Remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at the World Environment Day Environment and Conservation Conference
Kigali, 3 June 2010-His Excellency Bernard Makuza, Prime Minister of Rwanda; Ambassador Stanislas Kamanzi, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Infrastructure; distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here in Kigali to address this conference as part of World Environment Day (WED) celebrations 2010.
When I learnt that Rwanda would be hosting the main global celebrations for WED, it put a swift spring into my step.
For this is a developing country that is putting natural or nature-based resources at the heart of its development path.
Rwanda is also an economy that has embraced the concept of a Green Economy and the principle of sustainability.
It is a country that is rapidly evolving the view that the environment is not a tax on its development, a mortgage on its future or a constraint on employment-far from it.
President Kagame has- not least in his inspiring address last year to African minister of finance and environment- made it clear that environment underpins Rwanda's development and the prosperity of its people if not this Continent..
UNEP is pleased to be a partner in that journey working to assist the government in its Economic and Poverty Reduction Strategy through the UN Development Assistance Framework.
UNEP and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) co-chair the UN Country Team's environmental theme group and are involved in the cleaner production centre; waste management initiative and ecosystem restoration projects.
The UN family here in Rwanda will strive even harder to ensure that our delivery reflects the urgency and the determination of this country to realize its Vision 2020.
Economics-a Missing Link
Ladies and gentlemen we meet in the UN's International Year of Biodiversity.
The year when the world was meant to have substantially reversed the rate of loss of biodiversity.
This, as the Convention on Biological Diversity's recently launched Global Biodiversity Outlook-3 underlines, has not happened.
WED is a peoples' day-a day when communities and citizens to local authorities and companies-can express their support and their desire for an improved environment through actions on the ground.
The public in the end give politicians the license to operate-this is the day when their voice, requesting a new and transformational engagement with the natural world, needs to be heard.
This is year too when, as part of this international year, the international community needs to recommit to achieving the unfulfilled target and indeed go beyond.
How can decision-makers preside over a 60 to perhaps 65 per cent decline in ecosystems and their services?
How can we be facing an inordinate decline in something as fundamental-the source of protein for one billion people-as fish stocks?
I would suggest that the 'missing link' in the debate has been economics.