Press Releases

    28 March 2002


    NEW YORK, 27 March (UN Headquarters) -- Sustainable management of land and water resources, involving local, national and international actors, was crucial for the future food security of the developing world, Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, Vice-President of Uganda, told the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development as it continued its third session this morning.

    During a brief plenary meeting between working groups, Ms. Kazibwe presented the recommendations of the Round table on Management of Water and Arable Land of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which she co-chaired. The round table, she said, discussed the continued degradation of land and water and its implications for food security, particularly in the developing world.

    There was consensus among the group, she said, that a comprehensive paradigm shift in the management of land and water resources was needed, which should take the form of integrated cross-sectoral approaches involving bilateral and multilateral agencies. Existing conventions, such as that on combating desertification, along with government and organizations at all levels, needed to be coordinated in the effort. Strong political leadership was also required, as were changes in budgetary policy and assistance mechanisms.

    She added that the critical factor of good governance, in this area, included decentralization of decision making. The active participation of local populations was of primary importance. Appropriate and affordable technologies for better uses of resources needed to be developed in conjunction with those populations, as did research approaches. Capacity building was therefore required, including training and access to information. Local groups also needed to be given incentives to use resources in a sustainable manner, with vulnerable groups a priority in that regard.

    To better engage the participation of those groups, she urged the Preparatory Committee to develop documents that were clear, understandable and practical. There would be a 10-year period between the Rio and Johannesburg summits on sustainable development. Concrete recommendations should be put forward towards the goal of land and water management that would allow poor people to see a change for the better in their lives over the next 10 years.

    Following her remarks, the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, Emil Salim of Indonesia, agreed with the need for clear documents, urging the PrepCom to produce a workable programme of action that avoided normative sentences in favour of concrete plans.

    The current session of the Preparatory Committee runs until 5 April. During the course of the session, the Committee was expected to agree on the text of a document that reviewed the implementation of Agenda 21. The Agenda is based on the fundamental principles of sustainable development laid down at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992.

    The final preparatory session for the Summit is scheduled for 27 May to 7 June in Bali, with the Summit itself planned for Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 August to 4 September. [For further background information, please see Press Release ENV/DEV/629 of 22 March 2002.]

    The Preparatory Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

    * *** *