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EU Presidency Statement - Environment and sustainable development [1/2]

Summary: October 29, 2001: Speech delivered on behalf of the European Union by Mr. Stephane de Loecker, Deputy Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations. Environment and sustainable development (New York)

Mr President,

1. I speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern European associated with the European Union Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the other associated countries Cyprus and Malta align themselves with this statement.

Mr President,

2. During its preparatory work for the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development the European Union decided to focus its activities on two fundamental objectives of sustainable development, viz.:

3. We are convinced that good governance, peace, respect for human rights and democracy are the basis for sustainable development in all countries.

4. The Union considers that it is fundamental to mainstream a gender perspective in all sustainable development policies and that empowerment of women as well as their full participation should be a main goal of any sustainable development policy.

5. As was also proposed in the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the end of the regional preparatory process organized under the aegis of the Economic Commission for Europe, we would like to pursue these fundamental objectives while concentrating our work on four major areas:6. The Summit could take specific initiatives on matters reflecting the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development, in particular fresh water, energy, soil degradation and biodiversity.

7. These guidelines were adopted at the Council of European Ministers of the Environment last June with a view to preparing the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. They were then confirmed by the Heads of State or of Government at the Göteborg European Council. We are circulating a copy of these two documents in the Annex to this speech.

(Mobilizing political will)

8. To give the necessary political momentum to such an ambitious project, we call on all countries to be represented at the highest level at the Johannesburg Summit, as was called for, moreover, in the Ministerial Declaration adopted in Geneva at the end of our regional process under the aegis of the EEC and the UN, and to ensure that there is a minister present in the preparatory committee in Bali. We welcome in this regard the personal commitment of the Secretary-General as well as his recent initiatives, i. e. the designation of his Special Envoy for the preparation of the Summit, Mr. Jan Pronk, the establishment of high-level advisory panel and the designation of the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Nitin Desai, as the Secretary-General of the Summit. The EU also appreciates the political commitment of South Africa and Indonesia, the host countries of the Summit and of the preparatory committee at ministerial level.

(Operationalizing sustainable development)

9. We would like to operationalize the concepts underlying sustainable development as approved in Rio de Janeiro, such as the precautionary and polluter pays principles, which remain the basis of any effective action in favor of sustainable development. We must of course continue to be receptive to new ideas, such as those concerning the concept of ecological footprint. However, what is important is firstly to accelerate implementation of the vast programme behind Agenda 21. It is therefore time for action. Time for tangible results. We must reinforce our interventions in favor of sustainable development, which eradicates poverty. We must achieve the international objectives of development agreed by the major international conferences and the Millennium Declaration.

(Ministerial Conference in Doha and International Conference on Financing for Development)

10. A number of processes will influence one another. We hope that the success of the Doha Ministerial Conference, which we intend to organize with the needs of developing countries in mind, will help to make the Conference on Financing for Development a success for the partnership for sustainable development, and that the latter will in turn make it easier for the Johannesburg Summit to be a success.

(International environmental governance)

11. In general, the EU would like the discussions initiated in the framework of the intergovernmental process on international environmental governance to lead to greater coherence and better integration of the international environmental architecture, thus enabling all countries to participate on an equal footing, and which has the capability, authority and credibility required to cope effectively with the enormous environmental challenges in a global context. In this connection, a major challenge is still to mobilize financial resources for international environmental governance. We are very anxious to provide a stable, suitable and foreseeable financial basis in the UNEP, which should be secured on the basis of fair burden sharing.

(Participation in and information on decision-making)

13. The Summit could also give fresh impetus to the participatory approach which characterizes our discussions on sustainable development by encouraging access to information on the various aspects of sustainable development, public participation in the decision-making processes and access to justice in the environmental field in particular.

(Global pact)

14. We hope to conclude a global pact at the Johannesburg Summit by means of a participatory process, in a spirit of partnership, solidarity and multilateralism. The global pact should make it possible to achieve progress on a series of important matters, and include commitments by governments and other parties involved which would lead to concrete actions with a view to improving implementation of sustainable development policies. The Union would like to discuss with its partners aspects of a global pact during the preparatory process.

(Means of implementation)

15. The question of financing sustainable development will be a cross-sectoral matter of crucial importance. Now that stock is being taken of the situation, we can but note that the mobilization of resources at national and international level has proved to be very uneven and globally inadequate to enable the ambitious undertakings in the vast Agenda 21 programme to be implemented. The political determination has often been missing.

16. National resources are the main source of financing sustainable development. A favorable environment at national level is based in particular on a healthy macro-economic climate and on good governance. Countries should try to achieve economic growth, which benefits the poor. This entails the implementation of policies and programmes designed to create opportunities for the poorest sectors, in particular women, the development of fair working rules, a more just distribution of income as well as social equity and a method of sustainable development in terms of the environment.

17. Flows of private capital have provided considerable new and additional resources for the benefit of sustainable development but have focused on a few sectors and a few countries. We must make a creative effort to put them at the service of fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable globalization. In so doing, we must preserve the freedom of action, which is private enterprise's force by multiplying partnerships and creating an environment at national and international level, which is more favorable to the development of economic activities for the benefit of sustainable development. We must also highlight the private sector's responsibilities in promoting sustainable development. In this context, we welcome the Secretary-General's Global Compact initiative, which is aimed at involving major multinational companies in the promotion of human rights, improvement of workers' conditions and the environment. We also welcome the fact that the World Business Council and the International Chamber of Commerce are preparing for the Johannesburg summit.

18. The Union recognizes that considerable progress must be made in particular with regard to the volume of aid in order to reach the development objectives defined in the Millennium Declaration. At its recent Göteborg Summit, the Union reaffirmed its commitment to reach the United Nations' target of 0,7% of GNP for ODA as soon as possible. It will continue to consider how that commitment can be implemented. The Union is prepared to reflect on the need to explore new sources of funding without ruling out any formula from the outset but also without entering into any prior commitment in favor of some of them.

19. Experience has shown that the volume and effectiveness of official development assistance are of course determined by the objectives agreed at national level but also by matters of governance and above all by the quality of the consensus which emerges concerning the use of such assistance.

20. The Union is in favor of more detailed discussions on the concept of global public goods, which makes it possible to introduce a new approach to international cooperation for the benefit of sustainable development. Whatever the method of recording contributions to global public goods, it is obvious that additional resources will be necessary on a case-by-case basis.

(Actions to be carried out in the context of the preparatory process)

21. The Union welcomes the political commitment of Indonesia and South Africa, hosts to the Summit and the preparatory committee at ministerial level. For both the host countries and those who respond to their appeal, an enormous amount of work remains to be done at all levels.

22. We expect the Johannesburg Summit to give a second, larger-scale impulse not only to the specific decisions to be taken at the most important level of implementation, namely the national level, but also at the infra- and intergovernmental levels. With regard to sustainable development, the quality of the process is at least as important as that of the result. The quality of the preparatory process will therefore be decisive. The collective strategy evaluation and elaboration exercise under way at all those levels will have an effect in terms of political decisions even before the Summit.

23. We note with pleasure that the various sub regional and regional processes have already resulted in a broad convergence of opinions, which moreover seem perfectly reconcilable with the approach adopted by the European Union.

(Local level)

  • Ref: PRES01-277EN
  • EU source: EU Presidency
  • UN forum: Second Committee (Economic and Financial Affairs, Environment)
  • Date: 29/10/2001

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See also

European Union Member States