Press Releases

    30 August 2002

    "Business As Usual" Not Option for Fighting Poverty, Environmental Degradation in Next Decade, Summit on Sustainable Development Told

    Hears from 31 Agencies, Organizations in Plenary Session

    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 29 August -- When 31 agencies and organizations addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development this afternoon, delegations were told that the Summit had one simple question to answer -- how could the next 10 years be more successful in addressing the fight against poverty and environmental degradation than the 10 years since Rio?

    "Business as usual is not an option", said Juan Somavia, Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns, through environmentally friendly technologies, meant a revolution in the way the international community worked and it must be prepared to rethink the policies of the past. South Africa was showing the way. President Mbeki has described today's social divisions as "global apartheid" and compared the global mobilization needed to achieve sustainable development to the response that drew people into South Africa's freedom struggle. "They succeeded and so must we", he said.

    This afternoon's debate was held ahead of the Summit's high-level segment next week, when more than 100 world leaders will gather to build a commitment 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.

    Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told delegates that the world had yet to give sustainable development the priority it deserved. The voices that were faint in Rio were louder now and they must be heard. People were at the centre of sustainable development and the current crisis in southern Africa was a reflection of insufficient investment in people's basic needs. The result was vulnerability to the effects of drought. There was illness -- most of all HIV/AIDS -- under-funded health services, insufficient clean water, environmental degradation and social systems that could not cope.

    The notion of a people-centred approach to sustainable development was also echoed by Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She said focusing on individuals and, in particular, their indivisible human rights, added value, providing a normative framework of obligations that had the legal power to render governments accountable. Thus, she continued, poverty was seen in terms of the individual's right to food and clean water, shelter, health and work opportunity. Empowerment of the poor flowed from the recognition that they experienced the non-fulfilment of their rights.

    Amara Essy, Chairman of the African Union, said implementation of Agenda 21 had, at best, been modest. The time had come for the international community to consider the best prospects for attaining sustainable development, and particular emphasis should be focused on the eradication of poverty and putting an end to the deterioration of the environment. The present Summit would only be useful if it contributed to the strengthening of international development objectives, and issues related to the eradication of poverty, health, finance, and trade were dealt with more effectively.

    At the outset of the meeting, the Summit elected Maria Cecilia Rosas, Director of Environment and Sustainable Development of Peru, as Rapporteur-General of the Summit.

    Statements were also made by the President of the Governing Council, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization; and Director, Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization.

    The Chairman, Global Environment Facility; Vice-President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Vice-President, World Bank; the Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization; the High Representative of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; and the Economic Commission for Europe also spoke.

    In addition, the representatives of the following bodies also addressed the meeting: Business Action for Sustainable Development; the Third World Academy of Sciences; the International Organization of La Francophonie; the Norwegian National Union Center; the Council of Europe; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities; and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

    The representatives of the OPEC Fund; the International Association of Economic and Social Council and Similar Institutions; the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; the Indigenous Environment Network; the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group; the Permanent Court of Arbitration; the International Hydrographic Organization; Women in Europe for a Common Future; and the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme also participated in the discussion.

    The Summit will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 30 August, to continue hearing the views of non-State entities.


    MARY ROBINSON, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recalled that the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights was an important reference point for the work of the Summit. The understandings reached in Vienna added new dimensions to the concept of development, namely human rights and democracy. Along with reaffirming the core ideas of the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development, Vienna also confirmed the international consensus on economic, social and cultural rights were individual human rights to be given equal weight to civil and political rights, and that both sets of rights were universal, interdependent and indivisible. It also declared that democracy, development and respect for human rights were interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

    With all that in mind, how could the human rights approach help in achieving sustainable development? First and foremost, a human rights approach added value because it provided a normative framework of obligations that had the legal power to render governments accountable. At the same time, that approach focused on the individual. Thus, poverty was seen in terms of the individual's right to food and clean water, shelter, health and work opportunity. Empowerment of the poor flowed from the recognition that the poor experienced the non-fulfilment of their rights. The point of poverty-reduction strategies was not only to identify the needs of the poor, but also base it on their rights.

    In pursuing sustainable development, the next stage should be the integration of human rights into the Millennium Development Goals, she said. That could be best achieved through the drafting of human rights guidelines for the implementation of each of those goals. She added that human rights guidelines were currently being developed for poverty-reduction strategies. Those guidelines would help strengthen the rights-based approach and place the individual at the centre of sustainable development efforts. Turning to human rights and the environment, she said Agenda 21 did not contain many explicit references to human rights, nor did Vienna have any references to the environment. The prime goal for the immediate future was to achieve a better understanding of the links between human rights and environmental protection. That would involve a significant effort on the part of both human rights and environmental practitioners to come to grips with values, methodologies and comparative advantages of each other.

