Statement by Foreign Minister Timo Soini at the EU-CELAC Summit

Statement by Mr. Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Brussels 9 June 2015

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Distinguished Co-Chairs, dear colleagues,

The theme of tomorrow’s EU-CELAC Summit  “Shaping our common future: working for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens" is timely and fitting for both EU and CELAC - countries.

I would like to contribute to “shaping our common goals” by making two remarks.

Firstly: to achieve prosperous and sustainable societies, we need to engage and use the full potential of the whole society. This requires that girls and boys, women and men – have equal access to education, economic opportunities and political decision making.

We all have come a long way in promoting gender equality, but  in our countries  many women and girls still face discrimination in everyday life  -  and too many women endure violence at home, at work.  Violence against women is a serious human rights violation and needs to be condemned and fought back as such. 

But what seems to be sometimes forgotten is that discrimination against women is also an impediment to economic growth.  So it makes a lot of common sense   - and is a smart investment - to empower women to work as equal partners in their societies.

The second issue I would like to raise is: sustainable management of natural resources. 

Sustainable development can only take place within the limits of planetary boundaries. Climate change is a case in point: It is a direct threat to sustainable development. And the worst impacts of climate change are predicted for the poorest regions in the world. Here again - women need to have an active role and become the change makers towards more sustainable use of natural resources given the fact that in many countries they are responsible for providing food and care for their families.

Conserving our biodiversity and ensuring the maintenance of ecosystem services - for example, in terms of clean air and water - are crucial for mitigating and adapting to climate change. By investing in the conservation of biodiversity we are investing in our own and our children’s future. Finland is actively promoting green growth and investing in clean tech- technologies to overcome many of the current obstacles to sustainable growth. We are looking forward to the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held next year in Mexico.

As a new minister -  I am  so to say:  “ a new kid in town “.But  Finland  has a long history in promoting equality as well as sustainable development. So I would be very happy to share our experiences during our discussions here or bilaterally.

I thank you for your attention.