SPEAKERS HIGHLIGHT URGENT NEED TO BUILD ON 1992 RIO CONFERENCE COMMITMENTS, AS PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR JOHANNESBURG SUMMIT CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE
NEW YORK, 4 February (UN Headquarters) -- Broad agreement on the urgent need to build upon the commitments made at the first 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) marked Friday’s general debate, as the Commission on Sustainable Development continued its preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held later this year.
While most delegations saw the upcoming Summit as an opportunity to apply the lessons learned since that Conference, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many expressed disappointment with the slow implementation of the Programme of Action adopted a decade ago -- known as Agenda 21 -- while still others raised issues that had been significantly less prominent at UNCED, saying they were integral to sustainable development question.
Continuing its general debate in a day-long session, the Commission, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit to be held from 26 August to 4 September in Johannesburg, South Africa, heard interventions from national delegations and representatives of United Nations agencies and associated bodies.
Celso Lafer, Brazil's Minister for Foreign Relations and head of his country’s delegation in 1992, said the challenge on the road to Johannesburg was different from that of at Rio, the first United Nations Conference to deal with environment and development. While the task in 1992 was to develop a conceptual framework and a programme of action for sustainable development, Rio+10 would require practical implementation measures, bearing in mind that sustainable development was a global endeavour entailing a sharing of differentiated responsibilities among the various actors.
Pointing out that Johannesburg would test the capacity of multilateral action to promote sustainable development, he said that in order to put sustainable development into practice, conditions must be established to enable developing countries to benefit from their competitive advantages in international trade. Improvement in market access, particularly the liberalization in agriculture, and technological capacity must all come into play if countries were to respond effectively to the need for the transition to sustainability.
Nombasa Tsengwa, South Africa’s Deputy Director for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, said the Secretary-General’s report correctly highlighted the failure to implement commitments concerning financial resources, capacity-building and technology for sustainable development. It was clear that poverty and inequality were the greatest threats to sustainable global development. If there was to be a serious international effort to tackle poverty and inequality, it would require an unprecedented international effort to implement the social, environmental and economic aspects of Agenda 21.
She said success in Johannesburg would depend on: a properly managed global consensus among governments and stakeholders; ownership and participation by global leaders of both developed and developing countries; and concrete outputs and deliverables within all three pillars of sustainable development. A successful outcome would also include a concrete programme of action to deliver on the Millennium Summit targets and Agenda 21, focused around a clear set of targets, with delivery and coordination mechanisms, resource commitments, time frames and monitoring mechanisms. It would include specific sectoral agreements, partnerships and actions in such areas as water, energy, and food security, which gave expression to the global deal at a variety of local, national, regional and international levels.
Besides concerns about climate change, sea level rise, global warming, ecosystems and other signature issues of the environment debate, poverty alleviation, hunger, desertification, globalization and health -- particularly the HIV/AIDS pandemic -- were at the forefront of Friday’s discussion.
Nigeria’s representative said that progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 had tended to be in areas of special interest, rather than its economic and social aspects. In the circumstances, the deterioration of most developing economies, particularly in Africa, had resulted in an overwhelming increase in poverty and inequality, accelerated biodiversity loss, global warming, desert encroachment and disasters. The focus of the 10-year review must be on eradicating poverty; doubling agricultural production to ensure food security; improving health delivery; and launching extensive capacity-building programmes, he added.
Malaysia's representative asked what the international community wanted out of Johannesburg. Did it want to go on talking about the problems or to act on the possible solutions? He emphasized that excessive over-consumption in the North and consumption below basic needs in the South were both unsustainable. In working towards a bottom-up approach to sustainable development, mere awareness of the problems was not enough. Ultimately, the challenge was one of changing individual behaviour and transforming societies. There was a need to introduce an ethic of conservation and stewardship, based on humanity's common spiritual and cultural values.
Algeria's representative noted that the viability of vast regions of the world was threatened by desertification and soil erosion, yet the issue had been treated as a poor relation at the Rio Summit. Despite the adoption of the Convention to Combat Desertification, the international community had made no real effort to implement it. However, the recent decision by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to elevate desertification to priority focus marked a step in the right direction, which should be confirmed in concrete financial terms at Johannesburg and at the GEF Summit in October.
Samoa's representative, speaking on behalf of the 43-country Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said serious and intensified efforts were needed to minimize the vulnerabilities of small island communities and to especially assist those low-lying islands that were already in danger. Much stronger mitigation measures would be required and small island States were seriously concerned about the lack of willingness among the industrialized countries to take on their rightful responsibilities. They could not be unaware that human lives and livelihoods were already gravely at risk. Oceans and seas were fundamental to the life and culture of all islands, and should have been a specific focal area for the Preparatory Committee's work.
Grenada' representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Community was very disappointed that the Secretary-General's report failed to identify "oceans and seas" and "small island developing States" among the priority areas for strengthened implementation,, and specifically requested that consideration be given to their inclusion. Climate change had contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, which had devastating recurrent effects on CARICOM States, which undermined their capacity for sustained development. They called for a special fund for the rehabilitation of small island developing States following natural disasters.
The representative of the United States said successful development balanced social and economic growth with environmental stewardship, and required the involvement of everyone. Sound domestic institutions and an enabling environment to attract and retain financial resources were a must. It was no secret that potential investors looked first for fair regulatory systems, transparency, and the rule of law. Likewise, official development assistance (ODA) was more effective where those institutional elements were strong. Building those kinds of institutions required new kinds of partnerships, which he called "coalitions of the willing", involving government, civil society and business. Those coalitions were the most effective way to pursue sustainable development.
Several Caribbean delegates pointed out that the HIV/AIDS pandemic was devastating their region, which was presently second only to sub-Saharan Africa in prevalence rate.
Desmond Johns, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that responding to HIV/AIDS should be an integral part of all national poverty reduction strategies, sustainable development and economic growth strategies. It was crucial to build and sustain a multi-sectoral response to HIV/AIDS that was in every way equal to the epidemic itself. Concerted and courageous action was needed to conserve scarce human resources and to begin to replace the human capacity that had already been lost. Sustained and strengthened debt relief efforts were an important addition to national resources for the fight against AIDS.
Ian Johnson, Vice-President of the World Bank, said poverty reduction was the driving force in providing security for all on the planet. International cooperation was now more important than ever and the era of fragmentation was truly over. Johannesburg could help foster the types of partnerships necessary for success, such as those between the North and the South and between governments and the Bretton Woods institutions. He emphasized the need to increase ODA, address trade barriers, especially in agriculture, and improve the investment climate to encourage responsible private investment.
Timothy Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, said the body was the classic public/private partnership. It focused particularly on biological diversity and climate change and how they affected the poorest in the world. Among its programmes were the Polio Eradication Programme, which operated in partnership with Rotary International and the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Heritage Programme, in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Other speakers today were the representatives of Ecuador, Czech Republic, Philippines, Bangladesh, Belarus, Finland (on behalf of the Arctic Council), Lithuania, Kenya, Colombia, Norway, Thailand, Russian Federation, Romania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saint Lucia, Botswana, Tunisia, Tuvalu and Bhutan.
The Committee also heard the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, China, Israel, Fiji, Cyprus, Croatia, Peru, Mozambique, Belize, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Moldova, Nepal, Honduras, Bolivia, Suriname, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Burundi.
Also speaking today were representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations University, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September, met this morning to continue its general debate.
The Summit will bring together leaders to review the implementation of Agenda 21, the action programme adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as identify measures for its further implementation.
(For further background on the Committee’s two-week session, see Press Release ENV/DEV/606 issued 28 January.)
MARIO ALEMAN (Ecuador) said that in light of the progressive deterioration of the world’s environment, it was necessary to reaffirm the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. That implied a true commitment of cooperation by those countries and regions that had mainly contributed to such deterioration, by making a substantial contribution of resources towards economic development. A concrete programme of action to execute Agenda 21 was important for achieving sustainable development. That programme should include effective mechanisms for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries, as well as data and other necessary resources to ensure compliance with the Rio commitments.
