WORLD LEADERS STRESS IMPORTANCE OF REGIONAL
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
JOHANNESBURG, 3 September -- As the World Summit on Sustainable Development continued its high-level segment this afternoon, world leaders stressed that regional cooperation was the key to achieving the three pillars of sustainable development -- social, economic and environmental -- as well as the path to the peace, stability and justice that would make that development real.
The international community has gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to pursue new initiatives and build a commitment at the highest level to better implement Agenda 21, the road map for achieving sustainable development adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development -- the Earth Summit -- held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It opened on 26 August, began its high-level segment Monday, and this afternoon heard from 13 heads of State or government, as well as 36 ministers and others.
Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs for Israel, said the environment in the Middle East stood confused -- trapped by political arrogance in a sad conflict which could be resolved, and poverty-generated neglect, which could be overcome. While it was not necessary to await peace agreements to act -- regional development could afford no delay --investing in cooperation as a peace-building tool was essential. He highlighted several regionally based projects that could transform that development, including the cooperative planting of one billion trees over the next decade to produce climate change and the building of a water conduit between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea to save the latter from death.
Faiza Abou El Naga, Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said when discussing sustainable development, one could not ignore the unprecedented deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories. It was important to create a fair opportunity for Palestinians by putting an end to occupation, allowing the Palestinian people to practise their right to self-determination and thus begin to actually accomplish true sustainable development. She went on to say that since 1992, Egypt had been implementing the plans, principles and goals of the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. Despite its efforts, however, the country was still facing the same obstacles as other developing countries. On the regional level, Egypt had been participating in joint plans for sustainable development within the framework of the Arab League.
Dragan Mikerevic, Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that in 1992 when the historic Earth Summit had been held, his country had been locked in a conflict that would, over the next three years, bring overall social development to a halt. Even though some progress had been made in reconstructing infrastructure and human settlements, Bosnia and Herzegovina still had some serious catching up to do. One of the country's main foreign- policy priorities had been regionally focused: completing its entry into the European process, culminating with entry into the European Union.
Singapore was also actively seeking to further its role in various regional partnerships, said Lem Swee Sway, that country's Minister for the Environment. As a small city-state with no natural endowment, Singapore faced an uphill battle. But with the help of multi-stakeholder partnerships, it could attain environmental sustainability. Singapore would work with its fellow small island developing States on the Pacific Initiative, relating to water and sanitation. It would also partner with the Indonesian Government and others on good governance in sustainable development, and strengthen the capacity within the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to manage transboundary haze pollution.
Other heads of State and government speaking this afternoon were: Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi; President of Kiribati, Teburoro Tito; Prime Minister of Norway, Kjell Magne Bondevik; President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa; Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern; Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, N'Guessan Affi; Prime Minister of Mauritius, Anerood Jugnauth; President of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo; President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana; Prime Minister of Guinea, Lamine Sidime; Prime Minister of Dominica, Pierre Charles; and President of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde Giorgis.
Also speaking were: Vice-President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Yang Hyong Sop; Member of the Supreme Council of United Arab Emirates, Hamad bin Mohammad Al-Sharqi; Vice Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Osmonakun Ibraimov; President of the Parliament of Hungary, Katalin Szili; Deputy Prime Minister of Malta, Lawrence Gonzi; Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, James Cecil Cocker; Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Pham Gia Khiem; Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceno; Princess of Thailand, Chulabhorn Mahidol; Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Snyder Rini; Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of Cyprus, Costas Themistocleous; Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila;
Also: Minister of the Environment of Lithuania, Arunas Kundrotas; Minister of Physical Development and Environment of Barbados, Elizabeth Thompson; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Maria Soledad Alvear; Secretary of the General Committee for Foreign Liaison of Libya, Abdurrahaman Mohamed Shalghem; Minister and Executive Secretary of Planning of Paraguay, Luis Alberto Meyer; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, Win Aung; Minister for Development and Economic Planning of Sierra Leone, Bobson Sesay; Minister of Labour, Technological Development and Environment of Suriname, Clifford P. Marcia; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Felipe Perez Roque; Minister of State, Trinidad and Tobago, Rennie Dumas; Minister of Finance and Planning of Bangladesh, Saifur Rahman; Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, Benita Ferrero-Waldner; Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala, Carlos Caceres Ruiz; Minister of Commerce of Saudi Arabia, Osama Jaafar Faquih; Minister of State of Environmental Affairs of Syria, Adnan Khozam; Minister of Environment of Slovakia, Laszlo Miklos; Minister of Tourism and Environment of Yemen, Abdulmalik Al-Iryani; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Guliyev; Minister for Population and Environment of Nepal, Prem Lal Singh; Minister of Planning, Development and Cooperation of Chad, Djjimrangar Dadnadji; and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines, Heherson Alvarez.
The high-level segment will reconvene at 9 a.m. Wednesday, 4 September.
TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Samoa, said that Samoa had made determined efforts to put in place a sustainable development strategy aiming to increase economic growth, while making concerted efforts to protect the environment. Achieving sustainable development was not beyond Samoa's reach. Progress had been made in achieving the targets for meeting the basic needs of Samoans, renewable energy and maintaining biodiversity. His country, like other small island developing States, had a vital stake in achieving sustainable development. There were strong indications that those States were carrying the major burden of implementing the Barbados Programme of Action.
The situation of those countries, as ocean dwellers, conferred on them special universal responsibilities as custodians of vast marines spaces, he said. He was particularly appalled at the decline and depletion of fish stock resulting from illegal fishing. Also, the issue of climate change was not only about the environment, but also about the very existence of small islands. Samoa faced severe risks as the result of the actions of others. He was concerned that the responsibility of the international community had so far been inadequate. It was necessary to take the right decisions in Johannesburg and act now.
Samoa had ratified the Kyoto Protocol and joined the call for others to do so, he continued. He also expressed strong support for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which had funded capacity-building towards responsible management of the environment. In that connection, he was pleased with the recent replenishment of the GEF and urged the introduction of small-scale schemes to support local initiatives in countries like his own. Partnership initiatives were a tangible result of the Summit, but must not remain just an idea. Special attention must be paid to global processes that helped developing countries gain greater access to markets and technical assistance.
TEBURORO TITO, President of Kiribati, said as one of the smaller children of Mother Earth, his country had come to the Summit to contribute to the cure of her illness. The only right and good thing he could suggest was a road map to make the world at least not less loving, no less green, than what it was when it was received from the forebears. Kiribati fully committed itself to implementing the outcomes for the achievement of a greener and more humane planet, within the context of sustainable development. His country had designed a sustainable development policy that focused entirely on the quality of human life, not only measured in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, but also in social and environmental terms.
He questioned whether it was sustainable for the world to wait for scientists to dispel their uncertainties surrounding climate change and sea level rise, before taking action. For low-lying countries like Kiribati, it would be too late to adapt to the calamities of global warming. The sustainable harvesting of natural resources was also important. Tuna resources in Kiribati's exclusive economic zone were being threatened by the purse-seine fishing method used by distant fishing countries. All had a responsibility in maintaining a healthy environment in the ocean. Toxic pollutants and radioactive wastes must be prevented at all costs. Even if countries were held accountable for accidental spillages, natural conditions could never be fully restored and compensated.
His country had great problems in managing its waste, because of scarce land for landfills. Public awareness activities had already been undertaken to control pollution from waste disposal. However, assistance was needed to acquire appropriate technologies. Kiribati was also vulnerable to droughts and required desalination plants. Sustainable development could not be achieved, if sources of energy were not renewable or efficient. Kiribati could depend on solar energy to meet its energy demands, but the technology needed to be affordable to the average population. Further commitments were necessary from the developed world, in the spirit of equal partnership.
KJELL MAGNE BONDEVIK, Prime Minister of Norway, said world leaders had gathered in Johannesburg to claim justice -- for the poor, and for future generations. Justice was what sustainable development was all about. That was why poverty eradication was imperative and why environmental commitments were essential. To do justice to the poor, economic development was needed. To do justice to future generations, development must be sustainable. He urged delegations to not walk away from their duties in Johannesburg. They must deliver more. They must make a difference.
