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Speech at the Closing Ceremony by Huguette Labelle


  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. After these very eloquent words, I think we should all stay very quiet. Nothing better could be said. However, I have a few words to add.

  Like you, I think that the board chairmen of this Council should feel very proud of their stay with us, committed on the work of the Council, and of how much ha s come has come together in this last year. And I do feel that the members of the Working Groups and those who have supported them will receive your comments with pride, and that they will be pleased to hear those good words. When we came together, in addition to the substantive work of the Council, that is the work of the Working Groups, I think there were a number of issues that were floating around. I think we leave with these issues having pretty well been dealt with.

  One of them is the question of coordination between the Working Groups, and the co-chairs and shadow ministers have met twice this week. I think that set a new path for this to happen. And I think we could understand very much why we felt t his was important.

  I think there is also something else that was floating. And this was the need for a sense of urgency in accomplishment, since you are moving in this country so rapidly. And in many ways, through this very important transition and in order to help the work of the Council to be relevant and to be just on time, you may have to be able to see how we could provide you, your people and the leaders with some practical solutions to some of the immediate problems. We will also be advising them immediately on how to prevent some of the medium-and-longer term problems and provide you there with the knowledge that we have gained from our own state. And I think the notion of each project, which has been identified during this meeting, might be of use. So, the sense of urgency that you have put forward has been received in a sense that people have been trying to organize their work in such a way to provide you with what you need on time.

  There was the third area, which was the whole question of how to deal with horizontal issues. Again, I think some of the key horizontal issues have been identified, whether it is education, training, public awareness, research and some others. And I think all Working Groups have been urged to keep those horizontal issues in mind as their work proceeds in the future. A number of new areas have been raised for additional work. We've commented on those. And I could understand why, for example, transportation and water could be seen by myself, our Chinese colleagues and many people in this room as being so important, having traveled in China for the last few weeks (days) and having been to a number of places where people are trying to clean their part of the river, but then wondering what happens upstream - not much can happen without cleaning the whole river - or how to transport commodities to very far parts of China, And I think the approach that has been used and suggested by the coordination group is a very interesting one, to launch immediately work in this area without necessarily creating a new Working Group.

  I think there was another issue which we did not talk too much about, but which I sense a number of people will try to deal with over the next few weeks or months. That is the importance of finding efficient ways of disseminating the work of the Working Groups and of the special papers they have provided, within China, of course, first, but also internationally.

  Mr. Chairman, I've greatly enjoyed being par of this group. Early this morning I met with a Chinese minister. And she said, "when we meet for the first time, we are strangers. But when we meet for the second time, we are friends". I have a sense that many people in this room have only met for the first time, but we fee l as we leave we have already had a second meeting. And of course how can you be gliding the beautiful lake by moonlight in an enchanting place and not be friends when you leave.

  Mr. Chairman, the combination of the work of this Council and Agenda 21 is, probably, the work that will have the greatest impact in combination, if it continues to proceed in the way that it has followed up to now. And personally I know that I feel honoured to be part of this group and that I'm sure I share the view with my colleagues in saying that.

  Finally, at closing, I'd like to say that the tone that you have personally set f or the collaboration has not only made our work easier, but has created a right frame of mind for instructive and open discussions. I'd like to thank you for it.

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