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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > April 2005 > Statement by Claude Wiseler, Minister for Civil Engineering, on behalf of the EU, at the 13th session of the Commission on sustainable development: "Avoiding to forget the word 'sustainable'?"
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Statement by Claude Wiseler, Minister for Civil Engineering, on behalf of the EU, at the 13th session of the Commission on sustainable development: "Avoiding to forget the word 'sustainable'?"

Date of Speech : 21-04-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Claude Wiseler, Minister for Civil Engineering

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

1. This intervention will be focused on one of the most important question of this session which has been raised clearly by the Youth Caucus: "Are we forgetting the word 'sustainable' in Sustainable Development?"

The EU has tried during this session to respond very clearly with "no" to this question, keeping alive the heritage of Rio and of Johannesburg. We have tried to act and promote action in a manner that fundamentally changes the life of the poor while, at the same time, protecting the ecosystems and promoting the social and economic development within their carrying capacity.

What we want to stress here are the good questions and the relevant support we found in our dialogue with major groups to feed this process. Let me give a few examples:

2. We share the views expressed by the Business and Industry Major Group during this session: "Stable enforced regulatory systems and strong institutions are  crucial. Eliminating bribery and corruption, in favor of the rule of law and democratic processes, is of fundamental importance to implementing sustainable development policies."

3. Simultaneously, we have been given more specific advice by the NGOs Major group to promote water demand management, particularly in the North as much as the South, in order "to cope with increasing demands at a time when climate and other changes are restricting supplies in many places."

4. And we have also been advised by Trade Unions to take a better care of the social dimension of sustainable development by building on the role of workers and their organizations, who have an important role to fulfill in the three theme areas.

5. Another key aspect of the social dimension of sustainable development is the status of women in the society. The Women Major Group has rightly "called our attention on their legitimate call for changes in marital and inheritance laws in many countries" after having stressed that : " To stimulate municipalities and individual households to invest, secure land tenure and property ownership, especially for women, is a precondition for access to water, sanitation and finances." 

6. And Human Rights is also part of the social dimension especially for Indigenous people whose rights must be enshrined in national legislation and policy. They have underlined that "there is a danger of marginalization if Indigenous people, local communities and all the stakeholders" are not included in the texts produced by the CSD. 

7. But it is not the only danger of isolation, as stressed by the scientific community who has recognized that "there is also a major need to bridge the North South gap in scientific and technological capacity" and that  "developed countries and international organisations should support measures in those developed countries that are lacking in such capacities".

8. This need of capacity building is particularly evident in sectors like agriculture which uses 70% of water resources and is being facing the "more crop per drop" challenge which is to double its production capacity over the next 25 years, using essentially the same resource base, in order to feed an additional 1.5 billion people by 2025."

9. Facing such a challenge, the Local authorities are right to recall constantly the need for "decentralised gouvernance for development" which is a "key area of democratic governance, crucial to attaining human development and the Millenium Development goals".

Did this advice and recalls from the nine major groups on key ingredients of a sustainable development help us to keep the word "sustainable" at center of the concept of  Sustainable Development?"

We hope so, since a high pressure is now coming from arenas where "development" is the only concern as a mere synonymous for "growth", without paying attention to the environmentally or socially "sustainable" character of this growth.

The EU feels that the active participation of Major Groups in decision making and implementation regarding sustainable development is a key element of its constant renewal and an important contribution to the quality of the outcome of CSD sessions.

The EU attaches importance both to an open dialogue with Major Groups during interactive discussions and to the necessity of a specific Major Group session which gives them the opportunity to provide a strong and coherent input to negotiations.

We are wish that this could be reflected in the working arrangements for upcoming CSD sessions.

This page was last modified on : 23-04-2005

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