GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD MAN-MADE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS HAVE REACHED HIGHEST CONCENTRATIONS IN 200,000 YEARS

26 June 1997
GA/9271

GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD MAN-MADE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS HAVE REACHED HIGHEST CONCENTRATIONS IN 200,000 YEARS

26 June 1997

Press ReleaseGA/9271 ENV/DEV/437

GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD MAN-MADE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS HAVE REACHED HIGHEST CONCENTRATIONS IN 200,000 YEARS

19970626 United States President among Speakers as Special Session Continues Review of Rio Conference Recommendations on Environment and Development

Human beings are changing the global climate, producing concentrations of greenhouse gases at their highest levels in 200,000 years, President William Clinton of the United States told the General Assembly this evening, as the Assembly continued its special session reviewing the recommendations of the 1992 Rio Conference on environment and development. He said that if current trends continue, global sea levels will rise by two feet in the next century, flooding 9,000 square miles of coastal areas in the United States, 17 per cent of Bangladesh, and wiping island groups such as the Maldives off the map. Climate changes would also disrupt agriculture, cause drought and cause 50 million additional cases of malaria per year. Also this afternoon, the Assembly was told that political crises and military action often have negative impacts on the environment. The destruction of civilian infrastructure in Iraq had led to rising rates of infant mortality; the occupation of Arab lands by Israel had included the seizure of freshwater resources; in Sierra Leone, civil war had ravaged the environment, and the political uprising in Albania had allowed a rise in criminality and the abuse of forestry resources. In Libya, land-mines planted when foreign Powers used the territory as an arena for war a generation ago still prevented agricultural development. Peace and political stability were integral components of sustainable development, the Assembly was told. Taking part in the general debate this afternoon were the President of the United States; the Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic; the Vice- Minister of the Presidency of Panama; the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq; the Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia; the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya; the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Albania; the Minister of Agriculture of Qatar; the representatives of Syria, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Andorra. There were also statements from representatives of Libya, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and representatives of the World Sustainable Agricultural Association and of Peace Child International. The Assembly will continue its general debate at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 27 June.

Special Session Work Programme

The General Assembly's special session on the implementation of the recommendations from the 1992 conference in Rio de Janeiro on environment and development resumed this afternoon. The five-day session, in which many world leaders have taken part, ends tomorrow.

Statements

JIRI SKALICKY, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment, Czech Republic: The Rio conference in 1992, was an important milestone in the global awareness of the need for close and effective international cooperation on the road to sustainable development. However, the progress made since then is far from satisfactory. The Czech Republic, being a new member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and a country associated with the European Union, would like to gradually change its status from a recipient to a donor country, as well as to launch its own programme of technical assistance. We are ready and able to assist developing countries on many environmental issues.

Despite severe problems in the course of transition towards democracy and a market economy, we have achieved significant progress in reducing pollution, and the action in this area now is guided by a comprehensive State environmental policy adopted in 1995. Implementation is the key word of today and we will have to move from pure rhetoric to concrete action. We would like to play an active role in developing and testing an appropriate set of indicators, which would enable us to measure more precisely and in a comparable way the changes and progress of selected environmental issues in the field of sustainable development.

OSCAR CEVILLE, Vice Minister of the Presidency of Panama: Over the past five years Panama has worked with the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development as a means of ordering priorities and strategies. Panama joins the World Trade Organization in believing that trade should be environmentally sound without trade barriers or favouritism.

With a dynamic vision of sustainable development, Panama is carrying out its plans within a local and international framework. At the institutional level, Panama has created a sustainable development commission to promote and coordinate progressive improvement in the lives of Panamanians. Poverty eradication is a development priority.

In an effort to preserve biological diversity, Panama has modernized its national system of protected reserves which comprise some 25 per cent of the national territory. At the same time, the national Government has created indigenous reserves, guaranteeing the rights of the inhabitants to their land and culture.

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TARIQ AZIZ, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq: Five years after the Rio conference, no substantial steps have been taken to reach goals which it established. On the contrary, attempts are being taken to marginalize and isolate developing countries through various modalities, such as depriving them of their resources, obstructing their scientific and technological development and withholding environmentally clean technology. Certain developed countries are reluctant to fulfil their obligations and resort to coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic intimidation.

