United Nations
Press Release

Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
Ministerial Level, Fourth Session, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May - 7 June 2002

Department of Public Information - News and Media Division



Preparatory Committee for the World                                                                                     ENV/DEV/B/19

 Summit on Sustainable Development                                                                                        7 June 2002

Fourth Session

10th Meeting (AM)








                A clear, forceful and comprehensive commitment to concrete action in implementing Agenda 21 was called for this morning by speakers in Bali, as the ministerial segment of the fourth and final Preparatory Committee for the upcoming World Summit for Sustainable Development began its interactive dialogue on elements for a political declaration to be issued by heads of State at that Summit.


                “No stone must be left unturned” in a comprehensive vision for sustainable development, the representative of Mauritius said.  But the function of the political document itself should be to bind States to the actions that would be spelled out in detail by the implementation plan.  For that purpose it must be short and to the point. 


He said the Rio Declaration, which launched Agenda 21, should not be overshadowed by the new document.  Instead, the declaration should reaffirm the Rio text, while also reflecting the new world economic order caused by globalization.


                The political declaration of the World Summit was described in General Assembly resolution 55/199, which calls for a concise and focused commitment to a global partnership to implement Agenda 21.  According to the Assembly, the document should also address the main challenges and opportunities faced by the international community in that regard, and it should reinvigorate, at the highest political level, commitment to a North-South partnership, with a higher level of integrated solidarity towards an accelerated implementation of sustainable goals.


                During the course of the fourth preparatory meeting thus far, the declaration was the subject of one plenary meeting and various informal discussions.  Initial inputs for the discussions included the outcomes of the second and third preparatory meetings, information provided by the Vice-Chairs from Egypt and Canada on relevant discussions, outcomes of the multi-stakeholder dialogue and input from the Secretary-General’s panel.


                This morning, the representative of the Philippines said that the General Assembly resolution described the political declaration clearly, and it should not be reworked unduly.  Heads of State could speak volumes of commitments, but it would not necessarily affect the lives of the poor. 


Instead, he said, a declaration should clearly support a concrete implementation plan that included a solidarity fund, time-bound targets, food security efforts, the end to trade-distorting subsidies, the engagement of civil society, an accounting of indigenous peoples and communities, and other means to accomplish Agenda 21 goals.  Through that document, everyone should be mobilized to create a sustainable future for all mankind.


Many speakers today stressed the need for the political declaration to provide an ethical basis for the actions to be called for in the implementation plan, following a statement by the representative of Romania, who said that there was too much negotiation on the issues at hand based on cost/benefit analysis. 

The Earth Charter, he said, set forward a set of ethical principles for sustainable development; those principles should be integrated into the document under discussion.  Sometimes, he said, it was necessary to look to the skies and to ethics. 


Statements were also made by the representatives of Cuba, Cyprus, Russian Federation, Thailand, Namibia, Kenya, Mozambique, Spain (for the European Union), Tunisia, China, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Finland, Uganda, Canada, Ukraine, Colombia, Bolivia, Bhutan, Lesotho, Sudan, Syria, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Cote d’Ivoire, Iraq, Barbados (for the Caribbean Community) and the Netherlands.


                The observer for Palestine also made a statement.


                Also taking the floor during the debate were representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).


                Emil Salim (Indonesia), Committee Chairman, made opening remarks.


                The ministerial segment of the fourth Preparatory Committee meeting will meet again at 3:00 p.m. today.




The fourth and final Preparatory Committee for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development this morning continued its ministerial segment, during which Ministers were expected to discuss the follow-up to the Bali implementation plan, partnership initiatives and elements for the political declaration to be adopted at the Johannesburg Summit.  The focus of this morning’s discussion was the political declaration to be adopted at the Johannesburg Summit.




EMIL SALIM (Indonesia), Preparatory Committee Chairman, said an informal meeting had been held prior to this morning’s session at which two options for the political document had been put forward.  The first option was for it to be “short, punchy and crisp”.  It must be understandable, action-oriented and linked to the implementation plan without repeating all the plan’s elements.  The second option was to have a longer document with an assessment of what had happened since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio.  It would incorporate lessons learned and list all issues in the implementation plan. 


An opening inspirational statement that would induce people to read it could be included, he said.  Reaffirmation of the Rio principles and renewed commitment to its outcome could be made.  Reference could be made to all the agreements since Rio.  A specific link to the implementation plan could be made, and priority issues could be included.


The representative of Mauritius said for the declaration to be forceful and credible, it must be short and succinct.  It must leave no stone unturned to implement Agenda 21.  The Rio Declaration should not be overshadowed by the new document.  Instead of “reinventing the wheel”, the declaration should reaffirm the Rio text.  Some new clauses should be included, to reflect the new world economic order caused by globalization.  It should, among other things, recognize the vulnerability of small island developing States (SIDS).


