Annan urges UN meeting to look at environmental side of sustainable development

13 February 2002

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged high-level government representatives to provide an upcoming UN conference on sustainable development issues a “coherent vision” of the theme’s environmental dimension.

“While the Summit is clearly more than an environmental conference, it is also equally clear that sustainable development cannot be achieved without strong links between environmental issues and the UN’s overarching agenda for poverty eradication, human rights and peace-building,” the Secretary-General said, referring to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held later this year in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was that very linkage that inspired participants at the 1992 “Earth Summit” to adopt Agenda 21, a vision of development in which humanity’s economic and social needs are balanced with the capacity of the earth’s resources and ecosystems, the Secretary-General recalled in a message to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Cartagena, Colombia. The Cartagena conference brought together government ministers to address current and emerging environmental policy issues.

“Many of you at this Forum contributed to that vision,” Mr. Annan said in his message, which was delivered on his behalf by UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer. “Today, we need to go further, and ensure that Johannesburg enables us to move more convincingly into the realm of practical steps, partnerships and political will.”

The Secretary-General said that in his most recent report to the WSSD’s Preparatory Committee, he identified 10 areas where new initiatives were urgently needed, including globalization, poverty, health, energy, freshwater, Africa, finance and technology, patterns of consumption and production, managing ecosystems and biodiversity, and international governance.

“I hope that you will use your considerable power to guide your Governments, and all of us, in breaking with the unsustainable practices that pervade our societies and imperil our common future,” Mr. Annan said.

 

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