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  • Published on: 21 Oct 2011
  • Source: UN Department of Public Information

Secretary-General's remarks on the Work of the Global Sustainability Panel
Before we begin, let me say a few words about this morning?s news headlines.

You have all seen reports of the death of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi and the end of fighting in Sirte and other cities. Clearly, this day marks an historic transition for Libya. In the coming days, we will witness scenes of celebration, as well as grief for those who lost so much.

Yet let us recognize, immediately, that this is only the end of the beginning. The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges. Now is the time for all Libyans to come together. Libyans can only realize the promise of the future through national unity and reconciliation. Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace.

This is the time for healing and rebuilding, for generosity of spirit, not for revenge. As Libya?s transitional authorities prepare the way for elections, and take the many other steps toward building their new nation, inclusion and pluralism must be the watchwords.

All Libyans must be able to recognize themselves in the nation?s Government and leadership. The high hopes sustained through the long days of revolution and conflict must translate into opportunities and justice for all.

I have just spoken to my Special Representative for Libya, Mr. Ian Martin, in Tripoli. The new United Nations Mission to Libya is on the ground and ready to assist Libya and its people along the path ahead.

Let us turn, now, to the vital issue before us today.

Just over one year ago, I established the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. Its members include some of the world?s most distinguished policymakers.

The President of the General Assembly and I thought it would be instructive to give you the opportunity to learn about and discuss the panel?s progress before its final meeting in December.

I asked the Panel to look at the fundamental drivers of change in the coming decades, to examine links between issues, and to provide recommendations for the future. Our goal is ambitious and necessary: to advance opportunity and equity for all, while preserving the natural capital that is the cornerstone of human well-being and development.

The world today faces challenges that make this work even more urgent than it was a year ago. Across the globe, economies are teetering. People are expressing widespread disillusion. We see distrust in institutions ? be they public or private ? a sense that the playing field is tilted in favour of entrenched interests and elites.

At the same time, the global thermostat continues to rise. Extreme weather is now becoming the new normal. Leaders need to make tough choices. We need to provide for the needs of today, while investing in the people, the planet, and the promise of tomorrow. I asked the Panel to look at these issues with a bold but pragmatic eye. We have little time to lose.

This month, the human family will welcome its 7 billionth member. By 2050, the global population could reach 9 billion, 50 per cent more than at the dawn of the century. Scientific tipping points could alter life as we know it, affecting our climate, the oceans and the existence of other species. We must learn to live in a sustainable manner so that this generation, and those that follow, will enjoy lives of dignity and greater opportunity.

The Panel has received inputs from many stakeholders. Its job is to be courageous, to draw on its members? political experience to provide a road map that policymakers, business leaders and civil society can use to build a viable and equitable future for all.

I thank most sincerely Presidents [Tarja] Halonen and [Jacob] Zuma for their leadership, and I look forward to their presentations today and the Panel?s report in January. I expect it to provide serious food for thought for all countries as we move toward the crucially important Rio+20 Conference [on Sustainable Development].

Rio is just around the corner. It will provide us with an opportunity to complete the unfinished business of 1992, support the completion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and chart a sustainable path to the future.

We must accelerate progress toward the MDGs and do all we can to achieve these targets by 2015. Meanwhile, we need to develop a new generation of sustainable development goals to pick up where the MDGs leave off.

This will require greater accountability and good governance by all. Equity will need to become more fully integrated into our institutions and our policies. The role of the State in advancing this agenda is fundamental.

We need to make sustainable development a reality ? in the marketplace, in the halls of government, and in our daily lives.

I count on your leadership and support.

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