Press Releases

    Background release

    25 March 2002


    NEW YORK, 22 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Commission on Sustainable Development will hold the third of four sessions in its capacity as Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development at Headquarters from 25 March to 5 April. Its final preparatory session is scheduled for 27 May to 7 June in Jakarta, prior to the Summit in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September.

    During this session, the Preparatory Committee is expected to continue further negotiations on elements for decisions contained in the "Chairman’s paper" transmitted from the second session. The negotiations are expected to result in a document containing the results of the comprehensive review of the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for further implementing it. Agenda 21 is the action programme of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. The Commission on Sustainable Development was established in 1993 to follow up on the Conference and its goals, which were affirmed by the 2000 Millennium Declaration. The final document will be transmitted to the Committee’s fourth session and to the Johannesburg Summit for formal adoption. A proposal for the Summit’s provisional agenda and its main themes is also expected to be put forward at the session of the Preparatory Committee.

    Three working groups will take up the issues contained in the Chairman's papers. Working Group I will focus on the issues of poverty eradication, achieving sustainable consumption and production, and management of natural resources. Working Group II will focus on sustainable development relative to globalization, health, small island developing States, initiatives for Africa and means of implementation. Working Group III will focus on strengthening governance for sustainable development at national, regional and international levels, which is the final section of the Chairman’s paper and awaits elaboration.

    The Preparatory Committee, chaired by Emil Salim (Indonesia), has eight vice chairs. They are Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), Richard Ballhorn (Canada), Jan Kara (Czech Republic), Ihab Gamaleldin (Egypt), Kiyotaka Akasaka (Japan), Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria), Alexandru Niculescu (Romania), Lars-Goran Engfeldt (Sweden) and Diane Quarless (Jamaica), who also serves as Rapporteur.

    Chairman's Paper

    The Chairman’s paper (document A/CONF.199/PC/L.1) reaffirms the Rio principles and subsequent developments. It also reaffirms the importance of enabling both national and international environments in order to achieve sustainable development, saying that an enabling international environment must lend full support to national efforts.

    Continuing, it states that at both levels, the essentials for sustainable development are good governance and transparency in the financial, monetary and trading systems. In addition, sound economic policies, solid democratic institutions responsive to needs and improved infrastructure are the basis for sustained economic growth and for poverty eradication, as well as for creating employment. Finally, the paper recalls a major gap in implementing Agenda 21, with endemic poverty, unsustainable lifestyles and environmental degradation continuing to confront the world ten years after Rio. That gap could be bridged with political will, practical steps and partnerships in promoting sustainable development.

    The paper also describes possible actions to be taken in each of the main areas set out as targets to be considered at the Summit. It states that poverty and hunger eradication are central to achieving sustainable development in combination with the promotion of sustainable livelihoods. A key aim in this regard is to initiate a global plan of action with clear, time-bound commitments and monitoring mechanisms to realize the Millennium Declaration target of reducing by half the number of people without safe drinking water.

    Other aims, the paper states, are to improve access to modern energy services, promote sustainable agriculture and rural development, develop multi-stakeholder approaches to public-private cooperation and provide funding for integrated rural development plans, programmes and strategies at the national and regional levels. Also important are strategies for increasing food availability, integrating anti-desertification schemes into poverty eradication programmes and improving the lives of 100 million poor people living in inadequate settlements. Finally to be considered is the strengthening of health care system capacities, with the fight against HIV/AIDS included as an integral part of all poverty reduction, sustainable development and economic growth strategies.

    In the area of changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, the paper focuses on measures to reverse unsustainable patterns in developed countries through technological and educational policies. Actions would centre on raising consumer awareness, recruiting media to be promotional tools for sustainable development, providing industry incentives, encouraging research and enhancing corporate responsibility and accountability. Other measures focus on increasing energy and resource efficiency in developed countries, eliminating environmentally harmful subsidies and encouraging strategic alliances between research and development institutions as well as voluntary initiatives by industry.

    Measures to protect and manage the natural resource base of economic and social development are also included. They centre on improving equity and efficiency in the use of water resources, providing support for developing countries to implement their own solutions and assisting them in monitoring and assessing the quantity and quality of water resources. Also to be considered are measures to improve governance and institutional arrangements, as well as to mobilize financial resources for infrastructure and services. Public information strategies and promotion of participation in decision-making are included, along with support activities for the International Year of Freshwater 2003 and beyond.

    Specific actions to protect the environment are enumerated. They include approaches for implementing the Convention on the Law of the Sea, promoting regional strategies to mitigate impacts of cyclical weather phenomena and ensuring the entry into force, in 2002, of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Also covered are approaches to promoting regional and subregional cooperation with regard to managing pollution, agriculture, desertification, mountain environments, tourism, forests, minerals and implementation of Agenda 21 relative to biodiversity.

    Among the recommendations for managing globalization so as to promote sustainable development are strategies for coordinating macroeconomic policy management and for increasing cooperation between the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization. Other measures include the promoting of an equitable global trading system and of corporate responsibility, along with the implementation of agreements for technical cooperation strategies aimed at capacity-building, growth and integration. Other strategies include the provision of preferential market access for least developed countries (LDC), the encouragement of private foreign investment in infrastructure development and the offer of government incentives to increase those investments.

    The paper also addresses strategies for countering the adverse effects of ill health on sustainable development. Recommended actions include the taking of steps to integrate health concerns into development strategies, policies and programmes, to strengthen health-system capacities and to support programmes aimed at eradicating health threats, such as infectious diseases, in an environmentally sound manner. Also recommended are actions for phasing out hazardous substances, such as lead from gasoline, and for making the fight against HIV/AIDS an integral part of all development programmes.

    To promote the sustainable development of small island developing States, the paper offers strategies for offsetting the economic and environmental vulnerability of those States including schemes for managing fisheries and tourism and for making markets more accessible. Other strategies centre on making economic and environmental vulnerability indices operational, and on a global initiative to mobilize the resources to adapt for climate change and extreme weather events.

    Since most African countries remain marginalized and negatively impacted by globalization, the paper recommends urgent actions to make development sustainable there. Priorities include the establishment of mechanisms to immediately implement the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the provision of support for regional, subregional and national initiatives. Approaches to restructuring international aid are covered, as are measures to secure the access of African countries to technologies, to enhance their productivity and competitiveness, bridge the digital divide, increase agricultural productivity and expand public transport and other infrastructure.

    Finally, the paper presents strategies for implementing the numerous initiatives in all strategic areas of sustainable development. These call for urgent actions in the areas of finance, trade, technology transfer, science and education, capacity-building and information for decision making, including through statistical and geographic data. Notable initiatives include: the creation of a trust fund to help implement Agenda 21; special efforts for indebted and commodity-dependent countries, the promotion of partnerships for a global capacity-building initiative to be delivered through regional and subregional organizations and an elaboration of indicators for disaster reduction.

    In addition to the paper, the Committee has before it its provisional agenda (A/CONF.199/PC/1) and its proposed organization of work (A/CONF.199/PC/1/Add.1). It also has the Commission’s report on its second session (A/CONF.199/PC/2) and the Secretary-General’s report on progress in the international environmental governance process (A/CONF.199/PC/3).

    A note by the Secretary-General conveys a report on a meeting of national focal points (document A/CONF.199/PC/4) for improving national reporting to the Commission. Held on 12 and 13 February, the meeting concluded that national presentations should be reinstated as part of the plenary session of the Commission’s high-level segment. National success stories and challenges could be highlighted and success stories should focus on integrative approaches to sustainable development and on new partnerships for promoting it.

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