DEPARTMENT FOR POLICY COORDINATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Assessment of the International Institutional Arrangements to Follow Up the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Chapter 38) BACKGROUND PAPER #4 Prepared by the Division for Sustainable Development 1997 New York TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I. Introduction................................................... 2 II. Developments within Individual Organizations of the United Nations System................................................. 4 A. Policy Development......................................... 6 B. Data, Information and Expertise............................ 7 C. Delivery of Technical and Financial Support ............... 8 D. Organizational Arrangements................................ 9 III. System-wide Coordination....................................... 12 A. At the Global Level........................................ 14 B. At the Regional Level...................................... 15 C. At the Country Level....................................... 18 IV. Linking the Decisions of Governing Bodies ..................... 20 V. Funding Arrangements........................................... 23 VI. Conclusions.................................................... 25 A. Individual Organizations................................... 25 B. System-wide Coordination and Linking the Decisions of Governing Bodies .......................................... 26 C. Funding Arrangements....................................... 32 Endnotes............................................................. 33 I. INTRODUCTION 1. The Commission on Sustainable Development at its fourth session reviewed the report of the Secretary-General on post-UNCED institutional arrangements during its deliberations on Chapter 38 of Agenda 21. The report presents a factual overview of arrangements within the United Nations system, at the regional level, and in relation to global and regional financial organizations. 1/ The Commission had before it also a background report of a meeting of regional institutions organized by the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD). 2/ Further discussions and assessments have focused on (a) individual organizations of the United Nations system, (b) inter-agency mechanisms, and ■ country level coordination of international programmes. 3/ These documents and discussions provide the basis for the analytical assessment of post- UNCED institutional arrangements presented in this report. A separate review of the functioning and effectiveness of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD) has been undertaken under the auspices of the ACC. Its results and recommendations are contained in the ACC statement to the 1997 special session. 4/ 2. It is important to place the assessment of post-UNCED international institutional arrangements in context. Agenda 21 and the other agreements associated with UNCED are far-reaching in their recognition that the social, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions of development must be treated in an integrated and balanced way. They affirm that individual sectors of human activity can no longer be dealt with in isolation. New and stronger relationships are encouraged among the institutions of the United Nations system, international financial institutions, other intergovernmental bodies outside the United Nations system, including regional organizations, and major groups. These interactions pose particular challenges for the institutional arrangements put in place after UNCED. They require multidisciplinary approaches among specialists and inter-sectoral coordination at local, national, regional, and global levels. Provision for effective participation by affected groups is vital. 3. These challenges arise in a dynamic, evolving institutional environment. (a) The decisions adopted in Rio de Janeiro set in motion new initiatives with consequential institutional requirements, including the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, particularly in Africa; the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks; and the Global Programme of Action on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities. (b) The Commission on Sustainable Development has initiated further institutional developments, notably the ad hoc open-ended Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF). It has also reaffirmed arrangements directly relevant to its mandate, such as the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), established in 1994 to develop and review strategies for implementing chapter 19 of Agenda 21. 5/ (c) The growing number of conventions in environmental and socio- economic fields calls for increased awareness of linkages between the intergovernmental and support arrangements of the United Nations system and those of other organizations. (d) International financial and technical support for the conventions has resulted in overall cooperation and new institutional arrangements between the United Nations system and international financial institutions. (e) The institutional landscape of organized major groups is particularly dynamic, and they increasingly interact directly with intergovernmental institutions, including convention processes. Non- governmental organizations (NGOs) have been active partners in promoting sustainable development, and without the support of business and industry, investments in sustainable development will remain inadequate. The scientific and technological communities play a vital role in diagnosing problems and developing response options. Their contributions to the analytical frameworks and approaches used to reach agreement at all levels are fundamental. Local authorities, by virtue of their responsibility for a significant number of activities which affect sustainable development, are an increasingly important component in the consultative process regarding problems and solutions. (f) The General Assembly Special Session discussions on post- UNCED institutional arrangements take place against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to strengthen the United Nations system and restructure and revitalize the United Nations in economic, social and related fields. 6/ In this respect, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD) operate as subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), respectively. At both levels, there is concern to ensure that follow-up to major United Nations conferences is coordinated. 7/ The results of the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development, the Fourth World Conference on Women, and HABITAT II are all integrally related to the results of UNCED. Sustainable development is seen by many as a unifying umbrella concept under which a broad spectrum of United Nations activities in the economic, social and environment/natural resources fields can be related to a common, overarching goal. 4. The financial crisis affecting the United Nations and many of its specialized agencies and programmes leaves little room for expanded initiatives by individual agencies or throughout the system. The expectations raised by UNCED of an increase in available resources have not been met, while demands for assistance have expanded considerably. The agencies are therefore hard-pressed to carry out both their original mandates and those stemming from UNCED. At the same time, as changes in programmes and procedures yield appreciable improvements, they offer new opportunities and invite further commitments on the part of governments and major groups. 5. This report considers what has worked and not worked in the post- UNCED institutional arrangements and what remains to be done. Section II assesses the way individual organizations have responded to the outcomes of UNCED, including their achievements, the constraints they have encountered, and areas where additional effort is needed. Section III turns to several aspects of system-wide coordination at global, regional, and national levels. It touches on linkages with major groups, in particular the private sector, and it addresses interactions with environmental conventions. Section IV addresses the question of linking the decisions of different governing bodies, and funding arrangements are reviewed in Section IV. The final section summarizes promising changes, unfulfilled expectations, and emerging priorities. 