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Thabo Mbeki and the People of South Africa President Thabo Mbeki and the people of South Africas commitment to cultural and environmental diversity and their efforts towards achieving the goals encapsulated in the Millennium Declaration of 2000 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 are noteworthy. The people of South Africa have not just made substantial progress in the sustainable development of their own country, they have provided leadership and support for the continent as a whole. President Mbeki is well known as one of the architects of the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD), which has a strong environmental component. South Africa also provided the perfect stage for WSSD, which it hosted under the slogan People, Planet, and Prosperity. Holding WSSD in South Africa gave delegates a valuable insight not only into the many formidable challenges that Africa faces, but also into how Africa can and will rise to those challenges. South Africas implementation of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation is well on track to meet the Johannesburg targets on water and sanitation. It is also a world leader in conservation practices, through its innovative use of a wide variety of available management tools and its spearheading of the groundbreaking sponsorship of the Peace Parks concept to support cross-border conservation of critically important wild habitats. With the declaration of four new Marine Protected Areas in 2004, it has also brought almost 19 per cent of its coastline under protection, already nearly achieving the 20 per cent target set at WSSD. As well as being a party to more than 43 multilateral environmental agreements, South Africa has enacted a wide range of domestic legislation, backed up by specialist environmental courts, to protect South Africas environment. Laws passed by President Mbekis government include instruments to safeguard biological diversity, improve air quality, promote environmental impact assessments in business and industry, implement waste management strategies, and curb the pollution of the environment by plastic bags. South Africa also deserves recognition for the unity with which it is pursuing its sustainable development goals. In the words of Martinus van Schalkwyk, South Africas Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, speaking on World Environment Day 2004, there is a groundswell of support with one shared central theme: the absolute imperative to protect, preserve and promote our natural environment. Millions of South Africans are striving to make a positive difference. In homes, businesses, factories, schools, churches and community centres we are experiencing a quiet greening revolution.

There is no doubt that this revolution is taking its lead from the top. As President Mbeki said at the opening session of the meeting of Heads of State and Government at WSSD, we can and must act in unity to ensure that there is a practical and visible global development process that brings about poverty eradication and human advancement within the context of the protection of the ecology of the planet Earth. President Mbeki and the people of South Africa are setting an example for the world to follow. Excerpt from President Thabo Mbekis address at the welcome ceremony at WSSD: South Africans of many races, colours, cultures and religions are hard at work to achieve peace and national reconciliation. Proud of the fact that they are Africans and moved by the fact that the peoples of Africa share a common burden of conflict, poverty and underdevelopment, they are determined to work hand in hand with their brothers and sisters throughout the continent, to end five hundred years of suffering and the treatment of Africans by others, as less than human. These South Africans, who occupy the land that is the cradle of humanity, also know what has happened to the natural environment that enabled the evolution of all life on earth, and the emergence of humanity itself. Around them they see the degradation of the soil. They know the central importance of water to the sustenance of life. They have seen how the natural forests were decimated. They know of the depletion of the resources of the giant oceans that meet along our southern coast. They experience the pollution of the earth, the air, the rivers and the seas, caused by human activity. They know of droughts and floods. They experience the environmental suffering borne by slum-dwellers and others immersed in poverty. Understanding the umbilical cord that ties us to the planet earth, they are determined to do everything possible to save the earth from ourselves, to save the earth for ourselves, to ensure that as it took millions of years for humanity to evolve and emerge, so must humanity survive and develop for millions more years on the basis of a healthy partnership between people and the planet, on the basis of a sustainable relationship between a prosperous world and a healthy environment. ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Druk Gyalpo Dragon King - Jigme Singye Wangchuk of Bhutan and the People of Bhutan Bhutan, a kingdom under the reign of Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has the environment as the centrepiece in its constitution and all of its national development plans. Bhutan has an excellent track record in the field of environment more than 74% of its land is under forest cover and 26% of this cover is protected areas. The Paro Resolution on Environment and Sustainable Development, declared in May 1990, states that Bhutan's natural resources base is central to a sustainable and

