A green economy statement by Achim Steiner to African ministers of finance, planning and economic development

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Delivered at the 2011 Joint Annual Meetings of African Union Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and the Economics Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development

We meet some 13 months before what could prove to be one of the most transformative moments in international affairs.

Nearly 20 years after the Earth Summit of 1992-which established much of the sustainable development of the intervening years-nations are again traveling on the Road to Rio for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012-or Rio+20.

In 1992, we could only perhaps glimpse the scale some of the challenges emerging on the radar from climate change and the loss of healthy, productive cropland.

But in the world of the here and now, many of those challenges have become all too real-there is an urgency to swiftly and decisively evolve the sustainable development agenda onto a far more focused and far reaching level.

There is now an essential need to implement the vision of 1992.

Two themes have been agreed in order to achieve that.

A Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

An International Framework for Sustainable Development.

What do they mean for the world and what do they mean for Africa in particular?

To my mind they could mean quite a lot if the countries of this Continent decide to fully engage on these twin agendas and through the numerous preparatory meetings of the coming months and year.

On the one hand the nations of this Continent face the same challenge that now faces every country on Earth.

How to grow and how to generate good and decent jobs, but in a way that does not push humanity's footprint beyond planetary boundaries.

But Africa has many challenges and opportunities that are unique.

While not diminishing the challenges, let me set aside these issues as they are well known and familiar to everyone in this room.

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