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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Mercosur member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and the associated states, Bolivia and Chile, to express the importance that our Governments attach to the theme ‘Environment and Sustainable Development’.   In the preamble of the Asuncion Treaty – legal framework of our customs union – it is established that the conservation of the environment should be one of the means towards the expansion of markets, since it accelerates the processes of economic development of the States Parties with social justice.  Moreover, there is already a set of Mercosur norms concerning the environment, including basic directives of the environmental policy.

The item 95 (a) of the Agenda, on the implementation and follow-up of the results of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, as well as of the 19th Special Session of the General Assembly, is of special importance for the members and associated States of Mercosur, especially because during this current Session of the General Assembly we will be discussion the ten-year review of the Rio Conference in its various aspects.

The Rio Conference established the principles and program basis of the international cooperation to promote sustainable development. In this sense, it produced on of the most important international consensus directly related to the broad theme of globalisation. Its most clear example is Agenda 21, adopted by consensus.

The Conference had a visible impact in all countries and keeps on influencing the attitude of Governments and all the segments of society.  As a result, nowadays the perspective of sustainable development integrates the institutional framework of all different levels of public administration in almost every country in the world, and this process is strongly pushed forward by a very active civil society.

All this offers an eloquent example of the transforming capacity of international consensus reached at the UN. For this reason, the member and associated countries of Mescosur share the view tat the review Conference should be oriented towards identifying the areas within Agenda 21 where implementation has not been satisfactory, so that the causes may be evaluated and correcting actions may be proposed.  Thus, we believe that we will renew the spirit of the Earth Summit, without, in any manner, reopening the Agenda 21 as far as its terminology, concepts and commitments are concerned.

In this respect, the Mercosur countries believe that ‘Rio+10’ should focus on the evaluation of the implementation of the commitments of 1992. Our point view is that Agenda 21 should be seen as a whole, therefore, we will not allow that ‘Rio+10’ results in new commitments for developing countries that are not matched with compatible commitments on the part of developed countries especially in the areas of forest, climate change and biodiversity.

The member and associated countries of Mercosur consider fundamental that the preparatory discussion of ‘Rio+10’ take into account the fact that very important themes identified in Agenda 21 have been increasingly tainted by commercial and protectionist considerations, which limit the treatment of the serious existing problems from the point of view of sustainable development.

We also find it relevant that ‘Education and Sustainable Development’ receive special attention in the ‘Rio+10’ Agenda.  The theme of education was incorporated in Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 and it would be interesting that in ‘Rio+10’ we may agree on a set of concrete commitments in order to better prepare our citizens, since elementary school, to face the challenges presented by sustainable development.  This would be, of course, without prejudice to the other aspects related to the eradication of poverty and marginalisation.

Concerning the discussions on the concept of ‘Rio+10’, the Mercosur countries believe that the issue of eradication of poverty, which is very important, has already a specific forum within the UN:  the Copenhagen Conference on Social Development. Focussing solely on the eradication of Poverty at the ten-year review could induce to the unbalanced treatment f the environmental issues, as well as to the verticalization of the debate on sustainable development by ignoring the economic and political changes verified in the last few years. We do not accept that ‘Rio+10’ be reduced merely to the discussion of the relationship between environment and poverty.

We expect the next months to be very intense in the multiple initiatives and discussions in the multilateral agenda related to the conservation of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development.  The Mercosur member countries and associated States will take active part on those negotiations. We would like to refer, in particular, to the conferences of the parties of the Convention on Climate Change nad the Convention on Desertification. We would also like to mention the agreement that will create the United Nations Forum on Forests – UNFF, which shall be approved today by the ECOSOC, and that will be a landmark in the discussions on forests within the United Nations.

Finally, I would like to say that the Mercosur countries look forward to the debate on ‘Rio+10’ in the Second Committee and during the tenth Session of the CSD, that will begin its work next year.