He realized that while Johannesburg had delivered on goals and targets on water and sanitation, biodiversity and chemicals, there was a long way to go. It was unacceptable that every year some 3 million people, most of them children, died of water-borne diseases. Moreover, those deaths were preventable. The same was true for the millions with insufficient access to energy. He added that persistent organic pollutants created severe problems for the environment and human health. The poor depended directly on natural resources for food and shelter. There could be no poverty alleviation without addressing degradation of water resources, forests, soils and biodiversity. He also urged all that had not done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
He urged industrialized nations to support national efforts at sustainable development by meeting their prescribed official development assistance (ODA) commitments. Donors needed to deliver more. Norway had drawn up an action plan for fighting poverty in the South towards 2015, and was making concrete efforts in areas such as trade, investment and debt relief. It had eliminated tariffs and quotas on all goods from the poorest countries. He said the Secretary-General had challenged the international community to do more and, with that in mind, he announced that Norway was pledging an additional $50 million beyond the commitments that would be reached in Johannesburg.
BENJAMIN WILLIAM MKAPA, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that in some African countries the national income today was lower than it had been in the early 1960s. At best, some of them stood at the starting line of the development race, but were not yet at a level of development worth sustaining. Agenda 21 had been designed to achieve a balance between the needs of people and their environment, but the poor, the hungry and the diseased could not be expected to put preservation of their environment above their struggle to survive. For them, it was not the quality of life that was at stake, but life itself.
Among the issues of vital importance for poor countries, he listed food security, safe water and energy sources, adding that the wheel of development must also turn to address the health issues that led to premature death, or debilitation, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and water-borne diseases. A commitment was also needed to narrow the education and technological gap between the developed and developing countries. Of high priority were the questions of market access, fair prices and debt burden. On the latter, he said that to ask a poor country to repay those relatively colossal sums was unconscionable, especially as debt cancellation for the poor would hardly create a ripple in global and national financial markets.
He went on to say that the action that developing countries were asking for on the part of rich developed countries would enable them to use their own resources to accelerate economic growth, and reduce poverty. Their own efforts, however, could not be sufficient in view of the work that needed to be done. Genuine partnerships were needed, in which all sides would go an extra mile to live up to their sides of a global compact to make the world a better place for everyone. Such a compact, if implemented, was the key to getting poor countries to begin developing, and move on to considerations of sustainable development. Genuine partnerships did work. The partial debt relief that Tanzania had received had been directed to priority areas of poverty reduction. With the help of a soft loan from the World Bank and more grant assistance from the country's bilateral development partners, the country had more than doubled primary school enrolment, for example.
BERTIE AHERN, Prime Minister of Ireland, said that what was concluded at the Summit really mattered and could make a vital difference. When the international community met 10 years ago in Rio, there had also been a food crisis in southern Africa. The Summit was taking place now in the midst of another food crisis, a serious failure of sustainable development efforts. The countries exposed to the crisis were also bearing the brunt of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Reoccurring food crises and the spread of infectious diseases called into question the progress made in sustainable development since Rio. The poor were the most vulnerable and the least equipped to adapt to change.
The Millennium Development Goals must be at the core of the Summit's efforts, he said. He welcomed the Summit's focus on poverty eradication. It was necessary to move forward in partnership. The decline in ODA in the 1990s was inconsistent with the commitments made in Rio. Ireland's aid budget had increased by 100 million euros this year. It was also necessary to work hard for a timely and successful outcome of the Doha development round. Much more must also be done to relieve the debt burden of the poorest countries, as well as support the NEPAD. At the same time, development resources must be spent as effectively as possible.
At the national level, he said that Ireland had experienced growth and was working towards a fairer and more inclusive society. It attached high priority to environmental management and protection. Ireland's economy was more environmentally efficient than it had been 10 years ago. Ten years ago, Rio had provided the vision for sustainable development. What was needed now was action to achieve that vision.
DRAGAN MIKEREVIC, Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that in 1992 when the historic Earth Summit had been held in Rio, his country was locked in a conflict that would, over the next three years, cause human casualties and material destruction on such a level that overall social development ground to a halt. Even though some progress had been made in reconstructing infrastructure and settlements following the signing of the Dayton Accords in 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina still needed to devote serious attention to the development of democratic processes and in stimulating overall development.
He said the citizens and businessmen of his country, therefore, had very little knowledge about sustainable development. But preparation for participation in the Summit had pushed the issue to the fore. The country had held development-oriented workshops and had established a steering committee for sustainable development earlier this year. That committee was made up of State administrators, businessmen, scientists and civil society representatives. Now, Bosnia and Herzegovina had some serious catching up to do. He said that one of the country's main foreign policy priorities had been to complete its entry into the European Union. There had also been continuous efforts to harmonize its legal system with European standards.
He said that two years ago Bosnia and Herzegovina had ratified the Convention on Climate Change and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was soon to follow. He said that, due to globalization, all now shared the threats facing small countries. And while poor nations did the best they could towards poverty eradication and environmental protection, the rich countries must also live up to the commitments they had made. He said that sustainable development was closely liked to the emergence of private entrepreneurship, access to markets, education, health protection and natural resource management.
N'GUESSAN AFFI, Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, said the Summit created awareness in the world for a multitude of challenges and paradoxes, such as the paradox of the misery of some and the indifference of others and the paradox of wars in a world that was capable of avoiding murderous clashes. Those challenges and paradoxes had been mentioned before and were now discussed here. There was no lack of cures for the ills. From 1992 to 2002, there had been a diagnosis without any appropriate treatment for follow-up. He appreciated the thrust of the Summit -- to go from words to acts.
He said his country was ready to implement the decisions taken here and invited other nations not to turn a deaf ear to the people who suffered. In his country, man had damaged natural resources. The forest cover had declined dramatically, causing climate change, pollution, degradation of land and stress on water resources. A strong population growth, with over 20 per cent of the population consisting of immigrants, and industrialization had also contributed to that situation.
Côte d'Ivoire had undertaken action to protect nature and biodiversity in the context of implementation of Agenda 21, despite scant resources, he said. New challenges were forthcoming. Modernization would allow the government to meet the needs of its population in harmony with their environment. If solidarity was a principle for survival, all nations should be concerned about what was happening on the planet, and take concerted action. He urged other nations to implement the agreements reached since Rio.
ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said that the Summit was a unique opportunity for leaders and stakeholders to meet, discuss and agree on the destiny of their one and only earth. Many of the commitments undertaken at Rio had not been fully honoured or had simply been ignored. The implementation of Agenda 21 was greatly hampered by new challenges, including globalization, as well as armed conflicts, natural disasters and terrorism.
Since Rio, he said, the world had witnessed the degradation of the planet. "We had to save but we must cease being our own predators", he said. As Mahatma Gandhi had said, the Earth could provide for every man's need, but not for every man's greed. He stressed the need to keep people at the centre of development and to ensure that all development be "people-driven". What was needed now was to take determined steps to implement Agenda 21.
Coming from a small island, he said that such States were both economically and ecologically vulnerable. The international community must recognize that elements of the Barbados Programme of Action for small island States needed to be implemented on a fast-track basis, particularly provisions regarding capacity-building and infrastructure. Also, globalization posed new threats to the development of small island States. The World Trade Organization (WTO) must ensure special treatment for small island States and take into account the difficulties of those countries in the outcome of the Doha development round. Finally, he announced that Mauritius had proposed hosting the meeting to follow up on the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action.
OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea, said he had come to Johannesburg with a sense of frustration and a sincere desire not to see a repetition of past failures, when the international community's efforts to negotiate agreements between the North and South had come to naught. He was concerned because the negotiations at the Summit thus far had confirmed that, as ever, humankind was a victim of selfishness and the ambition of those that had always held political power.
