WSSD Statements: Poland, Sweden, Fiji
H.E. Mr. Aleksander
President of the Republic of Poland
during the High Level Segment of the World Summit on Sustainable Development
September 3rd, 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Here in Johannesburg, in the Republic of South Africa, which has proved that one can overcome even the most dramatic past, develop new horizons and opportunities, our imagination and will to act must go beyond the borders of the countries we represent since the problems we are facing went beyond these borders a long time ago. Here, we must prove that we are not only the representatives of states, but also the members of the community of mankind, co-responsible inhabitants of Earth.
It has been ten years since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The documents adopted there were the expression of determination of the participants to equal the opportunities of the inhabitants of our globe to access food, goods and services, education and jobs, as well as health care. Regrettably, the efforts taken up to implement these lofty objectives have not been sufficient in the last decade and negative tendencies have not decreased but, on the contrary - they have got stronger. I mean here mainly the deepening division into the "rich North" and the "poor South", which is the result of many factors, but first of all it is the consequence of excessive concentration of production, investment and consumption in the north and too little economic activity and scarce resources in the south of the world. Although many people can enjoy life in comfort and wealth, the vast part of mankind support themselves for less than 2 dollars a day. Children dying of hunger, undernourishment, lack of basic health care - the list is long and sad. This existential and economic tragedy is followed by illiteracy, lack of education and of qualifications. The result of it is on the one hand the hereditary poverty, and on the other hand - the emergence of foundations for hatred, various extremisms, and finally - terrorism. After September 1 I th we all have realised it better than ever before and we understand better also the relations between economic, social, political and environmental factors. Pollution of the environment, poverty, violence as well as social and political conflicts are interwoven in the vicious circle from which it is so difficult to find a way out.
Today, declarations of readiness to counteract these threats jointly do not suffice. It is time for concrete actions. We all realise that it is necessary to take up harmonised and effective efforts all over the globe for the sake of stable economic growth, social progress and environmental protection in all the countries.
Poland bravely takes up such steps, although she herself has to tackle the difficulties connected with the system transformation. Since the breakthrough of 1989 we have done a lot to improve significantly our economy and environment. The centrally-planned economy, often indifferent to the devastation of nature and wasting the natural resources was replaced by the market economy - efficient, and at the same time sensitive to environmental and social challenges. The economic and environmental reviews conducted on cyclical bases by OECD in Poland indicate the sustainable progress of our country in the implementation of the Rio principles. We are a party to all important environmental agreements. We deliver on our commitments. I wish to inform you that a few days ago Poland ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
We support the idea to speed up the pace of the full implementation of the provisions of multilateral international conventions, in particular in the area of environmental protection, and the necessity to introduce the civil and financial liability for the wrong resulting from the violation of the agreements.
Our historical experiences do not let us be indifferent to economic stratification of our planet. The Poles know very well that global problems will not be solved by the erection of a new wall, behind which the rich will be defending themselves from the siege of the poor. Isolation and indifference to the problems of those in need would not only be ineffective, but above all - morally unacceptable.
And neither can these problems be resolved through violence or acts of terror, which must never be justified as a form of claiming the rights of the poor and the forgotten. We must remember that - according to the first principle of the Rio Declaration - it is always the people that are in the centre of the sustainable development policy.
help those in need in such a way that they learn how to help
themselves. External assistance has sense only if it
mobilises the beneficiaries to generate their own resources
for infrastructure, education, environmental protection,
development of democratic institutions and civil society, if
it lays down enduring foundations for coping with problems
and if it serves growth.
A good example of such a constructive help is the foreign debt conversion of a given country into the investments in the area of environment. Poland, together with the countries of the Paris Club, has worked out an efficient system of such conversions. It has improved the condition of environment in our country and new environmentally sound technologies have found their way to the market. It is one of' the solutions that I wish to recommend here, in Johannesburg, as a valuable method of supporting sustainable development. Poland presents her experiences and innovatory solutions, especially in the area of financing environmental protection, to other Central and Eastern European countries. The environmental funds created there play their role effectively. Such solutions could prove to be effective also in developing countries if these countries ensured the institutional and legal frameworks for their adaptation.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
A very important thing is how to manage the globalisation process well. This process has to free its internal positive potential so that its fruits are more equally distributed and serve as many people as possible.
Tackling the problems of a global character requires not only international cooperation but also sagacity in seeing new challenges. Although we already know that catastrophic prophecies will fortunately not fulfil and the Earth is not threatened by overpopulation, we are facing today a new problem of aging societies. It is worthwhile to go beyond the economic perspective that concentrates on pension systems or consumption patterns, and see also the social phenomenon of marginalization of elderly people. Let us think how we could counteract this trend, how in the future we could use the experiences and competencies of elderly people in shaping the sustainable development policy.
