Department of Public Information - News and Media Division
Preparatory Committee for the World ENV/DEV/B/16
Summit on Sustainable Development 5 June 2002
7th Meeting (PM)
The need to move from ideals to actions to achieve sustainable development was stressed by speakers this afternoon in Bali as the ministerial segment of the fourth and final Preparatory Committee for the upcoming World Summit for Sustainable Development continued its interactive dialogue.
During the debate, which was focused on the theme “preparing for implementation”, speakers emphasized the importance of producing a strong, action-oriented outcome to the Summit that would promote implementation of and build on commitments made for sustainable development. Lack of funding to implement Agenda 21 -- the plan of action adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio -- access to safe water and health services and measures to ensure more favourable trade conditions for developing countries were among the issues highlighted over the course of the meeting.
The representative of Brazil said poverty stemmed from a world order that accentuated regional imbalances. Without an effective overhaul of the subsidies policies of wealthy countries, among other measures, combating poverty would remain an “empty letter” and solutions proposed would be limited in scope. A balanced agenda was needed in which all problems and concerns relating to sustainable development could be reflected. The time for good intentions and proposals was gone -- clear goals must be set in the fields of basic education, health and sanitation.
It was not enough to commit to implementation of existing agreements -- there must be forward movement, the representative of Finland stressed. Reduction of poverty and changing patterns of production and consumption were key. His Government was firmly committed to implementing the agenda agreed on at the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha and was also committed to increasing its level of official development assistance (ODA). The outcome of the Summit must be action-oriented, he stressed.
Uganda’s representative noted that lack of funding had played a role in impeding implementation of Agenda 21. In that regard, he cited the lack of resources to support the Convention to Combat Desertification -- one of the most important treaties for Africa. He called on the international community to support the New Programme for African Development (NEPAD) and to take action to address the problems facing least developed countries (LDCs).
The representative of the United States said sustainable development began at home. National action with international assistance was crucial -- through good governance, and investment in education and health care, along with sound market and monetary policies. No plan of action, by itself, would accomplish any of those goals. Partnerships at all levels were the best means for concrete improvements in social and economic conditions.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Bhutan, Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Iceland, Samoa, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Sweden, Malaysia, Cote d’Ivoire, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan (for the Central Asian countries), Czech Republic, Iraq, Morocco, Iran, Mauritius, Niger, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Andorra, Algeria, Cuba, Portugal, Armenia and Kenya.
Representatives of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and also spoke.
The ministerial segment is scheduled to meet again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to continue its deliberations.
The representative of Bhutan said that capacity building in human and institutional resources was key for sustainable development. Without assistance in those areas, small countries had difficulties in meeting commitments. Sixty-two per cent of his country, for example, was now protected forest area, and that was important but difficult to maintain. In addition, he said that mountain ecosystems, being particularly vulnerable, should be specifically referenced in the political declaration, and strong support should be given to the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The representative of Nigeria said that much of the know-how and will to deal with problems in sustainable development was now present. Now was the time, therefore, to move with deliberate speed to set concrete goals and actions and implement them. It was particularly crucial for Africa, where many economic factors hindered the implementation of Agenda 21. Among priorities should be desertification, health, water sanitation, and protection of coastal and marine environments. Many countries in Africa were doing their best with these problems and needed international support to advance further.
The representative of Romania said a strong monitoring system, for the next decade, was necessary to ensure follow-through on sustainable development commitments. Regional centres for that purpose could be useful. In the short and medium term, it was necessary to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); in the long-term, an international institution might be set up to concentrate on these problems.
The representative of Uganda said despite the many conferences held and the adoption of Agenda 21, environmental degradation continued. The United Nations General Assembly had taken steps to ensure that agreements were fulfilled, among them the creation of the global ministerial environment forum. Action now was required. Lack of funding also impeded implementation of Agenda 21. In that regard, he cited the lack of resources for the Convention to Combat Desertification -- one of the most important treaties for Africa. Climate change was a “nightmare” for Africa.
Poverty and hunger could not be eliminated if droughts and floods occurred season after season, he said, calling for commitments by the international community in that regard. He also called on the international community to support the New Programme for African Development (NEPAD) and to take action to address the problems facing least developed countries (LDCs).
