GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD ALLEVIATION OF GLOBAL POVERTY ESSENTIAL IF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ARE TO BE REACHED

24 June 1997
GA/9266

GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD ALLEVIATION OF GLOBAL POVERTY ESSENTIAL IF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ARE TO BE REACHED

24 June 1997

Press ReleaseGA/9266 ENV/DEV/432

GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD ALLEVIATION OF GLOBAL POVERTY ESSENTIAL IF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ARE TO BE REACHED

19970624 Special Session Hears Statements from More Government Leaders, Environment Ministers, National and Agency Representatives

Without alleviating the extreme and increasing poverty that pervades the world, sustainable development is both unrealistic and impossible, the General Assembly was told by several speakers, as it resumed its nineteenth special session this afternoon. Poverty, it was said, precipitates social, political and economic instability; many environmental problems stem from the search for food and other poverty-related behaviours. The increasing scarcity of environmental resources, such as drinkable water, can lead to conflict if not halted through careful management and technological transfer, speakers warned.

Industrialized countries were said to have largely failed to meet the commitments they entered into through Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. While those commitments were made voluntarily, compliance had been grudging. Consumption and production patterns remained unsustainably high, while international assistance to developing countries had declined. Many countries stressed that implementation of Agenda 21 required financial resources for developing countries and technology-sharing.

Statements this afternoon were made by the Prime Ministers of Gabon, Benin, Singapore and Estonia, as well as the President of Guyana. The Vice- Presidents of El Salvador and Colombia also addressed the Assembly, as did the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and the Governor-General of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Also this afternoon, the Assembly heard statements by the Minister of the Environment and Tourism of Namibia; the Minister of the Environment, Science and Technology of Ghana; the Ministers of the Environment of Cote d'Ivoire, Slovakia and Luxembourg; the Minister of the Environment and Forests of India; the Minister of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry of Poland; the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia; the Chairman of the Delegation of Djibouti; the Permanent Representative to the United Nations of Turkey; the Chairman of the Observer Delegation of Palestine; the Executive Director the United Nations Environment Programme; and the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

The special session will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow to resume its general debate on the implementation of Agenda 21.

Special Session Work Programme

The nineteenth special session of the General Assembly resumed this afternoon, to continue its review of the implementation of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Statements

PAULIN OBAME NGUEMA, Prime Minister of Gabon: Gabon reaffirms its faith in the hopes of Rio five years ago. The partnership between the developed and the developing world in this endeavour confers certain shared responsibilities essential to the implementation of Agenda 21. Gabon is currently establishing standards and regulations according to the standards established in Rio. As a forest country, Gabon is trying to provide the best protection for its forests.

Rio reached the conclusion that development cannot be speeded up if the developing world remained burdened with debts. That remains true today. For the realization of the hopes of that summit, we must re-commit ourselves strongly to its principles and fulfil the commitments which we made. To attain the best wishes of that summit will continue to be more difficult if the resources for doing this continue to drop off. Agenda 21 is the only viable option for mankind.

ADRIEN HOUNGBEDJI, Prime Minister of Benin: The creation of the Benin Agency for the Environment reflected the influence of the Rio Conference. A partnership with the Government of Netherlands is undertaking many useful environmental projects. Concerted action by the international community is needed to combat the impact of desertification. Sustainable development requires the elimination of poverty. Over the next five years, Benin will work towards the protection of vulnerable groups and will combat desertification.

The financing of development is primarily a national responsibility, but the international community -- particularly the most developed members -- must do their share and honour their commitments. The assistance of Benin's development partners is very much appreciated. Sustainable development requires a long-term, global approach. Necessary decisions should be taken now at both the national and international level.

ENRIQUE BORGO-BUSTAMANTE, Vice President of El Salvador: Military activity in El Salvador has been replaced by political activity. Central America accepted the principle of sustainable development by establishing the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development. That effort is based

General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

upon equity and the participation of many different social sectors -- business, labour, academia, NGOs and political parties. El Salvador's civil society has responded to the challenge of sustainable development. The establishment of a Ministry of the Environment was a major government contribution to that effort.

Only a healthy, educated population can improve the quality of life in El Salvador. For that reason, a programme of "healthy schools" has been established by cooperation between students, teachers and parents. The Government of El Salvador is strengthening local capacities at the regional and local levels. It has ratified the conventions on biodiversity and on climate change, and the desertification convention is now before the national conference.

