Sustainable Development

Manila Bulletin, February 5, 2002 | Go to article overview

Sustainable Development


MR. Chairman, more than ever, the world's people - the vast majority of whom remains mired in city slums and farming communities of poor countries - cry out for the full implementation of Agenda 21. Their plea is for development to be a reality in their lives. They demand progress - real and palpable, not more unimplemented plans of action - towards the goals established ten years ago in Rio. They will want a clear, unmistakable signal from Johannesburg, that we, governments and all the major stakeholders represented here, are fully committed to the pursuit of sustainable development for all.

The task before this Commission is therefore most crucial. The "global implementation" document we expect to see by the end of this session must comprehensively and accurately identify the problems and difficulties that frustrated our progress in the last decade, even as it shows us the way to surmount these and other challenges in the next. We must focus not just on traditional environmental issues, but on critical economic, social and cross-cutting challenges that beset our nations, particularly the poor and developing ones. Success in this endeavor will require the combined efforts of governments and civil society and strong sustained support from the international community.

Mr. Chairman, poverty alleviation is central to the vision of sustainable development. It is evident, however, that current patterns of economic development have led to massive natural resource depletion and environmental degradation and, yet, uneven creation of wealth and increased income inequality within and between countries have pushed larger hordes of people to the margins. Without concrete actions, of a scale that matches the severity and urgency of the situation, neither the United Nations Millennium goals nor the Rio goals will have been achieved by their target dates.

We recognize that national development is primarily the responsibility of each country. But it is clear now, as it was clear in Rio, that unilateral pursuits and national efforts of developing countries are never enough, particularly in an era of fast globalization, to achieve sustainable development. We therefore stress the imperatives of multilateral cooperation in the sustainable management of natural resources, including lands and forests, oceans and coastal and water resources, in the utilization of sustainable agriculture and rural development practices. In the promotion of biodiversity, and in nurturing their positive linkages with economic growth, poverty alleviation, and general human welfare. We further stress the importance of addressing the vulnerability of developing countries, particularly those prone to natural disasters, and of facilitating the transfer of technology and resources to enable them to meet the cost of generating environmental, economic and social benefits.

We support free and open economy and the adoption appropriate market mechanism and technologies to promote balanced and efficient consumption and production patterns and thereby reduce the pressures on the carrying capacities of natural resources. But we insist that any free and open economy must also be fair and that developing countries, in particular, need assistance to build capacity in their transition to less resource-intensive consumption and production patterns and to achieve an energy-efficient and recycling-minded society.

Mr. Chairman, the risks associated with globalization, particularly on the well-being of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, are well known to us all.

developing countries need adequate and appropriate mechanisms to cushion the negative effects of international commerce on their economies and on the carrying capacity of their natural resources, as well as to prevent the erosions of the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of their nations. …

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