Opening Statement by Mr Akira Takahashi
Special Advisor on Development to the Special Representative of the
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
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
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
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.