Side-event: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Rio+20

Jan 26, 2012

Introductory Statement by Ambassador Wittig at a side-event hosted by the German and Kenyan Mission on Rio+20, German House

(as delivered)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour to welcome you all to the German house this evening and after a long day full of discussions.

It is a special pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to Ambassador Kamau, who is co-hosting this discussion with me and will adress you in a minute on today´s issue.

Over the last two days you have all embarked on a very ambitious process: the first discussion of the zero draft for the Rio outcome document, which should result in a forward-looking, ambitious and action-oriented document, that would pave the way for sustainable development in the 21st century.

In his presentation of the five year agenda for his second term in office yesterday, the Secretary General has put sustainable development at the top of his agenda. And there is every reason to that: Achieving sustainable development is a fundamental precondition for lasting peace and security. The Rio-Conference must be a milestone in advancing sustainable development and preparing our world for a better future. And it has to prove, that the UN can deliver.

As we all agree, sustainable development needs an appropriate Institutional framework. There are different options in the zero draft on IFSD, which will be discussed in depth in the weeks and months ahead.

A very important part of the Institutional Framework for Sustainable development is the institutional setting for the environmental dimension of sustainable development.

The zero draft contains two options you are all familiar  with: a first – I would call it “low-ambitious” -  option of strengthening UNEP by establishing universal membership and increasing its financial base, and a second option, which is aiming high and has gained more and more support over the last months: the proposal to upgrade UNEP to a specialized agency, based in Nairobi. Not only the European Union, but also the African Union and many countries from Asia – all in all more than 100 countries - are favouring this proposal. This is a very strong and clear signal that Rio should be ambitious not only when it comes to advancing sustainable development, but also when it comes to creating the right and apprpriate institutional setting.

I have the honour now to introduce to you Mr. Jochen Flassbarth, President of the German Federal Environment Agency, who will adress you on the case for a specialized agency for the environment in Nairobi. Mr. Flassbarth is a former Director-General at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and former President of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity. He holds a degree in economics from the university of Bonn. 

After Mr. Flassbarth, Ambassador Kamau will give us the Kenyan perspective. And then I am looking forward to a very lively and interesting discussion on this topic.

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