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I also hope that the progress made on the very important question of forests, more specifically the draft principles on this issue, will crystallize here into an agreement. These principles are, in my view, a perfect microcosm of environment and development issues in general. The progress already made on this issue again demonstrates the willingness of all Governments to find a workable compromise in an area where positions are difficult to reconcile. Lastly, I should like to congratulate Governments on the agreements reached on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, both of which will shortly be opened here for signature.

I know the negotiations which produced these texts were long and complex and sometimes controversial. Let us not forget, however, that both represent a first for the Earth. In the case of biodiversity, the Convention clearly reaffirms the fact that we, the community of nations, are committed to conserving the work of creation and not unravelling it. It represents a turning-point in the protection of the life forms that nourish the Earth.

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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change launches a process of cooperation, aimed at keeping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere within safe limits. The initial level of commitment is not as high as many would have wished. And the process of policy review should improve commitments over time. States are now looking to the United Nations to organize the immediate follow-up work.


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This demonstrates that this Organization can well serve the needs of Member States in dealing with fundamental issues of economy and ecology affecting real national interests. I have said that this is an historical moment. However, it will only be so if our efforts on behalf of the planet endure. It will only be so if the Rio Conference, the culmination of long deliberations, also marks a new beginning. And by this I mean a new point of departure for the United Nations system; for action by States; and for the mobilization of all peoples of the world.

Secretariat preparations for this Conference have involved the whole of the United Nations system, in a truly inter-agency endeavour. The same approaches must guide and inspire the follow-up to the Conference. The Committee is keenly aware of the great responsibilities which devolve on it in this regard. Individual agencies regard the follow-up to the Conference both as major challenge and as an important new opportunity for progress in their respective fields of competence - be it the promotion of health, food and agriculture, the advancement of science and education, training, infrastructure-building, or the provision of finance for development.

Equally important, the follow-up to the Conference is seen by all organizations of the system as a major new opportunity for effective collective action. Advancing those objectives - harnessing the full potential of the United Nations system to meet the critical challenges of the future - will be one of my major concerns throughout my term of office. At the same time, I cannot emphasize too strongly that States will be the principal instruments for the implementation of the decisions and guidelines adopted here. Moreover, the protection of the planet must be a universal effort involving all those living on it.

In this context, it is especially encouraging that the preparatory work for this Conference has been characterized by such close cooperation between countries at different stages of development and between Governments and the scientific and academic communities and non-governmental actors.

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These networks will have to be maintained and strengthened. In this area of sustainable development, more than in other areas, we are in a situation where we have to take action in the face of uncertainty. This is because we do not fully understand how ecosystems function, because we have sometimes to work to a very long time-scale, and because cause and effect are often separated in space.

It will therefore be important to ensure that emerging opinions among scientists and experts receive full attention in decision-making processes. We have to find innovative ways of promoting a dialogue between science and politics in the context of the follow-up to this Conference. I wish in the same context to pay special tribute to the non-governmental community. Over a thousand non-governmental organizations are accredited to the Conference. They should also have a critical role in the follow-up.

These organizations represent the peoples of the world whose voice is so clearly heard in the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. It is only through action by every one of us living on this planet that we will succeed in achieving our goals. Our Rio meeting has already aroused unprecedented interest throughout the world. It has captured the imagination of people everywhere. The spirit of Rio must embody the full awareness of the fragility of our planet.

The spirit of Rio must lead us to think constantly of the future, our children's future.

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That is why, in opening this Conference, I am very moved when I wish you success in your work. We greet with open arms each and every one of the participants in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

It is with a feeling of great honour and a deep sense of responsiblity that I preside over the proceedings of this meeting, which I am certain will be a landmark in the history of mankind. Maurice Strong, for the unrelenting efforts, on their part, which made possible, together with the Government of Brazil, this remarkable event. I belong to the generation that first launched a warning against a mode of growth that was leading blindly to the extinction of life on Earth.

Upon my inauguration, I promised to give priority and urgency to environmental issues, as a response to a feeling that was becoming increasingly strong among Brazilians and throughout the world. Now, while solemnly opening the Rio Conference, I feel the emotion of one who fulfils a commitment to his contemporaries, his fellow countrymen and the international community. On 14 June, when we return to our homes, the world will not be the same as it is this morning, 3 June The awareness of our duties will be stronger; the will to carry them out more mature, the paths of cooperation more clearly set out and consolidated.

The many roads that brought us to Rio were fraught with uncertainties. After all, we were negotiating something quite new; we were imagining new international institutions, new patterns of relationship among States. Possessing tentative data and imperfect tools, we were trying to make an inventory of rights and wrongs of the past, to identify the problems of the present and to visualize the challenges that lay in the future.

