WSSD Statements: Ethiopia, UAE, Saudi Arabia
H.E. Mr. Girma Wolde
President of the Federal Democratic Republic of
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, South Africa,
Mr. Secretary General,
It gives me a great pleasure to express appreciation to South Africa and to the United Nations for the wonderful preparation made for this historic summit.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development is indeed a landmark event that presents us with an opportunity to go beyond verbal commitment to sustainable development. During the decade since the Rio Conference, sustainable development has become one of the priority issues on the agenda of the world community. We are now better aware of the close link between development and environment. We now also know with little abmbiguity that unless the two are handled in a mutually supportive manner, our planet will have little hope.
The overall assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21 reveals that a lot remains to be done. In some cases, the situation has even worsened. Inequality and poverty are on the rise and environmental degradation continues unabated. Moreover, increasing globalization of the world economy has unfortunately led to the marginalization of developing countries. The growing threat of HIV/AIDS is also a major obstacle to sustainable development. The result of all this has been not less but increased poverty.
Poverty is not friendly to the environment. We thus need to eradicate poverty in order to preserve our planet for the present and succeeding generations. Protection of our environment should not be viewed as a constraint to development, and nor should it be viewed a luxury which only rich countries could afford. This is a common challenge humanity faces. On the other hand, though the challenge is common, it is only fair and realistic that responsibilities, for obvious reasons, be differentiated.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that the world's climate is deteriorating as a result of green house gas emission, diminishing biological diversity and desertification and soil degradation. We must find global solutions to these challenges. Obviously, humanity does not lack either the resources or the technology to do this. We agree fully what is missing is the political will. It is our hope that this summit would indeed represent a turning point in this regard.
Due to unchecked population growth, widespread poverty and mismanagement of resources, Ethiopia faces severe environmental problems, including the loss of fertile land and forests, lack of freshwater, drought, and diminishing biodiversity, especially in densely populated areas.
For us Ethiopians our future lies in changing rural Ethiopia where 85% of the population reside. That is why we have given so much emphasis to agricultural transformation in our development strategy. That is how we intend to reduce poverty which is so rampant in our country.
The Government of Ethiopia is also re-doubling its efforts in combating HIV/AIDS that focuses on prevention since the pandemic is an increasing menace to the well being of our society and a growing obstacle to our developmental efforts.
Sustainable development has a particular significance for Ethiopia. We believe that environmental degradation is both the cause and effect of poverty and underdevelopment.
Various non-formal education programs are carried out in our country to promote better understanding of the relationship between the environment and human activity and the protection and regeneration of the environment, with strong participation and involvement of civil society.
At the continental level, we have renewed our commitment to sustainable development in Africa when we launched the African Union just over a month ago here in South Africa and in the context of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
It is our hope that this summit will succeed in coming up with a plan of implementation which is both realistic and serious and which takes into account how little time we have to avert a disaster to the only planet we have. I am personally encouraged by what I have heard yesterday and today by representatives of countries, including those who are in a position to make a real difference. I am hopeful that this will be a summit which will be long remembered as a gathering which made a real difference in protecting our planet.
I thank you
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
PRESIDENTIAL COURT ABU DHABI
H.H Sheikh Hamad Bin Mohammed
Member of the Supre council and Ruler of Fujairah
World Summit on Sustainable Development
3 September 2002
Your Majesties, Your Highnesses,
Heads of States,
Heads of Delegations to the Conference,
On behalf of H.H Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, I am honored to convey his sincere thanks and appreciation to you and to the People of South Africa for hosting this international event, which is very important due to the enormous changes in international relations. Also allow me to wish all the success to this conference and to convey our thanks for your generous hospitality.
The United Arab Emirates has always recognized the importance of conserving the environmental resources, something that became one of the important bases in its developmental policies for the present and future generations. During the past three decades, the United Arab Emirates has achieved major steps in sustainable development covering economic, social and environmental fields. In addition, the United Arab Emirates has promoted investments and diversified the sources of its national income to reduce dependency on oil industry as its only source of income. It has also promoted environment-friendly industries.
