Mr Göran Persson
Prime Minister of Sweden 

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg, South Africa
3 September 2002

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have come to Johannesburg, because we believe that we can make a difference by working together. It is our responsibility as political leaders to look beyond narrow interests and seek durable solutions.

It is time to close the gap between words and deeds.

Each day, tens of thousands of children die because of hunger or diseases that are easy to cure.

This is totally unacceptable and unworthy the global community.

It is time to bring about real change for the people who need it most.

It is time to give hope to the young that they will live in a safer, more just and environmentally sound world.

Only concerted action will do this.

I am convinced that a global strategy for sustainable development offers great opportunities. Investments in education, in health care and in social protection are vital to social and economic progress. Such investments are not a burden for development, but an engine for growth. The need to change unsustainable production and consumption will promote innovation, new business opportunities, and job creation.

Together, we must unleash the potential of a more equitable, long-term and sustainable economic and social development. We must engage in what is probably the largest investment project of our time!

How do we do this? How do we make sure that this Summit becomes a turning point for national and international efforts to combat poverty and protect our environment?

We need to focus our efforts and resources on a number of key areas and set clear targets. Sustainable development cannot be about everything, or we risk doing nothing.

We must live up to the agreements already made. The Kyoto Protocol should be ratified by all countries as soon as possible.

We must be able to provide energy to the two billion people that today lack access to modern forms of energy, without increasing pollution and changing our climate. We need to initiate the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. We need to mobilize scientists, businesses and trade unions as well as consumers in a strategy for a decisive change to use new technologies and learn new behaviours. A global target of 15 percent renewable energy by 2010 would facilitate all this.

Industrial countries must take the lead - by changing their own production and consumption, and by promoting the exchange of technologies with developing countries. To stimulate such actions, the Swedish Government will make an additional contribution of 10 million euros to the Global Environment Facility.

We need to promote active participation by society as a whole. Governments, individuals and organizations, trade unions and private companies must work together, on the basis of clear objectives, accountability and follow-up.

One of the fundamentals in promoting change and increase participation is education. I would like to see more teachers discussing the impact of our lifestyles on the environment. Universities should offer courses on global survival issues and sustainable development in all major programs. We need to promote centres of educational and scientific excellence in these areas. In order to stimulate the breaking of new ground in sustainable development studies, Sweden is prepared to gather these centres to an international seminar next year.

We need better governance at all levels. Respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law and a corruption free society are fundamentals for sustainable development.

We need effective international co-operation and coherent action by international institutions. The international trade rules, the multilateral environmental agreements, and international conventions in areas such as labour standards, must all promote sustainable development and must be mutually supportive.

It is crucial that we achieve progress in increased market access for developing countries, as well as the phasing out of trade distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman

I started with a call for concrete action. Let me end on the same note.
That we succeed is a question of political credibility, not just for individual political leaders, but also for multilateralism and the UN system as a whole.

Let us make this Summit the beginning of a new era of global co-operation and solidarity, within and between countries, for present and future generations.

Thank you.