The representative of Brazil said poverty stemmed from a world order that accentuated regional imbalances. Without an effective overhaul of the subsidies policies of wealthy countries, among other measures, combating poverty would remain an “empty letter”, and solutions proposed would be limited in scope. Brazil had confronted the problem within its own borders, he noted. He gave his Government’s firm support for NEPAD.
A balanced agenda was needed in which all problems and concerns relating to sustainable development could be reflected, he said. The opportunity provided by this meeting was not maximized, as there were attempts being made to renegotiate commitments made in Rio in 1992. The time for good intentions and proposals was gone -- clear goals must be set in the fields of basic education, health and sanitation.
The representative of the United Kingdom stressed the need to build on the agreements already reached in the area of sustainable development. How to take forward the Doha development agenda and the Kyoto agreement must be addressed. The huge impact of trading relationships far outweighed direct aid programmes. It was important to get the balance right.
The overall approach to sustainable development was what must be dealt with in Bali, she said. Many had pointed out that there had been many fine words in the past -- what was needed now was concrete action. Targeted action with timetables for implementation was needed. There must be targets for sanitation and for renewable energy. She stressed the importance of focusing on the implementation plan.
The representative of Iceland said women’s issues were central to sustainable development, particularly the education of women and girls and the strengthening of their decision-making capabilities. In addition, marine resources were especially important in the fight against poverty. Oceans had not yet been given the priority they deserved, partly because knowledge of them was poor -- a comprehensive assessment was needed. Her country was strongly behind the Kyoto Protocol and committed to renewable energy and cleaner fuels. A strong signal on renewable energy must be sent in Johannesburg.
The representative of Samoa said there must be no retreat from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). What should be done was clear -- the commitments and resources needed to be provided. The Global environment in many cases was worsening. Small island States were particularly vulnerable and were unable to respond to the dangers of climate change. Effective action must be taken. The Kyoto Protocol must be brought into force, and assistance in adaptation must be provided for small island nations that had contributed so little to the problem. In addition, the GEF should be supported as an effective tool to tackle many such problems at the regional level.
The representative of the United States said that all further work must be toward concrete action to make a difference in people’s lives. Her country would work hard for a consensus outcome on development goals, including those of the Millennium Declaration, such as halving by 2015 the percentage of those without access to clean water and with incomes less than a dollar a day.
National action with international assistance was key, she said. Sustainable development began at home, through good governance and investments in education, health care, and sound market and monetary policies. No plan of action would accomplish any of those goals. Partnerships at all levels were the best means for concrete improvements in social and economic conditions, and the United States was actively pursuing them. Future generations were owed nothing less.
A representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) said much more had been agreed than was being implemented. The credibility of the Summit would depend on whether or not there was added value to the commitments already made. It would be difficult to attract the interest of civil society for an agenda that was aspirational but offered little of credible added value. The recognition of the fundamental indicators on sustainable development that had brought governments together continued to point downwards -- the Summit must address that phenomenon. The Summit must also address the discomfort with the current pattern of globalization. Answers must be given by the Summit to citizens and major groups as to why progress was very difficult. It was clear that a political declaration in itself would not be enough -- credible actions were essential.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also stressed the need for an action-oriented outcome to the Summit. An appraisal of what was hindering sustainable development must be undertaken. Poverty must be addressed, as should destruction of the environment. To implement Agenda 21, realistic solutions should be sought out. All countries should display the necessary political will to promote sustainable development and conditions must be created for sustainable development in the developing countries. Positive steps aimed at eradicating poverty, such as cancellation of foreign debt and implementation of official development assistance (ODA) commitments must be undertaken. He also called for the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equity in trade.
The representative of Finland said it was not enough to commit to implementation of existing agreements --- there must be forward movement. Reduction of poverty and changing patterns of production and consumption were key. His Government was firmly committed to implementing the Doha agenda and was committed to increasing ODA. Globalization could support poverty reduction. Finland had proposed a 10-year work programme to break the link between economic growth and environmental degradation. That meant producing more with less resources and energy. The outcome of the Summit must be action-oriented, and the role of women in promoting sustainable development could not be overemphasized. The question of indigenous peoples was also key.
The representative of Sweden said the thought of 30,000 children dying from water-born diseases could be a basis for the ethics of sustainable development, as well as a spur to the action that was crucial. Unfortunately, all implementation measures, in the plan were still under negotiation. Concrete proof of commitment had to be shown and comprehensive action systems had to be developed.