6. It should be acknowledged that a number of promising changes were already emerging before UNCED and in the preparatory process leading up to UNCED. One of the purposes of this report is to consider how UNCED and its follow-up have influenced the scope of programmes related to sustainable development and helped to identify a division of labour among different UN system organizations. Another is to consider how post-UNCED institutional arrangements have contributed to the more systematic dissemination of knowledge about international institutional developments in order to accelerate positive developments. II. DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN INDIVIDUAL ORGANIZATIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM 7. The response of individual organizations of the United Nations system to UNCED's sustainable development agenda is assessed in terms of the three basic functions of intergovernmental organizations: (a) policy development, (b) the collection, synthesis, analysis and dissemination of data and information to inform action at all levels, and (c) the delivery of technical and financial support to strengthen human and institutional capabilities at national and regional levels. Developments in these functional areas are reflected in, and influenced by, changes in each body's organizational arrangements and the resources, both human and financial, at its disposal. 8. It is important to bear in mind each organization's specialized functions and substantive perspective in evaluating the institutional response. Not every organization carries out all three functions. Some, like UNEP, concentrate on policy and information functions. Others, like UNDP, focus on programme implementation at the country level. A few organs specialize in data and analysis and related capacity-building, such as the UN Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis (DESIPA), UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), or the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). From the perspective of substantive mandates, industrial development (UNIDO) necessarily differs from human health (WHO) or from sustainable food security through agriculture, forest and fishery development (FAO). 9. The distinction between the responsibilities of an intergovernmental body and its secretariat must also be borne in mind in assessing individual organizations. The governing body approves policy and strategy documents for the agency as well as the general programme activities of the secretariat and a budget to support them. The secretariat determines how to carry out the programme effectively. The role of the intergovernmental bodies in approving policy documents is critical. These establish a focus for agency programme and project activities, and they identify policy considerations which may then be tailored to country-specific needs. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Illustrative new programmes ILO: a special Interdepartmental Programme on Environment and the World of Work (1994-95). Habitat: the Urban Forum, a broad-based forum for policy dialogue on environment and development issues of mutual concern. ECE: two regional programmes were launched: "Chemical industry - sustainable Economic and ecological Development" and "Metallurgy and Ecology". ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 10. The influences on policy and programme modifications within each organization have been both internal and external. Shifting national priorities have revised the demands on each organization for policy and programme services. As a result, intergovernmental bodies have collectively adopted new policies supporting sustainable development and pledged to keep them under review. Strong, high-level leadership within the secretariat has been essential in supporting new approaches and ensuring that internal arrangements are conducive to their agency-wide application. National commitments made in the context of international convention processes help focus objectives for international programme outputs and the delivery of services at the country level, leveraged by the prospect of additional funding from multilateral and bilateral sources. At the national level, the adoption of sustainable development strategies and policies has enabled international agencies to reorient their programmes to conform with defined objectives. In addition, as international institutions interact with a broader range of partners, they have become more accessible to major groups and more knowledgable of and responsive to their concerns. In some cases, strong pressures were exerted before an organizational response took hold. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Increased share of environment-related projects UNIDO conducted annual reviews of the extent to which environmental considerations are built into the design of its technical cooperation projects. It shows that the share of environment-related projects has steadily increased: 34% in 1992, to 44% in 1993 to 50% in 1994. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11. Another critical influence on changed policies and programmes has been the accruing evidence of unsustainable use of resources and adverse impacts on human health and well-being. New policies and programmes for sustainable development remain fundamentally dependent on sound and adequate information and well-founded analyses. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- DESIPA/UNDP/UNEP/World Bank continue to work together in the area of integrated environmental and economic accounting. The IMF staff have expanded their efforts in analyzing alternative policy instruments for mobilizing resources for financing sustainable development. Moreover, the IMF, in cooperation with the World Bank, has initiated country specific work to help make countries aware of the feasibility of integrating macroeconomics and the environment. Habitat has developed a common policy framework to problems of sustainable urban development and shelter. World Bank developed a note on best practices for Social Assessment in 1994. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12. On the whole, intergovernmental bodies, individual governments, and major groups have viewed positively the initial direction of policy, programme and structural changes in international organizations, while expressing the desire to see further change. In future, it would be useful to articulate more clearly criteria and standards for assessing the relevance and impact of these changes; for example, criteria which address not only the integration of environmental concerns into a development agenda but also the integration of developmental concerns into an environmental agenda. A. Policy Development 13. Virtually every United Nations organization has approved new policies and strategies to promote the objectives of UNCED and Agenda 21. As sustainability becomes a guiding principle, this has ramifications throughout the agency. It calls for procedures which incorporate sustainability objectives, as well as environmental, social, economic and cultural analysis into programme activities, and which has heightened the need for planning and programme development in one sector to take account of interactions with other sectors. Internal procedures send a signal to staff at headquarters and field levels that sustainable development is a priority to be reflected in daily programme activities. Ideally, this should result in mainstreaming the sustainable development dimension rather than segregating it from predominant activities of an organization. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reformulated policy on environment UNHCR: four main principles of the new policy are: integration of environmental concerns into major activities; prevention; cost-effectiveness; participation of refugees and local population in environmental measures. UNDP has revised environmental management guidelines and established an environmental overview process to ensure that environmental dimensions are considered in all activities. UNICEF is developing environmental impact assessment guidelines and revising its programming manual to take into account, inter alia, the primary environmental care approach adopted by its Executive Board in 1993. This calls for integrating environmental considerations into existing country programmes, rather than creating new and separate projects. IFAD adopted formal Administrative Procedures for Environmental Assessment in 1994. