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WSSD Statements: Israel, Tonga, Vietnam




Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres

at the
World Summit for Sustainable Development

Johannesburtz, South Africa
September 3, 2002

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Colleagues and Friends,

The Lord led Adam through the Garden of Eden and said to him: "...all I created - I created for you. Beware lest you spoil and destroy my world, for if you will spoil it, there is no one to repair it after you." (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13)

We are here to repair. So this week the world's eyes are again focused on South Africa, the country that was once torn by strife and bloodshed, but chose to embark on a different course: instead of revenge, reconciliation; instead of apartheid, togetherness - Following in the path of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Today, there is a new South Africa, led inspiringly by President Mbeki, demonstrating that as we study the past, we are able to learn that the future can be changed.

The environment in the Middle East stands confused in the face of the political arrogance that has taken hold of it. For our wide blue skies, deep blue seas and generous sun, were witness to the greatest events and achievements of days past:
the emergence of faith in one god;
the birth of cultures and civilizations;
the roots of technology and science.

This very region is at present sadly in arrear as a result of conflicts that can be resolved, and poverty-generated neglect, that can be overcome.

The polemics that rage in the region undermine dialogue, and the terror that has washed over it has given birth to distrust. As a result, the desert is eroding the fertile soil and the conflicts prevent the water from flowing along its natural and logical course.

The region is in need of a renewed dialogue. And the real dialogue must not only focus on the goals - that are becoming increasingly clearer - but also on the ways of attaining them. We have more or less an agreed map of peace. We have to clear the road map from needless dangers. Terror will accomplish nothing.

The agreed-upon borders may end the conflict. A new horizon may cater to needs that know no borders: in health, irrigation, tourism, transportation, communication, technology and the environment itself.

At home, we clasp our national passports, but to Johannesburg, we have come carrying global identity cards.

Therefore, to act, we need not wait for peace agreements to be signed. Regional development can afford no delay. Moreover, as the jury of history is yet to return a verdict on the question: "which is the more potent agent of change: political agreements or regional cooperation," I suggest investing in cooperation as a peace-building tool. Therefore, I wish to make reference to a number of initial globally-endorsed, regionally-based projects that can produce a transformation:

• Establish a virtual regional pharmacy, that would secure the supply of medical drugs at a price affordable to all.
• Plant, over a decade, a billion trees, to effect a change in the climate of the region (Israel alone planted 200 million trees in the last years).
• Build a water conduit between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, to save the Dead Sea from death.
• Establish a regional water bank, that will facilitate planning and technological application processes for water production, water recycling, water transportation and water usage conservation.
• Develop a regional IT system, that will serve as an infrastructure for: distant learning; distant medicine; and academic centers of research.

The Middle East has enshrined its place in world history as the center of innovation - spiritually, culturally and otherwise. Let our generation be the first to generate re-generation.

A while back, and to my pleasant surprise, a Moslem educator from South Africa told the following Jewish story (that I did not know) at a UNESCO gathering:

A rabbi posed to his students the following important question: "When does night end and day begins?" One student replied: "When from afar you can distinguish between a goat and a sheep, the night is over." Another student said: "When you can see the difference between an olive tree and a fig tree, the day has begun."

They awaited the reply of the rabbi, who finally spoke: "When you see a woman, either black or white, you tell her, `You are my sister.' When you see a man, either rich or poor, you tell him, `You are my brother.' This is when the night has ended and a new day has dawned."








Johannesburg, South Africa

Mr President,
Secretary General of the United Nations,
Distinguished delegates,

It is indeed an honour to be here today in Johannesburg at this World Summit on Sustainable Development, 26 August to 4 September 2002.

Mr President

We have come from all parts of the world to assess the challenges facing us under the theme “People, planet and prosperity” which, together with the three pillars of sustainable development and the goals of the Millennium Declaration, forms the interwoven fabric of our collective developmental aspirations.

Our collective presence here at this summit is aimed at working together in partnership to improve the living standards of people in the developing countries including small island developing states to allow for concrete improvement of the environment over the next decade.

Mr President

Sustainable economic growth is needed to reduce poverty in small island economies and this inevitably requires increased investment, technical progress and international trade. In order for international trade to have a lasting impact, there is need for market access for our agricultural products, fisheries, handicrafts and manufactured goods. In this regard we look with optimism to the results of Doha and Monterrey.

Mr President

The Kingdom of Tonga is a small island developing state which is located in the South Pacific Ocean with Australia, Fiji and Samoa to the north and New Zealand to the south. Like other developing states in the Pacific and other parts of the world, Tonga is made up of many small islands. As such, improved transportation – both marine/sea and air, telecommunication and market access for our agricultural, fisheries, handicrafts and manufactured products; and increased tourism are critical to our economic growth in order to reduce poverty among our people.

