UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION
FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC 

 
 

Statement

by

Mr. Kim Hak-Su
Executive Secretary 
of the  United  Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and thePacific 

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg, South Africa
30 August 2002



Excellencies,
distinguished delegates, 
ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address this plenary session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. I should first like to express my gratitude to the Government and people of South Africa for all the courtesies and warm hospitality extended to us.

This Summit marks the culmination of a series of global meetings. From the Millennium Summit to Doha to Monterrey, we now seek to reap the fruits of our efforts for achieving in real terms environmental sustainability while helping the world's poor.

The main challenges facing the effective implementation of sustainable development have been identified by this Summit as water and sanitation, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. These issues are of paramount importance to the UN ESCAP region.

Burgeoning population, 4ccelerated economic growth, rapid urbanization, poor sanitation, overuse and system losses have all contributed to water scarcity and poor water quality leading to water-borne diseases. Two children die every minute in the region from water-borne diseases.

The rapid growth in energy consumption has created severe air pollution. The Asian Brown Haze threatens the lives of millions. The problem of accessibility to cost-effective energy for the poor continues to persist.

The Asia-Pacific region's biodiversity is severely threatened. Already two-thirds of wildlife habitat has been lost in the Indo-Malayan area.

Agricultural productivity is under threat as soil erosion, varying only in degree of severity, is prevalent in over 80% of the land in the region. The situation has been aggravated by recurring floods and natural disasters such as sand-storms which cause colossal economic and social damage. The frequency of natural disasters is likely to enhance with the growing threat of climate change. The very survival of small islands states is endangered due to the sea level rise.

These are formidable challenges for the attainment of sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite technical and financial constraints, the region has strived to address them based on a shared vision for sustainable development. This vision is articulated in the Regional Action Programme for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development, 2001-2005. It also resonates strongly in the WSSD related Phnom Penh Regional Platform on Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific. Seven innovative initiatives have been proposed to translate this vision into reality. I have no doubt that the governments working closely with the civil society, the business and the private sector and other interest groups , if supported by the international community, will bring about measurable improvements. New alliances, coalitions and partnerships among stakeholders must emerge to reinforce and revitalize these efforts.

Distinguished delegates,
ladies and gentlemen

As stated by the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, "The challenge now, as ever, is implementation." The path ahead has been laid out, in the formulation of both Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals. We must now set ourselves to the task of embarking on that path through concrete actions that yields tangible results. We can ill afford another 10 years or even a year of under-achievement in the implementation of Agenda 21.

We fully support the emphasis on regional implementation of the outcomes of WSSD. We are ready to play our role as a regional commission in this regard. In this connection, a diverse range of new partnership initiatives must be established. Amicable resolution of critical issues including finance, terms of trade and globalization will be crucial to underpin the regional implementation efforts. Participation and cooperation of all stakeholders in the implementation process has to be ensured to capitalize on the creative energies released and their strong entrepreneurial impulses in our joint quest for achieving sustainable development. It is not only a laudable goal but also historic and compelling necessity to improve the quality of life of the billions of inhabitants of our beautiful planet as well as to preserve it for future generations.

In concluding, I urge you to make "facta non verba" the motto and guiding principle for this Summit - we already have the "verba" or words from Rio; what we now need is "facta" or deeds to demonstrate our sincerity to the world community that watches us.

Thank you.