2012-06-21 18:25:00

Address by President Rosen Plevneliev to the ‘Rio+20’ UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Madam President Rousseff,
Mr. Secretary General of the UN
Mr. Secretary General of the Conference
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to express my gratitude and appreciation to our hosts and to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro for their warm hospitality.

Twenty years ago, right here in Rio, at the UN Conference on the problems of environment and development, the international community agreed to create a cleaner, more "green" and more humane world. As a result, hundreds of millions of people around the world were saved from poverty. More children and young people today have access to education. Modern technologies expand the horizon of people and increase their capabilities.

There is general consensus that our progress so far has been slow and unsatisfactory. There are still nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from malnutrition. Millions of children die from hunger and diseases can be prevented. While natural resources decline, the world population increases. Global warming, population concerns and limited energy resources, are creating long-term threats to our children. Focusing solely on growth, the global economy is turning our atmosphere into the largest landfill in the history of mankind.

Since 1992 we have repeatedly renewed political commitments to sustainable development. Unfortunately, however, many of our strategies and plans of action remain only on paper. With this in mind, let me share with you what you need and what my country Bulgaria is ready to do to support our common goals.

First, we welcome the proposal to adopt sustainable development goals. We need clear, tangible results generated based on pre-set operational objectives and actions to be performed internationally and nationally in accordance with deadlines. It is necessary to strive for a coherent development framework for the period after 2015 to build on the outcome of the Millennium Development (MDGs). Development of new criteria should be a process involving every level - local, national and global.

Second, Bulgaria supports an improved and more effective UN role in co-ordinating, monitoring and reviewing performance. We must strengthen and improve the existing institutional framework, based on existing structures where possible. But we should not hesitate in the development of new structures by transformation or improvement of existing ones, especially in the field of environmental protection.

Third, sustainable development is a matter of partnership. Its implementation requires a collective will, courage and leadership, as history has never known before. All of us - every country, every organization, every single person within our capabilities, we must begin to implement urgent policy changes, economic models, social behaviour and even lifestyles. This would be possible only if each country, developed and developing, undertakes concrete commitments and takes concrete actions. Each party must contribute according to their abilities, by creating and implementing the necessary regulatory framework. You can harness all the energy and creativity of the private sector to engage in business development in a social and environmental responsible manner. The active participation of NGOs and civil society is crucial. And since today we undertake long-term commitments, young people should participate in decisions.

Each individual must accept the pursuit of sustainable development as a personal cause and constantly think and act in a "green" and sustainable manner. Such a commitment requires a significant change in attitude and mentality, which could not occur without increased public awareness and education levels.

Bulgaria welcomes the Initiative for Higher Education for Sustainable Development launched today by UNESCO and other partners. Bulgarian institutions are working to create a long-term National Development Plan 2020. For this reason, achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability, good education, investing in innovation and in renewables and energy efficiency, are among the main priorities of the “Bulgaria 2020” programme. Let me assure you that the principle of ‘grow now, clean later’ does not apply to Bulgaria.

In its work on “Strategy 2020” the Presidential Administration is adhering to three basic principles which I believe may be of benefit to politicians and governments of other countries.

First basic principle: Economic growth must be accompanied by progress. Some reported growth, but no progress. In other countries growth is achieved at the expense of future generations. This is not growth that Bulgaria believes in. My country has very low debt – 16 per cent of GDP and is the only European country that has had its credit rating raised during the crisis. This result is a culture of stability and fiscal discipline by a series of Bulgarian governments.

A second basic principle: When reporting economic growth, emphasis should be on quality not only of numbers and quantities. Spending billions should not engross the imagination of politicians. Being better is more important than being bigger. Better educated, more productive and competitive nations are richer and more prosperous. I believe that energy saved is the cheapest energy. That is why energy efficiency is our top priority and we have already launched our national energy efficiency program.

A third basic principle: Growth must be sustainable – listen to the voice of the next generation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Beyond the political declarations and agreements are necessary simple steps. Let me summarize once more the meaning of the three principles that guide the development of the "National Programme Bulgaria 2020": Sustainable development, which promotes quality and progress of man and the environment is achievable.

Let us remain united to support and co-operate across national limitations and responsibilities. Only in this way, we will succeed on the path to sustainable environmental development and prosperity of mankind.

Thank you for your attention.