    DAVID ANDERSON, President of the Governing Council, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said his organization celebrated its thirtieth anniversary since the United Nations recognized the importance of a healthy environment for peace, stability and welfare of the world. Lately, UNEP had been more focused and had taken more integrated approaches, and had improved its work at the national and regional levels. UNEP was working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as with partners outside the United Nations system. He was proud of the process whereby the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) explicitly recognized the importance of the environment for sustainable development.

    Among recommendations for strengthening UNEP, he said there should be universal participation of Member States in the Governing Council. The effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements should be improved. The. United Nations Inter-Agency Environment Management Group should be strengthened and the status of UNEP within the United Nations system should be elevated. Understanding that improved governance was fundamental to action plans was growing. It would help UNEP's goals, and others as well, and would contribute to lasting improvement of the quality of life for all.

    GRO HARLEM BRUNDTLAND, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), stressed that people were at the centre of sustainable development, and their health was central to the future. The world had not yet agreed to give sustainable development the priority it deserved. The current crisis in southern Africa was a reflection of insufficient investment in people's basic needs. The result was vulnerability to the effects of drought. There was a strong sense of winners and losers. Voices that were faint in Rio were louder now. Those voices must be heard.

    Consensus achieved during the last two years on children, HIV/AIDS, financing, trade and public health made a real difference, she said. That enabled everyone to be clear and focused about what needed to be done, by whom, in what time frame, and with which resources. Also, in health were the foundations of a lasting consensus. The international community could demonstrate with confidence that investment in health paid major dividends, both as a precious asset in itself and in terms of economic development, poverty reduction and environmental protection.

    The challenge, she said, was to move from knowledge to action. The emerging consensus was an umbrella for concerted efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria, other infectious diseases, the tobacco epidemic, maternal illness and reproductive ill-health. Together with others, WHO was this week initiating an alliance to secure healthy environments for children.

    MARK MOODY STUART, Chairman, Business Action for Sustainable Development, said that business had come to Johannesburg with a commitment to work in partnership with other major groups, governments and agencies to deliver sustainable development. Perhaps the most important element needed to facilitate the growth of economic activity, which was essential to achieving sustainable development, was sound governance systems at a national and local level in each and every country.

    By sound governance he meant institutions whereby all sectors of society felt that their views had been taken into account and that the outcomes were fair and equitable. That would include sound governance of business, with the rules and frameworks necessary for markets to operate fairly and openly in every country, and with appropriate environmental regulation applied impartially to all. However, it would also include such elements as the rule of law, security, human rights and intellectual property.

    The conditions created by sound local governance were not only beneficial to the environment and society, but were exactly the conditions in which sound economic activity flourished, he said. Also, investment would flow to areas where such sound governance was in place or developing. He was also committed to a number of initiatives, in partnership with governments and others, to increase investment and to grow business in developing and least developed countries. That included paying close attention to the growth of the small and medium enterprise sector, which was not, by and large, represented at the Summit and, yet, which was so essential to sound development.

    JUAN SOMAVIA, Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said the Summit had one simple question to answer: how in the next decade could the international community be more successful in terms of sustainable development, job creation, the fight against poverty and environmental degradation than it had been in the 10 years since Rio? First, it would be necessary to acknowledge that changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns, through environmentally friendly technologies, meant a revolution in the way the international community worked and the things it made. The current generation would have to retool the entire economic system, particularly its fiscal policies.

    While that would be a daunting challenge, it would also present a massive opportunity for technological breakthroughs, investment, skills development, gender equality and decent work. And developing countries, particularly in Africa, would need access to water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. The international community should start by focusing on the Secretary-General's WEHAB agenda. He said it was important to root such a strategy in the workplace -- where many of the initiatives would ultimately succeed or fail. It was organized workers and employers that would play the primary role in making the technological transition to sustainability.

    He said there was a need to address the fact that globalization was exacerbating rather than bridging social divisions within and between countries. The international community had to be prepared to review, rethink and reorient the policies of the past. South Africa was showing the way. President Mbeki described the social divisions of the world today as "global apartheid" and further compared the global mobilization needed to achieve sustainable development to the response that drew the people of the world into the freedom struggle of South Africa's people. "They succeeded and so must we", he said. When the international community left Johannesburg, it should take with it some of the courage, conviction and confidence of the South African people. That was a precious energy that should inspire everyone.

    MARCEL A. BOISARD, Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), said sustainable development was the responsibility of each and every person. Capacity training and building was, therefore, of the utmost importance. UNITAR designed and conducted many programmes in natural resource management and the environment, among other areas. Institution-building and strengthening was the ultimate goal of training.

