1997 Speech

Saudi Arabia's statement to 19th Special UN Session on Agenda 21
Prince Dr. Torki bin Mohamed bin Saud A-Kabir, Director of the International Organizations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Address to the 19th Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations for the for the Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of Agenda 21, New York June 23-27, 1997

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Mr. President:
It gives me pleasure to congratulate Your Excellency, in the name of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, on your election to the presidency of this special nineteenth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations which deals with Agenda 21.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is participating in this meeting, on solid foundations, which reflect its policies as a member of the international community that aspires to develop its economy and protect its infrastructure and diversify its sources of income.

We share with the developing countries their aspirations and their sufferings in their developmental travail. In this regard, I would like to refer to the policies and programs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the environmental and developmental spheres, which are based on the principles of our Islamic religion, which dictates that building for the good of humanity is man's basic function on this earth. Thus, the emphasis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was to benefit from its natural resources and the environment, by utilizing them to meet our current needs without affecting future generations and their rights to sufficient resources.

Mr. President:
Sustainable development and the protection of the environment is a primary concern of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, at the national, regional and international levels. Our 'Basic Law of Governance' assures the protection and development of the environment and its protection from pollution.

The Kingdom has striven, through the ministerial committee for the environment, to define future environmental priorities on the national level within the concepts of sustainable development. To this end, a national Agenda 21 for Saudi Arabia was established, which is in harmony with the Kingdom's polices. A national report was prepared concerning the progress of realizing this agenda, and presenting recommendations on performance improvement in the future.

The achievements of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the field of development during the last three decades show that a large part of Agenda 21 is actually being implemented as part of its present development plan.

On the regional and international levels, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a founder of the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), and the regional authority for the Preservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (PERSGA). It has also ratified the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer, and the Basel Convention on toxic substances. It also acceded to the UN framework convention on climate change as well as the convention to combat desertification. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has participated in the activities of the IPCC [International Protocol on Climate Change] since its inception, through its vice chairman and the participation of Saudi nationals in the authorship of its second scientific assessment report.

Mr. President:

I would like in this context to express the concern of my government regarding the selective manner in which the implementation of Agenda 21 is being pursued. Certain aspects are being emphasized over others; we would like to see that all aspects are equally implemented. The program deals with many issues that address water, air, and land as well as human activities which relate to environmental, economic, social and political aspects. thus, we should work together to accomplish these objectives with the intention of helping all parties. This spaceship, earth, is one planet; we cannot deal with any of its elements separately.

The issue of combating desertification and drought is of a grave concern to the government of the custodian of the two holymosques. during the last two decades, our government has contributed one billion six hundred eighty two million U.S. dollars to combat drought and desertification in African countries. We hope that the international community will deal with this environmental dilemma proportionately and contribute the necessary financial support to the UN convention to combat desertification and drought, as they deal with other environmental agreements, particularly as this is an area where more than one billion human beings live.

Most of those countries suffer from poverty and do not possess the necessary scientific research facilities, or technological and financial means. At the same time, we see that the UN convention on climate change enjoys wide financial support. As a result, Mr. President, we hope that the industrial countries will assume their responsibilities and make available to the developing countries the needed financing which is required to deal with the problems of desertification, drought, and poverty. In this context, it is worth noting that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had contributed an average of about five and a half percent of its GNP, or 72 billion U.S. dollars, as assistance to developing countries, from which 73 have benefited.

This slow implementation to alleviate the problems of desertification, drought and poverty is contrasted by active efforts to solve the problems which may result from climate change and which are greatly supported by industrialized countries. We share with the international community its climatic concerns and seek to alleviate their effects. for, in addition to the abovementioned assistance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently working to enlarge the green parts of its coastal areas by using hylophytes utilizing sea water, thus creating Co2 sinks.

In this regard, I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) exemplified by their publications on indicators of sustainability. At the same time, we hope that in the development of indicators which deal with what are "dangerous" emissions as stipulated in article one of the UN framework convention on climate change, and according to the basic principles in the third article of the framework convention on climate change, the following should be taken in to consideration:


We also feel that the states parties to the convention should take into consideration the developing countries which depend on the production and export of fossil fuels. This would require consideration that is embedded in any proposed legal instrument by emphasizing that the industrialized countries of Annex One must clearly adhere to the implementation of their commitment as prescribed in the "Berlin mandate" or any other legal instrument, and in particular, those policies and procedures which are related to energy such as:

Mr. President:
This convention represents an opportunity to affirm our commitment to continuing our serious work to reach global solutions by consensus to the environmental problems before us, which represent our political will to face these issues effectively. We need solutions that may be attained only with deep and enlightened research, that depend on scientific facts; solutions that strive to be balanced, and take into consideration the international economic system and the interest of the economies of the developing countries.

May peace be upon you, and God's blessings and mercy.