Thursday, 31 July 2014

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François Hollande kicks off Rio+20 in France

T6-IMG 2902The surprise guest at the closure of three days of events on the Rio+20 Conference in Paris was French President François Hollande.

By delivering the keynote speech to the more than one thousand civil society and private sector actors present, the French President sent a very strong message about the “active” engagement of France in the Rio+20 process. He will go to Rio to call for urgent action he said “we need actions, not for tomorrow, but for today.”

Reiterating the French position, the President pleaded for the creation of a World Environment Organization. “It would”, he said “contribute to the success of Rio; an agency like the World Trade Organization or the International Labour Organization.”

He was candid about the fact that the political negotiations on the outcome document “will not be easy.” “There are risks, the risk of division, even of failure, the risk of empty words.” But, he said, “Rio is not about preventive measures, the world needs a new development model with economic and social dimensions.” He stated that the three objectives of France were energy for all, food security through sustainable agriculture, and the green economy.

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Mr. Hollande was accompanied by two of his Ministers. The Minister of Environment, Nicole Bricq, told the audience that “Rio is about a new hope for the planet.” Pascal Canfin, Minister of State for Sustainable Development also recognized the difficult road ahead in Rio and said “the reality is that the world is organized into states, and there is no other forum for negotiations outside of the UN.”

The celebrated French environmental activist, Nicolas Hulot, who will not be going to Rio in protest at “the status quo”, said “we have gone from being indifferent to being powerless”.

Gilles Berhault, President of Comité 21, the umbrella organization for civil society and municipal actors who in partnership with UNRIC organized the three days of events, said that one of the main objectives of Rio is to “merge the Millennium Development Goals with the Sustainable Development Goals. Poverty and the environment cannot be separated,” he said.

A representative of youth organizations took the stage to urge world leaders to “inspire us, and not talk about failures in Rio.”

Director of the UN Regional Information Centre Afsané Bassir-Pour, said that people everywhere, especially young people, are already engaged in the pre and post Rio process, they have not waited for us to agree on an outcome document." "Rio is not the end" she said "it is the beginning, that is why the UN’s global campaign is The Future We Want.”

UN European information centers in partnership with OHCHR and UNEP launched the first event during the three days in Paris. Over a 150 “artivists”, journalists and musicians participated in a celebration of the earth summit at the fictitious village of Flateurville. The occasion also marked the award ceremony of the annual European newspaper advertising competition, The Future We Want: Drop by Drop.

The jury prize was given to Italian graphic designer Daniele Gaspari for his ad “Wasting water will kill the Future.” (Hyperlink)

He said “I wanted to shock people and make them aware that their actions have consequences.”

Toprak Onur, the winner of the public vote prize said that “we cannot allow water wars to become the next oil wars.” The two ads were chosen from more than 3500 ads received from 45 countries across Europe.

A graphic start to the upcoming events in Rio.

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