His Excellency Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gaymoon 
President of the Republic of Maldives

at the 
World Summit on Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg,South Africa
3 September 2002

Your Excellency Mr. Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, 
Ladies and Gentlemen:

The members of my delegation and I are delighted to be in South Africa and in this beautiful city of Johannesburg. We thank you, Mr. President, for the warmth of the hospitality you and the people of this great nation have extended to us.

Mr. Chairman:

I regret that every time I speak at a forum like this on the global environment or sustainable development, I have to express some very disturbing thoughts. Believe me, Mr. Chairman, I have no other choice.

Look at what is happening around us.
The worst floods for over two hundred years recently inundated the heart of Europe and populous areas in Asia and South America.

While this global deluge has been wreaking havoc in these parts, severe droughts and famine in Africa and Asia have been causing untold misery to millions.

As if this was not enough, a two-mile thick cloud of pollutants, known as the Asian Brown Haze, is threatening the lives and the health of humans and all forms of life in our region.

Desertification is eating up arable land.

Polar ice sheets are melting. Glaciers are receding.
Nothing like these events has ever been on record.
Surely, something must be utterly wrong.
Mr. Chairman:

The last ten years since Rio have been most disappointing. The achievements are far outnumbered by the failures-the dashed hopes, the missed chances, and the empty pledges that litter the road since Rio.

Globalisation has increased in pace and scale, with the promise that a rising tide of prosperity will lift all the boats. Sadly, most still remain moored to poverty, faced with the threat of sinking.
Over 1.2 billion people still live in absolute poverty.
Nearly 3 billion don't have access to safe sanitation.

Evidence of human induced climate change is compelling. Regrettably, the world still draws 90 percent of its commercial energy from fossil fuels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are now at their highest in over 400,000 years.
The 1990s was the warmest decade to be recorded.
11 percent of the world's reefs are now permanently lost.
Over the last century, the mean sealevel has risen by 10 to 20 centimetres. Low-lying nations are at greater risk than ever before.
Time, the most precious non-renewable resource, is running out.
From floodsto droughts, from advancing deserts to receding glaciers, and from the rising seas to the loss of biodiversity, the writing is on the wall.
How long can we pretend not to see

Mr. Chairman:

The outlook is, indeed, alarming. However, I do believe that urgent international action, backed by a strong political
will, can still save us from self-inflicted calamity. But, for that to happen:

Agenda 2 1 must be implemented. The Kyoto Protocol must be universally honoured.
The Barbados Action Programme must be carried out.
The Millennium Development Goals must be reached.

Indeed, there is no alternative to respecting mother earth, and forging a global partnership for promoting development and protecting human welfare. In short, development must be made both sustainable and inclusive.

Mr. Chairman:

Time may not be on our side. But science, technology, and wisdom can be made to be. And so can be simple common sense.
Like those in Noah's great ark, we are all in this together.

But, here, we are not seeking a miracle. Indeed, the world has the resources and the capability to protect our planet and promote the well-being of all humankind.

To borrow your own metaphor, Mr. Chairman, I pray that, while the torch is in your able hands, the flame of Agenda 21 will light up the pathways to sustainable development.

What we need to do is simple - put our words into deeds.

The only question that has to be answered is: do we have the will?

I put the question to you once again: DO WE HAVE THE WILL?

I thank you.