The history of humankind had been marked by tragic events that often caused him to call into question man's inhumanity to man, he said. He cited slavery and colonialism as the most shining examples of man's indifference, arrogance and egotism. Sadly, that arrogance was still in evidence, even though slavery and colonialism had ended and the Berlin Wall had fallen. Mankind was trapped in the same vicious circle dominated by ambitious and selfish desires. With that in mind, he said the rules of the game of international relations were dominated by principles of inequity - "economic apartheid" driven by egoism and arrogance. That system had patently denied small countries the right to development and it must be revised.
The wider international community must also confront those States that continued to use the various international instruments and commitments to their own ends, he said. At the same time, while those States were following their own selfish paths, he wondered what had happened to the promises they had made to live up to their ODA commitments? When would the much-needed HIV/AIDS drugs and medications be made readily available to the millions of people dying in the developing world? In order for progress to be achieved at the Summit, among other things, trade barriers must be eliminated, agricultural subsidies must be removed, the external debt of the developing counties must be written off, and a biannual evaluation system for the Summit's outcome must be established.
MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, said that the Summit was of particular importance to him, because it was the first opportunity for Madagascar, since he became President, to discuss an issue of great importance to it. Madagascar was considered a nature sanctuary. Its fauna and flora were exceptional.
Madagascar had just emerged from a political crisis, which had economic repercussions, he said. The Government was determined to bring about a rapid recovery of its economy. It would do so in line with the code of conduct it had adopted, which was based on respect for democracy, human rights and good governance. He was confident in the wisdom of the international community as it defined the future of mankind, ensuring that common interest prevailed and that man was placed at the centre of development. He reaffirmed his commitment to bring about the rapid sustainable development of Madagascar in harmony and national unity. Madagascar strongly supported and had every confidence in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
LAMINE SIDIME, Prime Minister of Guinea, said the Rio Conference had adopted the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, arousing a great deal of hope in the developing countries that relied mostly on agricultural and natural resources. Now, the international community must take stock of their implementation and take into account lessons learned, in order to tackle present challenges.
He said Guinea had made great efforts to fulfil its commitments, such as a plan of action for the protection of the environment and a poverty-reduction programme. In spite of encouraging results, however, his country was still faced by difficulties. The questions raised by this Summit, including on health, agriculture, biodiversity, energy, water, protection against toxic products and promoting trade, had been concerns for his Government.
He appealed for the strengthening of partnerships, heightened responsibility for the health of the population and for maintaining biodiversity. He expected that the Summit would open the way to hope and bring back a smile to the millions suffering from malnutrition and disease. All that was needed was the political will of the participants, he said.
PIERRE CHARLES, Prime Minister of Dominica, said it was untenable that the world's wealth continued to be the preserve of a small minority of its population. There had been an absence of political will in the implementation of Agenda 21. Developed countries had reneged on their commitments for development assistance and some nations had behaved irresponsibly in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. A lack of concerted action by the international community would lead to irreversible environmental damage, especially in the area of water resources.
His country had embarked last year on an integrated development planning initiative on the basis of long-term sustainable development. It would be undertaken with the active participation of public, private and civil society and provide renewable energy development, rainforest management and sustainable tourism. As a small island developing State, Dominica faced both structural and policy-related vulnerabilities and had to contend with environment hazards brought on by climate change, such as devastating hurricanes.
He said the vulnerabilities of small island developing States were multidimensional and interrelated and were compounded by acute exposure to external economic forces and environmental hazards. He, therefore, called on the international community for a recommitment to and sustained support of the Barbados Programme of Action. Johannesburg's success must be leveraged on a plan of action with clear, measurable targets and a demonstration of political will by all States to abide by their commitments.
GIRMA WOLDE GIORGIS, President of Ethiopia, said that the overall assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21 revealed that much remained to be done, and in some cases, the situation had even worsened. Poverty was not friendly to the environment. Thus, it was necessary to eradicate poverty in order to preserve the planet for future generations. Protection of the environment should be viewed neither as a constraint to development, nor as a luxury that only rich countries could afford. Although that challenge was common, however, it was only fair and realistic that responsibilities be differentiated.
Global solutions must be found to the challenges of climate change, diminishing biodiversity, desertification and soil degradation, he continued. He expressed hope that the Summit would represent a turning point in that regard. Ethiopia faced severe environmental problems, including the loss of fertile land and forests, lack of fresh water and drought. For that reason, his Government was giving much emphasis to agricultural transformation and reduction of poverty. Also high on the agenda was the problem of HIV/AIDS.
Various education programmes were carried out in the country to promote better understanding of the relationship between the environment and human activity, he said, with strong participation of civil society. At the continental level, Ethiopia had renewed its commitment to sustainable development within the framework of the African Union and NEPAD. He hoped the Summit would succeed in coming up with a plan of action that was both realistic and serious.
YANG HYONG SOP, Vice-President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that to achieve sustainable development, all countries should, among other things, translate into action their political will to provide present and future generations with a better environment. They should also establish fair international economic and trade relations conducive to sustainable development. Seeking unilateral interests in international economic and trade relations should give way to economic changes. Decisive measures such as poverty eradication, cancellation of debt and the opening of markets should be taken.
He said that developed countries should recognize their major responsibility for the present global development situation and implement, in good faith, their commitments. It was their historical and moral obligation to do so. Asserting human rights, democracy and good governance as preconditions for sustainable development could not be a fair solution. That reflected the political intention to impose certain values and development models upon the developing nations, regardless of their specific realities and demands. Also essential was the creation of a political environment for development, which ensured durable peace and security for all.
Achieving sustainable development was a consistent policy of his Government, he said, and it was exerting great efforts towards economic activities, education and environmental protection. It opposed foreign interference and sanctions, and was struggling to bring about a peaceful reunification of the divided country, as the supreme national task. All of that was aimed at creating a political environment for sustainable development. Under its army-based leadership, the country would strive to build a reunified powerful State as soon as possible, by overcoming the isolation and stifling moves of outsiders.
HAMAD BIN MOHAMMAD AL-SHARQI, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, said over the past 30 years, the United Arab Emirates had made great efforts to achieve sustainable development in social, ecological and economic domains. In an effort to lessen its dependency on oil as the sole source of revenue, it had also striven to build up new industries, particularly those that took the environment into account. Despite often harsh conditions in the region, and the lack of water sources, arable land had been increased in the country. Work was also under way to preserve the diversity of indigenous species.
He went on to say that his country had also signed a large number of initiatives on protection of the environment. Safeguarding natural resources and achieving sustainable development required the pooling of all efforts, particularly as drought, unemployment, debt and -- in the case of occupied Palestine -- continued violence and oppression, all posed obstacles to the implementation of Agenda 21. It was also important to build a political environment that promoted the participation of developing countries in the international political processes and global markets. Moreover developing countries should not be forced to take on take or additional burdens simply because some rich nations had shirked their own duties.
He said there was also a need for the international community and United Nations to play an effective role in peace and security, especially in the Middle East and the Gulf region. That required a redoubling of efforts in order to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and to declare the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The Summit must strive to present fresh proposals and tackle the problems of environment and development.
OSMONAKUN IBRAIMOV, Vice-President of Kyrgyzstan, said his republic was a new independent State, 11 years old. He was proud that indices for human development were among the highest of the 15 newly independent States that had emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was, however, concerned by a series of issues discussed in Johannesburg. The country had participated actively in the preparation for the Summit. One of the regional round tables had been held in its capital. He supported the plan of action and was prepared to cooperate with all countries in its implementation.
He drew attention of mountainous regions in the context of the International Year of Mountains declared by the United Nations on his country's initiative. Those regions, he said, accounted for 10 per cent of population, half of which was living in poverty. They faced difficulties in communications, maintaining biodiversity, water access and maintaining environmental balance. He hoped that the Global Mountain Summit this year would manage to adopt a plan for sustainable development of mountainous regions.
Another concern was the lifting of the debt burden, he said. Payment of interest had become a major obstacle for sustainable development. The creditor countries were extorting interest from developing countries. It would take tangible steps, rather than empty words. He said all developing countries debt should be written off and reinvested in environmentally sound, sustainable development in mountainous areas.
