RIO DE JANEIRO - Speaking at the UN Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that in order to conserve our environment, we need to change our way of thinking, reports LETA. “It is essential that we don’t live beyond our means, particularly when it comes to using natural resources,” said Paet.
“With its activities today, the world is not yet on the path to sustainable development - by the year 2030 the world will need 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy, and 30 percent more water,” he added.
“Energy, industry, agriculture, and transport must utilize more environmentally friendly technologies,” he urged. Paet stated that Estonia, as a country that uses e-services, can attest to the fact that innovative solutions help to boost development.
In a high-level discussion on sustainable development which took place in Rio de Janeiro on June 19 within the framework of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, Paet reiterated that with current global activities, the world is not yet on the path to sustainable development.
“This will only be possible if we use resources as efficiently as we can. Development must be sustainable, because unsustainable activities will prove self-destructive. But these developments must be supported by good governance.”
The Estonian foreign minister stated that we need a sustainable revolution, which would mean a tremendous shift in both our thinking and our actions. “We have to know the price of our actions as well as what inaction will cost us,” warned Paet.
He added that developments today are extremely alarming - 85 percent of the oceans’ fish stocks are over-exploited, in the last 20 years CO2 emissions have increased by 38 percent, 67 million children in the world do not attend school, forests are decreasing by 5.2 million hectares per year, inequality is growing, and our ecological footprint is very large.
“Only focused global action can create change. Sustainable development is not a goal in and of itself, it is rather a path that enables us to have a future,” he noted.
Paet also mentioned the need to make the UN more effective and resourceful. “It is unbelievable that the UN spends $2,355 to translate, design, print and distribute one page [of material],” he complained.
“Opportunities in a free market economy and electronic solutions would certainly help to reduce these costs. Resourcefulness must become the norm in the UN,” Paet noted.
According to Paet, Estonia has already made its choice regarding environmentally sustainable development and has many e-solutions to support this decision. “In Estonia, we have always been on the path - the path to sustainable development, which we recommend that everyone else choose as well,” said Paet.
He added that in Estonia, sustainable development goals until the year 2030 are defined in a national strategy. “Organic and ecologic are strong keywords for people in Estonia, e-solutions help to bring education into the home, and an e-government helps to cut down on government expenditures,” he noted.
During the meeting, Paet also introduced the worldwide cleanup campaign that got its start in Estonia - Let’s Do It! - and invited everyone to participate in the ‘World Cleanup. Let’s Do It 2012’ cleanup action happening last week in Garota de Ipanema Park in Rio de Janeiro.
“The ‘Let’s Do It!’ cleanup campaign is a good example of how this civic initiative has gone global,” he stated.
The discussion panel that Foreign Minister Paet participated in, ‘The future we choose: tipping the scales towards global sustainability,’ was opened by the King of Sweden and other participants, and the panel included former president of Finland Tarja Halonen, former president of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Yuan Lee, and Heritage Minister of Ecuador Maria Espinosa.
In Rio de Janeiro, Paet also met with the director-general of UNESCO, the prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the prime minister of Panama.