Statement of UNEP's Executive Director at the opening of the 11th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development(CSD)in New York (28 April 2003)

Last year, after intensive preparations, the successful conclusion of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, brought out the clear perspective that since the Rio conference, there has continued to be a huge disparity between the commitments undertaken by the international community for sustainable development and actions to implement those commitments. I believe this is the critical issue that we will have to consider over the next two weeks. Over the last few years, we have successfully concluded the Doha development round on international trade and development, we have adopted the Malmoe Declaration with far reaching implications for international environmental cooperation, we have commitments made in Monterrey on Financing for Development, and we have the outcomes of conferences on Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

There is no doubt that we are very well equipped in terms of policy guidance and our policy frameworks for sustainable development are in place. The acid test for us and the real success of the follow-up of the WSSD Johannesburg Plan of Implementation will be in its implementation. We need to put in place concrete steps towards achieving the Johannesburg call for responsible prosperity for all. We must concretely take steps for the eradication of poverty, particularly in LDCs and SIDS and to bridge the gap between the twenty percent of the world’s population enjoying eighty percent of global consumption and the eighty percent barely surviving with twenty percent of global consumption. We must move forward to implement the Millennium Development Goals and to halve the number of people subsisting on less than one dollar a day by 2015.

There are many challenges that confront us in addition, we must find ways to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation to the poor, to decrease the number of slum dwellers, and to stabilize degraded ecosystems.

More than ever before we have a solid basis to implement the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and to achieve these great goals. The JPOI contains over thirty concrete targets and timetables. It includes important regional actions in particular for UNEP’s host continent, Africa, in NEPAD, it also includes ten year framework of programmes for sustainable consumption and production and a new sense and drive towards developing partnerships, in concrete cooperation with civil society, private business, NGOs, academia and organized religions. The proof of this approach is in the more than two hundred and fifty partnership projects already registered.

In UNEP’s view, CSD 11 is of utmost importance. It is necessary for us to decide on a reliable and implementable framework to bring together and concentrate all available human and financial resources in a renewed effort for implementation.

UNEP has had the advantage of holding its twenty-second session of the Governing Council in February this year and was the first major intergovernmental meeting following Johannesburg. It was the first opportunity for the international community to formulate its response to the challenge of implementation proposed by Johannesburg. Our stakeholders provided a strong and positive response to this challenge. We have the full backing of our Governing Council and our Global Ministerial Environment Forum to systematically integrate the relevant outcomes of Johannesburg in our biennial programme of work. In UNEP we stress that environmental problems cannot be addressed in isolation and that their economic and social consequences must be considered in the search for solutions. It justifies our conceptual approach that has become “Environment for Development” – as we can never peacefully co-exist, if we do not realize that environmental security and sustainable development are prerequisites for a stable future.

In this context, despite the pressing importance and relevance of water and energy issues, significant advances of Johannesburg such as in the areas of fisheries, oceans, chemicals, benefit sharing on biological resources and consumption and production patterns must remain in the forefront.

UNEP is actively involved in all these areas and will continue to provide the scientific knowledge required to assist all stakeholders in their pursuit to meet these goals. We are fully committed to enhancing our capacity development efforts so as to enable the poor to live on a sustainable planet. Let me take this opportunity in conclusion to assure you that UNEP remains fully committed to contribute the environmental perspective to your work and to support our regional structures to support implementation at the regional and national levels. I wish you success in your deliberations and ensure you of UNEP’s continued support at all levels to the CSD.

Thank you.


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