Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations,??addresses the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. (photo from UN Webcast)??

The top international civil servant has called on world leaders gathered in Rio de Janeiro to send a strong signal that they are committed to a sustainable future. Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, urged this on the several heads of government and ministers gathered for the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference in Brazil.

At a press conference today, fresh from attending the just concluded G-20 Economic Summit in Mexico, he said such a future would "lift people from poverty, generate dynamic and equitable growth, and respect the limits of our finite resources. That is a future we want and it is a transformation we need," he emphasized, noting that it was an unprecedented opportunity to build the kind of future the world desires.

Mr. Ban said the world could not continue to borrow and consume its way to prosperity at the expense of the poor and the global environment. He underscored that "governments must understand that we need Rio+20 to help to define our order for the 21st century economy; a model that rejects the myth that there is a trade-off between prosperity and the environment."

At the summit, world leaders, ministers of government and senior civil servants, along with thousands of participants from the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other groups, including environmentalists, have come together to fashion a way to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection across the globe.

Official discussions are focusing on two key themes: how to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift countries (people) out of poverty; and how to improve international coordinated action for sustainable development.

The conference is being portrayed as a historic opportunity to define pathways to a sustainable future – one that will see more jobs, clean energy, greater security and an acceptable and decent standard of living for all.

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