Press Releases

    6 June 2002


    NEW YORK, 5 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the address by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to the fourth session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Bali today, 5 June:

    First, I would like to thank the Government and citizens of Indonesia and Bali for hosting this United Nations conference with such generosity and graciousness. You have made us feel utterly welcome. We hope to finish our work quickly so that we can enjoy the splendid beauty of this island.

    Almost two years ago, at the Millennium Summit, the world’s leaders agreed on an ambitious yet achievable agenda for peace and progress in the twenty-first century. They decided, in particular, that the first 15 years of this century should be used for a major onslaught against the terrible poverty that afflicts so many members of the human family. Towards that end, they established a set of specific, time-bound objectives, known to you all as the Millennium Development Goals.

    But let us not forget that the Millennium Declaration was not only about lifting people out of poverty, and not only about securing them from violence and armed conflict. Equal footing was given to protecting our common environment and the commitment to "spare no effort to free all humanity ... from the threat of living on a planet irredeemably spoiled by human activities".

    We are here today because we face great challenges on both sides of the development-environment equation. Three billion of our fellow human beings suffer the dehumanizing conditions of poverty, eking out a living on less than $2 a day. And the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) latest Global Environment Outlook report -- GEO 3 -- depicts a world at risk, showing us yet again that the prevailing model of development may not be sustainable, even for those who are most enjoying its benefits.

    Johannesburg is meant to find another way, a path that improves standards of living while protecting the environment, a path that works for all peoples, today and tomorrow. That relationship -- between human society and the natural environment -- is the core concern of Johannesburg, and is what sets Johannesburg apart from other United Nations conferences and summits.

    The Secretary-General has proposed five key areas for particular focus as we move ahead: water and sanitation, energy, agriculture, biodiversity, and ecosystem management and health. Why these five from among a multitude of worthy possibilities? Because they are widely considered to be the most central to sustainability. Because progress is possible now, with the knowledge and technologies already at our disposal. And because the five are so intricately connected -- call it a multiplier effect or a virtuous circle -- that progress in one will generate progress in another.

    I see with pleasure that the five priority areas feature prominently in the plan of implementation. It is important to have firm targets and timelines, as well as concrete commitments in these areas so as to generate real momentum for action.

    Your work, so far, at this session of the preparatory committee has made important progress. You are coming close to agreeing on a plan of implementation. And a crucial set of specific partnerships, meant to give practical expression to the plan of implementation -- the so-called "Type 2" initiatives -- is also taking shape.

    But some critical work remains to be done over the next three days. Full agreement has to be reached on the implementation plan before we leave Bali. Only then will we have established a firm foundation for the vital work that remains to be done between Bali and Johannesburg, in particular, with regard to the partnerships linked to the plan of implementation.

    The success of Johannesburg will not only be measured by the plan of implementation. Today, you will begin to provide elements for a political declaration. The political declaration will be the primary tool for the heads of State and government to convey to the world their vision for a sustainable world. We need a credible political declaration that commits leaders to act and inspire all actors to recognize their own responsibilities. The political declaration is the place for commitments to action in key areas, global and local, and for providing a sense of the values that underpin the concept of sustainable development and instigate actions.

    It has become a truism that governments cannot "do the job alone", but there is a great deal that they, and only they, can and must accomplish. It is governments that set national policies and priorities. It is governments that establish frameworks of laws and incentives. It is governments that create institutions to provide public services and meet a nation’s diverse needs. And it is governments that must deliver on the promises they made throughout the conference cycle of the 1990s, culminating in the Millennium Summit.

    In this connection, I want to make a special appeal to your governments and to your parliaments to ratify the treaties that underlie our efforts in the area of sustainable development. We invite you to do so between now and Johannesburg as a concrete, immediate step towards the implementation of Agenda 21.

    Of course, governments need partners. Sustainable development will not be achieved without non-governmental organizations, which have formidable expertise in programme design, deep knowledge of their communities, great skills in organizing people, and unflagging energy in advocating the causes in which they believe.

    And sustainable development will remain only a distant dream without the involvement of the private sector. Corporate philanthropy, welcome as it is, is not the only and certainly not the most important face of corporate citizenship. The world is not asking corporations to do something different from their normal business, but rather to do their normal business differently -- to see the long term, not just the short term; and to see not just the costs of change, but also the costs of the status quo. I am pleased to say that many enlightened business leaders have already accepted this, and have involved themselves in the Johannesburg process on that basis.

    International organizations also have a critical role to play. The whole United Nations system stands ready to assist in making development sustainable. This is a goal that the Secretary-General has embraced as a personal priority.

    Progress towards implementation will depend on actions by all actors, separately and jointly by way of partnerships. Progress will also depend on the availability of resources. Governments must sustain the momentum generated by the Monterrey Conference, particularly in the area of official development assistance. The additional money pledged can also be used to mobilize other resources. Likewise, governments must make good on their commitment in Doha to make the new negotiations on trade a true "development round" that opens markets to developing-country goods and allows them to compete fairly.

    The Summit in Johannesburg is truly a chance to set a more hopeful course of development for all humanity. The challenge, as ever, is to match aspiration with action, and promise with positive change in people’s lives. We know what needs to be done. Now, let us move ahead.

    Today, on World Environment Day, the preparatory process has reached a decisive moment. I wish you every success in your important deliberations.

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