Press Releases

    23 November 2004

    Science, Technology Exist to Begin Transition from Era of Exploitation to “Ethic of Stewardship”, Says Secretary-General in Message to Bangkok Congress

    NEW YORK, 22 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the third World Conservation Union’s World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, 17 to 25 November:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all the participants in the Third International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress who have gathered here over the past three days.

    You have met at a crucial time in our work for peace and sustainable development. More than ever, we need to heal divisions in the international community and engage in a constructive debate about the future: how to forge a true global partnership for the fight against poverty, hunger and disease; how to build a collective security system that meets all threats and enjoys the confidence of all countries; and how to protect our one and only planet, so that today’s and future generations can meet their needs.

    Unsustainable practices remain deeply woven into the fabric of modern life. Every country, and every individual, has a responsibility to change -- to move from an era of exploitation to an ethic of stewardship. That transition need not wait for tomorrow’s breakthroughs. We have the science and the green technologies to begin the job today. We know what policies are needed to fight global warming, to use energy more efficiently, to protect ecosystems and resources, and to promote balanced growth.  Conservation and change may seem expensive, but the cost of inaction, or even of continuing on our present path, is far greater.

    Events of the past few years have distracted the world from dealing adequately with these issues.  In the year ahead, we must do better.  Next September, world leaders will gather for a summit to review progress in the five years since the Millennium Declaration. I want them to use that summit not merely to make observations, but as an opportunity to agree on bold decisions which can move the world closer to the shared vision set out in that Declaration. To help them in their deliberations, they will have in their hands the report of my High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, to be issued next month, as well as the report of the Millennium Project, to be issued in January, on what it will take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals -- the seventh of which is to ensure environmental sustainability -- by the target year of 2015. My own report will be issued in March, indicating clearly to Member States the points on which decisions are needed.

    I wish to commend the participants and organizers of the Congress for the lively debate you have had.  And I very much look forward to the contributions you will make to our common effort to adapt our United Nations and secure our common future. Thank you again for the commitment, creativity and collective spirit that you have brought to the cause of a safer, fairer more sustainable world.

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