In solving social problems, it is worth reaching for the experiences and achievements of many charitable organisations and churches. I would like to draw attention in particular to the thoughts of my great compatriot, Pope John Paul II. During his recent journey to Poland in August this year, he stated, among other things, that "one must not build a happy future of society on human poverty, on the wrong done to a human being, on the suffering of a brother." That is why, he proposed an expansion of the actions based on human charity, on the love for the neighbour. The point is that the structures and institutions aiming at the sustainable development of the world are not sufficient in themselves. We still need to awaken human sensitivity, to shape such civic attitudes that are perceptive of the poverty and deprivation of other people that sometimes live in remote parts of this planet. And, indeed, the attitudes that release the spirit of solidarity among people.
The world expects from the Conference in Johannesburg a practical programme for transforming the commendable intentions and aims into reality. Many words, even the most right ones, but devoid of specific actions, or the will to overcome evil, provoke frustration, radicalism and even aggression. That is why, Johannesburg must send an intelligible signal that
- to prevent environmental
- to prevent poverty
- to prevent starvation
- to prevent diseases
we know what to do, we want to do it and we shall do it together, in solidarity!
This signal is required not for the success of the Conference, but for the prosperity of all of us - coinhabitants of Earth.
Prime Minister of Sweden
World Summit on Sustainable Development
3 September 2002
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have come to Johannesburg, because we believe that we can make a difference by working together. It is our responsibility as political leaders to look beyond narrow interests and seek durable solutions.
It is time to close the gap between words and deeds.
Each day, tens of thousands of children die because of hunger or diseases that are easy to cure.
This is totally unacceptable and unworthy the global community.
It is time to bring about real change for the people who need it most.
It is time to give hope to the young that they will live in a safer, more just and environmentally sound world.
Only concerted action will do this.
I am convinced that a global strategy for sustainable development offers great opportunities. Investments in education, in health care and in social protection are vital to social and economic progress. Such investments are not a burden for development, but an engine for growth. The need to change unsustainable production and consumption will promote innovation, new business opportunities, and job creation.
Together, we must unleash the potential of a more equitable, long-term and sustainable economic and social development. We must engage in what is probably the largest investment project of our time!
How do we do this? How do we make sure that this Summit becomes a turning point for national and international efforts to combat poverty and protect our environment?
We need to focus our efforts and resources on a number of key areas and set clear targets. Sustainable development cannot be about everything, or we risk doing nothing.
We must live up to the agreements already made. The Kyoto Protocol should be ratified by all countries as soon as possible.
We must be able to provide energy to the two billion people that today lack access to modern forms of energy, without increasing pollution and changing our climate. We need to initiate the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. We need to mobilize scientists, businesses and trade unions as well as consumers in a strategy for a decisive change to use new technologies and learn new behaviours. A global target of 15 percent renewable energy by 2010 would facilitate all this.
Industrial countries must take the lead - by changing their own production and consumption, and by promoting the exchange of technologies with developing countries. To stimulate such actions, the Swedish Government will make an additional contribution of 10 million euros to the Global Environment Facility.
We need to promote active participation by society as a whole. Governments, individuals and organizations, trade unions and private companies must work together, on the basis of clear objectives, accountability and follow-up.
One of the fundamentals in promoting change and increase participation is education. I would like to see more teachers discussing the impact of our lifestyles on the environment. Universities should offer courses on global survival issues and sustainable development in all major programs. We need to promote centres of educational and scientific excellence in these areas. In order to stimulate the breaking of new ground in sustainable development studies, Sweden is prepared to gather these centres to an international seminar next year.
We need better governance at all levels. Respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law and a corruption free society are fundamentals for sustainable development.
We need effective international co-operation and coherent action by international institutions. The international trade rules, the multilateral environmental agreements, and international conventions in areas such as labour standards, must all promote sustainable development and must be mutually supportive.
It is crucial that we achieve progress in increased market access for developing countries, as well as the phasing out of trade distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman
I started with a call for concrete
action. Let me end on the same note.
That we succeed is a question of political credibility, not just for individual political leaders, but also for multilateralism and the UN system as a whole.
Let us make this Summit the beginning of a new era of global co-operation and solidarity, within and between countries, for present and future generations.
Prime Minister and Minister for Fijian Affairs
World Summit on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, South Africa
03 September 2002
Your Excellency President Mbeki
May I begin by conveying sincere thanks and appreciation to your government and people for their warm welcome and hospitality.
This great country of South Africa gave us Nelson Mandela, a towering icon of our age, who has inspired millions of people across the world. His outstanding contribution in drawing the different communities of South Africa together sends a powerful message to us that while we may be citizens of our different countries, we are all children of the same mother Earth. We will do homage to his legacy if, in this Conference, we can find the courage and the will to come together in unity and make the right decisions to safeguard our collective future here on planet Earth.
Mr President, anyone coming to this conference cannot fail but be struck by the stark image of human suffering, especially here in Southern Africa.
I see a picture of a weary mother, in an impoverished village, ravished by drought and famine. Her baby is starving and will die soon. We must all speak for that mother and child and the millions who share their fate. A farmer in a nearby country tries desperately to scratch a living from the exhausted soil. He cannot support his family. He is in despair. We have to speak for that poor farmer and the suffering multitudes like him.
In the lonely atolls of my own marine continent in the Pacific, and islands of the Caribbean, people struggle to raise their families. They yearn for the simple things - a decent home, clean, piped water, a school with desks and enough books. We must share their yearning.
