3 September 1999
UN, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, DISCUSSED BY ECLAC HEARING
SANTIAGO, 2 September (ECLAC) -- Participants at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) two-day regional hearing on the United Nations in the twenty-first century, today questioned the sustainability of the model of production and consumption predominant in the world, describing it as "irrational and wasteful".
The comments came at the third round table discussion of the hearing, on the topic "The role of the United Nations in the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development in the next century". The two-day meeting, held at the request of Secretary General Kofi Annan, to elicit the views of representatives of civil society and Member States on the challenges which will face the United Nations in the twenty-first century, is the fourth in a series of such regional meetings being held worldwide in preparation for the Millennium Assembly in September 2000. This Latin American and Caribbean hearing is taking place at ECLAC's headquarters in Santiago.
Speakers agreed that the deterioration of the planet's ecosystems is one of the greatest dangers for the future of humanity. In this respect, the United Nations role in the coming century should be to open up spaces for the creation of a new model of sustainable development, in which the drive to dominate nature is replaced by the recognition of our interdependence with nature. The gap between rich and poor countries was mentioned as a further factor damaging the world's ecology and permitting unbalanced exploitation of natural resources.
Participants recognized the contribution of the United Nations towards creating awareness of the environment and the need for sustainable development. In this respect, the United Nations was called upon to more forcefully advocate the rights of indigenous peoples, and to establish a permanent forum to guarantee greater participation and visibility for indigenous organizations. They recommended that such a forum should play a leading role in winning approval of a "Charter of Indigenous Rights".
Further recommendations were that the United Nations should establish more equal relations with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by overcoming the donor-recipient model, facilitate South-South exchanges and increase awareness of its successful programmes.
This morning's panel was moderated by Ramiro Tellez, of the Central American Association of Peasant Organizations for Cooperation and Development (ASOCODE). Other speakers included Maria Jose Troya, of the Ecuadorian Consumers' and Users' Tribune; Donald Rojas, of the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; Jose Luis Castro, of the Iberoamerican Youth Network for the Environment; and Eugenio Balari, of the Cuban Foundation for Man and Nature.
The fourth and last session of the Hearing will open this afternoon at 3 p.m. The panel, chaired by Juan Somavia, Director General of the International Labour Office, will discuss "Globalization and development with equity: the role of the United Nations in the Next Century."