WSSD Statements: Thabo Mbecki, Romano Prodi

Published: Tue 3 Sep 2002 02:00 PM
of the
At the opening session of the meeting of Heads of State and Government
At the World Summit for Sustainable Development:
September 2, 2002
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies, Heads of Delegation,
Your Excellency, Secretary-General of UN, Kofi Annan,
Distinguished Representatives of Civil Society,
Delegates, ladies and gentlemen:
I am honoured to welcome you to the city of Johannesburg, to South Africa and to the African continent. I also welcome you to this important part of the deliberations of the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD).
I would like to thank all the Ministers, Officials and leaders of non-governmental organizations, who worked tirelessly during the course of the past week to ensure the success of the World Summit.
The progress they have achieved should enable us, the Heads of State, Government and Delegation, representatives of civil society and business leaders, to take the necessary decisions that will make it possible for us to emerge from this Summit with a concrete Plan of Action that will give meaning to our theme - People, Planet and Prosperity.
During the period we have engaged one another at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, we have achieved much in bringing together a diverse and rich tapestry of peoples and views, in a constructive search for a common path that will move all of us forward faster, towards a world that practically respects and implements the vision of sustainable development.
The matter rests with all of us gathered here this morning whether, when we conclude our work as we meet on this continent that is the Cradle of Humanity, we will be able to say, truthfully, that we have taken decisions that will meet the objectives we set ourselves when we decided to convene the World Summit for Sustainable Development.
I am certain that the billions of people of the world on whose mandate we occupy our seats, expect a very clear and unambiguous answer to the question whether we are ready and able to respond to the pressing challenges of sustainable development.
Two days ago, people took to the streets of Johannesburg to give voice to the demand that our Summit meeting must produce practical and meaningful results on very specific matters. The same message has been communicated from the many meetings held by representatives of civil society as part of this great gathering of the peoples of the world.
The message is simply this - that we can and must act in unity to ensure that there is a practical and visible global development process that brings about poverty eradication and human advancement within the context of the protection of the ecology of the planet Earth.
It is that this Summit must set concrete goals and targets for the realisation of these objectives and agree to implementation and monitoring processes that will ensure that all of us respect the global agreements into which we must enter.
As Africans, we have been privileged to host the leaders and representatives of the peoples of the world as they met to consider their response to the urgent challenge of sustainable development. As these hosts, we are moved by a deeply-felt sense that the ordinary peoples of the world understand that a new and brighter world of hope and a better life for them is struggling to be born.
That expectation is informed by the recognition by these billions that not all is well with our societies - the way they function, the way they treat human beings, the way they treat the environment that constitutes the irreplaceable base for the sustenance of all life on our planet.
It is informed by the sense that the means and the knowledge exist within human society successfully to address all these challenges. The question arises as to why as human beings we do not act, when we have the capacity to overcome problems that are not god-given, but are the creation of human society and human decisions and actions.
Where there is every possibility to act to communicate a real message of hope, why is there despair! Since the means exist to banish hunger, why are so many without adequate supplies of food and others are faced with famine, including millions in this region of Southern Africa!
Why are people being swept away to their graves by floods that are without precedent in recent history! Why do millions die every year from avoidable and curable diseases when science, technology and engineering have the means to save these human lives! Why do we have wars when we established institutions to end war!
Why are there many who cannot read and write and count when, everyday, human intelligence breaks through many barriers of darkness to make the seemingly unknowable part of the ever-expanding stock of human knowledge! Why does the accumulation of wealth in human society produce human misery!
What are the answers to all these questions and others! Who are the beneficiaries of these perverse eventualities, and who, the victims! Who and what is to blame! What shall we do! What should we do!
I believe that we gathered in Johannesburg to answer these questions. The poor in the world believe that we travelled from all corners of our common globe to the very Cradle of Humanity to find answers to these questions.
They believe that important changes in the world, including the end of the Cold War, created the possibility and necessity both to pose and answer these questions. What we decide by the middle of this week will tell them clearly whether they were right in their belief.
It may be that the fault rests in the fact that we are prisoners of the immediate, and consider it a cursed spite that we are called upon to right a time that is out of joint. It may be that we draw comfort from doing what we have always done. The known, order, routine, conformity, stability and inertia are, after all, an important part of what makes for a life of individual human fulfilment.
