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Opening Speecy by Leonard Good


  Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen:

  1. I am both honored and pleased to assume the position of vice Chair of this hi gh-level Council. I am honored to be in the presence of the Vice Premier and othe r senior Chinese governmental and academic leaders from many Ministries and inst itutions. In my capacity as international Vice-Chair for the China Council, I am also honored to be representing, not only Canada, but so many distinguished for eign experts in the fields of environment and development. On a personal basis, I am pleased because this Council considers both environment and development, two i mportant and related subjects in which I have been involved for many years- as Deputy Minister for the Environment in Canada, as an Executive Director at the Wo rld Bank, and as President of CIDA. 

  2. Most of you will recall that last year we commissioned a Self-Assessment Repor t on the China Council and asked the Secretariats to produce it by drawing on th e assistance of consultants, experts and Council members. I am grateful to all of you who contributed valuable comments and insights. The Report has now been comp leted and made available to all participants. As you know, the purpose of the Rep ort was two-fold:first to determine the results achieved by the China Council si nce its inception in 1992;and, secondly, to outline possible improvements for the future. In summary, this 300 page document describes some very positive results. It identifies some impressive examples of the China Council's tangible impacts on China's approach to its management of the environment. Most importantly, the repor t reveals a consensus that the China Council, this unique experiment in internati onal cooperation, should be continued when its mandate expires at the end of year 2001, though many suggested the need for some small changes , which the report id entifies, to further improve our effectiveness. 

  3. Based on the Council's impressive results to date and some of the suggestions made in the Self-Assessment Report, I am pleased to announce Canada's intention t o make a third 5 year financial contribution to the China Council. Vice Premier W en has expressed to me his enthusiasm for a Phase Ⅲ of the China Council. We hop e that other bilateral, multilateral and nongovernmental agencies and business or ganizations share our enthusiasm and join us in supporting Phase Ⅲ. 

  I recognize that, before you can commit to Phase Ⅲ, or influence the countries an d institutions you represent to commit, some members may wish to see a paper desc ribing Phase Ⅲ in more detail and suggesting the changes we might consider to i mprove our effectiveness. Our plan would be to ask the Chinese and Canadian offic ers of the Secretariat to draft such a paper and to get the paper to members in March/April of next year. 

  Increasingly, we hope to move to multi-year pledges. I mention the point because t he benefits of multi-year pledges for improved medium-term planning can be signi ficant in permitting the Secretariats to do some forward planning for the annual Council meetings and the Working Groups. 

  4. Our main theme today is "Environmental Issues Related to China's Great Wester n Development Program". This is a topic to which a Canadian can readily relate be cause the economic development of our own Western regions lagged behind that of the Centre and the East. Even today, the problem of generating equitable economic opportunities for citizens of our outlying regions continues to be studied and d ebated. Like China, we faced the problems of vast distances between western provin ces and our economic heartland, and of an uneven distribution of arable land, wate r, energy and hospitable climatic conditions. I must admit that in developing West ern Canada, we concentrated excessively on economic and infrastructure problems a nd gave little thought to environmental problems until recent decades. We have pa id a price for that neglect;I trust that China will learn as much from Canada's mistakes as from our accomplishments. 

  5. I have just returned from brief visits to Gansu, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shaanxi where I discussed environmental issues with local officials and acquired an intr oduction to some of the formidable problems and opportunities of the western reg ion. I look forward with great interest to the discussion on Western Development among our Council Members and to the reports and recommendations of our Working Groups who deserve a lot of credit for quickly adjusting their work programs to make a number of very relevant recommendations on Western Development. 

  6. As the newest Member of this Council, I have much to learn from it about the vast and complex problems facing this great country. I am impressed by the Council' s professional examination of these problems and its responsible recommendations for dealing with them. I am also encouraged by the spirit of partnership and non -political discussion which (I am told) has always animated our deliberations. I am confident that this meeting will continue that fine tradition. 

  Thank you.

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