Department of Public Information - News and Media Division
Preparatory Committee for the World ENV/DEV/B/20
Summit on Sustainable Development 7 June 2002
11th Meeting (PM)
MEETING CONCLUDES MINISTERIAL DISCUSSION
The three-day ministerial segment of the fourth Preparatory Committee for the upcoming World Summit for Sustainable Development ended this afternoon, as speakers concluded their discussion on the elements for a political declaration to be adopted by heads of State at the Summit, which will open this August in Johannesburg.
During the debate, the importance of promoting respect for human rights at all levels in the document was among the many issues stressed. Belgium’s representative said the starting point for sustainable development, ethically speaking, was respect for human rights at all levels. The Johannesburg declaration should acknowledge the right to development and the right for all to live in an appropriate, healthy environment.
A representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the declaration should state both what should be done and why it should be done. In that context, he emphasized the importance of children getting the best possible start in life. No activity was more important than investment in children, who represented the world’s future. Explicit reference should be made in the declaration to the outcome document of the recent General Assembly Special Session on Children.
As they did this morning, many representatives asserted that the document should be clear, concise and action-oriented. Botswana’s representative said she agreed with the Committee Chairman’s statement this morning that the document should be “crisp and punchy”. The Summit should emerge with a strong political message promoting the implementation of Agenda 21. The deteriorating state of the environment and increasing poverty must also be highlighted, as should the importance of inclusiveness and partnership with all stakeholders.
Rwanda’s representative said the text should mention the goals that had not been met since Rio and ensure that the same errors weren’t repeated. Education for all and access to up to date information must be promoted, as should combating disease, erosion, desertification and natural disasters. Moral and ethnical principles should underlie international relations. Mutual respect, partnership and cooperation must be supported.
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.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Honduras, Jamaica, Norway, Greece, Libya, El Salvador, Zimbabwe, Panama, United States, Kuwait, Australia, Japan, Egypt, Nauru, Nicaragua, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria, Peru and Armenia.
The observer for Switzerland made a statement.
Representatives of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also spoke.
The Preparatory Committee is scheduled to meet again tonight at 8 p.m. to conclude its work for the session.
The fourth and final Preparatory Committee for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development this afternoon continued its ministerial segment. The afternoon’s discussion was expected to focus on elements of the political declaration to be adopted at the Johannesburg Summit.
The representative of Honduras said he agreed with all those who had spoken of ethical instruments that could be used as a basis for action for sustainable development. He advocated wording that would express the personal commitment of every individual on earth to work for sustainable development.
The representative of Jamaica supported the statement by Barbados. She said it was clear that there were still differences that had not been reconciled at the preparatory committee, but the declaration should be concise and understandable by the majority of people so they could advocate for it. It should include, among other elements, an acknowledgement of deteriorating conditions and previous international conferences, and specific references to HIV/AIDs, small island issues, Type 2 Initiatives and a vision for the future.
The representative of Norway said that, to bring action forward on sustainable development, firm deliverables should be reflected in the political declaration. There should also be quantum leaps in commitments for assistance, and important decisions should be included. It should also include due care for life, liberty, and the welfare of future generations.
Strategic investments in the five areas underlined by the Secretary-General would bring great dividends, she continued. The declaration should be divided into four sections, including overall goals, actions, follow-up and monitoring. At minimum, it should answer questions concerning international action relating to the future faced by the poorest children of the world.
The representative of Belgium said the pillars of sustainable development were complementary and should be pursued in a mutually reinforcing manner. Sustainable development involved the entire international community. Efforts must be made to change, among other things, unsustainable patterns of consumption. Globalization should be viewed from an ethical perspective. Standards for the three pillars -- social, economic and environmental -- should be adopted.
The starting point for sustainable development, ethically speaking, was respect for human rights at all levels, he said. The Johannesburg declaration should acknowledge the right to development and the right for all to live in an appropriate, healthy environment. Sustainable development could not grow unless there were shared ethical values. The need to control poverty and social exclusion must be addressed at Johannesburg. Democracy and good governance at all levels were key.
The representative of Greece said a clear political message promoting sustainable development must be sent to Johannesburg. It must be concise and structured around the key issues. The link between goals and actions must be set out. Unsustainable consumption and production patterns must be reduced, and globalization must be made to work for sustainable development. The declaration should stress the need to integrate the environmental dimension into all policy decisions. It should also stress the importance of the means of implementation, including innovative financial mechanisms.