It may be that we fear a break with the present because we know the present, ugly as it may be in many respects, and are fearful of a better future that only exists in the imagination, and may have unknown and unintended consequences, if we dared to have the courage to break into the future.
But, surely, there is no one among us who thinks that billions in the world should continue to be condemned to poverty, underdevelopment and a denial of human dignity. Surely, there is no one among us who believes that we should not care about the natural world whose environmental integrity is the fundamental condition for the very survival of humanity.
If this conclusion is correct, and I believe it is, then we have every possibility to establish the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development as a defining moment that will live forever as the midwife that brought into our world the child that humanity conceived at Stockholm and Rio de Janeiro, and brought up during a period of gestation that has encompassed the UN Millennium Summit and other important international conferences held since 1992.
This, I believe, is the task we all face as we work to conclude the World Summit for Sustainable Development.
Less than a decade ago, this country was home to the anti-human system of apartheid, even as it was part of the combination of African countries that have given us proof that Africa is truly the Cradle of Humanity. The legacy of that inhuman system is evident everywhere in this country.
It would be correct that from here, the home of our common ancestors, the leaders of the peoples of the world communicate a genuine message that they really care about the future of all humanity and the planet we inhabit, that they understand and respect the principle and practice of human solidarity, and are therefore determined to defeat global apartheid.
From this city that owes its birth and growth to gold, itself the product of billions of years of natural evolution, must issue a strong and united voice that says - now is the time to act!
A message must come from this original home of all humanity that we are ready and prepared to be judged not by the number and eloquence of the resolutions we adopt, but by the speed and commitment with which we implement our agreements that must serve the peoples of the world.
Nothing, whatsoever, can justify any failure on our part to respond to this expectation.
I trust that you will have a fruitful and enjoyable stay in South Africa.
I wish the Summit successful deliberations.
I thank you.
European Commission
Romano Prodi
the President of the European Commission
The North-South Pact
at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, South Africa
2 September 2002
Mr Chairman,
ladies and gentlemen,
A year ago terrorists destroyed lives and flung down great symbols of our civilisation. But they did not dent our values or weaken our determination to defend them and keep them alive. Nor did they shake our faith in multilateral cooperation.
Multilateral cooperation has made remarkable progress in recent years: the Doha Conference on Trade and the Monterrey Conference on Development Financing were undeniable successes, and the Global Health Fund we have launched to fight against transmissible diseases is operational.
Here at Johannesburg we must set our sights higher. We must make more progress in reducing poverty and halting the destruction of our environment. We should act all together because it is the only way.
The public, here and at home, has doubts about globalisation. They know that the free movement of goods, services, capital and people brings wealth to our economies. At the same time, they worry about growing inequalities, the environment, and the instability of financial markets.
The citizens of the world look to us for answers. It is our duty not to disappoint them. Collectively, we have to show them we can harness the power of globalisation, give hope to the world's poor and preserve the resources and the beauty of our planet.
I know of no bigger challenge than this. Yet, as President of the European Commission and drawing on Europe's experience over the last half century, I wish to send this conference a message of determination and solidarity.
The determination we in Europe showed in pursuing integration guided by the principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
The solidarity that will extend our area of prosperity and stability to almost 80 million new citizens of the European Union. In the same spirit we are anxious to promote peace and development beyond our borders, especially in Africa and the Mediterranean.
Progress has been slow since Rio ten years ago. Mas - overty, widespread malnutrition, and a lack of safe drinking w at r are still with us. Illiteracy is rampant and too many are exposed to transmissible diseases.
But at the Millennium Summit we set ourselves ambitious targets in the fight against extreme poverty, and those targets can and must be met. This Summit must spell out concrete ways of reaching them. Attaching timetables to the targets is part of the solution.
Our environment is suffering, and the world's poor are worst hit by storms, droughts, floods, soil degradation and desertification.
In fifty years, 9 billion people will live on the planet and world output will quadruple. This means that we have to sever the link between economic growth and the degradation of the environment.
The European Union is convinced the Kyoto Protocol can be made to work. The EU has already signed and ratified it. We hope the ratifications soon to be announced will bring this instrument into force. We can then start the fight against greenhouse gases and global warming.
