Address delivered during FORUM III
by K. Mustafa Touré
Greetings and Salutations to all and a special word of thanks to the Government and People of Hungary for hosting this gathering in such a historic city at such an auspicious time. My special appreciation goes to UNESCO, ICSU and all the other sponsors who have made this conference possible.
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the Government and People of Belize, I am honored to present this brief statement which covers the following:
Belize is a Caribbean nation located on the Isthmus of Central America, southeast of Mexico and east of Guatemala.
As such, she is a member of the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States and participates actively in the Central American integration movement where she recently served as Chair of the Central American Commission for Environment & Development.
Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1981 after a protracted but peaceful struggle which benefited from the fraternal support of CARICOM, Cuba, Panama and many friends from both the South and North. With a population of only 250,000, Belize has been able to maintain her environment in a relatively pristine condition.
Over the past decade, Belize has ably demonstrated her commitment to promoting the just, peaceful and equitable use of Science and Technology (S&T) in a number of ways that reflect her world-class human and natural ecology:
The project, Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change, or CPACC, was recognised last year by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as a leading example of regional collaboration in addressing the critical issue of Climate Change which threatens to obliterate many SIDS and low-lying coastal states in the coming century due to expected rising sea levels.
Already, CPACC has enabled 12 CARICOM states to develop an operational network of satellite-linked state-of-the-art ocean climate monitoring stations which are connected via the Internet. This cooperative regional initiative is an example of the type of Technology-Transfer and Capacity-Building required by vulnerable small states like Belize.
In concert with the position taken by our hemispheric colleagues from the Latin American and Caribbean region in the March 1999 Declaration of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Belize supports the present Conferences Draft Declaration and Science Agenda Framework for Action.
We earnestly believe that these two documents represent a window of opportunity for realising a new global commitment by the international community to a more just, equitable and participatory science in the 21st Century.
Further, along with Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Belize now wishes to additionally lend her voice to the call for this conference to consider a number of specific recommendations on behalf of vulnerable Small Islands and Low-Lying Coastal States, both in the Caribbean and worldwide.
Specifically, we call for the following:
In conclusion, Mr Chairman and distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, concrete and meaningful follow-up to this important Conference can only be achieved by treating the long-term global issues and challenges which have been identified here over the past three days in a similar manner to BioDiversity, Climate Change and the Law of the Sea.
I close by imploring you, as representatives of the international community, to consider the dire need for urgently establishing permanent mechanisms such as those which arose from the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
Mechanisms such as the Global Environmental Facility and the Climate Change Secretariat are required if we are to realistically ensure that our collective commitment to a just and peaceful 21st century science is to be realised in an equitable and participatory manner.
Failure to act in this regard may condemn us to suffer the fate of the fictional Dr. Frankenstein, whose immoral and unethical application of science resulted in his own self-destruction.