The representative of Cuba said the process needed a firm and effective political statement.  Clear, dynamic language was essential.  It should contain sufficient vision to remain in force until the world could look back over the sustainable development agenda as a whole.  All the commitments since Rio had been insufficient to prevent the ongoing deterioration of the economic and environmental situation around the planet, caused in large part by neo-liberal globalization. 


He stressed the importance of observing the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities for the developed and developing world.  The declaration should contain an explicit condemnation of the use of unilateral coercive measures, which ran counter to the United Nations Charter, and impeded sustainable development.


                The representative of Romania said that there was too much negotiation on the issues at hand based on cost/benefit analysis.  Sometimes it was necessary to look to the skies and to ethics.  The Earth Charter set forward a set of ethical principles for sustainable development; those principles should be integrated into the political declaration.


                The representative of Cyprus said that a global partnership was essential to achieve the still-elusive global good.  In the Mediterranean region, agreements had shown that consensus was possible in sustainable development.  Policies adopted needed to be flexible enough to accommodate improvements in health, water, trade liberalization, resource depletion, biological diversity and other areas.  The means were available; political will was required to develop an international ethic of mutuality.


                The representative of the Russian Federation said that genuine efforts for sustainable development were costly and required institutional investment, relief for foreign debt, global ecological services and other mechanisms.  Until those problems were resolved, sustainable development would not be a reality.  He expressed readiness to work on meeting all the necessary challenges.


                A representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted that a paradigm shift might be in order to achieve sustainable development.  The three-fold nature of sustainable development must be reinforced by the outcome of Johannesburg.  Clear priorities must be set in a careful and stakeholder-oriented way.  The overall strategy to achieve sustainable development needed careful preparation.  Implementing sustainable development on all levels could reflect a “dimensionality for all of us”. 


                A representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said the ILO was deeply concerned that it had not been possible to better reflect the social pillar of sustainable development in the draft implementation plan.  He stressed the importance of promoting health, education and employment.  The social dimension required attention at all levels, especially at the workplace level.  The ILO would like to see the promotion and protection of employment represented in the declaration.  In that regard, he highlighted the special importance of youth employment. 


                The representative of Thailand said all had believed that through the outcome of the Rio summit, sustainable development could be achieved.  That had not happened.  It was necessary to look to the future.  “We cannot afford to lose another 10 years”, she said.  A time frame for implementation of goals was key.  The declaration must contain some elements of definite time-bound targets.  “We must learn from our mistakes”, she said, calling for forward movement with unity of purpose.


                The representative of the Philippines said the General Assembly resolution described the political declaration clearly, and it should not be reworked unduly.  Heads of State could speak volumes of commitments, but it would not necessarily affect the lives of the poor.  An implementation plan that included a solidarity fund, time targets, food security efforts, an end to trade-distorting subsidies, the engagement of civil society, an accounting of indigenous peoples and communities, and the ethics of the World Charter would begin to accomplish that goal.  Everyone should be involved in creating a sustainable future for all mankind.


                The representative of Namibia said that humanity was at a crossroad to the future.  A commitment must be made to move in a direction that would ensure prosperity and the improvement of the lives of millions of people, particularly in developing countries.  The political declaration should be a firm basis for the full implementation of Agenda 21.  It should provide visionary guidelines.  But he reiterated a call for action, throughout the twenty-first century, to make the dream a reality, with poverty eradication the primary focus, and access to markets and other measures supporting that focus.


                The representative of Kenya said that mutual global partnership was essential in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.  The political declaration should support a concrete implementation plan with special attention to Africa and the kind of partnerships developed through the New Programme for African Development (NEPAD).  Poverty was an impediment to sustainable development; the Millennium Goal of halving poverty must be met, and additional resources must be provided to meet it.  The results of all other conferences since Rio must be built on as well.


The representative of Mozambique said it was necessary to reaffirm the principles of the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, including common but differentiated responsibilities.  The problem was not reworking those principles, but agreeing on means to carry them out.  He agreed on the Secretary-General’s five key areas of primary focus and said the political declaration should be a commitment to concrete action in those areas.  Provision of adequate official development assistance (ODA) was particularly important in those areas, but a participatory approach at all levels was a necessity.


                The representative Spain, for the European Union, said the declaration should contain an assessment element.  It should reaffirm Agenda 21 and other agreements for sustainable development.  The political foundations for sustainable development were peace and security, good governance, respect for human rights, among others.   Sustainable development should be confirmed as the overall goal for the international community. 


The three pillars of sustainable development should be integrated in a balanced way, he said.  There was a strong link between poverty and environmental degradation.  The role of women in promoting sustainable development must be emphasized and must permeate the whole outcome of the Summit.  Poverty eradication should also be highlighted in the declaration.  The new opportunities presented by globalization should be strengthened and the importance of changing patterns of consumption and production should be stressed.  The Union strongly supported development efforts under way in Africa, such as NEPAD.


