MARSHALL ISLANDS
 

Statement

by

 H.E. Kessai Note
President of The Marshall Islands

at the 
World Summit on Sustainable Development

 Johannesburg, South Africa
2 September 2002 

Mr. President,
The People of Africa, Excellencies,
The Citizens of the World, 
Distinguished delegates,

Please allow me to pay tribute to you Mr. President, the Government and the People of South Africa for the excellent manner in which this summit has been successfully organized. I also pay tribute to Mr. Nelson Mandella who is with us this morning. It is so appropriate to hold the Summit in your beautiful South Africa as it portraits to the world a situation of "unity in diversity." A situation that all sovereign nations present here today should recognized in coming together in peace and harmony. After all, this is the force behind Agenda 21, devised 10 years ago, and is now being advanced through a Plan of Implementation formulated in this Summit, which gives recognition to the fact that development is necessary to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs. This plan will endeavour to address the difficult challenges such as conserving natural resources, and the increasing demand for food, water, sanitation, shelter, energy, health services and economic security.

Mr. President,

Marshall Islands attaches great importance to this Summit and look forward to a successful outcome. Ten years ago during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro we committed ourselves to take every concerted action towards protecting the environment, while at the same time addressing the needs of poverty and ensuring that every human being had access to the very essentials of life. In doing so, Agenda 21 was developed to confirm and provide a blueprint towards sustainable development.

It is now ten years later since Rio and there remains mass poverty and gap between the rich and
poor. The Marshall Islands joins the other in encouraging the Summit to provide meaningful time frames and targets. We welcome very much the initiative by the European Union on Energy, and call for the Summit to agree on targets and time frames on new renewable energy. Mr. President, if this Summit contributes to the mass eradication of poverty, then we need commitment and not mere expression by the leading industrialized countries.

Mr. President,

The Marshall Islands has taken advanced steps in the area of sustainable development. As in many other Pacific and indigenous societies, the concept of sustainable development is not new. It has been part and parcel of our culture and lifestyles before Western contact.

Marshall Islands has already joined a growing number of countries in developing a sustainable development plan framework, through a consultative process involving representatives from all levels of our society. We are grateful that our Vision 2018 has been endorsed and hailed by the SIDS Conference in Jamaica and the UN Capacity 2015 as a sound basis for sustainable development. It is in this regard that the Marshall Islands look forward to additional and new resources from the donor community to assist us in the process of sustainable development.

Mr. President,

Johannesburg presents the climate of opportunities for responsible world leaderships to further build on commitments of the Doha Development Agenda, consensus reached in Monterey, promises of the Rio Earth Summit and the Millennium Development goals. We, therefore, welcome the new Type 2 partnerships that have been presented. Marshall Islands would like to impress that a national focus be entrenched in the application of these numerous partnerships to ensure direct benefit and impact. At this stage I wish to recall the Millennium Declaration and to reiterate my tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his role and leadership.

Mr. President,

Marshall Islands, like other small island countries, is faced with many challenges including
certain environmental threats, including climate change and sea level rise. Climate Change as in many other small low lying atoll nations, is a matter of peace and security and so as life and death. Likewise, our ocean, throughout generations, which has been our means of livelihood is now turning against us, as a result foreign forces beyond our power to combat. Let me take this opportunity to urge our developed partners to consider their positions on matters relating to oceans to ensure sustainable development. The Marshall Islands, therefore calls on the early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr. President,

I truly believe that future generations will not judge us by what we did at Rio but rather by what action we take here in Johannesburg. Let me conclude with a food for thought Mr. President. "When civilization progressed from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, it was not because the world was running out of stones. Likewise, when civilization moved beyond the Bronze Age to Modern Civilization, it was not because the world is running out of bronze. Rather, it was due to human ingenuity and brilliance". Marshall Islands is confident that the citizens of the world today are exceptionally brilliant and capable of rebuilding a world of peace and prosperity for all. This is a challenge I wish to leave with us all.
 

Thank you.