Nobel Laureates, members of the UN Secretary General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability and members of The Elders, came together at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to deliver a powerful message to world leaders: The time to act is now; nations urgently need to shift to a sustainable path.
"We are concerned"
The call to action came 18 June, the second day of a high-level dialogue, with eminent political, scientific, and civil society figures hosted by the organisers of the Nobel Symposium series, the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, and the Fundação Brasileira para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável.
Private meetings on 17 June resulted in an agreed declaration which was presented to the public and handed over to Mr. Brice Lalonde, Executive Coordinator of Rio+20.
"We are concerned." begins the declaration, titled "The Future We Choose (pdf, 600 kB)."
"The scientific evidence is unequivocal. We are on the threshold of a future with unprecedented environmental risks. The combined effects of climate change, resource scarcity, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience at a time of increased demand, poses a real threat to humanity's welfare. Such a future generates unacceptable risks that will undermine the resilience of the planet and its inhabitants. We have generated our own geological epoch, the Anthropocene."
The Declaration goes on to say that with leadership and determined action, "a transition to a safe and prosperous future is possible," but "time is running critically short."
Signed by world leaders
As of 18 June, the declaration has been signed by close to 40 eminent figures, including former heads of state, Nobel Laureates and top scientists.
Izabella Monica Vieira Teixeira, Minister of the Environment of Brazil, member of the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), who participated in the High-level dialogue, has also endorsed the Declaration.
Among the signatories are: Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, Co-Chair, UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP); Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, member of The Elders and GSP; Yuan-Tseh Lee, Nobel laureate (Chemistry), President, International Council for Science (ICSU).
"We call upon world leaders to move beyond aspirational statements and exercise a collective responsibility, seizing the historic opportunity offered by the Rio 2012 summit to set our world on a sustainable path."
"A new narrative for a prosperous future is needed. The time to act is now!" the declaration states.
Read the declaration here (pdf, 600 kB)
Read the entire press release here