It is of great significance for national leaders around the world to come together on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) to review the past and look into the future in a discussion of important issues of global sustainable development. On behalf of the Chinese Government and people, I wish to express my warm congratulations on the convocation of this summit and my sincere thanks to the Government and people of South Africa for the great efforts they have put into it. What is particularly meaningful is that this summit meets in Africa shortly after the inauguration of the African Union. I am confident that with the establishment of the African Union and the implementation of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African continent will take on a new look with historic changes and fresh contributions to world peace and development.
Sustainable development is a crucial and pressing task facing all countries in the world. Ten years ago, national leaders around the world met in Rio de Janeiro of Brazil and laid down the principles, objectives and programs of action on sustainable development. Since then, the international community and national governments have made unremitting efforts in implementing the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. Important steps have been taken in promoting the harmonious development of the economy, population, resources and environment, and various forms of regional and bilateral cooperation on environment and development have been carried out in greater depth. Meanwhile, environmental degradation worldwide has gone on unreversed. While such long-standing problems as poverty, hunger, waste of resources and ecological destruction remain unresolved, abnormal climatic changes, fresh water shortage, spread of HIV/AIDS and other new threats have cropped up. As economic globalization presses on, the gap between the North and South, as well as the digital divide, keeps on widening. What merits our particular attention is that terrorist activities, regional conflicts, trans-border crimes, rampant drug trafficking and other threats to peace and security remain quite serious. The pressure and challenge facing the international community are evidently on the increase, rather than decrease. Fulfilling the objectives of sustainable development as set by Agenda 21 is still a long and arduous journey.
We are already in the 21st century with complex and profound changes taking place every minute around the world. The new technology revolution spearheaded by IT and bioengineering is surging forward with dazzling speed. Working for peace, development and cooperation has become the irresistible trend of history. Regardless where they live, people all desire a good and peaceful life and want to see sustainable development a reality. We are called upon by the new situation to proceed from the larger interest of harmony between man and nature and complimentarity between environment and development and to take the road of sustainable development with stronger determination and more solid steps. Now, I wish to take this opportunity to give my propositions as follows:
1. We should deepen our understanding of sustainable development. Sustainable development is a new outlook on development as defined by the UNCED in Rio, which represents a radical departure from the traditional concept and model of development. Namely, economic development must contribute to the continuous use of resources and the virtuous cycle of the eco-system, and must not be achieved by abusing the resources and destroying the eco-system. Owing to differing national conditions and development levels, countries may differ in the way sustainable development is pursued. While taking the diversified development of countries as the basis and promoting global development through individual local development, efforts should be made to combine solutions to country-specific environmental problems with those of global environmental problems, so as to achieve sustainable development throughout the world.
2. Concerted efforts of all countries are needed in achieving sustainable development. We should take common development as our objective and bring about a new partnership featuring mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. The principles laid down by the UNCED in Rio, especially the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", should be adhered to. The United Nations should play an active role in coordinating the overall international strategy of environment and development, as well as in conducting technology transfer, technical consultation, personnel training and aid programs. Relevant international and regional organizations and agencies should strengthen their cooperation with all countries, especially developing countries. Countries should do still a better job in mobilizing their social groups, enterprises and population to work for sustainable development.
3. We should strengthen scientific and technological cooperation in achieving sustainable development. Rapid development of science and technology in today's world has increasingly become a powerful engine for human progress. It is essential that we extensively apply the research results, especially those in information, biology and other hi-tech fields, in resources exploitation, environment protection and ecological development. Spread of science and technology should recognize no national boundaries. The international community and national governments should adopt new policies and mechanisms to help reduce clashes between protecting intellectual property rights and promoting wider application of technology so as to facilitate transfer of technology among states.
