GLOBAL AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABLE GROWTH CONCEPT HAS INCREASED, BUT ACTION LAGS, ASSEMBLY IS TOLD
GLOBAL AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABLE GROWTH CONCEPT HAS INCREASED, BUT ACTION LAGS, ASSEMBLY IS TOLD
GLOBAL AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABLE GROWTH CONCEPT HAS INCREASED, BUT ACTION LAGS, ASSEMBLY IS TOLD19970623 Twenty-two More Countries Address Special Session On Ways to Promote Environmentally Sound Development
In the five years since the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, the concept of sustainable development had come to inform economic planning worldwide, the General Assembly special session on the implementation of Agenda 21 was told this afternoon. The principles of Agenda 21 were being codified into national legislation, and major new conventions on global warming and on biodiversity were being applied.
But despite commitments made at Rio, official development assistance had actually declined, deforestation continued and developing countries lacked essential "green technologies". Several speakers pointed out that one third of the world's population did not have access to clean drinking water.
Addressing the Assembly this afternoon were the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; the Prime Minister of Portugal; the Prime Minister of Romania; the Deputy President of South Africa; the Prime Minister of Norway; the Prime Minister of Denmark; the Prime Minister of Ireland; the President of the Republic of Korea; the Prime Minister of Belgium; the President of Nicaragua; the President of the Federated States of Micronesia; and the Vice- President of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Also speaking this afternoon were the Minister for the Environment of Mexico; the Minister for Environment of Tunisia; the representative of Philippines; the Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden; the Minister for the Environment of Australia; the Minister for Environment of San Marino; and the representatives of China, Uruguay, Papua New Guinea and Algeria.
The special session will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 24 June, to continue its general debate on the implementation of Agenda 21.
Assembly Work Programme
The nineteenth special session of the General Assembly to review implementation of the recommendations of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro resumed this afternoon. The Assembly was to hear statements from a number of heads of State and government.
VICTOR S. CHERNOMYRDIN, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation: The global Conventions on Climate Change and on Biodiversity, both born in Rio, are working. The conditions for launching new legal mechanisms in the environmental field are being developed. The current special session should concentrate on identifying and eliminating gaps and omissions, including the transfer of environmentally safe technologies, more stable financing, nature preservation and work to draw up a convention on the conservation and sustainable management of forests.
Russia is meeting its obligations under the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions. It favours the development of a protocol to the Climate Change Convention. The upcoming Kyoto conference of States party to that Convention should agree upon meaningful measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Russia is also interested in full-scale participation in the Convention to Combat Desertification, with practical steps to follow the development and adoption of an annex to that Convention reflecting conditions of countries in transition.
The time has come for the development of an international legal instrument on forests. The work of the intergovernmental panel on forests will provide a useful basis for that work. Russia also considers it essential to restructure the power sector, which will help reduce its negative impact on the environment and increase the efficiency of energy use.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, Prime Minister of Portugal: The positive results from the Rio Conference are noteworthy, but have not been effective in halting the degradation of the Earth's life support systems. Globally, both the environment and development are far short of the expectations of five years ago. It is time for the conclusion of the summit to be put into effect. In response to Rio, Portugal has established a national council for the environment and sustainable development; implemented a strategic plan for waste management and sewage treatment; and given priority to nature conservation. It has also implemented environmental agreements with partners in the industrial and agro-industrial sectors.
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The implementation of Agenda 21 is still deficient throughout the world, largely because of the inability of the least developed countries to mobilize resources, responsibility for which rests with the developed nations, which can and should do more to promote development and eradicate poverty. In the context of north-south dialogue, Portugal has particular interest in partnership, exchange and shared responsibility with those African States that, with Brazil, make up the community of Portuguese-speaking nations. Portugal endorses the initiatives of the European Union with regard to water, energy and eco-efficiency. Its priorities include bringing free trade in harmony with sustainable development, supporting the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention and the timely conclusion of a protocol on biosafety.
For Portugal, as a maritime nation, the oceans are her main and most immediate priority. Signs are evident that the oceans are in an environmental crisis. There is a need to change the current practice of overexploitation of living marine resources; to preserve marine biodiversity; to define and adopt a code of good practices for the integrated management of coastal zones; and to combat marine pollution of every kind. Other measures are: strengthening global monitoring and control of the oceans, and support for research and technological development of the marine sciences.
