Let me begin by affirming the view of the South African government is that
WSSD is foremost about development rather than purely or specifically about
environment. As our Minister of Environment and Tourism has emphasized at
various preparatory meetings, the three pillars of sustainable development
are economic, social, and environmental. Among the key issues that he has
highlighted are the:
- global partnerships to address inequality and poverty
- integration of trade, investment and finance issues with the sustainable
If development is about the quality of economic growth, sustainable
development is about the quality of that development. Sustainable development
is about whether we are growing our economies and societies in a way that
will enable future generations to enjoy a better - rather than worse - quality
of life than we do.
Poverty at the forefront of sustainable development
This is why South Africa, with the rest of Africa, has put poverty at the
forefront of the sustainable development agenda. We understand that, for
development to occur and be meaningful, we must attack poverty. We must
achieve a reduction in poverty that will help us to achieve our development
goals, especially the goal of ensuring that development is sustainable.
The horrific events of 11 September  must underline for us all that
poverty reduction is the way to deal with global inequalities. It is
inequality which is the cause of hopelessness, feelings of helplessness,
frustrations, turmoil and tensions; this is the breeding ground for extremism
and terrorism. The eradication of poverty and gross inequality must therefore
be at the forefront of the sustainable development agenda.
We need to keep this perspective uppermost in our minds as we prepare - in our
individual sectors - for the WSSD. I will be illustrating this point with
reference to the water sector, since that is what I know best, and because it
is a sector which you as health ministers have a deep interest.
Integration of sectoral issues
We have not sought to make water a 'stand-alone' issue for this conference.
Rather, what we are doing is to use the example of water to show how we need
to approach effective and sustainable development. In a number of preparatory
meetings, most recently at the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn
in December, we began with the targets set by the heads of state at the
Millennium Assembly of the United Nations in the year 2000.
Regarding water, they agreed that within 15 years, the total number of people
around the globe without access to potable water (1.2 billion) should be
halved. At the Bonn conference, we proposed that the same target should be
applied regarding the 2.5 billion people who have inadequate sanitation.
We have identified other areas in which we need to make progress regarding
water. These areas include improving our management of rivers, both
nationally and internationally, and getting better systems in place to deal
with natural disasters like floods, droughts, cholera epidemics, and so on.
What we have been emphasizing is that the key to dealing with these issues
does not lie in the water sector alone. The key to achieving our water goals
is to improve the international environment in which we work. For example,
farmers in developing countries cannot invest in more efficient water use, if
they cannot sell their products to world markets because of trade barriers.
Industries cannot invest in water purification works if they cannot access
the technologies they need. The poor cannot pay for potable water if they are
unemployed, especially if the likelihood of getting a job has diminished
because investment and jobs have gone elsewhere in accordance with the
dictates of the global market.
A new global framework
We insist that the Millennium Summit targets can be achieved in the poorer
countries only if a new global framework is put in place. Clearly, as the
world order stands, the poorest of the poor cannot achieve goals such as
access to safe water without help. Rather, in the spirit of NEPAD, the New
Partnership for African Development, we are not advocating holding out begging
bowls for more aid. But we are advocating the need to create the conditions
in which communities and countries are better able to provide for themselves.
Such enabling conditions require economic growth, investment, and access for
poor countries to international markets. This means that processes surrounding
the World Trade Organization and Finance for Development negotiations must be
linked to the WSSD.
This is why we are calling for a new вЂњglobal dealвЂќ. We propose that if we
are to make progress in protecting the environment, we must agree to take
global action to tackle poverty. Because we all know, poverty is the worst
threat to the environment and sustainable development.
A unified stance for development sectors
We believe that the challenge for the health sector is to look at the
sustainable development debate in the same way. We cannot have a world
summit at which we all advocate our sectoral goals outside of a broad
We also need to be clear about the challenges of managing [development] in
an international context. So another issue which we are putting high on the
summit agenda is global environmental governance.
We are saying that we will need more effective international governance
of matters such as sustainable development. We all know that it is very
difficult for developing countries to participate effectively in the many
detailed protocols. Simply to fund and brief the delegations required to
attend to the multitude of meetings is often a major challenge and beyond
the means of many countries. Yet, as we know from the POPs process
(the review of so-called вЂњpersistent organic pollutantsвЂќ), if we fail
to participate, we may find that we cannot afford insecticides to fight
malaria because the cheaper ones have been outlawed.
We need a system that is designed to facilitate our participation in
international governance, in environment and sustainable development, as in
other areas. That might require some reforms on our side. One requirement
might well be to improve our ability to act as regions rather than as single
countries. This is why todayвЂ™s meeting is so important, bringing us together
as Southern African partners, demonstrating that we are building our regional
governance to ensure that we can, as a region, participate effectively in new
systems of global governance.2
PostScript: lessons from a local sanitation crisis
Having outlined the big picture of our approach to the Summit, I would like
to ask your indulgence to take advantage of my final few minutes to raise a
subject which is dear to my heart, and I am sure to yours: sanitation.
Our minds are acutely focused on this issue because of the current cholera
outbreak in the KwaZulu-Natal province. Effective sanitation is, as we know,
a key to breaking the chain of transmission of cholera and many other
diseases. Yet sanitation always seems to take second place to water supply.
We would like to change this approach at the Summit and I cannot think of
better partners and advocates than you health ministers and experts.
Excellencies, you know better than anyone the interconnection between the
lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation to illness and disease. Over
one million children a year die from water-borne diseases - that is 6 000
everyday - the equivalent of six Jumbo jets full of children crashing to
their death every day. A daily death toll that is double the number that
died in the New York atrocity of 11 September.
A three-pronged approach to a healthy environment
Any student of history - let alone a medical student - is aware that 19th
century Europe dealt with its cholera outbreaks by the provision of clean
water and sanitation. It was by this intervention (rather than through
medication), that mortality rates were dramatically reduced. But the third
element of that revolution in health was the widespread introduction of
hygiene education, starting with schools and embracing entire populations.
A programme that comprises the three essential elements of clean water,
sanitation, and hygiene education is vital to ensure a better and sustainable
quality of life for the world's people.
[With this goal in mind, we propose that] the first step in this project
was to get the Bonn Conference to recommend that a sanitation target be
added to the water supply targets of the Millennium Declaration. The second
challenge is to ensure that there is a truly global campaign to promote
sanitation improvement. The third challenge is to ensure that we get the
message across that improved water supply and sanitation, without improved
hygiene practices, will not achieve our goals.
The message we want to get across to the leaders of the world is this: in
order to take advantage of the healthy environment which we aim to create,
we need to focus equally on health and hygiene education as the third (but not
least) element of the trinity of water supply and toilet provision. The WASH
campaign of the UN mandated Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council
focuses on the simple act of washing hands after going to the toilet and
before eating or handling food. This practice alone reduces illness and death
from water borne disease by 40%. We must popularize the WASH campaign.
I hope I can count on you for support in that effort and, on behalf of
Minister Valli Moosa, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, I wish
you well for the rest of your deliberations.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you all here in Sandton, Johannesburg
in seven months time.
This speech has been edited slightly by SARPN to make the original 'speech style' more suitable to be read as a text. The meaning has not been altered in any way. Section titles have been added.
SARPN readers will note the relevance of this statement to NEPAD, and to
Ravi Kanbur's initial comments on NEPAD
which point to its "Africa-wide voice" as being of crucial value and importance.