Hoppa yfir valmynd
Prime Minister's Office

Sustainable Development

September 2nd 2002

Mr. Davíð Oddsson, Prime Minister of Iceland
Address to the World Summit on Sustainable Development
September 2nd 2002

Mr. Chairman:
Environmental issues are now at the heart of the political debate, be it at local, national or international level. The prominence given to environmental affairs is positive. It means that we are better able to value nature and the environment; that we are better equipped to define the different options, the gains and the losses; and that environmental considerations can be integrated into our policy and decision making in a wide social and economic context.

Guided by the principles of sustainable development, many nations have made significant progress. New environmental challenges have become a priority for public policy; new solutions and practices have evolved which enable us to achieve our goals and to set ourselves new and higher ones. The Government of Iceland has done so in a newly adapted long-term cross-sectoral strategy aimed at securing sustainable development.

All this is positive, and we should in particular welcome how it has been demonstrated that environmental conservation is not an impediment to economic advancement – on the contrary, we now realise that it is an absolute precondition for sustained long-term growth.

Mr. Chairman;
It is increasingly acknowledged that extracting food products from the natural ecosystem requires great care in order to avoid overtaxing resources. Yet, there is also a growing recognition that it is our duty not to neglect the resources we have, based on solid research and sound scientific advice.

Last year Iceland hosted an FAO conference under the title Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem. The objective of the conference was to review the experience of applying ecosystem considerations in fisheries management. On behalf of the Government of Iceland I am proud to present the Reykjavík Declaration on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem as the collective contribution of the world's fisheries nations to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

At the Rio Conference in 1992 countries pledged to document their biodiversity as a first step towards sustainable utilisation and governments are now being called to account in that regard. Iceland will take its commitment further still by making readily accessible, via modern electronic media, the wealth of information it produces about the marine environment.

By doing so, we hope to enhance the transparency of natural resource utilisation and enable all citizens to take part, on an equal footing, in informed debate about our common resources.

Iceland also welcomes the progress made during this Summit on establishing by 2004 a mechanism under the United Nations for global reporting on the state of the marine environment. This is an important step to strengthen the fight against marine pollution world-wide.

The use of renewable sources of energy and technological innovation now offer unprecedented opportunities. These opportunities have to be seized. Already, over seventy percent of the energy consumed in Iceland is produced from renewable resources, namely hydropower and geothermal energy. We are optimistic that by using these sources of power to produce hydrogen – and by converting to hydrogen for transport – between ninety and ninety-five percent of our total energy needs will be met from renewable sources.

Mr. Chairman:
Although we have witnessed positive change on many fronts, there is certainly no cause for complacency. The conditions of million of people have not improved and millions live in abject poverty and see little hope of escaping it.

Iceland will continue to emphasise assisting other nations by providing training and sharing knowledge about the sustainable management of living marine resources and the harnessing of renewable energy resources. The Government of Iceland has declared its willingness to increase its bilateral engagement in this respect and will do so.

In the International fora Iceland will continue to support – politically and materially – multilateral programmes and initiatives that are geared towards the promotion of sustainable practices and the eradication of poverty.

Official development assistance alone, however, will not do the job. Poorer countries must be allowed to enjoy the benefit of their comparative advantages and to put their human resources to work. Globalisation should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat. Trade liberalisation and free commerce would do more than anything else to promote equitable and sustainable growth for the benefit of poor countries.

Let us be mindful, however, that sustainable development begins at home. Each and every one of us has to create in our own countries the necessary enabling environment, including good governance at all levels based on democratic values and the rule of law.

Mr. Chairman;
It gives me a great pleasure to be here in Johannesburg at this first World Summit on Sustainable Development. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the people and the Government of South Africa for their generous hospitality and the excellent arrangements they have made for this Summit.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.
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