Tarja K Halonen

Statement at the World Summit on Sustainable Development - Sept. 2, 2002

Tarja K Halonen
September 02, 2002— Johannesburg, South Africa
World Summit on Sustainable Development
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President Mbeki,
Esteemed Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have come a long way together from Rio, through the Millennium Summit, Doha and Monterrey to Johannesburg.

This summit on sustainable development is historic. We have earlier adopted goals for economic and social development and now we set their implementation in the carrying capacity of earth. This is the only way for future generations to have a decent life.

At the Millennium Summit we agreed that we would do everything in our power to free humankind - men, women and children - from misery and extreme poverty. This requires more development cooperation and investment, as well as fair liberalisation of trade. The poorest countries need to gain access to world markets, but the markets are not enough we need strengthening of democracy, human rights and the rule of law everywhere in the world.

Decent life for everyone means that even the poorest have access to safe drinking water, sanitation and energy. It means ensuring adequate housing and basic health services. It means food security with sustainable means as has been underlined by the FAO. This is a real challenge both for industrial and developing countries.

Majority of the world's poor are women. In many regions, it is the women who take care of farming and basic production. It is the women who make the daily decisions on purchases. It is the women who hold the key to sustainable development. Thus girls and women must have better education, equal inheritance rights and access to land tenure:

Globalisation can increase ways of overcoming poverty and strengthening sustainable development. Its benefits must be divided more evenly within and between countries. Globalisation is not only economic co-operation, we must pay attention also to social, cultural and environmental concerns. Global concerns call for global ethics.

The ILO has established a World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation. The commission, which I have the honour to co-chair with the Tanzanian president Mkapa, has the task of identifying policies that will reduce poverty and stimulate growth and development. Our goal is to propose means by which as many countries and peoples as possible will be able to enjoy the benefits of globalisation. This requires better cooperation between national governments, international organisations, financial institutions, business and civil society.

Decent life for everyone calls for economic growth. Decoupling harmful environmental impacts of the economic growth is possible, if we develop human resources and use technological innovations. We can produce more goods with smaller inputs of energy and raw materials.

The World Economic Forum has ranked Finland first in competitiveness and environmentally sustainable development. This shows that these two aspects can be combined. We are ready to share our experiences.

We have here decided to launch a work programme for changing production and consumption patterns. It is an important instrument for the protection of the natural resources base for future generations.

NGOs and business community have made an important contribution to this summit. The largest international community in the history of the United Nations is gathered here in Johannesburg today. This gives us hope for change.

We need a strong and well-functioning United Nations and effective cooperation between global institutions. Only together will we be able to implement the common goals that we agree here. This way we shall create a foundation for a sustainable development that can save both "nature and mankind."

Speech from http://www.un.org/events/wssd/statements/finlandE.htm.