I can think of no better place to hold a summit on sustainable development than South Africa. Once more South Africa's able leadership has set an example.
We are here in Johannesburg to claim justice, justice for the world's poor, justice for future generations. Justice is what sustainable development is all about.
That is why poverty eradication is imperative.
That is why environmental commitments are essential.
To do justice to the poor, we need economic development. To do justice
to future generations, development must be sustainable.
Yet, we lag far behind. It is up to us, developing and developed countries alike to act, and act in partnership.
We came to Johannesburg with three aims:
We should not walk back,
We should deliver more,
We must make a difference.
We have not walked back. We have reaffirmed our commitment to the Rio principles and agreements. We have not walked back on the Millennium Development Goals. We have reaffirmed our commitment to Doha and to Monterrey.
Johannesburg has delivered on goals and targets, on water and sanitation, on biodiversity, on chemicals. Johannesburg has turned the ODA-pledges of Monterrey into commitments. Yet, there is a long way to go.
Every year close to three and a half million people, most of them helpless children, die from water-related diseases.
This is unacceptable. And it is preventable.
Hundreds of millions have insufficient access to energy. Changing this is vital to poverty reduction and sustainable development. Here, renewables are also important.
Persistent organic pollutants create severe problems for the environment and human health. They spread globally, and threaten fragile Arctic areas, its peoples and its nature.
This is unacceptable. And it is preventable.
The poor depend directly upon natural resources - for food and shelter. There can be no poverty eradication without addressing degradation of water resources, forests, soils and biodiversity. We must break the vicious cycle.
That is why we have to make a difference.
Empowered people make a difference. Investment in human resources is fundamental. Respect for human rights is key. Empowerment of women is vital. The rights of indigenous peoples must be respected. Sustainable development is to empower poor people. To this end, good governance, human rights and accountability is essential.
In this context Norway strongly supports the work under way to ensure better accountability and greater transparency in the payment and management of revenues from extractive industries. An international code of conduct is one effective instrument.
Without better policies and greater financial resources, we cannot make
a difference. Here, national governments have a major responsibility.
We need to deliver more. Norway has drawn up an action plan for fighting poverty in the South towards 2015. We are making concrete efforts in areas such as trade, investment and debt relief. We have eliminated tariffs and quotas on all goods from the poorest countries. We intend to increase development assistance to 1 per cent of GDP by 2005.
Secretary General Kofi Annan has challenged us to do more on water, energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity. More than a quarter of our development assistance already goes to these areas. I am pleased to announce that my government is pledging an additional 50 million US dollars (375 million NOK) in following up the Johannesburgcommitments.
Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing humanity. The evidence of global warming caused by human activity is stronger than ever. The climate is changing, and we are to blame.
What would be the only natural reaction? Simply, take action. Russia has today announced that they will ratify the Kyoto Protocol. I welcome this. It means that the Kyoto Protocol will enter into force soon. I strongly urge other countries to follow suit and ratify. We must also prepare for more ambitious international commitments after 2012.
As prime minister of Norway I want to declare Norway's readiness to join forces with EU and other countries in creating a coalition for increased use of renewable energy globally. With the text now agreed in this area in the Plan of Implementation, such an alliance is more important than ever.
We also need to act at home. Norway will do so on the basis of an Action Plan for sustainable development after Johannesburg. We will build on our National Strategy and follow up Agenda 21 and this Summit's Plan of Implementation.
The follow-up of Johannesburg must be monitored. We need strong multilateral institutions that can monitor progress and act on our behalf for the sake of our common future. The role of the UN in the work for sustainable development must be strengthened.
We have to correct the injustices of our time, injustice towards the world's poor, injustice towards our grandchildren. As we leave Johannesburg, we will be held accountable. Together we have to make the difference. This is what political leadership is all about.