President Jacques Chirac’s Speech at the 7th Forum of Sustainable Development at Ouagadougou, Sunday, October 11, 2009
I love and respect Africa.
I appreciate its ability to take the time to debate and concretely reflect on how best to prepare for its future.
The past two days have been given over to such endeavors.
I would like to thank my friend Blaise Compaoré for having invited me to join you.
He knows how much I enjoy returning to Burkina-Faso.
From the start, I have encouraged Emile Malet’s efforts to organize regular discussions between Africans and Europeans concerning sustainable development.
We were right to do so.
At the time, only specialists were concerned with sustainable development.
Today, world leaders have vaulted it to the top of their agendas.
By sharing the best of available knowledge,
… by talking with the most renown experts,
… you have greatly helped Africa.
Thanks to your efforts, Africa will be prepared for the Copenhagen negotiations.
This will enable you to make yourself heard and impose your own priorities onto the international community’s agenda.
Allow me to salute the efforts of the African Nations, representing over one fourth of all the States within the United Nations Organization, to speak at Copenhagen with a single voice.
When African leaders speak of global warming, their words carry great wisdom derived from long experience. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President Compaoré are major world voices. I have listened to them for many years and the following remarks are based on what they have often told me.
Global warming’s worst toll will not be felt under a specific latitude, but rather there where the degree of development is at its ebb.
The most fragile societies will suffer the most.
Global warming will impact the entire planet.
Those who believe that effects will be limited to the arid fringes of the tropical world are mistaken.
On several occasions, I have had the chance to talk to a remarkable man: the President of the GIEC, Rajendra Pachauri.
He has accepted to contribute to the efforts of my Fondation. He is categorical: the entire surface of the planet will be affected by changes that we can neither measure nor predict.
However, we are already aware of the most fundamental change: the planet will suffer from increasingly unpredictable and violent climatic shifts.
The rains that have devastated your capital are but an example of the future violence. I have expressed my sympathy for the victims and yesterday afternoon, I witnessed the admirable efforts undertaken in response to the emergency.
Answering emergencies, adapting to the unforeseen, global warming will require more and more actions of this kind.
The weakest states are unable to rise to the challenge.
This is why it is more urgent than ever to hasten the end of poverty
The least advanced countries deserve our help for specific tasks such as extricating their population out of poverty and investing sufficiently to abrogate risks linked to global warming.
The first victims of these upcoming risks are obviously the least advanced countries.
Furthermore, the poverty of these populations incites them to destroy their forests, degrade their lands, impoverish biodiversity, and waste and pollute water. The planet consequently suffers.
It is futile to pit the struggle against poverty against the prevention of global warming. Developmental aid to counter poverty will also facilitate the transition to a better balance between agricultural, pastoral and energy concerns.
Developmental aid is a crucial tool in stopping global warming.
Allow me to say once again that nothing, neither the economic crisis, not the climate, must become a pretext to slow developmental efforts. Only the strongest economies and organized States can face the challenges of global warming.
We must not change strategies when confronted with the upcoming dangers. Rather, we should hasten our victory for development, food security, and health.
Just as I have long requested, no environmental organization, be it world-wide and unique, will replace your States.
State reform to face global warming is your responsibility. However we must stand by you. If we want to reduce pollution, to stem deforestation, to master major risks, there is no other solution than to reinforce as of today political, administrative and budgetary cooperation.
How can we start to conceive of acting on pollution, carbon emissions, the destruction of forests without first acting on the causes: developmental deficits, the lack of State means, the dearth of investments in the private sector.
We have for several years now imagined a coherent strategy for sustainable development for the entire planet. We must not reinvent it now. We must implement it and help it evolve.
We have the Millennium Goals to fight poverty. We must achieve them. I have suggested that a portion of the required funds be taken from innovative financing, such as the contribution from airplane tickets. We must continue in this direction.
We have developmental aid and technical assistance to reinforce State structures. It is only in a context of planned, contractual, and mastered budgetary aid that complementary financing to fight global warming can naturally be deployed rapidly.
Finally, we need markets that are more open and equitable to invigorate the private sector, diffuse technology, and lower renewable energy costs.
We need a beneficent end to the WTO cycle to offer markets to entrepreneurs and farmers in the developing world.
We need to increase agricultural investments by 60% if we want to ensure a minimum of food security for 9 billion people by 2050.
All of this is possible, for it comes together to form a coherent agenda in which the struggle against global warming must play a role.
Without a new alliance between Europeans and Africans concerning the Millennium goals, the continuation of developmental aid, and the balanced conclusion of the Doha cycle, we will lose the race against poverty. If Africa does not forcibly state its demand concerning the prevention of global warming, if nations do not increase solidarity with each other, we will lose the race against the degradation of planetary environment.
So dear Friends,
I am resolutely against a blanket compensation where Africa would be paid to no longer touch its forests, to freeze its energy consumption, and give up its industrialization.
Rather, let us dream together of an African continent that is more dynamic on international markets, of an industrial and prosperous Africa, capable of assuming by itself, according to its own rules and methods, the majority of its efforts to adapt to climactic challenges.