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Poverty alleviation, the environment, sustainable development in a globalized world

Governing Council/Global
Ministerial Environment Forum
22nd Session
Nairobi, Kenya
3-7 February 2003

Highlights : GC Profiles

"It has been a full, busy and rewarding two years."
Interview with outgoing GC President David Anderson

Outgoing GC President David Anderson has his feet firm on the ground as he discuss his term in office and environmental values

"It has been a full, busy and rewarding two years." This is how Minister David Anderson of Canada described his term as the President of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Minister Anderson was praised by Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, as a powerful and dedicated GC president during a trying term, as the world prepared for the WSSD. Minister Anderson looks back at the highlights and challenges of his term of office, and the wisdom gained form the WSSD and the GC excercise.

"I see the highlights of my term in terms of the positive change brought about as a result of working with partners to achieve common goals. We completed the first-ever Global Assessment of Mercury, launched the Great Apes Survival Project, held the first intergovernmental review of the GPA, universally adopted the Stockholm Convention on POPs, and released GEO3. But perhaps one of the most challenging and worthwhile endeavours that we have taken on was completing the international environmental governance process.

The work we did through the last two years improved the general perception of the concept. Governance is about concentrating efforts to where they are effective and a willingness to work in partnership. It is also about good management, coordination, avoiding duplication and translating recommendations into ground results. It is within this context that UNEP is continuing to gain strength. The credibility of the organization is evident if measured by the financial contributions of member states to the environment fund. Canada and France doubled their contribution, and other countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway substantially increased their financial commitments to UNEP.

At the WSSD UNEP maintained its position as the world's environment leader. Now more than ever, it is recognized as the organization to provide the environmental output of the WSSD. But we have to keep working to make the organization stronger.

However, let us not slide into whatever that is not environmental. Environment is not only a part of sustainable development. Environment exists without development, but is critical to it.

Finally, I want to say that we must keep our feet on the ground. The Ministerial Forum is in itself an important mechanism, but it is also important to realize that we, as ministers, have to go home and use the knowledge gained through global interaction to do things better in our own countries. There is some tendency to believe that we are here to be judged, which is not true. We are here to share what we know about what works and what doesn't. It is good to talk about successes, as it is good to talk about failures. I believe in the popular saying: You can learn from other people's mistakes, or you will learn from your own".