I welcome the fact that Heads of State and Government and high level representatives, following a prolonged and difficult negotiation process, achieved an agreement at the recent Rio+20 Conference. Of course, there are areas of the outcome document — The Future We Want — where the EU would have hoped for a more ambitious outcome. Nevertheless, if implemented properly, it provides a firm basis for working with our international partners to achieve global sustainable development, including poverty eradication.
The Conference secured renewed political commitment for sustainable development, and also recognised the need to promote sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems while facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration, restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges. The Conference outcome acknowledged the important role of an inclusive green economy in achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty. The decision taken to develop Sustainable Development Goals was also a key outcome.
Fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume goods are essential to the achievement of sustainable development. One of the most important outcomes of Rio+20 was the decision to adopt the voluntary 10 — year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production. The objective of these programmes is that all countries will promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with developed countries taking the lead, having regard to the principles set out in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992.
Ireland will play a central role in progressing the work required to deliver on the outcomes agreed at Rio during our forthcoming EU Presidency, commencing on 1 January 2013. In this capacity, Ireland will, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, guide and influence the implementation process through co-ordination and development of EU positions in various fora at EU and UN levels. Implementation of the agreement in Ireland will be carried forward in the context of the recently published Framework for Sustainable Development, Our Sustainable Future, which was Ireland's main national contribution to Rio+20. The delivery of the measures outlined in Our Sustainable Future will require a collective approach involving the active participation of all key sectors and civil society generally. A High Level Inter-Departmental Group on Sustainable Development will coordinate and drive overall implementation of the Framework and will report progress to the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy, chaired by the Taoiseach.