kristy Global Citizen

New York, Jun 13 2012 6:05PM
The civil movements that have taken place over the past months in the Middle
East, Europe and elsewhere reflect a global call for a sustainable future, a
United Nations official said today, stressing that governments should listen
to their citizens and implement greener policies that that take into the
account people’s well-being.

“The world witnessed an Arab Spring, we saw people Occupy Wall Street and
other places. People took to the streets in Europe – at the core of all of
these social uprisings has been a demand for people to be able to live in
dignity, to have a sustainable quality of live and be able to pass that to
their children,” the Executive Coordinator of the UN Conference on
Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Henrietta Elizabeth Thompson, said in an
interview in Rio de Janeiro.

“The people of the world are asking for sustainable development, however
they define it. They may not use that expression but what they are asking
for is sustainable development,” she added.

More than 100 heads of State and government, along with thousands of
parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil
society leaders are expected to attend Rio+20, from 20 to 22 June, to shape
new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity
and environmental protection.

The last round of talks on finalizing agreement on the draft outcome
document for the Conference started today, putting more pressure on
countries to accelerate negotiations before the plenary meetings next
Wednesday. Ms. Thompson, who has been working for two years on the event, is
helping to facilitate the talks for the next three days.

“We are very concerned that the public thinks of this process as transparent
and that we continue to keep people informed on what is happening,” she
said, adding that during this last round of talks various countries will be
leading groups on thematic issues such as water, oceans, food and energy, in
an attempt to “break the deadlock” that has stalled negotiations.

In spite of slow progress, Ms. Thompson said she was optimistic about the
overall outcome of Rio+20 as the future of the global community is at stake.

“Politicians understand that they have to deliver and if you look at recent
elections, those governments that have been in place in the wake of the
financial and social crisis have fallen, so politicians understand that we
cannot come out of Rio and say to the expectant people of the world ‘We have
nothing to offer,’ she said. “I believe they are going to rise to the
challenge of delivering on the Rio agenda.”

Rio+20 follows on from the Earth Summit in 1992, also held in Rio de
Janeiro, during which countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink
economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
For more details go to UN News Centre at