    Everyone must be properly trained to ensure the right kind of development management, he said. Capacity-building focused on the need of human development, better management and good governance. Sustainable development was holistic and highly diversified. UNITAR was a small and autonomous body, which had responded flexibly to the changing training needs of its members. Many of its programmes dealt with sustainable development. Describing several of UNITAR's programmes, he said the organization had addressed methodology as well, including the need for assessment, evaluation of outcome, and ongoing training.

    G.O.P. OBASI, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that the environment continued to deteriorate and the number of natural disasters had doubled in the past 10 years. In the midst of such a situation, the WMO surveillance system was essential to furnishing information and serving as an early warning system with regard to natural disasters and climate change.

    The Summit, he stressed, should call for the strengthening of existing infrastructures that predict and monitor the state of the world's climate. He also called for the establishment of effective monitoring machinery, involving entities both inside and outside the United Nations system, and the setting up of a structure to ensure adequate financial resources for developing countries. The WMO and its partners would continue to monitor and predict the state of the world's environment and assure the applicability of such information to sustainable development.

    MOHAMED T. EL-ASHRY, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Global Environment Facility (GEF), said that the Facility was considered by many to be the only major financial accomplishment of Rio. It had provided $4.2 billion in grants, while leveraging $12.4 billion in additional financing for the global environment. Among its accomplishments, the Facility had worked with large and small businesses to deliver $6 billion in new renewable and clean energy services to developing countries.

    On 7 August, he said, donor nations pledged nearly $3 billion for new GEF activities through 2006, the highest replenishment ever. That would enable GEF to continue financing its four main areas, as well as provide additional support for an expanded mandate and wider range of programmes. When the GEF Assembly meets in Beijing next month, it was expected to endorse the GEF Council's recommendation that desertification and persistent organic pollutants be added to GEF's focal areas.

    The Summit, he added, should provide a road map for the path to global sustainability. It should set firm commitments to reform inappropriate policies and mobilize additional financial resources for the environment and sustainable development. It should also set clear goals and targets for action, and identify the means for monitoring progress. With its new replenishment, GEF would help implement the agreements that would emerge from the Summit for the sake of a more secure and sustainable way of life on earth.

    ANNE PETITPIERRE, Vice-President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said sustainable development ensured quality of life today, without jeopardizing life of the future. War, in that context, was the total opposite of sustainable development, as it was accompanied by devastation and destruction whatever the justifications of war. War often was a long-term attack on natural resources, something that had been recognized by Rio. Promoting peaceful settlements to conflicts, therefore, was one of the best contributions towards sustainable development.

    Once war had erupted, the consequences had to be alleviated, she said, and international humanitarian law had specific rules for that. Among other things, it prohibited the use of certain weapons that could have an impact on the environment years after conflict ended, such as with anti-personnel mines. As guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC had been focusing on protecting the environment in armed conflict and had offered some guidelines for military instruction. The General Assembly had called on all States to publicize those guidelines and to use them fully. Those guidelines, however, must be implemented, and she hoped that the signatories of the Geneva Conventions would reaffirm their commitment thereto.

    IAN JOHNSON, Vice President, World Bank, said throughout the discussions during the Summit, it had become clear that sustainable development could not be achieved without the eradication of poverty. The path had been laid during the past decade and it was time for international agencies and actors to show the wider worlds that the international community meant business. The Millennium Development Goals represented a programme for sustainable development and meeting those targets would be an important step to ensuring a better world for all. The Bank had geared up to play its part to ensure that those goals were met.

    But, all must do more, he continued. International actors and development partners must look beyond 2015, particularly because the goal of halving poverty would simply not be met by then. Economic growth and broader social development would be required, but there were some hard truths to face -- if the environment could not be protected and precious resources preserved, there could no sustainable development. If the rich world hid behind harmful subsidies and unfair practices, there could be no sustainable development. If the international community continued to exclude the disenfranchised from playing their rightful role in society, there could be no sustainable development.

    He went on to say that sustainable development was a crusade based on the moral imperative of saving the planet and making it safe for all. World leaders should reaffirm their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals towards the creation of a prosperous and sustainable future for all. No one organization could do it alone. All must work together.

    FRANCESCO FRANGIALLY, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, said up to now, tourism had not been accorded a substantial role in poverty-reduction strategies. To fail to include tourism was to overlook the fact that it represented the biggest and the most creative economic activity of all. The strong and sustained rise of tourism over the past 50 years was one of the most remarkable economic, social and cultural phenomena of our time. The number of international tourist arrivals had grown with an average annual 7 per cent per year. The revenues generated by those arrivals had grown by 11 per cent per year. That growth far outstripped that of the world economy as a whole. The central question was whether that potential could be harnessed to contribute to poverty alleviation.