Ecuador, he said, was considered first in the world when it came to biological diversity density. Therefore, it was a priority for his Government to conserve and give sustainable use to its biological resources in accordance with the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity. To achieve the sustainable use of biodiversity, it was necessary to adopt practical rules that would enable a more profitable use of the genetic resources, based on a recognition of the sovereign rights of every country on those resources. Cultural diversity was also important in the context of sustainable development. At a multilateral level, it was important to adopt specific measures to assure protection, preservation and equitable participation of the benefits obtained from its commercial use.
BEDRICH MOLDAN (Czech Republic) noted that, although the concept of sustainable development was maturing and becoming firmly rooted, not everything had gone right since the Rio Summit. There were serious gaps and even failures in meeting the commitments and expectations raised, most notably in the means of implementation. Some of those failures were clearly linked to a lack of political will and longer-term vision, which could be changed by the Johannesburg Summit.
He said a recipe for success at the Johannesburg Summit would be acceptance at the highest political level of the term "sustainable" as the very identity of development. While that alone would be a great achievement, it would not be meaningful without translating the general vision into practical terms and actions. Chapter VIII of the Secretary-General's report provided wise guidance on how to approach the complex challenges in further implementing Agenda 21.
Aligning his delegation with the statement of the European Union, he stressed the importance of substantively reviewing the whole institutional architecture relevant to the three pillars of sustainable development at the global, regional and national levels. In addition, core sustainable development areas like biodiversity, freshwater management, energy and transport and others required an integrated interdisciplinary approach. The role of capacity-building, science, education and raising awareness were also important, he said.
HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines, said poverty alleviation was central to the vision of sustainable development. Current patterns of economic development had led to massive natural resource depletion and environmental degradation. Without concrete actions, commensurate with the severity and urgency of the situation, neither the United Nations millennium goals nor the Rio goals would be achieved by their target dates. While he recognized that national development was primarily the responsibility of each country, he stressed the need for enhanced multilateral cooperation in achieving sustainable development.
Also, he believed that good governance and institutional reforms were among the most important issues to address in meeting the challenges of sustainable development. He emphasized the crucial role of the major groups in policy-making, planning, implementation and monitoring of sustainable development efforts. The creation of a national council for sustainable development in his country had had very positive results in advancing the vision of the Philippine Agenda 21. He also stressed the need for debt relief, increased external financial resources and the adequate transfer of environmentally sound technologies for enhancing implementation of Agenda 21 and the achievement of sustainable development.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, noted the inexorable marginalization of the least developed countries that had shown slow or negative growth in the 1990s. They still required international assistance in their efforts to achieve sustainable development, and their interests and concerns should be taken into account, since they were the most vulnerable.
There could be no discussion of environmental protection and management without addressing its corollary of poverty, he emphasized. It was crucial that financial commitments be implemented for assisting the poorest countries and their peoples. That was all the more important, given the fact that about half of the 1.3 billion people living in South Asia were officially listed as living below the poverty line.
He called for the creation of an enabling environment in facilitating greater access to developed-country markets for the exports of developing countries; equitable South-South cooperation; assistance in mitigating the consequences of climate change; adherence to the agreed principle of differentiated responsibility in the implementation of Agenda 21; cooperation in capacity-building and technology transfer; assistance in human development and natural disasters; and implementation of the major multilateral environmental agreements, especially those on climate change, biodiversity and desertification.
SERGEI LING (Belarus) said his country’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development outlined the main problematic areas, strategic goals and priorities of his Government, as well as the capacities and means for their attainment. It also contained recommendations addressed to both governmental and non-governmental institutions. The Strategy took into account the existing socio-economic and environmental situation in the country and the influence of domestic and external factors. It represented a system of scientifically grounded proposals for addressing the domestic problems in the context of globalization and the UNCED recommendations. Much attention was paid to structural economic adjustments aimed at reducing the consumption of raw materials, fuel and energy resources, and enhancing the use of renewable sources of energy.
The path towards sustainable development in Belarus was seriously complicated by the necessity of overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, he said. As a result of that catastrophe, 23 per cent of the country’s territory was contaminated with radioactivity -- the same area where nearly one third of the population continued to live. The issue of preventing similar catastrophes and mitigating their consequences should be seen as vital in the context of achieving sustainable development, and the issue should be given due consideration at the Summit.
TUILOMA NERONI SLADE (Samoa), speaking on behalf of the 43-country Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the political commitment and direction provided by Agenda 21 and the Barbados Plan of Action had been used as the benchmark for measuring progress and achievements of the last 10 years. However, the trends of the last decade showed that the approach had not been working to the scale necessary for a transition to sustainable development.
He said there was significant cause for concern, owing to a steady decline in environmental quality for all small island States regions from urbanization, population, poverty and shortcomings in policies and governance. Most formidably for small island States, climate change was an additional and exacerbating problem going directly to the roots of their sustainability. Climate change was not of their making and they looked to the international community for urgent and meaningful action.
Serious and intensified efforts were needed to minimize the vulnerabilities of small island communities and to especially assist those low-lying islands that were already in danger, he said. Much stronger mitigation measures would be required and small island States were seriously concerned about the lack of willingness among the industrialized countries to take on their rightful responsibilities. They could not be unaware that human lives and livelihoods were already gravely at risk.
Underscoring the fact that oceans and seas were fundamental to the life and culture of all islands, he said they should have been a specific focal area for the Preparatory Committee's work. The scientific consensus was unmistakable that small island and low-lying areas would be the first to take the full force of sea level rise and more severe climatic conditions, with serious impacts on agricultural production, freshwater resources, as well as land and marine biodiversity. The AOSIS would, therefore, strongly support the proposal for the "coasts and islands" as a separate item.
PETER STENLUND (Finland) spoke on behalf of the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental regional forum established by the Arctic States -- those with an outreach above the Arctic Circle (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russian Federation and the United States). The Council was a unique forum for cooperation between national governments and indigenous peoples in the Arctic.
The clusters identified in the Secretary-General’s report embraced urgent challenges pertaining to sustainable development in the Arctic, he said. For example, promoting health through sustainable development was high on the Arctic agenda. Also, the cluster "poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods" was urgent to indigenous peoples worldwide. In some parts of the Arctic, poverty and lack of basic health care services had led to an alarmingly low life expectancy among indigenous peoples.
The cluster "access to energy and energy efficiency" was closely related to sustainable use of natural resources in the Arctic, he continued. Global market demands and technological progress offered new opportunities for expanded utilization of those rich resources, such as oil and gas, metals and minerals. If properly managed, those opportunities could bolster sustainable growth and well-being in the region. Without precautionary measures, however, the traditional livelihood of indigenous and other local people, as well as the existence of vast areas of pristine nature, might be in danger.
He said sustainable development in the Arctic region was globally important, due to its rich natural resources and its climatic impact, regardless of its remoteness and sparse population. Reciprocally, international developments had a huge impact on the Arctic. The Arctic, as well as other polar areas, deserved recognition in Johannesburg and in the Rio process as it unfolded.
LAMUEL STANISLAUS (Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Community was very disappointed that the Secretary-General's report failed to identify "oceans and seas" and "small island developing States" among the priority areas for strengthened implementation, and specifically requested that consideration be given to their inclusion.
He said climate change had contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, which had devastating recurrent effects on CARICOM States, undermining their capacity for sustained development. Expressing its continuing concern at the lack of progress in reducing greenhouse gases, CARICOM strongly encouraged increased international and domestic action to address climate change and its consequences and called for a special fund for the rehabilitation of small island developing States following natural disasters.
He emphasized the need to cohesively develop the settlements of indigenous peoples. That would integrally include continued support for the establishment of programmes to foster innovative partnerships for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including especially earmarked revolving financial mechanisms to revitalize rural productive capacity, and to enhance the competitiveness of the rural sector.
Health had emerged in the new millennium as a very important challenge to the sustainable development of the CARICOM States, he said, largely due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, where the rate of prevalence was second only to sub-Saharan Africa. CARICOM States, therefore, called on the international community to support the region's efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS through public education and treatment programmes.
EVALDAS VEBRA (Lithuania) said the main goal of Lithuania’s National Environmental Strategy was the promotion of knowledge, attitudes and action that would contribute to sustainable development. Priority was given to the promotion of investments aimed at pollution prevention, use of clean fuel and energy sources, as well as the introduction of low-waste and other progressive environmental technologies.