prosperous future of the country. The development of a National Environmental strategy that will ensure the careful stewardship and sustained use of these natural resources was urged. Development should be pursued on a middle path thus ensuring that new industries, new agricultural markets and new forestry products will be carefully developed with respect to their broader environmental ramifications. Bhutan's success in preserving its natural resources has been possible because of the country's recent entry into the economic development process, as well as the Buddhist faith, an important factor in all aspects of Bhutanese life. Bhutan is developing a National Environment Secretariat and an Environmental Trust Fund, as well as new legislation and policies to ensure sustainable utilization of resources, promote community involvement in environmental activities, improve land use planning, and integrate traditional with modern natural resource use practices. Additionally, Bhutan will attempt to base economic growth on environmentally sound technologies, expand environmental education, and develop a family planning policy. Bhutan boasts the most varied habitats and a rich array of animal and plant species. Under Bhutanese law, 60% of the kingdom will remain forested for all time. There is currently an astonishing array of plants more than 5500 species, including over 300 medicinal strains. There are 165 species of mammals, including many rare and endangered animals such as the golden langur, the snow leopard and the red panda. To date, 770 species of birds have been recorded, including the rare and endangered black-necked crane. A progressive integrated conservation and development programme reconciles the needs of the community with environmental protection, the foundation of Bhutan's entire economic ethos. National parks sustain important ecosystems and have not been developed as tourist attractions. In many cases one would not even be aware that one is entering or leaving a protected area. Bhutan ranks in the top 10% of countries with the highest species density on earth, and it has the highest fraction of land in protected areas as well as the highest proportion of forest cover of any Asian nation. Development in Bhutan is guided by principles that emphasise preservation of both natural and cultural heritage, as well as sustainability from subsistence to a more modern economy. Renewable natural resources remain the most important sector, and in 1998 contributed 36.1% of the Gross Domestic Product. Thus, short-term profit at the expense of long-term loss of natural heritage is not for Bhutan. Its cautious approach puts conservation first and relegates economic benefits to a secondary role. By the late 1970s, Bhutan had established an extensive system of protected areas. Since then, among other actions, the nation has: Established the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation to provide long-term financing for conservation; Revised and identified nine protected areas representative of Bhutan's diverse ecosystems, comprising 26% of land area; Established the Nature Conservation Division within the Department of Forestry Services, with a mandate to oversee and manage protected areas;

Pledged to maintain, in perpetuity, at least 60% of land as forests; Enacted the National Plant Quarantine Act (1993) to control the movement of diseases, insects and other pests; Included provisions for establishing protected areas and conservation regulations in the Forest and Nature Conservation Act (1995); Ratified the international conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change (1995); Adopted the National Biodiversity Action Plan (1998); Adopted the Middle Path, a National Environmental Strategy (1998); Initiated a National Biodiversity Programme to oversee ex-situ conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity (1998); Legislated environmental assessments for all development and industrial activities (2000);

Guiding principles for the future development of Bhutan are complemented by a unifying concept the distinctly Bhutanese notion of Maximizing Gross National Happiness (MGNH). The aim of MGNH is to promote important values and to provide direction to the Kingdom's long-term development, and the concept must be translated into tangible goals. Towards this end, five themes are identified and provide powerful objectives for steering the process of change: human development, the promotion and preservation of culture and heritage, balanced and equitable socioeconomic development, good governance, and environmentally sustainable development. EUROPE His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, known in Europe as the Green Patriarch, has taken the lead among religious leaders in his concern for the environment. His Holiness has initiated seminars and dialogues to discuss the need for the mobilization of moral and spiritual forces to achieve harmony between humankind and nature. One of his environmental initiatives, which is part of Religion, Science and the Environment, is the Symposium entitled The Caspian Sea Linking People and Traditions, scheduled to take place aboard a ship, which will circumnavigate the Caspian Sea from 17-25 June 2005. The symposium also aims to encourage understanding and a dialogue between the Christian and Islamic faiths. Writing in a 2004 issue of UNEP's flagship magazine Our Planet on 'Seas, Oceans and Small Islands', His Holiness called for more attention to be paid to marine pollution. "At the foundation of the world, in the beginning ... the spirit of God swept over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:1-2). The Judeo-Christian scriptures speak of water as a sign of blessing and peace (Deuteronomy 8:7). The way we relate to God is reflected in the way we respect water. Water pronounces the sealed covenant between God and the world; drought and thirst announce the rupture of this binding relationship, an apostasy from the divine commandments (I Kings 17). The heavens, too, are set