Mr President

We need investment in order to strengthen our productive sectors. We need investment in education, in information and communication technologies such as computers, in hospitals, in capacity building for sustainable development in order to address the problems arising from climate change and associated sea level rise, natural disasters but to name a few. We need partnerships between government, NGOs and the private sector; we need more exports and more tourism to assist us in reducing poverty; we need assistance to build sea walls in order to protect our people and our scarce land resource from rising sea level.

The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific have made, through collective efforts with other small island developing states within the context of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) Communiqué and the Pacific Island Umbrella Initiative/Partnerships, submissions to this World Summit on Sustainable Development. Both the Initiatives and the Communique have been endorsed by our respective leaders.

All of the interests of Tonga and other small island developing states are reflected in the AOSIS Communique and the Pacific Island Umbrella Initiative/Partnerships and I stand before you today to seek your support in including Tonga and other small island developing states interests in the agreed Plan of Action to reverse global degradation of the environment and close the gap between rich and poor which is a product of this Johannesburg’s World Summit on Sustainable Development. I feel that Tonga has significant roles to play in terms of implementation of the Action Plan and perhaps, one of the most immediate things for us to do on returning to capital is to complete the remaining formalities needed before Tonga becomes a party to the Kyoto Protocol.

Captain Cook, some 300 years ago, called the Kingdom of Tonga the “Friendly Islands” and King John II of Portugal named the southern point of Africa the “Cape of Good Hope”. We are all gathering here in Johannesburg, South Africa with a hope for a better life for our people over the next decade since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro has done little for us. We hope that your Cape of Good Hope will turn our hope to reality.

Mr President

Before concluding, please allow me, on behalf of my delegation and the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, to convey our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the Secretary General of the United Nations for the logistical planning of this Summit; and the Government and people of this most beautiful country of South Africa for allowing us to come here and for the unceasing care and warm hospitality that have been duly accorded to us during our stay.

I thank you Mr President.






H.E. Pham Gia Khiem
Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

at the
World summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
3 September 2002

Your Excellency, Mr. President,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world has undergone rapid changes since the Rio Summit. Globalization has become prevalent. Scientific and technological advances have become a strong momentum for development. The rich-poor gap within and among nations keeps increasing, and the global environment is degrading at an alarming pace. Sustainable development at both national and global levels is under serious threats. In reviewing the implementation of Agenda 21 over the past 10 years, at this Summit, it is essential that we draw experiences and lessons from both successes and failures in order to formulate an appropriate Plan of Implementation. The Vietnamese Delegation will do its utmost to contribute to the success of the Summit.

At the 1992 Rio Summit, the Vietnamese Government pledged to fully implement Agenda 21. Over the past ten years, in fulfilling such commitments, Vietnam has brought into full play the country's internal resources and actively integrated into the region and the world with a view to achieving rapid economic growth, social equality and environmental protection. In the implementation of the 10-year Strategy on SocioEconomic Stabilization and Development, the country's legal system and institutions for environmental protection, and its macro policies on socioeconomic development have been improved and perfected to meet these three important demands in line with the Rio Summit's goal of ensuring sustainable development. We have recorded important achievements in this connexion. Our country was able to get out of the lingering socio-economic crisis which began in the post-war period and has entered a new stage of stability and development. Its GDP for the year 2000 doubled that of 1990. During the past ten years, the poverty rate has fallen from over 30% to over 10% while literacy has increased to 93%. As a poor country, Vietnam's achievements in the fields of education, training and healthcare are at the level of more developed countries. In UN reports, its human and gender development indexes keep improving. The Vietnamese Government has decided to allocate 2.5 billion US dollars for the reforestation programme and to close all natural forests. By the year 2001, the Government has demarcated for protection 101 national ecological parks of biodiversity, cultural and historical heritages with a total area of 2.1 million hectares, accounting for 6 % of the country's territory. The forest coverage has increased to 33.2% of the natural area. Focus has also been given to the prevention of environmental pollution with a view to minimizing and effectively mitigating the consequences of environmental incidents.

In striving for sustainable development, however, we are still facing acute challenges such as the low level of economic, scientific and technological development, inadequate public awareness of the importance of environmental protection, financial constraints, and so on. Here, we would like to emphasize the urgent need for the mitigation of the lingering serious consequences caused to human beings and the environment by the 72 million liters of agent orange/dioxin used by the US during the Vietnam war. The Vietnamese Government calls upon the international community, for humanity and especially, the US Government, for its moral responsibilities and for people's right to life, to take concrete measures to provide material, technical and financial assistance for the mitigation of those consequences, especially to help the victims of agent orange/dioxin and their families.

Mr. President,

To protect and preserve the environment on Earth for sustainable development, Vietnam is committed to strictly observing relevant international treaties. I wish to reaffirm our pledge to strictly comply with the principles adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit and express our endorsement of the recommendations by ASEAN to this Summit, especially those on increasing the ODA proportion for environmental activities up to 15%-20%, on upgrading the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with a view to better responding to the need of sustainable development, and on enhancing the effects of related international treaties

On behalf of the Vietnamese Government Delegation, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa for their excellent arrangements for the Conference and for our Delegation.

Thank you for your attention.


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