Minister of Environment of the Spanish Government 
and the Head of Spain's Official Delegation 

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
4 September 2002

Mr President,

Your Excellencies.

Ladies & Gentlemen;

First of all, I would like to thank the South African authorities for their hospitality in this splendid city which has welcomed us, and pay tribute to the work carried out by the General Secretariat of the United Nations and the South African authorities in organizing this Summit.

It is ten years since the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, so this is a good moment to take stock of the results achieved to date and to face the challenges which sustainable development sets before us. In fact these are the priority objectives of the Summit: "To take stock and to Make commitments".

There is an inescapable need to bring the policies of sustainability closer to citizens. In Spain, local Agenda 21 actions are already playing an important role in this area with very positive results. For this reason, Spain supports the creation of a permanent Forum for Sustainable Development and would be willing to host its headquarters.

Johannesburg must be the platform for a global agreement, which confirms the firm commitment to work together towards full integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development at all levels.

A balanced outcome of this Summit's negotiations should be based upon the responsibility of each state in its own development, as well as in concrete action. This means that multilateral action has to be underscored as the driving force for sustainable development.

Since Rio, globalization has emerged as a phenomenon of great impact, economically, socially and environmentally. So far, society has felt its negative aspects more than the opportunities it represents. It is the responsibility of all to ensure that globalization works for sustainable development, while respecting the diversity of our societies and guaranteeing the equal distribution of its benefits.

Governments, along with international financial institutions, have the great responsibility to put into practice the Millennium Goals, which aim to eradicate poverty as a fundamental challenge facing humanity in this new century.

It is a priority to boost the involvement of civil society in the processes of sustainable development in all its stages, and specially in the follow up of the agreements of this Summit. As the political policy makers in our respective countries, we should be capable of reflecting the legitimate interests of civil society in our proposals, and be able to inspire confidence with our ability to demonstrate commitment and vision for the future. We must show our firm commitment to sustainable development so that it permeates through our policy decisions, and can be achieved.

Good governance requires us to ensure Peace, Security and Stability, the defense of Human Rights, respect of gender equality and the preeminence of the Rule of Law in our societies.

Changing the current patterns of production and consumption, towards more sustainable ones, the conservation and protection of natural resources and biodiversity, are the keys to halt environmental degradation. This, together with other economic measures, such as market access for products of developing countries, will allow us to fight against poverty, which nowadays is the greatest scourge of humanity.

One of the environmental challenges we face is combating the risks associated with climate change. To that end, all states must carry out the necessary efforts for the rapid entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, but that is not enough. We should be capable of changing our production and consumption patterns and, to that end, the strong belief in renewable energies is necesary.

Fighting against climate change, as well as other forms of environmental deterioration, is both a challenge and an opportunity. It is a necessity to mitigate the adverse consecuences of climate change such as desertification, the increase of sea level and the recurrence of extreme meteorological events. Anything we invest and any effort we make to fight against global environmental degradation is an investment in our future and an assurance for future generations. Among other international agreements, the Antarctic Treaty is a key instrument to fighting against the degradation of that continent whose loss would be irreversible.

Spain has at all times wished to contribute to the success of this Summit and has thus made its best efforts during its presidency of the European Union to reach agreements at the highest possible level. Furthermore, at the Monterrey Conference, Spain committed itself to increase its contribution to development aid by 30%.

I would like to stress once again Spain's firm commitment to sustainable development. It is a political and social commitment we are implementing through specific action programs such as the Araucaria Program for Latin America and the Azahar Program for the Mediterranean.

Water is of great importance for all countries, and in that area Spain has been forced by nature to develop longstanding experience. At this Summit, the Spanish government has taken on a firm commitment to extending the European Water Initiative to Latin America.

Spain is fully confident that the global commitment to sustainable development will be strengthened by this Summit and that more solid bases for fighting poverty and environmental degradation will be set in place, in so far as this Summit in Johannesburg has enshrined multilateral action as the only way to safeguard our mutual interests.

Many thanks Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen.