Pacific Scoop

Ban Ki-moon warns countries over ’empty promises’ at Rio+20

Pacific leaders highlight key concerns. Video: Wasuka Media

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Makereta Komai in Rio de Janeiro

The global roadmap for sustainable development to be endorsed by world leaders here in Rio should be matched with actions, says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“While time is not on our side, world leaders must rise above narrow national interests. Global interests must be their own national interests.

“We must be united for our common good and united for unity,” pleaded Ban Ki Moon in his statement to 130 world leaders gathered at the Rio+20 conference in the Brazilian city.

World ‘expects more’
Ban said the world would have expected bolder and ambitious commitments from leaders.Rio + 50 logo

“Negotiations have been very difficult and slow, because of conflicting interests and ideas. Some have tried to be bolder while some parties have strongly expressed their own views and interests,” he told journalists.

“It has been such a long and delicate process of negotiations.”

As the convener for the Rio+20 conference he was encouraged by the strong leadership shown by Brazil in achieving the outcome now before world leaders.

“This political statement by world leaders, no matter how good, will mean nothing if these actions are not implemented.

“If these commitments are not translated into action, it means nothing. All these outcomes should be implemented without further delay.

“Twenty years ago in a breakthrough here in Rio, world leaders put sustainable development on the world map but those bold words and good intentions were not enough.

“We cannot continue to burn and consume our way to prosperity at the expense of the world’s poor and the global environment. Let us not forget that Rio +20 is about people who hope for real improvements in their daily lives for the poor, women and young people and future generations.”

SDG’s to heads
One of the achievements of Rio+20 will be the establishment of the universal sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Commenting on the draft outcomes text, the Secretary General of the Rio+20 conference Sha Zukang said the document will be put to heads of state today for adoption.

“Like all negotiations, there will be some countries that feel the text could be more ambitious. Or, others who feel their own proposals could be better reflected, while still others might prefer to have their own language,” he said.

“But, let’s be clear, multilateral negotiations require give and take.”

The agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilise financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production, among others.

It also stresses the need to include women, non-governmental organisations, and indigenous groups in the sustainable development agenda, and calls on the private sector to engage in sustainable corporate business practices.

‘Compromise needed’
In addition to the outcome text, there have been over 400 voluntary commitments for sustainable development by member states in the lead-up to the high-level meeting of Rio+20, which officially started on Wednesday with an address by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The spirit of compromise is the mark of a good consensus, and crucial if all countries are to be on board, take ownership, and share a collective commitment,” Mr Sha said. “This is the only way forward if we want to harness the necessary action for advancing together on a path of sustainable development.”

Rio+20’s high-level meeting runs until tomorrow and brings together over 100 heads of state and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

Makereta Komai is editor of Pacnews agency.

Coverage of Rio+20 is supported by a partnership between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme SPREP ( and the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme PACMAS ( and Conservation International Pacific Island.

Pacific Rio+20 team’s news blog