    Over the past decade, he said, the annual growth of tourist arrivals in developing countries had been higher than the world average. The tourism receipts of the least developed countries had more than doubled between 1992 and 1998 and had become the main source of foreign exchange revenues, not counting the oil industry. That showed the importance of tourism in countries that suffered from extreme poverty. In all developing countries, tourism had been a highly labour-intensive activity and constituted an exceptionally fertile ground for private initiative. Tourism generated foreign exchange receipts and contributed towards the balance of payments.

    He said a large part of the tourism potential of many developing countries remained untapped, due to the lack of infrastructure and communication systems, deficiencies in the organization of public service and lack of human resources development. That was why his organization, in conjunction with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), would present an initiative called "Sustainable Tourism as a Tool for Eliminating Poverty". He urged the Conference to look at tourism as a real opportunity for poor countries. A smokeless industry, tourism equaled other competing activities in creating added value, but was much less destructive to the natural and human environment, as long as it was developed rationally and respected the carrying capacity of sites.

    MOHAMED HASSAN, Executive Director, Third World Academy of Sciences, said that building and maintaining adequate scientific and technological capacities in all countries and harnessing those capacities to address critical economic, social and environmental issues were essential prerequisites for the transition to sustainable development. Such capacities in science and technology could help nations better understand their current development needs, as well as devise effective responses to meet future challenges.

    The science and technology community called on national governments and international funding agencies to recognize the central importance of capacity-building for science and technology in the transition towards sustainable development. Increasing the role of science and technology in sustainability initiatives should focus on, among other things, additional investments in programmes designed to assist women, especially in the developing world, to acquire the scientific and technical training that they needed to participate in the global scientific community.

    He added that the science and technology community had called on governments and funding agencies to provide sustained and reliable funding for science and technology initiatives, especially in the South. The science and technology community, in turn, had pledged to focus a greater portion of its research agenda on issues of direct concern to the societies in which its scientists lived and worked. By agreeing to such shared responsibilities and commitments, both the science and technology community and the larger society would be better able to advance their shared goals for a sustainable future.

    AMARY ESSY, Chairman of the African Union, said implementation of Agenda 21 had, at best, been modest. As far as Africa was concerned, life expectancy in many countries was still low, as was the increase in the literacy rate, although education for girls had improved. Food security in Africa had deteriorated to a critical level. Most African economies were declining in quality and quantity. In addition, wars, civil strife and proliferation of light weapons impeded the efforts made by many African countries to establish sustainable development. In July, Africa had taken a gigantic step forward through the establishment of the African Union. Before that, in July 2001, NEPAD had been established as a programme for sustainable development.

    He said the time had come for the international community to consider the best prospects for attaining sustainable development. It was high time to eradicate poverty and put an end to the deterioration of the environment. The present Summit would only be useful to mankind if its results contributed to the strengthening of the development objectives, the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus. But, better prospects presupposed a firm political commitment to implement the outcomes. The issues related to the eradication of poverty, health, finance, trade and institutions must be dealt with more effectively. They must be considered thoroughly in order to find realistic solutions.

    ANWARUL CHOWDHURY, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said since the 2001 adoption of the Brussels Plan of Action for Least Developed Countries, the international community had taken into account the concerns of the smallest and poorest nations at a number of major global gatherings. He expected The Summit to identify ways to link the Brussels Plan with its outcome.

    He said that many of the world's smallest countries had not benefited from the process of globalization and were thus becoming more marginalized. That was particularly troubling, since more than 10 per cent of the world's population could be found in such countries or regions. The support of the international community was crucial if least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing States were to achieve their enormous potential. The Brussels Action Plan had reaffirmed the collective responsibility of the international community to ensure that globalization became a positive force, as set out in the Millennium Declaration. Brussels had identified reducing vulnerability and protecting the environment as essential. Those two imperatives were also at the core of the work of the Summit.

    He said that ownership and partnership were the two key factors in ensuring the successful implementation of the Brussels Programme. The world's poorest and smallest nations would do their part, but it was up to the international community to live up to the commitments made in Brussels to help them overcome the unique obstacles they faced. He added that the NEPAD initiative provided an immense opportunity for reinforcing the development efforts in the 34 African least developed countries. He added that landlocked least developed countries continued to suffer from myriad unique geographical problems, and although small island States had made some improvements in the last decade, they were constrained by the interplay of adverse factors, such as remoteness, small markets and sea level rise due to global warning. He reiterated that development could not be considered sustainable unless it benefited the poorest.