The 1991 military operations against Iraq, led by the United States, were aimed primarily at destroying infrastructure related to the health and living conditions of the civilian population. The bombardments stopped services relating to the provision of potable water, sewerage, heavy water treatment plants, irrigation and drainage systems. The destruction of power plants and factories has led to a greater dependence upon wood as a fuel source and to the release of various toxic wastes and gases into the natural environment. The continuing embargo on Iraq is preventing the restoration of public services due to a lack of spare parts.

In some regions of the country, only 50 per cent of the population has potable drinking water. The use of depleted uranium artillery shells by the forces of the United States in military operations has resulted in mysterious medical cases of malformation, bone deformities, skin diseases and increased rates of leukaemia among children. American forces destroyed chemical weapons depots, releasing chemical contamination over populated areas. Infant mortality rates in Iraq increased from 25 to 95 per thousand live births between 1990 and 1995. The "oil for food" arrangements have not yet led to a tangible improvement of the situation due to the suspension of a large number of the contracts for food, medicine and civilian needs.

LJERKA MINTAS-HODAK, Deputy Prime Minister, Croatia: At the time of the Rio conference, Croatia was facing an imposed war, which caused severe economic and environmental damage. Croatia's development is linked with its geographic location, its transition economy, and its attempts to recover from the war. Croatia's natural environment is tremendously diverse; its problems cannot be addressed in isolation. Some 85 per cent of the pollution which threatens Croatia's soils, forests and littoral karst come from external sources. Regionalization is an important method of implementing Agenda 21 because it addresses problems unique to each region.

Croatia's stringent domestic legislation prohibits the import of dangerous waste products. Local initiatives for environmental protection are increasing. In the economic sphere, several innovative measures have been implemented, including the formation of a business council whose members agreed to adopt a charter on sustainable development. Firmly committed to the Rio principles, Croatia supports the establishment of a mechanism, based on

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the "polluter pays" principle, to address cross-border pollution and regulating compensation.

STEPHEN KALONZO MUSYOKA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kenya: Since the Rio summit, the environment has become increasingly vulnerable to degradation due to unprecedented conflicts, poverty, disease and natural disasters. Poverty causes environmental degradation. Unsustainable production and consumption continue in developed countries, and similar patterns are emerging in developing countries. The international community, and industrialized countries in particular, should provide technological know-how to developing countries.

In Africa, desertification and drought threaten the lives of people, animals and the environment. Kenya ratified the three sustainable development conventions. The international community must implement the commitments contained within these conventions. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) needs to be revitalized and strengthened through the streamlining of its administrative and financial management. Both UNEP and Habitat suffer from inadequate funding and under-utilization. It is difficult, therefore, to imagine how a new world environmental organization could be established, as has been suggested. Among other domestic efforts for environmental protection, Kenya is introducing environmental education to the curriculum of its schools.

ARJAN STAROVA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albania: The special session of the General Assembly confirms that there is political will to deal with the problems of clean water, climate change and deforestation, but the international community needed to manifest that will by adopting binding legal instruments. The Agenda 21 principles for sustainable development have become guidelines of Albanian policy towards economic, social and environmentally sound solutions. National laws are dedicated to such issues as biodiversity, forestry, hunting, fishing, hazardous waste and water.

Albania's first national plan of action on the environment was established by the Council of Ministers in 1994 to define concrete tasks and set out long-term strategy. Despite a lack of tradition in the environmental area, Albania has witnessed the establishment of more than 40 non-governmental organizations which increase public awareness and work with State institutions. The current security situation in Albania has allowed criminal actions which damaged forestry and other natural resources. Albania appreciated the Security Council authorization of the Multinational Protection Force in Albania and the extension of its mandate through its resolution 1114 (1997).

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ALI BIN SAEED AL-KHAYAREEN, Minister of Agriculture, Qatar: The State of Qatar has strengthened the mandates of its environmental bodies and modernized its environmental legislation. Qatar has developed a strategy for dealing with hazardous industrial waste and has established environmental safety as an important criterion for starting any industrial project in the country.

