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 You are in: Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs > Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs > All Remarks and Releases > Remarks > 2002

Sustainable Development

E. Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs
Address to World Environment Center's Fourth Gold Medal Colloquium
Washington, DC
May 17, 2002

Thank you for inviting me here this morning, and for giving me the opportunity to discuss a topic that is currently very much in the news and is a top priority for the United States: sustainable development.

I am also pleased to help recognize the support of sustainable development principles by CEMEX SA. CEMEX's philosophy is, in the words of Mr. Zambrano, "to join forces with governments, renowned NGOs, and communities to safeguard nature and promote a deeper ecological culture around the world." That declaration echoes the approach of the United States Government to sustainable development: individual responsibility supported through creative partnerships, and is one we should put into practice.

We have real opportunities this year to forge a new international consensus on sustainable development issues. Together, we -- governments, the private sector, and civil society -- can transform words into actions, and through our actions we can provide all the world's people the opportunities to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives. That is the way to a more prosperous, more secure world.

For the United States, the World Summit on Sustainable Development -- the "WSSD" -- that takes place in Johannesburg in late August is an important milestone. Although I am not an expert on environmental issues or on the WSSD, the Economic and Business Bureau which I head plays a key role in formulating and articulating U.S. development policy, and is a key player in the U.S. Government's preparations for Johannesburg.

The United States hopes the Johannesburg Summit will build on a successful series of meetings focused on development over the past year: the Doha Development Agenda set by the WTO, the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, the World Food Summit in July, and the G8 Leaders' Meeting in Canada. At Johannesburg, the world should highlight the message that economic development, social development, and environmental protection go hand-in-hand. The success we saw in Monterrey shows what we -- developed, middle income, and developing countries -- can achieve.

As in the other development-focused conferences taking place this year, the U.S. goal for the WSSD is to create a new, results-oriented vision for reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.

As we prepare for the Johannesburg meeting, we all must keep in mind that there can be no sustainable development unless there is economic growth. All development must be sustainable and must strive to satisfy the unquenchable aspiration of people around the world to escape poverty, deprivation, environmental degradation, and oppression.

The question we must answer is: How to create conditions that will allow people to give substance to those aspirations? People must have social and economic frameworks in which they can prosper from their efforts.

The international community agreed at Monterrey that "each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development." We also stressed that meeting our internationally agreed development goals "demands a new partnership between developed and developing countries." It is underpinned by political and economic freedom, and the rule of law, that generate and harness the human, technological, and financial resources needed to promote economic and social welfare, and to protect our environment.

At Monterrey, President Bush and other world leaders shaped a new approach to global development, designed to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of the poor, instead of locking the poor into a cycle of dependence. The Monterrey consensus stresses the importance to sustainable development, of good governance, sound institutions, economic reform, transparency in the governing system, the end of corruption, responsible leadership, responsible political activity, and decision-making based on sound science and the building of science and technology capacity of developing countries.

The central theme of Monterrey is that developed and developing countries must work together to make the most efficient possible use of all of the resources -- private and official, domestic and foreign -- potentially available to build capacity and finance development. All states recognize that adequate resources must be available for sustainable development. The largest potential source of capital for capacity building and development are the private and non-governmental sectors, including capital from domestic and foreign private investment. Thus a country's resolve to create a favorable, enabling climate for investment by promoting good governance has a major impact on that country's capacity for sustainable development. Domestic good governance mobilizes resources to build the infrastructure needed to facilitate internal and international trade, to promote sound financial management, to strengthen leadership for science-based decision-making, and to promote the diffusion of technology. The United States will carry that theme to the upcoming preparatory meeting in Bali, and through to Johannesburg.

The United States is working to address the challenges of sustainable development in partnership with governments, the private sector, NGOs, and other elements of civil society. We invite developed and developing nations alike to join us to:

-- Open our economies and societies to growth;

-- Provide freedom, security, and hope for present and future generations

-- Provide all our people with the opportunity for healthy and productive lives;

-- Serve as good stewards of our natural resources and our environment;

The efforts undertaken at Rio ten years ago are the fundamental blueprint for how we all can cooperate to achieve sustainable development. If Johannesburg is to carve a place in history, it must produce compelling results. It needs to focus on concrete actions, not just words and communiqués. Fortunately, the world community has recognized that the principles of sustainable development do not need to be renegotiated, but implemented.