    LANSANA KOUYATE, Representative of the Secretary-General of the International Organization of La Francophonie, said that the international community, meeting in Johannesburg, faced a turning point in its history. A lot was expected from those working in the negotiations to trace out the broad outlines of what it would take to save the planet.

    The Secretary-General of the organization, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, believed that Rio was a decisive milestone in international relations and was happy to have contributed to the Earth Summit in his capacity at the United Nations at that time. The International Organization of La Francophonie had, since 1991, developed a plan of action on the environment, in order to promote sustainable development and address collective challenges. Member States of the organization had worked together to determine the modalities for common action to contribute to the efforts of the entire international community.

    That, he continued, had made it possible to adopt a text, which was the organization's contribution to the Summit. That text called for the strengthening of governance at all levels. It also reiterated that democracy could not be divorced from sustainable development and the need for fair sharing of natural resources. Respect for cultural diversity was also a necessary prerequisite for sustainable development. He urged delegations to read the contribution of the organization. The key feature of the Summit was to agree to the principles and approaches to be pursued. Solidarity between the North and South could become a reality with full respect for the differences of all peoples.

    TRINE LISE SUNDNESS, Norwegian National Union Center, speaking on behalf of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, said more than 2 million people died annually because of occupational accidents and diseases, resulting from unsustainable development. That was why working people were interested in the issue.

    She said sustainable workplaces must integrate social, environmental and economic issues as inseparable aspects. The social dimension could only be implemented if there was a willingness to implement Rio. Trade unions had a long experience in partnerships, both at the local and national level. Partnerships were important to achieving sustainable development. Trade unions were willing to established partnerships with new groups based on trade union values. Partnerships, however, must reflect the key priorities in the plan of implementation. There must be increased efforts to ensure a just way to share goods and services between countries and inside countries.

    GABRIELLA BATTAINI-DRAGONI, Director-General of the Council of Europe, said the Council was committed to respect for human rights, pluralistic development and the rule of law. It was also committed to building cohesive societies in which all individuals could avail themselves of civil, political economic, cultural and social rights. The Council had carried the sustainable development agenda forward in a number of ways. In the environmental field, it had supported the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, namely through the Pan-European Biological Diversity and Landscape Strategy, which acted as a regional forum for the implementation of the Convention.

    She went on to say that the Council had also initiated programs on biodiversity and finance and biodiversity and culture. She added that 35 of the Council's 44 member States had signed the Kyoto Protocol and 26 States had ratified it. She noted that the Council was also working to create sustainable cities and address problems of rapid urbanization.

    She said it was important to realize that the financing of sustainable development required a new strategy. For its part, the Council had established the Council of Europe Development Bank, which exclusively focused on providing aid to refuges, migrants and victims of natural disasters. It also worked to create jobs. She said that although the Council necessarily worked in a European context, it was more than ready to work with the wider international community to promote a human rights based approach to sustainable development. The Council was committed to using its various political institutions to foster dialogue with civil society.

    KOJI SEKIMIZU, Director, Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization (IMO), said that sustainable development depended on effective and environmentally sound global transportation infrastructure. Ships and the sea remained the most cost effective and least polluting way of moving goods around the world, and underpinned the new global economy. For sustainable development, it was vital that the impact of shipping on the global environment, particularly the sea, was properly managed and controlled.

    The IMO, he explained, was a United Nations specialized agency responsible for the maritime sector, with a global mandate to ensure safer shipping and cleaner oceans. It adopted international conventions and protocols, which were then implemented and enforced by its Member States. Agenda 21 had entrusted the IMO, as guardians of the marine environment, with several tasks. Over the last decade, its achievements had been significant. The organization had adopted three new international conventions, three protocols and three major amendments to its main instruments. Among the issues it addressed were sea pollution, dumping and compensation regimes for maritime accidents.

    At the heart of the IMO's success, he said, was cooperation among its 162 member governments, as well as the cooperative arrangements it had established with the shipping and port industries. The effective implementation of maritime regulations depended on how they were enforced by States. With regard to "Type 2" partnerships, the IMO had proposed a number of partnership arrangements, including a new initiative on protection of the marine environment of East Asia.

    MANUEL SUAREZ DE TORO, President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that since Rio, 2 billion people had been affected by disaster. Despite advances in medicine, 13 million people died each year from preventable infectious diseases. The Federation regarded two issues as urgent: disasters; and HIV/AIDS. There was a need to empower communities to set their own development agenda. Disasters and diseases sought out the poor. Relief efforts might alleviate suffering, but unless they were carefully planned they did not reduce poverty. The underlying causes of disasters must be recognized, as well.

