HONOURABLE JAMES CECIL COCKER
Johannesburg, South Africa
It is indeed an honour to be here today in Johannesburg at this World Summit on Sustainable Development, 26 August to 4 September 2002.
We have come from all parts of the world to assess the challenges facing us under the theme "People, planet and prosperity" which, together with the three pillars of sustainable development and the goals of the Millennium Declaration, forms the interwoven fabric of our collective developmental aspirations.
Our collective presence here at this summit is aimed at working together in partnership to improve the living standards of people in the developing countries including small island developing states to allow for concrete improvement of the environment over the next decade.
Sustainable economic growth is needed to reduce poverty in small island economies and this inevitably requires increased investment, technical progress and international trade. In order for international trade to have a lasting impact, there is need for market access for our agricultural products, fisheries, handicrafts and manufactured goods. In this regard we look with optimism to the results of Doha and Monterrey.
The Kingdom of Tonga is a small island developing state which is located in the South Pacific Ocean with Australia, Fiji and Samoa to the north and New Zealand to the south. Like other developing states in the Pacific and other parts of the world, Tonga is made up of many small islands. As such, improved transportation - both marine/sea and air, telecommunication and market access for our agricultural, fisheries, handicrafts and manufactured products; and increased tourism are critical to our economic growth in order to reduce poverty among our people.
We need investment in order to strengthen our productive sectors. We need investment in education, in information and communication technologies such as computers, in hospitals, in capacity building for sustainable development in order to address the problems arising from climate change and associated sea level rise, natural disasters but to name a few. We need partnerships between government, NGOs and the private sector; we need more exports and more tourism to assist us in reducing poverty; we need assistance to build sea walls in order to protect our people and our scarce land resource from rising sea level.
The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific have made, through collective efforts with other small island developing states within the context of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) Communiqué and the Pacific Island Umbrella Initiative/Partnerships, submissions to this World Summit on Sustainable Development. Both the Initiatives and the Communique have been endorsed by our respective leaders.
All of the interests of Tonga and other small island developing states are reflected in the AOSIS Communique and the Pacific Island Umbrella Initiative/Partnerships and I stand before you today to seek your support in including Tonga and other small island developing states interests in the agreed Plan of Action to reverse global degradation of the environment and close the gap between rich and poor which is a product of this Johannesburg's World Summit on Sustainable Development. I feel that Tonga has significant roles to play in terms of implementation of the Action Plan and perhaps, one of the most immediate things for us to do on returning to capital is to complete the remaining formalities needed before Tonga becomes a party to the Kyoto Protocol.
Captain Cook, some 300 years ago, called the Kingdom of Tonga the "Friendly Islands" and King John II of Portugal named the southern point of Africa the "Cape of Good Hope". We are all gathering here in Johannesburg, South Africa with a hope for a better life for our people over the next decade since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro has done little for us. We hope that your Cape of Good Hope will turn our hope to reality.
Before concluding, please allow me, on behalf of my delegation and the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, to convey our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the Secretary General of the United Nations for the logistical planning of this Summit; and the Government and people of this most beautiful country of South Africa for allowing us to come here and for the unceasing care and warm hospitality that have been duly accorded to us during our stay.
I thank you Mr President.