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Summit Institute for Sustainable Development Event

Summit Institute for Sustainable Development Event


Remarks with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman at Summit Institute for Sustainable Development Event

Secretary Colin L. Powell St. David s Marist College Johannesburg, South Africa September 4, 2002

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Bassett, I am indeed very pleased to be here at the Summit Institute for Sustainable Development on this very, very beautiful campus and I thank the St. David s authorities for making it available for this purpose. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of thousands of people, the World Summit on Sustainable Development has taken giant strides towards making a difference in people s lives.

As President Bush has clearly stated, poverty is an urgent global problem that demands action by the entire world community. That is why we are all here, why we have been here for the last almost two weeks, and we will all be measured by our success in addressing this problem. The Summit Institute is central to the World Summit s long-term success because the Institute is a truly innovative program that encourages Summit delegates from all backgrounds and all countries to come together to share their expertise, to learn practical approaches and to build national capacities for achieving sustainable development.

Sustainable development is a marathon, not a sprint. It is going to take a long time. It is a long road ahead. We will not achieve sustainable development through meetings alone but only through sustained activity by committed, empowered and educated individuals.

Clearly without a doubt, education is the foundation for development and that is where the Summit Institute comes in. It has provided over 70 courses to some 2000 students with instructors from developed and developing countries voluntarily, willingly sharing their expertise, their experience, their knowledge. Here in Johannesburg, the Institute s planners have upgraded the internet capacity of St. David s. After the conference is over, the Institute s computer equipment will be donated to the public schools of Johannesburg, to St. David s Marist College, and to private organizations.

On our way over here, Governor Whitman and I had a chance to stop in on a class and we were very impressed by what we saw. An instructor from her organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, was giving a class on some of the laws and principles and policies followed in the United States with respect to these issues - not as a way of saying this is how we do it in America, therefore this is how you have to do it in your country, but here is our experience, here is what we have learned about this over the years. We are here to share that experience with you. We are here to learn from you. You know a great deal. You know more about your country that we do, so let us share the experiences and not just share them for this one day, at this one time and in this one place, but let s see if we can stay in touch and network in the future to make sure that this kind of institute, this kind of learning, this kind of educational process is a continuing one, more than just a set of programs.

The Summit Institute is a fine example of the type of partnership that we were so interested in achieving at this summit, a partnership between government, civil society and the private sector. That holds the key - the kind of partnership that holds the key to spreading the benefits of sustainable development as widely as possible. I am pleased that the United States government is a founding partner of the Institute along with the Smithsonian Institution, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the World Conservation Union and the South African Department of Education.

The World Summit is drawing to an end, but the Institute s impact will continue long after the last delegates have returned home. I hope, as I said earlier, that we will be able to make capacity building programs like the Summit Institute a feature of all relevant international meetings, such as the 2003 World Parks Conference. The Summit Institute would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of so many people who are here today, and I thank each and every one of you and the organizations you represent for your very, very fine work and I congratulate you on this success. Thank you very, very much.

ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN: Thank you very much and it is my honor to be here today. I want to take a moment first to thank all of our partners. I am pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency has been able to play a role in this Institute but I want to thank the host, St. David s Marist College, but particularly I want to single out someone who was the genesis of this, and I do particularly want to call attention to Dr. Leonard Hersch and the Smithsonian Institution and all that he did to make this possible, because I will say that I believe that this Institute truly epitomizes what the World Summit on Sustainable Development is all about.

It is about a continued commitment by the world to improving the lot and the protection of the environment of the citizens of the world. As the Secretary of State said, that is not going to happen at one meeting, it is not going to happen in two or three meetings. It is going to happen because of what people do when they get back. It is going to happen because of the partnerships that have been established here and I am pleased that we have been part of those partnerships, one that is very exciting to help establish environmental indicators on children s health so that we understand better the consequences of dirty air and impure water, what we can do to protect our children, thirty percent of the world s population, but a hundred percent of the world s future.

I am also pleased that we were able to announce the partnerships on air, indoor air and urban air, because we know that two million people a year die from indoor air and it is mostly our women and children who are affected. We know the toll it takes in our inner cities and our cities, our urban populations as they grow. We also know though that it is going to take true partnerships, it is going to require that we have NGOs, that we have business communities, that we have federal, provincial, state, and local governments as part of those partnerships.

This Institute is a way of empowering those people who are going to go back and take, not only what they have learned and joined together in the partnerships but what they have and the ideas they have been able to exchange with their compatriots in the course of this Institute and make it work on the ground. Knowledge is power. What we need to insure that we continue delivering our messages is power, it is going to take a long time to have the kind of effect and impact that we want. We have committed to halving the number of people who do not now have access to clean water by 2015 and halving the number of them who do not have access to proper sanitation by 2015. That is going to take an awful lot of work and it is going to take a lot of people and the beauty of this Institute, we have had people from 40 different nations here and it has been a two way street. It has been exchanging ideas and saying what works and what doesn t work and giving the people who are going to go back and have responsibility for engaging their communities and their countries in the discussion in environmental. Giving them an understanding, so they can make decisions that work for their country, for their community, because we know that there is not a one size fits all, that there are different challenges faced by every community and so I am delighted to be here today,

I am delighted with the way the Summit has concluded or is concluding now. There has been a real commitment on the part of the world s governance to continue this dialogue and to do more than that to actually see action. We are going to see action because we have partnerships with the people who actually make things happen. Very often, even though I now represent the federal government, we know that the action takes place in the local communities. That is where things really happen. And while it may not always happen as quickly or as broadly as we would like, if it is happening, if we are moving forward, if we are affecting lives on a daily basis, if we are helping people be a little healthier, helping them toward reaching their potential, particularly among our children, then we are doing what we need to do. As we build, we build a capacity to take that broader and deeper.

So I want to thank all of you who are here today who took the time to be with us for this and all of you who have been participating in the summit. Again I want to congratulate South Africa for the incredible job they have done hosting and all those who were part of this summit but I also want to thank those who have been our partners in this Institute and again, I want to single out the Smithsonian and Leonard for all that you have done, your idea of bringing this together and allowing us to be part of this with you. Thank you all very, very much for being here today and your commitment to the environment and the world. Thank you.

[End]


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