The single most effective thing that could be done would be to reduce subsidies for unsustainable economic activities. It was known with certainty that fossil fuel consumption had to be cut -- alternatives must be promoted. Pressure on resources had to be relieved while the welfare of people was increased. International accountability must be developed along with a belief in the future. Quoting Bruce Springsteen, he said, “No retreat, baby, no surrender”.
The representative of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said his organization was working to identify market-based instruments that could overcome obstacles in the implementation of sustainable development, along with harmful subsidies that needed to be removed for those purposes. It also provided a forum to share best practices between member countries and develop a framework for peer review processes. The OECD was also deepening its cooperation with non-OECD countries in the pursuit of sustainable development.
The representative of Malaysia said that recent instabilities in regional economies had been particularly dangerous for sustainable development. International policies to prevent such instability needed to be put into place. In addition, programmes to combat poverty must be coordinated with programmes to protect the environment.
The representative of Cote d’Ivoire said that the efficacy of structures for poverty reduction and a more equitable distribution of wealth along with North-South cooperation on a range of issues were essential. His country agreed that a concrete programme of action was needed, but it must be based on consensus.
The representative of Bangladesh said the eradication of poverty and hunger and the promotion of livelihoods were central to sustainable development. Promotion of sustainable agriculture and rural development was key. Sustainable development could not be achieved without changes in the way industrial societies produced and consumed. Urgent action must be taken to adopt policies in such societies to change those patterns.
Water was central to life in his country and needed appropriate planning and management. Sustainable development would remain a dream if water-related problems were not addressed. The unique ecosystem of the region’s wetlands was under threat, and steps were being taken to address the problem. He urged the world community to help those countries under threat from climate change and also stressed the need to ensure that developing countries were not marginalized by globalization.
The representative of Uzbekistan, for the countries of Central Asia, said those countries had been actively involved in preparing for the Summit. Plans of action had been undertaken by the countries in the area of sustainable development. He reaffirmed their commitment to Agenda 21. The establishment of favourable international conditions for development and the implementation of commitments undertaken by developed countries was key. In that regard, he noted the decline in ODA since UNCED in Rio. Mechanisms had not been perfectly elaborated for the transfer of technology. His country had in recent years felt the importance of addressing environmental problems -- in that regard, he cited the disaster afflicting the Aral Sea.
The representative of the Czech Republic said effective and sound implementation was the only way to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action. Democracy, social stability and economic prosperity were important elements for achieving sustainable development. All countries should take steps to reduce their reliance on foreign assistance. Strong enforcement and good governance remained challenges and urgent work on overcoming obstacles to sustainable development was needed. Precautionary principles should be applied to protect the environment. “We are not in a position to wait -- we must go ahead now”, he said. He underlined the great importance of education and science.
The representative of Iraq said that foreign occupation and international sanctions were a major challenge to sustainable development, as witnessed by the situations in the Middle East and Iraq respectively. Nations must be freed from such constraints, and influential powers must be stopped from imposing their will in that regard.
The representative of Morocco supported the proposals of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China on ways to achieve decent living conditions and preserve the environment. Multilateralism, along with an action programme that combined words and deeds, was a sound approach that would ensure success. The Ministerial Declaration of the Seventh Session of the States Parties to the Convention on Climate Change held in Marrakech integrated approaches on climate change with those on sustainable development. Both required international cooperation at all levels and genuine political will. He urged countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and institute strict rules to limit greenhouse gasses, and he stressed the importance of partnerships in all areas.
The representative of Iran supported the positions of the Group of 77, underlining urgency for action. Implementation of the Rio Declaration should be improved but it should not be renegotiated. The access of poor communities to affordable energy was essential. In all areas, a consensus commitment to overcome obstacles was needed. In that regard, the importance of financial contributions and technological transfer should not be overlooked -- there must be an equitable approach to globalization.
In other areas, Type 2 commitments should not weaken type 1 partnerships, and good governance should be extended to the international level, with a multilateral approach as opposed to the exertion of unilateral influence. She stressed the importance of dialogue among civilizations in the Political Declaration of the Johannesburg Summit.
