United Nations


General Assembly

24 June 1997


           Letter dated 23 June 1997 from the Permanent Representatives
           of Brazil, Germany, Singapore and South Africa to the United
                   Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

    We, the undersigned Permanent Representatives of Brazil, South
Africa, Germany and Singapore to the United Nations, have the honour
to convey to you the text of the joint initiative launched by our
respective Heads of State and Government in New York on 23 June 1997
(see annex).

    We would be grateful if the text of the present letter and its
annex could be circulated as an official document of the nineteenth
special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 8.

(Signed)  Celso Luiz Nunes AMORIM
  Permanent Representative of Brazil

(Signed)  Kiphusizi J. JELE
  Permanent Representative of South Africa

(Signed)  Tono EITEL
  Permanent Representative of Germany

(Signed)  Bilahari KAUSKAN
  Permanent Representative of Singapore


              Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Germany
            President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil
           Deputy President Thabo M. Mbeki, South Africa
              Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Singapore

              on the occasion of the Special Session
              of the United Nations General Assembly
                    on 23 June 1997 in New York

             Global Initiative On Sustainable Development
    To Keep Alive the Spirit of Rio and to Create the Conditions for
            a Viable Future for a Growing World Population

     1.   We, the Heads of State and Government of Brail, Germany, Singapore
and South Africa, have decided to launch this joint initiative as
a contribution to the Special Session of the United Nations General
Assembly. Five years have passed since the historic Earth Summit.
Although significant progress has been made since Rio, much
remains to be done. Poverty and environment degradation continue to affect
the lives of millions of people in many parts of the world. Global warming,
the loss of biological diversity, the spread of deserts, deforestation, the
crisis in many of our cities remind us every day of the challenges which
confront us. The unsustainable patterns of consumption and production continue
to be the major cause of environment degradation worldwide. This is therefore
not an occasion for complacency or mindless celebration. It is, however, also
not an occasion for hand-wringing. We should use the occasion to recall
the spirit of Rio, renew our commitments, and to redouble our efforts to
conserve nature and to achieve sustainability development.

All countries must cooperate to protect the Earth's ecosystem and
promote an international economic environment which is conducive to
the implementation of Agenda 21. States have common but
differentiated responsibilities. The industrialised countries, by
virtue of their economic, technological and political resources
bear a special responsibility to help solving global problems.

Meeting these challenges requires the provision of adequate
financial resources for the implementation of Agenda 21, both
from domestic and international sources. This presupposes
increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation including transfer
of technology, and private investments. We must increase the
efficiency of our endeavours.

                           A United Response

2. The United Nations as the one truly universal international organisation
has a significant role to play as we strive to face the twin challenges
of sustainable development and environmental protection. The United
Nations Charter should be amended to include sustainable development and
in this context environmental protection as two of the purposes of the
United Nations.

In the short term the United Nations Environment Programme should
be reformed and strengthened to become the world's environmental
conscience. ln the medium term the establishment of a global
environmental umbrella organization of the UN with UNEP as a major
pillar should be considered.

We support the proposal that the Commission on Sustainable
Development should continue to function as the lead forum for the
Rio process. The Secretary-General should also give due account
to the importance of sustainable development in his efforts to
reorganise the UN Secretariat.

Implementing the Rio Conventions and Global Action to Protect Forests

3.  We underscore the need for the parties to the Framework Convention on
Climate Change to complete their negotiations on a protocol which
is effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions when they meet
for their third conference in Kyoto in December 1997.

We expect the Special Session to send a clear message to that
conference to adopt a protocol which will require in a legally
binding manner the industrialised countries to reduce individually or jointly
the emissions of certain greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous
Oxide) together by 15 % by 2010 and 10 % by 2005 based on 1990 levels. The
protocol should also include concrete policies and measures. We recognise that
in the longer term a truly global effort by all countries is needed. In
accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities,
in order to move towards achieving the ultimate objective of the

4.  We consider the wider ratification and full implementation of the
Convention on Biological Diversity indispensible. We must advance
the current work on implementation, including traditional knowledge and
equitable sharing of benefits, complete the negotiations on the biosafety
protocol and initiate the creation of a network of protected areas with a
large degree of biological diversity. In preserving the diversity of species,
both protection and sustainable use should be mutually complementary.

We pledge our full support for Fe Convention to Combat Desertification,
which entered into force in December 1996.

5.   With regard to the ongoing deforestation and forest degradation worldwide
we further stress common concern for the future of the world's forests
A joint solution to this problem by the international community is
urgently necessary in order to meet the social, economic, ecological and
cultural needs of present and future generations. In order to prepare a
decision the Special Session of the General Assembly wilI have to discuss the
options presented by the IPF and the 5th Session of CSD for further
international action, including the elaboration of a global convention on
forests. We call for the implementations of national and international
strategies for the preservation and sustainable use of all forests.

                                   New Initiatives

6.   Decade for the Sustainable Production and Use of Energy

We emphasize the need for a joint strategy for the efficient production and
rational use of energy and for the widespread Introduction of renewable
sources of energy, including solar energy and biomass. We encourage the World
Bank and other international financial institutions to expand their programmes
in this field. To promote international awareness of this very important
issue, we recommend that the decade 2000 to 2010 should be proclaimed the
"Decade for the Sustainable Production and Use of Energy".

7.   Conference on Sustainable Urban Development

We strongly believe that the International community must do all it can
to ensure that our urban human settlements are sustainable so that we can
safeguard the quality of life of our future generations. In the year
2000 more than three billion people - half of the world's population - will be
living in urban human settlements. We, therefore, commend the Federal
Republic of Germany for offering to host a global conference in Berlin, in the
year 2000, of the leaders of the world's 21 largest megacities, as well
as representatives of some of the towns and cities considered exemplary within
the meaning of Agenda 21. Our countries will also organise or support a series
of regional symposiums to facilitate an exchange of information and promote
the application of strategies and models for sustainable urban development.
For urban populations in developing countries environmental degradation is
often associated with poverty and lack of adequate success to safe drinking
water, sewage and basic sanitation services. We support an international
dialogue on freshwater to be conducted under the auspices of CSD.

8.   Environmentally Acceptable Transport

We also note with great concern that traffic induced emissions all
over the world are increasing drastically. Environmentally acceptable
transport is indispensable to sustainable development.  We recognize
the need to phase out the use of leaded petrol as quickly as 
possible, to increase the availability of alternate fuels from
renewable resources, and to whenever possible reduce car exhaust
emissions. The CSD should promote global guidelines for
environmentally sound transport with a view inter alia to expand
local public transport systems, and whenever possible to switch
transport from the road to rail and waterway, and to avoid
unnecessary traffic.

9.   Applying the Principle of Sustainable Development in All Areas

We realize that the principle of sustainable development will also
have to be applied in numerous other areas apart from those
stressed in this document. They include the need to promote a
mutually supportive relationship between trade and environment, 
as well as sustainable tourism. They also include international
measures to protect marine environment, including sustainable
fisheries and global efforts to safeguard water resources in
order to meet mankind's basic needs and secure the development of
not only urban but rural regions.


10. We represent four countries on four continents. We are a
microcosm of the world.  The fact that we are able to forge a
partnership to launch this joint initiative augurs well for the
future. We urge all our partners at the Special Session of the
United Nations General Assembly to join us in the great
enterprise of protecting the natural foundation of life and
ensuring sustainable development. The future of our planet and
humanity are at stake. We must not fail.



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Date last posted: 15 January 2000 16:15:30
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