Bucharest, Romania, on 27 June 2001
Your Excellency President Iliescu,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The WSSD will take stock of what has happened with the message of RIO 1992 and set priorities for the future. Starting point is Agenda 21 and the measure in which we all succeeded in implementing it. The process is well comparable with the Environment for Europe process through which Europe reviews its environmental performance every 4 or 5 years. Rio + 10 however is broader and includes a review of progress towards social and economic sustainability. It also includes a critical look at how we have been organizing and financing our work to reach our goals.
The Commission on Sustainable Development in New York decided that the global review would be built on regional reviews. One could say that this year is for the regions while next year brings us together in the global setting of the CSD and Johannesburg. The Regional Commissions of the UN and UNEP's Regional Offices have been asked to organize and service the regional reviews. The instructions are to make the consultation process as broad and inclusive as possible. Priority setting should be based on an analytical assessment of the state of the environment under past performance, and address the globe, the region and their environmental governance.
In the ECE region which includes greater Europe, the US and Canada, the review is well underway. The assessment report has been prepared jointly by the ECE and my Office and is available on the website of both organizations. It has benefited from inputs and co-operation with many, including the EEA, the OECD and the REC. As far as the environment is concerned the outcome of the analysis is not much different than that of the Second Assessment of Europe's Environment prepared for the Arhus Conference in June 1998: much has been done and achieved but most of the problems continue to outgrow the available solutions.
Two examples. The Arhus Conference was informed that environmental policy and technology improvements have not kept up with the growth in transport; the sector became the dominant contributor to nitrogen oxide emissions. Two years later our Rio + 10 assessment confirms that transport developments and related infrastructural needs are jeopardizing the ability of Europe to achieve its environmental policy targets. Comprehensive packages combining economic incentives, land use planning, demand management, new technology, information and education, and regulation are needed to mitigate the problems and avoid unacceptable environment and health impacts.
The Arhus assessment also noted that Europe's environment is affected by the impacts of major technological accidents and natural hazards. Now, two years later we read that related costs in terms of economic and insured losses are growing. This underlines the need to better prevent and address environmental disasters through a combination of better land use planning, technical and behavioural changes, and improved hazardous risk management practises. The unfortunate cyanide spill incident in Baia Mare, which environmental impact I witnessed myself as Head of the UNEP/OCHA Assessment team, proves the relevance of this recommendation for this region.
On the social, economic and political front the Rio+10 assessment for Europe recalls that Eastern Europe has suffered severe setbacks in human development and a rise in human poverty during the transition process. State authority and public law enforcement are relatively weak. Putting in place an open participatory democracy remains a challenge for many Eastern European Governments for the years to come. The accession process has contributed to a widening of the gap between the CEE countries and the NIS.
Another gap which according to the report has been growing is that between the North and the South. The globalisation process has facilitated economic integration and witnessed a growth in trade and investment flows, in particular in Western Europe. However, while interdependence among these economies increased, it has weakened with the rest of the world. Poverty remains the largest environmental problem in the world. Developing countries in the South suffer more and more from the exported environmental externalities of the strongly increasing consumption in the North.
Our assessment seems clear, we know what is wrong. But do we also know how to put it right? The report concludes that the operationalization of sustainable development in the region is still in its infancy. Governments therefore will be asked to adopt a Statement highlighting what needs to be done better and how. The draft of this statement has been circulated and will undergo a first reading by Governments and stakeholders in Geneva on 12 and 13 July. At that meeting a process will have to be put in place for finalizing and agreeing on the priorities at the European regional preparatory meeting in Geneva on 24 and 25 September this year.
The recommendations in the draft Statement are asking Governments first and foremost to more effectively use a mix of the instruments available to them for environmental management, in particular regulations and economic instruments. Dematerializing the economy through improving resource efficiency, raising consumer awareness and promoting environmental responsible citizenship would assist the market in optimising sustainable development. Target dates are proposed for Governments to achieve the necessary progress in these fields. Target dates are ambitious but we thought it is good to stimulate Governments to set certain deadlines for themselves.
The draft Statement also contains recommendations for sectoral action. It addresses for instance chemicals and hazardous waste, the transport and energy sectors, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity. The underlying concept is that human development, health and well-being can only be improved and secured in the longer run if decision making and action in these areas is made mutually supportive and embedded in an overall sustainable development approach. Well-developed, understood and applied indicators for sustainable development can help to keep the work on track.
Once agreed the priorities for the ECE region will co-determine the agenda for the global summit in Johannesburg. They will of course also have a bearing on the Environment for Europe process and the preparations for the next Conference in Kiev, May 2003. The Ad-hoc Working Group of Senior Officials preparing this Conference will meet in Geneva right after the September meeting for Rio + 10.
That the two exercises are interlinked can be clearly demonstrated by an initiative which concerns this region and which also figured on the Agenda of the Summit here in Bucharest less than two months ago. At that Summit the Heads of State of the Carpathian and Danube region expressed support for what they called "the development of an instrument for the conservation and sustainable development in the region, paying special attention to the International Year of the Mountains (2002) and the Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" in Kyiv in 2003". The draft Ministerial Statement for Rio + 10 stresses the importance of protecting mountain ecosystems and requests the Carpathian States to encourage the preparation of a convention. My Office collaborates with the WWF and others in preparing a first round of negotiations, in support of the Government of Ukraine, which put the issue on the agenda for Kyiv.
What can be said at this moment in time about the global summit, planned from 2-11 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa? Issues which no doubt will be on the agenda are financing sustainable development and governance. For developing countries it is almost unacceptable that the North has not honoured its commitment to increase its official development assistance for sustainable development. On the contrary, the official development assistance has since 1992 steadily declined. The rich countries will have to provide an explanation and demonstrate their commitment to help eradicating poverty in the world.
A crucial question with which the Summit will be confronted is how to restructure the fabric of international sustainable development institutions and make them more effective. Especially in the environmental field the proliferation of international bodies, in particular conventions, has been considerable. As a consequence many countries, in particular the developing countries, have increasing difficulty to attend meetings and adequately respond to reporting requirements and the like. Proper co-ordination and avoidance of overlap in activities between the institutions has become an almost insurmountable challenge. And UNEP which is supposed to be in the centre, demonstrating leadership and exercising quality control, has been left without the means to do so.
The discussions about a new structure or improving the existing ones still have a long way to go. This year they are hosted by UNEP at the instruction of its Governing Council. Next year the results will be fed into the debate of the CSD acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Summit in Johannesburg. The need to strengthen UNEP and make its financial base stable and predictable is not put into question and has been repeated now at many places many times. The challenge is to find the right way to turn all these good wishes and intentions into reality. I hope and expect that your meeting here today and tomorrow will make an important contribution to this and wish you success in your deliberations.