Statement by H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
Ambassador of Japan
At the Informal Consultations of the Plenary of the General Assembly on the Environment

25 April 2006

Mr. Co-chair,

Today, the world as a whole is experiencing very rapid economic growth. Along with this growth, there is a steady increase, quiet but unmistakable, in the burden that human activity is imposing on the environment. This being the case, today more than ever, we need to reflect on the meaning of sustainable development and ask ourselves whether our system for cooperation in this area is itself sustainable.

In the area of environmental cooperation, there have been so many meetings, so many documents, and so many initiatives over the years, and the result is that there are now many legal frameworks and institutions. It is in this context that the Heads of State and Government pointed out in the Summit Outcome Document last fall the need for more effective cooperation in this area.

Japan totally agrees that international environmental governance (IEG) needs to be improved. There are, however, several points we would like to raise.

First, the subject of how to strengthen IEG has been discussed countless times in the past. It was discussed at the 7th special session of the UNEP Governing Council in 2002, which adopted the so-called "Cartagena Package" as part of its decision, and it continues to be discussed today in various contexts. What we need now are not new ideas but rather practical proposals that can produce real improvements in IEG. Japan believes that streamlining and clustering our activities may produce such improvements. Also, we must focus on streamlining the various functions of the MEAs rather than enlarging organizations. In this regard, Japan supports the idea of the Co-chairs visiting both Geneva and Nairobi to conduct a dialogue with experts in those locations.

Second, let us not forget that our discussions on this matter are closely linked with the ongoing process of UN reform, both the efforts to achieve system-wide coherence and those pertaining to mandate review.

Third, I would like to offer my country's view on the matter of a "more coherent institutional framework" raised in the Outcome Document. Japan is of the view that the need to discuss how to integrate the environmental perspective into development will only grow with time. For this reason, there must be a particular focus on operations at the national level. We must ask ourselves carefully whether it is really more effective to address environmental issues in a framework that is separate form the existing development system.

Mr. Co-chair,

Never in history has there been an organization without flaws, and certainly we have ours. Knowing this organization as we do, our goal, we believe, should be to make the most of our ideas and resources by concentrating on achieving practical benefits in which we and future generations can all share.

Thank you, Mr. Co-chair.

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