One of his country’s main problems was the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, he said. It was necessary to reduce energy intensity, to increase implementation of energy efficiency and to use more alternative energy sources with less hazardous emissions. Investment in the utilization of indigenous and renewable energy sources must be encouraged, and the implementation of the newest technologies must be accelerated. Reduction of the negative impact of transport to the environment remained an important issue for future transport policy. In Lithuania, the transport sector accounted for approximately 70 per cent of the total emissions into the air and its effects were felt mainly in the urban areas.
BOB JALANG'O (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country had always advocated the need to mobilize more funding for development through comprehensive debt relief, improved lending policies by the multilateral lending agencies and reforms in trade and marketing policies, giving developing countries a greater voice in international trade affairs.
It was disheartening that even the modest goal of increasing official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) had been met by only a handful of developed countries, he said. Foreign direct investment had generally declined, and trade and market policies within the World Trade Organization (WTO) had not favoured the developing countries. Conflict between trade and environment policies had often undermined the Rio and other multilateral agreements.
As the host country for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), he said, Kenya reiterated the need to provide the agency with predictable and reliable funds from the United Nations regular budget to enable it to efficiently and effectively discharge its mandate as the global environment authority. Kenya welcomed the elevation of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) to a programme, and called for the strengthening of the crucial role of local authorities and their partners in implementing sustainable urbanization.
JOSÉ NICOLAS RIVAS (Colombia) highlighted four aspects which he believed should be examined to move forward on the road to sustainable development. First, illicit crops had been a major obstacle to the development efforts of his country and others in the region, having very negative effects on the environment, economy and people. Johannesburg must promote international cooperation in the search for and establishment of mechanisms of prevention, support for the reduction of rural poverty and the promotion of alternative crops.
Second, he continued, a result of the Summit should be the emergence and promotion of a new ethic for sustainable development that encouraged a culture of sustainable development in communities, civil society and the private sector, through education and strategies for promoting greater public awareness. Third, he emphasized the critical role of education in promoting greater awareness of sustainable development.
Last, he said, it was evident that the relationship between trade and development required careful analysis in the deliberations. Foreign trade, as the engine of growth, was critical to sustainable development. It required a review of the trade subsidies that distorted prices and improved access for the products and services of the developing countries to the markets of the developed countries, particularly in sectors such as agriculture and textiles, in which they had a competitive advantage.
SICHAN SIV (United States) said successful development balanced social and economic growth with environmental stewardship, and required the involvement of everyone. Sound domestic institutions and an enabling environment to attract and retain financial resources were a must. It was no secret that potential investors looked first for fair regulatory systems, transparency, and the rule of law. Likewise, ODA was more effective where those institutional elements were strong. Building those kinds of institutions required new kinds of partnerships, which he called "coalitions of the willing", involving government, civil society and business. Those coalitions were the most effective way to pursue sustainable development.
He made several comments regarding chapter VIII of the Secretary-General’s report. Among them, he noted that while the section on governance addressed a wide range of complex issues related to international governance for sustainable development, it largely ignored national and local issues. As the bulk of the decisions affecting sustainable development were made at the national and local levels, good governance structures at those levels were crucial. Section J should be modified to read "governance at all levels". He also had comments regarding the sections on sustainable agriculture, finance, technology transfer, oceans and concrete steps and initiatives.
IAN JOHNSON, Vice-President of the World Bank, said poverty reduction was the driving force in providing security for all on the planet. Sustainable development was central to poverty reduction. Rio had placed environment and development on the agenda and had strengthened consultations between governments and civil society. In his report, the Secretary-General had noted the need for renewed commitment and action to achieve sustainable development. Macroeconomic stability was not enough to drive development, although development could not be achieved without it.
International cooperation was now more important than ever, he said. The era of fragmentation was truly over. Johannesburg could provide a new vision for moving forward. It could help foster the types of partnerships necessary for success, such as those between the North and the South and between governments and the Bretton Woods institutions. He emphasized the need to increase ODA, address trade barriers, especially in agriculture, and improve the investment climate to encourage responsible private investment. Also, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) must be adequately replenished this year. In addition, it was vital to pay increased attention to those countries suffering under crippling debt.
GUNNAR LINDEMAN (Norway) pointed out that poverty was the world's foremost killer today and that poor people carried a disproportionate part of the global burden of ill-health. Improved health was both an outcome and a condition for achieving equitable economic growth and poverty reduction. Health, poverty and sustainable development were inextricably linked.
He said premature death and illness attributable to environmental factors were now estimated to make up one fifth of the total burden of disease in developing countries. That was comparable to the proportion of death and illness caused by malnutrition and other preventable risk factors. The links between environmental health and poverty should be further explored for a better understanding of how to target anti-poverty efforts and implement effective measures.
In an era of globalization, it was important to give prominence to cultural diversity and to make use of traditional knowledge and skills for the benefit of present and future generations, he said. There was promise in the increased focus on eco-efficiency, particularly in industry where the aim was the decoupling of economic growth from resource use. But, the pressure on natural resources through pollution and over-exploitation continued to be a major challenge.
Regarding oceans, he said the Secretary-General's report focused rather one-sidedly on protection and conservation. It should, however, also be acknowledge that fisheries and other marine industries represented an important but under-utilized source of income for coastal populations in developing countries. However, two vital preconditions for harvesting marine resources were clean oceans and sustainable use.
CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) said several major strategies towards sustainable development had been implemented in his country, such as the increase in the use of renewable energy by 61 per cent since 1992. Other achievements included the provision of safe drinking water to a higher percentage of households, better management of water resources and increasing the number of protected areas.
While achievements had been made, more needed to be done to bring the world closer to the objectives of Agenda 21 and a more balanced and integrated approach toward addressing the three pillars of sustainable development, he said. No developing country could undertake that task single-handedly without international support and regional cooperation. He called on developed countries to increase technical, technological and financial support for research and development to developing countries, as well as set specific timetables for realizing the 0.7 per cent ODA target.
In addition, the International Conference on Financing for Development and its follow-up would complement efforts to implement Agenda 21, he said. Further, capacity-building and technology transfer were crucial to overcome the constraints in achieving sustainable development.
REINHARD MUNZBERG, International Monetary Fund (IMF), said one main theme in the Fund's work in the preparatory process was to help in establishing a comprehensive framework for addressing all the issues. The Fund was prepared to cooperate within its mandate and means to help countries achieve the eradication of poverty.
He said a central aspect of the Fund's work relevant to the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development and to the Preparatory Committee was country-ownership of development programmes based on sound management policies. The IMF was trying to bring together different in-country players and assist in setting up accountable systems for tracking resources and ensuring they were used for the appropriate purposes.
He stressed the need to increase ODA and to ensure the efficient use of ODA allocations. Capacity-building was also of concern and the Fund had stepped up technical assistance to help countries establish institutional capacities to deal with any shocks that might arise. Trade, market access and subsidies were also important aspects, and the IMF was closely following how countries were taking advantage of the new Doha trade round.
MUHAMED TSYKANOV, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation, said the Summit should pave the way for finding effective solutions to harness the benefits of globalization and overcome its negative aspects for the sustained economic growth of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. It was important to ensure the integration of those countries into the world economy and the international trading system. Also, a number of countries, including his own, possessed unique natural and unspoiled territories and ecosystems, which contributed to the global environmental balance. The issue of a country’s role and contribution to that balance should be dealt with at the Summit.
In addition, he continued, it was necessary to effectively solve the problem of external debt. In that context, he found interesting the idea of "swapping debt for sustainable development arrangements". Also, it was necessary to more actively involve the private sector. The idea of establishing partnerships between States and civil society, including business, deserved serious attention. On that basis, the Russian Federation supported the Secretary-General’s "Global Compact" initiative. All of those issues should be adequately reflected in the final documents of the Summit.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said his country had been involved in an intensive preparatory process in the Maghreb, Arab and African contexts. That had allowed the countries involved to work out a regional approach and to reaffirm their responsibility to play an active role at the international level to achieve sustainable development. International support was necessary owing to the daunting challenges involved and the need for the elimination or rescheduling of external debt.
He said that in Algeria the establishment of a national strategy for the environment and sustainable development and the national plan of action arising from it augured a new era for the country. The action plan was based on a critical analysis of the stakes involved and the environmental problems facing the country. The national strategy and action plan were set in the context of the economic and social model, with a view to link the environmental transition to the economic transition in which the country was engaged.