among the waters (Revelation 4). Marine pollution is nothing less than the violation of a hallowed promise. [...] In Eastern Orthodox iconography, blue is interchangeable with green. These colours are predominantly used for foregrounds and backgrounds, being reserved also for the depiction of the celestial. As in the viewpoint from space, so also in the perspective of icons: both heaven and earth are blue! We tend to call earth our habitat; yet, in many ways, water might be more appropriately hailed as our home or natural environment. If there were no water, there would be no world. Marine pollution is nothing less than the devastation of our earthly premise. There is, then, something sacred, almost sacramental in the very fabric of water. The meaning of water somehow conceals the very mystery of God. In this respect, Orthodox theology proposes a model of environmental action based on the spiritual significance of water. On a planet where oceans and rivers are polluted, we would do well to remember the original and radical relationship between living sources of water and the life-giving spirit of God. In a world where the unjust demands of the few stifle the fundamental survival of the poor, water reminds us of the need to live simply and simply to live. At a time when wastefulness has become so rampant and pervasive, we are challenged to recall the implications of our actions as well as to assume responsibility for a society where water is justly shared and where everyone has enough. In light of this commitment, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has to date organized five international, inter-religious and inter-disciplinary symposia: in the Aegean Sea (1995), on the Black Sea (1997), along the Danube River (1999), around the Adriatic Sea (2002) and in the Baltic Sea (2003). A sixth is currently being prepared for the Caspian Sea in the summer of 2005. The purpose is to call attention to the plight of our seas; to attract religious leaders, scientists, environmentalists, politicians and journalists; and to raise awareness about collective responsibility for our environment for future generations. None of us is able to resolve the environmental crisis alone; everyone has a part to play', as we stated in a Common Declaration with Pope John Paul II at the closing ceremony of the Adriatic symposium. All of us know that we are surrounded by rivers, seas and oceans. What we do not immediately recognize is the way in which these are intimately and innately connected to one another as well as to our environment. We may not immediately discern the close relationship between the worlds waterways, the worlds people and the worlds Creator. There is an interconnection and interdependence between the water of baptism, the sap of plants, the tears of humans, the bloodstream of animals, the rainfall of a forest and the flow of rivers to the sea. We are called to avow water as the wonder of life if we are ever to avert the world crisis in water pollution and distribution. In order to correct the wrongful politics of water by those who regard it as their rightful property, we must first celebrate water as the irreplaceable patrimony of all humankind; we must accept the indiscriminate and inalienable right to water for all people in the world. Water can never be reduced to a marketable commodity for profit especially for the affluent, especially for the few.

It must always be protected as part of the fundamental quality of life especially for the more vulnerable, especially for our children. On the third day of creation, God gathered the waters under the sky into one place; and God saw that it was good. ... So God created every living thing, with which the waters swarm. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:9-21). The Greek word for good implies beauty and harmony. The very least that we owe God, this world and our children, is to preserve the beauty of our planets water, to leave behind a world that remains good."

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN Ms. Julia Carabias Lillo Mexico Julia Carabias Lillo coordinated a research and rural development programme in extremely impoverished peasant communities in the four regions of Mexico called the 'Integrated Use of Natural Resources' (PAIR the acronym in Spanish). She was a member of the Commission for Developing Countries and Global Change, which published the report For Earth's Sake during the 1992 Conference on the Environment and Development in Brazil sponsored by the UN. Carabias is currently a member of several consultative councils and forms part of the academic councils of various national and international organizations, such as member of the Board of Directors of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD International) until 2001, the Scientific Committee of SCOPE from1994 to 2000, and at present she is a member of the National Steering Committee of LEAD Mexico, member of the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund, and of the Resources for the future. In February 1994, Carabias was named President of the National Ecology Institute, then a decentralized agency of the Social Development Ministry. In December 1994, she was asked by the then President of Mexico to form part of his Cabinet as the Minister of Fisheries. That same month, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries was created with Carabias as Minister. She served in that position for six years until the end of the administration in November 2000. In 2002, she was named Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and is serving a term of four years. She continues to be a member of the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) coordinating a new Masters Degree programme in Restoration Ecology, and she is President of the NGO Centro Interdisciplinario de Biodiversidad y Ambiente (CEIBA). Carabias is the author of numerous scientific articles on botany, ecology, natural resource management, ecological restoration and conservation. She is also the coauthor of Ecology and Alimentary Self-sufficiency, Rural Production in Mexico, Ecological Alternatives, and Natural Resource Management and Rural Poverty.

