Press Releases

    14 February 2002


    NEW YORK, 13 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Cartagena, Colombia, delivered on his behalf by Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), on 13 February:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all the environment ministers gathered in beautiful Cartagena. The Government and people of Colombia merit our recognition for hosting this important event.

    In just three years, the Global Ministerial Environment Forum has become an invaluable platform for the consideration of priority issues on the global environmental agenda. You meet now only a little more than six months before the World Summit on Sustainable Development. As leading environmental policy makers, you thus have a formidable responsibility: to provide, as your contribution to the Johannesburg Summit, a coherent vision of the environmental dimension of sustainability.

    While the Summit is clearly more than an environmental conference, it is also equally clear that sustainable development cannot be achieved without strong links between environmental issues and the United Nations overarching agenda for poverty eradication, human rights and peace-building. It was that very linkage that inspired the participants in Rio, 10 years ago, to adopt Agenda 21, a vision of development in which humanity's economic and social needs are balanced with the capacity of the earth's resources and ecosystems. Many of you at this Forum contributed to that vision. Today, we need to go further, and ensure that Johannesburg enables us to move more convincingly into the realm of practical steps, partnerships and political will.

    In my most recent report to the Preparatory Committee for Johannesburg, I identified 10 areas where new initiatives are urgently needed, including globalization, poverty, health, energy, freshwater, Africa, finance and technology, patterns of consumption and production, managing ecosystems and biodiversity, and international governance. I am glad that many of your governments have begun reacting to my report. Similarly, during this Forum, you will have before you the Executive Director's report on UNEP's contribution to the Summit. I look forward to your comments and advice.

    The Global Ministerial Environment Forum has a key role to play as Johannesburg draws near. I hope you will continue opening up your deliberations to civil society and the private sector. I hope you will ensure that UNEP remains on a stable financial footing. And finally I hope that you will use your considerable power to guide your governments, and all of us, in breaking with the unsustainable practices that pervade our societies and imperil our common future. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful session.

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