KATALIN SZILI, Speaker of Parliament of Hungary, said the 1990s had been a period of political change and substantial socio-economic transformation in his country and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Those changes involved the construction of a democratic institutional system and the transition to a market economy. Those were, however, controversial processes, both from the social and the environmental aspects. Social disparities and the gap in living standards had substantially increased. An increase in consumption and other factors had resulted in growing pressure on the environment.
She said ineffectiveness in terms of the overall sustainability objectives stemmed from a lack of comprehensive strategies, concrete targets and properly coordinated actions. Good governance was of fundamental importance on every level concerning social, environmental and economic policies, the respect of human rights and the rule of law. The role of various institutions should be enhanced.
Significance should be attributed to enhanced social solidarity, respect of human values, ethnic and cultural diversity, the values of nature and halting the degradation of natural resources, she said. Special attention should be paid to regional cooperation. Its importance had been highlighted by natural hazards, such as the recent floods in the region. In order to change unsustainable processes, the involvement of all stakeholders was an imperative. For efficient social participation, transparency and access to information were indispensable factors, she said.
SHIMON PERES, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Israel, said "we are here to repair". The environment in the Middle East stood confused in the face of the political arrogance that had taken hold of it. The region was sadly in conflict, which could be resolved, and poverty-generated neglect, which could be overcome. Raging polemics in the region undermined dialogue; the terror that had washed over it had given birth to distrust. As a result, the desert was eroding the fertile soil and conflict preventing the water from flowing along its natural and logical course. The region needed renewed dialogue, which must not only focus on the goals, but on the ways to attain them.
He said there was an agreed map of peace, more or less. That road map should be cleared from needless dangers; terror would accomplish nothing. The agreed borders might end the conflict. A new horizon might cater to needs that knew no borders -- health, irrigation, tourism, transportation, communication, technology and the environment overall. "At home, we clasp our national passports, but to Johannesburg, we have come carrying global identity cards." It was not necessary to await peace agreements to act; regional development could afford no delay. Several projects could transform that development, including the establishment of a virtual regional pharmacy to secure medical drugs at an affordable price for all, and the planting of 1 billion trees over the next decade to produce climate change.
Other proposals included the establishment of a regional water tank to facilitate water production, recycling, water transportation and water usage conservation, and the building of a water conduit between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea to save the latter from death, he said. A regional information technology system could also be developed to serve as an infrastructure for distant learning, distant medicine and academic centres of research. The Middle East had enshrined its place in world history as the centre of innovation -- spiritually, culturally and otherwise. "Let our generation be the first to generate regeneration."
LAWRENCE GONZI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Policy of Malta, said his country had come a long way, socially and economically. Investment in human capital now compensated for the lack of natural resources typical of most micro-States. But, a sense of vulnerability remained. In light of that, Malta had stepped up its participation in the United Nations system, sparing no effort to alert the international community to its obligation to protect common natural resources, albeit in a differentiated manner. Malta's initiatives on the deep seabed and climate change issues aimed to ensure the economic and social advancement of present and future generations.
He went on to say that, since Rio, Malta had taken significant steps to safeguard its fragile natural environment and rich historical heritage. The country's legal framework had been overhauled and administrative structures, backed by capacity-building measures, had been improved. An empowered local government had been encouraged and civil society access to information and justice on environmental matters had been vastly improved. Malta had worked particularly hard on land management issues, and the aim had been to integrate environmental, social and economic needs.
He said that, in the coming months, a newly established national commission would make recommendations to the Prime Minister, towards the elaboration of a national strategy for sustainable development. The expertise of the Summit would be instrumental in that process. Thus far, projects identified for action included coastal zone management, waste management, transport and rehabilitation of Valetta, Malta's capital. Malta was also set to launch a three-point plan to build capacity for ODA. That plan entailed enhanced participation of Maltese nationals in overseas development projects, creation of a national development cooperation policy, and increased technical assistance to developing countries, particularly on governance.
JAMES CECIL COCKER, Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, said sustainable economic growth to reduce poverty in small island economies required increased investment, technical progress and international trade. In order for international trade to have a lasting impact, there was need for market access for its agricultural products, fisheries, handicrafts and manufactured goods.
Improved transportation and telecommunication and increased tourism were critical to Tonga's economic growth, he said. Investment was needed to strengthen the productive sectors in education, hospitals and in capacity-building, in order to address the problems arising from climate change. Partnerships were needed between government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. More exports and more tourism were needed to assist in sustainable development. Further, assistance was needed to build sea walls, in order to protect the people and scarce land resources from rising sea levels.
All of the interests of Tonga and other small island developing States were reflected in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Communique and the Pacific Island Umbrella Initiative. He urged that the interests of small island developing States be included in the agreed plan of action to reverse global degradation of the environment and close the gap between rich and poor. One of the most important things for Tonga was to complete the remaining formalities in order to become a party to the Kyoto Protocol.
PHAM GIA KHIEM, Deputy Prime Minister, Viet Nam, said that sustainable development, at both national and global levels, was seriously threatened. It was essential now to draw lessons earned from the successes and failures of the past 10 years, in order to formulate an appropriate implementation plan. His Government had pledged to fully implement Agenda 21, and in so doing, had harnessed the country's internal resources and actively integrated them into the region and the world, with a view to achieving rapid economic growth, social equality and environmental protection. Gains had also been made in the legal system, institutions for protection of the environment, and macroeconomic policies on socio-economic development.
He said that, even as a poor country, Viet Nam's achievements in education, training and health care were at the level of more developed countries. The Government had decided to allocate $2.5 billion for its reforestation programme and close all natural forests. By 2001, it had set aside for protection some 101 national ecological parks of diversity, cultural and historical heritages, with a total area of 2.1 million hectares, or 6 per cent of the country's territory. The forest coverage had increased by more than 33 per cent of the natural area. Attention had also been given to preventing pollution, with a view to minimizing and mitigating the consequences of environmental incidents.
In terms of sustainable development, however, Viet Nam was still facing acute challenges, he said. Those included the low level of economic, scientific and technological development, lack of public awareness about the importance of protecting the environment, financial constraints, and so on. The urgent need remained to mitigate the lingering serious consequences to human life and the environment of 72 million litres of agent orange/dioxin, which was used by the United States during the Viet Nam war. His Government called upon the international community, especially the United States Government, to provide material, technical and financial assistance in that regard, in light of the moral responsibilities to do so.
JOHN BRICENO, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, said that now was time to deliver on the commitments made in Rio, for there were no more assurances in the face of collapsing economies, increasing poverty, destruction to the environment and lost hope. Could it be that it was only those protesting in the street who were aware of the fact that the environment was critical to the survival of humankind? Perhaps it was from that understanding that some of the developed countries were pledging and promising to give more. "Let us hope that it will not be at the cost of our souls", he said. "Let's hope it will be in a respectful partnership, for we have heard it all before, the pledges, commitments to protect and preserve our environment and the promise to reverse the irresponsible production and consumption patterns."
As a small Caribbean States, his country was fortunate to enjoy the best nature had to offer, he continued. Traditionally, children of Belize were taught to love and respect nature. Today, the were being prepared for the worst, as the country's reef was exhibiting more frequent episodes of coral bleaching. Large portions of the country's forests were under attack by an increasing insect population, and more frequent occurrences of natural disasters continued to diminish its development. "We have been responsible caretakers; we have been true to our commitments made in Rio, yet we have suffered severely", he said.
He went on describe regional efforts in pursuit of sustainable development, saying that all the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and in Central America recognized the importance of the Kyoto Protocol. Having signed and ratified it, they appealed to every nation, especially the developed countries, to do the same. Among other issues that needed to be addressed was the question of market access. While the poor countries continued to reduce their trade barriers as demanded by developed countries, their market became less accessible. When developing countries asked for fair trade, the result was increased subsidies. That trend had to stop.
CHULABHORN MAHIDOL, Princess of Thailand, said the Summit provided an opportunity to renew commitments to Agenda 21. The new implementation plan should set time-bound targets. In turn, those would require support for capacity-building from the developed countries. Thailand had committed itself over the last decade to implementation of the Rio agenda. Despite the recent economic crisis, progress had been made in several areas.
