South Africa

My delegation would like to associate itself fully with the statement made by the distinguished representative from Nigeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

My delegation believes the effective implementation of sustainable development is one fo the main challenges we are facing at the beginning of the Millennium.  The Secretary-General in his report to the Millennium Summit, highlighted the importance he attaches to the concept of sustainable development and he linked sustainable development to almost every facet of the United Nation’s activities.  However, despite some progress on sustainable development we believe that the pace at which the world is moving towards a sustainable future is simple too slow.

The Rio declaration on environment and development contains some important principles about which we should not hesitate to remind ourselves.  These principals include the need to eradicate extreme poverty, the attainment of economic and social progress, and the achievement of sustainable development remains a distant goal for many developing countries, particularly the least developed.

It is evident that the funds and political will, dedicated to the realisation of sustainable development, are deficient.  It remains true, however, that without enhanced concessional financial resources and the transfer of environmentally sound technology on concessional terms, developing countries will not be able to make significant progress towards sustainable development.  However, we believe that tangible progress on sustainable development can be achieved through cooperation and partnerships between the North and the South, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification is of major importance to my country and the African continent as a whole.  Africa contains the world’s largest expanse of drylands, covering roughly 65% of the continent’s total land area.  Almost 50% of South Africa is arid or semi-arid and is threatened by desertification.  Recurrent droughts are a permanent fact of life throughout the drylands of Africa and have seriously affected agriculture and have caused severe poverty and malnutrition.  It is essential that governments, in particular developed country partners, fulfil their voluntary contributions to the Global Mechanism in order to facilitate the effective implementation of the Convention.  The Global Mechanism should also increase its support for enabling activities under the convention.

South Africa would like to call on all parties that will be participating in the Sixth Conference of the Parties of the Climate Change Convention (COP 6) in The Hague next month, to finalise the Buenos Aires Plan of Action agreed to at COP 4.  The parties to the Convention must also finalise the outstanding elements of the Kyoto Protocol, namely the three flexible mechanisms and the compliance system.  COP 6 must produce tangible results to enable the international community to take meaningful practical steps forward to mitigate the threat of global warming.  The wide scale floods in Southern Africa earlier this year and the accompanying devastating impact on Mozambique, again reminds us how vulnerable the African continent is to climate change.

South Africa is an active member of the World Solar Commission.  Our national White Paper on Energy Policy supports the development of renewable energy technologies and promotes new and renewable energy sources in accordance with the World Solar Programme.

South Africa is concerned about the increasing and irreversible loss of genes, species and ecosystems across the globe.  Species extinction is not only an environmental tragedy, but it also has profound implications for economic and social development.  In this regard it is important to note that at least 40% of the world’s economy an d80% of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. In few countries is this more relevant than in South Africa, which ranks as the third most biologically diverse country in the world.  For this reason South Africa is actively involved in all the activities of the Convention on Biological Diversity

South Africa welcomes and supports the initiatives for the future implementation of the Programme of action for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States, which were adopted during the 22nd Special Session of the General Assembly.  The effective and successful implementation f these initiatives will require substantial financial resources, the political will of governments and the support of the relevant multilateral institutions.

South Africa joins the nations of the world in the commitment to undertake legal, regulatory and institutional reforms designed to bring about the effective management of water resources.  The need for a clear policy framework for water supply and sanitation and the incorporation of water supply and sanitation in the broader integrated land and water resource management strategy remains a high priority and a great challenge for South Africa.

My delegation believes the 2002 Earth Summit could serve as a landmark event for renewing the commitments already made in 2002 at UNCED in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Hosting this Summit in Africa will enhance the African Renaissance and provide the people of Africa with the opportunity to recommit themselves to the principles of Agenda 21 and the objective and ideals of sustainable development.  In this regard my delegation would again like to thank all those members of the United Nations that have endorsed South Africa as the host for the 2002 Earth Summit, including regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Group, CARICOM countries as well as countries in Latin America and other regions of the world.

My delegation welcomes the decision of CSD 8 to transform the meetings of the CSD 10 into an open ended Preparatory Committee for the ten-year review process.  We believe the outcomes of the national and regional processes should inform the global process and the review and assessment phase of the preparatory process should be followed by an action orientated and forward-looking process which should focus on the improved implementation of Agenda 21.  There should be a balance between the elements related to environment and development, and sustainable development should be considered in an integrated manner.  However, Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated.

The Summit should re-activate the global community’s support for sustainable development and sustained economic growth and it should give new impetus to the commitments to Agenda 21.  The Summit should confirm the priorities and emerging issues to be focused on during the next ten-year programme.  This programme should be focused, implementable, measurable and achievable within this time frame.