New sustainability agenda must harmonize humanity's relationship with planet – UN Assembly President

27 April 2015

As United Nations Member States prepare to adopt and move toward implementing a new development agenda, the President of the General Assembly said it is critical to ensure that “a harmonious relationship with our planet underpins our quest to achieve sustainable development.”

“This year’s dialogue on Harmony with Nature is timely, as the formulation of an ambitious and transformative development agenda for the next 15 years is under way,” said General Assembly President Sam Kahamba Kutesa as he opened the Assembly’s interactive dialogue on ‘Harmony with Nature: Towards achieving sustainable development goals including addressing climate change in the post-2015 development agenda.’

The development path the world has taken has imposed a heavy cost on our planet, leading to serious environmental degradation, he said, underscoring that “it is now widely accepted that our way of life, especially the production and consumption patterns, is no longer sustainable.”

“As scientists have repeatedly warned, we are severely affecting the Earth’s carrying capacity and are in danger of reaching planetary boundaries or tipping points beyond which we risk irreversible and abrupt environmental changes,” he said.

“We have to adopt a post-2015 development agenda that is holistic in nature,” Mr. Kutesa continued. “The agenda should put the well-being of both humankind and our planet at the centre of our sustainable development efforts.”

He drew attention to the need to reach a new, universal climate change agreement this coming December in Paris that will be another important step for ensuring a better chance of preserving the planet for the present and future generations.

“Through these efforts, we should bear in mind that profound changes in attitudes, behaviours and policies will be required to create a world in which human beings live in harmony with nature.”

Mr. Kutesa acknowledged the increasing awareness and proactive stances being taken by leaders around the world to address the environmental challenges we face.

“Nevertheless,” he said, “much more needs to be done in terms of policy making, technology development and transfer as well as education and capacity building.”

The General Assembly President opened the meeting with a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of those who lost their lives in this weekend’s devastating earthquake in Nepal and surrounding regions including Bangladesh, India and Tibet.

“On behalf of Member States, I extend my deepest sympathies to the people and Government of Nepal, and all others affected by this disaster,” he said. “I thank all those that have offered their support following this disaster and call on the international community to stand in solidarity with the Government of Nepal following this devastating earthquake.”


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