Connecting poverty eradication and environmental sustainability is the ‘make or break’ for our future

Mar 18, 2013

Costa Rica is seen as a leader in sustainable development through ecotourism, reforestation. Photo: SGP Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica  – The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Mr. Carlos Roverssi, Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet Nicolas Hulot, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Helen Clark, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner opened today a conference on the role of environmental sustainability in the future development agenda that that will build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after their target date in 2015.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Mr. Carlos Roverssi said in his opening speech: “It is obvious that a single way to global sustainable development does not exist. Therefore, global guidelines and frameworks must show certain flexibility to allow each country, region or community to plan and execute their development activities according to their own local-specific characteristics, needs and expectations.”

“However, it is also necessary to provide a set of global guiding principles, based upon international agreements that will help those communities engage in a sustainable development deeply rooted on continuous improvement and conservation of their stock of natural capital,” added Roverssi.

Co-sponsored by the Governments of Costa Rica and France, and organized by UNDP and UNEP, this meeting brought together more than 100 participants from all over the world to explore how the environmental agenda can be integrated into the global development framework that is referred to as the ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda.’

“The imperative now is to move from a discourse focused on trade-offs between growth, poverty,and environment, to one which looks at how to advance the three strands of sustainable development together,” said Clark. “The world will not be able to sustain economic and social progress if the environment is wrecked.”

"We need to look at the ecological crisis we are faced with not only as a constraint, but also as an opportunity to leap forward. The crisis should not drive people apart, nor make them more unequal. A new and shared vision of mankind shall help us meet this challenge. Let us not doubt that this constraint is a unique opportunity to make progress more meaningful. The French President, my government and my country are fully committed to helping you succeed,” said Hulot.

“The Rio+20 outcome underlined that environmental challenges are at the root cause of poverty and that environmental opportunities are intertwined with economic and social pathways for achieving a sustainable future,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. “UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook 5 showed that of 90 internationally agreed environmental goals only four a showing real progress. It is time to move from outcome to implementation to meet the aspirations of seven billion people today and over nine billion in a very soon-to-arrive ‘tomorrow’. The Post 2015 sustainable development agenda affords an inordinate opportunity to build upon and evolve the Millennium Development Goals to achieve a transformation that is not only catalytic, inclusive and equitable but sustainable across the years and decades to come.”

The meeting in San Jose is part of a global conversation about priorities of the future development agenda. The initiative consists of almost 100 national consultations in member states; eleven thematic consultations on issues such as food security, access to water, and poverty reduction; people continue to contribute their ideas through the World We Want 2015 web site; and people vote for six out of 16 priorities for the Post-2015 agenda through the MY World survey.  

Findings from the global conversation will be delivered to the UN Secretary-General and world leaders, including the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Heads of State and Government attending the opening of the 2013 UN General Assembly, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, and other processes.

Contact information

Stanislav Saling, UNDP
Tel: +1 (646) 781-4077
Cell: +1 (917) 346-1955

Nick Nuttall, UNEP
Tel: +254 20 7623292
Cell: +254 (0) 733632755

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