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Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, at the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
(21 April 2004, New York)


Mr. Chairman:

Sustainable development is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today, bearing on the survival, development and long-term stability of mankind. It is therefore highly necessary to have a comprehensive review of the progress in Sustainable development while giving individual deliberations to each agenda item. We wish to express our appreciation for the report submitted by the Secretary-General, which has provided us with useful information in many areas.

After over ten years of efforts, the concept of sustainable development is more comprehensive, balanced and action-oriented. How to turn consensus and commitments into effective actions has always been the most important yet the most difficult question. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) has further defined the specific objectives and identified the road maps for major areas, marking an important action-oriented step. However, as is described by the Secretary-General in his report, over the past year, though many actions have been taken by countries, the international community and civil society, they are yet to bring major improvement to the well being of mankind, the realization of global sustainable development remains a long-term and arduous task.

Undoubtedly, in the chain of global sustainable development, the developing countries remain the weakest link. Such old and new problems as poverty, hunger, deteriorating biology and outbreaks of infectious diseases are imposing unprecedented heavy pressure on the developing countries. Though the international community have reached important consensus on providing the developing countries with assistance, the progress is slow in taking specific actions. Though the official development assistance (ODA) has witnessed some increase, it is far from the agreed objectives. Trade protectionism has seriously harmed the developing countries' efforts in mobilizing domestic resources and their capacity building. Commercial interests have laid numerous obstacles for technical transfer. All these elements have formed a vicious circle for the developing countries' efforts to eliminate poverty and protect environment.

To solve these problems, we need to fully understand the complexity and the long