The current economic and social development plan had been guided by the philosophy of a "sufficiency economy", she said. That philosophy encouraged people to achieve a sustainable way of life in harmony with existing resources and local knowledge and wisdom. Thus, people were at the centre of development. Sustainable development in Thailand was based on poverty alleviation as a first step. Then, education and vocational training could assist in generating income. There must be a redistribution of wealth within communities, with the rich helping to fund projects for the poor. The basis of that redistribution was not an act of charity, but a process of enablement.
Industrial development had had a negative impact on human health and the environment, she said. Among those, the unregulated use of toxic chemicals had been one of the most damaging. In that regard, she announced that her country had acceded to the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and had signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Thailand also ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 28 August.
SNYDER RINI, Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, said that his country, although a small island developing State, was a big ocean island country, rich in natural resources and beauty, culture and traditions, but nonetheless among the poorest of nations. The livelihood of its people was of utmost priority and depended on the conservation and sustainable use of the country's finite natural resources. While his country's commitment to sustainable development was strong and unyielding, it was burdened by high levels of indebtedness that consumed up to 60 per cent of it national budget. He called on Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to seriously consider cancellation of the debts of the highly indebted poor countries, including his own.
In recent years, he continued, a terrible ethnic unrest ravaged his country and it was still recovering from it today. The ethnic unrest paralysed the economy and brought the most essential services to a near standstill. He appealed for generosity from the international community to assist his country in its recovery. In particular, he called on countries that continued to impose travel advisory restrictions on the Solomon Islands to lift them, as they negatively impacted on the country's fledgling tourism sector and discouraged possibilities for foreign direct investment.
Globalization and liberalization, as facilitated by international financial institutions and the WTO, he said, were dominated by rich developed countries that advocated free trade, but paid subsidies and imposed other barriers to trade. Poorer and small island developing countries, including his own, faced prospects of further marginalization in an assumed level playing field that was non-existent. He also acknowledged the need for capacity-building and good governance to efficiently implement commitments towards sustainable development.
COSTAS THEMISTOCLEOUS, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of Cyprus, stressed the fact that the environment and fundamental human rights were indivisible. The right to an environment of high quality had been recognized by the General Assembly. Neither should the international community forget that ownership of development strategies by sovereign States was a key to successful sustainable development.
Fresh water resources, unsustainable consumption, climate change and a complex relationship between trade, environment and sustainable development were among the issues of global concern, he said. There was a pressing need to address the underlying external factors that continued to undermine the quest for sustainability. Equity considerations needed to be incorporated in regional and global policies, aiming to create a supportive international economic environment.
Continuing, he said that the need for change had spread everywhere. New partnerships had emerged. However, much greater emphasis needed to be placed on the social, cultural and human dimensions of development, with priority on poverty eradication. That could not be achieved without appropriate technical and financial support from all sources. It was also important to harness the international economic system and put it to the service of the real needs of people. Further, it was necessary to secure linkages between international programmes and processes, aiming to reach a consensus on a system effective enough to mediate between competing and conflicting demands.
MARIA EUGENIA BRIZUELA DE AVILA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, was firmly convinced that the Summit was an opportunity to reaffirm the principles adopted at the Earth Summit, particularly that of common but differentiated responsibility. It was also an opportunity to move forward on the Millennium Development Goals and make headway on the commitments made in Monterrey. That opportunity would make it possible for governments, civil society and all actors to discuss sustainable development without falling into the temptation of digressing into other issues that, while equally important, were not the subject of the Summit.
The "Earth Summit" in 1992 had special significance for El Salvador, she noted. That same year, her country had signed the peace agreement leading to the beginning of a new stage in El Salvador's political, economic and social life. El Salvador had attended Rio with a fresh outlook on the future. Since then, it had worked to bring well-being to its citizens. Along the way, it had faced natural disasters, the slowdown of the national economy and high prices on petroleum, all of which, while impacting the economy, had not prevented sustained economic growth.
Her country had been implementing an integrated development policy, she said. It believed that in the quest for sustainable development no one should be excluded. In that connection, she noted that Taiwan had much to contribute to the learning process. Ten years after Rio, the record showed that efforts needed to be redoubled. Although each country was chiefly responsible for its own development, concerted efforts were needed at the international level.
ARUNAS KUNDROTAS, Minister of Environment of Lithuania, said the Summit was significant for evaluation of implementation of the Rio outcomes, but also for new commitments on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. Implementation of the Rio outcomes had been slow. There were many reasons for that, but government behaviour in that regard should be more deeply analysed.
He said his country had started to implement reforms a decade ago. As a country with a strong democracy and economy, it could serve as an example to other developing countries. Human rights and liberalization of the market were the basis for the growth. Ability to absorb foreign assistance and developing its own resources had also helped. Implementing its own sustainable development policies, Lithuania was on the path to become a donor country. It was the task of all to make progress in the key areas of water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. He supported quantifiable targets and timetables and looked forward to a sustainability indicator. He also underlined the importance of partnerships as a key role in development. The plan of implementation would be a very important document and contribute to better living circumstances in the world.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON, Minister of Physical Development and Environment of Barbados, said that while negotiators argued over the placement of commas and language, which would allow some countries to continue to pollute, the peoples of the world were expecting concrete and tangible results from the Summit, including the right to work, live and have leisure, along with an improved quality of life without jeopardizing ecosystems.
Clear, concise and achievable timetables and targets, underpinned by the necessary resources, were required to make the objectives of sustainable development achievable, she said. Among her country's efforts in that regard, she mentioned the establishment of a renewable energy centre. Up to 80 per cent of the country's households had solar-heated water. The Government was also promoting the use of photovoltaic energy in the commercial sector. Barbados was party to the Latin American and Caribbean initiative, which was committed to reaching a 10 per cent mix of renewables by 2010. The country also looked forward to forging partnerships with the European Union in that regard.
Small island developing States accounted for less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, she continued, yet they lived under the constant threat of their consequences. The countries whose contribution to global emissions was significant, but who still refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, should act responsibly and take the necessary steps to bring the Protocol into force. Among other threats to the small island States were the transboundary movement of hazardous materials, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and reduced market access. Moreover, the events of 11 September last year had dealt a severe blow to the tourism- and service-based economies of Barbados and the Caribbean community. In addition, the new development thrust of concentrating assistance to only the poorest of the poor severely threatened the gains made by such developing countries as Barbados.
MARIA SOLEDAD ALVEAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said her country had grounded its development in the concept of sustainability that had emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit. Chile had succeeded in creating an integrated and dynamic economy. It had also made significant strides in achieving the three goals of development in the decade since that important conference. Chile's economy had grown dramatically, poverty rates had been cut in half and environmental institutions had been enhanced. Chile was also continuing to improve environmental legislation, fostering protection of its heritage and natural resources, and providing incentives for grass-roots participation. Chile was well aware that it was possible to make economic growth compatible with environmental protection.
She was encouraged that words such as "association", "synergy", "partnership" and "alliance" were at the heart of the Summit's draft outcome document. It was clear that sustainability transcended public domain, and Chile was traveling the road of public-private cooperation and active participation of civil society towards sustainable development. Cooperation and partnership was important to overcome North-South antagonism. What that meant for the Summit was that all negotiations should be based on the Rio principles. Nations should be allowed to use their own resources, according to their own development needs. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities was essential, as was the need to promote the idea that regional mechanisms could best address specific environmental problems. She added that Chile had recently deposited instrument of ratification for the Kyoto Protocol.
ABDURRAHAMAN MOHAMED SHALGHEM, Minister, Secretary of the General Committee for Foreign Liaison of Libya, said the starting point to address current challenges was to adhere to the principles and objectives of Rio and to reaffirm that they remained as valid as in 1992. There must also be a commitment to achieving development goals agreed upon in the Millennium Declaration, the results of major conferences and the special sessions of the General Assembly. All of those had developed specific programmes for confronting environmental and developmental challenges through genuine partnership, based on the principles of justice, equity, fairness, equality and mutual respect.
