H.E. Dr. Bassem I. Awadallah
Minister of Planning Head of Jordanian Delegation

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa 
2 September 2002

Your Excellency,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

          On behalf of the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, I would like to express our deep gratitude to our host, South Africa, for providing us with the opportunity to come together and focus our attention on actions to achieve sustainable development. Allow me to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this summit possible.

          We meet here today as we recognize our mutual reliance as people and as nations. We have reached cross-roads in Earth's history where we, as humanity, must choose our destiny. As we strive through our collective efforts to reduce the disparities between countries, and enhance inclusiveness and equality, we would do well to draw on the ethical vision of the Earth Charter. It is a vision that seeks to inspire all peoples with a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well being of the human family and the larger living world. In our struggle to bring forth a sustainable global society, we must use this code of conduct as a common standard by which our actions are to be guided and assessed.

          Sustainable development can only be achieved if we collaborate together and funnel our energies to achieve the same goal. Jordan participated in The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and reiterated a genuine desire towards achieving sustainable development. Our commitment is reflected in our embracement of Agenda 21 adopted at the Earth Summit and in shaping our national agenda. During the past few years, Jordan has broadened its vision of sustainable development. Projects and policies that are being implemented range from the environment to education to technology enhancement.

          Jordan is at the doorstep of integration into the global economy. Since the late 1980's, we have implemented a series of stabilization and structural adjustment reform programs. These reforms steered Jordan's economy away from stagnation to economic growth, from high to low inflation, from substantial to moderate fiscal deficit and from an outstanding to significantly less external public debt.

Distinguished delegates,

          Access to information and communication technologies has become crucial to a sustainable agenda of economic development and poverty reduction. The increasingly global and interdependent world requires developing countries to bridge the so-called `digital divide' and develop their technology centers into a vibrant, modern and responsive field. The Jordanian Government realized the various dimensions and dynamics of the information revolution, unleashing the creative powers of markets, providing legal and regulatory framework for more competitive markets, and developing policies conducive to enterprise development. In this regard, E-government has moved beyond the conceptual plan to the planning and initial stages of implementation. Furthermore, Internet use and information dissemination have grown rapidly as the country moves towards becoming a knowledge-based economy.

          The Government of Jordan has adopted numerous social development programs as a means to improve the living standards of its people. The strong commitment and support afforded by His Majesty King Abdullah II, ensures that all national efforts are synchronized to ensure the success and continuity of sustainable development. The Social and Economic Transformation Program adopted in November 2001 aims to complement and build on the economic successes Jordan has achieved over the past decade. Its overall objective is to achieve sustainable social and economic development, while improving the quality of life and the standard of living for Jordanians.

          Development in Jordan with respect to environmental sustainability is also promising. New initiatives for biodiversity conservation are helping alleviate poverty in rural communities and promote popular support for the philosophy and practice of nature conservation. Recently, several projects have been implemented including the development of eco-tourism and other small nature-based businesses, which serve as engines of income generation.
Paving the road towards the empowerment of women in Jordan has also been successful. Gender has emerged as a key component in public health and education. Compulsory education for girls through grade 10, combined with child laws, has contributed to female school enrollment and completion ratios that have exceeded those of males. Women are now playing a greater role in all sectors of society. Based on the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the League of Arab States (LAS), Arab states met in 1994 in Amman to develop a Plan of Action for the advancement of women. The plan discussed the importance of incorporating women in decision-making processes. It also emphasized the abolishment of all obstacles preventing women from their rights and their involvement within the social, economic and political spheres.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          The process of integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development is far from easy. It is a lengthy and extensive process requiring commitment from all levels of society. We in Jordan believe that human development requires such an integration of political, economic, social and human factors, within a matrix that protects peoples' fundamental human, civil, and political rights and that guarantees freedom of expression and equal opportunity for all. Towards this end, our global engagement aspires to ensure that the spirit of Rio, the Millennium Summit, Monterrey, and Johannesburg, be respected, cherished and ultimately realized into practical actions that are implemented to the benefit of humanity, for the salvation of those who are poor and impoverished will ultimately be reflected in universal stability and prosperity for all mankind in this global village.

          Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today. Addressing issues of poverty has been the cornerstone of international dialogue on sustainable development. However, as indicated by the UNDP Poverty Report in the year 2000, more than three-quarters of countries around the world have poverty estimates, and more than two thirds have anti-poverty plans, but less than a third have set targets.

Distinguished delegates,

          Already among the world's most water-starved countries, Jordan faces increasing deterioration in the quality and quantity of its water resources because of growing demand. Simply stated, without better management of scarce water resources, sustained long-term development in Jordan will not be possible. The Dead Sea Basin is the lowest point on earth. It is also home to rare wildlife and thirteen endemic plant species. The Dead Sea and its surroundings serve as a unique ecological and historic resource. Presently, the Dead Sea region faces an extraordinary number of environmental and economic challenges as experts expect this magical spot to disappear by the year 2050. Over the past three decades the water level has dropped by approximately 25m, falling at a rate of 80cm to lm per year. The cost to save the Dead Sea is daunting, and we ask the international community to help save this magnificent 'international treasure' from irreversible environmental degradation.


          When addressing issues of sustainable development in our part of the world, one is compelled to mention one of its main pre - requisites, namely, stability and peace. The continuing struggle in the region is strangling our economy. The spillover effects have exacerbated poverty and unemployment levels.
Development however, will not be sustained in the region unless a just, lasting and comprehensive peace is achieved. For this to materialize, the core issue of the Arab - Israeli conflict, namely the continuing occupation of Palestine, must end, and the Palestinian people must be granted full and sovereign independence, in order for them to contribute in a meaningful manner to the development of their region. As the United Nations Arab Human Development Report has recently attested, sustainable development in Palestine cannot be achieved while a strangling military occupation stifles opportunities, limits freedoms, and obstructs the daily course of life. An end to occupation is a pre-requisite and it must come now. At a time when Jordan is exerting all possible efforts to stop the violence in the region, bring back the parties to the negotiating table and support the international community in leading the Middle East efforts towards justice, security, and stability, its economic, political and social fronts must be strengthened. Jordan cannot stand alone. To act together today is a moral obligation for all of us.

Distinguished Delegates,

          The gap between developed and developing countries points to the continued need for a dynamic and enabling international economic environment supportive of international cooperation, particularly in the areas of finance, technology-transfer, debt. and trade, and full and effective participation of developing countries in global decision making.

          In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the international community successfully worked together to build the pillars necessary for achieving sustainable development. Agenda 21 contains over two thousand recommendations for action. At the Millennium Summit, the international community set time-bound development goals to be achieved by 2015. Earlier this year, we met in Monterrey to reiterate our joint commitment to meet these goals and we all agreed on the Monterrey Consensus. Now, the international community meets once more, in this nation of struggle, survival and excellence, to commit itself once more to concrete commitments of implementation. We have the will, we know the strategies, and we feel the urgency. We must act now. Together, we can achieve the goals for the sake of humanity, present and future.

Thank You