Over the past five years, El Salvador has addressed environmental problems through a series of initiatives assisted by international organizations and governments. Many countries had the political will and capacity to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for the purposes of official development assistance, but assistance has not been arriving as foreseen. International cooperation will allow the children of El Salvador to enjoy the fullness of life.

SAMUEL A. HINDS, President of Guyana: Global challenges must be addressed through joint and coordinated action. Small island States face particular difficulties. The Caribbean Sea has a direct impact on 25 Member States, and some 15 non-independent territories. The Caribbean Community has intensified its efforts for sustainable development. The international community should provide assistance in making the Caribbean Sea a nuclear-free zone, and also in making it a special area for sustainable management and development.

Guyana has been implementing Agenda 21 since 1992, the same year that the country restored democracy and began national reconstruction. But efforts to improve the lives of the Guyanese and protect the natural environment are constrained by the international climate. In 1989, Guyana voluntarily donated almost 1 million acres of its rainforests to the international community for study of systems of sustainable management. The Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme requires international support if it is to be implemented. Is less than 3 cents per acre an unreasonable investment by the international community to learn and develop models of sustainable development?

The unprecedented global levels of relative and absolute poverty have not been addressed. Globalization of the world economy is proceeding without appropriate safeguards for small developing economies. Regional development funds and non-reciprocal trading arrangements for such economies should be

General Assembly Plenary - 4 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

considered. The globalization of the world economy has also expanded expectations and aspirations worldwide. People in developing countries see through the media how those in developed countries live; this raises expectations. Living standards for persons in developing countries must be similar to those in the developed countries in the near future.

CARLOS LEMOS-SIMMONDS, Vice-President of Colombia: Underdevelopment generates social and economic instability. In the past five years, poverty has escalated. Economic and technological power is concentrated in a few countries and in a few hands. Problems of environment and development are global and therefore require a global response, with specific measures and commitments designed to benefit developing countries. Developed countries must direct additional financial resources to developing nations. Environmentally-sound technology must be transferred on preferential terms. A full 10 per cent of the world's biodiversity is located in Colombia. The Government has taken concrete actions to promote conservation and awareness at all levels.

Some 17 per cent of Colombia's forests has been designated as forest conservation areas. Similar initiatives by other countries are welcome. Effective compensation for the global services provided by forests must be accorded to those countries which provide those services.

The United Nations Environment Programme should be strengthened. Opening up trade is an indispensable supplement to, but not a substitute for, official cooperation. Markets do not replace political will and commitment. Trade liberalization and economic globalization do not guarantee resources for development. Developing countries must be relieved of the burden of their foreign debt. The amount and servicing of such debt must be brought to a sustainable level in order to allow developing countries to pursue economic recovery and sustainable growth. Private capital should be not be regarded as a panacea to achieve the inflow of resources required by Agenda 21. The international community must implement changes in consumption and production patterns. Technological and resource transference is of utmost importance. Special priority should be given to the eradication of poverty in developing countries.

GOH CHOK TONG, Prime Minister of Singapore: Since the Rio Summit, there has been a deeper awareness that countries must work together to meet the global problems that affect all people. Yet recognizing the problems does not guarantee their solution, and the "grand bargain" struck at Rio may unravel. Commitments made at Rio have not been fulfilled, and the political will to provide assistance that developing countries urgently need to implement Agenda 21 is weakening. Many industrialized countries are struggling to restructure their economies while coping with slow growth and high unemployment. Global

General Assembly Plenary - 5 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

environmental problems seem remote to many of their citizens, who are more concerned with perceived threats to their standard of living.

The South correctly feels that sacrificing growth will only perpetuate injustice. Furthermore, developing countries believe it is unreasonable that they are required to address long-term environmental problems at the expense of immediate needs. It is unfair to expect the poor to bear the main costs of reducing global environmental risks, especially when most of those risks are attributable to past actions by the most affluent countries. Singapore defines itself as being between the developed and developing worlds. While its economy has relatively sophisticated service and industrial sectors, Singapore is more vulnerable than most to unfavourable external developments. Environmental interdependence is a stark and inescapable reality, and a concerted and continuing international effort is needed.

Singapore has announced domestic programme on technical assistance for sustainable development aimed at sharing Singapore's experience with other countries from the developing world. The programme focuses on training of officials in the areas of urban planning, park management and transportation. Singapore hopes that this programme will help developing countries implement some aspects of Agenda 21, and it offers the programme as a tangible token of its seriousness to promote greater cooperation in sustainable development.