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 14. For some organizations, the new policies and strategies have led to reformulation and reorientation of the entire programme and budget. In a few cases, existing policies and priorities were sufficient, but UNCED provided new impetus to address environment and social development linkages and refine an integrated approach. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Guidelines formulated A number of organizations at regional and global levels are engaged in building consensus on voluntary environmental and social guidelines, such as the World Bank/UNIDO/UNEP Industrial Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook. The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and Air Quality have been updated recently and are expected to be reviewed on a regular basis. DDSMS has been involved in formulating International Guidelines on Mining and Environment. IFAD has developed Operational Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture. ESCAP has formulated Guidelines on Sustainable Development of Coastal Tourism as well as Guidelines for the Development of a Legal and Institutional Framework to prevent Illegal Traffic in Toxic and Dangerous Products and Water. UNHCR published environmental guidelines in 1996, and is undertaking a number of projects to translate these principles into practice in field operations. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 15. Many of the agencies have revised internal procedures and directives to better integrate environmental and developmental concerns. There have been substantial improvements in procedures and guidelines for environmental analysis of proposed programme and project activities. Procedures for incorporating social, economic, and cultural aspects in program and project analysis are less well along. Further efforts are needed to sensitize staff in some organizations to the potential long-term cost-effectiveness of including environmental, social and cultural concerns in economic development projects, in spite of short-term incremental costs. There are several promising recent developments. 16. National policies and plans establish a basic focus for all development activities at country level, whether implemented by the government, NGOs, multilateral or bilateral agencies. They provide a unifying context for various individual projects of a sectoral nature. The intergovernmental bodies of the UN system provide fora for governments to identify and agree on norms, programmes and practices which advance sustainable development. This is most evident in international convention processes, but also true of guidelines and practices which may not be legally-binding. These set goals for national practice and may be used by governments as a basis for harmonized action within a common framework. B. Data, Information and Expertise 17. International institutions have an important facilitating role to play in improving data collection and reliability, data interpretation and dissemination, and related national capabilities. The information resources of the United Nations system fall into different categories. Their uses should be carefully distinguished in any thorough assessment. They include data from environmental monitoring and observation systems and data on resources depletion, as well as information on response measures. In addition, they cover accumulated knowledge of substances, products, technologies and processes which pose -- or reduce -- risks to human health and the environment. Another body of information tracks the consumption of natural resources, the generation and disposal of wastes, and related international movements. All of these must reflect socio-economic aspects as well. The report on Chapter 40 (Information for Decision-Making) elaborates on inter-agency information-related initiatives. 18. The environmental conventions supported and coordinated by UNEP, increasingly serve as an important link between international information resources and needs at the national level. Their focus on more immediate management objectives helps shape information initiatives to meet these needs in a practical manner. At the same time, the conventions both inspire and draw on longer-term research and assessment programmes developed through intergovernmental and non-governmental bodies. 19. The United Nations and its agencies and programs have established numerous expert advisory bodies on a permanent or ad hoc basis. In addition, individual organizations of the United Nations system have developed strong collaborative associations with specialized scientific and technical bodies outside the system, such as the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). A number of these relationships have grown stronger as a result of UNCED. 20. The High-Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development was established by the Secretary-General in 1993, as recommended in chapter 38 of Agenda 21, to provide advice from eminent persons knowledgeable about environment and development. It serves also as a link with the views and concerns of major constituencies and groups, and as a means to strengthen partnerships with them and deepen their knowledge and understanding of activities within the United Nations system. Members are appointed in their personal capacity by the Secretary-General to advise him, and through him, the CSD, ECOSOC, and the ACC. 8/ 21. It would be useful to explore further how specialized bodies outside the United Nations system could contribute most effectively to the information and advisory needs of international organizations and convention processes, bearing in mind their importance as a source of peer review and quality control for methodological approaches and data products. C. Delivery of Technical and Financial Support 22. Since UNCED, there has been rapid growth in requests from developing countries and countries in transition for financial and technical support of initiatives related to implementing the objectives of Agenda 21. This creates pressure for activities and projects leading to concrete results. As a result, there has been increased support for model projects which help test and refine best practices. The criteria used for selecting these projects include: (a) response to a real need in the country; (b) demonstration of significant economic, social or environmental benefits for the end-user; and ■ demonstration of governmental commitment and the infrastructure necessary for the project to have enduring results. 23. There is also clear emphasis among the organizations engaged in technical cooperation on strengthening national capacities to incorporate environmental, social and economic dimensions into national development initiatives. The United Nations system, through the IACSD and under the leadership of UNDP, has therefore sought to promote an integrated approach to national strategies for sustainable development as a vehicle, inter alia, for relating capacity-building needs in different disciplines and sectors. UNDP's Capacity 21 Programme is intended to promote capacity-building in relation to developing and implementing national strategies. However, this exercise needs to be related to other exercises, such as that of the Country Strategy Notes or that of the World Bank-IMF Country Policy Frameworks, so that a single framework is used for all country level activities and sustainable development is mainstreamed therein. As considered in Section III.C, further work is needed to advance national strategies and strengthen system-wide capacity building. D. Organizational Arrangements 24. Most of the United Nations organizations have created some kind of focal entity in response to UNCED and Agenda 21. These have taken the form of a distinctive department or division for sustainable development, a task force or coordinating body within the agency, or an advisory organ. In some cases, new organizational units and other structural changes were driven by the adoption of new policies supporting an integrated approach to environment and development issues. In agencies where existing policies and priorities were adequate, new structures were generally considered unnecessary. The establishment of in-house expert networks has helped some agencies improve communications among departments and divisions and with outside experts. Some agencies have established new offices or reinforced existing capabilities to strengthen the regional delivery of their programmes. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Case of UNEP UNEP's post-UNCED restructuring has been designed to equip the organization to focus and deliver results, in an integrated manner, on the priority areas entrusted to UNEP by Agenda 21. The role and priorities of UNEP, as reflected in its organizational structure and its successive biennial work programmes since UNCED, indicate a fundamental shift, largely in reaction to Agenda 21 and based on a clear assessment of needs, from a sectoral approach of the environment to a fully integrated strategy, which is responsive to the agenda for sustainable development. UNEP■s work programme for the biennium 1996-97 emphasizes relationships between socio-economic driving forces, environmental changes and impacts on human health and well-being. Broader sustainable development considerations are thus fundamental to all four major environmental challenges addressed in the programme of work; i.e.: (I) the sustainable management and use of natural resources; (ii) sustainable production and consumption; (iii) a better environment for human health and well-being; and (iv) globalization trends and the environment. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 25. These new structures, often headed by high-level staff, have played a catalytic and supportive role in identifying sustainable development issues of relevance to the organization and formulating integrated, agency-wide approaches in policy and programme activities. In view of the varying functions and mandates of the organizations of the United Nations system, there is no single blueprint for organizational arrangements that promote an integrated approach. 26. There is some concern that structural adjustments could compartmentalize sustainable development within an agency if they establish rigid demarcations which are not conducive to inter-departmental and interdisciplinary interactions. The Task Manager system created by the IACSD, although generally effective in triggering in-house as well as inter-agency cooperation, has in some cases had the effect of relegating sustainable development to the responsible officer/unit without adequate input and feedback from other parts of the organization. This defeats the goal of having the concept permeate the entire organization and invoke a collective response. It may also mean that reporting to the CSD/IACSD does not adequately reflect activities throughout the organization. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Examples of new structures UNDP: has created a Sustainable Energy and Environment Division (SEED) to consolidate its environment and natural resource management programs, in order to heighten the profile of sustainable development issues. World Bank: established the central Vice Presidency for Environmentally Sustainable Development, who is to work with the Bank■s Regional Vice Presidencies to advance the incorporation of Operational Policies, Bank Procedure and Good Practice which support the integration of environmentally and socially sustainable development into Bank projects. FAO: created a Sustainable Development Department headed by an Assistant Director-General. It provides a focal point for UNCED follow-up through a multidisciplinary programme of research and action incorporating various sustainable development dimensions into FAO's programme structure. IAEA: set up the Inter-Departmental Coordination Group on Agenda 21 to ensure in-house coordination among many different Secretariat departments involved in sustainable development. The Group is chaired by the Special Assistant to the Director General. WHO: established a Task Force on Environment and Sustainable Development. It enabled a broad dialogue on how major programme can contribute to linking health and environment components to achieve sustainable development. UNESCO: created a Bureau for Coordination of Environmental Programmes responsible for promoting and coordinating UNCED follow-up across all programmes and set up a small advisory committee on UNCED follow-up. IFAD: created an inter-departmental task force to ensure optimal complementarity between IFAD■s lending operation and the provisions of the Desertification Convention. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 27. Relatedly, inadequate internal communications may impede coordinated activities on the part of the agency at the country level. Barriers between departments may result in country-level initiatives which do not build on relevant knowledge, experience, and contacts throughout the agency. Or communications between headquarters and regional or national offices may be difficult, although each agency's Task Manager normally involves the agency's regional offices. 28. In all cases, strong political support at the highest levels of the organization was considered essential for achieving an organization-wide response. This extends not just to agency policies and operational programmes but also to such matters as procurement guidelines. And no matter what the choice of structural arrangements, coordination and cooperation throughout the organization will continue to be necessary. 29. The management of knowledge within an organization, and the organization's ability to draw on outside sources, are important elements in the organizational response. Breaking down the barriers among departments and divisions helps promote a free flow of information and expertise, which in turn broadens the understanding and perspective of individual staff members. In some organizations, regular training seminars have helped to strengthen knowledge and approaches that support sustainable development, in both policy and technical staff and at headquarters and field levels. This has been prompted and reinforced through consultations and partnerships with other organizations, both within and outside the United Nations system, and with major groups, including the private sector. Although there are no definitive, quantitative analyses of enhanced expertise relevant to sustainable development within the United Nations agencies, there is anecdotal evidence of stronger staff engagement with these issues. Nevertheless, further efforts are necessary to improve training and reward structures for interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- UNCTAD's role in trade, environment and development At the intergovernmental level, activities under this theme is monitored by the Commission on Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities. In the UNCTAD secretariat, the Trade, Environment and Development Section in the Division on International Trade and Commodities undertakes activities related to policy analysis and debate, conceptual work, the building of consensus among member States on the interaction between environment and trade policies, the dissemination of information to policy-makers and the encouragement and provision of technical assistance in capacity building in this field. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 30. The consultative mechanisms for dialogue with NGOs regarding the conceptualization and delivery of programmes at the country level has expanded -- in United Nations bodies, in the regional development banks, and in the GEF. 9/ As more experience is gained with these procedures, it would be useful to revisit them and consider further refinements. Improvements are needed in procedures for NGO participation in the Bretton Woods institutions. 31. There are potential advantages for the secondment of national experts, JPOs and associate expert systems to United Nations organizations from different fields of expertise and sectoral perspectives. Opportunities for qualified professionals to contribute to and participate in these programmes facilitate exchange of information and awareness-raising on complex issues related to sustainable development. On the other hand, concerns have been expressed by several intergovernmental bodies that dependence on extra-budgetary staffing has a tendency towards geographical imbalance in secretariat staffing patterns. Adherence to the mandates and programmes adopted by the GA, ECOSOC and CSD ( and/or other governing body) could reduce the risks of taking an unbalanced approach. 