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Poverty Times #1

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New momentum

The Norwegian Government hopes that the WSSD in Johannesburg will give new momentum to efforts to bring about sustainable development. The Summit is to chart a course for sustainable development in the next ten to twenty years. Norway is seeking to ensure that the Summit adopts an effective action plan for a global effort in which the fight against poverty is one of the main tasks.
By Hilde Frafjord Johnson

We want the plan to translate into action after the Summit. The implementation of Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals must be central elements of the plan.

Creating a better world is not just a matter of fighting poverty or protecting the environment. Rather, environmental problems are themselves an important underlying cause of poverty. Millions of people live in areas that are in ecological crisis. Poverty and environmental problems are two sides of the same coin. This is why Norway has focused on areas where an integrated approach is used to deal with both problems.

We have given particular priority to health, especially improvements in environmental health, and to natural resource management, especially fresh water and energy issues. This is in accordance with the key areas where UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that he would like to see results in Johannesburg. He suggested a simple acronym: WEHAB, meaning water and sanitation, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

The role of the UN in efforts to bring about sustainable development must also be strengthened. If we can agree to give the UN a mandate to monitor and update the entire field of sustainability, we will be able to achieve a great deal.

 At the Summit, new initiatives and partnerships will be launched to help implement the action plans. We will actively support new initiatives in priority areas - initiatives that can make a difference to the poor people of the world and to the environment.

The Summit must find ways to improve people’s living conditions and also protect the environment. We can make Johannesburg a turning point, provided that we achieve clear commitments to change and start new initiatives that will ensure that these changes take place. We must hold on to the hope of a decent life for future generations.

Hilde Frafjord Johnson, Minister of International Development, Norway. utviklingsminister@mfa.no

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