Noting that the viability of vast regions of the world was threatened by desertification and soil erosion, he said that issue had been treated as a poor relation at the Rio Summit. Despite the adoption of the Convention to Combat Desertification, the international community had made no real effort to implement it. However, the recent decision by the GEF to elevate desertification to priority focus marked a step in the right direction, which should be confirmed in concrete financial terms at Johannesburg and at the GEF Summit in October.
NOMBASA TSENGWA, Deputy Director for Environmental Affairs and Tourism of South Africa, said the Secretary-General’s report correctly highlighted the fact that Agenda 21 had neither been sufficiently nor evenly implemented, due to a number of constraints. Those included the failure to implement commitments made in Rio, especially commitments concerning financial resources, capacity-building and technology for sustainable development. It was clear that poverty and inequality were the greatest threats to sustainable global development. If there was to be a serious international effort to tackle poverty and inequality, it would require an unprecedented international effort to implement the social, environmental and economic aspects of Agenda 21.
The success of Johannesburg would depend on: a properly managed global consensus among governments and stakeholders; ownership and participation by global leaders of both developed and developing countries; and concrete outputs and deliverables within all three pillars of sustainable development. The package to be negotiated and agreed upon at Johannesburg would constitute a deal of truly global significance, which, if achieved, would constitute a new era of multilateralism as a credible global tool for sustainable development.
A successful outcome from Johannesburg would include a global deal to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 21 and address the problems of global inequality and poverty. It would also include a concrete programme of action to deliver on the Millennium Summit targets and Agenda 21, focused around a clear set of targets, with delivery and coordination mechanisms, resource commitments, time frames and monitoring mechanisms. Finally, it would need to include a range of specific sectoral agreements, partnerships and actions, in areas such as water, energy, and food security, which gave expression to the global deal at a variety of local, national, regional and international levels.
TIMOTHY WIRTH, President of the United Nations Foundation, said that the priorities of the Foundation were sustainability and poverty prevention. The Foundation was the classic public/private partnership. It focused particularly on biological diversity and climate change and how they affected the poorest in the world. Among its programmes were the Polio Eradication Programme, which operated in partnership with Rotary International and the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Heritage Programme, in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Foundation, he continued, had also made grants to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), among others. He hoped to see real and tangible programmes coming out of Johannesburg, with a particular focus on programmes related to sustainable energy.
OVIDIU IERULESCU (Romania), associating himself with the European Union statement, said progress in environmental protection was an important strategic goal of foreign policy in the process of European Union access integration. Therefore, participation in international and regional environmental agreements and preparations for accession were considered to be mutually supportive.
He said that, as a country with an economy in transition, Romania still lacked sufficient financial resources in the State budget, which could delay the necessary environmental protection measures. Also, private investment in environment protection was still low. The Romanian Government would continue to develop policies to attract additional international funds in order to accelerate the implementation of environmental protection measures.
Romania had hosted regional initiatives dedicated to the preparatory process leading up to Johannesburg, he said. In 2001, it had hosted two regional events for Central and Eastern Europe -- the Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Danube-Carpathian Region and the Regional Conference for the Evaluation of the Rio+10 Process in Central and Eastern European Countries.
VASKO GRKOV (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that developing countries and those with economies in transition must create conditions for economic growth by mobilizing domestic resources and promoting good governance, sound policies and democratic institutions to attract foreign direct investment. Developed countries and international financial institutions must support those efforts through financial assistance or by promoting investment, he added.
Regarding energy and transport, he said each country must contribute towards enhancing energy efficiency and deployment of cleaner fossil fuel technologies. His Government had established a national centre for cleaner production. With new technological solutions, industrialized countries, some developing countries and countries in transition had reduced negative impacts on the environment.
He said international governance for sustainable development was very closely linked with institution-building and governance at the national level. Of particular importance was public participation in decision-making regarding the implementation of sustainable development. In addition, finance and trade were among the most important issues for the successful implementation of Agenda 21 and all development goals. The Johannesburg Summit was closely linked with the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Doha, Qatar.
Mr. RIPANDELLI, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, said the Center had been operating to provide the international community with a forum devoted to research in genetic engineering and biotechnology. The Center operated through two components, one in Trieste, Italy, and the other in New Delhi, India. It provided training and research activities in topics of relevance to the developing world. The Center had maintained a privileged relationship with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the task manager of Chapter 16 of Agenda 21.
Following its participation in preparations for the Cartagena Protocol, the Center became one of the major organizations participating in the biosafety clearinghouse, he said. Biosafety was one of the foremost issues to be considered in the context of Johannesburg. Assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition was deeply rooted in the Center’s mandate. In providing that assistance, close contact with industry was vital.
CELSO LAFER, Minister for Foreign Relations of Brazil, said the Summit would test the capacity of multilateral action to serve as an effective instrument for promoting development. The challenge in the road to Johannesburg was different from the one faced in Rio. In 1992, the task was to develop a conceptual framework and a programme of action for sustainable development. Johannesburg required the international community to move towards practical action. The focus must be on ways to ensure implementation, bearing in mind that sustainable development was a global endeavour in which responsibilities were common, but differentiated.
In order to put sustainable development into practice, conditions must be established that enable developing countries to benefit from their competitive advantages in international trade. Improvement in market access, particularly the liberalization in agriculture, was imperative in that regard. Also, technological capacity was vital if countries were to effectively respond to the needs of sustainable development. It was instrumental to empower countries to face the transition to sustainability. In addition, finance was a central issue in the preparations for the Summit. As much as the Financing for Development Conference was expected to contribute to addressing ODA, foreign direct investment, external debt and systemic issues, there must be a discussion that linked those issues with sustainable development.
EARL S. HUNTLEY (Saint Lucia) said if all countries were to achieve sustainable development and all people a decent standard of living, it was necessary to have global economic and financial, monetary and trade institutions that recognized the limitations and vulnerabilities of various countries and regions. That included special and differential treatment in the global economic system that was binding and effective. It also included an appropriate mechanism to address the declining terms of trade and instability of commodity prices, which accounted for the largest drain of development resources for developing countries.
Achieving sustainable development was not only about environmental protection, but also about an integrated approach to addressing all issues that impacted on development, particularly adequate resources and effective capacity-building, he said. Small States, such as his, would never attain sustainable development if they were not included in the formulation of policies that significantly impacted on their development. Implementation of Agenda 21 must, therefore, inevitably address the issue of the full and effective participation of developing countries in decision-making processes, particularly in economic decision-making, including increased international cooperation on tax matters and formulation of financial codes and standards.
MUSHANANA L. NCHUNGA (Botswana) said sustainable development could not be addressed without building human capacity. Recognizing its constraints as a small economy, his Government had placed considerable emphasis on the development of human resources and the enhancement of productivity. Results of such investment had been commendable and contributed to sustained economic growth of the country over the years.
However, with the advent of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the country was facing a particularly precarious development situation, including the depletion of productive human capacity, he continued. No nation could attain sustainable development without addressing the issue of health. In that regard, he hoped the Summit would strongly affirm that combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, was a key component of a comprehensive integrated strategy for attaining sustainable development.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, agreed with the Secretary-General's report that the implementation of Agenda 21 left much to be desired. At the international level, sustainable developed required consensus on how to lay a solid foundation for sustainable development for the benefit of all.
Tunisia relied on its national experience in facing up to the challenges of comprehensive sustainable development, while providing for the well-being of the entire society. Tunisia was working in line with the recommendations laid down at the Rio Summit and emphasizing the importance of harnessing development to policies based, first and foremost, on reducing poverty, which had become the foremost factor threatening peace and stability all over the world.
International financial cooperation was an integral factor in an era of globalization, characterized by the interconnection of economies and societies, he said. It was vital to liberalize trade by allowing access to developed markets of goods from developing countries. However, the crises that had plagued African countries in the last decade had been exacerbated by globalization. Africa required healthy and safe technology, as well as credits and investment flows. It was also high time the international community took seriously the problem of desertification that plagued much of the continent.
ENELE S. SOPOAGA (Tuvalu) said that, for his country, the ocean was the main source of livelihood, just as it was for communities in other small island developing States. It was their only "farm land", on which their economic, social and cultural well-being was dependent. For the Summit to achieve a balanced and meaningful outcome, oceans along with islands must be highlighted as a major theme. Such communities needed to be safeguarded against the threats posed by the ocean to ensure their long-term security and survival. The application of the precautionary approach in the Summit’s considerations as in the Rio Declaration, therefore, was imperative.
