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Emerging Europe and Central Asia aim for cleaner and productive future

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, 25 May 2012 - In the final run up before world leaders gather in Brazil for the “Rio + 20” U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, Moscow takes leadership to convene discussions on sustainable development in Europe and Central Asia.

Today, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and United Nations agencies hosted the first international Civic Forum for Sustainable Development. The forum gathered more than 100 experts and development champions, representatives of civil organizations, businesses and governments from seven countries to discuss how to meet the needs of the current generation without depleting natural resources for future generations.

“Sustainable development will require a partnership among many actors to take it forward – governments, the private sector and civil society and across borders. The colleagues and experts gathered here are committed to taking this agenda forward together. Russia today is among the countries for which the sustainable development agenda proves to be the most challenging goal.” says Vladimir Zakharov, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and organizer of the event, presenting the report “Towards a Green Economy in Russia.”

At the Civic Forum, two reports on sustainable development were presented to the Russian- speaking world.

The UN interagency report “From Transition to Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Europe and Central Asia” analyses the region including former Soviet republics and calls for a transformation to integrated policy making, where social equity, economic growth and environmental protection are approached together. Experts urge the region to remove fossil fuel subsidies, invest in ‘green’ jobs and health, and establish social protection floors to ensure a sustainable future.

While the pan-European countries have seen rapid economic growth in the last decades, social inequalities have persisted. Almost 30% of the people living in the region are considered poor or vulnerable, and this is expected to increase by about 5 million people for every 1% decline in GDP. Child poverty is higher than poverty among adults in almost all countries in Emerging Europe and Central Asia. Many countries are running on a “biocapacity deficit”, meaning they use more resources than they have in their territories. From Transition to Transformation provides a blueprint of sustainable development models, with practical implications and case studies from throughout the pan-European region. The report finds that sustainable development can increase competiveness, if appropriate policies are applied. Russia, for example, could double its GDP by 2030 while keeping its GHG emissions close to 1990 levels.  

A sustainable transformation would also improve health - One fifth of the disease burden across Europe could be prevented by reducing air, water and chemical pollution, and a sustainable growth path could also markedly lower the incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

The UNEP report “Green Economy” compiled in collaboration with economists and experts worldwide, demonstrates that the greening of economies is not a drag on growth but rather a new engine of growth; that it is a net generator of decent jobs, and that it is also a vital strategy for the elimination of persistent poverty. The report’s key conclusion - investing two per cent of global GDP across ten key sectors can kick-start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy. These two per cent, currently amounting to an average of US$1.3 trillion a year would grow the global economy at around the same rate if not higher than those forecasted, under current economic models.

The Moscow Civic forum is a contribution of governments, experts, researchers and development practitioners ahead of the ‘Rio+20’ U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development that will take place on June 20-22, 2012 in Brazil where more than 110 heads of state, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, CEOs, and civil society leaders will come together to discuss and shape new policies and measures to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

From Transition to Transformation is a report by 13 UN agencies and coordinated by UNECE and UNDP as an input for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). It is available online

The report was jointly prepared by: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), United Nations, Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). In addition, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have provided inputs to the report.

For more information, please contact:

In Moscow: Elena Surovkina
Tel: +7 (495) 787 21 00, ext. 22 07
Cell. +7 903-129-46-49

In New York: Assel Tleof
Tel: + 1 212 906 5354,

In Geneva: John Budd:
Tel: +41794311537



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