Press Releases

    29 November 2004

    New Global Consensus:  “Economic Development Must Be Harmonized with Nature”, Says Secretary-General in Message to Tokyo “Zero Emissions” Symposium

    NEW YORK, 26 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Zero Emissions Tenth Anniversary Symposium, delivered by Hans van Ginkel, Rector, United Nations University, in Tokyo, 26 November:

    This symposium is a measure of how far the world has come in its understanding of environmental conservation and economic development. Where once these ideas were widely seen as irreconcilable, today more and more people are coming to see them as mutually dependent and reinforcing.

    The United Nations has played an important part in bringing about this changing mindset. From the Stockholm conference in 1972 to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 20 years later and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg two years ago, the Organization has helped cultivate a strikingly new global consensus: that economic development must be harmonized with nature for the long-term future of life on our planet. 

    Today, we have a far-reaching network of international treaties, accords and frameworks, as well as the time-bound targets known as the Millennium Development Goals, which are designed to promote development while protecting the global environment. We also have at our disposal an increasing array of advanced technologies to help reduce pollution, degradation and waste, and even to overcome some of the damage caused in the past. Our challenge now is to take better advantage of these fruits of human ingenuity, while summoning a stronger human commitment to implement what has been agreed.

    It is here that the Zero Emissions initiative plays such an important role. Not only does it seek to minimize the emissions, wastes and other by-products generated by industry and human activity, it also tries to turn one sector’s wastes into another’s inputs. Based on the simple but powerful notion that humankind should mimic the sustainable cycles of ecosystems, it began modestly, as an effort to restructure industrial clusters. Over the past decade, it has grown in scope, and taken root in a number of countries and sectors, particularly here in Japan.

    On the 10th anniversary of this initiative, I congratulate the United Nations University for a decade of dedication to promoting a more promising path of economic and social development -- a path that can ensure harmony with nature and bring security, stability and prosperity to all, today and in future generations. Thank you for this contribution to the work of the United Nations, and please accept my best wishes for a successful symposium.

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