He stressed the seriousness of the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on Tuvalu and many small island developing States. The accelerated damage to its coasts, beaches, crops, coral reefs and freshwater were becoming more common. He appealed to the international community to seriously and urgently consider actions and options to respond to that situation. Tuvalu urgently needed immediate attention through practical strategies and plans, including international technical and financial support, to adapt to the impacts of climate change, climate variability and sea-level rise.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that even as the international community extolled the accomplishments of Rio, it continued to gloss over the shortcomings in its implementation. A decade later, the high hopes and expectations embodied in Agenda 21 had only been partly and inadequately fulfilled. The provision of adequate additional resources for implementation had failed to materialize, and the global environment continued to deteriorate at an accelerating rate.
The international decision-making process was increasingly becoming unhinged from the availability and provision of the requisite funds, he said. More often than not, there was a risk of deciding on policies and plans that had virtually no chance of being translated into reality. What did the international community want out of Johannesburg? he asked. Did it want to go on talking about the problems or to act on the possible solutions?
He expressed concern that the link made between trade and environment policies might be used as an effort to justify protectionism and to impede market access for goods from developing countries. In that regard, coherent policies were needed to minimize conflicts. The promotion of sustainable development in the developing countries could not be put at risk through the resort to unilateral, discriminatory and questionable measures on environmental and social grounds.
Regarding the patterns of production and consumption, he emphasized that excessive over-consumption in the North and consumption below basic needs in the South were both unsustainable. In working towards a bottom-up approach to sustainable development, mere awareness of the problems was not enough. Ultimately, the challenge was one of changing individual behaviour and transforming societies. There was a need to introduce an ethic of conservation and stewardship, based on humanity's common spiritual and cultural values.
OM PRADHAM (Bhutan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted that 2002 was the International Year of Mountains. Twenty-five per cent of the Earth's surface comprised mountainous areas, which affected large lowland and lower riparian areas.
He underlined the need for a greater understanding of mountain ecosystems -- their biodiversity, geological structures, land use patterns, utilization and preservation of mountain forests and water catchments -- was essential to sustainable human activities. In that context, Bhutan supported the proposal by Switzerland to give greater prominence to sustainable mountain development in a future programme of action.
Recent years had seen the devastating impact of climate change, he said, characterized by serious floods and unusual weather patterns. The greatest present concern stemmed from the threat of receding glaciers and glacial lake outbursts due to abnormal temperature rises. That development could have serious consequences, not only for Bhutan, but also for millions in India and Bangladesh.
He said his country had largely avoided the temptation to undermine its environment and forests for the sake of development and unsustainable consumption patterns. Despite serious financial constraints, Bhutan had managed to preserve its forests and biodiversity, keep its rivers free of pollution and protect its water catchments, so that they could continue to benefit the lower riparian countries and their vast populations.
SUNG HWAN SON (Republic of Korea) said, while there had been some solid achievements in many areas since the 1992 Rio Summit, deterioration of the global environment had easily surpassed collective efforts to promote global stability. Now was the time to make an objective assessment of just what had been accomplished over the last 10 years, in order to identify solutions to problems, as well as reinforce commitments to the promotion of sustainable development.
The Republic of Korea’s Government generally supported the ideas on implementing Agenda 21 contained in the Secretary-General’s draft report, he said. It was quite sensible to highlight, as top priority issues, poverty and sustainable consumption and production. He added that a renewed focus on the issue of poverty –- the main source of environmental degradation and erosion of social coherence -– would surely contribute to the success of the upcoming Summit. In that regard, exploring the links between poverty, the environment, health, and urban and rural issues should not be ignored. He added that a regional approach should be encouraged to strengthen global partnership, and existing global environmental governance needed to be strengthened.
Another important aspect in efforts to achieve sustainable development would be how the international community managed the inevitable and irreversible process of globalization, he said. A downside to that phenomenon existed and the resultant marginalization, culture clash and increased market volatility should not be overlooked. Still, globalization could benefit those that are prepared to maximize its positive aspects. To that end, technology transfer and cooperation -- primarily through business partnerships or government agencies -– would be critical to making globalization work for sustainable development.
DAG VABORJ (Mongolia) said that while his country was the seventeenth largest in the world in territorial size, more than 40 per cent of that territory was currently covered by desert. It was estimated that 95 per cent of the total land was highly susceptible to desertification. Droughts, covering as much as 25 per cent of the country’s territory, occurred every two to three years. Mongolia was among the first in Asia to adopt its National Plan of Action to Combat Desertification. Within that framework, a number of projects in such areas as sand-movement monitoring, forestry rehabilitation, improvement of the legal environment and public awareness were being implemented at the national and local levels.
He added that the Executive Secretary for the Convention had rightly emphasized that it was high time to increase assistance to countries like Mongolia, who had already undertaken commitments at the national level and were willing to work towards their implementation. In that connection, he supported the move by the GEF to designate desertification and land degradation as its focal area.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that several disappointments notwithstanding, the last 10 years were not totally devoid of progress. The issue of sustainable development had been placed high on the political agenda, both at national and international levels. There had never been greater awareness of the need to address the challenges of poverty and deprivation and to mobilize the requisite resources to fulfil internationally agreed development goals.
The importance of sustainable development was now widely acknowledged by countries at the domestic level, he continued. Several of them had initiated national programmes for implementation of Agenda 21. In Pakistan, efforts had been made to increase economic growth, eradicate poverty, improve social conditions and reverse environmental degradation. It had developed a National Conservation Strategy by, among other things, promulgating an Environmental Protection Act and establishing various institutions at national and provincial levels to address environmental problems.
Although commendable and noteworthy, national efforts alone could not cope with such problems, he added. It was necessary to complement those efforts by establishing an enabling international environment that eased the economic and financial pressures on developing countries.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) noted that many countries had formulated and implemented strategies for sustainable development, and public awareness had been greatly enhanced. Non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, local governments, academic institutions and all circles of society were working towards that goal. However, the global environment continued to deteriorate, and unsustainable production and consumer patterns in some developed countries had not changed. Fragile economic foundations, poverty and population increase had caused enormous pressure and seriously hampered developing countries -- where most of the world's population lived -- in their efforts towards sustainable development.
Rapid globalization had served to deepen economic interdependency among countries and regions, he continued. The opening of markets and development of technologies, especially the Internet, had brought them even closer. But, the world economy was still far from balanced and the problem of polarization as serious as it had ever been. Such long-standing problems as lack of funding, the debt burden and trade obstacles remain unsolved. Poverty and inequality remained the two major hindrances on the route to sustainable development.
Global partnership must be revitalized in a common effort towards sustainable development, he said. In addition, the international community should focus on priorities and work out an overall and coordinated plan. A favourable external environment must also be created, so that developing countries can develop their economy and strengthen their capacity through trade and the use of external financial resources.
STEPHANIE FIRESTONE (Israel) said her country had created a Clean Production Center, which developed and showcased the best available and emerging technologies. Work was being done now with industries in the country to adopt those technologies and to make more efficient use of resources. Developed countries could look forward to additional tools, such as indicators for decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, which were currently being developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Complementary to those and other critical tools, the current discussions must also directly address consumption -- the consumer who fuels the demand for products.
Yet, she continued, the driving force behind demand was the advertising industry and the media, both of whom must be made full partners in efforts to achieve sustainable development. Government, for its part, could address demand-side consumption through concrete commitments. Perhaps more importantly, the Summit should promote clear messages that could catalyse the type of value shift that was necessary to bring about bold behavioural changes.
AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) associated himself with the positions of the Pacific Island Forum Group, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Group of 77 and China.
He expressed concern over the absence of "oceans" from the agenda both of the International Conference for the Financing of Development and the World Summit for Sustainable Development. The same fragmentation that had paralysed the international handling of oceans issues in the past continued today on the eve of Monterrey and Johannesburg.
Emphasizing that oceans could not be fragmented as a cross-cutting theme in the World Summit or any other deliberations, he said lack of knowledge or data on the issue could be a persuasive rationale for placing it on the back burner. Oceans deserved pride of place as a stand-alone issue on the World Summit agenda. Fiji called for a renewed international commitment to sustainable management and conservation of oceans.
