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Second Committee of the 56th General Assembly

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  • Statement by Ms. Martina Motlova, Deputy Minister of Environment of the Czech Republic on Agenda Item 98(a): Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21

    New York, 30 October 2001

Statement by Ms. Martina Motlova, Deputy Minister of Environment of the Czech Republic on Agenda Item 98(a): Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21

Mr. Chairman,

11th September 2002, last day of the World Summit for Sustainable Development, will also mark the first anniversary of the deadly attacks on New York and Washington. What a contrast between the destructive forces of cold-blooded terrorism on the one hand, and our efforts to make a better world for our children and the incoming generations through the promotion of principles of sustainable development! Will the world in September 2002 still be doomed by the year-old scene of horror? Or will it find enough strength to endorse new, forward looking visions? I strongly believe that it will be the second case, that the world leaders gathered in Johannesburg will send out a powerful and positive message about this planet=s future development.

The nature of such a message will, of course, depend not only on the prevailing political atmosphere at the time of the Summit, but above all on what has been already done in terms of implementing UNCED recommendations and commitment, and on what we do between now and then, during the ten months which separate us from the Summit.

The first big task ahead of us is a thorough assessment of where we succeeded and where we failed since 1992, and where more action is needed. This assessment should be balanced and complex: as complex as the concept of sustainable development itself, embracing its thematic variety, differing perspectives at various levels (global, regional, national, local) and geographic settings, and taking into account views of major groups.

Without going into details, I can say that in the Czech Republic we are rather impressed by what has been achieved in the area of sustainable development promotion so far, and despite of the fact that we see number of unfulfilled goals or expectations, our overall assessment is rather positive. We are also pleased to have been able to contribute, though modestly, to this process - e.g. by organizing several CSD-related workshops or by chairing the 9th session of the CSD. In any case, whatever the Afinal judgement@ on the assessment by the Preparatory Committee will look like, this should not preempt the discussion on the very outcome of the Summit. Such an outcome, as forward looking as it can be, should not be held hostage to the past failures.

Mr. Chairman,

Coming to the preparatory process for the WSSD as such, we are encouraged by the results of regional processes, at least those which are already concluded like in the region of the UN ECE, in Africa or, most recently, in Latin America and West Asia. These are valuable inputs on which we can and should base our further action. And, I have no doubt about it, we should also consider very seriously the inspiring inputs from the regional eminent persons round-tables, as well as to listen carefully to all our stakeholders. At intergovernmental level, we would expect all relevant agencies (and Agenda 21 task managers at the first place) to make the preparation for Johannesburg summit one of their immediate priority, and we specifically look forward to the results of the UNEP-IEG (International Environmental Governance) process. Last but not least, we encourage greater inter-connectedness in the course of preparations of the International Conference on Financing for Development and the WSSD. A closer link between the two could be, in our view, of significant mutual benefit.

It goes without saying that the above activities must be accompanied and supported by a strong action on domestic fronts. In the Czech Republic, we reviewed our State Environmental Policy which is now more elaborate in terms of integrating principles of sustainable development and sustainable development into sectoral policies. We are about to finalize the National Strategy on Sustainable Development, based on a broad public debate and pro-active involvement of different stakeholder´s groups. In parallel, we are promoting a package of tools to encourage changes in consumption and production patterns. Legal and institutional means are combined with economic instruments, voluntary actions (like environmental management systems in enterprises, systems of responsible care, eco-labelling, voluntary agreements), awareness and education campaigns.

As for the possible outcome of the Summit and our expectations, we are very much in line with the position of the EU, presented yesterday by the distinguished representative of Belgium. We aligned ourselves with this statement, so let me confine my comments here to just a few highlights:

- We strongly support active involvement of stakeholders in the preparatory process (and in the Summit itself) and we hope that PrepComs could be organized in such a way that Governments are sufficiently exposed to views and ideas of the stakeholders, and their interaction with stakeholders is maximized.

- Of the stakeholders, we underline the role of scientific community which has a potential of being more visible and more engaged in both the preparation for Johannesburg and its follow-up. We notice an impressive growth of the level of scientific understanding since Rio and increased involvement of science in decision-making. Nevertheless, we are of the view that science for sustainable development should further enhance its international structures to provide the so much needed authoritative and coherent advice to the intergovernmental process.

- We are somewhat concerned that biodiversity may not receive enough prominence in the structure of the Johannesburg outcome; we hope its importance for sustainable development at all levels will be fully recognized.

- We observe - and my country is no exception - that the contemporary education systems are far from fully responding to the challenges of sustainable development, and usually fail to reflect the three pillars of sustainability in a balance. We emphasize the role of education for sustainable development: this role can hardly be overestimated and should be fully recognized in the Summit outcome.

- Finally, we voice our support to the idea of the Global Deal, although this idea still needs more clarity and elaboration.

Mr. Chairman, let me assure you that the Czech Republic looks forward to the coming months and the hard work before us: the work which - we strongly hope - will bring principal results and make the Summit a success.

Thank you