Press Releases

    30 August 2002

    Partnership Initiatives Announced at Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg

    Aim at Priority Issues -- Water, Energy, Health, Agricultural Production, Biodiversity

    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 29 August -- As various partnership initiatives were announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg today, representatives of individual governments, regional organizations, agencies of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) pledged to take action on such priority issues as water, energy, health, agricultural production and biodiversity.

    In a sharp departure from traditional conference practice, these partnerships represent an innovative mechanism for moving from paper commitments to joint action on the ground by governments, business and civil society actors. Along with intergovernmental agreements, which are being negotiated at the Summit, they are designed to support the global goals of reducing poverty and environmental degradation within the framework of sustainable development.

    On the first day of official partnership announcements, which will continue through Sunday, presentations were made by the United States, the World Resources Institute, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the World Health Organization and their partners.

    Members of the United States delegation announced that their Government intended to embark on five major initiatives, which constituted key elements in the new approach to development that had been elaborated at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development last March.

    The "Initiative to Cut Hunger in Africa" will spur technology sharing with small-scale farmers, strengthen agricultural policy development, fund higher education and regional technology collaboration; and expand resources for local infrastructure. For this project, the United States will invest some $90 million in 2003, including $53 million to bring science and technology for African farmers and $37 million to unleash the power of markets for small-scale agriculture.

    The "Water for the Poor" Initiative will involve over $1.5 billion in investment to provide clear water and sanitation services to the people. The initiative will contribute to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration Goal of cutting in half by 2015 the proportion of people who lack safe drinking water.

    The "Clean Energy Initiative" will seek to provide millions of people with new access to energy services, increase efficiency of energy use and reduce readily preventable deaths and respiratory illnesses associated with air pollution. It will support clean fuels to improve health and the quality of life in the countries involved. Under this initiative, the United States proposes to invest up to $43 million in 2003 to leverage about $400 million other investments, including those from other governments, the private sector and development organizations.

    The "Congo Basin Forest Partnership" will promote economic development, alleviate poverty, improve governance and conserve natural resources in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo. The United States intends to invest up to $53 million over the next four years to support sustainable forest management and a network of national parks and protected areas. Those investments will be matched by contributions from international environmental organizations, host governments, the G-8 national, the European Union, NGOs and the private sector.

    Carried out in partnership with several international organizations, NGOs and civil society, the United States' health initiative aims to combat infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. United States' bilateral programmes and research will contribute to that effort. The Bush Administration had requested some $1.2 billion in 2003 to further the country's commitment to the fight against infectious diseases.

    Among other United States' initiatives announced today was a housing initiative for southern Africa, which, in partnership with local participants, aims to produce up to 90 million new homes for the poor.

    The United States and its partners introduced many other examples of partnerships this afternoon as examples of possible Type-2 projects in the area of information, housing and ocean preservation. Among those, was a "White Water to Blue Water" partnership, which will begin with a pilot programme in the wider Caribbean in 2003. The pilot has been designed to promote cross-sectoral management of watersheds and marine ecosystems. Similar projects will expand to Africa and the South Pacific in 2004 and 2005. Engaging business partners in such major global growth sectors as tourism, the partnership intends to promote best business and environment practices.

    The initiative announced by the World Resources Institute involves a Partnership on Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration, which articulated public information, participation in decision-making and access to justice as key principles of environmental governance. Agenda 21 provided further elaboration of those principles and acknowledged their essential role for sustainable development.

    Promoting practical solutions and joint efforts on behalf of governments, civil society, organizations, donors and other stakeholders, the Partnership is committed to translating those principles into action and to supporting transparent, equitable and accountable decision-making for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. It advocates improvement of legislative and institutional systems and promotes independent assessments of national performance in that respect. Among the partners that have already joined the Initiative are Chile, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Uganda, Thailand and the United Kingdom, as well as the World Bank and the European Commission.

    Global Village Energy Partnership, which will be formally launched on Saturday, was introduced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Presented as "a partnership of partnerships" by the brochure distributed in the room, the initiative will bring together governments, public and private organizations, multilateral institutions and consumers to ensure access to modern energy services to the poor. Its work will be carried out under a 10-year "implementation-based" programme, which intends to catalyse country commitments to village energy programmes and guide policies and investment in that area. The partnership will also serve as a marketplace for information and best practices as far as energy and poverty-related programmes are concerned.

    Operating on the premise that renewable energy, energy efficiency and expanded use of distributed energy options could meet the energy needs of the poor, the Global Village will be involved in preparation of action plans; capacity development; funding facilitation; knowledge management; project monitoring and evaluation. Numerous countries, private sector partners and international agencies have already expressed interest in the partnership. Activities are underway to formalize those commitments.

    "Africans pledge over R1 billion for Africa's development" was the title of a press release announcing the launch of an African Energy and Related Services Fund, which was also presented today. The Fund will seek to develop electricity interconnections between individual African countries and will be used for energy and related services investments. Among the parties involved in developing plans for this initiative were South Africa's electric utility, Escom, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Industrial Development Corporation. Several development finance institutions and private businesses had also expressed keen interest in the Fund. With the help of credible implementation partners, the establishment of the Fund and introduction of well-defined infrastructure projects will play a key role in realizing the objective of increasing the access of Africa's population to reliable and affordable commercial energy supply from 10 to 35 per cent in 20 years.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) presented a "Healthy Environment for Children: a Global Alliance of Children's Health and Environment" initiative. Focusing on such issues as the quality of water and air, sanitation, insect and animal disease carriers, chemical hazards and passive smoking, this partnership aims to mobilize global and local actors to address health dangers and risks in the places where children live, play and go to school. Its strategies will be based on research and scientific evidence. Action is required through many sectors, including those of health, environment, education, housing, agriculture, energy, water, local government and social protection. The WHO is proposing a global alliance to improve children's environment with full involvement of governments, international institutions, NGOs and local communities.

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