for tomorrow

Roh Moo-hyun
President of the Republic of Korea

The 21st century is an age of the environment. The solving of environmental problems has become one of the fundamental and most urgent tasks for human survival – not to mention our prosperity.

For the past several decades, countries around the world have been discussing environmental issues, including global warming, the loss of biodiversity and the exhaustion of resources. In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held, followed by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in the Republic of South Africa highlighted a detailed action plan for the common prosperity of all peoples. Joint endeavours have been made to tackle regional problems such as desertification, transnational air pollution and marine pollution.

Still, there is a long way to go. As stated by the Johannesburg Declaration, actions to resolve poverty, to change unsustainable consumption and production patterns – which waste resources – and to conserve and protect the natural resource base constitute an essential condition for sustainable development. Recognizing such needs, we should work to find ways to address environmental problems and translate them into action.

Action now
If there is to be any life, sustainable development cannot be avoided any longer. No country can be an exception. Time is running out. If we do not translate the many international agreements into action now, we will impose a heavy burden not only on the present but also on future generations.

In this light, it is very meaningful to hold the Eighth Special Session of the Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of UNEP in the Republic of Korea. Jeju-do, where the forum will be held, has been designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. I believe that the island will create a beautiful backdrop for a successful meeting and all participants in the forum will leave with happy memories.

Since the 1960s, the Republic of Korea has experienced numerous environmental problems as the price of high economic growth in a short period. Recognizing that without resolving these environmental problems, national growth cannot be sustained, the Korean Government established the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development. Now, various measures have been taken to support the environment, and life itself. In particular, much effort has been exerted to create a system for the conservation of the environment and to harmonize development and conservation rationally. I hope that the Korean experience and success will serve as a good reference for many countries.

Enthusiastic commitment
I look forward to the enthusiastic commitment of the delegations from many countries to the Eighth Special Session of the Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of UNEP and to that of the members of non-governmental organizations. I expect that there will be many meaningful discussions on issues of common concern to all humanity

PHOTOGRAPH: Government of the Republic of Korea

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Töpfer | Action for tomorrow | Turning words into action | One hand washes the other | People | Fragile resource | Realizing the dream | Washing away poverty | At a glance: Water and sanitation | Music makes magic – Angélique Kidjo | Targeting sanitation | In a city like Mumbai | Flowing from the bottom up | Books & products | Watering a thirsty land | Peace through parks | Reaching the unheard

Complementary issues:
Culture, Values and the Environment, 1996
The Environment Millennium, 2000
Biological Diversity, 2000
Poverty Health and the Environment, 2001
WSSD, 2002
Global Environment Facility, 2002
Freshwater, 2003
World Heritage and Protected Areas, 2003