at the World Summit for Sustainable Development
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group), on whose behalf I have the honour to address you, comprises 78 developing countries including 40 of the 49 Least Developed Countries, 33 small island states, and 15 land-locked states.
77 of the 78 ACP States are linked to the European Union by a 20-year
Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou in June 2000 - the successor Agreement
to the Lome Conventions which governed ACP-EU relations for over two decades.
One of the major objectives of the Cotonou Agreement is the eradication of poverty in ACP countries. Drawing on past experience, and in due consideration of the profound changes occurring in today's world, the ACP States and the European Union adopted, with the Agreement, a new participatory approach which includes non-state actors in the partnership and places emphasis on the economic, social, political, cultural, and environmental aspects of sustainable development.
This is why we share and support the objectives of this Summit which aim to ensure sustainable growth and the responsible management of the environment and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. In that regard, the ACP Group remains convinced that it is possible to halt and reverse the current trend towards declining natural resources and biodiversity, provided the appropriate measures are implemented.
Given that our Group comprises countries which are particularly vulnerable to climate changes, we believe that high priority should be accorded this alarming phenomenon which poses a serious threat to many countries. In that regard, the rapid entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, in all its dimensions, is of critical importance not only to our Group but to all mankind.
The ACP States also believe that in order to ensure sustainable development in the world, there is a pressing need to vigorously attack the root causes of poverty, particularly in developing countries, home to the overwhelming majority of the world's poor.
To this end, increased efforts must be deployed immediately by the developing countries themselves, the developed world, as well as by all other actors involved in this worthy enterprise, the guarantee of a better today and tomorrow for Planet Earth and all her inhabitants.
By signing the Cotonou Agreement, ACP countries renewed and demonstrated their will to assume their responsibilities. For its part, the European Union committed itself to continue its support for our countries. Nonetheless, to achieve their objective, all these efforts must be complemented and bolstered by those of the International Community which must respect its commitments.
Among these, priority should be given to significantly increasing official development assistance, as well as finding a lasting solution to the debt burden which many of our member-countries, among others, must bear.
The debate which is taking place here on globalization and trade is of the utmost interest to the ACP Group which will commence trade negotiations with the European Union in Brussels on 27 September 2002. These ACP-EU negotiations are geared towards setting up new trade arrangements which increasingly take account of the objective of sustainable development and are compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization.
Indeed, although the negotiations are based on trade, the ACP States believe they really must boost sustainable development by enhancing their production and supply capacities, and by not being limited to mere trade concessions.
In commencing the negotiating process, the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States stands firmly convinced that trade can play a decisive role in the smooth and gradual integration of its Member-States into the global economy. However, this objective can only be achieved if there is a transparent and equitable multilateral trade system founded on rules which take due account of the particular circumstances of developing countries.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the ACP Group expresses the hope that the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development will contribute to the attainment of the millennium development objectives, especially in the 5 areas identified by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Koffi Annan.
We sincerely hope that the Summit will be able to adopt a Declaration and Plan of Action outlining clear commitments, as well as a precise timeframe for their implementation so that the wealth of our planet will be shared equitably among all, without jeopardising future generations, i.e. to ensure sustainable development for all mankind.
Thank you for your kind attention.