is also a time of tremendous opportunity for developing countries.
Many of the most exciting policies and sustainability initiatives are happening in our countries.
The global agenda is now being shaped by developing countries serving in leadership roles.
This December, my country will host the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 17.
Rio+20, the sustainable development conference, will be hosted by Brazil.
We therefore need to find the sustainable paths to growth. We must reduce social inequalities that foment unrest.
We must provide more employment opportunities for the youth, improve energy efficiency and energy security, and manage the resources wisely for long-term prosperity in a climate-constrained world.
Only by addressing these issues comprehensively can we hope to bring greater opportunity to all, both today and tomorrow.
Thatís what the Panel is seeking to do. I welcome your interest in our work and look forward to your feedback.
I thank you.