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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 existing and serious imbalance in sustainable development, and earnestly implement the relevant consensus and commitments with firm political will, action-oriented programs and innovative measures. Here, I wish to emphasize the following points:

1. To adhere to the Rio Principles and share "common but differentiated responsibilities" . The developed countries should genuinely fulfill their commitments at an early date and take the lead in changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns, reduce waste discharge and implement the concept of sustainable development with actual deeds. On the other hand, the developing countries need to change their way of thinking, avoid repeating the pattern of pollution first and control second, and formulate and implement sustainable development strategies in accordance with their own national conditions.

2. To create an enabling environment for the sustainable development of the developing countries. In international development cooperation, priority should be given to the developing countries with its focus on effectiveness and feasibility. The international community, and the developed countries in particular, should fulfill their commitments in financial resources and technology transfer and eliminate trade tariffs to create a favorable external environment, thus facilitating the efforts of the developing countries in realizing sustainable development objectives.

3. To strengthen international and regional mechanisms. International and regional mechanisms are important fora for reaching and implementing international consensus, and promoting exchanges and cooperation. They should be improved continuously to provide powerful support to all countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development. The United Nations should, in particular, continue to play its leading role in this regard, top sustainable development on its agenda and make consistent efforts for new recommendations and measures.

4. To build substantive public and private partnership and reach out to the whole society. The cause of sustainable development needs the support and participation of all sectors of the society. Studies should be conducted to explore diversified partnerships and mobilize the general public so as to turn international consensus into specific actions of each locality and community. The WSSD has produced quite a number of partnership initiatives, and our current session should supervise their implementation so that they will play their due role in promoting global sustainable development.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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