32. It is critical that structural arrangements and the expansion and integration of expertise related to sustainable development be reinforced by corresponding financial arrangements within the organization. If budget allocations concentrate on sectoral or departmental outputs without providing for interdisciplinary input and coordinating arrangements, the best policies and procedures will not be matched by results. III. SYSTEM-WIDE COORDINATION 33. The United Nations system has struggled with system-wide coordination since its founding, and there are no easy answers. The elements which promote coordination are similar to those which influence policy and programme modifications within each organization, considered in the previous section. These include intergovernmental commitment and oversight within the United Nations bodies responsible for system-wide coordination; commitment by governments to reinforce coordinated approaches in the individual governing bodies of the organizations in which they are members (global, regional, conventions); high-level secretariat support within each agency and reflected in inter-agency arrangements; support from major groups and NGOs, reinforced through their own programme activities; and coordinated strategies and policies at the national level to which international agencies must respond. These issues are considered in more detail below. 34. While some limitations remain, the Task Manager system adopted by IACSD has proven to be an effective means of inter-agency cooperation and joint action. It provides a network of focal points throughout the system for the exchange of information and the preparation of CSD documentation. More detailed assessment of the functioning of the IACSD is found in the ACC statement mentioned above, which is also being made available to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its fifth session. 35. UNEP performs its coordination role at the policy level through the Inter-Agency Environment Coordination Group (IAEG), of which all relevant UN agencies and programmes are members. An important initiative currently taking place within the IAEG is the development of a "UN System Wide Strategy in the field of Environment". 36. The global and regional conventions are equally important. In the first instance, they embody commitments on the part of governments which shape national actions and thus the country-level activities of international agencies in contracting parties. Second, convention work programmes express agreed priorities. The international agencies often collaborate in developing and executing these programmes, so their short-term activities and expenditures are influenced by them. More broadly, the conventions, by defining both general and detailed objectives, provide an organizing framework for focusing policy development, programme delivery, and needs for research, data, and analysis. System-wide coordination among agencies and conventions at all levels helps bring to bear specialized skills and resources to achieve defined goals which have been agreed among the contracting parties involved. 37. On the other hand, not all UN system activities related to sustainable development require system-wide involvement. Some tasks such as in the area of harmonized data collection, statistical information and country-level planning/policy framework lend themselves more readily to system-wide exercises. Other tasks require specialized, technical knowledge of fisheries, toxic chemicals, human health, plant genetic resources, to create intersectoral synergies. It is important that inter-agency cooperative arrangements be tailored to the task they are meant to accomplish. 38. Understanding the relationships among different agency and convention processes has grown more difficult as initiatives related to sustainable development have proliferated. Secretariats are in a position to assist governments. Through consultations, they can identify activities which may work at cross purposes early on, suggest where initiatives in one forum have relevance elsewhere, and recommend where a joint approach might meet several objectives and make better use of available resources. This background would help inform governments' decisions to approve policies and programmes in individual decision-making fora. In turn, as intergovernmental decision- making takes account of related activities in different fora, it facilitates coordination in preparation and execution by secretariats. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Examples of joint programmes UNIDO/UNEP programme for establishing National Cleaner Production Centres, aimed at incorporating cleaner industrial production techniques into industrial efforts to reduce pollution. UNEP/UNESCO/UNDP/UNICEF jointly conducted a project in 1993 to develop a children■s version of Agenda 21. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 39. At all levels, the partners in cooperative arrangements among United Nations organizations have grown in number. Collaboration in knowledge generation now includes a wider range of organizations from the developing as well as the developed world, such as the centres of excellence in tropical science promoted by UNESCO and the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). Individual governments increasingly take the initiative to convene and support specialized meetings, often in collaboration with intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations, which contribute to items before the CSD or other initiatives related to Agenda 21 objectives. These flexible arrangements expedite discussions. A more systematic approach to needs and preparations could produce even more meaningful results. As collaborative ventures grow more focused and specific, there are additional opportunities to engage major groups in consultative processes on both policy and programme matters; for example, the development of sector-specific indicators or best practices, or programme planning in a particular region. 40. In addition to coordination (a) among disciplines and sectors, (b) at global, regional, and national levels, (c) at intergovernmental and secretariat levels, and (d) between United Nations organization and conventions, non-UN bodies, and other partners, there is another facet of coordinating international institutional arrangements. This has to do with the links among functional responsibilities for information resources, policy development and operational programmes: the contributions of new knowledge to policy development and programme planning; the application in operational programmes of policies and practices which promote sustainable development; the results of operational experience as a source of feedback for revising policies and information resources. Work on these linkages requires further development, although two inter-agency mechanisms and individual organizations are working on monitoring and evaluation modalities to address them. A. At the Global Level 41. In the context of restructuring and revitalizing the United Nations in economic, social, and related fields, the General Assembly has directed ECOSOC to strengthen its role as the central mechanism for coordination of the activities of the United Nations system and to promote coordinated follow-up to the outcome of major international conferences. 10/ Agenda 21 is perceived as a dynamic and adaptable framework for action by the international community and for coordination of relevant activities of international organizations. 11/ In its capacity of reviewing progress in implementing Agenda 21 at all levels, the CSD receives reports, inter alia, from intergovernmental organizations (global and regional) and information made available by international environmental conventions through their respective secretariats. 