President Thabo Mbeki arrives in DubaI ahead of the Second Festival
of the Cultures and Civilisations of World Deserts, Dubai, United Arab Emirates,
Saturday, 16 April 2005
Pretoria - President and Mrs Thabo Mbeki have arrived
in Dubai ahead of the Second Festival of the Cultures and Civilizations of World
Deserts scheduled for Saturday, 16 April 2005.
President Mbeki is accompanied
by Minister of Defence Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad and Rejoice
Mabudhafasi, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs.
at the Festival include UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Algerian President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika and Dubai's Crown Prince, General Shaikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.
Festival of the Cultures and Civilisations of World Deserts aims to:
a charter for the Sustainable Development of Desert Regions;
- Draw the
attention of desert peoples and governments to the ideal model for rapid and sustained
socio-economic development in desert regions;
- Promote cultural and scientific
exchange between the people and governments of the world deserts;
tourism and trade between countries of the world deserts;
- Assess sustainable
development strategies in desert regions and to identify constraints on their
- Develop recommendations for collaboration between governments,
intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and the United
Nations agencies in the environmental, socio-cultural and economic aspects of
sustainable development in desert regions; and
- Develop joint programmes
of capacity building and awareness-raising for sustainable use of natural resources
in desert regions.
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD),
adopted in 2001 by African Heads of State, has identified combating desertification
and land degradation as the first of eight priority intervention areas under the
Environment Initiative of NEPAD. The UN Millennium Declaration and the Plan of
Implementation from the World Summit on Sustainable Development both focus on
development and poverty eradication as well as protecting our environment. They
reaffirm support for the principles of sustainable development, including those
set out in Agenda 21, with a commitment to press for the full implementation of
the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification
and the proposals for Action of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests.
addition, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) sent a clear message
in identifying the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
as a critical tool in eradicating poverty and contributing to sustainable development.
The UNCCD has the potential to deliver development and further poverty eradication
amongst rural communities. Furthermore, the UNCCD is one of the more critical
conventions, especially for African countries. It is in South Africa's interest,
as custodians of decisions of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and
part of the African leadership collective championing Africa's development, that
we ensure that an effective Secretariat is in place to steer the UNCCD implementation.
Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.
Department of Foreign
Private Bag X152
16 April 2005