Nigeria representing the G 77 & China

It is an honour for me to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, on agenda item 97(a), Environment and Sustainable Development: Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. I also wish to express our appreciation to the secretary- General for the detailed report on this subject matter. The report will be a valuable guide to this Committee in its efforts to ensure effective preparations for the Rio + 10 .

The outcome of Earth's Summit in Rio in 1992 is a comprehensive document on environment contained in Agenda 21 .That document stands as a definitive blueprint for global action by governments, United Nations system, and relevant stakeholders to collaborate in the concerted efforts to halt and reverse the negative impact of human behaviour on the physical environment, and to sustain and promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in all countries. It reflects a global consensus and political commitments at the highest level.

Eight years after UNCED, the results of the implementation of Agenda 21 have been quite mixed and unflattering. The findings of the five-year review of UNCED at the nineteenth special session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1997 revealed an increasing trend towards elaboration of rules and binding legal agreements on environmental matters as reflected in the conventions on: climate change; biological diversity and desertification. The Declaration has equally given rise to extensive mainstreaming of issues on environment into policies and programmes of governments, international organizations and relevant stakeholders. However, the development dimension remains unrealised.

It has been widely acknowledged, that one of the major problems in the implementation of Agenda 21 is the lack of financial resources to support environmentally sound programmes and projects by existing implementing institutions . There is also absence of new and additional financial resources for developing environmentally sound programmes and projects, particularly in developing countries. At the centre of this problem is the failure of most developed countries in honouring their commitments made in various UN conferences and summits over the past decades. The Official Development Assistance CODA) is in perilous state. The flow of financial resources for development from developed to developing countries has only increased marginally. This has been compounded by the crushing external debt burden of developing countries, which remains a major obstacle for the implementation of sustainable development. The picture is even more disturbing in sub-Saharan Africa and the least developed countries CLDCs, which could not meet their debt obligations and thereby continue to accumulate payment arrears. The result is the widening gap in the implementation of Agenda 21 between the developed and the developing countries; creating a vicious cycle that unleashes endless damage to the environment.

Likewise, the new developments on the global level, such as globalisation and the revolution in the field of information and communication technology and biotechnology, have presented new challenges to the implementation of Agenda 21. The impact of integration of the global economy has marginalized developing countries, which lack the capacity and resources to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities offered by new technologies. The majority of developing countries remain unable to create a favourable environment to attract large inflow of external private capital as well as significant export-led growth. Their share in world trade has thereby continued to decline. This has brought about low level of economic and social development, as well as inadequate infrastructure. This is certainly a huge drawback in the implementation of Agenda 21 in developing countries.

It is in recognition of this development that the Group of 77 believes that the forthcoming review process should focus on how to ensure a more effect implementation of Agenda 21; and other outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The review, we also agreed, should be organized in 2002 at a Summit level and to hold outside the United Nations Headquarters, in a developing country as concluded during CSD-8. Our Group equally endorses the decision of the CSD-8 to transform the meetings of the tenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development into an open-ended preparatory committee to ensure full and effective participation of all state members of the United Nations and state members of specialized agencies.

The preparatory meetings and 2002 should indeed be transparent and provide effective platform for inputs from governments, regional and international organisations, financial institutions and relevant stakeholders. The preparatory meetings should also undertake comprehensive review and assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21 and the other outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development on the basis of results of national assessments, sub-regional and regional meetings and collaborative inputs from relevant international organizations.

The Group of 77 emphasizes the need for early and effective preparations for the ten-year review and assessments of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21. In view of the importance of inputs from national, regional and international organisation levels, including the UN system, there is now a need to defer decision on substantive matters. We equally believe that relevant agencies and bodies of the United Nations and international financial institutions, including United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF), should be involved in such preparatory process in collaboration with CSD.

It is now clear that there is a need for the establishment of a trust fund. We therefore appeal to international community in particular donor agencies to support the preparations for the 10-year review through voluntary contributions to the trust fund. This is to encourage participation of representatives from developing countries in the regional and international preparatory process and the summit itself in 2002.

It is the firmly held view of the Group that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated at the 2002 summit. The review should focus on identifying measures for further implementation of Agenda 21, with particular emphasis on sources of funding. Furthermore, the Group reiterates that Agenda 21 should constitute the framework within which other outcomes of the conference are reviewed and from within which new challenges, opportunities and emerging issues are addressed, in context of the implementation of Agenda 21.

We in the G77 welcome the Malmo Ministerial Declaration that came out of the first Global Ministerial Environment Forum held in Sweden in May 2000. The declaration identifies the root causes of environmental degradation and major environmental challenges of the 21st century .It emphasized the alarming discrepancy between commitments and actions as well as goals and targets agreed upon by the international community in relation to sustainable development. It thereby called for collaboration of governments, private sector and civil society in the pursuit of a new culture of accountability, through application of polluter pays principle and development of cleaner and more resource- efficient technologies for a life cycle economy and efforts that will facilitate transfer of environmentally sound technology.

The Group also appreciates the report of the Secretary- General on international and institutional arrangements related to environment and sustainable development, and emphasize the need for acceleration of efforts to support the implementation of arrangements at national level, as outlined in the report. We encourage United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to continue efforts in supporting the process of enhancing substantive inter-Iinkages among international organizations .

For, the G77 the central problem for the implementation of Agenda 21 remains the issue of lack of financial resources. It is imperative that our development partners must contribute in a substantial way to the strategic improvement of the flow of financial resources, including addressing the question of crushing external debt burden of developing countries by taking a bold decision to cancel outright such debts. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) as envisioned is one of the major institutional arrangements for effective action on environmental problems and execution of projects of all UNCED-related conventions on environment and sustainable development, including desertification. The effectiveness of GEF, as a financial mechanism requires that the GEF's procedure and criteria for project selection should be simplified, to enable development projects submitted by developing countries to overcome the present complexities and difficulties involved in that process. In this regard, the Group supports the need to expand the base of GEF to move into the next phase of work for implementation of Agenda 21, that is, to mobilize new and additional resources for the conventions and global environment. Such role on behalf of the conventions, should involve identifying and coordinating additional financial resources from bilateral and international organizations as well as the private sector. We are therefore encouraged by the current efforts of GEF to increase its activities in area of capacity building, transfer of technology and adaptation .

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, this Committee at this historic moment at the beginning of the new millennium, has a duty to devise integrated strategies that will foster a programme of action for effective review of Agenda 21, that can enhance and promote sustainable development in all countries. That is the least we can bequeath to humanity for the survival of planet Earth and its ecosystem, the common home of this and future generation.