Roundtable Summaries (As of August 2001)


DSD/DESA in collaboration with host governments and one organisation organised five Regional Eminent Persons Roundtables in the period 6 June to 2 August. :p> :p>

Highlights of the Roundtables are set out below. :p>

The Europe and North America Roundtable, was held in Vail, Colorado 6-8 June, and hosted by the independent, Denver based Centre for Resource Management.  The meeting was Co-chaired by Sir Crispin Tickell (UK), Ray Anderson ( USA) and Larry Papay (USA).   There was wide recognition that this region uses an unfair amount of the world’s resources, and has a special responsibility in helping to eradicate poverty globally. Participants had a profound sense of urgency, agreeing that the present generation may be among the last that can correct the current course of world development before it reaches a point of no return.   Discussion focused on five main topics and related proposals for action: the need for a new development model which integrates economic, social and environmental considerations; consumerism; resource depletion and waste; responses to climate change; and institutions to support sustainable development.

The Regional Roundtable for Latin America and the Caribbean, was hosted by the Government of Barabados, and held in Barbados 18-20 June.  The Meeting was chaired by Sir Alister McIntyre (Grenada). Participants in Barbados identified, as overriding issues, the region’s high levels of poverty and income inequality and recognized the serious pressures facing the region’s biodiversity. Priorities identified by participants included:   poverty eradication; robust and sustained economic growth; conservation and sustainable utilisation of the region’s biological diversity; political and institutional reforms to deepen democracy and freedom, as a means of forging a better organised and empowered civil society; greater political will of governments and stronger administrative infrastructure to implement public policies of sustainable development; and technical and financial assistance to support the development strategies for sustainable development. Among the concrete proposals from this roundtable was the establishment of a “Village of Hope” at Johannesburg, similar to that set up at the 1994 Small Island Developing States conference in Barbados, where best practice could be displayed and disseminated. :p>

The reports of both of these Roundtables had a section on challenges for Johannesburg. :p>

The African Roundtable, hosted by the Government of Egypt was held in Cairo, from 25 - 27 June.  The meeting was chaired by Dr Mostafa Tolba.   Clear recognition was given to the serious challenges facing Africa.  The Roundtable devoted considerable attention to the challenge of globalisation.  It was recognized that overall, Africa has not benefited from globalisation. However it was also recognized that Africa must take steps through increasing scientific capacity, education, governance etc to become part of the globalisation trend, otherwise the achievement of sustainable development for Africa will be even more difficult.  It was agreed that the top priority for Africa is to consolidate and build on sustainable development achievements since Rio. The Roundtable also considered the following priority areas:  food and agriculture ; energy; low technology base; regional integration; development of transport and infrastructure; achieving peace and stability; finance; and, institutions.   The Report recommends that the Regional Prepcom identifies from the Report a set of priority issues and develops them for endorsement at Johannesburg. :p>

The East Asia Pacific Roundtable, hosted by the Government of Malaysia was held in Kuala Lumpur from 9- 11 July.   The meeting was chaired by Tan Sri Ismail Razali from Malaysia.  Participants noted that the huge diversity of the region poses particular challenges for achieving sustainable development, and that the 1997 financial crisis has diminished the capacity of many countries in the region to address these challenges.  While the Rio Earth Summit, created a greater awareness in the region of the need for sustainable development, progress is not readily discernible and natural resource depletion and environmental degradation have generally worsened.   Priority areas include: impacts of globalisation; capacity building and creating a dialogue on science for sustainable development; poverty reduction; finance for sustainable development; technology transfer; public participation and governance; food security; population and migration; and the proliferation of small arms.   Various proposals for regional cooperation were identified including the establishment of a regional council for sustainable development and organizing a regional symposium on science for sustainable development. :p>

The Central and South Asia Roundtable, hosted by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from 30 July – 2 August.  The meeting was chaired by Dr Asylbek Aidaraliev.  It was noted that the region includes the two most populous countries in the world.  This together with the considerable political changes in the Central Asian countries; the sometimes harsh physical conditions; and, certain intra-regional conflicts pose an overriding challenge of how to move towards sustainable development in practice.  The problems of the land-locked countries of the region and of problems of drug trafficking, in and through the region,  were highlighted.  A key issue is to find a development path that is consistent with the cultural values of the region.  Priority areas for consideration were grouped under: new approaches to development; better governance, stronger institutions, participation and information for sustainable development; and, sustainable development and use of natural resources.  Among innovative proposals the roundtable proposed that the Summit agree on a process that would lead to a global scheme for restructuring foreign debt.

The Reports of the Roundtables will be submitted to the respective Regional and Sub-Regional Prepcoms.  In this regard the Regional Economic Commissions have been asked to translate the Roundtable Reports into the relevant languages and submit the reports to the Regional Prepcoms as official UN documents.   Regional Economic Commissions have also been asked to provide time for the Roundtable Chairs to present the results of the Roundtables to the Prepcoms.

The Roundtables have provided a core of very useful regional perspectives and identification of priority proposals for action for the Regions as well as identifying a number of issues of common concern across all regions.  The Roundtable participants also constitute a core of influential individuals, who can promote the outcomes of the Roundtables within their constituencies.   The Roundtable Chairs will be asked to form a panel to brief the Second Committee of the   General Assembly on 29 October on the results of the Roundtables.