The representative of Botswana agreed with the Committee Chairman’s statement this morning that the document should be “crisp and punchy”. The Summit should emerge with a strong political message promoting implementation of Agenda 21. The deteriorating state of the environment and increasing poverty must be highlighted. Previous multilateral processes should be taken into account. The elements of inclusiveness and partnership with all stakeholders must be highlighted. The document should be couched in language that would be attractive to the world media, so that they would pass it on to people in “our respective countries.”
The representative of Libya said the declaration should be short, clear and concise. It should reaffirm the principles of Agenda 21, as well as the goals of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). It also should include the goals of international commitments such as the Millennium Declaration. Poverty reduction and other priorities should be pursued within specific timetables.
Other important issues that should be addressed, he said, were desertification and the water supply, as well as the deterioration of other resources. Official development assistance (ODA) and transfer of technology should be taken into account. The document should also address colonialism and its consequences, as well as the unequal distribution of the benefits of globalization and the special problems of Africa.
The observer from Switzerland said the declaration was a crucial means to strengthen common goals and communicate those goals to the world public. Consensus was the most precious resource, and was important to reaffirm cooperation. The different situation of various countries might require different approaches to sustainable development, but good governance was universally crucial. The improvement of international cooperation should go well beyond Johannesburg. The Declaration should build on previous consensus and include a determination to overcome past obstacles. It should also address problems not yet in Agenda 21, such as bridging the digital divide, as well as other overarching, substantive issues.
The representative of El Salvador said the declaration should stress common but differentiated responsibilities and support the goals of the Millennium Declaration. It should also address such issues as access to markets, natural disaster mitigation and climate change. It should reference all relevant international agreements of recent years, including those on population issues, which are extremely relevant to sustainable development.
A representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the text should be concise and motivate all stakeholders to commit to sustainable development. It should be a firm commitment to action and provide a framework for accountability by those participating at Johannesburg. The declaration should state both what should be done and why it should be done. It should clearly say that “children are the future of the world” and that they would be the primary future actors in the world.
He stressed the importance of children getting the best possible start in life. No activity was more important than investment in children. Explicit reference should be made to the outcome of the recent Special Session of the General Assembly on Children.
A representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said the declaration would be an important element in securing political will and the necessary commitment to achieve sustainable development. He welcomed the reaffirmation of the Rio principles and the outcome of recent United Nations conferences. Population, reproductive health and women’s empowerment were crucial dimensions of sustainable development, he stressed.
The representative of Zimbabwe said the common platform of agreements already in place should be one of the anchors of the document. The text should also be clear in stating that quality of life for many had deteriorated since Rio. That statement should be followed up by a clear elaboration of measures to be taken. Issues such as health, poor sanitation, access to water and desertification should be accorded as much priority as issues of biodiversity and climate change.
He stressed the importance of upholding the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. He noted that the State had a role to play in bringing about equity in land ownership, which was related to poverty reduction and ownership of resources by local people. The role of countries was key to sustainable development in poor States such as his and should not be undermined by international cooperation.
The representative of Panama joined others in a call for a clear, specific declaration that would spell out the responsibilities incumbent on each country. Education, information flow, and transfer of technology for sustainable development were essential elements. The declaration should also recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and refer to a common ethical framework such as the Earth Charter.
The representative of the United States recalled commitments recently made at Doha and said cooperation was required to reach those goals. The declaration should contain a clear, concise and focused message of hope. Each country bore primary responsibility for achieving sustainable development, while cooperation among countries and between sectors must be promoted. Barriers to trade should be reduced and globalization should benefit all. He described the vision of a world in which humankind would be trustees of the world resources and which was free from hunger, poverty, disease and despair.
The representative of Kuwait said that many problems of the world, including occupation, bore upon sustainable development. The Earth Charter, the Rio Declaration and other relevant international agreements must be implemented. He hoped the Declaration would be very specific on a range of problems related to sustainable development. It should also include a direct link to methods of implementation.
The representative of Australia said the declaration should send a message of commitment to sustainable development. A course for the future should be charted. It must set out how to move from commitment to action. The text should therefore focus on priority areas and reflect the shared responsibility of all. It should not summarize or repeat the programme of action -- it should pitch its message in general terms and at the highest political level.
The declaration should express leaders’ commitment to sustainable management of the oceans. How financial resources would be mobilized to promote sustainable development should also be noted. The essential role of national governance should further be underlined. The text should speak to all the peoples of the world. Africa and small island developing States (SIDS) should receive appropriate mention.
