21 JUNE 1999

(Delivered by YB Datuk Tham Nyip Shen Deputy Chief Minister/Minister of Industrial Development)

Foremost, it is an honour to have the esteem presence of His Excellency Lasse Reiman, Denmark's Ambassador to Malaysia. A very warm welcome indeed to Sabah and we hope you will have a pleasant stay whilst deliberating on the issues at hand. Denmark and Malaysia have had a long history of cooperation and the Government of Denmark has been very active in international co-operation directed towards environmental issues and sustainable development.

2. Following the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, I have been told the Government of Denmark has committed itself to the resolutions reached at the conference and has since then provided substantial funding to various projects in many places worldwide. In Malaysia, we have benefitted from Denmark's assistance through the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project implemented in the states of Penang, Sarawak and Sabah.

3. This has been possible through the Danish Co-operation for Environment and Development or DANCED in brief. In Sabah, the ICZM project is a joint effort between the State and DANCED which has pooled various expertise together to make the venture a success. On behalf of the State Government, I wish to convey the state's appreciation to the Government of Denmark.

4. Mother nature has endowed us with vast natural resources including fertile land, rich marine resources and other natural attributes that supports life and provide us with fresh air and water. However, in many parts of the world unsustainable forms of development and utilisation of resources have threatened these resources. In Sabah, we are now very much concerned with coastal resource utilisation and we are looking into every aspect to ensure the protection of our coastal resources.

5. Through the ICZM project, we hope to facilitate a sustainable Coastal Zone Management. Sabah's coastal zones should get priority given that the impact of development is greatest in the coastal zone where the population is concentrated and where changes brought about by socio-economic development are greatest.

6. Unsustainable development often harm the environment causing the gradual degradation and depletion of natural resources and eventually we would be faced with land use conflicts. Among others, I understand that the ICZM project will address these aspects and aim to change non-sustainable development approaches to more sustainable ones.

7. Threats to human survival are now a global concern. For example, the destruction of the ozone layer has drawn the attention of many scientists who have pooled resources to address this phenomena. Increasingly, many nations have taken steps to address environmental and resource management issues and more people are aware of the dangers and risks caused by these concerns.

8. There is therefore, an urgent need for co-operation in managing environmental conservation and sustainable resource management. To successfully formulate policies and effective programmes addressing the issues that threaten the world at large depends on the consensus and co-operation of national and regional governments. Leaders and professionals must discuss such issues and develop action programmes. Resources and know-how have to be shared in addressing such issues especially in the mitigation of arising problems.

9. As you deliberate on the topics of discussion, I hope you would identify problems from the present methods of resource utilisation within the coastal zone and find alternative opportunities and ideas to further develop ICZM. ICZM is an important tool for proactive Coastal Zone Management. Systems, plans, strategies, and policies can only be effective if its potential is implemented fully. Therefore, the importance of networking and increasing co-ordination in all phases of ICZM management cannot be underestimated. Accordingly we are honoured by the presence of members from the commonwealth partnership for technology management (CPTM), whose experience in networking may be helpful to the state and national efforts to sustain ICZM.

10. One of the important tools that have been developed by the ICZM project is the Sabah ICZM home page which contain a wealth of information on the development and natural resources in the state's coastal areas. More importantly, it offers a venue for information exchange, discussion and co-ordination.

11. With that, it is my pleasure to officially launch the Sabah ICZM Homepage and to declare the Sabah ICZM Conference open. Thank you and I wish you a fruitful conference.