The international community should pay special attention to those affected by the implementation of measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and to those developing countries that are highly dependent on income generated from the production, processing and export of oil, as recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Developed countries should shoulder their historic responsibilities by honouring their financial commitments. A unified legal mechanism for the protection of the environment should be developed to integrate the provisions of international conventions into national legislation. Environmental awareness should be promoted in education and the role of the private sector in development should be enhanced.

MIKHAIL WEHBE, Syria: The children of the Israeli-occupied areas should speak up so that the international community knows of the grave dangers faced by Arabs under Israeli occupation. If one State is allowed to expropriate the land of another, what is the meaning of the term "environment". Israel has confiscated Palestinian land and continues to build settlements after uprooting Palestinians, burning their fields and seizing their water. Israel is imposing economic seige upon Arabs and attempting to destroy the environment, and alter the demographic composition of their land.

Israel produces nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons. It continues to refuse to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), persisting in its nuclear weapons programme outside the safeguards of international administration. Israel has buried some 52 tons of industrial, nuclear and chemical waste in the occupied territories. Man has a right to live in a healthy environment; the international community should pressure Israel to put an end to those practices in the occupied territories.

Syria is attempting to bring its national legislation into line with the goals of Agenda 21 and is carrying out environmental impact statements on new projects. A new waste water treatment plant was in place in Damascus, and new plants will be built in each of the country's Governorates. A new National Environmental Law was being drafted with a view to addressing environmental challenges.

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SADYK SAFAEV, Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan participates actively in implementing United Nations projects for sustainable development and environmental protection. Strengthening democratic institutions, stabilizing the economy, and expanding international cooperation are all parts of building a culture of sustainable development. Uzbekistan today faces challenges of structural economic reconstruction and economic progress, as well as sustainable development. It has just freed itself from a social and economic system characterized by a predatory approach to the environment. Central Asia is a zone of potential ecological disaster. Desertification and salinization are increasing. Water shortages are becoming ever more critical. Radioactive waste stocks, located primarily along rivers leading to towns and villages, are a great danger.

The demise of the Aral Sea is one of the most serious ecological catastrophes in the history of mankind. In the course of one generation, the international community witnessed the death of a whole sea, which was originally one of the planet's biggest land-locked water reservoirs. The Aral Sea is now two lakes with shores far from the original coastlines. Its mineral levels have increased dramatically, with tremendous impact on the region and its inhabitants. While international organizations and Central Asian governments have taken action, international assistance is now required to save the Aral Sea. Peace and security are the obligatory preconditions of sustainable development. Central Asia should be free of nuclear weapons.

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA, Turkmenistan: The dimensions of global environmental degradation require concerted action by the United Nations and by each State. Turkmenistan has adopted some environmentally sound legislation, and ratified the main package of international conventions and treaties dealing with environmental issues. Plans are under way to develop a network of protected areas. All Turkmenistan's domestic efforts require enormous financial resources. The country's territory is 80 per cent desert; addressing desertification is a matter of urgency.

Developed donor countries play an important role in implementing Agenda 21. We support initiatives of countries offering to share new technologies. A universal and uniform legislative instrument for environmental protection is needed. Such a mechanism must address the responsibilities of polluters. Life has demonstrated more than once that an environmental problem today can become a catastrophe tomorrow. Joint scientific studies are needed, to form the basis for establishing national programmes. For example, use of the Caspian Sea should be based on scientific assessment. There is need for a coordinated programme to eliminate the Aral Sea crisis and improve the region's environment.

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JULI MINOVES-TRIQUELL, Andorra: Enhanced education is necessary to raise awareness of the environment and to develop values like international solidarity. Many delegations have discussed the difficulties in implementing the goals of Agenda 21. Some States lacked the ability to entirely cease the polluting of the environment, but there was no excuse whatever for denying education to the youth. Education must be made an essential part of the legacy of Agenda 21.

Environmental protection is an international challenge. If there is no rain in the Pyrenees, there will be no water in Andorra. The Government of Andorra participates in the Environmental Commission of the Pyrenees task force. Water is an indispensable resource and will be a central concern for the twenty-first century. Andorra has constructed sanitation plants and considered the preservation of forests and water systems as a focus of the national environmental effort.

