ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA
AND THE CARIBBEAN

 
 

Statement 

by

Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo,
the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America 
and the Caribbean (ECLAC),

 at the 
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa 
30 August 2002



Ten years on from the Earth Summit, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean recognize the significant progress made in incorporating the principles of sustainable development into the institution-building process at the national level and gradually constructing -although there is still a long way to go- a suitable institutional structure at the international level. The advances made in this last respect can be seen in Agenda 21, the conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification that arose out of the Rio process and the rounds of negotiations and innovative financing mechanisms they have generated. Sustainable development issues are beginning to be addressed in other multilateral forums as well, and this is reflected in the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development. Nonetheless, the practical implications of these advances have been limited, and today -as was also true 10 years ago- we consequently face increasingly formidable challenges.

One of the chief areas in which the globalization process has advanced in recent decades has been in the spread of ethical principles and values, such as human rights, equity, democracy, respect for ethnic and cultural diversity, and the right to live in a healthy environment that we can pass on to future generations. This entails a recognition of each and every member of global society as being entitled to certain rights and, as such, as a global citizen. The practical implementation of these principles is still, however, very limited.

Given the sharp inequalities and asymmetries of the global order, the provision of official development assistance in accordance with the commitments made within United Nations forums is a factor of crucial importance. This type of cooperation should be seen as a means of simultaneously providing support for efforts to eliminate poverty, to construct a sustainable and inclusive future that will ensure opportunities for all of the world's citizens, and to build democracy. Another tool that can help us to achieve these objectives -a tool which should therefore be converted into an essential component of international cooperation sooner rather than later- is the establishment of a world solidarity fund, as has been proposed by a large number of countries during the preparatory process for this Summit.

I would also like to draw attention to the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean possess natural resource endowments and ecosystems of worldwide importance which make the region a vital one in terms of the supply of global environmental services. One example is the important contribution to the stabilization of the climate system which is made by the Amazon basin and other ecosystems in the region that act as carbon sinks. The region also preserves the biodiversity represented by the genetic resources of many of its ecosystems. The absence of markets to capture the economic value of these global environmental services jeopardizes the region's ability to guarantee a constant flow of these services.

Mechanisms will therefore have to be found to finance efforts to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of our globally important natural resources and ecosystems. The negotiation of the Clean Development Mechanism provided for in the Kyoto Protocol is the first initiative taken at the world level to create a market of this type. It is very important that this initiative be consolidated in order to set a precedent for the future creation of markets for other global public goods, including those associated with biodiversity. During the initial stages of the development of these environmental markets, the economic opportunities that they will create could be catalysed through the provision of seed capital by multilateral and regional bodies until these markets become dynamic enough to mobilize resources on their own.

I would also like to underscore the importance of Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration, which refers to " common but differentiated responsibilities". This principle explicitly acknowledges the environmental debt that the developed countries have built up with the rest of the international community in the course of their own industrialization process. This principle provides the political foundations for the industrialized countries' assumption of greater environmental commitments than the developing countries in multilateral agreements and for them to play a leadership role in transferring resources and technology to developing nations.

It is important to emphasize, however, that above and beyond its environmental implications, this principle offers a genuine alternative to other visions of the international order and establishes, in particular, that having a "level playing field" is neither possible nor desirable in the sphere of development. In this sense, the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" opens up a great deal of scope for its application in all areas of international cooperation.