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Link between women's rights and earth's future is often forgotten: former Finnish President

Updated: January 22, 2013, 12:41 PM IST
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Link between women's rights and earth's future is often forgotten: former Finnish President
Lack of access to resources and energy is another impediment to success on the road to sustainable development.

Tarja Halonen is the former President of the Republic of Finland and is a participant at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) 2013, organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), that starts from January 31. An interview with her follows.

Why is a forum like DSDS significant to you? Where do you place it in the global discourse on sustainable development?

The DSDS, organised by TERI, is one of the most significant annual conferences on sustainable development that brings together political and business representatives from the North and South alike. By putting considerable emphasis on climate issues in developing countries, DSDS supports the international climate negotiations process, promotes environmental awareness and advances dialogue between industrial and developed countries. DSDS advances sustainable development goals.

Two out of four priorities of the Finnish development policy and development cooperation are entailed in the following two topics: first, an inclusive green economy that promotes employment, and secondly, sustainable management of natural resources and environmental protection. The importance of DSDS in this discourse is clear. There are different ideas about sustainable development but we need to work towards finding a consensus and act in order to reach the common goals. It's about giving resilient people a resilient planet.

DSDS 2013 is themed "The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient Growth and Development". What are your key expectations from the summit, both from the developing and developed countries?

The UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability pointed out the lack of success on the road to sustainable development. The two main reasons cited were: first, lack of access to resources and energy, and secondly, discrimination against women. The link between women's rights and the planet's future is too often forgotten. Another key message our Panel highlighted was that the global community cannot carry on with the "business as usual" scenario. I am tempted to quote again Mahatma Gandhi in saying that "There is enough for everyone's need but not for everybody's greed."

There are mounting grassroots expectations around the globe for the leaders of the North and the South to create tangible solutions for this modern trinity of sustainable development. All efforts are now needed to construct new goals for a sustainable future and, equally importantly, to take action in order to improve the well-being of our planet and its humankind.

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