Press Releases

    4 September 2002


    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 1 September -- Some 25 initiatives seeking to make a difference in the areas of agriculture, forestry, marine diversity, clean air, energy efficiency, education, land reclamation and disaster reduction were presented on the last day of partnership announcements at the World Summit on Sustainable Development today.

    With almost 220 proposals already submitted to the Summit Secretariat, more than 60 such partnerships have been announced in Johannesburg since 29 August by governments, public and private institutions, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Referred to as "Type-twos" at the Summit, these initiatives represent a shift from paper commitments to joint action on the ground for the implementation of sustainable development goals. ["Type-I" partnerships represent relationships between governments, while Type-II initiatives involve the private sector and civil society participants.]

    A "Land Partnerships for National Development" project was presented by the Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty this morning. Based on the premise that secure access to land, technology, credit and markets is fundamental to overcoming poverty, the initiative seeks to create land alliances between state, civil-society, bilateral and international actors in order to increase agricultural productivity and income. Such partnerships would create a policy framework and programme guide for supporting country-level actions, empowering indigenous peoples, providing access to land and credit, and improving the standard of life for the poor. Representing a forum for negotiations and a mechanism for joint implementation, the proposal will promote stakeholder representation, good governance and transparent decision-making.

    Following an initial presentation of the project, the Philippines, followed by Indonesia, were the first countries to announce launching land partnerships this week. Participating in the initiative are such intergovernmental actors as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, World Food Programme (WFP) and the European Commission. Talks are also underway with several bilateral donors.

    "Australia will be continuing to promote sustainable development beyond Johannesburg, leading 12 voluntary partnerships and participating in six others," a representative of that country announced. Designed to have an impact on most parts of the world, particularly developing countries in the Asia Pacific, those partnerships include global and regional initiatives, involve more than 50 States and scores of international, national and global bodies. They address a variety of issues, including those of energy efficiency, air pollution, land management, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine biodiversity, illegal fishing, and HIV/AIDS.

    Introducing Australia's initiatives, a senior representative of the country's Ministry for the Environment and Heritage, said that they would "make a difference where it matters", going a long way towards combating poverty in the developing world. Of particular importance to the Asia Pacific region in general and small island developing States in particular, were the issues of coral reef and fisheries' preservation and high-seas biodiversity. Among the partnerships highlighted today was a joint project with the country's Pacific island neighbours to help them deal with the effects of climate change; and an initiative to be carried out together with the United States and Mexico to achieve major energy gains in developing countries. Numerous farmers are joining the South African-Australian landcare programmes. Also presented today were partnerships in the areas of migratory birds conservation; water and coastal management; ocean data assimilation and capacity-building in the Pacific region.

    Announcing three innovative "Challenge Programmes" was the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which comprises 16 research institutions, 43 developing and industrialized countries, three private foundations and 12 regional and international organizations. Focusing on the subjects of water and food, genetic diversity of crops and improving the nutritional value of crops, the Group's proposed approach seeks to mobilize science for the developmental needs of poor farming communities worldwide. Each programme is expected to last five to 10 years, bringing together the best scientific minds specializing in a wide range of scientific disciplines to solve the world's most pressing development problems, including food security.

    The "Water and Food -- More Crops per Drop" programme will have a budget of $15 million per year. The goal of this challenge is to reduce by half the amount of water needed to produce food through irrigated and rain-fed agriculture, livestock industry, fisheries and forestry by 2025. The "Unlocking Genetic Diversity for the Poor" challenge, which is directed at breeding more productive crop varieties, would have a budget of $50 million over the first five years. Requiring some $1.4 million a year for each of six major crops, including beans, cassava, maize, rice, sweet potato and wheat, the "Biofortified Crops for Improved Human Nutrition" project would increase by up to 80 per cent the mineral and vitamin content of the foods that the poorest people grow.

