The Executive Director of SESD Welcome Address On World Environment Day

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Let me start by emphasizing the objective of Society for Ecology and Sustainable Development (SESD) which is dedicated towards promoting a safe and sustainable environment locally and globally through actively involving youths and all relevant stakeholders in this Crusade. The creation of Society for Ecology and Sustainable Development (SESD) was a direct outcome of the increasing need for awareness at a global level of the importance of environmental issues. We believed that environmental concerns could be addressed by taking action with the help of this additional institutional machinery. Over the past 20 years, however, there has been a growing realization that the problems, the dimensions (and the intricacy) of issues related to the environment and development are on a scale that was not anticipated in 1972. Over the same period there have been several food and energy crises; there is now the serious threat of a global climate change and growing trends of natural resource degradation, depletion and pollution. We have more than 600 million people undernourished, more than 1000 million poor…. Through these crises, governments have come to realize that all these problems are closely linked; that development problems cannot be solved in a sustainable way without caring about the environment at the same time; that certain measures for environmental protection are not acceptable if they reduce access by the poor to a better life, if they create unemployment and recession, or if they cause constraints to international trade.
This led the UN to create the so-called Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development which, through its report, made a number of recommendations for changing North-South relationships as regards development and environment, changing the approaches to development, consumption patterns and lifestyles.
However, in the late 1980s, in the face of growing poverty, persisting hunger and famine, declining aid to developing countries, debt problems, widespread unemployment and increasing environmental threats and damage, the international response to the Brundtland Commission report was clearly inadequate.
It was this background that led the UN General Assembly to convene a second conference, this time on the environment and development, in the hope that member countries would find ways of reconciling development needs with environmental protection imperatives and take commitments to this effect. I think that what we are discussing at UNCED is no less than a new international economic and environmental order, and this is why it is so complex, so difficult to reach an agreement. At the same time, as many people have said, this may be the last opportunity before we make an irreversible, irrecoverable mess of our planet.
Development sectors are more dependent and more “influential” on the environment than agriculture, forestry and fisheries. It is no wonder, therefore, that FAO has been active in the area of environment from the beginning; in fact, the FAO constitution mandates the Organization to promote the conservation of natural resources. For many years, FAO has been involved in programmes for inventories of basic resources for agriculture, forestry and fisheries; programmes for technical assistance and training for the conservation and rational utilization of these resources; as well as programmes for setting standards, codes of practice and international commitments for the proper management of resources.
In this context I would mention the FAO Soil Charter; the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources; the International Code of Conduct on the distribution and Use of Pesticides; and, on a broader front, the Tropical Forests Action Programme (TFAP); the Strategy for Fisheries Management and Development and the associated programmes of action; and several other international programmes.
I would note that within the world of agricultural development, foresters have been concerned with reconciling the environment and development longer and more directly than any other professional group.
Before the word “environment” was in popular use, and certainly before the term “sustainable development” was coined, foresters – both at FAO and at the national level – were in the forefront of action for the conservation and wise use of natural resources.

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