We come here in the name of sustainable development, a fashionable phrase, with a comforting almost reassuring ring to it. But it is really about the salvation of the Earth. It is about stopping humankind from grossly abusing and destroying Earth's resources.
For the affluent North, sustainable development at its most basic, means finding a less destructive way of maintaining and increasing the greatest accumulation of wealth in history.
For the South, it is different. It is more likely to mean giving a man a chance to own two good shirts and a digging fork and the money to buy a kilogram of rice. It is about listening to the cry of the distressed masses: help us to sustain ourselves and then we can sustain our countries and the world.
If they are left in misery, then we betray them, and this Conference becomes a cruel farce.
Thanks to Rio, there is greater
awareness now of the environment and why it must be
At the recent Summits in Fiji of the 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and of the 16 members of the Pacific Islands Forum, their Leaders issued declarations on the environment, referring to it as our common and sacred heritage.
Today when we view the condition of the world, we observe a wounded and bleeding planet. The degradation, the poisoning and the pollution continue. Natural resources and wildlife are still butchered, plundered and devastated. People starve and live in crushing poverty. HIV/AIDS and other lethal ailments, take a frightening toll. Wars, killings and violence add to the misery and destruction.
We should ask ourselves today whether our civilizations have turned into monsters bent on laying waste to, and devouring, that which gives them life?
We should ask for forgiveness for desecrating the gifts handed to us by God for safekeeping and sustenance. We are all guilty.
But here in Johannesburg, we have another opportunity to atone, and turn disaster into hope. Already media reports are suggesting this Summit will be a failure! Will it? Will we stand condemned yet again, or will we find the resolve, the strength of Mandela, to bring order and restoration from the havoc we have visited on the planet.
You will remember amazing images of Earth sent back to us by the astronauts. As they circled in space, they gazed, transfixed with wonder and awe, at this globe revolving in the Universe, in all its beauty. From where they travelled, the ravages wrought by the human race were not visible. Earth was a planet of splendour and wholeness, there among the stars. We, too, must try to see the completeness of the earth, its totality, and dedicate ourselves to renewing it. Then we can live in harmony with its beauty and natural riches.
It may be that all is not lost. Some rays of light shine still. For the nations of the ACP and the Pacific, our international vision is gathering around one word - partnerships. Partnerships between nations must cant' us through. We do not mean empty associations of mere convenience, lip service and expediency. We seek partnerships in their fuller sense, with genuine commitments to what is best for this world, led by ideals of sharing and justice and compassion.
We see some of this in the recent initiative by the Leaders of the Group of Eight countries for a new partnership for Africa's development and to provide debt relief assistance to the heavily indebted poor countries. These measures are to be applauded and welcomed.
The ACP and the Pacific Island Forum States give credit
to the European Union. We are in a real partnership with the
EU to attack poverty, redistribute wealth and promote
development, which will not destroy the future. The EU's
commitment to our countries is genuine. Right now the ACP
states are moving into negotiations with the EU for new
Economic Partnership Agreements within the framework of the
Cotonou accord. The aim is to build on the arrangements for
aid, trade and investment, which began with the Lome
Convention in 1975.
In the Pacific, we have a good partnership with our two wealthy neighbours, Australia and New Zealand. They, too, are prepared to share to correct inequalities and make common cause with poorer states. Increasingly, other larger nations such as Japan and China are assisting the region.
We pay tribute to those countries that have signified their intention to protect the environment by adopting and ratifying the Kyoto Convention. To those who have yet to do so, we ask: Will you display the courage, generosity and largeness of spirit the world needs from you? Will you join fully in forming a powerful partnership to rescue Earth?
Mr President, I bring to this Conference a message from our communities of the Pacific Islands. We are among the smallest countries on planet earth, but we are proud of our heritage as the people of the mighty Pacific Ocean. We are few in number, but we are united in our determination to protect it. We are custodians of the Pacific, not only for our people and region, but also for all the countries and peoples represented at this Conference.
Unhappily, our Pacific Ocean is being threatened from many quarters. Radioactive materials are being trans shipped across the Pacific against our wishes. We are seriously concerned about this because many generations of our people are still suffering from the after effects of nuclear weapons testing in our region. As island peoples dependent on marine resources for our livelihood, we are concerned about the indiscriminate commercial exploitation of our Ocean's rich tuna resources by distant water fishing fleets. For our countries that are low-lying coral atolls, the warming of the atmosphere and the consequence of a sea level rise, pose a direct and serious threat to their very survival.
I, therefore, make an earnest plea to everyone in this global Conference. Please join our Pacific Island Countries in partnership to protect our Ocean, to keep it safe and healthy for us, and for all our countries and peoples, for generations to come.
I also issue a call to this mighty assembly of leaders. Let us take an oath of allegiance to our planet Earth. Let us conserve it and give it respect and love.
Let us go forth from this Conference with a fresh vision of the future - a partnership for humanity, a partnership to create a new world where poverty is defeated, peace reigns and new hope blooms.
May Almighty God inspire us to protect our planet earth.