The observer for Palestine said he hoped the final step of the meeting would be a great success.  He said his delegation had been unable to attend the proceedings because of the situation in Palestine.  Little had been done since Rio to eliminate the constraints to sustainable development.  An era of ethnic cleansing carried out by the occupying forces of Israel was being witnessed in Palestine.  Foreign occupation should be placed ahead of such issues as malnutrition in the political declaration.  The issue was of the highest importance.  He called for the help of the international community to help stop the violence against Palestinians.


The representative of Tunisia said there could not be sustainable development unless all forms of poverty, marginalization and exclusion were eliminated.  He noted the formation of a national solidarity fund, which had greatly helped in alleviating poverty in his country.  He called for an international solidarity fund to help the poor around the world. 


He attached great importance to the anti-desertification, climate change and biological diversity treaties.  He asked whether the current international trade and finance system was equitable.  The growing digital divide must be bridged and clean technologies must be transferred to the developing countries.  There could be sustainable development without peaceful settlement of disputes.  In that regard, he cited the case of Palestine.  Occupation or unilateral sanctions undermined sustainable development.  The declaration should reflect those ideas as clearly as possible.


                The representative of China said the political declaration should be a fresh point of departure in implementing Agenda 21.  It should be terse and clear, reiterating the basic principles of the Rio Conference.  Common but differentiated responsibilities were basic to those principles.  It should stress, in addition, its full concern over the inequitable distribution of the benefits of globalization.  Developed nations should take the lead in transfer of technology and assistance in capacity-building in the developing world, however all nations should formulate their own development policies.


                The representative of Indonesia said that poverty eradication, unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, good governance, foreign occupation and other priority areas should be priorities in the political declaration.  It supported Romania’s call for integration of the Earth Charter into the Declaration, in particular in the preamble of the document.  A change of attitude was called for; hence the use of the Earth Charter as an ethical base.


                The representative of the Dominican Republic said that the language of the declaration should be strong, clear, short and action-oriented.  For a model of that kind of format, similar documents that had already been created at the regional level could be seen as a model. 


                The representative of Chile said the declaration should be “short, easy to understand and inspiring”.  It should set out “what we want and how we’re going to achieve it”.  Emphasis should be placed on the need to eradicate poverty.  The need to be action-oriented must be clearly and strongly set out in the declaration.  Economic development must be worked on, and policies for sustainable development must be set out.  Sincere efforts must be made to refine and increase democracy.  Building capability for follow-up was also key.


                The representative of Mexico said the structure of the declaration should be divided into several main chapters.  Her country had made a huge effort to comply with Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration.  There must a renewed commitment with clear goals to fulfill those agreements.  Clear commitments for support to countries vulnerable to climate change should be made in the declaration.  She noted that a number of like-minded countries had adopted the Cancun Declaration, in which a common agenda for sustainable development and biological diversity had been set out. 


                The representative of Costa Rica said the eradication of poverty, environmental education and protecting water basins were among the elements that should be included in the declaration.  The time had come to move from talk to action and to improve institutions promoting sustainable development.  His country combated corruption, which it believed was “an evil that must be overthrown”.  He appealed for all to act together for the success of the Johannesburg Summit, with serious commitments to promote the various aspects of sustainable development. 


                The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that political commitment and will were of primary importance in achieving the goal of sustainable development.  Mutual respect and the avoidance of unilateralism were essential in that regard.  Financial assistance and transfer of technology to developing countries were other important elements in the implementation of Agenda 21.


                The representative of Finland supported the statement of Spain on behalf of the European Union.  The Declaration should express priorities as well as commitments and send new, future-oriented messages, with a respect for biological as well as cultural diversity.  Peace and security and human rights should be stressed as pre-requisites for sustainable development, along with women’s integrated decision-making at all levels.  The link must be broken between economic growth and environmental degradation -- developed countries must take the lead in that effort with technology transfer and changes in patterns of consumption and production.


                The representative of Uganda said the declaration should be short, concise and to the point, reiterating the Rio goals but with supporting timetables, means of implementation and additional resources required to reach those goals.  Importance should be placed on the areas emphasized by the Secretary-General, giving prominence to poverty eradication and access to markets by developing countries.  It should support environmental agreements that have already been reached.


                The representative of Canada said the declaration should be “high-level, brief and inspirational”.  It should endorse the plan of implementation but not be an executive summary of it.  It must assert the interdependence of humanity and should recommit governments to sustainable development.  None could underestimate the challenges, which could not be met alone.  The declaration should therefore promote partnerships and assert that sustainable development was “everybody’s business”.  Trade-offs between the three pillars of sustainable development were no longer acceptable -- balance was essential.


