LENORE TAYLOR June 22, 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will push for new 'sustainable development goals' in her address to the Rio Conference. Photo: Tamara Voninski
JULIA Gillard will use her set-piece speech to almost 100 world leaders at the Rio Conference to throw Australia's weight behind the push for new ''sustainable development goals'' to set clear standards for national efforts on the sustainable use of food, water and energy.
The Prime Minister will also tell the United Nations conference in her address early today, Australian time, that Australia is ''playing its part'' in moving to clean economic growth by introducing the carbon tax, which begins in just over a week.
Each leader gets to make one short official speech on the floor of the conference, the formal negotiated outcome of which Ms Gillard has conceded will not ''make an indelible mark on world history''.
The document endorses sustainable development goals, but deep disagreement from some developing nations meant it could not include a timetable, nor even the specific themes that they should cover.
''When we set targets we put before ourselves a task which is practical and empirical,'' she will say, describing any global collective action as ''exquisitely hard''.
The Coalition has said the Rio conference will be a failure for Australia unless it reaches a global pact on carbon pricing, but it is not a meeting primarily focused on climate change and carbon pricing is not on the agenda. The Prime Minister's schedule is focused on events organised on the sidelines of the meeting, which some observers argue are becoming more important for practical outcomes than the gruelling negotiation about sustainable development itself.
Yesterday she breakfasted at a function with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and later met Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other leaders.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed her to co-chair a group of global leaders and celebrities making a ''final push'' for implementation of the millennium development goals by the target date of 2015.
He said Ms Gillard's ''vision, leadership and commitment'' had qualified her to lead the group, which includes singer Bob Geldof, CNN founder Ted Turner, UN special adviser Jeffrey Sachs and Graca Machel, formerly a minister in Mozambique and also wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The goals include alleviating poverty, increasing access to clean water, food and education and for developed countries to meet targets on foreign aid spending, although Australia had to delay meeting the aid target for one year in this year's budget as part of its push to return to surplus.