Open doors

Juan Mayr Maldonado calls for an in-depth environmental debate, committed to the future of the planet

Colombia is proud to open the doors of Cartagena to the Global Ministerial Environment Forum/Seventh special session of UNEP’s Governing Council. Ours is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet, and the meetings will provide us, once again, with an opportunity to show our total commitment to sustainable development.

Colombia has assumed her responsibility for the environment both through a constitutional platform that establishes more than 80 collective rights and obligations towards our natural heritage, and through the consolidation of a National Environmental System. This is now considered to be an advanced institutional example in Latin America – guided as it is by participative social policies to ensure its soundness, harmony and efficiency.

A world of contrasts
Colombia’s extraordinary natural and cultural diversity will allow our distinguished guests to enjoy a world of contrasts. It offers visitors the opportunity to appreciate the impressive beauty of snow-covered peaks, the silent and unique Andean uplands, tropical rainforests and cloud forests, extensive deserts, wetlands and Andean valleys. I hope that the mysteries of the Amazon forest or the rich and beautiful Pacific coast will be compulsory destinations for those who have devoted their lives to the management of our environment.

As well as providing us with a chance to share these immense riches, the Cartagena meeting offers participating environmental leaders an opportunity to revise and renew their commitments to sustainable development, to establish clear guidelines for global environmental governance, and to define other priority issues for discussion at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.
A joint effort is required of all nations represented here
Today, we are confronted by great challenges at all levels – global, regional, national and local. These are different from those faced in previous decades, and we must approach them both creatively and carefully. Through in-depth and sincere debate we must – while differentiating between developed countries and those in transition – define a new philosophy through which shared responsibility will be assumed in a conscientious and equitable way.

Although the environmental problems of today are much more complex than they were a decade or so ago, we have the advantage of new scientific and technological thinking, opening new avenues and perspectives in our search for solutions.

Collective challenge
A joint effort is required of all nations represented here. A collective challenge provides us with the chance to harmonize thought with action. I intend to make the Cartagena summit a forum for in-depth reflection and for finding a practical, ethical and philosophical basis for ensuring the environmental sustainability of our planet.

I wish to thank each and all of you for your presence and your support. Welcome to Colombia

Juan Mayr Maldonado is Minister of the Environment, Colombia.


This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Open doors | Progress and possibilities | A further step | Achieving the vision | Wake-up call | Special feature: Security in a shrinking world | 2001 UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize | Competition | Global housekeeping | Disrupting life’s messages | Ubiquitous and dangerous | Briefing: Much done, much still to do | Briefing: Getting on top of the POPs | Briefing: First line of defence | Reversing the burden of proof

Complementary articles in other issues:
Malmö Ministerial Declaration (The Environment Millennium) 2000