    He said it was impossible to speak about sustainable development without speaking about HIV/AIDS. It was one of the greatest threats to development in this century. In order to address the consequences of that situation, lasting commitments were necessary. Policies and tools must respond to the needs and consent of communities. Conditions must be created to enable individuals to act in their own best interest. He asked participants to respond to the genuine needs of the most vulnerable people by increasing spending on such issues as health care at the local level.

    JOAN CLOS I MATHEU, Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities, said in the last 10 years towns, cities and local governments had responded fairly well to the demands of the Rio Declaration and the principles of Agenda 21. The representatives of local authorities meeting in parallel to the Summit had committed to work even harder towards the implementation of its outcome. Those groups had also suggested changing the slogan of Agenda 21 to "Plan of Action 21" in order to stress the need for genuine measurable action to bring about positive change in cities and towns.

    He said that world's cities and towns, particularly in the poorest countries, required more political authority and resources in order to implement international and national commitments. Local actors were often the first line of government, but very often there was a lack of resources to delegate the intentions of national governments. It was also important to seek ways to build up the capacity at local levels to face the tremendous challenges of urban areas. Resources and political autonomy were needed to face rapid globalization and its attendant ill-effects, such as migration, overcrowding, pollution, resource depletion and myriad urban health risks.

    He said the international community needed to consider providing incentives for technical advancement in towns and cities, particularly to enhance infrastructure and transportation schemes. The automobile industry must find ways to address serious problems caused by air pollution. All needed to make a special effort to change the international order and commit to help rural and small communities. Small communities in the developing world needed access to markets. What was also required was effort on the part of national governments and international institutions to take steps to ensure the health and well-being of the immense populations migrating from the rural to urban world. Cities were ready to continue implementing the plans and programmes of national governments and international agencies, but at the same time called on them to help with that implementation.

    Mr. FALASCHI, Director-General, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, said that to guarantee sustainable development it was necessary to ensure access to technological know-how for developing countries. While biotechnology offered much potential, it also raised many questions regarding its impact. It was essential to build the capacities of developing countries and to offer an impartial forum for information and debate on the subject, so that the benefits of cutting-edge biotechnology could be offered.

    He stated that the Centre was operating since 1987 as a centre of excellence in research and training in genetic engineering and biotechnology, particularly for developing countries. It had developed major scientific programmes in fields covering human health and basic science. Its constituency comprised most of the developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Among other things, the Centre was assisting countries in the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Its main mission was capacity-building, not only of individuals, but also of groups, organizations and societies.

    Y. SEYYID ABDULAI, Director General, OPEC Fund for Sustainable Development, said his organization was a development finance institution set up by the member States of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with the aim of battling global poverty and deprivation. Fund operations were spread over 101 developing countries. Statistics did not adequately convey the human suffering and misery involved at the level of the household, the individual and the family of some 1.2 billion people living in "extreme poverty". Poverty was an indelicate life situation involving an unusual degree of uncertainty and dangers. Humanity, united in purpose, should resolve to care for one another. The Millennium Goals and Agenda 21 were ambitious, but even if all recommendations had been accomplished, the struggle against poverty was still not won.

    In the meantime, he said, developing countries would do well to continue to resolve conflicts, give priority attention to the needs of the poor, establish a more enabling and transparent business and investment-friendly environment and use natural resources in a sustainable manner. The international financial institutions could review programme budget allocations to ensure that resources were earmarked for poverty-related and rural development programmes. Donor nations could reconsider obstacles and objections to the attainment of the 0.7 per cent target for official development assistance (ODA).

    There was a need to maintain a particular focus on the needs of Africa, especially with the renewed determination of the Africans to approach their socio-economic problems with new vigour. The outstanding challenge was to translate NEPAD into a practical programme that would deliver development to all African peoples. The global development finance community, of which the OPEC Fund was part, was called upon to play a meaningful role.

    LOUIS G. MAYILA, President of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils, said a holistic outcome of the Summit would be for the good of the world and be part of an irreversible process to promote further cooperation between the United Nations and world organizations working towards the goal of sustainable development. Organized civil society would make the voice of peoples from different social and economic milieu heard in meeting halls and around negotiation tables. The chief objective was for organized civil society and world organizations to protect planet Earth.

    The importance of the Summit was that even countries not represented in Johannesburg faced the consequences of disorganized and unsustainable use of land and seas. So, together, all must make sure the planet was protected for future generations. The planet was sick, and the environment needed to be healed. The Summit must see to that. Organized civil society must make clear that no significant progress had been made in the social and environmental fields. Indeed, the ills that had led to that great synergy at Rio were still present or even increasing.

