MARCH 7 2011 15:25h

U.N. preps for big green energy push

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UNITED NATIONS, March 7 (UPI) -- The failure to address global poverty means the world community will teach the next generation of people bad environmental habits, a U.N. official warned.

U.N. delegates met to start preparations for a sustainable development conference in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

Sha Zukang, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said in a press briefing that the global community will teach the next generation unsound habits without key economic reform.

"The sad truth is that despite two centuries of spectacular growth on our planet, we have failed to eradicate the scourge of poverty," he said in a statement.

The U.N. Environment Program last month said it views a green economy as a catalyst for growth in developing countries where the bulk of revenue is derived from so-called natural capital such as forests.

The Rio conference will highlight green economic reforms needed to tackle poverty and subsequent environmental and geopolitical issues.

"Rio 2012 will be one of the most important events in the coming decade. It is a response to the rude wake-up call received in 2008," said Sha. "First the food and energy crises, then the financial collapse ... and then the prolonged global recession and mounting social tensions."