6 June 2001


NEW YORK, 5 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the launch of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment:

Every year, the United Nations observes World Environment Day to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve the fragile ecosystems and the precious resources on which all life depends.

I am delighted to stand here today to announce that this year, the World Environment Day also marks the official launch of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Last year, in my Millennium Report to the General Assembly, I pointed out that there has never been a comprehensive global assessment of the world's major ecosystems. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is a response to this need.

It is designed to bring the world's best science to bear on the pressing choices we face in managing the global environment. It will examine the influence of human activities on the environment, and how, in turn, those changes are affecting our future prospects for health and well-being.

It will fill important knowledge gaps, enabling policy-makers to make better, more-informed decisions. Most of all, the Assessment promises to help us improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor, and make considerable gains in our efforts to find an equitable and sustainable balance between environment and development.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is truly a global effort, and is being launched today not only in New York, but also in Beijing, Havana, London, Tokyo and Turin.

I believe it is an outstanding example of the partnerships that are, increasingly, the way the United Nations works. United Nations programmes and agencies are heavily involved, as are the Secretariats of major international conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification.

Governments, non-governmental organizations, foundations, academic institutions and private sector businesses are also among those contributing their expertise, resources and commitment.

Let me close by encouraging everyone to lend their support to this project and to the wider quest for sustainable development of which it is a vital part. After all, if we are going to be living together on this earth, we must all be responsible for it.

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