FIJI'S NACANIELI BRINGS A PLEA TO THE ASIA-PACIFIC ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS

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KITAKYUSHU, Japan (September 5, 2000 - United Nations Information Services/PINA Nius Online)---"We dream of living in an environment that brings us joy, not anxiety. We dream of having clean, fresh drinking water and not turning our rivers into sewers. Above all, we dream of living not existing."

These words were delivered by 19-year-old Nacanieli Cakacaka of Fiji to the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific yesterday.

They formed part of an appeal document drafted by 25 youth from 15 countries taking part in a five-day Regional Youth Caucus organized by the United Nations Environment Programme.

The appeal called for ministers to uphold their responsibilities as environmental policy makers by enforcing environmental laws, promoting appropriate technology transfer and cooperation, and moving towards sustainable production and consumption.

The youth reminded ministers that one in three Asian-Pacific people has no access to safe drinking water, that half have no access to sanitation, and that climate change and sea level rise is already occurring, causing severe problems in the region.

The appeal also called for ministers to increase the involvement of young people in environmental decision-making, as had been agreed in Agenda 21, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit document on sustainable development.

The youth told ministers that over the five-day caucus they had developed specific action plans to improve environmental awareness and programs in their own countries.

The caucus was associated with the Ministerial Conference, which finishes today. It was organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

 

UN SECRETARY GENERAL TELLS OF NEW ASIA-PACIFIC ENVIRONMENT PRESSURES

KITAKYUSHU, Japan (September 5, 2000 - United Nations Information Services/PINA Nius Online)---As the Asia-Pacific region's population is expected to swell to five billion in the first half of the century, for the first time the region's urban population will equal its rural population.

This worrying statistic is in United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to over 44 ministers from Asia and the Pacific meeting in Japan to approve news plans to combat environmental pollution.

It was delivered by Mr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific is being held at Kitakyushu City. The conference was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and co-sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank.

Mr. Annan said that information technologies, with their potential to spread environmental awareness, globalization -- which has the potential to promote greater environmental responsibility -- and partnerships with business and civil society were some of the solutions causing reason for some optimism.

"I sincerely hope that together you will find ways to move towards a new ethic of global environmental stewardship that is so urgently needed," Mr. Annan said.

Mr. Kim underlined in his policy statement that environmental degradation could have a severe and wide-ranging effect on human health.

"When these effects are concentrated, as in an urban context, they can be disastrous. As Asia's urban centers grow, the issue of urban environmental management becomes more of a priority."

Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister of State, Director-General of the Environment Agency of Japan, in her inaugural statement said, "During the 21st century, it will be necessary to create a new society that takes up the issues of poverty and the environment in a more active way than the present age. A new model for development -- sustainable development -- will need to be created if we are to make this possible."

To improve the environment will cost money, reminded Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Tadao Chino. "We estimate that a minimum of $13 billion will be required annually to maintain the present status of the environment in Asia and the Pacific. Multiples of that amount will be needed additionally to improve the environment significantly." He said other sources including the private sector must be developed to meet the demand for sustainable development projects.

The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. Klausopfer, said that as the region is witness to an unprecedented economic recovery, "this new growth period of the Asian economies, with a younger capital stock, gives us a fresh opportunity to implement more environmental precautions, promote cleaner technologies and raise environmental awareness amongst the people especially the youth and women."

The conference is the fourth in a series of ministerial-level meetings, held every five years. Ministers are expected to review the implementation of Agenda 21 -- an environmental blueprint -- in the region, and assess the state of the environment in Asia and the Pacific.

The ministerial conference is expected to produce a declaration reaffirming the commitment of countries in the region to environmental protection. The ministerial conference is also in preparation for the 10-year review, in 2002, of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

 

UNEP AND ADB STRENGTHEN TIES FOR THE ASIA-PACIFIC ENVIRONMENT

KITAKYUSHU, Japan (September 5, 2000 - United Nations Information Services/PINA Nius Online)---The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen ties in the promotion of sustainable development and environmental management in the Asia Pacific region.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer and ADB President Tadao Chino signed the agreement during the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific currently being held in Kitakyushu, Japan.

The agreement signals enhanced cooperation on collaborative programs at sub regional, regional and global levels.

The agreement will also facilitate regional information management to improve assessment, planning and monitoring of regional environmental trends and capacity building to strengthen planning, decision-making, legal frameworks and institutions in developing countries.

Mr. Toepfer said the agreement built on 10 years of collaboration between the two agencies to safeguard the environment of the region.

Mr. Chino said inter-agency cooperation was essential to address environment and development issues and to combat the extreme poverty facing the region.

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