Ban at Rio+20: 'Time is not on our side'

June 21, 2012 at 3:59 PM
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RIO DE JANEIRO, June 21 (UPI) -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking Thursday at the Brazil U.N. Earth summit, announced more than 100 commitments on sustainable energy are in the works.

"Achieving sustainable energy for all is not only possible, but necessary -- it is the golden thread that connects development, social inclusion and environmental protection," Ban said at a news conference at Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro.

The Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched in September 2011, "brings together governments, businesses and civil society groups in an unprecedented effort to help make the world's energy systems more accessible, efficient and cleaner," the United Nations said in a release.

"This initiative is already mobilizing significant action from all sectors of society. Working together, we can provide solutions that drive economic growth, expand equity and reduce the risks of climate change," Ban said.

"Time is not on our side" to make economic growth and social progress truly serve humanity, Ban said earlier.

"We recognize that the old model for economic development and social advancement is broken," Ban told world leaders, development experts, bankers, academics and activists at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, popularly known as Rio+20, or the Rio Earth Summit 2012.

"Rio+20 has given us a unique chance to set it right ... to set a new course that truly balances the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable prosperity and human well-being," Ban said.

"The world is watching to see if words will translate into action as we know they must," he said.

"It's time for all of us to think globally and long term, beginning here now in Rio, for time is not on our side."

Ban told delegates he was disappointed a 53-page draft document agreed on by negotiators Tuesday is vague.

"Nature does not wait," he said. "Nature does not negotiate with human beings."

The document outlines aspirations for tackling environmental ills and lifting billions out of poverty through policies that nurture rather than squander natural resources.

But it sets no mandatory goals, and most timetables, targets, financing figures, methods of monitoring and clear language on commitments were stripped out.

On Friday, summit leaders are to approve the non-binding document, titled "The Future We Want."

"Some member states hoped for a bolder ambitious document," Ban told reporters. "I also hoped that we could have a more ambitious outcome document. But you should understand that negotiations have been very difficult and very slow because of all these conflicting interests.

"This is the outcome of a long and very delicate process. This is not the end. This is the beginning of a process," he said.

French President Francois Hollande described the draft as "a step" but "an insufficient step."

The Rio+20 commemorates the 20th anniversary of a landmark U.N. Earth Summit that produced a global framework on climate change and an agreement to protect biodiversity.

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