UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN
AND NORTHERN IRELAND

 
 

STATEMENT

BY

THE RT HON TONY BLAIR MP
THE PRIME MINISTER
 

AT THE
WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
MONDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2002








Mr President, colleagues,

We know the problems. A child in Africa dies every three seconds from famine, disease or conflict. If climate change is not stopped, all parts of the world will suffer, some will be destroyed. We know the solution: sustainable development. The issue is the political will.

And we know one other thing. The key characteristic of today's world is its interdependence. Your problem becomes my problem. One country's war becomes another country's asylum seekers. One country's pollution becomes another country's floods.

We have begun to act.

A decade from Rio, for all the sneering about Summits, those who took part then can point to the real progress there has been. Millions more children educated. Millions more with safe drinking water. Millions lifted out of poverty.

Rio didn't deliver everything, nor will Johannesburg. No Summit can. But this Summit can and will make our world change for the better.

Today, I restate Britain's commitment to play our full part in this. Development, for us, is a priority. Africa, for me, is a passion. Proud of our leadership on debt relief, we know there is more to do. Proud of the extra resources we are giving to aid and development, we want to give more in the future, and we will.

Proud that we will meet, indeed exceed our Kyoto targets; and we must go further.

There are certain specific agreements this summit can deliver: on poverty, on education, on fish stocks, on chemicals, on sanitation, and on biodiversity.

But beyond that, it must set a direction.

We must open up world trade, and that must include the developed world opening up its markets to the products of the developing world - especially for agriculture.

It means sustainable and fair development, globalisation with justice, ensuring its benefits are spread.

It means driving through the Partnership with Africa. Britain will raise, by 2006, its commitment to development aid to Africa to £1 billion a year and its overall levels of assistance for all countries by 50%. This is not charity. It is an investment in our collective future. Obviously poverty damages the poor most. But is also deprives the wider world of the benefits of the industry and the talent of poorer nations and their people.

It means changing the way we consume resources - particularly energy.

It means the world, the whole world, facing up to the challenges of climate change. Kyoto is right, and it should be ratified by us all. But it only slows the present rate of damage. To reverse it, we need to reduce dramatically the level of pollution. Let us at least set that direction.

None of it easy. The short-term clashes with the long-term. There are painful decisions. Vested interests. Legitimate anxieties. But the facts remain. The consequences of inaction are also not unknown. They are calculable. Poverty and environmental degradation, if unchecked, spell catastrophe.

My politics is founded on the belief that we are all of equal worth.

Yesterday, in some of the poorest parts of Mozambique, I saw children every bit as bright as children in affluent Britain. Full of potential. Full, despite all the challenges, of hope. But their life chances stunted by poor health, poor housing, poor education, poor sanitation.

They need -not, must not, face their challenge alone. If Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world, the world has a duty to heal it.

Heal it we can, and must.

The decisions we take here will bear directly on those children's lives. Let us be sure we make the right decisions.

We know the problems. We know the solutions.

Together, as one world, we must find the will to deliver them.