Press Releases

    4 September 2002


    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 31 August -- As various partnership initiatives were announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this afternoon, representatives of individual governments, regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations pledged to take action on such priority issues as climate change, energy, health, and biodiversity.

    In a 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.

    During this third round of official partnership announcements, which will continue through Sunday, presentations were made by South Africa, Bahrain, Germany, Belgium, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature South Africa, the Global Lead Initiative, the International Institute for Sustainable Development Law, the International Institute for Sustainable Future and Global Futures Network, the Arab Civil Initiative for Waste Management, the Conservation Collaborative Labelling and Appliance Standards Program, and the European Space Agency in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    The "Johannesburg Climate Change Legacy, 2002" initiative, launched by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature South Africa and partners, seeks to reduce the environmental impact of international conferences, in particular the amount of carbon emissions generated. The partnership, which includes the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Constructing an Efficient and Renewable Future and the International Institute for Energy Conservation, aims to neutralize that impact with sustainable carbon-reducing projects focused on four themes: solar energy; biogas; biofuels; and overall energy efficiency.

    Keenly aware of the irony that the very staging of conferences related to sustainability has a negative impact the environment -- particularly for developing countries -- the Climate Change Legacy will use the Summit's ecological "footprint" as a first call for action. It is expected that the Summit will generate some 350,000 tons of carbon dioxide. The initiative will be funded first by individuals who purchase "Climate Legacy Certificates" of from $10-$150 -- corporations can purchase certificates from $1,000 to $100,000 -- to mitigate the carbon impact their presence had on South Africa.

    The "Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning", launched by the Global Lead Initiative, hopes the Summit provides the opportunity to expedite a global effort to phase out leaded gasoline and to eliminate other exposure sources through a partnership process with specific implementation milestones and targets. The Global Lead Initiative aims to convert existing international commitments on lead-poisoning prevention, as well as the relevant text included in the Summit's draft plan of implementation, into successful action.

    According to the Alliance's International Action Plan, around the world, human exposure to excessive amounts of lead imposes immense costs, with many millions of children and adults suffering adverse health effects and impaired intellectual development. And since neurological damage caused by even low levels of lead is often irreversible, the only solution to lead poison is to prevent it altogether. Believing that the elimination of leaded fuels opens the gateway to removing other harmful substances from the environment, the Alliance aims to phase out leaded gasoline in the context of a cleaner fuel strategy. It is currently seeking funds, as well as staff time or technical assistance, from governments, institutions and foundations.

    Stressing the fundamental role the Summit will play in developing partnerships that could assist South Africa in harnessing more of the world's resources towards a practical global action programme to help eradicate poverty, Essop Pahad, Minister in the Office of the President of South Africa, announced a series of partnership-driven initiatives. The "Centres of Excellence for Technological Innovation for Sustainability in Africa " intends to bring stakeholders from African governments and universities together with world-class expertise in technological innovation to develop and implement a plan of action for building such centres at African universities. That partnership is being promoted by the United Kingdom, Finland, South Africa and Nigeria. Also announced was a partnership with the European Union -- the "Africa/European Union Water Initiative" -- which aims to address, among other things, the Millennium Development Goal of halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without access to sanitation.

    A diverse group of legal partners, representing the International Institute for Sustainable Development Law, the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law and the International Law Association, launched the "International Sustainable Development Legal Partnership". The initiative focuses on implementing significant legal developments in the field of sustainable development. The main goal is to strengthen sustainable development governance at the international, regional and national levels, laying the foundation for policy implementation by facilitating access to, compliance with and enforcement of economic, social and environmental law. The project, which includes governments, law firms and universities, is expected to be completed by 2007.

    The International Institute for Sustainable Future and Global Futures Network, along with the EcoEarth Alliance -- a coalition of organizations that promote activities designed to provide a response to the rapid depletion of natural resources -- launched the "Sustainable Rural Development and Ecovillage Training Programme". The partnership will pioneer efforts to provide technology-training programmes in sustainable development, particularly rural development and advocacy work, and will promote other relevant, regionally based projects. Through several "Sustainable Village" programmes, the partners will implement small-scale solutions to global problems, leveraging renewable energy, appropriate technology and micro-enterprise ideas to improve quality of life, create jobs, increase productivity and protect the environment.

    The Arab Civil Initiative for Waste Management aims to initiate and support community-based projects in the field of waste management through providing expertise and support in the areas of project management, technology transfer, public awareness, information exchange, fund-raising and good practices. The partners involved are the Regional Office for West Asia of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment. The partnership expects to implement sound practices for civil society organizations in the field of waste management, raise public awareness, and involve women and youth in those activities as a major group.

    The Conservation Collaborative Labelling and Appliance Standards Program aims to promote the appropriate use of energy efficiency standards and labels for appliances, equipment and lighting. Partners include the International Institute for Energy, Alliance to Save Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as well as governments, industries, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, technical support groups and funders. The partnership supports research and dissemination of information, provides global tools and information packaged to identify all labelling and standards programmes going on around the world, and assists governments. It expected that through implementing standards and labelling, a savings of 5 per cent in energy use could be reached over 20 years.

    The European Space Agency and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced two initiatives to be implemented through their joint-initiative launched in 1998, "Integrated Global Observing Strategy" partnership. The programmes will focus on enhancing coordination on space information and earth observation systems, and also on satellite earth observation education and training. They will further the goals of the Observing Strategy partnership -- namely bringing together the major earth and space-based systems for global environmental observations of the atmosphere, oceans and land in a strategic planning process -- as well as address specific issues affecting everyday life, such as global warming. The Integrated Global Observing Strategy partnership's international partners include the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

    Representatives of Germany's Foreign Affairs Ministry, as well as German civil society experts on human resources development, announced a partnership with Mozambique on "Human Resources Development in Disaster Management", which aims to strengthen the coordination and management capacities of Mozambique's National Disaster Management Institute. The Institute was founded in 1999 and now has 11 provincial branches coordinating on disaster management and emergency relief operations throughout the country. The partnership will promote Mozambique's new policy in disaster management -- from response to prevention.

    Representatives of the Belgian Government were joined by representatives of the country's regional and Flemish local authorities to introduce a slate of domestic partnerships for sustainable development. The partnerships take into account basic principles identified by the stakeholders as essential for development, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, inter- and intra-generational equity in honouring the right to development, and good governance. The presenters highlighted a project initiated by the Centre for Environmental Health at the University of Brussels as a direct response to the health and science development objectives of Agenda 21. They also highlighted a pilot project initiated by the country's Trade Union Network for Environmental Awareness, which aims to raise awareness among workers in public hospitals.

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