Helen Clark urges action on environment
People need to push governments if they want environmental change, former Prime Minister Helen Clark says.
Clark defended the controversial Rio+20 conference in a ''state of the environment'' address to a crowd of hundreds at Lincoln University last night.
Clark, who heads the United Nations Development Programme, said Rio+20, which was criticised by activists for lacking detail and ambition, was not a complete failure.
She blamed the fragile global economy for its lack of traction.
Many developed countries were completely absorbed by economic problems and were not looking ahead at future environmental issues, she said.
"Things that look like they might cost money these days aren't necessarily at the top of governmental agendas.''
However, Clark said the conference provided a ''platform for action'' to help those who wanted to focus on sustainability.
''We can't afford to wait for governments to reach perfect agreement, because in the current negotiating circumstances they're not going to.''
Clark said enviromentally friendly development was still essential for developing nations.
''Poor communities are [vulnerable] to changes in their ecosystem, because it can just wipe out their livelihoods.''
She said New Zealand was also heavily reliant on the quality of its environment.
Clark said the community needed to encourage world leaders to take a stronger stance on the environment.
''In the end, what will motivate governments to act is that groundswell pushing them forward.''
Lincoln University has held an annual environmental address since 1999, with high-profile figures invited to speak on some aspect of New Zealand's environment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you travel by bus in Christchurch?Related story: More bus shelters needed in Christchurch