This morning the EESC’s plenary session held a thematic debate on the theme of the EU’s preparatory work for the 2012 Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. The Committee’s guest speakers were the European Commissioner responsible for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, and the Head of the Brazilian Mission to the EU, Ambassador Ricardo Neiva Tavares. The EESC’s President, Staffan Nilsson, has made sustainable development a major pillar of his work programme and is determined to make sure that the voice of organised civil society is heard in this context. Potocnik, who described the Committee as ‘a key link to business, labour and civil society’ was eager for ‘feedback from your depth and breadth of experience’. Moreover, he saw civil society as having ‘an important role as a catalyst’ in the greening of national economies. The Ambassador spoke about two potential developments at Rio: one the setting of Sustainable Development Goals (like the Millenium development Goals) and the other further reflection on measuring growth beyond GDP. Also prominent in the debate were two Committee members, rapporteurs of related opinions on the Flagship Initiative for a Resource-Efficient Europe (part of the Europe 2020 Strategy), Lutz Ribbe (Various Interests Group, Germany) and on Rio+20: towards the green economy and better governance, Hans-Joachim Wilms (Employees’ Group, Germany). The Commissioner’s speech should shortly be available here and deserves to be read. One comment he made stuck in my mind. It used to be said that those who preferred a green lifestyle were ‘opting out’. Now, however, we had to shift to the contrary culture: sustainability had to be mainstream. Given limitations on finite resources and demographic developments there truly is no other way.