Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Johannesburg, South Africa
The recent catastrophic floods in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, but at the same time also in China and the Americas as well as equally catastrophic droughts here in Southern Africa have demonstrated once again that natural and man-made disasters do not stop in front of our door steps. They concern us all. We must change track and act together if we want to leave our grandchildren a peaceful, prosperous, egalitarian and a healthy planet.
Meeting the social and the environmental challenges the world is facing requires concrete action by everyone: states, local communities and the private sector. In Johannesburg we have just strived to do that. For months we have been working to find compromises, which would be acceptable to all states in North and South, East and West.
Some significant progress has been achieved, although we should have taken some issues even further. Key elements of the action programme have been agreed upon. An action-oriented spirit seems to penetrate this gathering, on which we must build. Implementation is the key word.
As a member of the European Union Austria fully supports the positions put forward in this forum by the EU. In addition, let me focus on the issues that are of particular importance to Austria:
I find it very reassuring that this conference is dedicated not only to issues of climate change but also focuses on how we can reach the goals of the UN Millennium Declaration, the most important of which is the reduction of poverty. The link between Monterrey, Doha and Johannesburg as well as the interaction and interdependence of these efforts have become very clear. It was a crucial step to bridge the gap between trade, finance and sustainable development, issues that cannot be discussed in an isolated manner.
For our own sake and for the sake of future generations, we have to continue to debate this issue and to take concrete action, such as ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. My country has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and other related instruments and thus fully endorses the EU goals in this context, which we consider crucial for reaching the objectives of this summit. I strongly appeal to those who have not yet ratified to follow suit. Austria has initiated and has been the driving force in the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy, which provides a platform for dialogue between all interested parties - developed and developing countries, the private sector, international organizations and NGOs and will take action to provide access to energy for people in developing countries. Let me assure you that Austria will continue to play an active part in any future international debate to advance the idea of renewable energy and of the reduction of green house gases. The next Global Forum will take place in November in Graz, Austria.
We have agreed upon strong language, but I regret very much that we could not agree on any timeframes and targets for our endeavour. Inspite of all that, I see the outcome of the Summit as a solid basis for future discussions.
Austria is a country rich in water resources. We have developed advanced technology for clean water, sanitation, sewage, irrigation, and small hydropower plants. Therefore we will emphasize these issues in our development cooperation. We also attribute great importance to health issues. We are glad that the related target date has been met.
As a predominantly mountainous country we support the Swiss Framework Initiative on mountain partnerships. In view of the international year of the mountains I have been working to promote the concept of eco-tourism, which we gladly share with developing countries.
Only through decisive political leadership and the right mixture of incentives and information campaigns we can get our citizens on board to make significant changes in the way we produce and consume. Under the Johannesburg Commitment, Governments have agreed to broaden the use of eco-labeling of organic produce and to promote the Fair Trade Initiative, another Austrian priority. These may be small steps, but in their sum they will make a difference.
We have also agreed to promote cleaner production processes on a global level. While in the industrialized countries we do have both the technology and the financial means to achieve this goal, we have to work together with Developing Countries to allow them to adopt the same production techniques. In the past years, together with Switzerland, Austria has been supporting the Cleaner Production Programme of UNIDO and has so far (co-financed eight Cleaner Production Centres with more than 4.8 million Euros. This initiative has proven to be very successful and I am inviting all member states to support this programme and enlarge its scope.
Also, our commitment to sustainable development is a commitment to global neighborhood and solidarity. Here in Johannesburg we have reconfirmed the goal that developed countries should spend 0,7% of GDP on ODA. For decades very little progress has been made to achieve this goal. In Johannesburg we have agreed that Governments will examine timeframes and targets to reach this goal. A few months ago, the EU Member States have agreed to do just that and will significantly increase the ODA volumes. Austria is fully committed to this goal.
The follow-up to the Implementation Programme we have negotiated over the last year has to get underway right now. I want also to call on all of us to take a fresh look at the structures we use to deliver sustainable development, on the national, the regional and the international level. Sustainable development can only be successfully realized if the economic, social and environmental pillars are fully integrated.
Let me finally stress that sustainable development needs good governance on all levels, the local, the national and the international. Whatever efforts we undertake to make our world livable for our as well as future generations we have to be guided by the respect of human rights and the rule of law.
Mr. President, I am addressing this august forum today also in my capacity of current president of the Human Security Network, the only inter-regional grouping based on the UN framework, particularly propelling issues of human security. Sustainable development and human security are closely interlinked.
Both concepts focus on the well-being of the individual and on ways how to preserve a functioning world for the future. During the Austrian presidency the Human Security Network will especially focus on two issues, that are - as I am convinced - very pressing: Human rights education and children in armed conflicts. These maybe "soft issues" but are based on "hard facts".
Mr. President, I should like to appeal to the distinguished delegates present today to help turn the instruments on issues of sustainable development as well as on human security by enhanced efforts of implementations into hard facts as well.