42. In some cases, Task Managers have found themselves virtually alone to deal with an issue for which they have lead responsibility, with little input or feedback from cooperating or associated agencies. Governments have also raised questions about integrating the many small, dedicated trust funds in UN agencies and international financial institutions into more coherent programming arrangements (e.g., for sustainable forestry or integrated coastal zone management). --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Example of interlinking follow-ups of major conferences An expert group meeting on "Women, population and sustainable development: the road from Rio, Cairo and Beijing" was held in Santo Domingo in November 1996 and organized jointly by DPCSD/DAW, DPCSD/DSD and UNFPA. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 43. With respect to participation by major groups in United Nations intergovernmental fora, the procedures adopted for the CSD in 1993 modified earlier United Nations practice by extending observer participation to a broader range of national and international organizations, based on the organizations accredited to UNCED. A similar approach has been taken for the major UN conferences taking place since UNCED. Within the CSD, both formal and informal arrangements have permitted greater dialogue and interaction among representatives of governments, international agencies and NGOs, and facilities for information distribution by accredited NGOs are now more varied. 44. In the wake of UNCED, ECOSOC launched a review of arrangements for consultation with NGOs. As a result, modified arrangements were adopted in 1996, which promote greater involvement by NGOs of international, regional, subregional, and national standing. They encourage balanced participation by NGOs from all regions and areas of the world and linkages with organizations upon whose special expertise or experience ECOSOC may wish to draw. The General Assembly decided to examine the question of participation by NGOs in all areas of the work of the United Nations, in light of the experience gained in ECOSOC. 45. At the secretariat level, some Task Managers have involved major groups more widely than others in consultations regarding the preparation of reports for the CSD. This has been appreciated by both sides. It has occurred within agencies individually and at the level of inter-agency meetings, where experts from major groups have in some cases been invited to participate. B. At the Regional Level 46. Follow-up to UNCED at the regional level cannot be considered in isolation from broader efforts in the United Nations system to revitalize and restructure economic and social sectors. The report to ECOSOC expected in 1997 is to review the UN regional commissions with a view to strengthening their effectiveness in both policy- and action-oriented roles. The report is to address better coordination with the entire United Nations system, including the specialized agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and the regional development banks, and more active participation by the regional commissions in implementing the results of major United Nations conferences at the regional level. 12/ 47. Agenda 21 refers to regional and subregional cooperation and implementation. The UN regional commissions, unlike most of the specialized agencies and programs of the United Nations, are multisectoral in their responsibilities. In this respect, they offer a means, at the regional level, to coordinate multisectoral initiatives drawing on specialized contributions. The Regional Commissions can contribute to systems which provide regional organizations and entities with integrated regional data/information, thereby strengthening regional capacity for informed multisectoral decision-making. As for specialized technical and sectoral areas, regional offices of specialized UN bodies can facilitate access to specialized information resources. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The UNEP Governing Council in 1993 and 1995 endorsed strengthened regional approaches, and UNEP's five regional offices are now increasingly involved in the design and delivery of a coordinated UNEP programme responsive to the needs of each region, in expanding regional networks for advice and feedback, and in strengthening partnerships in the region. The regional seas arrangements present additional opportunities for integrating regional programmes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 48. Beyond the UN system, regional bodies of all types are in a position to tailor global initiatives -- whether of a policy, data and information, or operational character -- to regional environmental and socio-economic circumstances and the priorities of countries in the region. They also allow countries in the region to agree on shared goals and concerns for action at the regional level or as input to global fora. 49. Where ECOSOC is concentrating on the UN regional commissions and regional activities by United Nations system organizations, the follow-up to UNCED contemplates interaction and partnerships with a wider range of regional bodies outside the United Nations system. The CSD, at the high-level segment of its fourth session, stressed the importance of devolving implementation actions related to Agenda 21 from the global to the regional level. Thought might be given to instituting a system analogous to the IACSD Task Manager system at the regional level with modalities for participation of organizations outside the UN system. Such a system is already being tried in the ESCAP region towards the implementation of programme areas of the Regional Action Programme adopted by the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok in November 1995. 50. A number of regional intergovernmental meetings have taken place, often at a high level, to adopt political statements and action plans regarding sustainable development priorities in the region. They have been convened in association with both UN regional commissions and other regional organizations like the Organization of American States, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), The South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As these meetings have moved from an emphasis on resources conservation to sustainable use, they have attracted participation from ministries additional to the environmental ministry. High profile ministerial conferences have played an important agenda-setting role and raise public and political awareness. To date they have concentrated on issues of national concern and preparations for global fora. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Asian Development Bank, UNEP, ESCAP and IUCN are cooperating with the National University of Singapore to establish the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL) to promote regional education in environmental law and the establishment of a regional APCEL database. A regional coordinating unit to promote implementation in Africa of the Convention on Desertification and its Annex on Africa is being hosted by African Development Bank. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 51. Convention processes have been the forum of choice for working out common policies and harmonized approaches to specialized regional or transboundary concerns. These include the regional seas agreements, agreements on other shared waterbodies, and the side agreements to regional trade agreements. Regional initiatives are playing a growing role in implementing certain global conventions, notably the Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol, and the Ramsar Convention; and a regional focus is expressly contemplated under the annexes to the Convention on Desertification. 52. When it comes to fostering concrete programmes for agency initiatives which address regional issues and priorities in support of Agenda 21 objectives, technical committees composed of senior officials of member governments have played a significant role in some regions. The regional banks have increased funding for sustainable development, primarily in response to requests from national governments. Where regional action plans define regional priorities, implementation efforts have been more focused. In some cases, the major issues and priorities at the regional level have not yet been adequately defined or require a major effort in capacity building. 53. In some regions, regional state of the environment reports are produced. In one case, this is produced by an organization outside the United Nations system. A number of regional institutions have indicated that there is a need for a new approach to systematic data collection by all countries in the respective regions. 