WSSD Preparatory Meeting New York 29 January 2002

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- Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen

In mapping our future towards the WSSD and beyond, we should recall the vision presented in the Malmö Ministerial Declaration, which emphasized that:

"At the dawn of this new century, we have at our disposal the human and material resources to achieve sustainable development, not as an abstract concept but as a concrete reality. The unprecedented developments in production and information technologies, the emergence of a younger generation with a clear sense of optimism, solidarity and values, women increasingly aware and with an enhanced and active role in society - all point to the emergence of a new consciousness. We can decrease poverty by half by 2015 without degrading the environment, we can ensure environmental security through early warning, we can better integrate environmental considerations in economic policy, we can better coordinate legal instruments and we can realize a vision of a world without slums. We commit ourselves to realizing this common vision."

This vision of opportunities and optimism should guide us towards the WSSD and beyond.

The theme of the Stockholm Conference in 1972 was the human environment. Its outcome was the establishment of UNEP. The Rio Summit in 1992 on environment and development, and was based on the overarching concept of sustainable development. In follow up to the Rio Summit the Commission on Sustainable Development was established.

The Johannesburg Summit is about sustainable development. The Summit has four important features.

- It should be the Summit of implementation. There is the urgent need to address the gaps between the commitment and implementation. The Summit should become a milestone for breathing new life into the implementation of Agenda 21, and other outcomes of the Rio Summit.

- It should be the Summit of partnership. Local, national, regional and global partnership should be strengthened among governments, organizations and all stakeholders.

- It should be the Summit of responsibly prosperity and opportunities for all. Clear commitment should be made to eradicate poverty. Globalization must the benefit all. Environmentally responsible action should generate a sound environmental resource basis for promoting equity and equality in economic and social development.

- It should be the Summit of integration. Environmental policies and economic and social development policies should become more coherent, and integrated into policies for sustainable development.

Overall, it should be the Summit for concrete action to realize those goals. A Johannesburg Programme of Action or a "Global Pact" should be developed, setting out targets with measurable benchmarks.

Ten issues should be addressed in determining the components of the programme of action or the Pact. UNEP has been working actively on these issues, and looks forward to contributing to the WSSD, and its outcomes.

Firstly, assessment and monitoring of global changes should be strengthened. We need to map the future course of action and policies on the basis of scientific information and analysis. IPCC has been an excellent example of the science-policy linkages to address global climate change. Millennium Eco-system Assessment is another good example of important assessment of ecosystems. GEO-3 provides an authoritative assessment of global environmental changes and implications of such changes for policy-making purposes.

Secondly, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of capacity building. Capacity building should be further promoted at all levels in all pillars of sustainable development. The GEO process has involved a network of assessment and monitoring in countries around the world, and contributed to enhancing capacities of participating institutions in developing countries, and countries with economies in transition. UNEP provides national governments with advice on policy, law, technology, and in key areas of institution building, and environmental management. We will work further to ensure that environmental policy works for sustainable development

Thirdly, technology progress and scientific findings must be used for the benefit of all humanity. Technology can help find a solution, if there is information on its availability, and terms of transfer. UNEP through its International Environment Technology Centre in Osaka, Japan seeks to overcome this barrier. The use of technology is linked to scientific analysis, risk assessment and awareness, and ethical responsibility. Clean production, increasing energy efficiency, decreasing wastes and better use of water - all require environmentally sound and responsible use of technology, and technology transfer.

Fourthly, the links, between health and the environment, need to be addressed. Water is a primary concern, as it sustains peoples' living and welfare, and enables them to work for economic and social development. Water is critical also for sustaining the environment, and its sustainable resources, which are the basis for economic and social development. A plan of action should be developed to provide legal and technical assistance for better use of water resources. UNEP is working to address these problems, through integrated water resources management. UNEP's Water Policy provides a strategic direction for its work on water. The regional seas programmes and the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities provide concrete measures to address the interface between freshwater, coastal areas management, and marine environment.

Hazardous chemicals is another critical issue, impacting on human health and the environment. UNEP has been active in this field to promote environmentally sound management of such chemicals. UNEP promoted the development and implementation of Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (together with FAO) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. UNEP works with WHO for the reduction of reliance on DDT. UNEP is taking action also on the problems of lead in gasoline and mercury.

Fifthly, we need to address environment and food security. 75% of the world's poor live in rural areas - They depend completely on agriculture for sustenance. Sustainable agriculture depends on the proper use of the environment as common asset, avoiding deforestation, desertification and water pollution. In addition water supplies and irrigation must be managed efficiently to ensure optimum results. There must be a comprehensive assessment of all land-related issues. The advantages of the biotechnology should be affordable and made available to developing countries- while ensuring that those countries have the ability to assess the risks, and benefits, of genetically engineered crops. 1,000 million people worldwide depend on fish for food. Over-fishing, aquaculture, subsidies, and the opening up of coastal waters to developed countries are putting that food supply in jeopardy. This represents another dimension of sustainable management and use of marine environmental resources and the need for protecting the areas where they live.

Sixthly, we need to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force, for all the people of the world. UNEP has been engaged in the integration of environmental considerations, into macro-economic, and trade policy. Technical assistance on trade is required. For this purpose, the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Taskforce on Trade and Environment, can play an important role. The outcome of the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Doha is the basis for constructive dialogue on trade/development/environment issues. The private sector should be further encouraged to strengthen their initiatives for undertaking environmental responsibilities, for example through the Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative and voluntary codes of conduct.

Seventhly, we should address the question of diversity. The cost of globalization should not be the loss of thousands of indigenous cultures, and their traditions. Spiritual values, cultural diversity, respect for human rights, and indigenous knowledge, can contribute positively, to the formulation of a new environmental ethic, for the twenty-first century.

Eighthly, urbanization poses a major challenge in both developed and developing countries. Problems includes urban households living in absolute poverty, the environmental hazards of lack of access to clean water and sanitation, and disposal of waste. Working with UN-Habitat, UNEP has been tackling these issues through a number of projects.

Ninthly, energy and energy efficiency, in relation to all aspects of sustainable development, should be addressed. It is an issue both for urban and rural areas. Over 2 billion people in developing countries have no access to modern energy - without energy the poor of the world have no means to move forward. Renewable energy, at an affordable price, is essential for economic development. UNEP is active in providing capacity building in this field through its network of Renewable Energy Centres.

Tenthly, we need to provide solutions for the means of implementing the commitment. Financial basis for sustainable development should be secured and shared by all concerned. Foreign direct investment, debt relief, ODA - all need to be addressed. Partnership with civil society organizations and the private sector is increasingly becoming important.

Overall, the Johannesburg Summit should be an important milestone to build a sustainable world based on concrete action and renewed political commitment.


 

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