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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

Thursday 21 April, 2005

13th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development

Turning Political Commitments into Action

Thank you, Mr Chairman, for the honour of responding to the scene-setting remarks on water by Mr Gorbachev and His Excellency.

I would like to draw on the quotation from Confucius to which His Excellency referred - that “twice should be enough”.

I can think of no better motto for us here at CSD - twice should indeed be enough. Unfortunately within the UN system, we can become obsessed with repeating square brackets.

But however we settle the text of declarations, it will not affect the major economic and social drivers that have become plain to us over many decades. The route to achieving the MDGs - including those relating to water - is the route of economic growth.

It is through economic growth that all countries will be able to provide their citizens with sustainable access to water for domestic and productive uses.

It is also only through economic growth that we will have the means necessary to protect our environment.

And we, the Ministers representing our peoples, have the major responsibility to set in place the conditions for growth so that all our citizens benefit.

National governments are responsible for ensuring that their legal and regulatory frameworks support the operation of markets. It is well-functioning markets that will deliver the dynamism and the efficient allocation of resources to meet individual and community needs.

Official Development Assistance, directed in a way that supports emerging democracies, can help developing countries meet these responsibilities.

But economic growth will primarily be driven by private investment - both Foreign Direct Investment and local capital. And private investment will only happen when it can make returns.

The most effective action that developing countries might consider to achieve the MDGs - including for water - is to provide the enabling environment for such investment to occur.

Enabling environments for investment typically have:

With such enabling environments, developing countries can also create domestic markets in water. Water markets will get the greatest value from a scarce resource - and so increase the value of agricultural production.

Mr Chairman, the most effective action that developed countries can take on the route to the MDGs, is to liberalise world trading markets. This will improve access to markets for developing country products, especially in agriculture.

Properly functioning markets are fair markets. Fair markets will provide the incentive for developing countries to use their competitive advantages to improve economic growth.

Mr Chairman, CSD 12, Rome and Marrakech have shown us that partnerships with local communities and businesses generate benefits. These are additional to those benefits achieved by legislation or government programmes.

You cannot legislate for empowerment and commitment: they come from information, understanding and opportunity.

We have seen that public-public and public-private partnerships can target specific problems and mobilise additional resources. We should communicate the successes of these partnerships and so generate further opportunities for achieving the MDGs related to water.

Mr Chairman, in closing, I do not underestimate the challenges facing developing countries in establishing the enabling environment for water markets. It is a challenge that faces Australia and many other developed countries. However, the benefits are overwhelming - and the challenge should be faced together.

Thank you Mr Chairman.

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