|It is easy to be cynical about the worlds political machinery and the way it appears to listen to itself and be deaf to the needs of the people, the planet and those, in grinding poverty, in need of prosperity.
But I believe that there is a glimmer of hope, reflecting a mood that many of the worlds leaders from North and South appear willing to nurture.
Last year, in Doha, Qatar, it was agreed to bring environmental issues into the new round of World Trade Organization talks. This is not without its struggles or free from differences of opinion. But it is a new, and much needed, start towards developing and delivering a balanced world, one that delivers growth and prosperity and respects the planet and all its people.
We also have the Africa action plan, recently endorsed by the G8 Summit, and the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD). African countries have agreed to put their house in order so that rich and poor nations can work together in mutual trust to heal this extraordinary continents environmental, social and economic wounds and release its potential to overcome poverty.
UNEP will be working tirelessly with its United Nations partners and friends to make the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) a success to make it a Summit of concrete actions that turn the promises of Rio into reality.
We have drawn up a list of deliverables in areas from marine pollution to engaging civil society and increasing public awareness.
We will also be pressing hard for richer countries to turn the pledges made in Doha, Monterrey, Canada and elsewhere into hard cash to implement these deliverables and to change their unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.
We want to see the Global Environment Facility, which has done so much for conservation and helping to deliver sustainable development, replenished this year at an acceptable level.
Without cultural diversity, without an anchor in our past, we face a poorer future in psychological, spiritual, economic and human terms. We risk losing our resilience, our species natural ability to survive and adapt in the face of change. This links directly to the need to develop globalization with a human face along the lines called for by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Without diversity, we risk becoming like a monoculture plantation forest, highly vulnerableto pests, high winds and other extreme change.
The consequences of failure in Johannesburg are too disturbing to contemplate. Unless a new course is charted for planet Earth we risk a new Iron Curtain, dividing not East and West but the haves and the have-nots with all the ramifications of increasing political, social and economic instability, and all the risks of increased tensions, jealousies and hatreds between and within countries.
We stand no more than a toe-print into a new century. Despite all the complexities and difficulties of the choices we face, I remain optimistic for the worlds oceans, rivers, forests, atmosphere, wildlife and people.
The Malmö Declaration of 2000 says it all: