At the outset I would like to thank the Secretariat for the introductory remarks made at the beginning of the consideration of Agenda Item 95(a).
My delegation would like to fully associate itself with the statement made by the delegation of Nigeria on behalf ofG77 and China.
Uganda believes that the Rio Agreement to forge an agenda for action to protect our environment is the most significant initiative taken by world leaders in the quest for sustainable development. By recognizing the linkage between poverty and its eradication as well as the changing pattern of production and consumption on one side and the sustainable use of resources and the protection of our environment on the other, Agenda 21 laid down a basic precondition for peace and collective human security for global economic order in the 21st Century .
We are witnessing unprecedented degradation and in some cases destruction of the ability of our environment to provide the much needed life-sustaining systems of mankind. There is no doubt that this process is presenting us with the greatest challenge to be faced in the 21st Century .The repeated call for urgent action in implementing Agenda 21 is, therefore, justifiable at this time. This is because the impact of changes in our environmental conditions are now being experienced almost everywhere. As a result of climate change, weather-related disasters have become more severe in many parts of the world. Worldwide, the impact of land degradation is affecting over 100 countries already. On the African continent alone, 36 countries are now threatened by soil erosion and desertification. While flooding is taking its toll around the world, persistent drought is affecting the lives of millions especially in the developing world. The economic and social impact of these new developments in environmental conditions is becoming increasingly catastrophic.
My delegation agrees 1hat our environment goal must be to meet the economic needs of the present without compromising the ability of the planet to provide for the needs of future generations. But how much have we done in this respect since 1992? Rio+ 10 is coming up in less than two years from now. How much can we say we have achieved in the fulfilment of the promise of Agenda 21 ?
It is the considered opinion of my delegation that environmental sustainability is everybody's challenge, but at this material time our responses are too short of what is necessary .The goals and targets agreed upon by the international community are not being implemented in a timely fashion. Mobilization of resources vital to the success of this endeavour is far from being achieved. It is a matter of concern to learn from various reports that many sustainable development projects, painstakingly designed and formulated, have been shelved because of lack of commitment from the international community to fund these projects.
However, there are areas where strong efforts have been made in the implementation of Agenda 21 and, in this respect, my delegation wishes to recognize UNEP's contribution in collaborative leadership role with UNDP and the World Bank in successfully replenishing the Global Environment Facility (GEF). We also welcome the efforts being made by the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development in coordinating action in many areas in preparation for Rio+ 10.
At the national level, we believe that a number of countries have made great sacrifices too. Uganda on her part has established a National Environment Action Plan under the supervision of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). This Action Plan laid down a clear policy framework for addressing environment concerns in accordance with the agreed objectives of Agenda 21. Financial constraints, however, have remained a major impediment to meeting the urgent requirements of our environmental agenda. In this respect, assistance is urgently needed for successful implementation.
I would like to conclude by underscoring the significance of the year 2000 as a defining moment in the efforts of the international community to ensure that the growing trends of environmental degradation that threaten the sustainability of our planet are arrested and reversed. Hence the urgent need for reinvigorated international cooperation based on common concern and a spirit of international partnership and solidarity .My delegation believes that collectively, we have the necessary capacity to achieve sustainable development as enshrined in the objectives of Agenda 21. What is lacking and, therefore, urgently required is a higher level of political commitment and a renewed sense of urgency to take action in fully supporting the implementation and enforcement of the environmental legal instruments already agreed upon. This is necessary if we are to save our planet from gradual destruction.