1/ -------------- 1/ See Background paper No.11, Report of the Meeting of Regional Institutions (New York, 6-7 December 1995). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Regional structures ECA: Conference of African Ministers responsible for Sustainable Development and the Environment, established in 1993, and became operational in 1995. ECLAC: a new Environment and Development Division established in 1995. ESCAP: the Inter-Agency Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, established in 1990 as part of UNCED preparatory process. ESCWA: the Environment Coordination Unit of the newly formed Energy, Natural Resources and Environment Division; Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region created in 1993. ECE: a Task Force involving all substantive divisions to coordinate activities related to sustainable development; an Environmental Performance Review Unit under the Environment and Human Settlements Division. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 54. New forms of inter-agency cooperation have emerged at the regional level. This includes cooperation between the UN regional commissions and representatives of the global UN agencies and programmes at the regional level. Regional organizations outside the United Nations system have taken an active role in some regions in preparing regional plans and programmes to follow up on United Nations conferences, other international programme activities, and convention implementation. The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), for example, has also played a role in coordinating regional views expressed in global fora. The regional banks have collaborated with the UN regional commissions and the regional offices of UN organs as well as with non-governmental bodies. 55. The growing number of regional organizations calls for enhanced cooperation among intergovernmental bodies at the regional level, and supporting secretariats, to promote harmonized approaches in policy and programme matters. This should include all regional intergovernmental entities within and outside the United Nations system, including regional development banks, regional conventions and regional trade organizations. Where strong regional support has been expressed for the overarching goal of sustainable development, governments may wish to review the individual strengths of different regional organizations, both within and outside the UN system, and determine which organization(s) can most effectively promote an integrated approach to (a) shared policy concerns and priorities, (b) data and information resources of common use, and (c) coordinated programming of operational support at the regional level. C. At the Country Level 56. The High-Level Advisory Board has stressed the importance of specifying national policy frameworks as a means of attracting donors and private foreign investors. 13/ This aspect of national strategies is relevant also for the support role of international institutions. Adequate policy frameworks can lay the groundwork for greater collaboration between international institutions and other sources of technical and financial cooperation, building from public to private investment. 57. Further efforts are required to promote cooperation for sustainable development at the country level among the institutions of the United Nations system. At the policy level, UNDP is leading the IACSD effort to harmonize various action plans within national sustainable development strategies. While the appreciation of inter-sectoral issues in managing natural resources such as land and water is growing, more needs to be done to incorporate industrial activities and human health implications into environmental/natural resources management. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The UNESCO Executive Board in 1996 reiterated its invitation to Member States "to ensure the involvement of the national focal points of UNESCO's intergovernmental scientific programmes in national action aimed at UNCED follow-up, as well as appropriate inter-institutional and cross-sectoral co-ordination and co-operation at the national level, which are considered indispensable for the effective implementation of Agenda 21. UNDP established the Capacity 21 Unit under a new Sustainable Energy and Environment Division. It has a Management Committee and works closely with the Regional Bureaux and UNDP country offices. 41 Sustainable Development Advisors (SDA) have been designated so far to foster linkages between the central programme and the implementation at the country level. There are now over 300 environment and social specialists at the Bank. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 58. Capacity building for sustainable development should be demand-driven. National sustainable development strategies are an important mechanism for linking national capacity-building objectives, which in turn encourages cooperation and partnership among international institutions at the country level. These should be linked to other initiatives in this direction including Country Strategy Notes (CSN) and country policy frameworks of the World Bank and IMF. Whatever the mechanism used, it must be country-specific; the same mechanism should be used by all actors concerned, and the government must have ownership. 59. The Bretton Woods Institutions and UNDP need to work together in capacity building on sustainable development strategies and their implementation. The work of the IACSD Task Force on Sustainable Development strategies needs to be intensified. Support to UNDP■s Capacity 21 Programme should be complemented with support both at the national and regional levels. While funding for the Capacity 21 Programme is still a limiting factor, there is a need for the broader involvement of other UN organizations in the further development and implementation of the Programme. The scope of the Programme must address all elements of sustainable development. Capacity building efforts should not stop after SD strategies have been formulated, since the implementation and updating of such strategies requires continuous support and motivation at all levels. 60. Related to national planning, the UN system has attempted to reduce inconsistencies and duplication in the requirements placed on national governments for reporting. This initiative encompasses reporting to both United Nations bodies and conventions. At this stage, the country profiles prepared for the CSD will establish a framework of general institutional and macroeconomic information, with cross-references/linkages to more specialized agency and convention databases. Ultimately, as each country is able to update and expand an integrated national profile, this will serve as a vital resource for national plans and strategies. As with the use of indicators at the national level in formulating and modifying national policies, it is important that reporting requirements first and foremost address national concerns. 61. In the area of information resources, there is a need to utilize project documentation and project review/evaluation to build up an integrated national database on natural resources/environmental baselines, conditions and trends, and impacts on them. This would assist each country in future planning and impact analysis, expedite project approval, and contribute to international understanding and support measures. The relationship between reporting, indicators, and the broader information requirements for sustainable development should be taken up at a future stage. 62. For most countries, it does not appear that existing procedures are adequate for exchanging information on project planning and development so that synergies and potential conflicts may be identified early on. The international agencies should explore additional means of bringing these issues to the attention of finance and planning ministries as well as the sectoral agencies involved, through contacts with client agencies. 