Magazine article UN Chronicle

'Don't Leave Us Alone to Pay the Price' the General Assembly Debates Sustainable Development

Magazine article UN Chronicle

'Don't Leave Us Alone to Pay the Price' the General Assembly Debates Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

The opening of the fifty-seventh General Assembly came on the heels of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Thus, the Summit was fresh on the minds of the 171 delegates who spoke during the Assembly's general debate, held from 12 to 20 September in New York.

Many countries voiced optimism in the progress made at the Johannesburg Summit. According to South African President Thabo Mbeki, "a number of far-reaching decisions were taken at this important Summit to ensure that we will bequeath to the next generations a better, humane and equitable world". He said the WSSD had succeeded in setting important goals concerning three pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection. Noting that poverty eradication was consistently recognized as the "critical challenge and indispensable requirement for sustainable development, particularly in the developing countries", Tanzanian Foreign Minister ]akaya M. Kikwete praised the way the WSSD balanced developmental and environmental concerns, thereby creating an impetus for States to "translate words into action so that social and economic development can be realized whilst the environment is kept healthy and protected".

Iceland's Foreign Minister Halldor Asgrimsson, saying it was up to every country to fulfil the promises made at the Summit, reiterated his country's pledges to provide bilateral assistance to developing nations concerning fishing regulations and renewable energy sources--two fields Iceland had considerable experience in.

Many small island developing States criticized the Summit, stating that little progress had been made on initiatives to curb global warming. Ambassador Alfred Capelle of the Marshall Islands pointed out that these countries "face the very real threat of complete obliteration if our oceans rise by even marginal levels". The VicePresident of Palau, Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi, was deeply disappointed at the "failure of key nations to recommit to the goals of the Rio Earth Summit" and their "dismal lack of commitment" toward the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The Governor General of Tuvalu, Sir Tomasi Paupau, appealed to the industrialized countries to "urgently ratify and fully implement" the Kyoto Protocol and provide concrete support to his country's efforts to cope with the effects of climate change and the rising sea level. …

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