The representative of Mauritius said the outcome of the Summit should be action-oriented and time-bound. Despite progress made in negotiations on the implementation plan, the situation remained locked with regard to the most fundamental issues related to sustainable development. Negotiating partners did not want to hear about new and additional financing or the transfer of technology -- the balance was tilting towards the developed countries. There must be a full commitment to provide the means of implementation of Agenda 21. The plan of implementation should rest on firm political will and commitment. The GEF should be declared the financial mechanism for the anti-desertification treaty, which was of fundamental importance for Africa. The debt of the heavily indebted poor countries should be cancelled. Globalization should be made to work for developing countries, he stressed.
The representative of Niger said food security in Africa had deteriorated to a critical threshold --
200 million were now undernourished. As could be observed, the geography of poverty often coincided with areas afflicted by desertification and soil degradation. He also underlined the importance of the GEF in that regard. He welcomed the excellent relations between his Government and the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in particular. Africans were glad to see the support being extended for NEPAD.
The representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that in the past few days negotiations had been undertaken on the Bali commitments -- however, there were still more paragraphs in bold than those agreed. Many delegations had noticed that “we should continue and upgrade on” recent conferences, such as the trade summit held in Doha. There must be a way found to adopt a document that would have the development agenda as its main focus. It must have a realistic timetable for accomplishment of the main goals, such as poverty eradication and global economic development. Debt relief for countries in transition and those affected by conflict was very important. Private investment and foreign direct investment should be used efficiently -- to that end, good governance at the national and international levels was key. He urged governments to come to an agreement before the end of the meeting.
The representative of Andorra said her country wished to join the sustainable development process and the global movement for the environment. Sustainable development lay at the centre of the debate. It was a complex subject. The negotiations on the implementation document had demonstrated that. She stressed the importance of not moving backwards on commitments already undertaken. She supported establishing specific targets and was grateful for the reference made in the text to mountainous regions.
The representative of Algeria said that means must be provided to implement commitments, and sustainable development must be the heart of any actions of the international community. Algeria had instituted a national plan for sustainable development with considerable funds allocated. He invited the international community to support such efforts and called for strengthening the governing council of UNEP, along with other follow-up mechanisms, and more focus on Africa. Equity and sustainability were the principles that should underlie the Johannesburg summit, where negotiated solutions among responsible parties must be found.
The representative of Cuba gave his full support to the statement of Venezuela on behalf of the
Group of 77. He said that it must be ensured that results were forthcoming on sustainable development. Among crucial action, in that regard, was raising the level of ODA, debt reduction, technical and financial assistance, sharing of clean technologies and assistance in capacity-building. Cuba was participating in South-South assistance according to its abilities. He also advocated an assured, adequate use of the GEF, and said the Johannesburg Summit must have its own outcomes and not just repeat the aims of other conferences that had not yet been implemented. Developed countries must contribute serious efforts in that implementation.
The representative of Portugal supported the position of Spain on behalf of the European Union. He said his country had developed a realistic policy on sustainable development. Similarly, the World Summit must take on a realizable approach. In addition, he said that Africa must be integrated into the world economy, and he welcomed partnerships in that regard that incorporated current efforts of African nations. Integrated management of river basins was essential, and he urged countries to ratify agreements on non-navigational uses of bodies of water. Integrated management of oceans and coastal areas was also crucial for both development and environmental protection and could be the subject of many levels of partnership.
The representative of Armenia said it appeared that the agreements reached in Bali would create a solid basis for the Summit. The outcome document should therefore clearly reflect the key elements of equal partnerships between the private sector, governments and civil society. The text should constitute a basis for States to elaborate national programmes for sustainable development. In a globalizing world, a common effort to achieve sustainable development must be undertaken. The time had come for concrete action.
The representative of Kenya said the Summit would invigorate the commitment of the international community to achieving sustainable development and would lead to a new vision based on a concrete plan of action. Despite domestic and international actions, the implementation process had been constrained by old and emerging issues. Developing countries were facing many challenges, including poverty-- deliberate corrective and positive measures must be taken in the Summit’s plan of implementation. He also noted issues related to health, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Funds were needed to combat such epidemics. He therefore called for increased financial commitments. Inadequate access to energy services and the need to provide adequate resources to improve agriculture must also be addressed. Efforts must be made to deal with the burden of debt on developing countries.
The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said that her organization had held many debates on issues of sustainable development and had encouraged parliaments to become closely involved in issues related to the World Summit, particularly on how efforts on sustainable development could be handled throughout national governments. In the view of her organization, more pro-active policy measures should be included in the implementation plan, which currently relied too much on voluntary and market-based actions, as opposed to needed regulation.