Launch of the 2006 Report
Prince Willem Alexander Claus
Fellow Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Premier of the Western Cape, Mr Ebrahim Rasool
Mayor of Cape Town, Ms Helen Zille
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the delegation from the United Nations Development Programme
Ladies and gentlemen
I am delighted to welcome all our international guests to our continent which is the cradle of humankind, the continent of possibilities. Of course, today we are welcoming you to one of the most beautiful parts of the world, the southern tip of Africa.
Welcome all to the Mother City, Cape Town and to Kirstenbosch, on this occasion of the Global Launch of the 2006 Human Development Report. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world renowned not only for the beauty and diversity of the indigenous Cape flora it displays but also for the magnificence of its setting against the Eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
Here at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden you can still see a part of what has become known as “Jan Van Riebeeck’s hedge” of wild almond, which was planted by the first Governor in 1660 to keep the cattle of the Cape’s first White settlement from straying. Part of the hedge is still alive and well here at Kirstenbosch and is much older than nay existing man-made structure from that time, including the Castle. Another part of the hedge is to be found in Bishopscourt.
Jan Van Riebeeck’s hedge was the first formal boundary marker between the then new Cape Colony and the indigenous people of the Cape. The wild almond trees used in the hedge are characterised by large intertwined branches, which have a tendency to grow both horizontally and vertically. The point is that they form a formidable barrier – one through which cattle could not pass except through controlled access points. The trees actually belong to the protea family; although you and I would say that they do not look at all like proteas. Incidentally, the nuts contain cyanide and are not edible unless they are specially treated by soaking and roasting, a technique that was discovered by the early Khoi inhabitants of the Cape.
The hedge, in fact, prevented both the indigenous people and the colonists from developing their full capacities. Barriers of all forms are constraints to growth and sustainable development. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. While we will not forget the lessons of history, it is the future that should now be our primary focus.
The global launch of the Human Development Report is one of the most important events on the calendar of the United Nations systems as a whole. I am particularly pleased that this year’s Report, which focuses on the theme of the essential role that water management and sanitation play in helping to achieve sustainable development, is being launched in South Africa.
I take pride in the knowledge that the Human Development Report is being launched in South Africa this year as an acknowledgement of the efforts that South Africa has made to promote access to safe water and sanitation. From our perspective, the right to water is a human right. Indeed, the right to water is enshrined in our Bill of Rights in our Constitution, along with other social and economic rights such as the right to housing, health care, food, social security, education and the environment.
According to most analysts, access to safe water is going to play a much greater role in shaping our future than people actually realise. Water is by definition a transnational phenomenon and we have to deal with it in a transnational way, while never forgetting its human dimension. In the next few decades water will be more important than oil in certain regions of the globe.
This is the first time that the Human Development Report s being launched on African soil. Africa has recognised the crucial importance of access to safe water and sanitation for accomplishing socio-economic development goals on the continent. The February 2004 Sirte Declaration on the Challenges of Implementing Integrated and Sustainable Development in Agriculture and Water in Africa reaffirmed the understanding that:
“water is the main factor in all human endevour and … the need to assure the preservation and distribution of water resources.”
The African Water Vision 2025 for a comprehensive integrated development of the water sector leading to an “Africa where there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional co-operation, and the environment.” Millennium Development Goal number 7 deals with environmental stability and calls for
“… halving the proportion of people without safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.”
We therefore welcome the theme of the Human Development Report this year as contributing to Africa’s efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals in this important area and improve the quality of lives of all our citizens.
Millennium Development Goal number 8 calls for the development of a global partnership for development. This is so important. If we are to be successful, we need to share our resources and develop real international partnerships for development. Otherwise we risk making no progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline.
The launch of this Global report for the first time in Africa must be a turning point in the relationship of South Africa and our continent as a whole. Maybe the words of Kemal Dervis himself are coming true, that,
“A reformed United Nations should provide the unifying framework for a global governance in both the political and economic spheres. No other overarching setting exists that is based on the reality of the Nation – States, but which also has accumulated the necessary experience and global legitimacy.”
We welcome you to one of the most magnificent parts of this globe.
Issued by Ronnie
Mamoepa on 082 990 4853
℅ Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
9 November 2006
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