He said poverty was one of the major challenges. In order to achieve the right of the world's poor to equity and welfare, an international alliance must be founded to eliminate poverty on the basis of specific, time-limited commitments, including actions on such environmental problems as desertification, drought, floods and other natural disasters, and to develop water resources. Developing countries would not be able to respond to the requirements of development as long as the developed countries kept showering them with empty promises. It was also important to ensure the effective participation of developing countries in the world economy by removing all impediments to access of their products to world markets.
Another essential condition for the realization of sustainable development was the elimination of HIV/AIDS, he said. That elimination would never be achieved under narrow commercial interests that were totally void of any humanitarian considerations, but only through a genuine commitment ensuing the implementation of plans and programmes designed to save the lives of millions living with the killer disease. The usurpation of other people's land, the collective punishment and abuse of its inhabitants, and persistence in the violation of the norms of international law by resorting to such measures as siege and blockade, as certain States did, would also never achieve sustainable development.
LIM SWEE SAY, Minister for the Environment of Singapore, said that as a small city-state with no natural endowment, Singapore faced an uphill task as it strove to achieve sustainable development. With a strong political will, business innovation, and stronger multi-stakeholder partnerships, however, it could attain environmental sustainability. A series of major targets had been set under the "Singapore Green Plan 2012", which reflected the collective commitment of the Government, businesses, and civil society to build an enduring country for generations to come.
Turning to specifics, he said that, in terms of waste management, there was not enough land for landfill. To overcome the problem of solid waste disposal, the Government minimized waste production, maximized recycling and strove for best practices to move towards "zero landfill". The conventional sources of water supply would not be able to meet the growing demand in the long-term. The country, therefore, was pursuing non-conventional sources of water supply. It was turning every drop of water into more than one drop by reclaiming clean water from used water. For clean air, it was highly urbanized and industrialized, so to do its part to alleviate global warming, it promoted clean and efficient energy use.
He said his country was committed to doing more with members of the global community through joint capacity-building programmes. It was also actively seeking to further its role in various partnership initiatives in areas where it was in a position to share and contribute its experience and expertise. Singapore looked forward to working with its fellow small island developing States on the Pacific initiative, relating to water and sanitation. It would partner with the Indonesian Government and others on good governance in sustainable development, and strengthen the capacity within the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to manage transboundary haze pollution.
LUIS ALBERTO MEYER, Minister and Executive Secretary of Planning of Paraguay, said there was absolutely no doubt that the world was living through a crucial juncture in it history. The majority of the statements made here had indicated the pressing need for a sweeping rethinking on a cultural, political, social and economic level for a new "solidarity compact".
There could be no sustainable development for developing countries unless they came up with a new productive model, he said. The old globalization wave had meant that developing countries had remained exporters of raw materials and depended upon import substitutions. He wanted to see developed countries assist developing countries in gaining access to markets. There could be no sustained development until the model of the state was reformed into one that promoted development. Such state reform involved a sweeping restructuring of the entire system. If countries continued to be subjected to the self-regulatory mechanisms of the market, they would not be able to address the challenges being faced.
Paraguay, he said, had sought to restore a harmonious relationship between man and nature. Among other things, it had developed and encouraged the application of new agricultural practices. Of the many important proposals made during the Summit, he felt the proposal by Japan on education and capacity-building among the population was of fundamental importance.
WIN AUNG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said sustainable development could not be achieved without effectively addressing poverty in developing nations. Throughout the world, countries lacking access to safe water and sanitation, adequate health care, housing and energy were facing declining environmental situations. In the pursuit of sustainable development, alleviating poverty should be the first priority.
In the past, lack of security and stability had made addressing poverty in Myanmar difficult, especially in rural areas, he continued. At present, the Government was making tremendous efforts to promote development in those areas by building chains of dams, reservoirs, pumping stations and canals to enhance the water supply. Those new facilities would help farmers obtain better crops, and result in higher incomes. Improvement in transportation through an extensive network of roads and bridges had also helped rural areas develop more quickly.
Global partnerships were crucial to protect life-supporting ecosystems, such as forests, seas, mountains, mangroves and wetlands, he said. Sustainable use of natural resources had always been incorporated into Myanmar's economic activities. About 51 per cent of its total land area was covered by forests. The country was working hard to green arid dry zones by planting millions of trees. Annual rainfall in those zones had significantly increased in recent years, and farmers were growing better crops.
BOBSON SESAY, Minister of Development and Economic Planning of Sierra Leone, said the Summit touched on issues fundamental to the global agenda in general, and specifically to a post-conflict country whose capacity had been severely eroded. Millions of his country's people remained internally displaced or were refugees. The war had damaged the economic infrastructure. Therefore, Sierra Leone wanted to be treated as a special case. Thanks to the United Nations family, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Commonwealth, the civil war was now over. In May free and fair elections were held. Government authority was established in the country.
The holding of the Summit in Africa provided opportunities for profound dialogue on development goals expressed in the Millennium Declaration. His presence here was an indication of his Government's desire to achieve sustainable development and sound environmental management and good governance. There was a prospect of absolute environmental disaster by such phenomena as floods, droughts and desertification. Hunger, poverty and disease were on the increase in Africa. Economic and social crises had become a permanent feature. Quick action was needed to overcome the challenges of global development and build capacities. He hoped for that in the context of partnerships between developed and developing countries.
CLIFFORD P. MARICA, Minister of Labour, Technological Development and Environment of Suriname, said that his country had ratified all major environmental conventions, and during the past five years had developed institutions and structures for environmental policy, planning and implementation.
A resounding demonstration of Suriname's commitment, he said, was the establishment in 1998 of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve - 1.6 million hectares of one of the largest stretches of pristine tropical rainforest on earth. Within that ecological corridor, Suriname had expanded the area under protection from 5 to 15 per cent of the total land area.
His Government recognized the role of public-private partnerships in the process of sustainable development, he said. It was also convinced of the important role to be played by all major groups and stakeholders. A crucial challenge for governments was to ensure that all countries enjoyed the benefits of globalization. Efforts were required at all levels to make globalization work for sustainable development and make it equitable, inclusive and responsive to the needs of developing countries.
FELIPE PEREZ ROQUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said 10 years ago President Castro had asked, "Now that the alleged threat of communism had disappeared and there were no longer excuses for cold wars, arms races and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the third world and fight the threat of ecological destruction of the planet?" After 10 years of new follies and more squandering by the minority, and impoverishment, disease and death for the majority, his question was still unanswered. The environment was more threatened than ever, a large portion of the population of the planet lived in critical conditions, and the world was more unfair and unequal than 10 years ago.
He said the economic and political order imposed on the world by the powerful was responsible for the current state of affairs. It had been left behind by colonialism and had resulted from imperialism. It continued to favour the handful of countries that had attained development at the expense of the majority of the people. The international financial institutions, in particular the International Monetary Fund (IMF), served the interests of the few developed countries, of several hundred transnational companies and of a group of politicians financed by such companies. The IMF had been the main tool for the imposition of neo-liberalism on a globalized world. While the poor countries had to accept the infamous "Washington Consensus", the rich and developed countries had afforded to breach it. They had not opened up their economies and had failed to eliminate subsidies.
Two things were missing today -- political will and access to financial resources, he said. Assuming that the political will would be forthcoming, his country proposed: a development tax of 0.1 per cent on international financial transactions; immediate cancelling of foreign debt of underdeveloped countries; agreeing, as an immediate step, that 50 per cent earmarked for current military spending be channelled to a United Nations fund for sustainable development; and guaranteeing prompt compliance by developed countries with their commitment to set aside 0.7 per cent of GNP as ODA. If those ideas were added to the establishment of a new international financial architecture, including the demolition of the IMF, the development of a fair and equitable trading system, the strengthening of multilateralism and the role of the United Nations, then the Summit would have been worthwhile.
