Press Releases

    4 September 2002


    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 31 August -- Projects focusing on research, communications, sustainable agriculture, rural development and preservation of biodiversity were among the partnerships announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this morning.

    Thus far, the United Nations has received 218 submissions for such partnerships, which represent an innovative tool for moving from paper commitments to joint action on the ground. This morning, Canada; Argentina; Panama; City of Knowledge Foundation; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Stakeholder Forum of our Common Future; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and their partners presented their initiatives.

    The Government of Panama, together with the City of Knowledge Foundation, presented a proposal for the establishment of an international centre for sustainable development, which would involve more than 40 international, regional and local organizations and networks in the efforts to promote education, integrated research, development of information systems, and exchange of knowledge and expertise in the field of sustainable development. The centre would encourage multicultural international cooperation in studying, modeling and promoting integrated sustainable development management. Among the subjects to be addressed by the centre are preservation of watersheds, biodiversity, health, ecosystem management, ecological research and forest preservation. Managed by a private foundation, with participation of the Government, this academic institution would be situated on the territory of a former United States military base, which would be turned into a centre of knowledge and research.

    An international marketing communications initiative for sustainable development was presented as a joint project by one of the world's oldest advertising agencies -- J. Walter Thompson (JWT Canada) -- the Government of Canada and UNESCO. Designed to overcome "an enormous communications challenge", the project represents a collaborative effort to more effectively communicate basic ideas of sustainability to people around the globe. The founders of the partnership are assembling a global multi-stakeholder working group capable of creating innovative communications programmes to promote the principles of sustainability around the world, explaining complex interrelations between social and environmental challenges and economic growth. "This is unprecedented," a JWT Canada representative said. "Although sustainable development is discussed and debated widely in academic, scientific and policy circles, the idea is not yet understood by most people".

    A Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) initiative was announced by the FAO and its civil society partners. It is a multi-stakeholder umbrella framework designed to support people-centred action aimed at building the capacity of rural communities and disadvantaged groups, and improving access to resources, including genetic research, technology, land, water, markets and information.

    Linking resources, expertise, knowledge and technologies to the demands of rural communities, the initiative is expected to result in concrete and measurable improvements in the livelihoods and living conditions of the rural poor in the next five years. Some 55 organizations of farmers, indigenous peoples, workers and trade unions, women, youth, non-governmental organizations, the scientific society, business and industry, consumer and media groups, as well as governments and intergovernmental organizations have already voiced their interest in the project.

    Four development projects were also presented by Argentina. Among them are the programmes promoting public/private partnerships and local communities' involvement in the provision of urban water, sanitation and waste-management services; and multi-sectoral dialogue in formulating environmental and natural resources policies. Also announced today was an initiative seeking to strengthen corporate sponsorship for small and medium-scale companies in the application of international certification standards, as well as a national programme to promote environmentally responsible production and consumption patterns.

    Members of the Stakeholder Forum on our Common Future described a variety of sustainable development initiatives that had grown out of the conference on the implementation of existing development agreements. Held in parallel with the Summit in Johannesburg this week, the event had identified potential areas of collaboration, as well as participants in joint action in four broad areas of health; energy; freshwater action; and food security. Some 400 stakeholders from over 50 countries had been working in 25 working groups to finalize their action plans. The participants emphasized the importance of increased media participation, education, training and sharing of best practices.

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