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PLENARY

58 Heads of State or Government gave speeches in the Friday session of the Summit. Some of the key points of several of those speeches are summarized below:

Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's speech focused on the key development concerns of the G-77. He referred poignantly to the fact that we inhabit a single planet but several worlds, and that such a fragmented planet cannot survive in harmony with Nature and the environment. Narasimha called for recognition of the reality that the resources of the planet can sustain a given population within a certain range of exploitation, subject to a given rate of regeneration and maintenance. Any imbalance in the equation is sure to cut short the life of the planet.

UK Prime Minister John Major referred to the fact that much environmental degradation has been inflicted, not out of greed or malice, but out of ignorance. Major expressed disappointment with some of the Conference's results, especially the lack of a binding agreement on forests, and called for effective follow-up to both the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions. Specific commitments announced include: hosting of a Global Technology Partnership Conference; commitment to new and additional resources through the GEF (although no amount was indicated); support for the Earth Increment; and hosting a major NGO global forum on the NGO role in the implementation of Agenda 21.

On behalf of the EC and its member states, Portuguese Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva praised the Rio Declaration as a basis for the establishment of new relations between all parties that will have to provide answers appropriate to the challenge at hand. Although he did express disappointment with the Biodiversity Convention for having fallen short of initial expectations, Silva appealed for the greatest number of States to sign and ratify the Convention. Commitments were also made to allocate US$4 billion, including new and additional resources, for specific projects and key programmes in Agenda 21.

Cuban President Fidel Castro's speech, while shortest in length, aroused the greatest volume of applause. Castro called for a more equitable distribution of wealth and technologies to spare humanity from mass destruction; repayment of the ecological debt in lieu of the foreign debt; science working for sustainable development without contamination; and the elimination of hunger instead of mankind. He urged that "less luxury and wastage in a few countries would amount to less poverty and hunger in a large part of the Earth".

Justice D.F. Annan, Vice-President of Ghana, articulated the major concerns of the G-77 that will hinder implementation of Agenda 21 and that were inadequately addressed at UNCED: lack of attention regarding the existent adverse international economic environment; inequities within the world trade regime; restricted access to world markets; unfair commodity pricing; unsustainable consumption in the North; debt relief; separate funding mechanisms beyond the GEF; and favorable access to private-sector held technologies for developing countries.

Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney proposed a five-point plan for implementation of UNCED outcomes. Most noteworthy were the financial commitments: Cdn$115 million to developing countries for forest management; elimination of Cdn$145 million ODA debt of Latin American countries in exchange for sustainable development projects; replenishment to the GEF (although no amount specified); and Cdn$50 million in humanitarian assistance to drought-stricken nations.

US President George Bush stressed the strong environmental record of the US, which he called "second to none". Recognizing the criticism that the US has faced, he said, "I didn't come here to apologize." Bush announced that he had just signed the Climate Change Convention and called for a meeting to be held before 1 January 1993 to discuss means of implementing the Convention. He stated that US initiatives to protect biodiversity will exceed the provisions of the Convention but that he will not sign it.

Latvian President Anatolijs Gorbunovs stressed the difficulty in overcoming the crisis left behind by a century of totalitarian rule. He appealed for support of the demand of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Baltic Republics and called for a "Disarmament for Environment" summit meeting early next summer.

L. Erskine Sandiford, Prime Minister of Barbados, said that the Climate Change Convention is not perfect, but provides a basis for future negotiations. He urged that the first protocol address stabilization and reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. He closed with a poem, "Ode to the Environment," that he wrote on the occasion of this conference.

Dutch Prime Minister R.F.M. Lubbers announced that Dutch ODA levels exceed the 0.7% target. "My government is willing to provide new and additional financial resources up to a maximum of 0.1% GNP for the implementation of global environmental agreements, provided that other countries take a similar course in generating resources for such an earth increment," he said. He also stated that the Netherlands will continue to call for the involvement of NGOs in the UN decision-making process.

Colombian President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo said that UNCED has fallen short on the issue of financing and that funding from developed countries are not only inadequate but they focus on the environment not development. "Sooner or later the planet will send all of us the bill, rich and poor alike."

Croatian Prime Minister Franjo Greguric said that international recognition has not brought peace to Croatia. Croatia must first restore peace and only then can it address the massive environmental destruction that the war has brought. He concluded by reading from a letter from a nine-year-old girl: "The earth suffers because so few people love it."

Russian Vice President A.V. Rutskoy announced that the Russian Federation is setting up new environmental structures and has learned lessons from a history of environmental disasters, the worst of which was Chernobyl. Since ecological catastrophes know no international boundaries, there must be environmental monitoring and an ecological early warning system.

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