High-Level Push in Bali to Firm Up Sustainable Development Agenda
5 June, BALI, Indonesia In the final phase of the final PrepCom for the
World Summit on Sustainable Development, more than 100 ministers from around
the world began three days of deliberations in Bali to generate high-level
political commitments for action.
The Summit will be an historic opportunity to mobilize governments, people,
institutions, and resources for sustainable development, and will take place in
Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September.
At stake in the Bali ministerial-level meeting is the strength of government
commitments in Johannesburg to set up programmes aimed at improving living
conditions worldwide while preserving the natural ecosystem on which people
depend. The results of the ministerial discussions will provide the basis for
the political declaration that Heads of State and Government will adopt at the
Johannesburg Summit. The other key issue for discussion during the ministerial
session is the linkage between partnerships and the government commitments in
the Johannesburg outcome.
"The Summit in Johannesburg is truly a chance to set a more hopeful course
of development for all of humanity," United Nations Deputy
Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told the 118 ministers attending the
Preparatory Committee meeting. "The challenge, as ever, is to match
aspiration with action, and promise with positive change in people's lives. We
know what needs to be done. Now, let's move ahead."
Fréchette, in her address, said, "Johannesburg is meant to find
another way, a path that improves standards of living while protecting the
environment." She added, "That relationship-between human society and
the natural environment-is the core concern of Johannesburg, and is what sets
Johannesburg apart from other UN conferences and summit."
In welcoming the ministers, Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri said
the Bali meeting could influence the Johannesburg Summit by helping to build a
strong foundation for sustainable development, and make a "real
contribution to humanity." "Ten years have passed since we adopted
Agenda 21," she said. It is time for us to follow it up with concrete
programmes and activities."
The Johannesburg Summit will result in a political declaration, a programme of
implementation, and voluntary partnership initiatives by and between
governments, citizen groups, and the private sector that will actually carry
out sustainable development projects.
Negotiations on a programme of implementationthe Bali
Commitmentsthat will serve as the guiding plan for an action-oriented
agenda that brings measurable results, are expected to conclude on Friday.
While the two-week PrepCom has already produced substantial agreements on
promoting activities across a broad range of sustainable development
activities, negotiations on the remaining areas of disagreement have proved
According to PrepCom Chairman Emil Salim, the tough negotiations are not
unexpected. "Everyone wants to keep their cards close to their chest until
the last moment. But for me, this is normal."
In fact, in Salim's view, the real negotiations have just begun. But he
emphasized that the document would be completed in Bail. "We will be
finished in Bali. After Bali, we will prepare the ground to make Johannesburg
Progress has been made and many parts of the document are free of bracket, or
text where there is still disagreement. Johannesburg Secretary-General Nitin
Desai said "the key elements have all been agreed upon," adding that
judgement of the text should not be made until the very end, when the final
differences are bridged. But beyond reaching minimum expectations, Desai said,
"What we're aiming at now is much more. We're aiming at a good, strong
programme of action, and we will push these concerns as far as we can take
Salim said the Bali Commitment would contain new time-bound targets. "It
is a realistic plan and it is not 'pie in the sky.' But to implement it, we all
have to be committed."
Over 4,500 people from 173 countries are attending the Bali meeting, including
a large contingent of non-governmental organizations, which Salim said have
played a major role in lobbying government delegations for a stronger
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Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006