ABUZED OMAR DORDA, Libya: Poverty is no longer an environmental problem. It has become an adjective, a label. Desertification is no longer a danger but a qualifier. Drought is no longer a temporary, seasonal phenomenon, but a continued state. Marine pollution has greatly shrunk the possibilities of exploiting marine resources. Mines planted in our land when foreigners used it as an arena for their wars made it impossible for the land to be arable. Epidemics and endemic diseases resulting from environmental backwardness destroy the lives of people. Ignorance, which is the root cause of all environmental problems, is still predominant.

Libya calls for the following: intensification of sea water research; intensification of research and studies to develop varieties of plants capable of withstanding drought; and new irrigation technologies at a reasonable cost. Cheap pumps that can operate on solar and wind energy should be developed. New crop varieties that can withstand higher degrees of salinity are needed. The problems of the cultural environment which is now being polluted both from the surface of the earth and from outer space should be addressed with a view to ending the imposition of the culture of the strong and rich on the deep- rooted cultures of the rest of humanity.

KIM HYONG U, Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Since the Rio summit, active efforts have been implemented to achieve sustainable development at the national, regional and international levels. Economic growth, social progress and environmental protection are inseparable from sustainable development. Developing countries have been marginalized from the mainstream economy and the gap between developed and developing countries is widening. Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and the issue of external debt have not been dealt with in such a manner as to promote sustainable development.

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Agenda 21 can only be implemented if the international community develops a sense of common responsibilities. Governments should accept that conditions vary among countries; political commitments should be flexibly translated into action. The transfer of environmentally sound technology on preferential terms, and the allocation of resources, are essential to overall implementation of the Rio Declaration and of Agenda 21. The heavy external debt burden of least developed countries should be lifted. Programmes of the United Nations system, including those financed by the Global Environment Facility, should be provided with sufficient resources for effectively implementing Agenda 21.

ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA, Sudan: Only five States were providing 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) for official development assistance (ODA) Developed States continued to increase their production of carbon dioxide. They have not transferred environmentally-friendly technology and used environmental pretexts to keep their markets closed to developing countries' exports. African States are being forgotten and marginalized. ODA -- the backbone of development in Africa -- is declining while developed countries compel Africa to open its markets.

The repayment of international debt consumes fully 30 per cent of African exports. People have a right to dignity, housing, food security and health. Those rights could only be realized with international cooperation. The Government of the Sudan is very concerned with the environment and was among one of the first States to ratify the Convention to Combat Desertification. The Sudan created a Ministry of the Environment with branches in all its provinces; the National Assembly enacted a comprehensive national environment law to bring the country into line with international standards and practices.

ELDAR KOULIEV, Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan's commitment to sustainable development is not abstract. It comes in the light of harsh environmental realities brought about by decades of rapacious exploitation of the country's rich natural resources. The economic structure imposed on Azerbaijan by the totalitarian Soviet system resulted in a stunning fact: by the beginning of 1997, almost 4 million tons of extremely toxic waste had been accumulated in his small country with its population of 7.5 million. Today, the Caspian Sea's unique bio-resources, including sturgeon stock, are on the verge of disappearing. At the end of the 1980s, 15,000 tons of oil and oil products, 20,000 tons of mineral acids, 800 tons of dissolved iron, and 500 tons of phenols were poured into sea. Air pollution and land degradation are at critical levels. Azerbaijan's territory is affected by water and wind erosion, as well as salinization. On preserving the Caspian Sea's fish stock, his nation is only one of five that catch sturgeon. International policies are therefore required.

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Armed aggression from Armenia, from 1991 to 1994, resulted in thousands of deaths in his country, loss of territory and a crisis of displaced persons. The repercussions of that aggression remain the main obstacle for improving environmental conditions. Despite challenges, his Government has taken actions to support environmental protection. It is elaborating laws regarding rational use of resources, and has signed bilateral and multilateral agreements on environmental cooperation. Azerbaijan is once again optimistic about the future. Huge oil riches in the Caspian Sea can be developed in a manner that aims to avoid repetitions of yesterday's mistakes.

RASHID ALIMOV, Tajikistan: In the five years since the Rio Summit, obvious changes have taken place in the substance and dynamics of the phenomenon of development. For some States, these were years of successful economic growth and improving social conditions. In others, the lack of peaceful conditions did not allow advancement towards sustainable development, and, therefore, they could not completely implement the recommendations of Agenda 21. In Tajikistan, because of the civil conflict that swept the country, such important tasks as integrating social and environment conservation goals with economic plans and programmes, and the introduction of new approaches towards securing ecologically sound development, have faded into the background.

