Friday, March 9, 2012

Barbara Ward Lecture: Implications of the Durban outcome for enhancing action on climate change on the ground towards a more sustainable future.

And so today I stand before you with a clear request to all of you: Whether you represent government, business or civil society, take the unambiguous low-carbon policy signals from COP 17 Durban, and help us increase action through new partnerships.” - Read the entire speech given by Christiana Figueres at the IIED in London today…

While it gives me great pleasure to deliver this yearís Barbara Ward lecture atthe IIED, I will frankly admit that it is daunting to participate in a lecture series namedafter what Time Magazine called one of the most influential visionaries of the 20thcentury.

This visionary woman once said: We live in an epoch in which the solidground of our preconceived ideas shakes daily under our certain feet. Already in the1970s, Barbara knew that business-as-usualî no longer represented solid ground.

Always ahead of her time, she knew that we have to combine our immediatecommitment to meeting human needs with our longer term need to protect the Earthas a place suitable for human life now and in the future. She consistently stressed theneed to simultaneously address the ìinner limitsî of human requirements and theìouter limitsî of what the Earth can sustain. With this, she laid the basis for theBrundtland Commissionís eventual definition of sustainable development.

Barbara gave us a firm foundation 50 years ago. The question for us is, whathave we built on this foundation? We are all aware of the increasing understandingthat has evolved since then. We all know of the advances surrounding sustainabledevelopment that have been achieved since 1972, not least the 1992 Rio Summit, thebirth of the Rio Conventions of which the United Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change is one, and the work that has been done under each of these.

We are now fast approaching the opening of the Rio+20 conference which willallow the world to take stock of past efforts, as well as look to the future. And withìbusiness-as-usualî making the ground under our feet shake now more than everbefore, with billions of people still in abject poverty and with environmental depletionand greenhouse emissions at an all time high, one cannot help but conclude that thiswas not what Barbara Ward had in mind. More