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The Model United Nations - 7 March 2002

- Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen

- I am delighted to have the opportunity to welcome you to the United Nations in Nairobi. Your interest in world affairs is of great importance in a fast changing world. In a world which urgently needs to take action to ensure sustainable development.

- I strongly endorse the words of George Soros :

- "We need a global society - and not just a global economy - we need to address wealth disparities and inequalities".

- I am optimistic that we can create this global society.

- The themes of sustainable development and children's rights which you have chosen are very relevant to today's world, and to tomorrow's. Unless we change our behaviour today, the poor will continue to grow poorer, and the world's resources will continue to take abuse.

- It is worth remembering that children are often among those who suffer most from poverty.

- As we prepare for the Johannesburg summit, we are all reflecting on the challenge facing us. It is:

- To find a way to make globalization work for the half of the world still living on less than two dollars a day-(the people who will probably never enjoy a glass of clean water) - those trapped in poverty.

- We have to integrate social, economic, and environmental policies, to ensure sustainable development. This is, the ONLY path out of poverty.

- UNEP and other UN agencies are, of course, contributing to the Summit, and to work on sustainable development.

- Today, I would just like to share with you just ten of the areas where we are active. I will also tell you about UNEP's action to ensure that the youth of the world have an opportunity to exercise their right to add their voice to the process.

1. Assessment

- On the eve of WSSD, more than ever, we need a map which shows us where we are - the path we should take - and where we want to go in the future

- For the environment, this map is GEO-3, a global assessment of the environment - It is a unique tool for policy-makers, and policy implementation worldwide

- UNEP is not alone in trying to put together a map for the future. A number of other UN agencies are also providing inputs to the Johannesburg process.

2. Capacity-building

- It is widely acknowledged that capacity-building, especially in developing countries, is essential for sustainable development

- UNEP provides national governments with advice on policy, law, technology, and in key areas of institution building, and environmental management

- We plan work further to ensure that environmental policy works for sustainable development

- Many other UN agencies will also be working to build up skills and knowledge in all areas so that people will have the ability to lift themselves out of poverty.

3. Technology and Technology Transfer

- Every year the world population grows by 75 million people

- Where, and how are they going to live?

- Technology can help find a solution, if there is information on its availability, and terms of transfer

- UN agencies, working with business, are committed to overcoming these barriers, and the obstacles presented by financing, and intellectual property rights.

4. Health

- Water is key to sustainable development and good health

- Water pollution, poor sanitation, and water shortages, kill over 12 million people every year, and drain the energy, and capacity to earn, of millions more.

- Women spend many hours carrying water - valuable energy which could be used to supplement the family income, or educate children

- UNEP is working to address these problems, through integrated water resources management

- A number of other UN agencies are also working to tackle water-related health problems,

- At a recent meeting of UNEP's Governing Council in Cartagena, a new global strategy, for reducing the environmental and health risks from toxic chemicals, and hazardous wastes, was agreed. The decision will go forward for endorsement to the WSSD in Johannesburg.

- However, much more needs to be done to safeguard the health of the poor.

5. 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 common asset - the environment- avoiding deforestation, desertification and water pollution

- In addition water supplies and irrigation must be managed efficiently to ensure optimum results

- UNEP is convinced that there must be a comprehensive assessment of ALL land related issues

- 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

- Action, supported by UN agencies, is required to save entire communities from starvation

6. Globalization and Trade

- Measures must be taken, 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 - the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade and Environment, and other UN bodies, can play an important role in this regard

7. 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 ethic, for the twenty-first century

8. Urbanization

- Urban households in developing countries often live in absolute poverty

- They face the environmental hazards of lack of access to clean water and sanitation, and disposal of waste. Housing is inadequate.

- Working with UN-Habitat, UNEP has been tackling these issues through projects, such as Water for African Cities

- Other UN agencies are also working to help raise the standard of living of the urban poor

9. Energy

- 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

- UN agencies, working with business, can help bring sustainable energy to those who need it.

10. Implementation

- Implementation of all the actions identified requires investment - Investment of human and financial resources

- The need for the resources to ensure effective governance, in the field of the environment, was recognized by UNEP's Governing Council - Its report on International Environmental Governance will go forward to the WSSD.

- World governments, and industry must commit now to invest for development

- Financial resources, direct investment in countries in need, must be found

Youth Action

- UNEP has been instrumental in organizing a number of events and activities which will ensure that the voice of the world's youth is heard in Johannesburg

- The Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development brought together delegates from 104 countries, in May 2001

- National Youth reviews of Agenda 21 implementation

- Global Youth Forum in Denmark, March 2002 is expected to produce a statement

- Youth event at WSSD

- 2002 International Children's Conference on the Environment, May 2002, expected to issue a declaration for WSSD


- The assets of the developing world are few. They should be preserved and used responsibly for sustainable development

- Human capital, especially the young people, is a valuable resource for developing countries

- The environment is another asset which should be used in a sustainable way, for the benefit of all

- I urge you over the coming days to consider the issues I have raised and in your report note the need for concrete results, and clearly defined action in Johannesburg

- Action to bring about economic, social and ecological stability for the good of all especially the young, and future generations

- We have still a long way to go but as Confucius said

- "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

- Let's hope that the world takes this single, very big step in Johannesburg

- I wish you every success with this conference and all of your future activities.