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H.E. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti - World Interfaith Harmony Week

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H.E. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti

H.E. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations. UN Photo Paulo Filgueiras.

Civil Society and Rio+20

Brazil, a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, welcomes this initiative by the president of the General Assembly.

Brazil will have the privilege of hosting the Rio+20 Conference next June. Sustained and widespread future prosperity will require new thinking about global economic development and major reforms in global economic governance.

The word change has been heard repeatedly here, and Rio+20 is also about change, transformational change. It is about thinking anew and harmonizing conflicting interests.

This is the gist of what Rio+20 is about. It is a central concern of the new thinking about the need to balance material wealth improvements with protection of the natural environment and with redoubled effort to ensure social equity and justice. Sustainable development should be about that. And if it is, it can be a tool to effect that necessary shift, provided that each country’s needs are taken into account.

Civil society, including religious organizations and institutions, have an important role to play in the conference and the implementation of its outcomes. Civil society can promote and mobilize support for sustainable patterns of production and consumption, a central element of sustainable development, as well as inclusive economies that effect social justice.

They must be engaged and empowered to effectively participate in the debate and the implementation of sustainable development. Civil society participation is essential to strengthen and renew multilateralism. Civil society has been a decisive factor in shaping the debates on the international agenda as well as a key participant in the discussions and decision making in international processes.

Civil society’s role has been particularly relevant in forums devoted to sustainable development; it was instrumental in the consolidation of the concept of sustainable development itself during the Rio conference in 1992, also called the Earth Summit, and following that conference. Since then civil society has assumed an increasingly decisive role in multilateral forums, acting as a key driver of social mobilization on pressing issues and assisting in the implementation of decisions.

Civil society’s significant capacity for mobilization, action, and reflection could be more effectively integrated in the work of multilateral organizations, which should endeavor to promote even higher levels of participation.

Stakeholder participation should be at the center of the discussions in Rio next June and in the institutional framework for sustainable development. Brazil hopes Rio+20 will bring a broader framework for accountability in which all stakeholders should be involved.

To conclude, I would like to invite all of you to be part of our collective efforts to make Rio+20 a success.

H.E. Amb. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti received a Bachelor’s Degree and finished a post-graduate course in economics at the University of Brasília. She joined the Brazilian Foreign Service in 1976, after attending the Rio Branco Institute, the Brazilian diplomatic academy. Her first destination abroad was the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations (1985-1988). Upon returning to Brazil, she served as Executive Coordinator in the cabinet of the Minister of External Relations. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she also served as Deputy Press Secretary, Head of the Division of South America I, Director-General of the Department of Human Rights and Social Affairs, and Director-General of the Department of International Organizations. She was responsible for the implementation of President Lula’s “Action Against Poverty” initiative. At the United Nations, she was Vice-Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee of the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development. She led the Brazilian Delegation to the negotiations that prepared the Monterey Conference on Financing for Development.