RENNIE DUMAS, Minister of State, Office of Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said that among the issues of particular importance to sustainable development were provision of new and additional financial resources; achievement of time-bound targets; the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; and adjustments to non-sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The goals identified by Agenda 21 remained elusive, he continued. His country continued to be plagued by deep structural problems, unsustainable debt burdens and increasing susceptibility to adverse trends in commodity and financial markets. The development challenges confronting small island States were even more formidable, given their economic, social and environmental vulnerability. Of critical importance to Trinidad and Tobago was "predatory behaviour" of some developed countries in their recruitment of highly trained manpower from his country. The situation was particularly acute in the health sector. Another critical issue was the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which had placed a tremendous burden on the health care and social services sectors.
His Government supported multi-stakeholder partnerships involving governments, international agencies, non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society, he said. However, for such partnerships to be productive, they must produce additional financing and resources, which would complement existing multilateral and bilateral commitments. They should not replace existing intergovernmental binding commitments. After all, it was to the governments that the world's citizens looked to safeguard their welfare.
SAIFUR RAHMAN, Minister of Finance and Planning of Bangladesh, said that in fulfilling the goals of Rio, all stakeholders -- governments, businesses and the civil society -- must share a common responsibility. They must forge stronger partnerships. The subject of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption by the world's affluent must be addressed with a view to seeking mutually agreed solutions. The problem posed by global warming must be tackled. A one-foot rise of the water level due to such warming would inundate a quarter of Bangladesh's landmass.
Where a solution to a problem had been found, just as the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, it should be implemented without further ado, he continued. All must keep promises made. Those who had the resources to do so immediately had no excuse for any delay. Those who lacked such resources must be helped by those who had the capacity. It was important for all to show political resolve. It went without saying that each country had the primary responsibility for its own development. However, there was universal recognition that the international community must provide the enabling environment for that. All countries would need to cooperate to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and implement the outcome of major international conferences of the 1990s.
Bangladesh used to be billed as a "Malthusian nightmare", he said, yet over the years, it had been able to cut its population growth rate by half, curb child mortality, improve sanitation standards and achieve better food stability. Poverty alleviation remained a major objective. The country had also reduced emission of ozone-depleting substances and vehicular pollution. Some problems were beyond its control, however. Arsenic poisoning of ground water and salination of soil were among the challenges that demanded immediate attention. In tackling its challenges, the country was not seeking compassion, largess or charity. Instead, it wanted greater market access, fairer trade and growth-promoting investments.
BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, said the recent catastrophic floods in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as in China and the Americas, and the equally catastrophic droughts in southern Africa had demonstrated that natural and man-made disasters concerned us all. Meeting the social and environmental challenges of the world required concrete action by States, local communities and the private sector. The Summit was not only about issues of climate change, but also focused on reaching the Millennium Goals. It was crucial to bridge the gap between trade, finance and sustainable development, issues that could not be discussed in an isolated manner. Her country had ratified the Kyoto Protocol and appealed to those who had not done so to follow suit.
She said Austria had initiated the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy, providing a platform for dialogue between all interested parties -- developed and developing countries, the private sector, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, and would take action to provide access to energy for people in developing countries. As a country rich in water resources, Austria had developed advanced technology for clean water, sanitation, sewage, irrigation and small hydropower plants. It would emphasize those issues in development cooperation. As a predominantly mountainous country, it supported the Swiss Framework Initiative on mountain partnerships. She had been working to promote the concept of eco-tourism and would gladly share it with developing countries.
Only through decisive political leadership and the right mixture of incentives and information campaigns could citizens be convinced to make significant changes in the ways of production and consumption. Under the Johannesburg Commitment, governments had agreed to broaden the use of eco-labelling of organic produce and to promote the Fair Trade Initiative. While industrialized countries had both the technology and the financial means to achieve the goal of cleaner production processes, they should work together with developing countries to allow them the same production techniques. She stressed that sustainable development needed good governance on local, national and international levels and that sustainable development and human security were closely interlinked.
CARLOS CACERES RUIZ, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala, said that important changes had taken place in Guatemala in the past decade, particularly in the socio-economic and environmental spheres. The internal armed conflict ended in 1996, ushering in a new era of reconciliation and created the conditions for a more just and united society, in the context of a pluri-cultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual reality. The country strove to consolidate the rule of law through reconciliation, based on the peace accords. In that context, it was committed to the quest for sustainable development and aware of its responsibility to provide a healthy environment and better life for its citizens.
He said his country's economy was based largely on agriculture and forest-related activities, with natural resources a main source of income. Even prior to the 1992 Earth Summit, Guatemala carried out proactive activities in the environmental arena and in natural resources management. A milestone in its second phase of implementation had been the establishment of the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. In 1990, Guatemala participated in the creation of the Central American Commission for Environment and Development, which continued to be a real model of regional cooperation. Within that framework, a number of conventions were signed. Another noteworthy development was the 1994 Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Central America.
Such actions had been inspired by a clear strategy and solid principles, he said. The themes that informed them had been water resources, sustainable generation of clean power, and the management of protected areas for biodiversity. In addition, there was growing emphasis on reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, on health and environmental clean-up activities, and on technical and scientific development based on the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Efforts had also been oriented towards the promotion of energy policies that emphasized renewable energy, including the production and use of fuels derived from agricultural products, such as alcohol-based fuel.
OSAMA JAAFAR FAQUIH, Minister of Commerce of Saudi Arabia, said he hoped the Summit would result in objective and transparent decisions that reaffirmed full adherence to the principles of justice, freedom and equality, and would eliminate subjugation and deprivation. Recent United Nations reports had indicated that efforts in sustainable development had been seriously hampered, due to the fact that such initiatives lacked effective plans of action. In addition, harsh conditions combined with a sharp decline in development aid had resulted in heavy financial burdens and thus limited the tangible results of development.
He said his country had deployed its capabilities and resources towards advancing economic, social and environmental development not only nationally, but also internationally. During the last three decades, it had provided $76 billion to 73 developing countries and long-term loans. Recently, it had cancelled $6 billion of debts owned by developing countries. He called upon the advanced nations to reaffirm their commitment to the true concept of North-South economic and technical cooperation. He joined other developing nations in demanding that the multilateral trading system be fair, equitable and transparent. His country fully supported the Millennium Declaration, in which leaders had expressed their determination for peace to prevail based on the principles of international legitimacy. However, the inability to achieve a just peace in the Middle East, due to continuing Israeli aggression and occupation, represented a major hindrance to any meaningful development.
He requested the elimination of discriminatory tax policies of industrial nations imposed on petroleum products under the pretext of environmental considerations. Those negatively affected the development opportunities of oil-exporting developing countries, while industrial nations provided excessive subsidies to coal and nuclear energy, which could adversely affect the health and life of mankind. The concept of human rights should be based on the realization that human communities had special characteristics, cultures, beliefs and religions, which must be respected. His country did not accept using the idea of human rights as a means of pressure, in order to achieve political and economic gains.
ADNAN KHOZAM (Syria) said that in his country, basic considerations of sustainable development constituted an integral part of national plans. Syria had bilateral and multilateral agreements in the field of environment with many countries. It had also accomplished serious progress in the fields of health, education, agriculture, irrigation, food security, sanitation and drinkable water. To accelerate its efforts, however, Syria called upon the international community to assist it in addressing the difficulties and challenges that faced both the country and the region.
In particular, it was important to ensure implementation of United Nations resolutions calling for an end to foreign occupation and withdrawal of Israel from the Syrian Golan and the remaining part of southern Lebanon, as well as implementation of legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arab people. It was also necessary to reject the threat of aggression and interference in the domestic affairs of States, define the notion of terrorism and differentiate between terrorism and legitimate resistance to occupation in accordance with the United Nations Charter. It was also necessary to declare the Middle East a region free of nuclear weapons. In that respect, he noted that all the States in the region had signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), except for Israel, which refused to place its nuclear compounds under international supervision.
In order to achieve the goals of Rio, the international community should define the role of the United Nations, he continued, establish a fair system of trade, and remove barriers preventing developing countries' products from reaching developed countries' markets. In order to achieve those goals, the international community was required to secure the necessary resources for the promotion of sustainable development, fighting poverty and facing the common global challenges.
