Your Excellency Kwak Kyul-Ho, Minister of Environment of the Republic
Excellency Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
Excellency Mr Song Hun Seok, Chairperson of the Environment and
Mr Goh Chul-Whan, Chairperson of the Presidential Commission on
Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-Habitat
Mr Børge Brende, Chair of the 12th Session of the UN Commission
for Sustainable Development,
Mr. Woo Keun-Min, Governor of Jeju Province,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Korea,
for their generously hospitality in hosting the eighth Special Session
of the UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment
The uplifting environment of Jeju island -- a UN-recognized biosphere
reserve -- is a perfect venue for our deliberations over the next
The environment, as well as being the foundation of our good health
and sustainable development, is also a platform for our spiritual
The peace and tranquillity of this place is a reminder that there
is beauty and harmony on this planet -- our only home -- and that
we should fight with all our power to preserve it.
We live in times of turmoil and conflict. We fear our neighbours
and mistrust our friends. It is easy to lose sight of long-term
objectives for improving the lives of billions of people across
the globe who deserve and demand better.
Over the next three days we have the opportunity to refocus attention
on the foundations of sustainable development -- for that is the
only true security policy for the future.
This is the fifth Global Ministerial Environment Forum -- an invaluable
mechanism for promoting dialogue among governments for protecting
the environmental base of sustainable development.
Back in the year 2000, when we all met in Malmö, there was
an incredibly strong sense of optimism and commitment.
Let me remind you of the conclusion of the Malmö Declaration.
“At the dawn of this new century, we have at our disposal
the human and material resources to achieve sustainable development,
not as an abstract concept, but as a concrete reality.”
The question we must ask ourselves is: Have we capitalized on these
resources? Have we done enough? Are we living up to the promise
In the same year as Malmö, the United Nations Millennium Survey
revealed that two-thirds of people felt their governments had not
done enough to protect the environment. Do people feel differently
In the Millennium Declaration, and more recently at the World Summit
on Sustainable Development, our governments committed to a series
of time-bound goals and targets. How are we doing? Could we do better?
These are the questions that must be at the forefront of our minds
as we tackle our agenda over the next three days.
The list of topics has deliberately been kept focused, because
focus, above all, is what we need if we are to achieve our targets
and fulfil our promises.
The theme running through our discussions -- the environmental
dimension of water, sanitation and human settlements -- has profound
implications for the successful achievement of many of the Millennium
Let me single out just one, the goal to reduce by two-thirds the
mortality rate of children under five.
In the time that I have been speaking, 20 children have died of
diseases caused by lack of safe water. That is 5,000 a day, nearly
two million children a year.
All told, one out of every three people across the world lack adequate
They are people like you and me, except that, instead of being
here in Jeju, they are struggling on a daily basis to keep disease
at bay while they try to earn a living and raise their children.
As we debate this issue, and consider our contribution to the forthcoming
meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development, we must never
forget these people.
They are our constituency. They are the reason we are meeting here