The representative of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the declaration should not be too long, because it might not get the required attention. Nor should it be too short, because it might leave out key issues. It should give high emphasis to poverty eradication, including elements addressing the ever-increasing water crisis and climate change. He drew attention to the deleterious effects of natural disasters and stressed the need for monitoring and early-warning mechanism to promote sustainable development.
The representative of Japan said the declaration should be short, punchy and give hope to people. The text should emphasize that each country must take concrete action to ensure that existing goals were realized. He also emphasized the importance of promoting the three pillars of sustainable development.
To promote ownership by developing countries, the importance of capacity-building and improvements in governance should be stressed, he said. The need to fully utilize all available resources and to include all stakeholders in the process was also key. No economic development was possible without environmental protection. The critical situation of the global environment must be recognized.
The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that health was one of the goals of sustainable development, but was also central to its achievement. It was an investment with major economic returns. Some of the greatest risks to health, he said, came from a contaminated environment. Globalization could improve health but could also increase risks. Health goals were clear and quantifiable and the means for improving health were clear as well. Spending must be increased, but so must innovation and systemic approaches. In the political declaration, the key point was the mutual well-being of the earth and of the human beings who inhabited it. Now was the time for action on that point.
The representative of Egypt said the declaration should clearly express the political will of leaders to deal with the problems of sustainable development, which required a range of economic and cooperative measures. The declaration must also express a commitment to end occupation -- as Palestinians were unable to control their own sustainable development -- and to minimize the effect of sanctions on the sustainable development of the peoples involved.
The representative of Nauru called for a clear declaration that informed people and States of their responsibilities toward sustainable development. Its deadlines should be coordinated with those of the Millennium Declaration, and it should pay special attention to the problems of Africa and those of small island developing States (SIDS), to which the condition of the oceans were of particular concern.
The representative of Nicaragua said her country supported Agenda 21 as a point of reference in the declaration. Eradication of poverty was key to sustainable development. Access to education must be a priority, particularly among women and children and in rural areas. Respect for cultural diversity and recognition of indigenous communities must also be promoted.
The representative of Hungary said it was a unique feature of the human being that it drew up a plan before acting for the good. He noted the important role played by education and upbringing in how people interacted with the natural environment. It was tragic how rapidly the garbage of advertising had contaminated the physical and mental world. Humans must control that kind of pollution -- if they didn’t, they could not achieve sustainable development. Such concepts should be reflected in the declaration.
The representative of Rwanda said the text should give a short account of what had happened since Rio. It should mention the goals that had not been met and ensure that the same errors weren’t repeated. The right to safe water and shelter could not be stressed enough. Education for all and access to up-to-date information must be promoted. Combating disease, erosion, desertification and natural disasters was key. Moral and ethnical principles should underlie international relations. Mutual respect, partnership and cooperation must be supported.
The representative of Kyrgyzstan said the main cause of the ecological crisis and of poverty was a lack of understanding of sustainable development at the political level. Information on the subject was needed at all levels. The science of the subject had also not been adequate thus far and could not inform public policy.
In addition, he said, the market had failed to protect the environment. Market mechanisms had to be changed seriously; the free market by itself would not protect the environment. The private sector must provide resources to redress the environmental degradation that had occurred. In government, institutional support for sustainable development was also weak. The declaration should be short -- very few had read the Rio Declaration because it was so long.
The representative of Tanzania said the political declaration should capture commitments by parties and should contain all the do-ables. It should be based on the three pillars, and emphasize poverty eradication and the goals of recent relevant agreements. The access of the poor to health care, energy, water, sanitation and other basics was essential, as was conservation. The range of measures to support those goals should all be included, but he emphasized measures to deal with the negative effects of globalization.
The representative of Nigeria said the political declaration should be short and action-oriented, and send a very clear signal that delegates would put into action what they had put on paper, including means of implementation and adequate resources for development. Above all, capacity-building should be emphasized along with relief for the specific problems of small island States and Africa. He hoped that consensus would prevail today.
The representative of Peru said the text should be short, very clear, specific and concise. It must convey a resolve to implement commitments undertaken in the past. Development must be linked to the preservation of the environment, which required international cooperation and financing. Also important was dealing with the debt issue and recognizing indigenous peoples. The rights of women and gender-equality must be reaffirmed in the text. Globalization was widening the gap between rich and poor -- that must be changed in Johannesburg.
The representative of Armenia said adoption of the political document was of the utmost importance. It should reaffirm the Rio principles and other important documents. The declaration should be short and dynamic, and it should avoid unnecessary repetition. Commitments to be undertaken by all countries should be concrete, and time frames for implementation should be set out.
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