VICTOR CIORBEA, Prime Minister of Romania: Fifty years of communism has left the Romanian people with the difficult task of improving their economic, political and social environment. The national plan of action for the protection of the environment seeks to renew production capacities through the introduction of non-polluting technologies. Romania desires cross-border cooperation and the creation of "Euro-regions", particularly as regards the resources of the Danube Basin and of the Black Sea. The introduction of Romania into the structures of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union will help further the goals of Agenda 21.
The General Assembly should resolve at the present special session to convene a "Rio-Plus-10" conference to monitor implementation of Agenda 21. That implementation should be a high priority for all governments. The political document to be adopted during the current session should reaffirm the political will of the General Assembly to guarantee a healthy environment for future generations.
THABO MBEKI, Deputy President of South Africa: The UNCED was a landmark event in the history of the world. Developing countries have done much to strengthen their domestic capacities to implement Agenda 21. The resources committed at the Rio Conference have not yet been committed. Implementation of Agenda 21 required new and additional resources. Developed countries at Rio recommitted to the target of 0.7 per cent official development assistance (ODA).
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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) should be reinforced. Lack of adequate funding for the agency should be addressed. The replenishment of the Global Environmental Facility would also help to fulfil the promise of Agenda 21. The international community must resolve the issues of technology transfer, without which Agenda 21 cannot be fulfilled. The protection of sustainable water resources is a critical issue, particularly for arid regions in Africa. Towards that end, the States of southern Africa recently signed an agreement on shared water resources.
The eradication of poverty must be a central goal of global environmental policy. Honest dialogue and partnership are needed for the environmental and developmental challenges of the next century. The Commission on Sustainable Development should remain a central policy mechanism in that regard.
THORBJORN JAGLAND, Prime Minister of Norway: The international community must rededicate itself to action. Agenda 21 is not up for renegotiation. There is need for renewed commitment to combat poverty. Commitments made by industrialized countries in Rio for ODA have not been met. Private investments, while increasing in the developing world, are not reaching the poorest countries. Such investments rarely finance health and education, which are basic requirements for sustainable development. Norway remains committed to development assistance. It has increased its contributions and will continue to do so.
Another international priority is the huge task of securing growth within the limits set by the environment. Norway has promoted the concepts of sustainable production and consumption, but countries in the north must do more in this regard. Developing countries need to advance in eco-efficiency. These countries must not base their growth on highly polluting technology. The industrialized countries can offer their experience and transfer their environmentally sound technology. Norway is allocating additional funds for the transfer of such technology. It pledges to allocate an additional $15 million to finance programmes of technology transfer.
The Arctic region is among the world's least polluted regions, but it faces real risks. Such risks are largely caused by substances transported from sources outside the Arctic. One of the most serious legacies of the cold war is the piles of nuclear and other dangerous wastes. This matter requires greater international priority. Land-mines represent one of the world's most serious environmental problems. Fertile land is deserted because of their presence. The international community needs to conclude a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines. The environment and development should be accorded higher priority and more resources within the United Nations system. Perhaps, a "World Environment Organization" could provide a clearer voice on the issues. While negative trends continue, there are also positive developments.
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New technology allows us to do more with less. The next generation is impatient for change, and rightly so.
POUL NYRUP RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark: The fight against poverty should be placed at the top of the global environmental agenda. Sustainable development will not be achieved until all human resources are mobilized. Empowering women, recognizing the contribution of indigenous peoples and respect for human rights are crucial towards that end.
One third of the world does not have access to clean drinking water. Ensuring access to and production of fresh water must be the focus of Agenda 21. Renewable energy is equally important. The international community should decide now on its energy agenda for the twenty-first century. Sustainable development should also pay close attention to vulnerable environments; forest resources should be preserved and the arctic environment should be given priority.
Rich nations should open their markets to developing countries. Developing countries should not be exposed to environmental risks deemed unacceptable in developed countries, and poor countries should not become markets for outdated technology or hazardous wastes. Denmark had achieved the goal of 0.7 per cent for ODA, but five years after the Rio Conference worldwide ODA as a proportion of gross national income has actually decreased.
