at the World Summit for Sustainable Development
Distinguished Heads of State, delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the OPEC Member Countries, I extend my gratitude to President Thabo Mbeki, and to the Government and people of South Africa for hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It is a great honour to be in Johannesburg where so many Heads of State from both developing and developed countries are gathered. The new South Africa is known for her commitment to social justice. Let us hope that her wisdom will influence this Summit to affect a meaningful change in the world.
Despite the commitments of Agenda 21 taken in Rio ten years ago, there is an alarming rise in poverty worldwide. It is important then that the global community re-groups in Johannesburg to find new impetus and practical solutions to help eradicate poverty, in a manner consistent with broader environmental objectives.
Energy remains one of the key elements for developing countries to realise their growth potential. Yet, worldwide, two billion people have no access to modern forms of energy. For too long, communities across the globe have had to rely on traditional forms of energy, which may be polluting, inefficient and pose threats to their health. These communities have the same right as consumers in richer parts of the world to cleaner, more efficient forms of energy, which will support them on the path to sustainable development.
In the next 20 years, energy demand in developing countries will grow at three to four times the rate as that of industrialised countries, if present, pre-Johannesburg trends continue. This highlights an urgent need to expand energy infrastructure and international investment in these countries. Oil and gas, with their abundant resource base, will be crucial in meeting the global energy needs and challenges for achieving sustainable development.
Advances in technology continue to make oil a cleaner fuel, while the impressive environmental credentials of gas are obvious. The successful development of carbon dioxide sequestration technology will ensure that fossil fuels, including oil, are entirely compatible with sustainable growth. While renewables will be an increasing part of the energy mix in the future, the continued development of clean fossil fuels will be, in most cases, more feasible than costly alternatives. Clean fossil fuels will provide a clear and easy path for the world's poorest countries to take on their road to growth.
We need to firmly keep our focus on the "Principles of Rio", especially concerning "common but differentiated responsibilities". Industrialized countries, which have enjoyed unrestrained growth over the last century, should clearly assume a greater burden in solving these common problems. Any attempt to lessen the responsibility of developed countries would amount to an erosion of the entire sustainable development process.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development will present the global community with a new test. Its impact must be felt in the war on poverty. Ultimately, the Summit will be judged by our measure of selflessness, will and real commitment to make sure that a sustainable world is part of our future.