Vicente Fox Quesada
President of the United Mexican States

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa 
3rd. September 2002.

Distinguished Mister Kofi Annan, 
Secretary General of the United Nations;

Distinguished Heads of States and Governments;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the delegations participating at this world summit:

Mexico is committed to sustainable development. We can no longer allow ourselves economic growth at the expense of the abuse of the planet's natural resources or from social exclusion. We require development with a human face, based on the fight against poverty and environmental degradation.

Ten years ago, the international community adopted commitments of a global character. The environment and natural resources, however, continue to deteriorate alarmingly, and international cooperation for development has lost ground against the needs of the majority of peoples.

It is time to hasten our steps and to take urgent measures. We must take advantage of the opportunity afforded to us by this Johannesburg Summit, first effort of this millennium to make sustainability a global development model.

Without doubt, global and regional climate changes, the contamination of water and soils, the over exploitation of water and forest resources, desertification and the accelerated loss of our biodiversity, as well as the growing inequalities both inwardly within nations as well as between them, obligate us to give our urgent attention to these problems.

The agreements achieved in Mexico, at the Monterrey Conference celebrated a few months ago, constitute the first step to increase development aid and to advance in the search for new mechanisms to finance sustainable development.

This effort must include our commitment to apply resources efficiently, transparently and accountably. It must also drive our fight to alleviate inequality and poverty in all regions of the globe, especially in the less developed countries. Without doubt, the foreign debt of those countries constitutes one of the biggest impediments in their advance towards sustainable development. We must deal with all these problems jointly, and achieve a new world Alliance in favour of sustainable development.

I have committed myself to establish concrete and verifiable targets for Mexico on matters of sustainability, and for this purpose we have built a system of indicators and instruments that will enable the evaluation of the environmental impact of government policies and programmes and the advancement of Mexico towards the construction of a sustainable society.

For Mexico, the protection of the environment and the defence of natural resources are a matter of national security, because environmental degradation has started to affect our country's potential for progress.

Our commitment is also towards the agenda at a global level. Mexico has ratified the main international instruments regarding the environment and Sustainable Development and we have been the first country in the American continent to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Today, having abandoned in the last two years the burning of 70% of natural gas associated with petroleum exploitation, we have avoided emitting 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide, and substantially reduced methane gas emissions. In this way we contribute, over and above our international obligations, to the reversal of global climate change.

My government has decreed its Exclusive Maritime Economic Zone a Refuge for Whales and Dolphins, converting our country into the most extensive sanctuary in the world for these marvellous marine mammals, protecting them from commercial exploitation and any other activity that may threaten them.

On the subject of biosecurity, the Senate of my country recently ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The government of Mexico works with the Congress to establish national legislation that promotes research and the sustainable use of genetic resources in a safe and responsible manner. This matter is of the greatest importance given that we are a nation where the main source centres for different species of basic grains, plants and animals are situated, which have been the central foundation in the advancement of civilizations in the past, and today sustain modernization and technological advances.

Mexico has driven the creation of the Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries, which has under its jurisdiction more than 70% of the natural richness of the planet. Conscious of our great responsibility towards humankind, we have agreed to commit ourselves with the rest of the nations to redouble our efforts for the conservation of biological diversity, so to significantly reduce the loss of Biodiversity by the year 2010.

As a counterpart to this goal, developed countries must commit themselves to provide new financial and technological resources to developing countries, and to promote, in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity, an International Regime to develop and protect the equitable distribution of the benefits resulting from the utilization of genetic resources. This will be one of the most important heirlooms of this Summit.

It must be clear to all of us: the only way to protect and save the biological diversity of the world is by directly benefiting the local and indigenous communities that, in spite of inhabiting these areas of great natural resources, are generally the most impoverished and marginalized inhabitants of the planet.

Our commitment must be with them, because these peoples have preserved for thousands of years, for the benefit of the whole of humankind, this great natural and cultural wealth. It is necessary to achieve the just valuation of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, and taken into account in the evaluation and granting of intellectual property rights.

Only in this way we shall achieve the conservation of our natural patrimony within a framework of equity and justice, with an effective battle against poverty and a dignified life of respect and opportunities for our peoples. Only in this way communities will be able to transform themselves into the best allies of conservation and the rational and sustainable use of biological diversity.

To ensure the integrity of sustainable development, we recognize that health is a fundamental component for the eradication of poverty. This is why Mexico commits itself to fight against it. It is necessary to make investment in health a key element for sustainable development, just as it was recognized in the Monterrey Declaration.

Mexico expresses its thanks to the government of South Africa for its hospitality at this Summit, which must convert into actions the good intentions expressed here, just as it was demanded clearly and simply by the girls and boys that in the name of the future of the world participated in yesterday's Inauguration.

Thank you very much.