Turning to tourism, one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the region, he underscored the need to manage it sustainably, with a long-term vision to bear optimal economic benefits and income opportunities to resource owners. Moreover, tourism could meaningfully aid poverty reduction, resource conservation and cultural preservation.
YIORGOS CHRISTOFIDES (Cyprus) said there was a pressing need to address the external factors that continued to undermine the quest for sustainability. In particular, the global community should effectively tackle international inequalities, secure appropriate technical and financial support at bilateral and multilateral levels, and demonstrate empathy to the aspirations of those less fortunate, by incorporating equity considerations into regional and global policies. At the same time, new challenges must be addressed, such as globalization, the information and communications revolution, and the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
His Government’s basic goal was to, gradually and methodically, introduce the environmental dimension into all parameters of economic and social policies. Thus, development objectives were pursued in conjunction with the preservation of the environment. The major sustainable development goals of Cyprus were incorporated in the Strategic Development Plan for the period 1994 to 1998. Its results had been mixed, as sustainable development involved the reorientation of the entire economic system and changes in the approach of traditional development policies. The main thrust of the new Development Plan for 1999-2003 was centred around the further incorporation of sustainability into economic development policies and the improvement in the quality of life.
IRENE FREUDENSCHUSS-REICHL, Assistant Director-General for United Nations Affairs of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said the past decade had shown that industry in developing countries made its greatest contribution to those countries that most rapidly increased the export of manufactured goods. Unfortunately, most developing countries were marginalized both in the export of manufactured goods and by the global trend to reduce the pollution intensity of the manufacturing sector. However, 13 countries, including Brazil, China, Indonesia, Philippines and Turkey, had improved their competitive positions by applying new organizational techniques and less polluting technologies.
In light of the strong evidence for the benefits of technological change, she said, the Summit should consider specific proposals on how the new round of trade talks agreed to at Doha could complement multilateral environmental agreements in the search for sustainable development. Technical cooperation programmes and projects were the path for integrating all parts of the world into the global economic and environmental networks in mutually beneficial ways. UNIDO’s 44 integrated programmes were building the export potential of 39 countries and Palestine in ways that generated employment and did not harm the environment. The focus was on technology transfer, energy development and solid waste management. In addition, UNIDO assisted countries in implementing industry-related projects supportive of pollutant reduction goals in ways that enhanced export potential. An example was a technological upgrade of Guatemala’s textile sector.
Describing country programmes in more detail, she said UNIDO’s strategy for the Summit centred on energy, assessment of technology transfer needs, and solid waste issues. In the energy and climate change fields, UNIDO’s strength lay in its technical specialization and its capability to offer integrated project services. Its emphasis would be on providing access to sustainable energy for the poor, improving energy efficiency, capacity-building to help cope with climate change issues, and technical assistance projects to provide renewable energy supplies for development of the important information and communication technologies (ICT) sector.
DESMOND JOHNS, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that new strategies and actions elaborated to further implement Agenda 21 should take full account of the following elements. First, responding to HIV/AIDS should be an integral part of all national poverty-reduction strategies, and sustainable development and economic growth strategies. Second, it was crucial to build and sustain a multi-sectoral response to HIV/AIDS that was, in every way, equal to the epidemic itself. Third, concerted and courageous action was needed to conserve scarce human resources and to begin to replace the human capacity that had already been lost. Fourth, debt-relief efforts were an important addition to national resources for the fight against AIDS. They should be sustained and strengthened.
Fifth, he continued, international assistance and solidarity must be provided. Efforts must be stepped up to raise the $7 billion to $10 billion that would be needed annually by 2005 for an effective response to HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Finally, building partnerships in response to the AIDS epidemic was crucial. The response to HIV/AIDS was beyond any one nation, any one agency or any one agenda of any international conference. It needed interlinkages and partnerships between regions, governments, involving the public and the private sectors, civil society and business.
A.H. ZAKRI, United Nations University, said that sustainable development depended on the capacity to move beyond the apparent tension between the goal of liberalizing the global trading system and the need for environmental protection. A useful step in the right direction would be to establish greater consistency between WTO rules and the various international environmental agreements. Capacity-building was imperative in resolving that debate.
He said United Nations University research supported many of the views expressed in the multi-stakeholder dialogue that the combined impact of globalization, and information and communication technologies, on the prospects for sustainable development was critical. A focus must be maintained on how they could both be channelled more effectively to the benefit of the developing world. The University recommended that, in fact, the link between globalization and sustainable development should be one of the key topics for discussion in Johannesburg.
HRVOJE GLAVAC, Minister of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning of Croatia, said his country was determined to develop itself in a sustainable manner and was in the final stages of adopting its National Development Strategy for the twenty-first century. He expressed concern that Africa and countries in transition had not sufficiently benefited from globalization. The Secretary-General’s report on implementing Agenda 21 should have been more pointed about the specific problems and needs of the countries in transition. Noting that financial resources were a crucial element in sustainable development, he said the outcomes from the Monterey Conference should be incorporated into implementing sustainable development goals.
Croatia was assuming its share of responsibility in helping to resolve global environmental issues, he continued. Croatia was committed to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, although given his country’s reconstruction and development energy needs, its implementation would be extremely difficult and perhaps even beyond the Government’s capacities. Nevertheless, Croatia was committed to fulfilling its obligations in full. Croatia also supported organic farming and sustainable tourism, so as to safeguard its preserved nature. As genetically modified food was perceived by the authorities and public in Croatia as "undesirable", he looked forward to the further discussion of managing the risks of living modified organisms. The Johannesburg Summit should be result-oriented. It should be focused on progress in eco-efficiency and changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns. Local implementation of Agenda 21 was of high priority.
VANESSA TOBIN, Chief, Water, Environment and Sanitation Section, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), highlighted two issues, which she wanted to see sufficiently emphasized at the Summit. The first was children’s environmental health. Many studies had shown that environmental quality was one of the key factors in determining whether a child survived his or her first years of life, and strongly influenced the child’s subsequent physical and mental development. Children were at greater risk than adults from pollution exposure. Therefore, special attention should be paid in policy-making processes to adequately take into account children’s special vulnerability and related protection needs.
The second issue, she said, was the importance of water and sanitation and its close relationship with children’s health. Nearly 2 million children under the age of five died annually from diarrhoeal diseases alone, primarily due to unsafe water and poor sanitation. The latest assessment showed that 1.1 billion people still lacked access to improved drinking water, and 2.4 billion lacked access to improved sanitation. Water and sanitation was an important part of the freshwater equation. Given its direct impact on human survival, health and quality of life, water and sanitation should be a core component on the water agenda.
TENIOLA OLUSEGUN APATA (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressed disappointment that the Secretary-General's report did not cover some major areas of interest to his country, such as oceans and desertification. He said Agenda 21 had generally been implemented unevenly. Noticeable areas of progress had tended to be in areas of special interest, rather than economic and social aspects. In the circumstances, most economies of developing countries, particularly in Africa, had deteriorated, resulting in an overwhelming increase in poverty and inequality, accelerated biodiversity loss, global warming, desert encroachment and disasters.
The review, therefore, was an opportunity to build international consensus and partnerships, he said. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) should become the framework for the implementation of Agenda 21 in Africa. The focus must be on eradicating poverty; doubling agricultural production to ensure food security; improving health delivery to tackle such pandemics as HIV/AIDS; launching extensive programmes of capacity-building; and developing technology and mechanisms for financial resources.
He underscored the vital importance for the region of the marine and coastal environment, saying that the main thrust of NEPAD was the establishment of a mechanism to support the African process for the protection and development of that environment. In addition, the Convention to Combat Desertification should be acknowledged as a tool for development and poverty eradication in Africa. There was a compelling need to incorporate the Convention into the GEF as its financial mechanism.
MARIA CECILIA ROZAS, Foreign Ministry Director of Environment and Sustainable Development of Peru, said a positive result from the Johannesburg Summit would also have a significant impact on the political cohesion of Member States, which was needed in these times of uncertainty. Sustainable management of the natural resources of the planet could not be further postponed, given the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption that still prevailed. The unmatched natural wealth that was expressed in the possession of a great biodiversity, sheltered by extensive forests and fragile mountain ecosystems and the source of such vital resources as water and energy, constituted a great possibility for the sustainable development of Peru.