MART SIIMAN, Prime Minister of Estonia: For Estonia, the environmental aspects of Agenda 21 have been the easiest to implement. In the economic sector, changes have occurred at a slower pace as they are dependent on the privatization process and on the availability of investment capital. The most difficult and complicated element has been the social agenda, which requires a fully stabilized economy. In that respect, Estonia's transition period has not yet ended. It will not be possible to implement the principles of the sustainable development programme without international cooperation. Since the Rio Summit, Estonia has joined a number of international organizations dealing with sustainable development and the environment. Because of limited resources, Estonia attaches the highest priority to its responsibilities under conventions already ratified and has not signed as many international agreements as possible.

Estonia has also been active at the sub-regional level, most notably at the Council of Baltic States. The Baltic Region Agenda 21 programme should identify specific sustainable development goals, assess the progress made towards those goals and indicate areas where improvement is necessary. The final result should be a sustainable development strategy for the Baltic region that identified goals, means, and methods as well as timetables and financing proposals.

General Assembly Plenary - 6 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

Estonia's experience in implementing sustainable development measures shows that it is indeed possible for countries in transition -- from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy -- to preserve the environment and reduce the burden of pollution in all economic sectors, including agriculture, thereby fulfilling the requirements set forth in Agenda 21.

CUTHBERT SEBASTIAN, Governor-General of St. Kitts and Nevis: The object of the special session is to consolidate collective efforts and to concentrate on developing a more pragmatic and mutually beneficial relationship so that, in the years ahead, the international community can tack the problems already identified in previous conferences and at the national level. The results of previous conferences are obvious reminders of the power of collective strategizing, and the central role for the United Nations in amicably wedding the interests of its member. Innovative strategies that encourage the flow of resources to the South must be devised in order to accelerate sustainable development in poorer countries.

The review and appraisal of Agenda 21 is about real change. That means the integration of economics and the environment and reflects new consumption and production patterns; it means a closer monitoring of environmental performance and encourages greater cooperation in development, and it also suggests pragmatic and close scrutiny of sectoral issues, including energy, transport, toxic chemicals, hazards of nuclear energy and its transshipment, urbanization, biotechnology and education.

Sustainable development demands that the international community attack the root causes of poverty and commit to its eradication. The alleviation of poverty in any given society is a long-term investment in a civil and productive society, and it contributes to sustainable peace, justice and progress of humankind. The developing world requires a reinvigorated commitment to education and a cohesive approach to agriculture and poverty. By eradicating poverty, people are empowered so they can better protect and improve their health and are made more able to acquire improved housing and a richer quality of life.

GERT HANEKOM, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Namibia: Development does not mean achieving a certain gross national product (GNP) or per capita income. Rich countries with unsustainable production and consumption patterns, impoverished biodiversity and high pollution levels are inappropriate role models for sustainable development. Sadly, however, lifestyles based on high levels of consumption are what poor nations aspire to achieve. Namibia's priorities are to eradicate poverty and halt environmental degradation. Conditions for sustainable development include peace, security, democracy and human rights. The legacy of Namibia's past is apparent in its

General Assembly Plenary - 7 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

socio-economic indicators: about 5 per cent of the population earns 70 per cent of the income.

The international community must create an enabling environment to complement the national efforts of developing countries. International priorities must be eco-efficiency, access to environmentally-friendly technology and changing patterns of unsustainable consumption and production. International trade practices must support sound environmental management and not undermine it, as subsidies often do. The commitments made at Rio by the industrialized countries for development assistance must be realized. A charter of global ethics should be developed in support of sustainable development. Millions of people live in abject poverty in degraded environments. Local, national and international efforts to fight poverty and rehabilitate the environment are investments in a better future.

JOHN AFFUL, Minister for the Environment, Science and Technology, Ghana: Ghana's development strategy is based on three pillars of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental. The programme is human- centred and relies on coordination between governmental agencies. Recognizing that many environmental problems are the result of poverty, Ghana places great importance on poverty eradication. Its Government's efforts in this regard have been constrained by inadequate financial, human and institutional resources.

