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Remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at the Opening of the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum

Bali, 24 February 2010 - His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, and his Ministers of Foreign and Affairs and Environment

President of the Governing Council, the Honourable Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning of Serbia Mr Oliver Dulic,

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

Bali has many names your Excellency including island of the Gods.

But for us in the environment programme of the UN, and for the ministers responsible for this agenda, Bali means success, hospitality and friendship.

Words that in the multilateral system mean a lot in a world of complex relationships and sometimes overly complex and protracted negotiations.

In 2007, the UN climate convention meeting gave us all a dramatic impulse towards a truly cooperative response to one of the great challenges facing this generation.

The international community has yet to fully translate that Bali spirit into a final and transformative outcome.

But we have traveled some distance down that Bali Road Map and made progress on a global, cooperative response in Copenhagen.

We now head towards Cancun and Mexico later in the year in search of that full and final berth.

There are other reasons for us to celebrate Indonesia and Bali.

The Bali Strategic Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building is part of UNEP's daily lingua franca.

It has taken some little time.

But the Plan is now operational, bringing the environmental dimension of sustainable development ever closer to the countries and communities we ultimately serve.

Perhaps a lesson in patience that might also serve us well in the dimension of climate change and other pressing challenges.

You have successfully hosted recent meetings including of the Basel Convention on Transboundary Hazardous Wastes and this week, along with the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, have held their Extraordinary Committee of the Parties.

Today's 'synergies' outcome is an historic building block in a bigger picture of gearing the International Environmental Governance system towards a 21st century one.

One able to meet the original aspirations which gave birth to these environmental instruments in the first place-namely realizing a healthier, more equitable world where challenges are met and decisively overcome.

One where the basic needs of the vulnerable and the poor are paramount and equal to those of the few and the rich.

This significant step of the Parties to the chemicals and wastes conventions sends a clear an unequivocal signal to this GC/GMEF.

Namely that far more can unite us in common cause and humanity than needs to divide us if only we can recognize and move on this fact.

So the elemental spirit of Bali lives on.

It is in large part the spirit of this island's beauty but perhaps above all the welcoming and generous-hearted people.

Your warmth can lift everyone's spirit towards the art of the possible and sense that achievement is the right and proper thing to do.

Let me thank you your Excellency, the President of Indonesia and your government for making our meeting here of the UN in Bali yet again a well organized and memorable one.

And let me thank the people of Bali and Indonesia for making the tasks in hand lighter.

And the mood here one of positivism and optimism not least by virtue of allowing us to share in your culture and participate in your way if life for these next three important days.




Further Resources

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Message to the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council

11th Special Session of the Governing Council


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