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NAIROBI, 5 February 2001 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) must be given the necessary resources and financial backing if it is to lead the environmental agenda into the new millennium, Klaus Toepfer, the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Executive Director, said today.

Addressing delegates at the opening of UNEP's 21st session of the Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Toepfer called on governments to make the meeting, which runs from 5 to 9 February, a success. "Give us a basis for our work. But please give us that basis with more resources," he said.

Echoing a statement made earlier by a member of a youth delegation to the meeting, Toepfer said the time had ended for talk. The time had come for delivering environmental action. "We do not need new priorities or new visions. What we need to do now is to implement," he said.

Today's meeting was formally opened by the outgoing President of the Governing Council, Mr. Laszlo Miklos, Minister of the Environment from the Slovakia Republic. The Canadian Environment Minister, Mr. David Anderson, was elected to be President of the 21st session of the Council.

In his address to delegates this morning, Toepfer said the world faced new challenges, one of the greatest being globalisation. "It is the main, new, topic, since the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. We have to do our utmost to bring people and parts of society together again," he said.

Mr. Toepfer said it was crucial that the World Summit on Sustainable Development, taking place in Johannesburg in 2002, will send a clear message to the world that globalization will not widen the gap between the developed and the developing world. "We need to make globalization the instrument for closing the gap between the rich and poor, " he said.

UNEP's Executive Director said he hoped the 21st session of the Governing Council will "give us the signal and advice where to go in the preparation for Rio plus 10".

Rio plus 10 is the popular working title for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Mr Toepfer said renewable energy was also high on this week's agenda and that this would also be a direct input into the meeting of the UN's Commission on Sustainable Development later this year which will feed into the Johannesburg conference.

Also making reference to the location of UNEP's headquarters in Africa, he said: "One of the pre-conditions for development is energy and renewable energy in Africa is also one of the preconditions for

stimulating development in rural areas".

Mr. Toepfer said people were leaving rural areas and moving to cities which in turn puts pressure on urban living and its environment. "We can counteract this if, for instance, it is possible to give rural areas electricity," he said.

Mr Toepfer said UNEP was continuing to develop its five main priority areas of work. These include Early Warning, Monitoring and Assessment which can help in offsetting the impacts of natural disasters; Co-operation between the environmental conventions and links with industry and promoting environmentally friendly technologies such as renewable energy.

Mr Toepfer re-affirmed UNEP's commitment to its Nairobi location describing it as an "asset" and helping to focus action in Africa.

He said this week's Governing Council had not only brought ministers and NGO representatives and young People from around the world, but for the first time parliamentarians. Over recent days a Global Compact meeting, bringing together members of the business community, trades unions and non governmental organisations, had also been held.

For more information contact: Tore Brevik, UNEP spokesman. Telephone: 254

2 623292. E-mail: cpiinfo@unep.org

UNEP Press Centre: 623505/623531/623639

Notes to Editors. Documentation and press information, including the full version of Mr Toepfer's Policy Statement to the 21st session of the Governing Council can be seen on UNEP's web site at: www.unep.org/GC_21st/

Live coverage of press conferences, special events and some of the conference sessions are also being broadcast live on the web at the above address

UNEP News Release 01/13