Press Releases

    29 October 2002


    NEW YORKFollowing is the text of a message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Dubai Strategy Forum, delivered by Ms. Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in Dubai today:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and to all the distinguished participants in the Dubai Strategy Forum.

    This Forum draws strength from a wide geographic region whose human and natural resources have much to offer each other and the world. Many of you are actively seizing the opportunities of the Internet to spread information and enhance governance. Others are establishing wide-ranging commercial ties, and creating the employment, trade and investment opportunities that countries need to develop. Still others are contributing to the intellectual debate on how to make globalization work for all people, and how to build a more peaceful, equitable world.

    You have gathered for dialogue because you are keenly aware that more and more of the challenges we face -- from environmental degradation to drug trafficking and the spread of diseases such as AIDS -- transcend borders. And you have come together to forge partnerships for progress because you realize that as global interdependence deepens, and as trade and communications stitch the human family more closely together, rising to these and other challenges requires a greater sense of shared responsibility and global citizenship.

    Your meeting focuses on the need to create networks for growth. Economic growth has raised standards of living for millions of people. But economic growth, by itself, is not enough to respond to the problems of a world plagued by hunger, pollution and other ills. To move forward, we need not only networks for growth, but also networks for development -- balanced development that takes into account the wider social, cultural and political aspects.

    Social progress is a necessary component of development. Healthy and educated individuals are far more able to contribute to the well-being and advancement of their societies. The Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders two years ago establish clear targets for a range of urgent imperatives, such as achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality. Without more concerted action in these areas -- without the full development of a country’s human resources -- development will not take root, and economic growth will not be sustained.

    Cultural affinity can play an important practical role, as this forum demonstrates. It can help people to identify common vulnerabilities and opportunities. It can facilitate intra-regional mobility of goods, services, labour, capital and technology. And it can help build efficient and regional educational systems, geared to the needs of an increasingly globalized world. But efforts to promote regional integration and cohesion should not come at the expense of openness to ideas and influences emanating from other regions. Throughout history, countries have flourished, and civilizations have grown, precisely because of cultural diversity and the spur to learning and innovation that comes from contacts and exchanges with others.

    Development in the broadest sense also requires an enabling political environment. Men and women must be able to have a say in the decisions affecting their lives. They need to be free to use their talents and energies to their fullest potential. They need to be confident that human rights will be respected and protected, that the institutions of State are effective and accountable, and that there are mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of differences. The principle of democracy is now recognized by all; one of the main struggles ahead will be to make its practice equally universal.

    Networking for development -- for the common good -- means that all actors must contribute. Governments have a key role to play, but even they are recognizing that they cannot do the job alone. Private sector businesses, civil society groups, academic institutions and international organizations such as the United Nations all have roles to play. Together, we can promote universal values such as equity, dignity and mutual respect. Together, we can defeat the poverty and insecurity that disfigure so many lives. At this critical moment for the region and the world, I look forward to working with you in this noble endeavour. Please accept my best wishes for a successful forum.

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