29 March 2005

Secretary-General, in Message to Conference, Calls for Paradigm Shift Towards “Green Growth” to Achieve Truly Sustainable Development

He Underscores Need for Global Responsibility, Partnership, Stewardship

NEW YORK, 28 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, delivered in Seoul today, 28 March, by Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP):

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all the participants in this fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific.

Your region as a whole has achieved spectacular economic growth.  At the same time, economic growth is placing increasing pressure on environmental sustainability. Economic growth must continue, since roughly two thirds of the world’s poor live in the region.  But the prevailing model -- “grow first and clean up later” -- is not the answer.  To achieve truly sustainable development, we need a paradigm shift towards “green growth”.  It is encouraging that this is the theme of your conference.  Indeed, the goals of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive, but can and must be pursued in tandem.

Your region is also especially vulnerable to natural disasters. I saw personally the terrible devastation caused by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean late last year.  Compounded with persistent poverty and rapid population growth, this disaster and others place additional pressure on resources and ecosystems.

Our challenge is to use the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and other global agreements to the fullest.  I look forward to working with you as we continue our efforts to integrate the concept of sustainable development fully into national development policies and planning, and in turn usher in a new era of global responsibility, partnership and stewardship.

Progress in your region has shown the world that we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Your achievements offer useful lessons as we look ahead to the September Summit at the United Nations in New York, at which world leaders will review not only progress towards the Goals, but also implementation of all aspects of the Millennium Declaration.  Please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

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