Tale

World Summit on Sustainable Development The Danish Prime Minister’s speech in Business Forum 1 September 2002

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Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak at this important occasion.

Today’s programme covers themes that are central for involvement of business in sustainable development.

Clearly, the business sector has a very important role to play in sustainable development.

To pursue this goal, we must all work together: governments, the business sector and the civil society.

That is why we are all gathered here in Johannesburg.

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The Johannesburg Summit deals with a very comprehensive agenda and a lot of more or less ambitious objectives.

Previous international summits have expressed similar aspirations.

I support these targets and goals. But more important than good intentions is concrete action.

I think time has come to deliver on promises and intentions. And I think we should focus on what really matters, and on what can really be achieved.

Firstly, we should make real progress in free trade, open our markets and dismantle distorting subsidies. The rich countries should open their markets to the goods that many poor countries are best suited to produce, namely food and textiles.

Secondly, we should provide the poor countries with clean drinking water, better sanitation and sewerage. This would be the most efficient way to prevent death and diseases. And we should combat serious diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Thirdly, we should take measures to ensure that economic growth in both the poor and the rich countries can go hand in hand with protection of the environment.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

It should be our top priority to eradicate poverty. We must fight poverty through sustainable economic growth and development in the poor countries.

At the same time the shortest route to a cleaner and sustainable environment is to raise standards of living in the developing countries. Through development and economic growth we can create the resources to step up protection of our environment.

In other words: economic growth is the key to both eradication of poverty and to a better environment.

Increased free trade and market access is the key to achieve this.

In order to help the developing countries we must give them access to our markets.

When trade advances, poverty retreats.

The European Union has three clear messages:

First, the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’-initiative provides duty-free and quota-free access for exports from all least developed countries.

We encourage other industrialized countries to follow that example.

Second, the Doha Development Agenda is a key instrument in promoting free trade for the benefit of developing countries.

The EU is committed to conclude the Doha trade round in time. And we are ready to take further action in order to enhance the benefits of trade liberalisation.

Finally, our long-term objective is clear: We will reform our agricultural policy. And we will bring down trade-distorting subsidies.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

The rich countries should increase their development assistance and financing.

For years the EU has been providing more than half of the development assistance to the developing countries in the world.

Others can do more. But so can the EU.

Governments from the rich countries should all live up to our long-standing commitment to reach the 0.7 percent target.

I believe we have an obligation to do the right thing – to solve the single biggest problem in the world: To provide clean drinking water and sanitation for every village, town and city on the planet.

Things which we in the developed nations take for granted.

By doing this we could save 2 million lives every year. Preventing half a billion people from suffering from serious diseases each and every year.

“And how much would this cost?” you may ask. It would be a one-off expense of $200 billion, but it may very well be humanity’s best investment to achieve development and sustainability. We have the technology and talent – and I would also say: we have the money. It is achievable.

Here in Johannesburg we should set this very feasible goal as our primary objective.

That is why we are working on a time-bound target on sanitation. And that is why the EU in a few days will launch its ‘Water for Life’ initiative in the Water Dome here in Johannesburg.

The initiative is an invitation to partnership – and private business can play a key role.

I look forward to further cooperation between the EU and private business on this important area.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

However, the peoples of the developing countries cannot benefit from trade and aid if they are miserably governed, suppressed and prevented from free exchange of information, news and ideas.

All countries should live up to good governance.

Democracy, rule of law, free access to information and public accountability. Respect for property rights. No corruption and no unnecessary red tape. Transparency in procurement, trade policy and competition policy. And sound and transparent financial sectors.

In other words: an enabling environment for investments and private sector development.

When aid and trade are linked to good policy, more people can be lifted out of poverty.

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