The three-day event is held in pursuance to the UN General Assembly resolutions 64/236 of 24 December 2009 and 66/197 of 22 December 2011 to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development and to assess the progress to date.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in his opening address to delegations and participants, said it was time for all to think globally and long-term to achieve sustainable development.
The event follows on from the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, during which countries adopted Agenda 21, a blueprint to re-think economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
The year’s conference is on two themes including a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
It seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
He said 20 years ago the Earth Summit gave the world a blueprint for sustainable development but since then, progress has been too slow.
“We have not gone nearly far enough down the road mapped out in 1992 and Rio+20 is not an end, but a beginning,” he added.
The conference will examine the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and address new and emerging challenges.
It is also expected to focus on improving gender equity; recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development; and stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy; among others.
Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly called on governments to strive for solutions that do not jeopardize the future of generations to come.
He said countries must adopt activities to improve on the future where equity, equality and prosperity were the norm, not the exception.
He noted that although much progress has been made, large parts of the developing world still face poverty, disease and abject living conditions.
Mr Al-Nasser said development cooperation must support poor countries to put in place policies and institutions that could spur sustainable development.
He said sustainable development has become truly a collective endeavor and that collectivity increasingly encompasses many other actors, besides Governments.
He urged Member States to realise their important commitments made in the Agenda and these conventions to improve on sustainable development policies.
More than 100 Heads of State and government, civil society organisations, UN officials and agencies are participating in this year’s event.