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European Commission


Rio de Janeiro, 19 June 2012

Joint statement by Janez Potočnik and Ida Auken on the Rio+20 Declaration

The European Union in broad terms welcomes the Rio +20 declaration on the future we want, although a number of ambitions were not fully achieved. The EU has worked hard to secure a positive outcome on several fronts at Rio, including on the green economy, engagement in key areas for future action and on sustainable development goals. Some degree of institutional reform has also been achieved.

In a joint declaration, the Danish Environment Minister and current chair of the European Environment Council, Ida Auken, and EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: 

“Today the world has indicated that we must move towards sustainable development, and the inclusive green economy is a central pathway to achieve this. The EU has remained committed and constructive throughout the negotiations, and has spoken with one ambitious voice. We are pleased that this delivered results. However, we recognize that Rio is just the beginning and a range of activities have to be followed through at international level. The EU is committed to eradicate poverty and to improve people’s lives while significantly reducing pressures on the environment.”  

Through persistent negotiation effort, the green economy is now understood as an important tool for achieving sustainable development. It will enhance our ability to manage natural resources sustainably, and it is recognised that urgent action is needed to tackle unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The possibility has now emerged to work with a broad range of willing countries to develop policies on the green economy as a common undertaking.

The EU has also secured engagement in a number of areas such as water, oceans, land and ecosystems, food, and sustainable consumption and production (SCP). In particular: a ten year framework for action on SCP has been adopted, as well as a range of commitments such as the right to clean water and sanitation, the need to address land degradation, and to achieve healthy oceans and tackle marine litter. We are happy that the international community has now committed to take a decision on negotiations on an implementing agreement under UN Convention on Law Of the Seas (UNCLOS) - an important step for the protection of marine biodiversity. However the EU was not successful in getting agreements on specific targets in a range of other areas.

At the same time there has been agreement to launch a process in Rio on Sustainable Development Goals, primarily driven as an intergovernmental process. The EU is ready to fully engage in such an international process at all levels.

On institutional reform the EU did not reach all its ambitions. In its quest for establishing a World Environmental Organisation, after long negotiations the EU managed to achieve a strengthening of a number of functions of the existing UN Environment Programme. In addition, a high-level Forum to promote sustainable development governance has been established.

On means of implementation, agreement was reached to set up an intergovernmental process to develop options on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy to mobilise financial resources. The EU as a whole remains committed to the Official Development Aid (ODA) level of 0,7% of GDP by 2015, and has been steadily increasing its ODA since the Johannesburg Conference in 2002.

Engaging with the non-governmental sector such as businesses and civil society is crucial for the green economy and sustainable development. The Rio+20 declaration calls on business and industry to engage in responsible business practices and corporate sustainability.

Next steps

The Rio +20 Declaration now lays the ground for the global community to move forward on a number of fronts in order to achieve sustainable development across the world.


Eske Vinther-Jensen +45-21-43-8530  

Monica Westeren +32-498-982892

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