5 June 2002

Africa: Poverty Threatens Sustainable Development - Kofi Annan

Monrovia — United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says population growth, poverty and wasteful consumption habits have continued to threaten the earth's ability to achieve sustainable development.

Dr. Annan also pointed out that population, rapid urbanization growth demands for water and energy have placed intense pressure on the planet's life support system.

The UN Secretary General's comments were contained in his message on the World Environment Day. World Environment Day is celebrated each year on June 5. This year's celebration is being held under the theme "Give Earth a Chance."

He indicated that there is little chance pf protecting the environment without a greater sense of mutual responsibility, especially in an age of interdependence.

Dr. Annan expressed hope that all states and stakeholders will come together at the pending World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

The Secretary General said sustainable development rests on economic growth, social progress and the protection of environment and natural resources.

For his part, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Protection (UNEP), Mr. Klaus Toepfer, said World Environment Day is an occasion to pause and reflect on the state of the environment.

He said the theme: "Give Earth A Chance" urges the world to looks at the daily impact on the planet and its peoples, and to take action to improve the environmental behavior.

"On this World Environment Day, let us all begin to act for the environment and work together to give the earth a chance," Mr. Toepfer said.

He added that an unpolluted environment is vital to survival which, can only endure if the earth is given a chance.

He underscored the need for urgent environment ethics for the 21st century based on equity, fairness and respect for nature, adding that these values can be drawn from ancient cultures, indigenous beliefs and all religions.

The UNEP boss observed that environmental conservation is often found in ancient cultures around the world.

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