Tajikistan hopes that future efforts at implementing the decisions of the conference in Rio will give priority attention to such issues as ensuring sustainable power engineering, transportation, agriculture, and supplies of fresh water. Due to the geographical location of our country, we deem it important to continue the efforts at early identification of environmental emergencies and fast elimination of their consequences.

NASTE CALOVSKI, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Macedonia is a beautiful country on the Balkan Peninsula. Our obligation is to see that our development is sustainable and that our environment remains protected from pollution and other dangers, because the country does not belong to the present generation alone, but to future generations as well. The special aim of this session is to reaffirm the commitments of Rio and to make solemn pledges that they will be implemented in the years to come.

We have adopted a national environmental action plan, a tool to credibly follow a sustainable policy and to keep our environment healthy and our country beautiful. The development of Macedonia also depends on the situation in the region, as well as the pace with which European integration proceeds. To achieve progress on these points, international cooperation is essential. The Balkan countries must become, as soon as possible, part of European integration. "The best investments in the Balkans is its Europeanization, not Balkanization."

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JACQUES DIOUF, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): The Earth Summit gave a strong jolt to reflection and action to ensure sustainable development and environmental conservation. An irreversible change in outlook was required to address the major challenges of the twenty- first century. With these challenges in mind, the FAO restructured itself and formed a Sustainable Development Department, thus ensuring that the future perspective would be integral to the policies and projects of the sectoral departments of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and economic and social affairs. As Task Manager for four chapters of Agenda 21, the FAO, in collaboration with its partners, has refocused its policies, programmes and projects with member nations.

In addition to its specific responsibilities for those chapters of Agenda 21, the FAO also plays a key role, alongside its partners, in other areas crucial to food security and the environment. These include the definition and implementation of rational policies for the utilization of water; the drafting and adoption of a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries for the sustainable use of marine resources; work on the renewable energy needed for agricultural production and processing; and collaboration with the partners of the Climate Agenda and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The FAO is convinced that the food requirements of the world's population can be met for decades to come, under systems of sustainable development, if appropriate measures are taken here and now to build national economic environments conducive to investment in the primary sector, and if international solidarity will act to give the least privileged rural populations control over water resources and access to effective technologies, modern inputs, credit and markets.

FAWZI H. AL-SULTAN, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): Since Rio, three important international conventions on environmental issues have entered into force and several sectoral programmes agreed. Many countries have elaborated national programmes based on Agenda 21 while multilateral institutions have sought to bring environmental sustainability to the centre of their operations. Yet, if one poses the question, are poor people and fragile environments significantly better off today, the honest response would have to be one of disappointment. The additional resources mobilized since Rio have been small compared to the numbers evoked there, and this is certainly one factor underlying these disappointing trends.

Rio launched a new hope for human society to develop ways to live in greater harmony with the resources of our planet. However, the impact of Rio will not be measured by how many agreements are concluded among governments. Its promise will start to be fulfilled only when real progress is made to reverse the degradation of marginal lands and forests, streams and coastal are as which provide home to a large proportion of humanity.

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DENISE O'BRIEN, of the World Sustainable Agriculture Association, on behalf of the Farmers' Major Group: The present age of industrialized agriculture presents few opportunities for the small farmer. The basis for food production on small- and medium-sized farms is eroding, as is the rural society that food producers have sustained. Certain common problems are faced by all farmers, worldwide. The industrial model of agriculture has caused social, economic and environmental devastation in rural areas. Many farmers question the sustainability of industrial methods, and are therefore turning increasingly to ecological modes of production. Some governments support such efforts.

Producing food involves the sustainable use of resources including land, water and seed. Farming communities must have the right to preserve biological diversity and manage their resources sustainably. Efforts on the part of farmers to this end will be in vain so long as transnational corporations resist incorporating the principles of sustainable development into their operations. Transnationals must be held accountable for their unsustainable use of the world's resources. It is the desire of the world's 450 million other farmers, that all people evaluate their life styles in terms of planetary survival.

