Department of Public Information - News and Media Division
Preparatory Committee for the World ENV/DEV/B/6
Summit on Sustainable Development 29 May 2002
3rd Meeting (AM)
VIEWS EXPRESSED ON ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY, CAPACITY-BUILDING, PARTNERSHIPS,
AS MULTI-STAKEHOLDER DIALOGUE CONCLUDES
The fourth Preparatory Committee, continuing to lay the groundwork for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, this morning concluded the “multi-stakeholder dialogue” segment of its work programme, with speakers reporting on yesterday’s discussions on capacity-building and partnerships.
The three-day dialogue allowed a wide range of civil society and government actors to express their views on issues crucial to sustainable development, which included the importance of good governance, the role to be played by civil society at all levels of the process, and the importance of capacity-building and partnerships in promoting the social, economic and environmental pillars of development.
“Major groups” representing women, youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local authorities, trade unions, scientists and farmers participated in the deliberations, as did representatives of national governments.
At the outset of this morning’s meeting, Richard Bullhorn (Canada), Preparatory Committee Vice-Chair, gave an overview of the morning session of the discussion on capacity-building. He recognized the depth and the breadth of the analysis presented by all the major groups. They had noted the central role to be played by governments in promoting capacity-building and the priority they attached to the enhanced role that could be played by each of their groups.
Kyotaka Akasaka (Japan), Preparatory Committee Vice-Chair, said the afternoon dialogue had demonstrated that the major groups had an important role to play in the process, with speakers presenting interesting ideas on how capacity-building could be improved. There was much shared ground between major groups, but there had also been continuing differences among them and between governments -- that was to be expected. However, that should not stop “us from continuing our efforts to find further common ground”.
Following the Vice-Chairs’ remarks, representatives of the major groups stressed, among others, the need for a binding United Nations convention on corporate accountability; continued maintenance of the level of participation of indigenous peoples in the sustainable development process; a need to more closely integrate what was happening on the informal level with what was happening at the formal level; the need to strengthen governance; and the importance of networking -- “one of the keys of moving good practice from where it is to where it’s needed”.
Jan Kara (Czech Republic), Committee Vice-Chair, gave a read-out of the morning discussion on partnerships. The idea of type II outcomes [partnerships and initiatives to implement Agenda 21] enjoyed considerable interest and support even though the concept was not accepted by all. How to bridge type IIs and
type Is [government-negotiated outcomes] was deemed important. Type IIs could not become a substitute for strong negotiated outcomes, speakers had stressed. An underlying concern was how to integrate type II outcomes into the framework of sustainable development.
Dianne Quarless (Jamaica), Committee Vice-Chair, said the discussion had been devoted to the means and modalities of partnerships. The need to ensure adequate financial resources to ensure sustainability had been stressed. There had been some “pretty clear signals” emphasizing the need to ensure a truly participatory character to partnerships. Mechanisms to ensure gender mainstreaming through the use of gender disaggregated information had also been discussed, as had been the need to safeguard the balance of power in monitoring partnerships. In that regard, a suggestion had been made that an international monitoring body be established to oversee type II partnerships.
Representatives of the major groups then took the floor to make their observations on the partnerships discussion. A number of points were raised, including: the need for strong, action-oriented language in the outcome document; the role local governments could play as a “round table” around which the participants in partnerships could gather; that partnerships must empower the disempowered; that there must be partnerships between farmers and others, as well as among farmers; and the importance of ensuring that governments did not abdicate their responsibilities for sustainable development.
The representative of Norway then expressed his appreciation for all the major groups. He stressed that efforts to improve governance structures must be based on openness and transparency, with the active involvement of civil society. He stressed the role to be played by women in governance. Work on sustainable development must be revitalized.
The representative of Spain, for the European Union, said the Union felt the dialogue had been of great interest for the purpose of exchanging views among groups that often worked at a great distance from each other. Human capacity was essential, and education at all levels was equally vital.
The last segment of the meeting was devoted to outlining future priorities. Among the priorities identified were: the need to develop public services in rural areas; recognition that investment in science and technology was an investment in poverty reduction and wealth creation; recognition that women’s equality and gender justice were fundamental to the achievement of sustainable development; and that local government should be seen by national governments as an equal sphere of governance.
Also stressed was the view that genuine concerns, which perhaps could not be included in the political declaration and programme of action, could nevertheless be placed on the table. Other items of concern included the need to protect the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples; the importance of cancelling the debt of developing countries; the need to institute accountability measures for corporations; and the importance of ensuring women’s rights in the context of sustainable development.
The representative of Saudi Arabia then said his Government firmly believed that sustainable development was dependent on the social, economic and environmental pillars of development. Laws had been enacted to ensure protection of environment and a special anti-pollution law was in place to combat greenhouse gases. The Kingdom had developed a national biodiversity strategy within the framework of the biological diversity convention. It was fully committed to the goals of the Summit and felt that poverty alleviation was crucial in the struggle for sustainable development. He called for the strengthening of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Emil Salim (Indonesia), Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development, in his closing remarks, stressed the need to close the gap between ideals and realities. He hoped that the contributions of the major groups would be taken into account as the preparation process for the Summit continued.
* *** *