It is a great pleasure for me to address this Committee on this important agenda item. As the United Nations Millennium Declaration attests, finding a way to protect and preserve the environment is one of the major challenges facing humankind. Certainly, the Rio+10 Meeting to be held in two years presents us with an opportunity to review the implementation of Agenda 21 and other outcomes of UNCED with a view to identifying areas where further efforts are needed. We must be thorough in our preparations, so as to make the most of that opportunity.
Japan is mindful of the problems and difficulties that developing countries have and hence of the necessity of assisting them in their capacity-building efforts in the field of the environment. The Government of Japan has taken a series of measures to help developing countries, such as the Initiative for Sustainable Development and the Kyoto Initiative. Japan will continue to fulfill its longstanding and strong commitment to providing such assistance, and I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in 1998, about $3.2 billion, one fourth of the total ODA Japan provided to developing countries, went to projects relating to the preservation and improvement of the environment.
I would like to put forward several issues that Japan believes merit deliberation at Rio+ 10 and its preparatory process.
First, there is a need for a comprehensive review of progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 during the ten-year period since UNCED. Rapid changes and new environmental problems have emerged during that time, and the pace of globalisation has accelerated. It is essential to develop new policies that address present and likely future environmental conditions, the rapid changes in socio-economic conditions, and the effects of globalisation. Rio+ 10 will be an opportune occasion to identify problems in these areas and devise future-oriented programmes to address them.
Second, it is important to enhance and promote synergies and coordination among activities stemming from environment-related conventions and protocols. By doing so, it should be possible to reduce duplication of activities, strengthen those that are ongoing, and encourage international cooperation.
Third, with respect to the preparatory process, Japan believes that a group of experts should be established and a meeting of eminent persons convened. Furthermore, I wish to emphasize that the involvement and participation not of only government but also of business and industry, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community, and other major groups is crucial in order for Rio+ 10 to be successful. Input from all the regions of the world is essential. We urgently need to build up political momentum for Rio+ I 0, for otherwise it will become just another international conference.
Last but not least, Japan strongly hopes that Rio+ 10 will be held in Asia. Asia has sixty percent of the world's population and is currently faced with many serious environmental problems. Asia has thirty-two percent of the world's dry land mass, exactly the same percentage share as Africa. Air pollution, a major and growing problem around the world, is particularly acute in the region. Total emissions of carbon dioxide, the major cause of global warming, - account for nearly 30 percent of the world total and likely to grow in an accelerated manner due to expected expansion of economic activities. And conserving biodiversity in Asia is urgently required. Japan believes the Rio+ 10 meeting in Asia will have an inspiring and invigorating influence on the pursuit of lasting solutions to these environmental problems-solutions that may well be replicated in other parts of the world.
At the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, held last September in Kita-Kyiishii in Japan, participants adopted the Ministerial Declaration and the Regional Message to Rio+ 10, both of which state:
The countries of the region, recognizing the importance of raising awareness of global issues, stress their conviction that the holding of the 10- year review Conference in Asia and the Pacific will provide a driving force for realizing sustainable development in the region and beyond, and fully support the holding of the Conference in Indonesia at the generous offer of the Republic of Indonesia.
Thankful of the timely offer by the Government of Indonesia, Japan, for its part, is ready to render its utmost support for the preparation of the Conference.