The global environment is no better now than it was in Rio five years ago, primarily because commitments made in Rio largely remain unfulfilled, particularly those pertaining to pollution emissions, unsustainable production and consumption patterns, provision of adequate financial resources, technical assistance and the transfer of environmentally-sound technologies. The outcome of this special review session should address poverty, external debt, financial resources for developing countries, market access for exports, capacity-building and technology transfer. The best way to ensure implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification is to establish a global financial mechanism, similar to the Global Environment Facility, to generate financial resources. A forest convention requires further consideration, given the divergent positions taken by various parties.

ALBERT KAKOU TIAPANI, Minister of the Environment of Cote d'Ivoire: The national plan for the environment in Cote d'Ivoire has been charged with follow-up to Agenda 21, as well as to environmental conventions and agreements signed since Rio. The plan is also charged with monitoring and evaluating environmental impact and information campaigns. A new code on the environment has established a legal framework for environmental management. There is a new network of national parks and wildlife and other reserves. More than 1,500,000 hectares of forest reserves are being managed jointly with local

General Assembly Plenary - 8 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

farmers. An integrated management plan is being drafted for coastal communities.

The international community should mainstream environmental concerns, and commit to changing consumption and production patterns. Aid and assistance structures should be restructured with new emphasis on specific areas. The capacity of developing countries to reduce poverty should be enhanced through education, training and outreach.

SAIFUDDIN SOZ, Minister of Environment and Forests, India: In Rio, the international community recognized that meeting the environmental objectives in Agenda 21 would place onerous burdens on developing countries. A framework was created for assistance by the international community to complement and support efforts of those nations. Many developing countries, at considerable cost to themselves, have since implemented local versions of Agenda 21. In India, a legislative framework is in place to implement the commitments undertaken at Rio. At the international level, progress has been less encouraging. The intergovernmental panel on forests has done commendable work, and while a convention would be premature, the panel's recommendations should be enhanced. India endorses the sound management of chemicals. It is imperative that access to relevant technologies on preferential terms, as well as capacity-building, be built into any international action.

The major issue at this special session is the failure of industrialized countries to fulfil their international commitments to assist developing countries. There is an effort to erode the framework for partnership built at Rio, notably the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, by prescribing equal obligations and liabilities on unequal players. India will not accept a renegotiation of Agenda 21 through introduction of new issues. Some of these issues, such as labour standards or the relationship between trade and the environment, do not enjoy international consensus. It is a matter of grave concern that this forum is being used to distort the mandate of bodies such as the World Trade Organization by seeking to use environmental considerations as trade barriers. The task is to review and accelerate implementation of Agenda 21. Emphasis must be placed on time-bound commitments by industrialized countries for resource and technology transfer on non-commercial terms.

JOZEF ZLOCHA, Minister of the Environment of Slovakia: As a small country in the heart of Europe and independent for only five years, Slovakia is gradually tackling the problems related to economic transformation, changes in the social sector and redemption of past environmental damage. One year after UNCED, we adopted a strategy of state environmental policy, followed in 1996 by the first national environment plan. The right to protection of the environment and health was included as a basic right in the Constitution.

General Assembly Plenary - 9 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

Slovakia has acceded to most of the multilateral international conventions with an environmental orientation. During the last five years it has succeeded in remarkably reducing the emissions of pollutants, producing less waste and promoting its utilization as secondary raw material.

As for the ongoing unfavourable changes of environment all over the world and the need to ensure sustainable development in all countries, Slovakia reconfirms the general validity of the provisions of Agenda 21. The position of the Commission on Sustainable Development in the United Nations system should be strengthened so as to ensure the development, adoption and implementation of the world sustainable development strategy and the Earth Charter for the third millennium.

STANISLAW ZELICHOWSKI, Minister of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry of Poland: One year before the Rio Conference, Poland had integrated environmental and economic policy into a national environmental policy. That policy aims to implement the Agenda 21 principles at the national level. In the period 1994 to 1996, Poland's economy grew at an annual rate of 6 per cent, while energy consumption grew by a mere 2 per cent, and the total emission of gases grew by 3 per cent. During that period Poland's discharge of untreated waste water was reduced by half and the total volume of solid waste generated and disposed of decreased by almost 30 per cent per year.

Poland was managing its environmental policies with instruments operating on the "polluter pays" principle. Environmental investment and non- investment, education, forest protection, nature conservation and research have also played an important role. Environmental expenditures have grown by more than 300 per cent during the period 1990 to 1997. Stable economic and environmental policies make Poland an increasingly attractive destination for foreign investment.

