Statement by the Chairman G-77, Mr. Syed Zahid Hussain, High Commissioner for Pakistan at Eighth Special Session of UNEPs Governing Council (GCSS-VIII)/GMEF (Jeju, Republic of Korea, 29 March 2004)

Mr. President, Honorable Ministers,
Executive Director of UNEP,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I feel greatly honored to address this august gathering on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Mr. President,

2. Allow me to begin by felicitating you on your election and by expressing our full confidence in your wise guidance. We hope to be able to hold a successful 8th Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.

Mr. President,

3. The G-77 and China attaches significant importance to this Special Session of the Governing Council which will be considering the environmental dimension of "Water, Sanitation, and Human Settlements". Together with the cross-cutting issues of poverty eradication, changing production and consumption patterns and the protection of the natural resource base this cluster remains at the center of any effort for achieving sustainable development.

Mr. President,

4. Consideration of "Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements" at this session is in accordance with the outcome of CSD-11, and, therefore, strengthens collective efforts to address the complex challenges of sustainable development. Apart from providing timely input to the first Review Session of the CSD in two weeks time from now, the Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environmental Forum furnishes an opportunity for taking stock of the work since the WSSD.

5. It goes without saying that environmental problems can not be addressed in isolation. The unabated decline in Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the lack of provision of new and additional financial resources remains a matter of serious concern for us. Mere pronouncements for international commitments in this respect are self-defeating. The effects of climate change, Ozone depletion, deforestation and desertification do not know boundaries. ODA and other assistance to the developing countries for coping with environmental issues is a "two-way street" where the benefits are mutually shared. Inadequate access to new technologies, slow pace of transfer of technology and lack of capacity in developing countries would blunt all endeavours for environmental protection.

Mr. President,

6. The G-77, fully recognizes the need for strengthened institutional mechanisms within the UN system as one of the pre-requisites for achieving sustainable development. It is our considered belief that we should always engage positively in plans and processes to turn UNEP into a strong, action oriented body. With this spirit, we have been supportive of the IEG process for strengthening UNEP in a substantive and balanced manner.

7. In the last two years work on certain aspects within the IEG process has advanced. We wish to stress that technology support and capacity building is a vital dimension of the IEG, which should be given equal importance, attention and priority as the other IEG aspects, otherwise the whole process can lose balance.

8. The Group of 77 and China welcomes the recent presentation by the Secretariat of a paper, titled, "Elements for an Intergovernmental Strategic Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building". We deeply appreciate the suggested framework, prepared by the Secretariat in putting together these elements, which, we are confident, will provide a smooth starting point to the Intergovernmental Working Group. We expect that the Strategic Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building will be finalized in-time, for consideration and approval of the 23rd Session of the Governing Council.

9. The question of universal membership of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum is an important but complex issue which is being considered within the IEG process. As in the past, the Group of 77 and China will participate in these deliberations, on which there is no consensus at present, as is known.

Mr. President,

10. We are ready to reflect upon ideas on strengthening UNEP further into an effective vehicle for Environmental Governance at the international level provided full respect is guaranteed to the cardinal principle of "Common But Differentiated Responsibilities", which is the key premise, indeed, the pillar for all frameworks relating to the Environment and Sustainable Development. The G-77 and China is of the view that any initiative to strengthen UNEP in the UN system should only be considered having in mind the preference that Governments have already accorded to the on-going process of perfecting the existing UNEP structure and mechanisms, in a spirit of transparency and all inclusiveness, in accordance with the outcome of the IEG process.

Mr. President,

11. The centrality of fresh water to human development is well recognized. Last year was the "International Year for Freshwater". Unfortunately, rapid urbanization, pollution, over-consumption and poor water management continue to affect, adversely, the quantity and quality of the water resources. In many parts of the developing world, the absence of basic sanitation coupled with the gross inadequacy of water, affect poor segments of the society. The inextricable link between sustainable Development and Poverty is evident more than ever.

Mr. President,

12. UNEP has a crucial role and a definite mandate in implementation of internationally agreed targets on water and sanitation. We note that UNEP has been actively involved in these areas by providing the scientific knowledge acquired to assist stakeholders in their pursuit of these goals. UNEP has been included in 2005 Water Resources Alliance, alongwith UNDP the Global Water Partnership and others. This will help to identify challenges that need to be addressed urgently, if the target of providing safe drinking water to over half a billion people by 2015, is to be realized.

13. The deadlines for time bound targets of the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation on Water and Sanitation are fast approaching. Let us remind ourselves of the commitments for attaining these targets with due consideration of the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities.

14. Steps are being taken in Africa region towards the development, by 2005, of national Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and water efficiency plans. In this context, we recognize UNEP's initiative for facilitating an exchange of views, in Jeju, on the strategic partnership needed to accelerate progress on the 2005 IWRM target. We hope, UNEP will help launch similar partnership in other regions, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and The Latin America and Caribbean.

Mr. President,

15. Representation of developing countries in UNEP with respect to personnel continue to remain inadequate. It has become a common refrain in our statements to highlight this. The Group of 77 feels that despite its repeated calls for putting the system on as wide a geographical basis as possible, it remains lopsided to the disadvantage of the developing countries. The current trend of policy is dismaying. We would like to reiterate the urgent need for balanced and proportionate representation of developing countries, both in numbers of personnel as well as the levels of responsibility. We call upon the UNEP's Secretariat to present to the Committee of Permanent Representatives a report on its recruitment policy regarding posts falling under category "L" and "Gratis personnel".

Mr. President.

16. The UN General Assembly at its 58th Session adopted a number of resolutions which are of relevance to UNEP and in some cases call for action by UNEP. I would like to mention in particular, resolution 58/218 entitled "Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development" which, reaffirms the continuing need to ensure a balance between economic and social development and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development, and that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and protecting the natural resource base of economic and social development were overarching objectives and essential requirements for sustainable development.

17. We hope that the policy dialogue during the ministerial consultation will give due consideration to these essential requirements of Sustainable Development.

Thank you, Mr. President.