    "Partners needed to support the training of 5,000 primary school teachers in rural areas in Mozambique and Angola" -- an invitation to the presentations by Humana People to People read. This teacher-training programme currently includes 13 colleges, which are called Schools for the Teachers of the Future. Currently, only 50 per cent of children in Mozambique and Angola attend primary school, with only 46 per cent of them reaching grade five in Mozambique and 34 in Angola.

    According to UNESCO, the road to development inevitably goes through education for all. It is estimated that 5,000 graduated teachers will have a direct impact of the educational level of half a million children, and a further 2.5 million people in rural communities will benefit from the project, either directly or indirectly. The teachers will play a key role in communities, mobilizing families to face such development challenges as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and poor health. Governments of the two countries provide 50 per cent of the education costs for the project, and a wide range of international, private and civil society partners are also expected to contribute.

    Four initiatives were announced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). One of them relates to the elaboration of international energy indicators to assess progress towards sustainable energy use. Currently, no comprehensive set of indicators for sustainable energy exists. Since 1999, with participation of seven international organizations and eight countries, the IAEA has been involved in the development of a provisional set of indicators for sustainable energy development, which has been informally field tested in 15 countries.

    Another project submitted by the Agency seeks to promote renewable energy use and build individual country capacity through energy and power system analysis, demand projection, financial analysis; and study of environmental impacts of energy facilities. The programme also focuses on knowledge and methodology transfer and creation of sustainable energy use models. Using improved isotope test and prognosis techniques, the Agency is also involved in a partnership with several African countries, intergovernmental and regional organizations seeking to address the problem of harmful algal blooms, which have a negative impact on human health and economy.

    In an effort to improve sustainable use of water resources, the IAEA is also presenting a partnership with UNESCO, which focuses on the use of isotopic techniques to study the link between ground water and coastal zone management.

    A "BPD Water and Sanitation" initiative was announced by "Business Partners for Development" water cluster -- a network of more than 50 public, private, civil society and donor organizations. Operating on the premise that basic services can be delivered though multi-sector partnerships, the organization aims to improve access to safe water and effective sanitation through focus projects, study and sharing of lessons learned.

    So far, members of the BPD Water Cluster have been involved in eight multi-sector partnerships to provide water and sanitation for the poor in seven developing countries in Africa, Latin America, South-East Asia and the Caribbean. Moving from research and analysis of water and sanitation services towards more proactive efforts to develop and reinforce innovative partnerships, the project seeks to enhance international debate on the water and sanitation issues; build target groups' capacity; support projects in poor communities; and carry out analysis on issues relating to water and sanitation and poverty. The initiative advocates a community-based approach and a clear understanding of partners' needs and constraints.

    Also presented today was a strategic partnership for the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Central Asian Republics, which seeks to mobilize technical and financial resources to tackle the root causes of land degradation and desertification in the countries involved -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkimenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. With the participation of international agencies, financial institutions and private companies, the project intends to enhance coordination of the efforts of donors working in the subregion and strengthen collaboration between Central Asian Republics, which share the problem of water shortages and land salination. The proposal seeks to identify the needs and translate them into action, while also promoting research on the issues related to desertification and ensuring sustainable livelihoods within local communities

    El Salvador, together with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Secretariat, brought forward a subregional initiative for integrating early warning and disaster risk management into the sustainable development agenda and practice. The partnership intends to work with vulnerable communities in order to improve their awareness of the hazards to which they are exposed; strengthen information gathering and dissemination mechanisms; improve early warning systems; and promote research for prediction of extreme weather events.

    "Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions and ways of living" states a brochure distributed by the Earth Council, an international organization created to facilitate implementation of the 1992 Earth Summit agreements and which presented the Earth Charter Initiative this afternoon. "The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another, or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life". The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society, seeking to inspire in people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility. The document promotes environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development and peace as interdependent and indivisible conditions for the survival of humankind. The goals of the Initiative are to disseminate the Earth Charter, promote its educational use; and encourage its endorsement by civil society, businesses and governments, as well as the United Nations General Assembly in 2002.

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