Konferensen Stockholm +40 - Partnership Forum for Sustainable Development 23 april 2012
Lena Ek, Miljöminister
Lena Eks öppningsanförande vid konferensen Stockholm +40 - Partnership Forum for Sustainable Development
Det talade ordet gäller
Your Majesty, Honourable Ministers, Secretary General Zha, Lord Mayor Nordin, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Radioactive fallout, oil spills, fish kills, PCBs and mercury poisoning - during the decades preceding the Stockholm Conference in 1972, individual events such as these underscored the fact that humans and nature are interconnected. Space missions reminded us that the Earth is a unique but fragile place in a vast universe. The environmental movement evolved and action by politicians and civil society actors followed. Environmental concerns, however, were still primarily seen as national or possibly regional issues, and a systems perspective was lacking.
Fortunately, we have come a long way since then.
Together in 1972, we took a huge step forward through the Stockholm Conference by taking a generational perspective, identifying the crucial role of development, laying out a global environmental agenda and by creating the UN Environmental Programme. It is a tremendous honour and a great pleasure to stand here today 40 years after the conference and see the huge impact it has had.
Since that time we have moved from an understanding of individual issues to an understanding of systemic issues, from local to global. Science is now trying to describe the many and complicated interconnections in the Earth system. We have also signed many hundreds of international environmental agreements, the most important of which resulted from the 1992 Rio Conference.
Science has been a main driver in this process. But the scientific community is now increasingly concerned by the insufficient global response. The main science conference ahead of the Rio+20 Conference, the Planet Under Pressure Conference held in London a few weeks ago, concluded that "science indicates that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10 000 years". The conference made it clear that we can no longer exclude tipping points and abrupt and irreversible consequences. The OECD recently concluded that delay in action will impose significant costs, undermine growth and development and run the risk of irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes.
Our generation is the first to understand the consequences of our activities on the planet, and we have both the responsibility and opportunity to act. Our collective response will define the future for many generations to come.
Nothing less than an innovation revolution is needed. Production and consumption should aim at radically improved chemicals management and resource efficiency, moving towards a circular economy. The process will spur creativity and innovation and result in multiple benefits such as green job creation, energy and food security and resource productivity. Well-designed policies can safeguard well-being and a more resilient, long-term economy. A new initiative to describe all these benefits - the benefits of action - should be initiated to complement the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, which very successfully quantified the cost of early versus late international action.
I am confident transformative changes are possible and that early movers will benefit. In Sweden, CO2 emissions have been halved since the first Stockholm Conference, while our GDP has doubled. Absolute decoupling is clearly possible but we are not satisfied yet - Sweden is still far from sustainable. Our new objective is to solve all the main environmental problems within a generation, including a national goal of no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.
The Stern Review stated that climate change represents the greatest market failure ever. A greener economy, in which natural resources and ecosystem services are valued and made visible in government and business balance sheets, will contribute to correct such a failure. In addition, new measures of progress and well-being are needed to complement GDP. Naturally, we should put a rapid stop to supporting unwanted policies, such as environmentally harmful subsidies.
There is a dual challenge of achieving sustainable development and reducing relative and absolute poverty, both between nations and within nations.
No one should be left behind and we need to make active choices to make the transition to a green economy inclusive. I am therefore particularly pleased to invite you to Stockholm, together with Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation.
International cooperation, capacity building and technology dissemination should aim at creating opportunities for all countries in an inclusive green economy.
This conference should contribute concrete steps in the right direction by focusing on sustainable innovation, production and lifestyles. I encourage you all to actively engage and share hands-on recommendations.
In parallel to the conference, there will be several initiatives presented, aimed at this type of hands-on policy development.
I am hosting a stakeholder dialogue tomorrow, focusing on strengthening implementation towards the 2020 goal of sound chemicals management, as agreed in Johannesburg in 2002. I am seeking your support for eight important areas for action to achieve that goal and thereby contribute to sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty.
Furthermore, the first meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition will take place during the conference, which is aimed at reducing the levels of short-lived climate pollutants in the atmosphere. Reducing these airborne pollutants will improve the lives of millions of people, increase food security, slow global warming and bring about positive gender effects.
In her Nobel Lecture delivered in December 2004, the late Ms Wangari Maathai stated, "there can be no peace without equitable development; and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space. This shift is an idea whose time has come."
Let us therefore use our time here in Stockholm, and later in Rio, productively and honour these words.