'The united Arab Emirates has devoted great interest to the devlopment of health services and education at all levels. It has also given special attention to women's development in order to encourage their active participation in the process of sustainable development. It has as well worked on the provision of a better life for its citizens through social welfare programs. The United Arab Emirates has provided financial and humanitarian aid to many countries of the world, especially the least developing countries and has thus contributed around 4% of its GDP in the form of loans and grants, of which 80% were in the form of grants for sustainable development.
In the environment field, and under the guidance of H.H Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, major efforts were directed to the development of many establishments concerned with environmental issues. Special attention was given to promoting agriculture and combating desertification despite the hard climatic conditions and the scarcity of water resources, which considerably increased the area of cultivated land in the United Arab Emirates.
In order to emphasize its commitment to the principles of protection of the environment and achievement of sustainable development, the United Arab Emirates finalized the National Environmental Strategy and the National Environmental Action Plan in accordance with agenda for the 21st century. It has adopted many environmental initiatives at international level among which are Zayed Environment Prize and Abu Dhabi International Initiative for Collection of Environmental Data. It has also declared the 4th of February as the National Environment Day in United Arab Emirates. Terrestrial and Marine Wildlife have also been a major concern in the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the protection of endangered species.
The United Arab Emirates has signed many regional and international conventions that are concerned with climate, protection of the environment from pollution and combating desertification.
The ten-years experience that the world has gone through clearly showed that conservation of natural resources and achievement of sustainable development, which was agreed upon in Rio, calls for collated efforts in all countries of the world as well as all countries' commitment to this issue. For still there is poverty, desertification, drought, social problems, unemployment and debts in many developing countries. In addition to the occupation, aggression and crimes committed against humans as is happening now in occupied Palestine. All these are the main obstacles faced in the implementation of Agenda for the 21st century and the creation of the fair and just international socio-economic environment that supports the participation of developing countries and their integration in the implementation of strategies for sustainable development.
I take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of commitment to the common but differentiated responsibilities of the countries of the world towards protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development; taking into consideration that this was one of Rio Summit's principles. It is essential not to exert pressure on developing countries or to enforce new commitments on them as a result of industrial countries' failure to fulfill their commitments as well as not to use the concepts of consumption patterns, production, globalization and other concepts as reasons for interference with the sovereignty of these countries. It is important not to use environmental considerations as reasons to prevent the entry of developing countries' products to the international market. It is also important to avoid the setting of timetables for alternative energy sources before looking into this matter carefully in order to prevent any failures that could cause hindrance to the world development.
It is necessary to stress that the international society and the United Nations should play an active role in achieving international security and peace specially in the Gulf Region and the Middle East according to international and United Nations Resolutions and to put an end to all forms of occupation and illegal settlements, in addition to concentrating efforts towards preventing the use of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and to declare the Middle East and the Gulf as an area free of such weapons.
Finally, I take this opportunity to present to you one of the important recommendations of the Scientific and International Conference on "The Universe and Human Fate" which was held in Abu Dhabi this year, which emphasized the right of all people to outer space and the right of every country to have its own programs and scientific research in this field. It stressed that priority should be given to scientific and peaceful research in outer space and to avoid military control of outer space as well as to avoid using it as a tool for destruction of the earth.
The convening of the World Summit represents an important step that will give the international society a historic chance to analyze the main reasons that hindered the implementation of Rio Summit Recommendations and Decisions, as well as to reach an international agreement on all issues related to the environment and sustainable development.
Thank you Mr. President.
BIN JA'AFAR FAQEEH
THE MINISTER OF COMMERCE
THE HEAD OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN DELEGATION
THE WORLD SUMMIT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
3 SEPTEMBER 2002
Your Excellency President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki
Your Honor, Your Highnesses,
Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations
I am honored to convey to you the greetings and best wishes of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd ibn Abd al-`Aziz and Crown Prince, `Abd Allah ibn `Abd al `Aziz. I sincerely thank Your Excellency and the friendly Government of South Africa for hosting this highly regarded international summit. I would like to further express our appreciation of the outstanding efforts and successful endeavors to employ the outcome of this Summit in attaining the goals of sustainable development for human kind and to instigate the agreed principles within a suitable frameworks in order to achieve our common objectives on equality, and equitable opportunities for all segments of the world community to live in peace, dignity and prosperity.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to HE the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan for his outstanding reports on the outcome of this Summit's preparatory committees, his valuable recommendations and practical plans of actions.
