The EU's Committee of the Regions called for cities and regions be given priority if the Rio Conference on sustainable development is to achieve success
The EU's Committee of the Regions (CoR) argued yesterday that sustainable cities be placed at the heart of roadmap for sustainable development and be one of the global post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With only a few weeks to go before the United Nations holds its second conference on sustainable development, world leaders are already in deep discussions about which areas should be prioritised and form thebasis for the SDG targets.
President Bresso said, "We need to ensure that at Rio sustainable cities are placed at the centre of the global plans on sustainable development in addition to clear and binding targets at international level, as common guidance for green transformation across all continents, on a the international level." Bresso added that today 50% of the total world population live in urban areas consuming between 60% to 80% of energy and emit 70% of all CO2. However, initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors and the European Green Capitals demonstrate how European cities are taking the lead in driving sustainable development.
The CoR, which forms part of the European Union's delegation to Rio, will take the opportunity to use the conference as a platform to develop a global network of cities and regions to collaborate together and share best practise. Bresso pointed to the success of the Covenant of Mayors which she suggested could be implemented on a global scale. The initiative was a joint venture launched by CoR and the European Commission where to date 3,000 European cities and regions committed themselves to go beyond the environmental objectives set-out by the EU as part of the drive towards a low-carbon society.
The Mayor of Malmo, Mr. Reepalu (PES/SE) who attended the first Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, added that the first UN conference demonstrated just how important cities and regions were in realising the aspirations set at a global level. He said, "In Sweden the fulfilment of "Agenda 21" became a people's movement. At that time, there was a strong focus on ecological sustainability. The social and economic aspects of sustainability were not given the same attention. Now we know that all three aspects must be equally stressed and this will be challenge for the Rio+20-conference."
the Minister of the Government Brussels Capital Region who will represent Belgium within the EU delegation, joined Michel Lebrun, member of the Walloon regional parliament (EEP/BE), in highlighting the role regional authorities can play in implementing many of the UN objectives which will be on the table at Rio. Lebrun said: “At Rio+20 we will reiterate the need to further promote the role local and regional authorities within the European Union and other international organizations such as the UN.” He offered the example of waste management developed at local level in his region as an example of good practise and shared governance of territorial development to be shared with other regions in the world. Lebrun concluded that, “If we are to come close to meeting the objectives of the Rio Earth Summit - the greening of our global economy and pursuing a truly equitable world - then local and regional authorities must be placed at the heart of the global roadmap on sustainable development, for the benefit of present and future generations.”
The Committee of the Regions will also be holding an event at Rio+20 entitled, “When cities breathe, people progress: Europe's Cities building partnerships” to implement the green agenda, which will be held at the EU Pavilion –Athlete’s Park, on 21 June from 5pm.
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And the video of the press conference at the CoR yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIdIG2hl-x4&feature=youtu.be
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