Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rio + 20: New and Emerging Challenges by Secretary-General, Mr. Sha Zukang

Recently the Rio+20 Secretary-General, Mr. Sha Zukang elaborated on new and emerging challenges, as well as the two main themes of Rio+20 for the first time. He underscored the following challenges that UN Member States, Civil Society and other stakeholders had highlighted for priority attention. They include:

* green jobs and social inclusion;
* energy access, efficiency and sustainability;
* food security and sustainable agriculture;
* sound water management;
* sustainable cities;
* management of the oceans; and
* improved resilience and disaster preparedness.

Climate change cuts across all of these areas, as well as being a high priority in its own right, as is the means of implementation, including technology, financing and capacity building especially for developing countries. Read the full contribution here

I like the focus on sound water management; food security and sustainable agriculture and energy poverty. This must be the core concern for the South. At the moment in East Africa for example, food prices have skyrocketed due to high fuel prices which has made it unaffordable for many poor people. In addition extended droughts and sporadic rains make it impossible to access safe and clean water, while over 80% of East Africans use traditional biomass burnt in open three-stone stoves that continue to contribute to rapid deforestation.

But Secretary General Sha Zukang needs to 'balance' this by prominently highlighting the need to address sustainable production and consumption in case of the rich North, so that we work towards a more equitable distribution of resources (using energy and water conservation technology promotion, policies, incentives and penalties etc)

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