Holding this international Summit on sustainable development is in itself an acknowledgment of all nations' unequivocal equal rights to obtain their legitimate share of the outcome of such comprehensive development and to enjoy equitable opportunities through effective participation in decision-making on all aspects of international economic issues. It also reaffirms the need for full adherence to the principles of constructive cooperation to deal with the growing challenges facing our world today. This obligates us to start a new phase of serious collective efforts to face such challenges and shoulder the responsibilities with the aim to formulate a clear vision and well defined goals. We should also strive to accommodate our common priorities and contain all inseparable issues in a comprehensive strategy in order to realize a reasonable and fair balance between the basic fundamentals of true partnership, among all members of the international community, and ensure full respect of national sovereignty, human dignity and cultural diversity, within the noble objectives of the United Nations Charter.
We sincerely hope that this Summit will result in objective, transparent decisions that reaffirm full adherence to the principles of justice, freedom, equality, and eliminate all aspects of grievances, subjugation and deprivation so as to truly contribute to the achievement of human aspiration for sustainable development and prosperity within an atmosphere of mutual respect, peace and security.
Recently issued reports by the United Nations have indicated that initiatives and efforts exerted in the areas of sustainable development, since the approval of Agenda 21 in Rio 92, were seriously hampered. Such weak results and the lack of progress in the implementation of those initiatives did not meet the modest expectations of developing and least developed nations. This is primarily due to the fact that those initiatives lacked practical plans of actions and pragmatic work programs, in addition to harsh conditionality combined with sharp decline in development aid, that have resulted in heavy financial burdens and consequently limited the tangible results of development.
In spite of the relative improvement of some countries' economic conditions during the nineties, due to the positive impact of globalization, trade liberalization, information technology application and modern communications methods, the majority of developing countries did not have their fair share in these positive results. They continued to suffer from declining growth rates, increasing poverty, acute food shortage, serious unemployment, contagious diseases and severe debt burdens. These factors combined, have led to the marginalization of a large number of these countries and further widened the gap of inequality, economic and social imbalances.
Since its establishment over a century ago and based on its deep-rooted conviction in international cooperation and the mutual responsibility of world community in fighting underdevelopment and deprivation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has deployed its capabilities and resources towards advancing economic, social and environmental development not only at the domestic level, but also through its effective presence and generous contributions to international development institutions. The Kingdom has provided monetary and development assistance in the form of outright grants and concessionary long term loans, to a large number of developing and least developed countries worldwide, to help enhancing their capabilities in facing development challenges. During the last three decades, the Kingdom's total aid amounted to 76 billion dollars, of which 40 billion dollars were granted during the past two decades, representing about 4% of the Kingdom's GDP. This assistance was extended to 73 developing countries, 41 of which are in Africa. Furthermore, the Kingdom answered the Sixth Islamic Summit Conference call by canceling 6 billion dollars of its official aid benefiting a number of developing and least developed countries.
In this context, we call upon advanced nations to reaffirm their commitment to the true concept of North-South economic and technical cooperation by adopting effective and practical methods in mobilizing sufficient financial resources required for the. implementation of meaningful development programs in developing and least developed countries. Advanced economies should also ensure effective participation of developing economies in international decision making process with faithful cooperation aiming at protecting their rights and preserving their human dignity. We believe that this can be achieved through a sincere endeavor to realize the following objectives:
Developed countries should renew their
commitment to allocate 0.7% of their annual GDP for
development aid programs during the current
decade, and adopt effective methods of delivery of this aid
to the needy countries.
Adopt creative methods to deal with the heavy burden of foreign debt of least-developed nations by canceling the greater part of such debts and alleviating the burden or converting it into equity financing.
Improve the multilateral trading system to ensure that developing nations' exports reach international markets, without obstacles, enhancing these nations' ability to attract investments, and facilitating the utilization of modern technology especially in the fields of pharmaceuticals to fight epidemics and infectious diseases.