SHEKU SYL KAMARA, of Peace Child International, speaking on behalf of Children and Youth Major Group: Since Rio, my country, Sierra Leone, has been ravaged by civil war and increasing poverty, with their attendant problems of poor sanitation, gender inequality, lack of human rights and environmental degradation. The 1,000 young members of my group, Peace Child Sierra Leone, tried to organize a peace conference to bring together youth and political leaders to see where the problem lay. The conference did not happen: they could not raise the funds. In future, please give financial support to your initiatives. You promised to do so at the Earth Summit, and some governments have supported some initiatives of the Peace Child Rescue Mission Programme. Young people need to learn the principles of sustainable development. I come here today to issue an ultimatum to governments: particularly in Africa, you have to do more to educate us on this concept. You are failing us. If we are going to learn how to sustain life on this planet, you have to make education on sustainability a central concept of school curricula.

I have heard this week government after government commit itself to eradicate poverty. You said the same at Rio, and at Copenhagen. Yet, in my country, poverty gets worse, not better. There is no chance of credit for young people. It is hard to get a square meal. Life is hard, brutish and short: most of my generation will be dead before we reach the age of most of you in this room. The gross inequality in the distribution of the resources of the third world has resulted in the destruction of the environment -- the last means of survival of the absolute poor. My message to you is: get sustainable development at the heart of your government policies, not

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somewhere on the fringes. You must support initiatives that will make young people like myself want to stay in our countries and generate home-grown prosperity. Support youth initiatives for a sustainable enterprises. Give us hope in a benighted world where we seem to be sleep-walking into the twenty- first century, without a map or a candle. Education, funding, partnership - those are the three priorities identified by youth at the fifth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. I repeat them to you today and beg you, plead with you, implore and cajole you most fervently to support our youth initiatives which will give us a real responsibility and a stake in implementing that future of which Agenda 21 gave us such a bold and tantalizing glimpse.

Statement by United States President

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, President of the United States: In the years since Rio, there has been real progress in some areas. Nations have banned the dumping of radioactive wastes in the oceans, and reduced marine pollution from sources on land. We are working to protect the precious coral reefs, conserve threatened fish and stop the advance of deserts. At the Cairo Conference on Population and Development, we reaffirmed the crucial importance of cooperative family planning efforts to long-term sustainable development. In the United States, a record number of toxic waste dumps have been cleaned up, and the intention is to clean up 500 more in the next four years. The most far-reaching efforts to improve air quality in our nation in 20 years were announced yesterday. In America, the incidence of childhood asthma has been increasing rapidly, and it is now the single biggest reason that children are hospitalized. These measures will help change that, improve health for people of all ages, and prevent as many as 15,000 premature deaths a year.

The science is clear and compelling. We humans are changing the global climate. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are at their highest level in more than 200,000 years and climbing sharply. If the trend is not changed, scientists expect the seas to rise two feet or more in the next century. In America, that means 9,000 square miles of Florida, Louisiana and other coastal areas will be flooded. In Asia, 17 per cent of Bangladesh, where 6 million people live, will be lost, while island chains such as the Maldives will disappear from the map. Climate changes will also disrupt agriculture, cause droughts and floods, and the spread of infectious diseases.

No nation can escape this danger or evade its responsibility to confront it. We must all do our part -- industrial nations that emit the largest quantities of greenhouse gases, and developing nations whose emissions are growing rapidly. Here in the United States, we must do better. With

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4 per cent of the world's population, we produce 20 per cent of its greenhouse gases. We must create new technologies and develop new strategies. In order to do our part, we must first convince the American people and the Congress that the climate change problem is real and imminent.

To help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the United States will provide them with $1 billion in assistance over the next five years. The United States will continue to encourage private investment that meets environmental standards. "We must unleash more of the creative power of our people to meet the challenge of climate change." Already, we are working with our auto industry to produce cars by early in the next century that are three times as fuel-efficient as today's models. The sun's energy can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We will work with businesses and communities to install solar panels on 1 million roofs around our nation by 2010. We must strengthen our stewardship of the environment so that when this generation passes, it will be a rich and abundant earth that abides, and the coming generation will inherit a world as full and as good as the one we have known.

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For information media. Not an official record.