Opening remarks by H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona as the moderator of the event organized by the Government of Sri Lanka
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20),

21st June 2012
RioCentro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“Strengthening national apex bodies for achieving Agenda 21 and Rio+20 outcomes in Asia-Pacific countries through the accelerated implementation of national sustainable development strategies” 

Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Environment of Sri Lanka,
Distinguished Panelists,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good evening! 

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome the Ministers and the experts of Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Fiji and Sri Lanka, the UN and other international agencies, academia and the civil society organizations to this evening's event at the Rio+20 conference.

I am happy to moderate the discussion along with Dr. Surendra Sreshthra, from UNDESA. 

Today we are assembled in our thousands in this city where the Rio process began twenty years ago to define the future we all want. 

With its own successes in achieving many of the millennium development goals, Sri Lanka is honoured to be the principle partner of this event during the historic Rio+20 conference.  

We believe that the periodic review of sustainable development strategies is highly important considering the unprecedented developments that we have witnessed, locally, regionally and globally. We are also confronted with the challenges of managing exponential population growth, ever changing demands of citizens, surfacing resource constraints (including land and energy), and finance and technologies. The world we knew in 1992 has undergone tremendous change, in particular, in the remarkable shift of economic might from the North to the South. This requires substantive changes to our own assessments and thinking. The solutions to our development problems today have to address contemporary realities.


Agenda 21 of 1992 called for setting up national coordinating structures to translate sustainable development aspirations of each country into concrete actions and to establish appropriate national programmes. Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are now implementing their national sustainable development strategies through their respective national apex bodies. After 20 years, now we see them as key instruments for implementing the outcomes of Agenda 21 and also to deliver Rio+20 outcomes. 

Considering this momentum, we organized this event to showcase good practices, and identify ways to strengthen national implementation through new initiatives for capacity building, south-south exchanges and enhanced sub regional cooperation. 

This panel discussion will emphasise past experiences in the national and regional contexts, reflect key aspects of the sustainable development agenda of global conferences and the way forward, and initiate a regional partnership in implementing the post Rio+20 development strategies. 

Our discussion will take place in two sessions. The first one is about the national experiences on implementing sustainable development strategies of countries representing different parts of the region. The Co-Chairs and the from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Fiji and Sri Lanka will brief us on their preparedness through policy tools of the national apex bodies.  

The second session is on the role of international organizations, including the UN agencies, in supporting implementation of the various programmes under those strategies in both national and regional contexts.  

Our main focus is on the Asia-Pacific countries. While we are sharing our experiences and further developing our capacities to manage sustainable development goals, let us also explore ways and means of contributing to the efforts of the countries in the other regions. I believe that our colleagues from outside the region are also keen on our distinct oriental approaches towards sustainable development and the leadership initiatives of our governments. 

The voluntary initiatives of this nature that enhance mutual understanding and promote regional and cross-regional cooperation have been well acknowledged by the draft outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. We wish that the outcome of our event will be a voluntary commitment under Rio+20. 

I warmly welcome you once again. Now, may I invite our Co-chair Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Environment of Sri Lanka to address this distinguished gathering. 

Thank you.






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