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Conferences & UNGASS 1997

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  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Jiri Skalicky, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister fo the Environment of the Czech Republic on the occasion of the 19th United Nations General Assembly Special Session
    New York, June 27th, 1997

Statement by H.E. Mr. Jiri Skalicky, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister fo the Environment of the Czech Republic on the occasion of the 19th United Nations General Assembly Special Session

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,

I am particularly honoured to address you today in my capacity as the head of the Czech delegation to the 19th United Nations General Assembly Special Session.

Looking back, five years after the Rio Conference in 1992, we realize more and more what an important milestone it represented in the global awareness of the necessity of close and effective international co-operation on the road to a sustainable development. However, the progress made since 1992 is far from satisfactory. The success stories are few and fare between and ..significant environmental problems remain deeply embedded in the socio-economic fabric of nations in all regions..

My country associated itself with the statement made on Monday by Prime Minister of the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union. We still expect this UNGASS to bring a number of concrete committments, especially in the field of climate change. The Czech Republic subscribes to all the three initiatives presented by the European Union: Eco-efficiency Initiative, Global Water Initiative and Sustainable Energy Future Initiative..

Moreover, given our painful experience with a very serious forest degradation, we are devoting tremendous effort to its recovery. That is why the Czech Republic supports setting up an Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee to elaborating a strong Global Convention on Forests.

To some extent, we might be even able to contribute to the most crucial discussion on financing the sustainable development. The Czech Republic as a new member of OECD and a country associated to European Union would like to change gradually its status of recepient country into a donor country, and to launch its own programme of technical assistance. We are ready and able to assist to developing countries in many environmental issues - from water supply schemes and fresh water protection to sustainable forestry and combating desertification.

Mr. President,
Despite severe problems the Czech Republic had to face in the course of transition towards democracy and market economy, we achieved significant progress in reducing pollution in all environmental compartments and the action in theis area is now guided by a comprehensive State environmental policy adopted in 1995. In addition we kept to be active through the whole UNCED follow-up process and contributed by several concete inputs: namely in the fields of education, economic instruments and indicators for sustainable development

Since the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was established in 1992 the Czech Republic has participated in its work, and we consider the Commission to be the most important global forum for sustainable development. In the years 1993 to 1994, the Czech Republic was co- chairing the Commission and we are renewing our membership starting from 1998.

As to the UNEP, the Czech Republic - as a member of its Governing council - is fully in favor of strengthening its role in dealing with global environmental issues, according to its mandate. We hope that the current debate on UNEP's governing structure and programme priorities will result soon in revival of confidence and enhanced authority of the organization. We praise UNEP for initiatin and coordinating preparation of major environmental convention and we hope that it will continue this activity in the future. My country is an active party to majority of them with the exception of the Desertification Convention which, as I stongly hope, will change in a very close future.

Mr. President,
Let me now to emphasize some priority areas and points of special importance for our delegation. Implementation is the key word of today and we will have to move from rhetoric to concrete action. For the implementation we will need well adapted tools and appropriate measures and criteria for taking stock of the progress made so far.

That is why we would like to play an active role in developing and testing an appropriate set of indicators, that would enable us to measure more precisely and in a comparable way the changes and progress of selected environmental issues in the field of sustainable development. The Czech Republic will host two worksops on indicators in collaboration with UNDPCSD and UNEP later this year.

Two types of instruments for implementation of sustainability principles are probably the most important. These are economic instruments and public awareness raising. We are active in both areas and beside theoretical progress we can offer also some practical results, that might be useful for other countries and regions.

We do appreciate, that the wording of the final document in the field of chemical safety is much stronger than it was before. The Czech delegation considers the problem of increasing number of chemicals entering the environment as a serious hazard to health and eco-systems. We would like also to express our concern of the emerging problem of endocrine disruptors and the permanent flow of obsolete chemicals to the developing countries that pose a threat to our sustainable future.

Mr. President
If we are intending to meet again in five years time, we will be living in the next millennium. Only in the second half of the 20th century have people gradually realised that unbalanced, ruthless economic development and technical progress neglecting the threats to our environment and the vital function of the globe is a self defeating philosophy. Expensive and painful retrospective measures seem to avoid the worst, but evidently it is not sufficient. Let us hope, that this UNGASS will invigorate the world on its path towards really sustainable development.

Mr.Secretary General, Mr.President, Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,

I thank you for your attention