Press Releases

    6 February 2002


    NEW YORK, 5 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the panel of eminent persons for the World Summit on Sustainable Development:

    It is a pleasure to join you for your second meeting. Let me thank you for your commitment. Each of you on your own, and all of you together as an eminent panel, have a key role to play in making the Johannesburg Summit a success.

    While I am here more to listen to you than to make a speech, I would like to share some thoughts on some of the complex issues with which you are wrestling.

    Nitin [Desai] will brief you on the preparations for the Summit. But already, one clear message is emerging: everyone involved, whether governments or farmers, scientists or other stakeholders, wants the Johannesburg outcome to be more than a long statement of good intentions. Rather, they want strong commitments and practical steps that will achieve our common goal of development that is truly sustainable.

    In my report to the Preparatory Committee, I identified 10 main areas -- including globalization, health, energy, poverty and capacity building -– where new initiatives are especially urgent. Linking your work with these broad themes should help you devise specific, practical initiatives for the Summit to consider and endorse.

    But to bring any initiatives to life, we will need partnerships. The United Nations needs grass-roots non-governmental organizations as much as it does corporate titans. The United Nations needs not only the influence of Davos, but also the energy of Porto Alegre.

    With so many different actors involved in the Johannesburg process, I hope we will see the determination and pragmatism that the agenda demands.

    I bring these points of partnership and practicality to your attention because I feel it is important that your own work focus on a practical agenda. Indeed, allow me to suggest that you ask yourselves:

    • First, how will my initiative carry forward, in a practical way, the global agenda for sustainable development?
    • Second, how will the initiative bring in the main actors who are vital for its success? And
    • Third, assuming the initiative is endorsed at Johannesburg, how can it be monitored in terms of targets, timetables and measurable goals?

    Let me stress again the importance I attach to your efforts to come up with practical steps to build partnerships and to strengthen the political commitment to sustainable development. Now I look forward to hearing from you about your work and your concerns.

    Thank you very much.

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