But we arrived here, moved by the will of the peoples we represent. The issue of the environment is an offspring of the era of democracy in which we live; it grows from social movements that multiply spontaneously everywhere. We cannot leave unanswered the aspirations of our fellow men, who expect decisions capable of altering reality for the better.

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The first fundamental achievement of this Conference is that it is taking place at all: the very fact that today, in this room, representatives of countries, of all relevant international organizations, and of a huge universe of non-governmental organizations, can begin work on a set of texts already agreed on or very near conclusion. We have in our hands the task of developing and widening the consensus arrived at during a long negotiating process. As the title of the Conference indicates, we are here to make progress in a cooperative task based on two fundamental ideas: development and environment.

We accept the historic challenge and the ethical obligation of forging a new model, in which progress will be necessarily synonymous with well-being for all and with the preservation of nature. As I have said on previous occasions, we cannot have an environmentally sound planet in a socially unjust world.

These are goals that complement each other, in each community, in each country, around the globe. And I may give you Brazil as an example: a country that still has so much to achieve in terms both of development and of conservation. In sum, what we are striving for is to attain, in a harmonic manner, the aspirations that are combined in the expression "sustainable development", the key concept which must bring together rich and poor, large and small countries, so that we may all achieve prosperity and shorten the distances that still separate us.

We will find new ways, we will enter an era in which societies will understand that nature is not only to be consumed but also to be enjoyed. In place of the present GNP and GDP indicators, we will have something like a Gross Domestic Well-Being Indicator, which will combine data on national revenues with elements that effectively translate the degree of self-fulfilment of peoples, including freedom and social harmony, cultural diversity, racial integration and respect for the environment.

After two years of hard work, in addition to adopting a position of dialogue, cooperation and even leadership in the international treatment of environmental issues, my Administration has taken very important decisions at the national level.

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Among them, I would mention those that have brought about a substantial reduction of deforestation in the Amazon region, as shown by satellite images, and the extensive demarcation of lands occupied by Indian communities, including the more than 94, square kilometres of the Yanomami people. As an additional demonstration of the Brazilian commitment to the environmental cause, we offer our country as host to an international institution that will pursue the goals which we will set for ourselves here.

In underlining all that we share and all that brings us closer to each other, I do not wish to give the impression that this is a Conference only of celebration and of understanding. Unfortunately, there still remain serious and persistent problems to be overcome until international action may heed the voice of reason and go down the straight road of solidarity and common interest. Here, everyone can see that the most resilient enemy and the most persistent foe are poverty and lack of opportunities.

To preside over this huge country brings daily joys over its promises and daily dilemmas posed by a difficult national and international moment. I do not, however, give in to the temptation of admonishing those who have more; even less do I intend to bring back a type of language of confrontation that history has fortunately left behind. Responsibility exists in sufficient amount to be attributed to all of us. To do so, however, would be pointless. What we need is to hope that the lessons of the past, both remote and recent, will not be forgotten and will not have been in vain.

I must say, however, on behalf of all those still forced to live with poverty, that we can and we must ask from the rich countries a greater proof of brotherhood.

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Without a global order with greater justice, there will be tranquil prosperity for no one, for it will be impossible to attain the stability needed for a lasting enjoyment of the riches produced by man. For all those who are aware of belonging to a wider human community, the struggle to reduce inequalities must be a permanent cause. Despite all that was achieved during the preparatory work, in the next 12 days many tasks and final adjustments remain and will certainly impose upon us a very busy schedule.

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The road we have travelled since Stockholm, in , is a source of inspiration and will give us additional motivation during this Conference. In that meeting, ideas and words that have become commonplace today made their first appearance with the irresistible force of those truths whose time has come. The report of the international commission chaired by Mrs. From Rio, our leap into the future will be even greater than it was 20 years ago.

Freed from the chains with which for decades the cold war shackled international negotiations, we can now tackle in a global manner issues that are global. Our concerns with climate and with the atmosphere, our concerns with biodiversity, bring us to the very essence of life. We must confront such wide-ranging and diverse issues by following a clear line based on respect for, and the dignity of, the human being. I am certain that future generations will see this meeting as a moment of wisdom and foresight. Because of abusive consumption of nature and its resources, be they renewable or not; because of widespread pollution; because of the damage caused by world and regional wars; because of the stockpiling of nuclear and chemical weapons; because of the failure of the predatory modes of development, mankind owed itself this Conference.

It shall mark the birth of a new international social contract that may take us, safely and soundly, beyond this century and this millennium.

Agenda 21 reflects in its name and purpose the goals that this meeting will strive to achieve. More than any other subject, the environment requires planning in the long run.