JOHN BRUTON, Prime Minister of Ireland: In the five years since Rio, 450 million people have been born, the majority in developing countries. History is being accelerated. Sustainable development is about empowerment, building partnerships and protecting the global environment as a shared birthright of all peoples. Poverty and underdevelopment continue to be a serious abuse of environmental degradation. Forest and species loss have not been reversed. There are enough boats, hooks and nets in the world to catch twice as many fish as there are in the sea.
Partnerships to advance sustainable development must put people at the centre of policy and practice, empower women and major social groups, and respect the right of developing countries to ownership of their resources. Ireland has increased its development assistance, and will continue to do so. Consumption and production patterns in the developed world are unsustainable, often based on misguided subsidies and tax breaks which politicians have difficulties changing because of vested interests. Such patterns put national governments under stress, and impose unfair burdens on the less developed countries. Carbon emissions range from 5.3 tons per capita in the United States to 2.4 tons in Japan, to 0.3 tons in India.
Climate change is a critical test of international cooperation for sustainable development. It demands immediate and continuing action from the
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developed countries who are the cause of most greenhouse gas emissions. In the long term, the focus must be on increasing eco-efficiency. Achieving a global partnership for sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges facing the international community.
KIM YOUNG SAM, President, Republic of Korea: Mankind's reckless devastation of the environment has precipitated a crisis, but fortunately humanity's awakening has given birth to the concept of sustainable development of the global village, a new paradigm gradually taking root in our daily lives. Despite achievements, the earth's environment is being destroyed faster than it can be restored. World leaders should solidify their collective resolve through this Assembly, to work for environmental protection all over the globe.
The Republic of Korea is faithfully abiding by the Rio Declaration. It adopted a national action programme under "Agenda 21" to usher in a new era of sustainable development. South and North Korea should cooperate to protect and preserve the natural environment of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and turn it into a zone for peace and ecological integrity.
Environmental degradation cannot be resolved without international cooperation. Forging such cooperation should be a top priority of the international community. Advanced countries must provide financial assistance to developing countries in ensuring global sustainable development. The Republic of Korea is increasing its assistance to developing countries.
The Republic of Korea is acutely wary of the transboundary impact of environmental pollution. In north-east asia, there are ongoing attempts to transport nuclear waste from one country to another. Such movement should not be permitted. Global and regional mechanisms should be established to strengthen cooperation for safe management of radioactive waste.
JEAN-LUC DEHAENE, Prime Minister of Belgium: Belgium supports the three initiatives of the European Union pertaining to water, energy and eco- efficiency. The transition to sustainable development will take at least one full generation. The advances made in Rio must be taken further, for example, by negotiations on a global convention on forests.
The objectives of Agenda 21 cannot be achieved without global partnerships. Work should be integrated; barriers between the environmental, social and economic sectors should be eliminated. Sustainable development objectives, particularly those delineated in the convention on climate control, require greater coordination between countries and with commercial partners. Specifically, such coordination refers to the orientation of taxation policy designed to transfer fiscal pressures away from the cost of labour and towards the indirect taxation of energy.
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Enhancing development aid to the least developed countries is another important objective. Belgium is making efforts to achieve the goal of allocating 0.7 per cent of its gross national product (GNP) to official development aid at the earliest possible date. It will continue its considerable financial effort through the Global Environment Facility and will continue its support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Sensitive to increasing international marginalization, Belgium focuses its aid on human development sectors, paying particular attention to the establishment of a social security system and the promotion of social economy initiatives.
ARNOLDO ALEMAN LACAYO, President of Nicaragua: Nicaragua is leaving behind a past of destruction and violence. In October 1996, it elected a new Government with the mandate to establish a rule of law that promotes sustainable development, social justice and elevation of the standards of living, as well as the combating of unemployment and poverty. The Government will assume the responsibility to protect the environment and achieve governability through elevated, tolerant, flexible and patriotic dialogue.
Nicaragua will intensely promote sustainable development as prescribed in Agenda 21, and earlier this month the Government created a national council on the subject. It will count on the participation of civil society to actively promote the changes and implementation of Agenda 21.
The Government is also sensitive to regulating the use and preservation of forest resources, and will give special attention to the environmental impact of works of infrastructure and public or private investments. On the world level, aid for development was being reduced, and few are the countries complying with the target of 0.7 per cent of their GNP for this purpose. The developed countries are not fulfilling their Rio commitments; new resources are not forthcoming, technology transfer is minimal, and the burdens of external debts constrain the ability of the developing world to invest in sustainable development.
