There are moments charged with significance far beyond the apparent. At one level a Ministerial visit from one large developing economy to another is a regular part of official diplomatic traffic.
AT ANOTHER level, however, this visit marks the initiation of a more active phase of cooperation in Science and Technology. This represents a deeper engagement at the level of minds and intellects. Conventional diplomacy relies heavily on trade and commerce, economics and politics for building bilateral relationships.
These are inherently transient and volatile in character. It is only when in a spirit of companionship the leading minds of two great nations engage each other, share intellectual visions and dreams and participate in the excitement of ideas and knowledge creation that an abiding bond gets forged. I have come here today in the hope that the ensuing phase of cooperation in Science & Technology is the beginning of a process of creative ferment which will give rise to a future for the humankind anchored in the ideals of sustainability.
Sustainability is a goal which both our countries share almost as an article of faith. In cases, nature and the relationship between nature and man has played a far greater role in shaping our destinies than is the case with other advanced industrial societies.Geographically, we are both endowed with a unique and unparalleled richness of bio diversity. We share a heritage of traditional knowledge systems for the conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources, especially bio-diversity, which in conjunction with modern science can enable us to take a lead to show others the way to ecological conservation and regeneration. The threats both of us face from unsustainable forms of development have much in common.
Our joining of hands and our pooling of our scientific and technological resources is, therefore, of vital importance for both of us and perhaps for the rest of the world.It is important to recall that it was in this city that the agenda for sustainability was firmly established in the realm of public debate and public policy on a global scale. Until the Earth Summit in 1992 issues of environmental and ecological degradation, of climate change, of depleting biodiversity, of desertification, of the relationship remained largely on the periphery of mainstream governance. The most significant contribution of the Earth Summit was to make sustainability a value, a norm, a measure which no one could afford to ignore. True, many of the promises made have remained unfulfilled, the treaties signed or agreed upon; the global programs visualized achieved only half-hearted implementation.
However, in sensitizing and what Paolo Freire called 'conscientising' Governments and vast sections of the people who had until then been indifferent or apathetic, the Summit played a role which deserves fulsome acknowledgement. I am fully cognisant of Brazil's contribution to the Earth Summit, particularly in the framing of the famous Agenda 21 and the holistic perspective you have provided to the concept of Sustainable Development - going far beyond the definition of the Brundtland Commission to give it a spatial, a politico-institutional, a cultural and an ethical dimension.