The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in early 1995 was an event of great significance in international socio-economic relations. The creation of this Organization has provided the third pillar of the international economic system, entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the rules of the multilateral trading system and serve as a forum for comprehensive multilateral trade negotiations.
However, the WTO has not been able to fulfill the aspirations of developing nations. It has not been able to ensure faithful implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements by its major members and has failed to prevent new trade protectionist measures. This has led to a growing feeling of injustice among developing nations who have strong doubts about the fairness of the multilateral trading system. There is a wide-spread perception among those nations that the benefits of such system have eluded them.
In addition, WTO which rightly takes pride in the creation of a liberal international trading system, based on the rule of law, transparency, predictability and mutual benefits, is deeply distorted by the fact that some of its members do not always adhere to these principles. The Kingdom joins other developing nations in demanding that the multilateral trading system be fair to reflect the reality of its membership, equitable to advocate the benefits to all nations, and transparent to preserve the integrity of the system. It should refrain from imposing unjust demands upon acceding countries that far exceed the current obligations of the founding members. The Organization must strive to protect its principles in order to achieve the universality of the system so that it could effectively contribute to the objective of sustainable development.
The Government of Saudi Arabia fully supports the notion that the main objective of this Summit should be to confirm full adherence to the Third Millennium Declaration through which world leaders have expressed their determination for peace to prevail all over the world based on the principles of international legitimacy that stem from the noble objectives of the UN's Charter. However, the inability to achieve a just peace in the Middle East, due to the continuing Israeli aggression and occupation of Arab lands, represents a major hindrance to any meaningful development and fuels to the atmosphere of instability and continued tension. This increases the burdens on Arab countries and obstructs their efforts aimed at the continuation of economic and social development.
It is well-known that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a major world producer and exporter of oil. Yet it is still a developing country where the oil sector represents the major component of its GDP and more than 85% of its total exports. In its endeavor to achieve sustainable development, the Kingdom adopted three decades ago a self-imposed economic reform strategy to facilitate the implementation of bold decisions through concerted efforts, aiming at diversifying its economic base through the creation of new productive streams to our GDP. The mainstay of this strategy aims at unleashing the vigor and vitality of the private sector through privatization, foreign investment, tourism and further liberalization of our trade regime. It is out of this real experience that the Kingdom can highly appreciate the enormous challenges facing developing nations in their endeavor to overcome these difficulties and realize their legitimate ambitions.
The Saudi delegation has effectively participated in the preparatory meetings of this Summit and expressed our views on the issues under discussion. I would like here to briefly summarize the Saudi position on these issues:
First: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia looks forward with great interest to the outcome of this Summit as it represents a historical event and a qualitative leap in the UN's efforts to achieve sustainable development and the culmination of unrelenting work by all relevant international agencies in order to achieve this goal.
Second: Tackling the outstanding development issues calls for strong political will in giving top priority to eradication of poverty, hunger and diseases in order to realize acceptable living standards and preserve human dignity for all people of the world. Such a goal will not be achieved without complete and sincere implementation of Agenda 21 objectives and recommendations.
Third: To ensure substantial changes in production and consumption patterns in developed countries, in order to create real opportunities, to achieve the goals of sustainable development at all levels. While developed countries represent 20% of the world population, these countries consume 85% of petrochemicals and aluminum, 80% of energy, iron, steel and paper, 75% of wood, 56% of meat, fertilizers and cement and 50%. of fish. These developed countries also produce 96% of radioactive materials, 90% of harmful gases to the ozone layer and 75% of the greenhouse effects.
Fourth: It is absolutely necessary to remove trading obstacles applied by developed countries in violation of their obligations within the framework of the WTO. The relative improvement in market access to developed countries was confronted, in many cases, by attempts to invoke new protective measures under various pretexts, including the excessive use of social, technical and environmental measures. This neo-protectionism has deprived the main exports of developing nations from reaching their legitimate destination and diminished their market share. Effective programs must also be established and implemented to support technical assistance and capacity building of developing and least-developed countries to enable them to compete and gradually integrate in the international economic system which will lead to the achievement of fair and sustainable development. The harmful economic and social effects of trade distorting policies followed by some countries due to the lack of legal and organizational frameworks should also be eliminated.