JACOB NENA, President of the Federated States of Micronesia: For small- island developing States, it was not until two years after Rio that the Barbados Conference provided an action programme by which their special development constraints might be addressed and hopefully overcome. At a recent conference in Micronesia, government officials from all over the Pacific convened to share experiences and problems in advancing sustainable development. From the perspective of a small island developing country, the noble inspiration behind Agenda 21 is in danger of being sucked back into the traditional morass of north-south development issues. "We in the Pacific are trying our best to do our part, but we find extreme difficulty in accessing the necessary support we must have from the developed world in order to structure our development to make solid progress towards sustainability."
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This is not just an appeal from remote Pacific islands for a bigger slice of the pie. It is an appeal from a small island developing State for the United Nations to send a strong message to United Nations groups who are approaching major decision-making points in Kyoto later this year. "Help us, help all of us, including you yourselves, to see that the legacy of Rio is not lost."
ISHEMBAY ABDURAZAKOV, Vice-President of the Kyrgyz Republic: New and global economic threats, changes to the global climate, reduction of biodiversity, desertification and other problems have become more dangerous, and response cannot be delayed. In the years since Rio, many objectives have not been achieved. In the areas where there has been progress, international and regional conferences have frequently played an important role.
One fifth of all the world's dry land is mountainous. Glaciers in those regions are a major source of fresh water. Of the 48 armed conflicts which took place in 1995, 26 occurred in mountain regions. Such regions are frequently susceptible to disasters, such as avalanches. At the same time, mountainous regions offer opportunities such as skiing. Vulnerable mountain systems should be given high priority by the international community. Mountains cover over 90 per cent of the Kyrgyz Republic. Possessing enormous water and hydro-energy resources, they are the heartbeat of the region, sustaining people, forests and other forms of life.
There are 28 uranium storage facilities in my country's territory, a legacy from the former Soviet Union. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should include the Kyrgyz Republic in its consideration. The next generation has the right to a healthy environment.
JULIA CARABIAS, Minister for the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries of Mexico: Five years after Rio, the polarization between developed and developing countries remains. The first group postpones binding commitments; the second feels a growing tension between the transformation required by sustainable development and the limited capacity to assume it. Developed countries need to meet the expectations generated by their capacities; developing countries should take advantage of the enormous power of transformation of organizational changes induced by a genuine opening to social participation that will allow mobilization of resources.
The Commission on Sustainable Development has, up to now, only been able to summon political will regarding the environment, to the detriment of the economic and social development. The UNEP, the global environmental forum par excellence, has not been able to integrate the multiple actions in environmental areas. Global environmental conventions have not achieved necessary synergy with each other nor with established programmes and agencies. Moreover, lack of compliance with commitments on the part of the
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developed countries undermines their effectiveness. A new generation of cooperative mechanisms, conceived under the sign of integration of issues, regionalization and participation, is needed.
The integration of environmental protection and poverty eradication should guide reform of the United Nations system and reinforce its efficiency. The Commission on Sustainable Development, supervising implementation of Agenda 21, should facilitate dialogue among countries, supported by a reinforced UNEP. The will to integrate, to decentralize and to enhance participation can foster reform of the United Nations system, strengthen its efficiency and overcome years of polarization.
MOHAMED MEHDI MLIKA, Minister of Environment and Land Management of Tunisia: Tunisia has ratified all the international conventions that have been concluded in the sphere of Agenda 21. It has set up a national commission for sustainable development, grouping all sectors of development, and, through it, has confirmed Tunisia's local Agenda 21. Tunisia has taken particular interest in strengthening specialized structures for environmental protection and for enacting relevant laws. It has introduced the financial and tax incentives necessary to eliminate pollution and support non-polluting investment, revised numerous laws to adapt them to the requirements of sustainable development, and also enacted new ones. In June 1993, Tunisia called for the holding of a Mediterranean conference on sustainable development and for the drafting of a Mediterranean Agenda 21. The Euro- Mediterranean conference of ministers held in Tunis, according to this framework, made it possible to prepare a Mediterranean Agenda 21 and set up a commission for sustainable development.