The increasing divide between North and South must become our new frontier, our new challenge. We got rid of a wall in Europe. We cannot accept another wall which cuts the world in two.
We are here in Johannesburg to forge a fresh pact between North and South on the basis of trust and our shared goal of sustainable development. This pact is about growth, development, sustainability and solidarity.
Growth needs trade and investment. The markets of the European Union are open, wide open, not least to the developing countries, from which we import goods worth over €400 billion every year.
At Doha we made extremely clear and detailed undertakings. I want to say again that we are ready to negotiate constructively on the basis of the Doha agenda to open markets further.
We recognise the importance of agriculture for developing countries and we agree that tariff reduction is not enough. Major reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and in all forms of export subsidies are also needed.
Proof of our commitment are the proposals on agriculture and fisheries my Commission has recently presented to our Member States. We propose to stop the depletion of fish resources. We therefore welcome the target set here in Johannesburg, which will not only stop the decline of fish stocks but restore them to sustainable levels. We propose to switch our agricultural policy away from production-linked aid to rural development.
Europe's record in development support is unparalleled. EU companies account for the largest share of investment in developing countries, nearly 70% of the world total in the year 2000. However, we can do much more if,we pull together.
This is why I call for better accommodation and protection of this investment in the Third World. This is why we see this conference as an opportunity to associate private business with public donors and beneficiaries in our major initiatives on water and energy.
Mr. Chairman,
The pact I put forward today rests on our shared recognition of the basic values of democracy, good governance, and social inclusion.
To be effective, this call for good governance must go hand-in-hand with tangible forms of solidarity.
Last spring, in Monterrey, we took the additional commitment to reach 0.39% of GDP in development assistance by 2006 as a stepping stone towards the goal of 0.7%.
Today I reaffirm that we shall honour our commitment and monitor its implementation. I know that it is not enough, we must do more in the future. But even this will make large additional resources available for sustainable development: €22 billion for the period up to 2006 and additional annual flows of €9 billion after that date. These funds will go as a priority to projects in water, energy, food production, education and health.
The industrialised countries must take the lead and develop production and consumption patterns leading to a sustainable future. But we all have something to contribute.
Let us use our research capacity, share our experience and technology. A ten-year work programme is therefore a key contribution we can make here to marshall our energies.
Tomorrow we will be unveiling a major initiative on water with our partners in Africa and the Newly Independent States. By bringing water to millions in Africa, it will make a major, contribution to halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation by 2015.
We also want to foster cooperation on international rivers and lakes so water can be turned into a factor for peace and not a source of conflict and war.
Drinking water is a top priority for the EU because for a fifth of humanity lack of access to clean water is the prime cause of bad health and underdevelopment. Lack of water deprives hundreds of millions of men--and above all women--of their energy, their time and, ultimately, their dignity.
The same applies to energy. We have already launched a partnership initiative to improve access to energy services. Simply put, we have no development, no schools, no clinics, no factories without proper access to electricity.
Finally, since we are on African soil, I would like to reaffirm Europe's active commitment to this continent.
At Monterrey I stressed the Commission's intention of giving all possible support to Africa and to the New Partnership for Africa's Development launched by the continent's most respected and courageous leaders. The Action Plan adopted by the G8 at Kananaskis was a first step, and I want you to know that the European Commission will play its part, in order to commit all the International Community to do more.
Our partnership with Africa will be strengthened through the Cotonou Convention linking the Union to more than eighty States in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. It will bring €13.5 billion in fresh financial resources for the development of these countries over the coming five years and will improve trade relations.
Negotiations on regional trade agreements will start in October. We will not miss the opportunity to further open our markets and step up regional integration among African countries.
So let me insist again: Africa remains very high on the EU's agenda.
Mr. Chairman,
Making this conference a success story for multilateral cooperation is a responsibility we must all shoulder. The lessons of history are there: we know well the risks failure may bring to world stability and peace. But we can rise to the challenge, we care reduce poverty and preserve our planet.
Here in Johannesburg we must show that we have the will and that we can make the right choice. You can count of the full support of the European Union and the Commission I lead.
Thank you.

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