Statement by the Chairman of the Group of 77, H.E. Mr. Pedro L. Pedroso, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba and Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN HABITAT, to the 23rd Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (Nairobi, 20 February 2005)

Mr. President,
Ministers and Heads of delegations,
Dr. Topfer, Executive Director of UNEP
Colleagues and friends,

First of all, I would like to express on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, our sincere congratulations to you and the other members of the Bureau upon your election to preside over the 23rd Session of the Governing Session/Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The Group highly appreciates and rest assured that under your able guidance we would have successful deliberations and outcomes.

Before I continue, I also wish to stress the determination of our Group to work closely with you and our partners, to ensure that we indeed make the 23rd Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum a positive turning point in our concerted efforts for effective pursuit of the three pillars of sustainable development.

Mr. President:

This session of the GC/GMEF comes at a momentous time when the United Nations and indeed the international community has been conducting the review and assessment of progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with the eradication of poverty as the top priority. So far, the assessment shows that while there are countries in various regions of the world that are on the track for the achievement of some of these goals, many others still remain behind, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the situation is being complicated by the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, falling food output, deterioration of human shelter conditions, among others.

We reiterate our call for global cooperation in addressing poverty as a priority, in particular for the provision of financial resources and for the transfer of technology, as has been agreed upon at the highest levels of governments and as reflected in legally binding instruments on sustainable development.

The Group also reiterates its concern over decreasing ODA and increasing conditionalities for the provision of financial resources and technology transfer, and stresses the importance of increased and effective market access, the urgent need for the international community to adopt an effective and durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries and the necessity to renew commitments in financial resources, capacity building and transfer of technology to achieve the goals of eradicating poverty.

In the process of preparation of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, the Group of 77 and China have been working in order to identify not only our priorities, but also those main issues that in our view should shape the future work of UNEP.

The G-77 participated actively in the development of the Bali Strategic Plan for Capacity Building and Technology support. The Group considers its adoption by the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, as crucial for developing countries to achieve their sustainable development objectives. For the G 77, the effective and immediate implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan, including the provision of the necessary financial resources is a matter of high priority.

The Bali Strategic Plan considers among its areas of emphases the need to foster south-south cooperation as a mean to maximize and develop existing capacities in developing countries.

In this regard, we note that the G77 is preparing the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Follow-up and Coordination Committee on Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries (IFCC-XI), that will be held in Havana, next March, with the purpose of reviewing the status of implementation of south-south cooperation programmes among developing countries and preparing the Second South Summit that will take place in Qatar this year. We hope that UNEP will play an important role in contributing to both meetings within the context of the Balic Strategic Plan.

The Group fully supports the United Nations Environment Program in the pursuit of its mandate. We emphasize the need to strengthen the financial base and scientific expertise of UNEP, while exploring adequate ways and means to ensure full participation, efficiency and transparency for all decisions governing environmental sustainability.

The Group of 77 fully supports the adoption of a decision on strengthening environmental emergency response and the development of early warning systems in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster. We all share the human loss, and tragic consequences resulting from this disaster. Yet, we would like to point out, that the environmental damage resulting in vast areas of human settlements razed by the tsunami and the loss of means of livelihood for many, has been borne mainly by developing countries.

The Group welcomes the results of the Mauritius International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the Kobe Conference on Disaster Reduction. We reiterate the necessity of renewed commitment by the international community to support vulnerable countries to recover from the effects of natural disasters and developing early warning systems to address them.

In this context, the Group stresses the importance of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for SIDS to achieve the goals of the Barbados Programm of Action.
The Group notes with satisfaction the progress made in the development of an strategic approach to international chemical management (SAICM). In this regard, we call for further financial assistance including for the participation of developing countries in the SAICM process. We consider that this process should be completed before addressing new substantive issues in this field. Proposals geared to initiate new negotiating processes in the area of chemicals, are not only premature but would also duplicate the efforts undertaken within SAICM and the existing Chemical Conventions.

At the same time, the Group underscores the need to ensure the effective implementation of the various legally binding conventions addressing chemicals and waste. We particularly stress the need for sustained action to prevent illegal traffic in toxic and dangerous substances into developing countries, while reviewing measures for detection and prevention.

We look forward for a successful completion of the SAICM process that will promote the building of capacity of developing countries at the national, sub regional and regional levels, increase their ability to develop and maintain their own research and monitoring facilities, undertake effective training programs, implement pilot projects and increase their pool of national experts on chemicals.

Chemical management should not constitute additional barriers to trade. On the contrary, it should open opportunities for developing countries to benefit from international trade.

Mr. President:

Finally, let me share with you and our partners some remarks in order to understand the situation that all of our countries have at the moment of the celebration of this session.

We are in a crucial time in the history of the United Nations. The organization gets ready to take reforms in response to challenges of the 21st century. The primary focus for the majority of the world should be how sustainable development, as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals, can be achieved, considering the urgency to address poverty eradication and the provision of decent living conditions for billions of people in the developing world.

We are convinced that the 23rd GC/GMEF has important inputs into the proceedings of CSD 13. The Group of 77 and China is therefore committed to use this session to elaborate and send clear signal to that meeting consistent with UNEP's mandate, and the agreed upon development goals.

Mr. President:

Developing countries have the majority of the population of the world. We also have a great number of unresolved basic needs related with our quality of life. We are trying to move forward to change the actual conditions with the help of international cooperation. We can not achieve the goals alone because the nature and extension of the problems that we have are greater than our capabilities and resources. The history of the world proves it. We can contribute to the change, right now and right here.

Mr. President:

We strongly believe that a better world is possible. The Group of 77 and China invite our partners to work towards that objective, with a sense of solidarity, equity and cooperation in our actions, minds and hearts.

Karibu, welcome to all delegates and we wish you all successful deliberations.

I thank you Sir.