Message to the
Second Global Environment
Facility Assembly


 
Xiang Huaicheng Minister of Finance, China

I extend greetings to all those who come to Beijing for the the Second GEF Assembly – the government delegations of member countries, and representatives of international institutions and other organizations. It is our privilege and honour to play host, less than two years into the new millennium, to this great international event, which is charged with a significance too critical for anyone to overlook. The conference, like other gatherings, may last only a couple of days, but what comes out of it is expected to make a difference in the international endeavour for environmental protection – and its effectiveness will be felt for many years to come.

Environmental protection has long remained an important item on the agenda of both individual governments and the international community. But the urgency of protecting our globe – the sole habitat, as far as we know, available to mankind in the entire universe – takes on new relevance in the new millennium, as more and more economies embark on ambitious development programmes and simultaneously become more conscious of the importance of coming to terms with the environment.

What will the environment be like in the new century? What will the planet be like for our offspring? How can we ensure sustainable development by bringing growth and environmental protection into harmony? These questions cannot be evaded. We must get the highest possible grade on our answer sheet.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro ten years ago focused attention on this issue. Agenda 21 launched the first comprehensive and systematic programme of sustainable development in history – and set out the basic principles for international cooperation on environment and development in the 21st century. Ten years later, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was solemnly convened in Johannesburg. In the meantime, the concept of sustainable development has been broadly accepted by governments and people across the world – and, more importantly, has begun to be implemented globally with increased cooperation.

Much remains to be done. The GEF, as a financial mechanism for global environmental protection, will be an important player in further advances. Since its inception – and particularly since its restructuring in 1994 – the GEF has provided effective assistance, both financial and technical, to developing countries to participate in joint activities for global environmental protection. The GEF has recorded remarkable achievements, with the full support of its member countries, in enhancing the international community’s awareness by helping nations to address environmental problems in the major areas with global implications – climate change, biodiversity loss, degradation of international waters, ozone depletion and land degradation. The GEF has lived up to the expectations of the international community and is expected to do more for many, many years.

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to environmental protection and development. It began according environmental protection its status, as one of the basic state policies, as early as the 1980s. It has formulated guidelines for integrating economic and social development, conservation of natural resources and environmental protection under the strategy of sustainable development. Meanwhile, China has been actively participating in international cooperation on environmental protection. Though China is still a low-income developing country, its Government is committed to contributing to the GEF and has decided to increase its contribution for the third replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund. We believe that the GEF will play a greater role in the future.

I welcome all the delegates from 173 nations, international institutions and non-governmental organizations gathering in Beijing in the autumn, the best season of the year, so shortly after the Johannesburg Conference. I believe they will have a great opportunity to exchange ideas on a broad range of issues related to environmental protection, to review what has been done over the past years, to contemplate what remains to be done in the short to medium term, and to deliberate what can be done to strengthen our partnership.

We in China are looking forward to a fruitful Assembly and wish the conference every success


Xiang Huaicheng is Minister of Finance, China.

PHOTOGRAPH: Hu Zong Huu/UNEP/Topham


This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Unmatched opportunities | Global priority | Partnerships for change | Rising to new challenges | Much achieved, more to do | Message to the Second GEF Assembly | Africa Environment Outlook | Critical energy | Mapping the health of the planet | Regaining ground | Two to tango | Linking knowledge to action | Globalizing benefits | Unpopular POPs | Message to the Second GEF Assembly


Complementary articles in other issues:
Special supplement to coincide with the Global
Environment Facility Assembly
(Fresh Water) 1998
Xie Zenhua: Saving the common land (Mountains and Ecotourism) 2002
Ye Ruqiu: Cutting carbon (Energy) 2001

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment:
About the AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment:
Contents