    He said that governments would enhance their credibility if they lived up to the commitments they had made during the past decade. As a matter of priority, world governments should consider, among other things, the establishment of a world fund for the protection of the environment, implementation of an international programe for renewable energies, as well as action plans for protecting drinking water, protecting forests and providing safe sanitation. They must also set up schemes that establish legal accountability and responsibility of large enterprises. They should also work to live up to prescribed ODA goals and ensure the cancellation of debt. People would be disappointed if national selfishness prevailed at the Summit, he said.

    C. BASSET, President, Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said desertification was not a new problem. It was estimated that billions of people living in dry lands could be affected by the problem. Nobody was immune from soil degradation. A solution to the problem was known. That knowledge must be developed and shared with affected countries. Efforts must be intensified to combat the impact of drought and soil degradation.

    He said the aims of this Summit were to achieve tangible results in water, energy, health, agriculture and protection of biodiversity. Combating desertification would make headway possible on all those priority areas. In the past, the Convention had allowed itself to be too distracted by processes and mechanisms. It was time to put aside differences. The Convention held the key to many interrelated development challenges. Simple actions to combat desertification, like tree planting, better irrigation and different forms of cultivation, had been very successful and had even defused tensions at the community level. Political commitment was key.

    At present, the Convention was passing through the stage of implementation. At this stage, the affected developing countries needed to be given the appropriate means to counter soil degradation. Combating desertification was one of the most economic ways to speed up development. The means and knowledge to achieve it were available.

    TOM GOLDTOOTH, President, Indigenous Environment Network, presented a summary of the Kimberly Declaration, which was adopted at the pre-Summit meeting of indigenous peoples held last week in Kimberly, South Africa. "We are in crisis", he said. Among other things, the Declaration reaffirmed the responsibility to Mother Earth and to the youth to uphold peace, equity and justice and to pursue the commitments made 10 years ago. The commitments to indigenous peoples in Agenda 21 had not been implemented due to a lack of political will.

    Indigenous peoples, he said, had the right to own, manage and control their ancestral lands, water and other resources. It was imperative that indigenous peoples be recognized as a people under international law. "We are the land and the land is us. We are the water and the water is us." Indigenous peoples had the right to determine and establish the priorities for the use of their lands and resources. "We are the original peoples, tied to the land by our umbilical cords and the blood of our ancestors."

    The national, regional and international recognition of indigenous people was essential to the achievement of human sustainability, he said. Economic globalization was one of the main obstacles to the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. He urged the United Nations to promote respect for the recognition and enforcement of treaties established between indigenous peoples and governments. He also called for a world conference on indigenous peoples and sustainable development as a concrete follow-up to the Summit and as the culmination of the International Decade for Indigenous Peoples.

    JEAN-ROBERT GOULONGANA, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, said his group consisted of 78 developing countries, including 40 of the 49 least developed countries. Recently, an agreement had been signed with the European Union. The group strongly believed that it was possible to ensure sustainable development, if appropriate measures would be taken. Priority must be given to ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in light of the changing climate. The root causes of extreme poverty must also be addressed. To achieve those aims, the international community must strengthen efforts to increase ODA.

    The debate here concerning globalization and trade was of great interest to his group. The negotiations between the group and the WTO were aimed, among other things, at promoting sustainable development. He hoped the Summit would be able to adopt a declaration as well as a plan of action, so that the wealth of the planet could be shared by all, without endangering the future.

    TJACO VAN DEN HOUT, Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, said the international community and civil society were growing increasingly dissatisfied with procedural defects in available mechanisms for resolving environmental disputes. Much of that dissatisfaction focused on the lack of a unified forum to which all actors involved in an environmental or natural resource related dispute could turn to. With the notable exception of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, there was a paucity of institutional forums for such disputes.

    The Arbitration Court had recognized those and other gaps in available dispute settlement, and had made procedures available to address problems of access to justice and the lack of environmental expertise in tribunals, he said. Those procedures were the Court's Environmental Arbitration Rules and Conciliation Rules, adopted by its 97 member States in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The strength of those Rules was bolstered by the nomination of 100 internationally recognized jurists and scientists from member countries to serve on two Court Environmental Panels, the Panel of Arbitrators and the Panel of Scientific Experts.

    The Arbitration Court had identified the inadequacy of the international dispute-resolution system and produced concrete results, he continued. Insertion of the Rules into multilateral environment agreements, bilateral investment treaties and other international legal instruments would save considerable time and expense in negotiating novel procedures. Delegations were encouraged to support inclusion of a reference to the Rules in international legal instruments related to sustainable development.

    NEIL GUY, International Hydrographic Organization, said that his organization was founded in 1921 to contribute to maritime safety. In 1993, the United Nations had noted the deficiencies in national hydrographic bodies, which had led to loss of life and ships. In November 1998, the United Nations invited States to carry out hydrographic surveys. Nowadays, there was a growing recognition of the importance of using hydrographic data for environmental safety.

    Such data, he continued, had the potential to significantly enhance the planning and implementation of development projects. With few exceptions, 95 per cent of trade of States was through their ports. The need of hydrographic data was not yet widely appreciated. Not all areas of the world were covered by adequate data, which was needed for the protection of the maritime environment, safe navigation of vessels and the sustainable development of all nations.

    BRIGITA SCHMOGNEROVA, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, said that while technological innovations had helped reduce energy consumption and pollution per unit produced and consumed in the region's more advanced countries, total increases in production and consumption, as well as growing road and air transport, had resulted in increased environmental impacts. Air and water pollution and land degradation, together with climate change, were major environmental concerns in the region.

    She said many old and wasteful industries continued to operate in countries with economies in transition and new investments in less polluting industries remained insufficient. Economic recovery in that part of the region may bring a significant rise in air, water and soil pollution and the production of waste. In addition, the problem of nuclear safety was still not solved 16 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

    Despite strong economic growth in the transition economies, disparities in the economic and social welfare had increased and raised health and human degradation, she said. Life expectancy, particularly for men, had declined dramatically and the share of the population living in poverty had increased by a factor of 10. Unemployment and increasing income disparities had increased social exclusion.

    MUBORAK SHARIPOV, Women in Europe for a Common Future, said her organization would like to present a peace petition to Nitin Desai, Secretary-General of the World Summit and all the governments represented in Johannesburg. That petition, which had been drafted by more than 1,000 women from al over the world, stated that peace was a prerequisite for sustainable development. She went on to quote from the petition, highlighting passages that addressed the cruelties of war and the price women and children paid because of conflict and terrorism.

    She said those cruelties could not be possible without the arms produced and traded by profit-seeking industrialists supported by world governments. Thousands of families were suffering, women were being raped and children were losing their parents. Victims of war also included those affected by the devastating effects of landmines, chemical or biological weapons, and radiation from depleted uranium. Women knew there were alternative ways to resolve conflicts. There was never a reason to resort to terrorism and war. Women called for those who made profits from wars to be held accountable. Women also called for equal participation in decision-making on conflict-resolution and peace negotiations, as well as the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. She called for an end to all wars and invited all governments to join in signing the peace petition.

    MAHBOOB ELAHI, Director-General, South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, said the programme was an intergovernmental organization set up in 1982 to promote and support management and enhancement of the environment for sustainable development of eight countries in the region: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives, as well as the landlocked States of Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan that were important watershed areas. The programme was, therefore, a true indigenous initiative.

    Its work programmes were designed by the States and supported by multilateral and bilateral donors. It had added value to the work and achievements of national governments in areas of environmental assessments, programmes for shared water resources and international coral reef initiatives. It had been part of the global coral reef network. The programme had been working with other governmental and non-governmental organizations in the area of protection of the environment and achieving sustainable development and intended to contribute to the follow-up of Summit recommendations.

    Right of Reply

    Mr. YEDID (Israel) said that regional cooperation for sustainable development was of the utmost importance. Israel had cooperated with its Arab neighbours in several regional programmes and looked forward to deepening that cooperation. Terrorism, he emphasized, posed obstacles to achieving sustainable development. To the representative of the Palestinian Authority he wanted to say that the time had come to reverse the events of the past two years and build a positive dynamic. He called on the Palestinian Authority to return to the path of dialogue for the benefit of regional sustainability and for realizing self-determination for the Palestinian people.

    Mr. MOHAMED, observer of Palestine, wanted to remind the whole world, once again, of the State terrorism practised by Israel and the crimes it had committed in Jenin, Nablus and other Palestinian cities. He also recalled the destruction of cities, the uprooting of trees and various other policies practised by Israel. Israel was having a dialogue with the Palestinians through tanks and Apache helicopters. Israel had killed more than 3,000 people and about 6,000 people had suffered permanent disabilities.

    Yesterday, he continued, Israel had killed a mother and her three children under the pretext that they constituted a threat to Israeli soldiers. That was the dialogue that Israel was trying to have with the Palestinians. Catherine Bertini, the Secretary-General's Humanitarian Envoy, had confirmed that and had warned of the serious situation caused by the occupation. Palestinians were for a just peace and dialogue and not for the peace of tanks and helicopters.

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