Fifth: The Kingdom's policy of protecting our natural environment stems from the teachings of Islam. Therefore, the Kingdom has adopted this policy in its endeavor to achieve development and welfare for its people without compromising the natural environment or encroaching upon the rights of future generations. The Kingdom also attaches great importance to all related environmental issues. Such issues enjoy high profile in domestic and foreign policies. This emanates from the fact that the well being of mankind is closely connected to the safety of his surrounding environment. Out of this conviction, the Kingdom has effectively participated in all international conferences and organizations in charge of the environmental protection and has joined several related international agreements. In this context, we hope that objectivity will prevail within international efforts dealing with environmental problems. These efforts should be based on serious scientific studies, genuine research, and take into consideration the necessity of transferring environmentally related technologies to developing countries in order to play an effective role in this regard.
Sixth: To reaffirm the need of serious international cooperation for finding convincing and effective solutions that take into account common but differentiated responsibilities with various environmental standards for different countries. The circumstances and needs of developing and developed countries should be taken into account so that such solutions do not require costly structural amendments, negative changes in the priorities of economic and social development or incurring additional burdens as a result of implementing those changes.
Seventh: The Kingdom also requests the elimination of discriminatory tax policies of industrial nations imposed on petroleum products under the pretext of environmental considerations. These negatively affect the opportunities of achieving sustainable development in oil-exporting developing countries, while industrial nations provide excessive subsidies, incentives and allowances to coal and nuclear energy. We find no logical or scientific justification for this, especially in light of increasing levels of production of coal fuel and the many accidents of nuclear reactors. Emphasis on, and incentives to coal and nuclear energy adversely affect the health and life of mankind.
Eighth: We believe that the comprehensive concept of human rights should be based on the realization that human communities have special characteristics, cultures, beliefs and religions, which must be acknowledged and respected. While the UN charter reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, we find 3 billion people living on two dollars a day or less. A starving human being who cannot find a morsel to eat, or potable water to drink, or a roof to provide shelter, much less medical treatment, will find in discussions of human rights nothing but an attempt to put slogans in place of painful reality- and slogans cannot feed the hungry. This international norm cannot be acceptable to everyone unless it takes into consideration the constructive contributions made and still being made by other civilizations and cultures in firmly establishing and protecting the concepts of human rights. The Kingdom adheres to the noble objectives and goals that call for the protection of human rights and preservation of human dignity based on the noble principles and values enshrined in our holy constitution that has made of mankind the noblest creature on earth. This adherence is manifested clearly in the Basic Rules of Governance of the Kingdom. Therefore, we do not accept using the noble intentions of the concept of human rights as a means of pressure in order to achieve political and economic gains that are simply an excuse to interfere in other peoples' affairs.
Ninth: Talking about economic globalization in its wider sense requires us to acknowledge that it represents a dynamic force that opens opportunities and poses challenges and risks. Its effect on various countries and societies is different because they are not equally prepared to avail of the positive characteristics of globalization or able to avoid or minimize its risks. For this reason, there is an urgent need to adopt a new method characterized by balanced rights and obligations, fairness and transparency to establish "codified globalization" that will create firm bases for real partnership. It will provide all countries with equal opportunities to benefit from the outcome of globalization and share in the benefits of trade liberalization and better market access. The international community and advanced nations in particular need to widen the scope of technical cooperation, capacity building and institutional improvement, and to facilitate technology transfer to achieve the goals of comprehensive and sustainable development in developing and least-developed countries. That will speed up their development and enable them to utilize the relative advantages available to them in increasing the economic value added of their natural resources and enhancing their competitive advantages. They would thus be able to benefit from globalization, digital economy and e-commerce, in a world of increasing dependency on advanced knowledge, to face the challenges of the 21" century.
nations look forward to this Summit hoping that its
decisions will be effective in realizing their ambitions to
live honorably without hunger, fear or disease and provide
the futurd generations with a promising chance of better
life and a brighter and more secure future.