1 May 2001


NEW YORK, 30 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Danube-Carpathian Region, delivered today in Bucharest, Romania, on his behalf by Danuta Hübner, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE):

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all who have gathered in Bucharest for this important Summit conference. The President and Government of Romania, and the World Wide Fund for Nature International, deserve our gratitude for organizing this event and for their commitment to cross-border cooperation on this quintessential global concern.

The tens of millions of people who inhabit the Danube-Carpathian region rely for their livelihoods, and for much also besides, on the environment -- and in particular on the River Danube -- the second longest river in Europe -- whose basin and delta bring well over a dozen nations into its orbit. Agriculture, fishing, power-generation, manufacturing, tourism and recreation are all directly or indirectly dependent on the river's health. Yet that health faces grave threats from industrial and chemical toxins, municipal waste, agro-chemical run-off and other harmful substances and unsustainable activities. Competition for the Danube's water, inadequate water-management practices and policy differences from country to country exacerbate the assault on the region's invaluable ecosystems.

It is encouraging that the Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River has entered into force, and that other multilateral agreements that address key regional and sub-regional issues have been worked out. Such cooperation will be increasingly important as the economic and political integration of Europe intensifies. The United Nations, for its part -- through the Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other entities -- will continue to be your partner in helping to implement these agreements, harmonize policies, and address the particular challenges faced by the countries of your region.

We also hope to work closely with you in making the best possible success of next year's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Any further delay in placing our societies on a more sustainable footing will bring only adverse consequences. The good news is that we possess the knowledge and technology to achieve this goal. Your role is to provide political will, a precious resource that is often lacking. At this Summit in Bucharest, and at the regional preparatory meeting to be held in September, you have a great opportunity to put an imprint on the Johannesburg process. I hope all involved -- governments, civil society and the private sector -- will work together and with the ECE, UNEP and the rest of the United Nations system in this vital endeavour. Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

* *** *