Rio de Janeiro, 21 June 2012 – “Rio+20 was a step in the right direction, but many more steps will need to be taken”, Austrian State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner said at the Rio+20 Summit on Environment and Development. “It is obvious that we still have to master major challenges as far as our environment, climate and global sustainable development are concerned. The final document of the conference is, however, the outcome of an international balancing of interests and as such, of course, a compromise”, the State Secretary continued. “During the preliminary negotiation phase, the EU was highly ambitious and visionary. Some, although not all, objectives and expectations of the European Union are reflected in the outcome of the summit thanks to our shared commitment. And therefore the EU has unanimously voted in favour of the final document.”
In his final speech at the UN plenary session, the State Secretary underlined that Austria, too, would have preferred a more ambitious text, but he also said that Rio has prepared the ground for further processes of sustainable development. The international community of states agreed, for example, to support the initiative of the UN Secretary General on “Sustainable Energy for All” and to work out Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in addition to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over the next two years.
“It was important to us that international attention was again directed to the environment and sustainable development. The many thousands of people who have gathered here in Rio are important multipliers for the further development of processes of sustainable development, the implementation of the MDGs, the drafting of the SDGs, the pursuit of these goals and the promotion of ‘green economy’“, Waldner said.
The green economy has now been acknowledged as a contribution to sustainable development as it facilitates the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner and increases resource efficiency.
The state of the environment and the sustainability situations call for an urgent reform, and Rio initiated important measures for strengthening the UNEP and establishing a high-level forum on sustainable development.
During the conference, State Secretary Waldner participated in many events dealing with energy and development. Together with the President of Peru he opened a “Mountain Pavilion”; he presented a study by international experts on “Global Energy Assessment”, participated in high-level discussions on sustainable development cooperation, met representatives from civil organizations and had bilateral working meetings with foreign and environmental ministers from Bhutan, Sudan, Afghanistan and Burkina Faso.
“Austria will contribute its expertise in terms of energy, water and food security to the processes triggered in Rio, not least because our country is a recognised role model in many aspects. Environmentally-friendly technologies “made in Austria” are in great demand worldwide”, the State Secretary said.
Renewable energies, in particular, are pillars of Austrian energy policy. Currently, one third of the energy consumed in Austria is covered by renewable energies, and Austria shares its expertise in this field with other countries, for example in concrete projects that are a part of its development cooperation in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
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