The world has made considerable progress in the ten years since the 1992 Rio Conference. The U.S., like many other countries, has a strong record in fostering sustainable development. I would like to point to the efforts we have made to open markets for trade, to improve the flow of investment funds, to foster international security, and to provide international assistance.

But we are not content with what has been done, and like most other countries believe that more needs to be done to reduce poverty, promote good health, encourage sound management of natural resources, and protect our environment from pollution and degradation. The United States envisions a world in which the environment and natural resources are managed responsibly and every household has access to energy, safe drinking water, and sanitation. We envision a world in which children can grow to adulthood free from disease, hunger, and the scourge of poverty, and where all children have access to schooling that leaves no child behind and lays the foundation for decent and productive employment. We envision a world free from all forms of racial and gender discrimination in which all women and men can reach their full potential. We rededicate ourselves to turn this vision into reality and we support immediate concrete action to this end.

Our goal at the WSSD is to identify meaningful, concrete actions to implement the internationally agreed development goals and to make sustainable development work. The U.S. is committed to its long-standing aim of integrating all countries into a growing global economy in which the world's considerable resources -- private and public -- can be effectively harnessed to build prosperity. The growing integration of economies and societies around the world is the dominant reality and has the potential to improve living standards for all. Our challenge is to ensure all countries can find ways to enjoy the benefits this global process of integration can offer. The Johannesburg Summit should focus on key issues that are most critical, implementing policies to promote and facilitate true sustainable development.

One of those key issues is domestic good governance. By "governance" I mean the broad range of issues that support the ability of governments and publics to make sound decisions about and act to support sustainable development. I am talking here about the rule of law and other conditions essential for domestic and international investment. The creation or enhancement of a legal framework of transparent, democratic, non-discriminatory, and accountable institutions is a prerequisite for sustainable development.

Domestic good governance is an essential element for all countries, developed and developing. It acknowledges the rights of current and future generations to share the benefits of economic and social development in a framework of sustainable management of natural resources. The ultimate responsibility lies with countries themselves to put into place the governance structures and policies that maintain peace and stability, and that mobilize internal and external resources in support of sustainable development. Although the forms of governance will depend upon each country's circumstances, there are certain aspects of good governance that are applicable universally.

In order to promote sustainable development, the WSSD should find ways to encourage countries to make needed changes: rule of law, anti-corruption, economic management, transparency, accountability, broader participation, decision-making based on sound science, and human rights. These aspects of governance contribute to economic growth, higher living standards, social equality, and responsible environmental stewardship in which natural resources are wisely managed for present and future generations, biodiversity preserved, and pollution and degradation of land and water reduced. Capital will not go and economies will not prosper where good governance is absent. The international financial institutions, development agencies, and non-governmental organizations can all play an important role.

The institutions essential for good governance include:

-- A public administration that makes policy, implements laws, and delivers public programs;

-- A judiciary that fairly and efficiently adjudicates disputes over rights, and imposes sanctions for violations; and

-- A system of laws and policies that protects individual rights, social and economic development, and natural resources.

These components must be well developed and integrated in order to effectively mobilize the domestic and international resources needed to promote sustainable development.

Sustainable development depends on the efficiency, efficacy, and responsibility with which resources are used, on getting the economic policy environment right. It depends on countries making the necessary investment in their people, in their health and education. It depends on them taking the necessary steps to foster good environmental stewardship. It depends on developing country leaders recognizing, as they increasingly do, that they bear the primary responsibility for their countries' development.

We in the U.S. Government are working with our friends and allies to promote this understanding. We are working to promote the understanding as well that governments cannot do this work alone. Government -- individually or collectively, developed or developing -- cannot succeed without active partnership with the private sector, not-for-profit organizations, and other stakeholders.

The United States has decades of experience with the policies, programs and cooperation with civil society that is necessary to undertake dramatic change. Our successes and failures inform our local, national and international approach to sustainable development.

Working in partnership, governments, the private sector, and civil society can strengthen democratic institutions of governance, open markets, and mobilize and use all development resources more effectively. Our shared commitment must be to provide all people with the opportunities to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.

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