LASZLO MIKLOS, Minister of Environment of Slovakia, said that he had been privileged to take part in the Earth Summit 10 years ago. Since Rio, a lot had been done. Environmental politics was one of the most dynamic areas in global politics. In spite of the many conventions, protocols and other agreements concluded, the environmental state of the planet had not improved. In some aspects, it had even become worse.
Slovakia strongly supported taking concrete measures and having concrete targets and timeframes, he said. The issues of responsibility and accountability were of fundamental importance. He also expressed support for the preparation of a legally binding instrument concerning the transboundary movement of hazardous materials.
He stressed that natural resources must be used in such a way as to ensure their use by future generations. Water resources could not be protected without protecting forests or biodiversity, all of which were interlinked. That was the heart of an integrated approach to resource management. In spite of Agenda 21's provision on an integrated approach, the sectoral approach still remained. He urged States to take an integrated land-management approach.
ABDULMALIK AL-IRYANI, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Yemen, said his country had achieved concrete progress in sustainable development during the past decade, including in the areas of socio-economic development and environmental protection. Those achievements had, in turn, led to marked improvements in education, health and efforts to maintaining biodiversity. But the obstacles to achieving full sustainable development were many. Those included lack of basic resources, lack of arable land, the debt burden and weak technological infrastructure.
He went on to highlight the notion that many national, regional and international partnerships would help Yemen on the road to sustainable development. Those partnerships should focus on investment in development to reduce unemployment and poverty, reducing foreign debt and financing development initiatives. Yemen also supported regionally based initiatives, including the Arab Environmental Initiatives and Abu Dabi Environmental and Technical Initiatives, as well as the Arab Declaration for Sustainable Development.
He added that it was time for the international community to accept its moral responsibility and comprehensively address the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Promoting the rule of law, fundamental human rights and the right to self-determination were the basic foundations for sustainable development for all people of the world.
VILAYAT GULIYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said the momentum gained by the Millennium Declaration, Monterrey Consensus and Doha should be developed towards tangible results. Azerbaijan was of the same age as the Rio Summit. It was a landlocked country in transition, and therefore among the most vulnerable countries.
He said sound political reforms had achieved results in the economic field and had attracted private investments. Foreign direct investments were highest among the countries in transition. His country, therefore, enjoyed one of the highest average growth rates. The development, however, was unbalanced, driven as it was by the energy sector. A significant percentage of the population was still living in poverty. The country had entered a critical stage that required structural reforms and full-scale privatization. It had had adopted a national plan of action for environmental protection and had implemented commitments of certain conventions, such as the Kyoto Protocol. It had also built up an institutional framework to promote good governance.
One of the most pressing issues for his country was the result of the aggression of Armenia, through which a fifth of Azerbaijan was occupied. Millions of people were living in temporary camps, and the infrastructure had been destroyed. It was obvious that that situation imposed an enormous burden on the economy. It demonstrated how conflicts were hampering development. He urged that conflict affected areas remain in the focus of the international community. Peace and stability were the main conditions for sustainable development, he said.
FAIZA ABOU EL NAGA, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said that since 1992, Egypt had been implementing the plans, principles and goals of the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. Despite its efforts, however, the country was still facing the same obstacles as other developing countries, including the shortage of resources, unavailability of needed technology, the rise of unemployment rates and economic deflation. To overcome those obstacles, Egypt had mobilized national resources from the Government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. Institutional structures were being developed to promote investment and revitalize the market. Strict measures had been taken to ensure optimal utilization of foreign aid. On the regional level, Egypt had been participating in joint plans for sustainable development within the framework of the Arab League. It had also taken an active part in the establishment and implementation of the NEPAD initiative.
The Rio Summit had established the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility, she continued, but in fact, there had been a decline in most environmental and progressive indicators, as well as in the amount of international assistance to developing countries. Therefore, it was obligatory for the Johannesburg Summit to increase international participation towards the implementation of sustainable development goals. The participation of both governments and the private sector was an attractive and impressive idea. Success of such initiatives depended on the effort and constructive action after the Summit, which should reflect the priorities of developing countries and ensure coordination with their plans and goals. Developing countries should persist in their efforts to undertake their part of shared responsibility, and developed countries should implement their commitments by removing protecting and non-tariff restrictions for developing countries' exports.
When discussing sustainable development, one could not ignore the unprecedented deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories, she said. Effective and serious action was expected from the international community to implement its decision to preserve the resources of people under occupation. It was important to create a fair opportunity for Palestinians by putting an end to occupation, allowing the Palestinian people to practise their right to self-determination, establishing an independent nation and thus beginning to actually accomplish true sustainable development.
PREM LAL SINGH, Minister for Population and Environment of Nepal, said that, as a least developed and land-locked country located in the fragile Himalayan Mountains, Nepal was acutely aware of the growing perils of poverty and environmental degradation. Its people had to depend largely on natural resources for a precarious living; and a changed global environment had been causing erratic floods and landslides, and threatening glacial lake outbursts in his region. Thus, his country had an abiding interest in sustainable development, which was the only escape route from the environmental nightmare sure to descend if the world did not act now.
He said that the greatest threat to sustainable development was poverty, which had also been a key source of many conflicts. Rich nations must help poor ones to eradicate poverty through capacity-building, employment-generation, and investment in education, health and safe drinking water. They must open their markets by removing the subsidies and barriers blocking free trade. That would be a worthwhile investment in durable peace for all. Poverty eradication was Nepal's top priority. Thus, it was engaged in accelerating growth, promoting social development and preserving the environment. Reforms were under way to encourage innovation and investment, promote social development and reinforce environmental policy.
Specifically, he continued, his Government had set up a high-level commission on sustainable development, headed by the Prime Minister and a separate ministry of population and environment. It also introduced pollution standards and established several national parks and wildlife reserves and made environmental assessment mandatory for all major development projects. Nepal was seeking to develop its huge hydropower potential, but the fight against terrorism, which was decimating his country, had complicated that. World leaders must meet their commitments and wealthy nations must pursue sustainable patterns of production and consumption at home by developing environment-friendly technologies and changing their lifestyles.
DJJIMRANGAR DADNADJI, Minister of Planning, Development and Cooperation of Chad, said that his country had signed all the environmental conventions and had even included in its Constitution the concept that protecting the environment was a constitutional duty. It had taken into account the present generation within the framework for poverty reduction. Chad had identified four priority sectors -- education, health, rural development and infrastructure. With regard to oil extraction, it had decided to reserve 10 per cent of oil income for future use.
Ten years after Rio, he noted, nations had agreed to ponder more deeply in Johannesburg the challenge of sustainable development. Through its own commitment to that process, Chad had realized that the worldwide commitment to sustainable development had left many societies by the wayside and marginalized. He called on the international community to organize activities to strengthen the capacities of developing countries.
In addition, he recommended the establishment of a venture capital fund for energy management and entrusting its management to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In light of the technological advancements achieved, it was intolerable for prosperity to coexist with abject poverty.
HEHERSON ALVAREZ, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines, said his country had embraced sustainable development early on, and ad embodied it in all aspects of its national development plans. Eradication of poverty was the highest priority, and sustainable development was seen as a means to conquer mass poverty and to guarantee prosperity in the future. The country was proud of its record of partnership between government and civil society in promoting sustainable development.
Giving some examples of the Philippines experiences, he said a literal mountain of garbage in the village of Payatas had been transformed into a new haven of hope. Marginal fishermen could now cast their nets over their own protected fishing rounds. Indigenous peoples had secured their rightful due, in law and in fact. Communities in forest areas had taken charge of managing their own resources. The Philippines had plans for massive reforestation to turn barren land into carbon sinks.
He said firmer commitment on new and additional financial resources, building on the Monterrey consensus in the plan to be adopted, would have been welcome. He also wished for a stronger corporate commitment to the principle that trade must be made to work for sustainable development, as well as more ambitious goals and bigger numbers for the targets agreed. He applauded, however, the recognition of ethics as being central to sustainable development and the reaffirmation of the right of people to information and to meaningful participation in decision-making.
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