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World Summit on Sustainable Development

U.S. Department of State February 1, 2002

Statement of Ambassador Sichan Siv, United States Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, to the Second Preparatory Committee Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD PrepCom II), February 1, 2002

Mr. Chairman:

The United States is pleased to participate in the Second Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). This is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen development efforts that build stable, healthy, prosperous, and secure societies throughout the world.

As President Bush said at the World Bank last year, "A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half the human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just nor stable." Our goal is that every country has a growing and stable economy where the benefits of development are widely shared. Successful development balances social and economic growth with environmental stewardship, and it requires the involvement of everyone.

Sound domestic institutions and an enabling environment to attract and retain financial resources are a must. It is not a secret that potential investors look first for fair regulatory systems, transparency, and the rule of law. Likewise, we have found that official development assistance is more effective where these institutional elements are strong. It has become clear to us that building these kinds of institutions requires new kinds of partnerships -- we call them "coalitions of the willing." They involve government, civil society, and business.

We congratulate the Secretary General on his insightful Report on the Implementation of Agenda 21. The final section of this report provides a useful starting point for government discussions. We also thank the Secretariat for all their work, particularly their paper outlining two types of expected outcomes of WSSD.

We specifically applaud the Secretariat for identifying the "second type" of outcome -- those that involve coalitions joining interested countries, regions, and participants from all sectors.

Here in the United States, we have found that much of the concrete action on sustainable development happens in coalitions involving government at all levels -- national, state, and local, as well as NGOs, business, indigenous groups, and other stakeholders. For us, these "coalitions of the willing" are the most effective way to pursue sustainable development. We believe they offer a powerful approach with many applications both domestically and internationally.

Forging these coalitions is challenging. Governments should work to become the galvanizing force to create them. The establishment and quality of such coalitions could be one of the key yardsticks for the success of the Summit.

General Comments on Chapter VIII of the Secretary General's Report

Turning to Chapter VIII of the Secretary General's Report, we have a few general comments on the structure and main themes. We will provide more detail in next week's sessions.

Governance: Section J addresses a wide range of complex issues related to international governance for sustainable development, but largely ignores national and local issues. The bulk of the decisions affecting sustainable development are made at the national and local levels. Good governance structures at these levels are of primary importance. We recommend that Section J be modified to read "Governance at all levels."

Sustainable Agriculture: We welcome the emphasis in Section B on using sustainable agriculture and rural development approaches to address poverty, building on the agreements of the World Food Summit. Let us expand section F to make sure that cross-sectoral practices integrate these issues with others affecting natural resources and ecosystems.

Finance: Section H of Chapter VIII is currently titled "Finance and technology transfer." We think the concept of "finance" incorporates a discrete set of issues that should be dealt with separately.

Technology Transfer: Technology transfer is part of a broader constellation of issues, which includes education, science and technology, and capacity building. These issues, which are critical to sustainable development, are best dealt with on a sector-by-sector basis rather than being confined to one section. Each section of Chapter VIII should address science, education, and capacity building.

Oceans: We support the suggestion made by other delegations for a greater focus on oceans and the marine environment.

Concrete Steps and Initiatives: Finally, we compliment the Secretary General for suggesting concrete steps and initiatives. They have promoted thoughtful debate. Regarding governance at the national level, the Secretariat should continue to develop concrete ideas for delegations to consider. Additionally, on education, capacity building, and science and technology, the Secretariat should suggest specific sector-by-sector examples of how to incorporate these critical issues into different themes.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development is part of a continuum of major conferences addressing development issues. The Doha WTO Ministerial last November made clear that developing countries are a key part of the international trading system and that it is critical to build capacity for their full participation. The preparatory process for the Monterrey Financing for Development conference highlighted domestic institutions and enabling environments in mobilizing and effectively using financial and other development resources. These processes are working toward the common purpose of enhancing sustainable development worldwide.

We thank the Secretary General for all his efforts on sustainable development so far. We look forward to working with the United Nations, other Member States, and major groups to find ways to strengthen domestic institutions worldwide. This is the route to more effective implementation of goals set in Rio 10 years ago, and those that we will set for ourselves in Johannesburg later this year. Thank you.

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