His Majesty Mohammed VI,
Johannesburg, South Africa
I am happy to take part again in the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is taking place in the Republic of South Africa, a land of militancy to which we are bound by a common struggle for freedom, unity and development. The very fact that this Conference is convening is, in my view, a strong and commendable indication that the international community is still aware of the relevance of the Rio Declaration, and committed to it as a reference in fostering sustainable development. This is a process which revolves around man and focuses on the protection of the environnment as the shared heritage of all mankind.
However, the limited progress achieved since the adoption of "Agenda 21" in implementing the Rio Declaration, has given rise to pressing questions about what went wrong and prevented the agenda from being carried out thoroughly.
As accountability starts with oneself, I thought it relevant to mention, first, what Morocco has done in this regard, within its limited resources.
My country has endeavoured to meet the challenges arising from the adverse affects of climatic change,drought and desertification. It has developed an ambitious, yet realistic, nation-wide scheme for this purpose. The plan provides for the adoption of a democratic, widely-based approach in devising and implementing environment-friendly programmes with special emphasis on the protection of bio-diversity. In fulfilling its international commitments with regard to sustainable development, Morocco has heisted a number of regional and international meetings, including the 7" Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Con%ention on Climatic Changes, wherein the Kyoto Protocol was developed into a concrete and operational agreement.
However, without thorough implementation of the relevant international commitments, Morocco and the other countries in the south, will continue to be confronted with the challenges of sustainable development, regardless of their good intentions and their input.
One may ask: was it possible to meet those challenges, while international cooperation was so inadequate, especially in terms of financing and of rational transfer of environment-friendly technology ?
Another question is : what has the international community done to fight dire poverty which affects more than 2596 of the world population and to cater for the vital needs of human beings ? One may also wonder : after the different tremors and the violent crises which shook the world recently , is everybody convinced now that fostering sustainable development is everyone's responsibility ?
But when it comes to Africa which is the focus of our attention, this question becomes a plea from the heart and from the conscience, because this continent is plagued more than any other by the proliferation of tension spots, and by economic and social evils and devasting diseases.
Just like other developing nations, African countries need to feel that the international community cares about their stability and development. They want partners who are truly committed and willing to help them in their effort to become integrated into the world economic system.
But for sake of truth and fairness, we should not put all the blame on the others. The countries in the South must work for optimal utilization of their human and natural resources. These potentialities must be devoted to achieving sustainable development, instead of being wasted on artificial disputes. Developing nations must display their commitment to the principles of good governance by boosting and releasing individual as well as collective capabilities.
What we need is to develop a comprehensive strategy, based on true partnership, genuine solidarity and an efficient "close proximity" approach. In addition, we should develop norms and standards to curb and contain the dangers resulting from climatic changes and from the overexploitation of water, forest and fish resources, as well as the risks arising from the pressure being exerted on ecosystems and biodiversity.
It is only when the international community fully shoulders its responsibilities in this respect that fear will be overcome and optimism rekindled. Then, a sense of universal citizenship will emerge, based on human solidarity and a genuine partnership between Governments, NGOs, the private sector and regional and international organizations. In this connection we can only commend the steps taken by Africa to develop NEPAD.
Given the size and the level of attendance at this Summit, and considering the fact that it is hosted by a militant nation, under the chairmanship of an enlightened African leader, His Excellency President Tabo Mbeki, I am confident that this Summit will prove to be helpful to mankind on the long and arduous road to sustainable development.
I would like to reiterate our thanks and appreciation to the Republic of South Africa for its generous hospitality and for its efforts in making this a successful conference. I also wish to commend the United Nations Organization for its unflagging effort to uphold solidarity, equilibrium, fairness and cooperation worldwide, for the sake of this generation and those to come.