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UNEP executive director welcomes UNCTAD'S 1998 trade and development report

Nairobi, September 1998 - The 1998 Trade and Development Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), launched on 16 September, pays particular attention to the financial crisis in East Asia and its global ramifications. The report also focuses on the economic situation and prospects for future growth in the African continent.

Welcoming the report, Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) observed that interdependence is increasingly becoming the dominant feature of the whole range of issues relating to development. It encompasses broad security concerns, environmental and ecological issues, economic and cultural relations.

Elaborating further, Mr. Toepfer said: "The Asian financial crisis, the signs of deepening crisis in the Russian economy and similar convulsions in the rest of the world will have long-term negative consequences on the environment. In Indonesia, the economic crisis has masked a silent tragedy. The forest fires in Indonesia posed health risks to 70 million citizens and have grave, long- term consequences for political and economic stability of the region."

Agreeing with the report that the burden of managing economic recovery should not be placed on the poor and the underprivileged, Toepfer said: "Recent reports talk about the increasing poverty and malnutrition in East Asia. We have to fight against poverty. If there is any powerful toxic substance in the world, that can imperil the generations to come - it is poverty."

"The fight to protect weak economies and propping up falling currencies should not be at the cost of our fragile ecosystems and diminishing species. Lowering environmental precautions at this stage will constitute not only bad environmental policy but also bad economic policy.

"If we are to have any hope of protecting our environment, we must understand the connections between the health of the world's economies and the health of the resources on which those economies rely. We must constantly remind ourselves that sustainable development comprises economic development, social welfare and environmental protection. This must be the basis of a broader definition of "security". Mr. Toepfer said that he was satisfied that a specific examination of the African region and its economic prospects and potentials had been undertaken. He was in support of new initiatives aimed at accelerating economic growth in the region in the wider context of sustainable development.

For more information, please contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
Director, Information and Public Affairs,
UNEP Headquarters,
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya,
Tel.: 254-2-623292, Fax: 254-2-623927,
Patricia L. Jacobs,
Media and Information Officer,
Tel.: 254-2-623088, Fax: 254-2- 623692

UNEP News Release 1998/95

Friday 18 Sep 1998
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