Citing the negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon on the Peruvian economy, she expressed the hope that the Kyoto Protocol would enter into force before the Johannesburg Summit, as a sign of the commitment of the international community to confront the climate vagaries that often intensified natural disasters, with devastating consequences. Fragile mountain ecosystems, such as the Andes, where the status of glaciers often served as an advance warning of climate disruptions, were also at risk. Any harm to them could lead to a scarcity of water and energy, in addition to the threat to the traditional way of living of the Andean inhabitants. In recognition of the International Year of Mountains 2002, Peru would be hosting the world meeting of "The Mountains 2002: Water, Life and Production" in the city of Huaraz from 12 to 14 June this year.
As a country that had one of the most important forest areas in the world, Peru believed it was essential to achieve sustainable management of those regions, she said. Also, her Government hoped that the conclusions on access to genetic resources would recognize the value of traditional knowledge, adequate access to genetic resources and a fair participation in the benefits derived from their commercial use.
ANTONIO MACHEVE (Mozambique) said that by holding the Summit in the poorest continent in the world, global awareness could be raised about the problems related to environmental degradation and underdevelopment, represented by poverty. The quest of African countries to implement the Rio commitments had been seriously undermined by widespread poverty in the continent, coupled with lack of resources for that endeavour. The NEPAD constituted the African answer to the problems faced in the continent. Based on the principle of national ownership, NEPAD aimed at setting an agenda to renew the continent that captured national and regional priorities and development plans, through a participatory process and a new framework for interaction with the rest of the world.
By adopting NEPAD, African leaders had produced an African programme for sustainable development, based on Africa's reality, strength and vision. The NEPAD, whose approach was in line with Agenda 21, pursued the goal of poverty eradication through a strategy of economic growth and sustainable development, in which environmental concerns were legitimately addressed. Its success was crucial to the advancement of sustainable development in Africa. However, NEPAD could only be viable if it benefited from a meaningful partnership between Africa and the rest of the world. He called on the international community to provide the necessary resources for a smooth implementation of NEPAD.
PATRICIA MENDOZA, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Industry of Belize, said her country was in the unenviable position of having had to grapple with three storms in the past two years -- Hurricane Keith, Tropical Storm Chantal and Hurricane Iris. That experience had underscored the fact that concerted efforts must be made to address the prospects of the increasing vulnerability of small island developing States.
Therefore, she reiterated the call for coordinated efforts within the United Nations family in helping countries to effectively manage the onslaughts of natural disasters and to quickly recover and mitigate the impact of those disasters through further capacity-building and institutional strengthening. Given the prospect of increasing natural disasters and the profile of Belize, where it was estimated that at least 40 per cent of the country consisted of coastal areas, she also drew special attention to the issue of coastal zone management.
DIANE QUARLESS (Jamaica) associated herself with the Group of 77, the AOSIS and CARICOM, and strongly supported requests for the inclusion of oceans and small island developing States among the priority areas to be considered in Johannesburg.
She said that because of Jamaica's small size and island characteristic, land-based activities significantly affected the coastal environment; conversely, the country was heavily dependent on, and influenced by, the marine and coastal environment. Late last year, Jamaica had completed a draft National Policy for Ocean and Coastal Zone Management and earlier adopted a Plan for an Integrated Watershed Management. Support for those programmes would be a worthy endeavour, she said.
Poverty, compounded by a formidable debt burden, remained a major problem undermining Jamaica's capacity to achieve sustainable development, she said. The economic vulnerability of the rural poor had been exacerbated by globalization and trade liberalization, which had brought economic dislocation and increasing unemployment in the rural areas. Heightened rural-urban drift had resulted in rapid expansion of unskilled, unemployed rural poor people, presenting an increasing challenge for municipal authorities to provide physical and social infrastructure and services to meet the basic needs of the population.
Jamaica strongly advocated support for capacity-building in the development and strengthening of network-related institutional structures; strengthening of national and regional statistical and analytical services; encouraging donor support through partnership for the development of traditional and indigenous knowledge; developing and strengthening public-private partnerships; and encouraging donor support for programmes of excellence.
DONNA FORDE (Barbados) said the Secretary-General’s report fell substantially short in its reflection of the heavy reliance of small island developing States on the oceans. The coverage accorded to the world’s oceans was inadequate and could not fully support the efforts of governments and other institutions to obtain and apply scientific knowledge for proper conservation and management of ocean resources. The review of the implementation of Agenda 21 should take into account the dearth of oceans information for practically all of Caribbean small island developing States.
Access to information already collected by international entities in the name of scientific research must be made available to the sovereign States they had passed through, she continued. At the same time, it was important to develop national capacity to address those shortcomings in data in that specific area. To improve the development of scientific knowledge, such knowledge must first be given prominence and demonstrated to have social and economic importance at the national, regional and global levels. Provision must be made for adequate finances to sustain comprehensive, ongoing research programmes.
Mr. SORENSEN, World Trade Organization (WTO), said the 2001 Doha Summit had strongly reaffirmed the WTO's commitment to sustainable development, as well as to public health and to implementation of the previous Uruguay trade. Trade and development was among the most difficult issues. While some saw it as a means to demonstrate that an integrated approach could provide viable solutions, others saw it as a potential means of instituting protectionism.
He said governments had been able to make a progress, because they could not let it be said that they were deaf to widely held public concerns. The next ministerial WTO meeting would focus more closely on issues of coherence, so as to create models of synergy. Coherence was important because those seeking assistance needed to make their needs clear, while the donors had to know what was expected of them.
ANDRAS SZOLLOSI-NAGY, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said sight should not be lost of the key role that education, at all levels and in all forms, could and must play to address the issues before the Summit. It was necessary to build on the work done in developing and implementing the International Work Programme on Education, Public Awareness and Training for Sustainability, adopted by the Commission on Sustainable Development in 1996. Education was essential to addressing issues such as consumption, health, freshwater, energy, oceans, biodiversity, as well as financing and globalization.
The battle for sustainable development could only be won if people everywhere became agents of change, if people everywhere began to modify their behaviour and lifestyles, he said. Education was one of the most powerful instruments available to empower people to become such agents of change. Therefore, he issued a strong plea to governments and other stakeholders to not restrict the treatment of education at the Summit to poverty eradication, as central as that concern might be. In addition, UNESCO was glad that the international science and technological community was recognized as a major group in Agenda 21. The knowledge that science could and must generate had to provide the very foundation for the stewardship of the planet.
RAJIV RAMLAL, Deputy Director of the Division of Multilateral Relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Trinidad and Tobago, shared the disappointment expressed by other small island developing States that the Secretary-General’s report had not highlighted the Barbados Plan of Action. Since the Plan had been omitted from the report, the current preparatory meeting should consider its merits. For small island developing States, the Action Plan had been the most integrated and concrete expression of Agenda 21. It provided the international community with clear guidelines for promoting the sustainable development of those States, and the Summit process must, at the very minimum, agree on its full and urgent implementation.
Next, he emphasized several issues which held particular concern for Trinidad and Tobago. The HIV/AIDS pandemic had emerged as a most urgent priority, he said, as the Caribbean region had the highest rate of HIV prevalence outside sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, he expected that the Summit would provide additional impetus and resources to support the Global AIDS and Health Fund, and that priority consideration would be given to ensuring that the Fund was easily accessible to high incidence or high-risk subregions, such as the Caribbean.
He also said building institutional and human resource capacity continued to hamper efforts to implement Agenda 21. In that regard, small island developing States believed that revitalizing and enhancing the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Capacity 21 Programme through the Johannesburg process was a sure way to enhance capacity-building.
ABDELLAH BEN MELLOUK (Morocco) said 2002 was a key year because it would see the entry into force of a number of international protocols and agreements that would advance the cause of sustainable development, particularly environmental development. The entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, which was expected to enter into force before the Johannesburg Summit following a cycle of difficult but fruitful negotiations, was a challenge that the international community must face in order to combat the negative effects of climate change.
