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UN chief stresses need to meet global sustainability challenge

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued a challenge to the newly-created High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability to find a solution to the challenge of lifting people out of poverty while promoting sustainable development.

“By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by almost 50 per cent, and global greenhouse gas emissions will have to be slashed by half by that year if climate change is to be kept in check,'” Ban told reporters after the panel’s first meeting in New York, US, on Monday.

Calling it the “50-50 challenge”, he said: “We will need to provide a dignified life for nine billion people while at the same time preserving the resources and ecosystems that sustain us”.

He reiterated his call for the panel to “think big” in drafting a bold but practical blueprint on how countries can promote sustainable development.

“The challenge is considerable, and extends far beyond the time frame for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Ban said.

The Pan African News Agency (PANA) reports that at the meeting, the Panel discussed its work for the next 15 months, and is expected to report back at the end of the year.

Its recommendations on how to meet the so-called: “50-50” challenge and other obstacles will feed into preparations on upcoming conferences on development and climate change.

Last month, the secretary-general unveiled the 21-member body, which is co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma.

The Panel’s final recommendations will be delivered to the UN Secretary-General at the end of 2011.

Its membership comprises Gro Harlem Brundtland, Han Seung-soo, Yukio Hatoyama, Luisa Dias Diogo and Kevin Rudd, former prime ministers of Norway, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Mozambique and Australia, respectively.

Others are Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al Nahayan, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, and Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.

Also on the panel are Alexander Bedritsky, Aide to the Russian President on climate change, Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair, Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on the MDGs and Zheng Guogang, Director of the China Meteorological Administration.

Others are James Laurence Balsillie, Chair of the board of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Susan Rice, the US Permanent Representative to the UN.

The panel also has current and former environment ministers Jairam Ramesh of India, Julia Carabias of Mexico and Cristina Narbona Ruiz of Spain, as well as Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s Commissioner for Climate Change and Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation.

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