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Closing Address for the First Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Cleaner Production


Bangkok, Thailand
14 November 1997

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

Senator Macdonald: Dr Yuwaree In-Na, other participants and contributors to this Roundtable and Ladies and Gentlemen.

Can I start by congratulating the organisers of this Roundtable and particularly the Thai Government people for a marvellous initiative. Can I also congratulate all of you and thank you for the work that you have done over the past few days. The way you have contributed your thoughts, your activities, certainly do lead to Cleaner Production - something that is absolutely essential in this world.

This First Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Cleaner Production and the Exhibition that has accompanied it has been extremely successful and enjoyable, I believe, for all participants. I understand that this is to be the first of a great number of hopefully continuing Roundtables in the Asia-Western Pacific region.

The Roundtable I am told, has been discussing one of the greatest problems facing the Earth today, that is, how to achieve ecologically sustainable development.

Rarely a day goes by without reading in any newspaper around the world of another pollution scare. Waste is being produced faster than it can be safely disposed of or recycled. Energy is being consumed in greater quantities. Non-renewable sources are being lost forever and even our renewable resources are not being replaced at the speed at which they are being consumed.

With the world population ever increasing it is not hard to see that unless action is taken some time in the near future, our world standard of living will fall quite dramatically. Governments throughout the world are now addressing this problem but as you are aware environmental degradation can not be solved by Governments alone. It is a problem caused by all of us and it can only be solved through concerted action by every one - by industry, by community groups, by Governments and by individuals.

We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that the environment that we leave to our children is better than the one that we inherited from our parents. I think we all agree on this particular objective but the challenge facing us is how do we achieve it?

How do we ensure that for everything we produce or every service we provide, we are making the smallest possible demand on the Earth's resources? How do we ensure that we are not producing waste that through a little bit of care, could have been avoided? How do we ensure that productivity increases at a fast enough rate to feed, clothe and protect everyone on this planet?

What has been discussed at this Roundtable is that "how" question. The Roundtable has recognised that Cleaner Production provides us with many of the answers to "how" we can move towards sustainable development.

The strength of Cleaner Production is based on a very powerful but simple proposition that a firm or company's profits can be increased whilst at the same time protecting the environment. This is a win win situation at its very best.

I am told that over the course of the last few days there have been many excellent papers on these matters and that we have seen and heard about many new cleaner production methods and technologies. It is essential, I think, that we build on this tremendous start in the Asia and Western Pacific region with further Roundtables in the future.

Australia and the Australian Government has been a very strong supporter of Cleaner Production and it is indeed an honour for me and very pleasing that I have been able to be in Bangkok at the time of this First Roundtable.

As a member of the Australian Government, I again offer you my congratulations and thanks and I think I can speak in a very general way on behalf of all Governments in the Asia-Western Pacific region because I know that all Governments, like the Australian Government, are very keen to ensure Cleaner Production. In Australia, and particularly in my home state of Queensland, we have been particularly active in promoting Cleaner Production.

The University of Queensland hosts the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Working Group for Cleaner Production in the Food Industry and I am sure that the next Roundtable of this Asia-Pacific region will involve and build upon the base established at this First Roundtable and it will bring together more and more industry, academic and government agencies.

At the National level industry organisations, governments, academics and environmental non-governmental organisations in Australia have just completed Australia's first draft National Strategy for Cleaner Production. The strategy in Australia brings together many of the tools and processes that have been supported by the Australian States and Territories over the last few years in a comprehensive framework for action. So our Country, I am very proud to say, has considerable experience in Cleaner Production but we, like all of us, have a great deal to learn.

I was particularly pleased to hear the figures that at this Roundtable there are 220 delegates from the Region and some from outside the Region, and I am very pleased that Australia and New Zealand in the south-eastern part of the Asia region have also been represented here.

We in the Australian Government look forward very much to offering to be involved in future Roundtables and we very much hope that at sometime we will host a Roundtable in our country. I know that Brisbane, the State Capital of my home state of Queensland, is very supportive and very keen to host a Roundtable.

But ladies and gentlemen, we have in the Asia-Pacific region started with this first Roundtable. It is again, if I might say, a tremendous effort by the Thai officials and again I extend my very sincere congratulations.

It is a tremendous base from which we all can build. We now talk about Cleaner Production but perhaps in a few years time we should be discussing Cleanest Production. I think that is the goal we all have to work towards.

Again, my congratulations and thank you on behalf of all Governments for the efforts that you have put in over the last couple of days.

Dr Yuwaree: I would like to thank all of you for coming and participating in the First Roundtable and especially I would like to thank my own Committee staff. And finally, I would like to thank my former Boss, Dr Pakit for his service and vision to volunteer our Department to host this Roundtable.

END

Commonwealth of Australia