He said that two key sectors -- water and energy -- deserved special attention. Without doubt, they were the cornerstones of any sustainable development, which, without concerted and rational management, could lead to regional and international conflicts. Sources of drinking water were becoming scarce in the Maghreb. Vulnerability studies had shown a substantial per capita decline owing to growing population and deteriorating water quality, aggravated by climate change and drought.
Regarding energy, more than 2 million rural people had no access to modern energy and were forced to use traditional sources like fuelwood, thus causing an irreversible deterioration of the national forests. That over-exploitation had led to the annual loss of 30,000 hectares of forest resources. However, efforts were under way to make available renewable sources of energy. The realization of such programmes would be impossible without international cooperation and partnerships.
Mr. AL-QORASHI (Saudi Arabia) said much progress had been made in implementing Agenda 21. In the context of environmental protection, his Government had decided to carry out assessment studies of all industrial projects. Progress had also been made in the desalination of seawater to meet the growing need for water in urban areas. Many structural reforms to ensure economic and financial stability had been undertaken. Other achievements included reduction in illiteracy, progress in education, increase in the participation of women and the establishment of development standards. He stressed the need to encourage foreign direct investment by creating the necessary enabling environment, to strengthen the private sector, and to carry out necessary structural adjustments.
At the same time, many obstacles still existed which impeded the achievement of sustainable development, including poverty, indebtedness and unemployment, he continued. The WTO must work to develop standards to ensure that the international trading system was open to everyone. International companies, for their part, must facilitate access to new technologies.
VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova) said that his country had begun the implementation of the sustainable development principles in 1992 after the Rio Summit. The provisions related to those principles had been incorporated in several important policy documents on the economic and social development of the country. More recently, with the support of the World Bank and the UNDP, a National Sustainable Development Strategy, "Moldova 21", had been elaborated. The challenge now was to create an adequate institutional and operational framework for its implementation.
In that regard, he continued, there was a great need to expand relationships with international financial institutions, and United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, as well as with the private sector, to ensure the required international assistance, including financial resources. Last year, to coordinate the country’s preparations for the Summit, the Government established a National Preparatory Committee. The cross-cutting themes of the national preparatory process were poverty and sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods. In the same vein, Moldova was currently undertaking a national review and assessment of the progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, as well as the unacceptable conditions of poverty, gave rise to grave environmental consequences. One caused global environmental degradation and the other local degradation. The sum total was an increasingly unlivable world for the present generation and a worse one for the future generations.
He said that reducing the consumption of finite resources through sustainable lifestyles and improved energy sources had never been more urgent. Both rich and poor countries would have to work together to preserve the integrity of life-supporting ecosystems. Though the focus had been placed on addressing the downstream consequences of environmental degradation, attention must be paid to the upstream causes. Vigorous promotion of the mountain agenda became critical in that respect.
Nepal, while grappling with poverty, resource constraints and Maoist violence, was also engaged in advancing the implementation of the Rio process, he said. A national assessment committee had been formed to examine the implementation status of Agenda 21. Nepal's future strategy to further pursue implementation was likely to adopt a participatory approach, links with global governance and enhanced intra-generation equity.
DU DACHANG, International Maritime Organization (IMO), was convinced that the Summit had to focus on important issues for further implementation of Agenda 21, such as poverty eradication and finance. He believed that protection of the marine environment was crucial for the achievement of sustainable development. Over 90 per cent of international trade was moved over the seas. Indeed, shipping was essential for sustainable development. Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 entrusted the IMO with a number of tasks. Nearly a decade later, the IMO had made great progress in implementation of Agenda 21 within its mandate.
Briefly summarizing some of the IMO’s achievements since Rio, he said that it had introduced effective measures, making international shipping safer. Also, through vigorous enforcement measures, marine pollution from ships had been reduced by 60 per cent. In addition, the IMO had effective technical cooperation programmes to help developing countries implement IMO conventions. Despite its achievements, the IMO still required continued support to address ongoing challenges.
MARIO RIETTI (Honduras) said that the Plan of Action of the Americas on Sustainable Development, the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development (ALIDES) and the CONCAUSA agreement signed at the 1994 Summit of the Americas reflected a common vision to ensure a balance between economic development, social equity and the protection of the environment by its interdependence and mutual reinforcement. However, there had not been substantial progress to fully promote ALIDES’ principles, objectives and commitments within Agenda 21. ALIDES’ instruments, which were the National Council for Sustainable Development and the Central American Council for Sustainable Development, had very little political and financial support from governments and international financial institutions. That was why national sustainable development strategies to implement Agenda 21 had not been fully applied.
He suggested the following for improving the institutional framework for sustainable development. First, strengthen the role of the national councils for sustainable development as instruments for the consensus and implementation of national sustainable development strategies, with public participation in decision-making processes and the formulation of policies, programmes and projects, without compromising the capacity of future generations. The second was to promote greater coordination between the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Commission on Sustainable Development to improve the institutional framework to fulfil the international sustainable development goals.
RENE GOMEZ-GARCIA PALAO (Bolivia), endorsing the statement by Costa Rica on behalf of the Rio Group, said his country had established a national strategy to eliminate poverty. It was the first time that the State had allocated financial resources for sustainable development to local authorities and set up monitoring mechanisms to ensure their proper use.
He said the Bolivia Platform during the preparatory process reflected an assessment of the country's sustainable development goals at the national level, and the text reflected national hopes that would be shared with the world. The Johannesburg Summit might make it possible to assess the joint shouldering of responsibilities and bring together governments and groups to share the world in a sustainable manner. It was hoped that the Summit would provide the necessary commitment and resources.
IRMA LOEMBAN TOBING-KLEIN (Suriname), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, CARICOM and AOSIS, said her country had signed Agenda 21 and ratified several environmental conventions, including those on biodiversity, climate change and desertification. Suriname's Multi-year Development Plan for 2001-2005 included provisions, checks and balances to ensure the sustainability of development achieved through implementation of the Plan.
She said that although the abundance of Suriname's natural wealth ranked the country as the world's seventeenth richest in natural resources, Suriname was financially and economically still in a developing stage. But in spite of those limits, the country was promoting activities and actions on sustainable development. Suriname had one of the oldest nature preservation and park management systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Forests were the country's most abundant natural resource and had a high economic potential, she said. But as a governmental management strategy, only 14 per cent was set aside for timber production. The Government considered it a priority to pay special attention to the specific needs and concerns of indigenous people, who were major stakeholders in natural resource exploitation in their traditional lands, as well as in ecotourism and bioprospecting.
KAMIL BAIALINOV (Kyrgyzstan) said his delegation had initiated the holding of the International Year of Mountains, which would culminate in the international conference on mountains, the first major international conference following Johannesburg. It was necessary to have a separate chapter on mountains in the Johannesburg outcome. Another issue to include was that of financing, which would determine the effectiveness of the efforts to achieve sustainable development. He believed that there had been insufficient use of already existing mechanisms, which they should be further developed in the future.
He said the "swapping of debt for sustainable development", which the Russian delegation had mentioned, should receive consideration. When Agenda 21 was adopted, the status of countries with economies in transition was not clear and had not been reflected in it. Since then, their status was more defined and, in the future, it should be adequately reflected.
VITALY POTAPOV (Ukraine) said that his was a country with an economy in transition. Sustainable development was viewed as a practical strategy to attain further progress in the country. A practical policy of sustainable development must take into account establishing sound scientific methodologies, having the necessary institutions and structural contacts to carry out policies and the political will to implement effective partnerships between all interested parties. The complexity of sustainable development must be matched by adequate scientific studies. Also, new systems of management were needed to attain objectives. His Government was prepared to continue to improve the necessary mechanisms and tools for sustainable development.
EDOUARD NTAMATUNGIRO (Burundi) recalled that a year after the Rio Summit, his country was plunged into a tragic conflict in which thousands of people were killed, with disastrous results for the economy in all sectors.
He said that since the signing of peace agreements last year, the accords were at an advanced stage of implementation despite continuing hostilities in some parts of the country, and the Government was still carrying out negotiations. Donors had helped re-establish the economy, and it was hoped that efforts would continue to alleviate the poverty in the country.
The Secretary-General's report showed how best to achieve sustainable development, he said, expressing the hope that the Johannesburg Summit would pursue an integrated approach to sustainable development, with the eradication of poverty as its primary concern. Efforts to combat HIV/AIDS must also be in the forefront of the Summit's concerns, he added.
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