This Summit marks a critical milestone. The community of nations has come to Johannesburg to achieve a global consensus on the concrete steps we must take together to fulfill our most fundamental shared duty: creating a cleaner and healthier world for our children and for generations to come.
Since the publication in 1987 of Our Common Future, the concept of sustainable development has moved from elite discussion to the centre of the international agenda. The speed of this shift reflects the fact that, in essence, sustainable development is about the very destiny of our planet.
It reflects a rising global awareness that clean air, clean water and safe food are universal needs. And that wise environmental stewardship is a universal obligation.
Canadians are a pragmatic people. We believe that it is not just admirable goals that will ensure a better world for our children. It is concrete results. We prefer action to rhetoric. For us, achieving sustainable development is about partnerships. Partnerships in which no single sector of society has a monopoly on virtue, wisdom or creativity.
That is why I am pleased to see the many concrete action plans and innovative partnerships emerging from this Summit. This reflects the direction we are moving in Canada.
Canadians at all levels -- federal, provincial and municipal governments, the private sector and universities -- are investing in the new ideas and solutions of the future. From fuel cells driven by hydrogen, to 21st century waste management, Canada is, today, creating the sustainable technologies of tomorrow.
Community groups are working with businesses in ways that were beyond imagination not long ago. Aboriginal people, with their special relationship to the land, enrich our understanding of the environment.
Canada also believes that peoples across the planet must be inspired to see their stake in a better future. They must have real hope for a better life. In this regard, we must acknowledge that, as much as sound environmental practices, peace and security, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law are also pre-conditions for a sustainable future.
That is why at this year's Summit in Canada, G-8 countries committed themselves to a new partnership with Africa. As part of this partnership, and within our fiscal framework Canada, has committed $6 billion in new and existing resources over five years to establish the preconditions for sustainable development in Africa. We also intend to double our development assistance from current levels by 2010. And we have announced at this conference that we will more than double our annual contribution to the UNEP Environment Fund.
Developing countries will not be able to rise out of poverty if they are not allowed broader access to world markets. As of January 1St 2003, Canada will eliminate tariffs and quotas on almost all products from the least developed countries. Agricultural subsidies in rich nations remain a fundamental obstacle. And we call on developed nations to make the elimination of such subsidies a top priority
Supporting global bio-diversity requires the conservation of unique biological areas and the protection of clean water, of species and their habitat. As a sign of the commitment of Canada to such wise stewardship, I am announcing today that we will complete our national park system over the next few years.
Extreme weather events around the world have underscored the reality of climate change as well as the imperative for global action, an imperative that is strongly felt by Canadians.
On the basis of extensive and ongoing consultations with other levels of government and stakeholders, we are finalizing a plan of implementation that will permit us to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto Accord. When the consultations have concluded, and before the end of the year, the Canadian Parliament will be asked to vote on the ratification of the Kyoto Accord.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Johannesburg agenda has been large and complex. Much has been accomplished. But let us leave here clear in the knowledge that there is still much work left to do. And renewed in our resolve to get it done.