                The representative of Ukraine said his delegation supported, as a whole, the view of the Chairman on the declaration.  A critical assessment of progress over the past 10 years must be included, along with the main reasons for failure.  The declaration must reflect lessons learned.  It should clearly indicate the political willingness to establish a mechanism to effectively implement the outcome of Johannesburg. 


                The representative of Colombia said the declaration should be brief, clear and action-oriented, and it should discuss follow-up.  The principles of sustainable development must be reconfirmed.  It should make reference to the obstacles encountered and lessons learned -- that was extremely important.  A vision of sustainability must be affirmed, while bearing in mind cultural and biological diversity.  Reference should be made to the plan of implementation and follow-up mechanisms.


                The representative of the Commonwealth of Independent States said the declaration must describe the technologies that would be used to implement the commitments, to avoid implementation problems that had beset Agenda 21 during the past 10 years.  Knowledge was often available at a great lag, but it could be a tool to fight problems that were growing rapidly.  The role of ongoing education for sustainable development was underestimated.  Quality education, universally provided, must be a priority, and the latest technologies must be made available globally.


                The representative of Bolivia said that the declaration should be short but very specific and reflect strong political will, with an emphasis on poverty reduction.  Poverty should be fought with a variety of economic measures, such as the opening of markets and access to new technologies.  Countries that were combating drug trafficking must be supported in those efforts, as those activities had adverse moral and economic effects.


                The representative of Bhutan said the Declaration should be short and precise and support Agenda 21.  The vulnerable situation of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) must, in addition receive priority attention.


                The representative of Lesotho said political declarations were the most important element of any summit.  The current statement should contain a commitment to a specific timetable for the implementation of Agenda 21.  It should promote protection of fragile ecosystems and support combating disease.  It must commit to strengthening the international financial architecture.  Peace and democracy were indispensable for sustainable development -- that should be reflected in the document.


                The representative of the Sudan said the declaration should stress the need to implement the plan of implementation, above all in developing countries.  A spirit of peace should be developed -- war should be ended, and foreign occupation should be ended.  In that regard, he cited the situation in Palestine and other areas of the Middle East.  Civilians must be protected during occupation.  The political declaration should touch upon the fundamental cause of the refugee problem.  It should also reflect the principle that partnerships should be fair without strings attached.


                The representative of Syria said the declaration should include clear, unambiguous text on the need to end foreign occupation in conformity with international law.  In that context, he cited the situation in the Middle East.  An end must be put to any form of siege or bilateral measures.  Efforts for disarmament must be undertaken to ensure a safe world.  The digital divide between the North and the South must be bridged and trade barriers facing developing countries should be taken down. 


                The representative of Gabon said that for Bali to make a difference in the future of the planet, the political declaration must be clear, take stock of Agenda 21 and the Millennium Declaration, and include priorities such as poverty eradication and equitable treatment of all countries.  Conflict prevention, technology transfer and other elements that made that possible should all be taken into account.


                The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina stressed the importance of reaching consensus on commitments for the Johannesburg Summit.  However, he warned of interest-driven interpretations of the commitments made and activities that would defy the goals and actions set forth in any agreement.  He called for measures that would anticipate and counter such activity.


                The representative of Nepal, supporting the statement of Spain on behalf of the European Union, agreed with the need for a clear document with targeted goals in a range of areas.  He emphasized taking into account the problems of mountain countries, as well as countries which had been marginalized in various ways.

                The representative of Cote d’Ivoire stressed the need to move from promises to implementation.  An enabling environment at the national and international levels must be established.  He stressed the importance of regional and subregional mechanisms.  Resources for the developing countries should be increased by replenishing the Global Environment Facility (GEF).  He also called for concrete measures to apply the anti-desertification convention.  Human rights and democracy should be respected.  Further impetus should be given to international cooperation.


                The representative of Iraq said the declaration should call for an end to the Palestinian occupation, and he stressed the need to put an end to sanctions.  The Middle East should be made a nuclear weapons-free area.  Developing countries must be able to have access to sophisticated technology to help with sustainable development. 


                A representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said AIDS affected all three pillars of sustainable development.  She stressed the need for early action to slow or halt the spread of the disease.  The declaration should draw attention to the declaration of commitment adopted at the landmark United Nations General Assembly session on AIDS.  Action was needed on many fronts to combat the disease.


                The representative of Barbados said the declaration should reaffirm the Rio Principles, along with regional and international agreements that had been reached in past years.  Language that recognized the vulnerability of SIDS should be included.  She mentioned other important elements such as the inclusion of all stakeholders, a linkage to a concrete implementation plan, and an emphasis on the primary responsibility of governments in sustainable development.


                The representative of the Netherlands gave a report on the ministerial roundtable discussion on Agriculture for Food Security that was held yesterday.  He noted that a number of proposals had been put forward for the political declaration and the plan of implementation.






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