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UN General Assembly Debates Harmony with Nature

20 April 2011: The UN General Assembly has hosted an interactive dialogue on harmony with nature that will inform the ongoing preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

In her opening remarks, Deputy UN Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said the world is undergoing a “tremendous change,” and stressed that it is essential to revise accounting methods and to embrace a low-carbon, resource-efficient, pro-poor economic model.

Acting UNGA President Charles Thembani Ntwaagae (Botswana), speaking on behalf of President Joseph Deiss (Switzerland), agreed that the benefits of economic progress have come at great costs to the natural world and humankind.

Pablo Solon, Bolivia, whose delegation had taken the lead in designating 22 April as International Mother Earth Day, noted that humanity finds itself at a crossroads where the choice is between commercializing nature through the green economy or recognizing the rights of nature.

The dialogue included two interactive panels, moderated by Martin Khor, South Center. Experts in sustainable development aimed to examine how humans can better reconnect with the world around them. The first panel, titled “Ways to promote a holistic approach to sustainable development in harmony with nature,” examined factors that led to global “inequity” in natural resources, as well as possible courses of action to resolve that problem. The second panel, titled “Sharing national experiences on criteria and indicators for measuring sustainable development in harmony with nature,” explored the intersections of economics and natural resources.

In closing remarks, Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the UNCSD, urged that world consumption and production must converge toward a sustainable range. [Rio+20 Webpage on Dialogue] [UNGA President's Webpage on Dialogue]