Tunisia hopes that this extraordinary session of the General Assembly will be used for a more thorough study of the practical means and mechanisms for revitalizing efficient partnership, and for mobilizing new financial resources to support sustainable development in developing countries. It is also important to emphasize the promotion of partnership in scientific research and the transfer of the latest environmental technology, to strengthen the capabilities of developing countries in this area.
To address the problem of indebtedness of developing countries is to contribute to strengthening the effort for environmental protection. Tunisia has underscored this in its appeal to the wealthy countries to recycle relevant debts into financing projects for environmental protection. The Governments of Sweden and the Netherlands have favourably responded to Tunisia's appeal in this respect, opening the way for the establishment of international partnership in favour of the environment.
CIELITO F. HABITO, Secretary for Socio-Economic Planning of the Philippines: The Philippines is using market-basked instrument, rather
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than management by control, in dealing with the environment. A "Philippine Agenda 21", formally adopted last September, has distinguished itself with the most intensive and extensive consultations on a planning document ever done in the country.
A new strategy to open up the economy and maximize competition has unleashed a new dynamism in the Philippine economy, resulting in six years of economic growth. But the country has decided to grow with measured steps. While welcoming foreign investment, some had been turned away, and some ongoing production facilities have been shut down for the sake of safeguarding the environment. Some infrastructure projects have been held in abeyance so that clean economic growth can be achieved. The Philippines does not want to follow the "grow now, clean up later" formula taken by others.
Sustainable development is not something that governments or international bodies do to people. Sustainable development is something people do for themselves, and for their children. Sustainable development is something that can be achieved only through government and civil society working together, not just in consultation with each other, but in a real working partnership. Most of the recommendations made since the Rio Earth Summit remain mere recommendations. Unless governments decide to work directly and together with civil society, and unless civil society decides to engage governments as partners, little if any progress will be made on Agenda 21.
PIERRE SCHORI, Deputy Foreign Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden: All the 288 municipalities in Sweden are working on local Agenda 21 plans. Sweden offered to the United Nations this symbol of commitment with the names of all the municipalities. The Government has adopted the fundamental objective of transforming the country into a sustainable society. This spring, it launched a comprehensive programme to support sustainable investments and technical development. An improved environment and sustainable development is also a regional issue, and governments around the Baltic have launched a project that will result in a regional Agenda 21.
Poverty is the enemy of peace today. The Rio Summit recognized this, and Sweden fully subscribes to it. Today, ODA has hit historical lows; while, alone, it can never be the answer, in the right environment it is indispensable. Like many donor countries, Sweden has in the past faced extraordinary budgetary pressures. Now that its public finances are in shape again, it will increase its aid level. To further spearhead work to the benefit of the least developed countries in water and energy, Sweden will set aside another $10 million, with a special focus on women.
Military activities cause environmental degradation, both in peace and war. Consumption and production must be sustainable, and the industrialized
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countries must take the lead and learn how to do more with less input of resources and energy. "We will not succeed with the tasks that we set out at the Earth Summit in Rio five years ago unless we radically improve the way we cooperate in the world."
ROBERT HILL, Minister for the Environment of Australia: Progress towards implementing sustainable development principles has been inadequate in several areas, but the significance of having achieved international consensus on the broad principles and on the need for action should not be understated. Australia has begun implementation of an historic national programme to promote sustainable development, establishing a $1.1 billion fund, the Natural Heritage Trust, which is the largest environment programme in the country's history. The complementary goals of the trust are to protect the country's biodiversity and ensure sustainable use of its land and waters. Action at the global and regional levels is also required to achieve sustainable development.
Australia recognizes that achieving sustainable development will require a significant investment, and acknowledges the obligation of developed nations to assist in promoting it in developing countries. Aid must also act as a catalyst to help nations adopt economic and social policies that facilitate private investment and trade flows.
Social stability rooted in democratic freedoms and sound governance is also critical. Action over the next five years must, therefore, seek to increase the capacity for private sector capital to promote sustainable development. In addition, there must be a global agreement on the significant subject of climatic change, and Australia continues to take important and innovative steps to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. Promoting the sustainable use of forest resources and the conservation of forests must also be made a priority in the next five years.
LUCIANO CIAVATTA, Minister for Territory, the Environment and Agriculture of San Marino: The solution to environmental problems demands resources that only economic development can supply. Socio-economic growth is bound to suffer if the well-being of mankind and natural resources are damaged by environmental degradation. National strategies aimed at integrating environmental issues into socio-economic growth are more successful when they involve a wide range of partners for implementation. Stopping human development is inconceivable; instead, development must be less destructive and more responsible.
