UN Secretary-General Calls for Change at Summit
Johannesburg, 2 September Calling the present model of development
"flawed for many," United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said
he hoped the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg would mark
the opening of a new chapter of responsibility, partnerships and
The Secretary-General delivered his remarks at the opening meeting of more than
100 world leaders who have come to Johannesburg to participate in a major
global undertaking to improve living standards while protecting the
For the last week, government delegates have negotiated a Plan of
Implementation, now complete, that sets forth commitments, some to be
implemented by partnerships of governments, NGOs and the private sector. In
particular, governments have committed themselves to take action to reduce the
number of people who lack access to clean water, proper sanitation and modern
energy services such as electricity, to promote a healthy environment and
reduce the incidence of disease, to increase agricultural productivity, and to
protect the world's biodiversity and ecosystems.
"Let us face the uncomfortable truth," Mr. Annan said. "The
model of development we are accustomed to has been fruitful for the few, but
flawed for the many. A path to prosperity that ravages the environment and
leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a
dead-end road for everyone."
Urging action and implementation toward sustainable development, Mr. Annan said
action starts with governments, and that the richest countries must lead the
way. "They have the wealth. They have the technology. And they contribute
disproportionately to global environmental problems," he stated.
But he said governments cannot do the job alone, and civil society groups have
a critical role to play, along with commercial enterprises. "We are not
asking corporations to do something different from their normal business; we
are asking them to do their normal business differently."
South Africa President Thabo Mbeki said in opening the high-level segment,
""I am certain that the billions of people of the world expect a very
clear and unambiguous answer to the question of whether we are ready and able
to respond to the pressing challenges of sustainable development."
Several European leaders announced that they would increase their assistance to
developing countries. United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that his
country would double its assistance to Africa and raise its overall assistance
by 50 per cent. French President Jacques Chirac said assistance should be
increased to 0.7 per cent of its gross national product in 10 years. German
Chancellor Gerhard Schröeder said Germany would contribute 500 million
euros to promote cooperation on renewable energies.
Costa Rican President Dr. Abel Pacheco de la Espriella told the Summit that
Costa Rica will not allow open gold mining, the exploitation of oil, and the
destruction of primary forest and the misuse of water resources. Namibian
President Dr. Sam Nujoma said his country was seriously implementing the
Convention to Combat Desertification by providing a safety net to farmers and
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Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006