Mohamed T. El-Ashry
Mr. Secretary General,
It is a great honor to take part in this World Summit on Sustainable Development dedicated to reviewing - and renewing - our collective commitment to the environment and sustainable development. Over the next days, we will hear many constructive comments and diverse viewpoints. But there is one thing on which we all agree: our ten year report card as stewards of Earth's resources is not a stellar one. Still, I continue to be hopeful. In the last decade, much has been done to put things right with the environment and to nurture and protect Earth's future. By working together, we can keep the promises made in Rio and clear a path toward truly sustainable development.
The 1992 Earth Summit called on us to promote sustainable development and protect our global environment through concerted global, regional, and national actions. Agenda 21 was a blueprint for action-epitomizing, above all else, our interdependence and the need to strengthen international cooperation and forge new partnerships.
Since Rio, the Global Environment Facility, which I am proud to head, has grown from a pilot program to the largest investor in the global environment. GEF is considered by many to be the only major financial accomplishment of Rio. It has provided $4.2 billion in grants, while leveraging S 12.4 billion in additional financing for the global environment.
Over the past decade GEF has been a catalyst, demonstrating viable actions, transferring technologies, working with governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and international institutions to address complex environmental issues in a very practical and pragmatic way on the ground.
In a thousand projects across 160 nations, in partnership with its implementing agencies-UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank:
. GEF has helped improve more than half of the world's parks and protected
areas. A new GEF partnership with Brazil and WWF is safeguarding
. We have worked with large and small businesses to deliver $6 billion
in new renewable and clean energy services to developing countries. Wind
. We have helped eliminate chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. With
GEF assistance, fourteen countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
. We have supported nations working together to rescue endangered waters.
In the Danube and Black Sea basin, to cite just one example, 17
Earlier this year, an independent assessment of GEF's performance found that it has "produced significant results" for global environmental protection and sustainable development.
On August 7, donor nations pledged nearly $3 billion for new GEF activities through 2006, the highest replenishment ever. I am truly heartened because this will enable GEF to continue financing its four main areas as well as provide additional support for an expanded mandate and wider range of programs. In fact, when the GEF Assembly meets in Beijing next month, it is expected to endorse the GEF Council's recommendation that desertification and persistent organic pollutants be added to GEF's focal areas.
Mr. Secretary-General, today we have the opportunity - and indeed the responsibility - not just to take stock and assess lessons, but also to address with renewed urgency the actions required to put our lifestyles, our consumption patterns, our population growth, and our human settlements on a sustainable path.
The Johannesburg summit should provide a road map for the path to global sustainability. It should set firm commitments to reform inappropriate policies and mobilize additional financial resources for the environment and sustainable development. It should also set clear goals and targets for action, and identify means for monitoring progress. With this kind of impetus from the international community, we can build on the strengths we have developed over the past ten years and move ahead with confidence that sustainable development goals are indeed achievable.
The GEF has been privileged to help implement its part of the global partnership for sustainable development envisioned by Agenda 21. With our new replenishment, we will help implement the agreements that emerge from this Summit for the sake of a more secure and sustainable way of life on earth, for current and future generations.