Lawrence J. Gumbiner
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Initial discussions on the zero draft of outcome document
NewYork City
January 25, 2012

UNCSD preparatory process
January 25-27, 2012

Thank you Chair and thank you Secretariat for your superb efforts.

Drafting this document was undoubtedly a complicated job in reflecting priorities and balancing many different interests. There are many aspects of this draft that we appreciate, particularly its focus on ideas that enjoy broad consensus. On specific subject areas, we will come back with more specific and sectoral comments as we move through the document. But for these purposes, allow us to make some overarching remarks.

Most importantly we believe we must first step back and consider the overall purpose of the outcome document. Our outcome at Rio+20 needs to be inspiring to individuals and groups around the world. To be effective it needs not only to reflect the goals and aspirations of member states, but to speak to the average citizens who will read our statement in millions of homes and communities around the world. To accomplish this, we need a document that is short, concise and written with language that is understandable to, and resonates with, the general public.

The global communities of 2012 are connected in a manner unimaginable in 1992. Technological and scientific advances have generated greater awareness among our citizens today than at anytime in history about our shared planet and the responsibility of all individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments to pursue a sustainable future. The outcome must reflect this new reality, and prioritize governments’ responsibility to create enabling environments for citizens and the institutions that they are a part of to take the action to achieve this future.

To achieve sustainable development we all must prioritize efficiency and improved productivity of the resources we use. This includes improving our human resources by investing in education and research. We as Governments have a responsibility for providing enabling environments to promote job creation and encourage investment and innovation, including strong intellectual property rights protection. The conversation on technology transfer needs to be reframed at Rio+20 to reflect technology development in today’s world. New technologies are being accessed daily by citizens, businesses and organizations throughout the planet, from the developing to developed worlds. This was made possible through the power of private investment and innovation and the active partnership of scientists, entrepreneurs, and governments dedicated to improving the lives of people in all walks of life. We should focus on ideas that work in today’s world, such as capacity building for developing countries to adapt technology and policy environments that spur innovation and private investment in green technologies.

Linked to this, we encourage a greater recognition of the role of science and technology in enabling Sustainable Development in the final outcome document. We should work together to develop science and technology policies that foster research and innovation that will lead to solutions to meet local challenges.

We must also acknowledge that sustainable development is an urgent task for all countries. Our discussions are too often dominated by a preoccupation with the outdated North-South divide. In reality, this gap – and our differences – is shrinking rapidly as development takes hold, albeit at varying rates, in all corners of the world. We should focus on partnership, inclusion, and cooperation rather than false distinctions between countries.

We also believe that the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and natural resources is fundamental for sustainable development, progress towards a green economy, and the improvement of human well-being, and should be a part of our conversations.

To achieve sustainable development, we must leverage the full potential of one-half of the world’s population – women. Gender equality and women’s empowerment cannot be relegated to a separate, isolated mention, and we will seek inclusive references to women and gender in the outcome document.

Finally, information and science are critical to guide policy decisions and inform development planning, including at local levels where decisions affecting citizens’ lives are often taken. It is critical that Governments collect and assess data on economic, social, and environmental issues and make information available in an understandable format. They should enhance transparency, public participation in decision making, accountability, and institutional arrangements for effective implementation and enforcement. Good governance, the rule of law and equal administration of justice, transparent institutions and strong civil societies empower individuals and spur sustainable development outcomes. When governments are accountable to their people, countries prosper.

In conclusion, we are committed to assuring a groundbreaking Rio+20 Conference, one that provides the opportunity to bring together all actors in the global community to chart a sustainable pathway for our future. We are just embarking on this discussion of the outcome document, but wish to emphasize that the global community will be focused on a Rio+20 that is more than a sum of its parts.

The outcome document, the Compendium of Commitments that we all emerge from Rio with, and the wealth of events on the margins of the meeting are essential components of a successful Rio+20.