WORLD BANK

Statement

by 

the World Bank Group

at the

World Summit for Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
29 August 2002

Mr./Madam Chair, honorable delegates,

It is an honor for the World Bank Group to be with you at this momentous meeting on an issue of such profound importance. I would like to thank the South African Government and President Mbeki for hosting this meeting, and I also wish to congratulate our partners in the United Nations for their tireless efforts to bring this meeting to fruition.

Mr./Madam Chair: This meeting represents an historic opportunity for us all. An opportunity to reflect upon the progress we have made in the past ten years since the Rio Earth Summit. Yet, it is also an opportunity for us to consider the road ahead and the challenges still to be faced.

From the outset, however, we must recognize that we cannot have a safer, happier, and healthier planet when we know that many of our fellow humans live in abject poverty. Poverty and sustainable development cannot co-exist:

When 1.2 billion people remain in absolute poverty.

When over 800 million people go to bed hungry.

When over a billion people not have access to safe water nor adequate sanitation.

There must be no doubt that eliminating poverty is the cornerstone of sustainable development.

Fortunately, in the recently approved rich mosaic of international agreements - on environment, trade, finance, and development - we have, at last, a ray of hope that the world community means business. The global environmental treaties (on climate change, biodiversity, desertification, and persistent organic pollutants), together with the recent successful replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), provide a basis for linking the global environment to local sustainable development.

In particular, the Millennium Development Goals represent a program for sustainable development. Meeting those targets by 2015 will be an essential step on the road to a wealthy and sustainable world, laying the basis for a positive cycle of growth and responsible development. In the World Bank we have geared up to play our part in trying to ensure that those goals are met. But we must all do more.

Meeting the Millennium Development Goals will require per capita economic growth rates of over three per cent per capita: certainly a challenge. It will require investments in health, education, environmental management. It will require conducive policies and transparent and inclusive institutions. It will need the private sector and private capital. It will require collective action - within and between countries.

We must also begin to look beyond 2015, because the job of poverty elimination will not be done by then. We must prepare the way forward - to a new era of enlightened public policy and to a new era of responsible wealth creation: one that accelerates economic growth especially in developing countries but does so in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

Economic growth, especially in developing countries, will be required. Over the next 50 years - certainly within the lifetime of our children - we will likely see the world economy rise from around US$35 trillion today to around US$140 trillion. We will add over a US$ 100 trillion but we must face some hard truths:

If we cannot protect our precious environment and make such growth ecologically responsible we will not have sustainable development.

If we retain the current distribution of income in which 80 percent of the world's population earns only 20 percent of the world's income we will not have sustainable development.

If we maintain the current consumption and production patterns between the rich and the poor we will not have sustainable development.

If the rich world hides behind harmful subsidies and unfair practices we will not have sustainable development.

If private companies disregard reasonable norms of corporate behavior we will not have sustainable development.

And

If we continue to exclude the disenfranchised from playing their rightful role in society we will not have sustainable development.

Mr./Madam Chair: Sustainable development is more than economics, more than development, and more than environment. It is a crusade based on the moral imperative of saving our planet and making it safe, secure, and prosperous for all. It is based on economic justice, social justice, and ecological justice. The time for action is now.

In providing a vision for the future, world leaders should:

Reaffirm their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 in a sustainable manner, and build the partnerships and prepare the actions that take us well beyond 2015 towards a prosperous and sustainable future.

No one organization can do it alone. We must work together - governments, North and South; public and private sectors; governments and civil society; rich and poor. There is too much at stake and too little time.

The World Bank is committed to Sustainable Development, and we will:

At the national level, continue to support country owned strategies that address poverty reduction and sustainable development (PRSP's are being developed in 60 countries)

At the regional level, support multi-country cooperation to address transboundary problems (such as the Nile Basin Initiative and the Meso-American Biodiversity Corridor)

At the global level support the global treaties, play our role in the Global Environment Facility, pilot global programs (such as the Prototype Carbon Fund), and contribute knowledge on issues such as agriculture, fisheries, energy, water, forests, environment, trade, and social issues; and on global public goods.

The World Bank Group is proud to have worked with many stakeholders at this summit. This meeting presents all of us with the historic opportunity to define a vision of sustainable development and social justice: one that combines actions for the next decade to assertively address poverty and lack of opportunity for poor people, as well as actions that can lay the foundation for future generations to enjoy an era of responsible prosperity shared by all. Is there anything better we could leave our children?

Thank you.