Most environmental degradation comes from consumption and production patterns. Industrialized countries should develop new patterns of sustainable development. Developing countries should be provided with adequate assistance and appropriate financial support. Transfer of technology and eco-efficient
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socio-economic patterns are needed if developing countries are to develop in a sustainable manner. Despite San Marino's limited territory and the limits of its impact on the world economy, his country is actively participating in the implementation of Agenda 21. It is fostering awareness on environmental issues through innovative programmes.
SONG JIAN, State Counsellor of China: The economy of China had registered rapid growth in recent years, without significantly impacting the environment. In response to Agenda 21, China has undertaken holistic planning to coordinate the development of the economy, society, resources and the environment. Sustainable development has been integrated into the national economic and social development programme.
Since the Rio Conference, China has enjoyed annual economic growth of more than 10 per cent and has seen its poverty-stricken population decline from 80 million to 58 million. Population growth has been brought under control, forest coverage is increasing and a network of nature preserves has been established over 7.2 per cent of the national territory.
The consensus reached at Rio represented a fundamental change in the relationship of environmental protection and economic development. The concept of sustainable development had taken root in people's minds, permeating all areas of social and economic life. Environmental legislation inspired by Rio was being enacted by national legislatures, and useful international financial mechanisms were being developed for environmental protection. But the percentage of ODA to GNP was at its lowest level in 25 years. Some developed countries were engaging in trade protectionism under the pretext of environmental protection. In order to fully implement environmental protection, the gap between words and deeds should be closed.
JUAN GABITO-ZOBOLI, Vice-Minister for Environment of Uruguay: Environmental awareness has increased in all fields since the Rio Summit. Uruguay has previously reported on the progress it has made since 1992, and will now focus on the global situation. On such issues as climate change, degradation of natural resources and biodiversity, efforts at implementation continue to be inadequate. There is no evidence that the technical, material and financial resources previously devoted to warfare and aggression have been diverted to peaceful purposes and research for ecologically elevating ends.
Extreme poverty and lack of opportunity have to be addressed, and Uruguay stresses the need for a realistic approach to the concept of sustainable development. Uruguay is concerned that the agreement made by the developed economies to direct 0.7 per cent of their GNP to programmes involving environmental interest is not being fulfilled. It also has concerns over the uncertainty in fulfilling goals towards reducing the greenhouse effects by the year 2010. The basic human right to enjoy the bounties of
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nature must be exercised in equitable and global terms, with solidarity and responsibility.
UTULA U. SAMANA (Papua New Guinea): The spirit of partnership forged in Rio is undermined by "myopic" political visions and unilateral decisions. Continued industrial pollution, declining levels of overseas development, and unsustainable consumption and production patterns all hinder sustainable development. Papua New Guinea has taken real steps for environmental protection, including efforts to ban the transportation of hazardous and toxic wastes in the Pacific region. National laws have been passed to enhance environmental sustainability. Papua New Guinea calls on all States to help keeping the Pacific free from nuclear activities and supports the call of the small island developing States for help in the clean up of radioactive wastes left from colonial legacies.
As a member of the Alliance of Small Island States, Papua New Guinea is concerned by the lack of progress on climate change. Activities that threaten the global atmosphere and contribute to dangerous rises in sea levels threaten the existence of peoples throughout the world. Outstanding commitments from Rio should be fulfilled within prescribed time-limits. As a tropical timber country, Papua New Guinea calls for legally binding commitments on forests. A convention on forests should also have strong environmental provisions. Without commitment to protecting the global ecology and serious efforts to sustain ecological resources, the international community and its future generations are doomed.
ABDELKADER MESDOUA (Algeria): Although the industrialized countries committed themselves to a number of objectives in Rio, most have not lived up to those commitments. Some advocate the private sector as a panacea, but this cannot replace a system of international cooperation for development. The countries of the south have made great efforts and sacrifices which would have had greater impact with the collaboration of the countries of the north.
Despite economic and social difficulties, Algeria has established a number of institutions to ensure policies for sustainable development and their implementation. The rise in needs and the drop in financial resources has had a negative impact on these efforts.
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