H. E. Mr. Petr Mares 
Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

World Summit of Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg, South Africa 
September 4, 2002

Mr. President,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen

The President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, asked me to convey to this summit his message. Before I will do so, allow me to say few words in my own capacity.

In 1641, the great Czech philosopher, Jan Amos Comenius, one of the founding fathers of modern pedagogy, has written book Via Lucis - Path of the light, in which he seeks ways how to reform our world. According to his vision, the key role in this process should be played by an assembly of the wise whose mission is to look after humankind's well-being and to cherish the universal wisdom and to develop it. Allow me to say that this vision remains a real challenge for U.N on the treshold of the 3rd millenium.

The Comenius' legacy is still very topical for another reason as well. For he realized how important the role of education for the society as a whole can be.

It is truly hard to foresee the sustainable development without the respective education of every human being in all parts of the globe and without creation of suitable conditions for - what Comenius used to describe as - universal developement of science and research. It is our conviction that this dimension has to be met in the years to come with all the needed respect and attention.

Mr President
Ladies and gentlemen
allow me to present the message written by Vaclav Havel.

(Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,)
It has become a widely accepted fact that our planet is now enveloped by a single global civilization. The world of modern technological interconnectedness - which has enabled a dizzyingly speedy flow of information, capital, ownership and culture - cannot, by itself, face the challenges of modern economic and political trends. In any case, we now possess a sufficient amount of warning signals and information about possible future threats. Still, human beings behave as if the whole of existence should terminate with the end of their own stay on this Earth. Humankind depletes non-renewable natural resources and interferes with the planet's climate, becomes estranged from itself by gradually liquidating appreciable human communities, and tolerates a cult of material gain as the highest value to which everything has to yield and before which even democratic will sometimes has to fall on its knees. Almost apathetically, we reconcile ourselves with the warning indication that although the numbers of population on the Earth are rapidly growing, the creation of wealth alarmingly ceases to correspond with the creation of real and meaningful values.

During the last few weeks, the Czech Republic has been hit by destructive floods which, by their extent, have exceeded the most pessimistic expectations. We never thought our land could be threatened by a flood of such magnitude. For years to come, the tedious work of rejuvenation of our land, residences and historical landmarks awaits us. A strong aid in this effort is the dedicated help of individuals as well as a great wave of international solidarity. This catastrophe has also brought about a new challenge and people spontaneously feel that our approach to nature must change so that our relation to the surrounding world cannot be dictated by the level of our production and export, but also by the degree to which we are ready to heed to the needs of nature.

The acute tasks which are being laid before us by the development of the world are not solvable on the level of individual ministries or governments. Next to the imperative of international cooperation and restructuring of our economies in solving this issue, we must bear in mind the need to restructure our values. For, no matter which problem of today's civilization I ponder on, inevitably I always arrive at one principal theme: the theme of human responsibility. Indeed, it occurs to me that the crucial thing which we must strive to advance in the era of globalization is global responsibility.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, 
Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the President and of the governement of the Czech republic, I wish you success in your efforts.