UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (UNEP)

Statement

by

Mr. Klaus Toepfer
Executive Director

at the 
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico 
18th March 2002



The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya in Africa. Together with the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat), it is the only organization headquartered in the developing world. I believe that this was a very good decision, because for an environment programme, it is very good to be directly linked with the most toxic element in the world, and the most toxic element in the world is poverty. 

We see it daily. We are challenged by it. We know that we cannot offer environment for the sake of environment to this part of the world. Therefore, it is so necessary to fight poverty also with regard to the protection of the environment. But we also know that development needs human capital, technologies, financial capital, good governance and rule of law. Development needs environmental capital, too. 

So it is from both sides of the coin necessary to address the environment as well here. I therefore believe that it was a very good and necessary decision to integrate the environment in the Millennium Declaration as a goal, knowing that environmental capital is more and more a bottleneck for the economic development so urgently needed for new jobs new jobs for young people in the developing world who now have no future. Again, please, come see us in Nairobi and visit us downtown. I only mention Nairobi as one of the cities that you can see among many in developing countries.

Therefore, there is the need for three pillars to have sustainable development. This entails economic development, social equity and environmental responsibility, all of which should be interrelated and instrumentally linked. 

Subsidizing economic development by ignoring the environmental dimension and using environmental capital is not good economics. Let me prove this with some examples. The first is the relationship between health and the environment. Between 80 and 90 per cent of all our environmental problems are health problems, because they are related to human health. Problems include water-borne diseases, air pollution in the big cities and the chemical agenda, just to mention three. We know that when it comes to chemicals, we have to lead a very concrete fight, for example, against lead in gasoline, mercury and persistent organic pollutants. If we could just finalize a convention to fight against polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, furans and others, we could do so. 

Secondly, there is the link with water and the question of oceans and coastal waters. The pollution of coastal waters is decreasing the productivity of the sea, which is especially important for the diet and development of poor people.

Thirdly, there is trade development and environment. I would underscore that the Doha summit was a very important step on the way to this meeting and, finally, the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Such environmental concerns is not green imperialism. Quite the contrary, if we cannot link these issues with the environment, we have at the expense of the environment only a short time for economic development. Therefore, to make the right assessment in this field is also the precondition for lasting development based on the open markets and the globalization process.

Fourthly, there is the issue of climate change and energy. We must not only address poverty, as I mentioned. We also have to address the consumption pattern of developed countries, because the export of those environmental costs are one of the reasons for the problems in developing countries. Therefore, it is so important to come to the finalization of the conventions and protocols with regard to climate and the other conventions such as the one on persistent organic pollutants and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. They are linked directly with the development agenda, and I sincerely hope that we can also implement these parts of the Millennium Declaration. Energy relates not only to climate change, but to a greater extent to rural development and energy to stimulate renewable energy sources.

Finally, there is the question of biodiversity. This is an asset of the developing world. Only some days ago, we had a meeting of mega-biodiverse rich countries of the world in Cancun, Mexico. We know that developing countries in particular have a high level of genetic resources and that this is without a doubt an asset for their development. I would also like to mention the relation between forests and poverty in the overall context of biodiversity.

Altogether, I believe that we need an integrated approach. We need integration in the three pillars I mentioned. We need integration with private business. I am very happy that this evening we will have side event of UNEP with regard to the finance industry and the chance to prove that this can be an asset for the future as well. I believe that especially with regard to the global relations I mentioned between climate, biodiversity and desertification, we can come quite soon, as Claire Short has said, to a restructuring and replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which is so important to pay for the additional costs of the environment. In this sense, I hope that this Conference will be very successful.


* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.

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