4. We should endeavor to create an international economic environment conducive to sustainable development. Global sustainable development requires a fair and equitable new international economic order and a new regime of world trade. Erecting trade barriers with excessive environmental standards will, instead of getting us any closer to solving the environmental issues, seriously hamper the capabilities of the developing countries for sustainable development. The international community should fully understand the difficulties faced by the developing countries in the areas of fund, trade and debts, and take effective steps to remove protective trade practices of one kind or another. The developed countries, in particular, should make their market more accessible by dismantling trade barriers. The developing countries should take an active part in international cooperation and competition with a view to steadily enhancing their capabilities of sustainable development. To this end, we call for a proper handling of the relationship between trade and environment at the new round of multilateral trade negotiations so as to ensure that the two will promote each other.
5. Sustainable development cannot go forward without world peace and stability. Peace is the most essential prerequisite for mankind's survival and development. Our world, on the whole, is enjoying peace, relaxation and stability. But local wars, tensions and turbulences are still very pronounced. Our planet is no peace haven. All countries should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, comply with the universally recognized norms governing international relations and work together to safeguard peace and stability in regions and globally. All disputes between states and all regional conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means, and the use or threat of force should be rejected.
The issue of environment and development commands the attention of the people the world over. A large number of important consensus and commitments have been reached by the UN-sponsored world conferences over the years. The UN Millennium Summit, held in September 2000 in New York City, set forth multiple objectives of eliminating poverty and promoting economic and social development. People have expected that this summit of ours will make substantive efforts to realize these commitments and objectives.
Since the Rio UNCED, the Chinese Government, acting in a highly responsible manner to discharge its commitment, has taken the lead in formulating China's Agenda 21, mapped out the strategy of rejuvenating the nation through science and technology and the strategy of sustainable development, and identified the key sectors of China's sustainable development for the early years of the new century and relevant programs of action. Having formulated and improved more than 120 laws, rules and regulations concerning population, family planning, environment protection, natural resources management, disaster prevention and relief, China now has an organizational and administrative system operating at various levels that involves multiple agencies of both the central and local governments. At the same time, China has acceded to a series of international conventions and completed the domestic procedure for the approval of the Kyoto Protocol with a view to taking an active part in multilateral environment cooperation.
Thanks to ten years of hard work, China's strategy of sustainable development has now run through all aspects of the country's economic and social development efforts, which effectively promoted a sustained and harmonious development of the economy, population, resources and environment and delivered remarkable successes. With reform and opening up, China's GDP increased by 158% in the past decade or so. As the economy grows rapidly and people's living standards improve steadily, the excessively rapid population growth has been brought under control. Protection and management of natural resources have been strengthened, work against pollution and for a sound eco-system accelerated, and environment quality of some cities and regions visibly improved. Particularly in recent years, China has stepped up its financial input in environment. From 1998 through 2002, a total of RMB580 billion yuan was invested in environment protection and preservation of the ecosystem, accounting for 1.29% of the country's GDP in that period and 1.8 times the combined investment in this area from 1950 to 1997. After years of searching, we have found for ourselves a development model with Chinese characteristics and our sustainable development is holding out a promising prospect. By 2005, the tendency of ecological degradation will be on the whole arrested, and the total discharge of major pollutants will drop by 10% compared with 2000. In 2010, our GDP will double that of 2000 when our people will be much better off, the development of our resources more rational and the quality of our environment more improved, thus presenting a more uplifting picture of harmonious development of the economy, population, resources and environment.
As the world's largest developing country and a major player in environment protection, China is an important force in international environment cooperation. We are deeply aware of the responsibilities on our shoulders. If we do a good job in running China well, it will be a great contribution to the world cause of sustainable development. We are still faced with considerable restraints and difficulties in implementing the sustainable development strategy due to our large population, low per capita resources, vulnerable ecology, uneven regional economic development and inadequate development of our overall economy. We will continue to work hard, unflinchingly shoulder our responsibilities, honor our commitments with deeds, and steadfastly take the road of sustainable development. I firmly believe that this summit will usher in a better implementation of the sustainable development strategy in all countries. We in China will, as always, energetically participate in international environment cooperation and work with all other countries in protecting global environment and realizing sustainable development throughout the world. We are destined to have an even better future for China and for our entire world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.