NORTH AMERICA Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier When she was growing up in an Inuit community in northern Quebec, Sheila WattCloutier never rode anything faster than a dog sled. Now the 50-year-old grandmother jets across the globe speaking out on environmental issues and warning of the impending catastrophe that is global warming. Her people are witnessing first hand the devastating affects of climate change and its relentless assault on their traditional way of life. And if there is one place on the planet where the effects of the great warming are immediately felt it is in the Arctic. As Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (Canada) in 1995 and re-elected to the position on a full-time basis in1998, WattCloutier represents some 155,000 Inuit in Canada, the USA, Russia and Greenland. The minutest change in the Arctic changes everything, every eco system. The changes in climate have brought a lot more insects and bugs, and new species of birds never before seen in the arctic are appearing every year. Watt-Cloutier is fully involved in United Nations work and has for years been working on the treaty to eliminate the use persistent organic pollutants, or POPs. As Chair of ICC Canada, Ms. Watt-Cloutier maintains a seat on the international ICC executive council, working in cooperation with Inuit leaders from Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka (Russia). Ms. Watt-Cloutier is now applying her vast experience at the international level. She is an effective spokesperson on a wide range of Arctic and Indigenous issues, and has made numerous presentations to governments and international bodies Some 50 nations have signed on to the new treaty making it one of the fastest ratified UN treaties on record. But the global work to get there took some 15 years. Watt-Cloutier is one of the environmental heroes featured in The Great Warming, a three-part documentary narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, which premiers Earth Day, April 22, on the Discovery Channel. WEST ASIA His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is popularly known as The Man of the Arab Environment. Under his leadership, development activities have touched all aspects of life in the UAE with agriculture and afforestation as the focus of his main concerns.

One of Sheikh Zayeds most remarkable and enduring achievements is the greening of the regions deserts. Under his guidance, 100 million trees have been planted in the UAE - all in an effort to stem the encroachment of sand onto agricultural land and urban areas. Using various irrigation techniques, including the ancient Aflaj (efalf) system and the latest technology in desalination, sewage and farming, today the UAE produces 20% of the worlds date palms and myriad species of plants and flowers now flourish. Thank to his vision, his dream of a greener country was realized. Animals likewise receive attention from Sheikh Zayed. To ensure the protection of his countrys biological diversity, he outlawed hunting more than a quarter of a century ago. He went further by creating, on his own island reserve of Sir Bani Yas, a sanctuary for endangered species, such as the Arabian Oryx and the sand gazelle. Thanks to his efforts, the symbol of Abu Dhabi the Dorcas Gazelle, is a protected species whose numbers are increasing under special programmes. Under an agreement with international conventions such as CITES, turtles are also protected as are the rare Arabian Leopard, the ibex and the dugong (manatee). In addition, to ensure the preservation of the countrys flora and fauna, Sheikh Zayed established the Higher Environment Council. In 1995, Sheikh Zayed received a gold medal from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, for his agricultural development efforts, not only in the UAE, but in other developing countries. In 1997, he was honoured by the President of Pakistan with a special award for his role in environmental conservation. This was the first time that Pakistan bestowed such an accolade on a Head of State. That same year, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and President Emeritus of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) presented Sheikh Zayed with the "Golden Panda" WWFs highest award. This was the first time in the history of the award that a Head of State was so honoured. Again in 1997, he received the regions first ever Gulf Business Award for Environmental Action. SPECIAL PRIZE Mr. Zhou Qiang and the All-China Youth Federation Mr. Zhou Qiang is Honorary chairman of the All-China Youth Federations (ACYF) and the leader of the China Mother River Protection Operation leading group. At the beginning of 1999, he promoted the Mother River Protection Operation in China and mobilized the Chinese youth to protect the environment. He developed the plan of the Operation and actively took part in its implementation. Thanks to his leadership and efforts to driving the Operation, RMB 250million has been raised from all sectors of society in the past five years by calling for "A donation of RMB 5.00 for planting One Tree and RMB 200.00 for One Mu Forest". Mr. Qiang has made great efforts in formulating the development strategies and making significant decisions for the Mother River Protection Operation while being proactive participating in important activities and key construction programmes. He has for many times appealed to protect the Mother River, which is the cradle of Chinese culture. More and more youth and social communities are actively joining in

the undertaking of Mother River Protection, which has dramatically promoted the progress of environmental protection work of the civil societies in China. To date, ACYF has undertaken 882 afforestation projects covering 191,000 hectares have been completed, 300 million young people have been mobilized to participate in protection of the mother river, and exchanges and cooperation in the field of environmental protection have been furthered among young people in more than 50 countries and regions to generate extensive influence around the world. On 4 May 2002, the President of China inscribed the message of "Protecting the Mother River" to the Operation to express his full recognition of the Operation. The Operation, initially advocated by Zhou Qiang, has now become the non-governmental public welfare event for environmental protection that is most known in China. As the only national youth association in China, the All-China Youth Federation is a very important force for protecting the environment in China and the global environment.