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Opening Statement by Mr Akira Takahashi

Special Advisor on Development to the Special Representative of the

Secretary General

 

Thank you for the invitation to participate in todayís opening of the

Conference on Sustainable Development.I am very pleased to be here to

speak on behalf of Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative of

the Secretary General.

 

Mr Vieira de Mello has been called to New York with Dr Jose Ramos Horta to

brief the Security Council on developments regarding the implementation of

the transition to East Timorís independence.He sends his sincere

apologies for not being able to attend today, but has asked me to say a few

words on his behalf and on behalf of the East Timor Transitional

Administration.

 

My comments relate to the importance of raising the profile of sustainable

development in East Timor by linking the key issues of education and the

environment.To make sustainable development a reality in East Timor, it

must be encouraged within communities so that it remains a broadly

supported point of view.Development thinking should not be solely the

domain of academics, technical experts and policy makers.It must be open

and accessible to the wider populace.The communities in East Timorís

towns and rural districts must be the ones to drive sustainable

development.

 

It is not sufficient, or acceptable to design policies and programs in

isolation of the people of East Timor.No amount of work done on

sustainable development behind closed doors or in conferences will

substitute for developing and encouraging the support and commitment of the

people of East Timor.Conferences like the present one are useful because

they have a broad reach and their results can be widely disseminated.

 

We can help encourage community involvement by finding appropriate ways to get messages to the people and to equip them with the knowledge and the opportunities to make their views heard by policy makers and program developers.From the

perspective of the Transitional Administration, this means we need to

concentrate efforts on awareness raising through public information and

education.

 

We would like to see the issue of sustainable development disseminated

widely through two key mediums. The first is through mass media and the

second through the education system. Mr Vieira de Mello has already

spoken with Father Filomeno Jacob, the Cabinet Member for Social Affairs

about finding a way to incorporate issues of the environment and

sustainable development into East Timorís education curriculum. At the

same time, we will use media such as Radio UNTAET to spread the broad

message about the importance of sustainable development in East Timor.

 

By disseminating information widely to the public of East Timor and by

teaching the children, we will be laying the foundations of a strong and

sustainable support base for sustainable development in East Timor.It

will be very important that the results of this conference receive the same

treatment and are as widely disseminated as possible. The fundamental

message I have been asked to convey today is that we must get the thinking

on sustainable development from the level of expert discussion to the level

of broad public acceptance.

 

This is the major challenge for all of us and, in the course of your

deliberations over the coming days, I would like to ask you all to keep at

the back of your minds, the importance of translating your discussions into

public messages that can be disseminated throughout East Timor.

 

On behalf of the Special Representative of the Secretary General, I wish

you well for the conference.We in the Transitional Administration look

forward to receiving the final recommendations and outcomes.We view this

conference as a useful complement to policy making in the Transitional

Administration and as an important event in raising the profile of

sustainable development in East Timor.

 

†††††††††† Thank you.