SAMAK SUNDARAVEJ, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand: Thailand became the first developing country to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerator manufacturing and to use trade measures to protect the atmospheric environment. Thailand has found that technology transfer is essential in the drive for sustainable development and the maintenance of the environment, and the transformation from chlorofluorocarbons usage is a good example of this. Necessary or appropriate technology should be made accessible and affordable to any country with the national will to face the necessary sacrifices in transferring technology. For most countries, environmental as well as economic programmes cannot be implemented due to the lack of funding. Thailand is fortunate to be able to self-finance part of its programmes under Agenda 21, but many other developing countries are not in a

General Assembly Plenary - 10 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

position to begin implementing Agenda 21 without the necessary funding through official development assistance (ODA).

While countries must go through different phases in the pursuit of implementation of Agenda 21, they cannot do it alone. Relevant United Nations bodies, particularly the Global Environment Facility, should assist developing nations perform their tasks, especially in dealing with the monitoring and studying of lessons learned, in order to accelerate the implementation at the regional and international levels.

Thailand expects the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to play a more significant role in facilitating close cooperation with the Commission on Sustainable Development. The roles and resources of UNEP can be strengthened to enable it to oversee and coordinate regional cooperation in various parts of the world in a more meaningful fashion.

JOHNY LAHURE, Minister of the Environment, Luxembourg: The world faces deforestation, global warming, animal and plant extinction and a growing population. The survival of mankind depends upon truly global sustainable development forged by solidarity between industrialized and developing nations. Luxembourg believes that the proportion of the world living in poverty should be halved by 2015. By the year 2000, Luxembourg intended to provide ODA equivalent to 0.7 per cent of its gross national product. Industrialized countries must become "pioneers", forging a new path to eco- improvement and increased resource productivity.

At the Kyoto conference in December, Luxembourg would commit to a reduction of emissions by 15 percent by 2010 and of greenhouse gases by 7.5 per cent by 2005. Luxembourg also supported the drafting of a global agreement on forests and a global agreement on freshwater. Luxembourg wanted to increase the environmental component of international development cooperation, including technology transfer and capacity-building. Only political will on the part of all countries, and on the part of all socio- economic sectors within those countries, could ensure responsible global cooperation on the environment.

VARTAN OSKANIAN, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Armenia: During the 1992 Rio Summit, Armenia's independence was less than a year old. Despite the severity and urgency of a wide range of economic, social and political issues facing the country, environmental issues and concerns were never given a back seat on Armenia's development agenda. Its government, right after independence, launched broad macro-economic reforms aimed at attaining sustainability, by changing the incentives available to individuals and institutions.

General Assembly Plenary - 11 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

For a small country like Armenia, without many natural resources, the safety and protection of human and environmental resources becomes even more crucial. Armenia's accession to various international agreements and conventions is due as much to its willingness to join the international network of environmental advocates as it is to demonstrate its internal, integrated approach to economic and social growth and sustainability. National policies and fulfilment of international obligations should be conducted in a way that foster and ensure overall positive global trends. The United Nations system has a key role in defining priorities, disseminating relevant information and implementing global and regional agreements and international initiatives that facilitate the long and slow process of building sustainable development.

ROBLE OLHAYE, Djibouti: Hardly any commitments made at Rio have been complied with. Forests are disappearing, oceans are being over-fished, agricultural lands are being over-farmed and greenhouse gas emissions are rising. Developing countries have taken serious steps to restructure their economies, but developed countries have not altered their unsustainable patterns of consumption and development.

The special session of the General Assembly should provide a renewed commitment for enhanced ODA. The developing world has been disappointed by the declining levels of international cooperation. Only five developed countries have attained an ODA level of 0.7 per cent of GNP. Djibouti is plagued by expanding deserts which have reduced the amount of agriculturally viable land and diminished freshwater resources. This, in turn, has generated refugees, which now comprise 10 per cent of the national population.

HUSEYIN E. CELEM of Turkey: During the last five years, our initial predictions concerning sustainable development have been justified, in so far as this process has proven to be a very complex endeavour embodying all aspects of human life and requiring awareness and active participation at all levels. Turkey has striven to play a leading role in several regional activities related to the implementation of Agenda 21 in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and central Asia. With the financial contribution of the European Union, Turkey is in the process of creating a "national environment and development observatory", to ensure sustainable development at the national level.

In terms of the implementation of the Turkish national environment action plan, priority has been given to water management. Concerning forestry, which is crucial for sustainable development, Turkey will host the Eleventh World Forestry Congress later this year. It is encouraging that the City Summit -- Habitat II -- held in Istanbul last year, has begun to generate

General Assembly Plenary - 12 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

new momentum on urban policies and shelter issues. Political will and sacrifices are needed to put life into the goals set by Agenda 21.

SAEB EREKAT, Chairman of the Observer Delegation of Palestine: Since the Rio Conference in 1992, there have been certain achievements and progress with regard to the implementation of Agenda 21 in several fields on national, regional and international levels. However, the situation of the international environment continues to deteriorate, poverty is on the rise and the gap between developing and industrialized nations is widening. The majority of developing nations are still in need of international aid to help them in sustainable development and, in this regard, developing nations have voiced their disappointment regarding the commitment of industrialized nations in transferring technology, and providing an increase in ODA which has drastically decreased in 1992.

Wars and armed conflicts prevent the attainment of economic, social and human development and directly contribute to the destruction of the environment and the depletion of natural, financial and human resources. The continuation of foreign occupation and the resulting denial of the basic rights of peoples under occupation and the exploitation of their natural resources all result in the destruction of the social and economic environment of occupied territories. The Palestinian people have suffered from such a situation and still continue to suffer from the mentality and policies of the Israeli occupation. It is unreasonable for the international community to allow Israel to continue its intransigent stance. The Palestinian people look forward to the day when they, in their own independent state, can undertake their roles and responsibilities in the implementation of Agenda 21 like other nations of the world.

ELIZABETH DOWDESWELL, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Five years after Rio, humanity is using up renewable resources such as freshwater, urban air, forests and soils, faster than they can be replaced. Some 1.7 billion people -- more than one third of the world's population -- are without supplies of clean water. Acid rain and transboundary air pollution are now seen in Asia and in Latin America, in addition to Europe. And degradation of dry lands places 1 billion people at risk in 110 countries. Global warming is not being arrested even though its effects are being seen decades earlier than expected.

The UNEP can be helpful on all the priorities now being discussed by governments -- a global strategy on energy, reinvigorated action on freshwater, continued momentum on oceans and a global agreement on forests. While global trade liberalization could provide many benefits, it also fosters the growth of production and consumption. A truly global society demands that environmental and social cooperation be equal to global economic competition.

General Assembly Plenary - 13 - Press Release GA/9266 Nineteenth Special Session ENV/DEV/432 4th Meeting (PM) 24 June 1997

For governments to arrest poverty and environmental decline, they must work together. If global competition drives down environmental standards, global cooperation must be used to build them back up again.

THILO BODE, Executive Director, Greenpeace International: Many conditions have worsened since Rio, and at accelerating rates of decline. Glaciers are melting, forests are retreating, the sea is running out of fish, children are poisoned with persistent organic pollutants and nuclear waste is accumulating to the peril of future generations. As carbon emissions increase, the earth is "running out of sky".

While the majority of nations in the 1992 Climate Convention committed to "prevent dangerous interference" with the global climate, the situation continues to deteriorate. Sea levels are rising, the frequency of extreme weather conditions which cause billions of dollars in damages continues and all the while carbon dioxide emissions increase. Under the Convention, industrialized countries must cut their carbon emissions by one fifth to 1990 levels, by 2005. Unless the United States, which consumes twice as much energy per capita as the rest of the industrialized world, takes the first step, it will fail the test of leadership.

While the Convention on Biological Diversity is a magnificent document, animals and plants could not live in a treaty. How can the wealthy countries of the world demand the preservation of rainforests in Amazonia, Congo and Papua New Guinea, when Canada and the United States are destroying their last remaining rainforests on the Pacific coast? While Germany proposes the creation of a new environmental bureaucracy, it subsidizes fossil fuels with billions of dollars. Real leadership is required of developed countries, but because of their actions, they lack credibility.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of right of reply, VENUSTE HABIYAREMYE, representative of Rwanda: At this morning's session, a non-governmental organization representative claimed to speak on behalf of an international network of indigenous persons, including an ethnic group in Rwanda. But the peoples of Rwanda spoke a single language and shared a single nation. No part of the Rwandan population lived in forest areas, as the non-governmental organization representative claimed; all were living in towns and agricultural villages.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.