63. The UNDP Resident Representative/UN Resident Coordinator has, in some cases, organized selected sectoral or thematic coordination fora with the participation of UN organizations and bilateral donor agencies. In other cases, the World Bank has played a role in coordinating donor meetings. It is, however, recognized that the responsibility for coordinating external assistance, from multi-lateral, bilateral or other international organizations, rests first and foremost with the government concerned. Governments are increasingly focusing on developing or strengthening their own capacity to coordinate the collaboration with external partners. 64. The importance of local authorities and local decision-making processes in sustainable development is becoming more and more apparent. It is highlighted, for example, in relation to sustainable cities and in relation to local jurisdiction regarding water and air pollution or coastal zone management. There are opportunities for international agencies to strengthen support for local entities in building up systematic approaches to information, policy, and programme planning and implementation. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The action programme adopted at HABITAT II serves as an organizing framework for actions at the local level to further Agenda 21. UNCHS plans further reorganization to facilitate implementation and coordination with UN agencies and other partners at that level. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- IV. LINKING THE DECISIONS OF GOVERNING BODIES 65. The governing structures of the United Nations bodies addressed in this report differ. While programmes, funds and specialized agencies have their own governing bodies and statutory authority, the departments of the United Nations are governed by ECOSOC and the General Assembly. The governing bodies of UN programmes and funds are subsidiary to either ECOSOC or the General Assembly and subject to the UN Charter, whereas the specialized agencies have their own constituent instruments and thus a more independent status. ECOSOC may make recommendations to the General Assembly and to the specialized agencies. Through consultations and recommendations, it may coordinate the agencies' activities, as well as through recommendations to the General Assembly and Member Nations. 66. The UNCED agreements modified the frame of reference for governments and international agencies toward a more integrated, anticipatory, and stakeholder-oriented approach to development aspirations and concerns. This has placed new demands on individual international institutions and requires a more cohesive and coordinated response among them to specific policy and programme priorities. 67. One of the tasks assigned to the CSD in Agenda 21 was to rationalize the intergovernmental decision-making capacity for the integration of environment and development issues. As a functional commission of ECOSOC, the CSD's ability to effect linkages among different governing bodies is governed by the principles noted above. Its decisions have no binding effect on other intergovernmental processes. However, as the only UN intergovernmental body with an in-depth overview of progress in the implementation of Agenda 21, CSD decisions carry moral weight. Moreover, the scope of its overview extends outside the UN system to other intergovernmental bodies. The impact of CSD decisions is heightened to the extent that they are based on government positions which take all the concerned ministries into account. It is sometimes also heightened by the adoption of clear, follow-up decisions in other governing bodies. 68. The implications of the UNCED agreements and subsequent follow-up decisions taken in the CSD for individual agencies have often been reaffirmed in their individual governing bodies. In some cases, the CSD decisions and work programme have been particularly influential in reinforcing subsequent policy and work programme/budget decisions in other bodies. Conversely, decisions taken in other bodies have been reaffirmed and reinforced through the CSD and, subsequently, through ECOSOC and the UNGA. At the same time, initiatives which have grown out of the more specialized focus of other agencies and programmes have had an impact in shaping the CSD vision of sustainable development. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- UNEP Governing Council UNEP's 1996-97 programme of work approved by the Governing Council, is an attempt to provide the right framework for an integrated response to the concerns of CSD. Decision 18/7 of the Governing Council: a) stressed the need for UNEP to focus on those system-wide activities of the UN system for which it has been assigned a special responsibility by Agenda 21 and the major policy issues and challenges in the field of the environment, as determined by the Governing Council; and b) emphasized the need for UNEP in accordance with its mandate and in implementation of Agenda 21, to continue to provide effective support to the work of the CSD through, inter alia, the provision of scientific, technical and policy information and advice on the environment. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 69. The CSD's full ability to encourage governments to pursue follow-up action in other governing bodies was first exercised fully in Decision 4/15 regarding institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities. This decision calls on governments to take 70.action for the formal endorsement by each competent organization of those parts of the Global Programme which are relevant to the organization's mandate and to accord appropriate priority to implementation in the work programme of each organization. 70. As a whole, sustainable development issues have continued to receive a high level of political attention in the respective governing bodies. Decisions taken in the CSD and decisions taken in individual governing bodies have helped make the best use of specialized competencies and helped focus and integrate work programmes so that they are complementary. In some cases, technical committees of the governing bodies have reviewed draft reports on chapters of Agenda 21 before they were submitted to the CSD. This has enabled governments to coordinate better their positions which may cut across the work of several ministries, and which may appear on the agenda of more than one intergovernmental body. 71. For the most part, the decisions of relevant governing bodies have been beneficial in reinforcing policy and program directions and orientations. Where expert committees in fields related to sustainable development support ECOSOC or other bodies, their deliberations and products have increasingly been coordinated with the needs and requests of the CSD. An active effort has been made by the governing bodies of various UN organizations to be informed of the work of the CSD, and vice versa, through their secretariats and government members. This has improved awareness and understanding of each others' priorities, mandates and perspectives. It has also produced results -- in the ability of individual agencies to identify and monitor activities related to UNCED and Agenda 21, in relation to formulating decisions taken in the CSD, and in decisions and priorities adopted by each agency in its respective field which are consistent with and are contributing to the overall process of UNCED follow-up. 72. As the CSD has attracted ministers from a broad range of ministries, including those of finance and development cooperation, in addition to that of the environment, it has more firmly established itself as an intergovernmental forum where multi-sectoral aspects of the integration of environment and development issues can be discussed. Nevertheless, the concept of sustainable development is still not well understood in some governing bodies where sectoral issues are the main focus. There is a tendency to associate it only with environmental concerns without recognizing its social and economic dimensions. This has led to some difficulties in coordination among governing bodies. The problem is due, in part, to the lack of inter-ministerial linkage at the country level, particularly between ministries of environment, on the one hand, and sectoral ministries, on the other. 73. The keys to linking the decisions of governing bodies are two-fold. The first step is to ensure that intergovernmental bodies and secretariats are aware of related developments in other fora. Secretariats can help draw these issues to the attention of intergovernmental bodies. The more specific the articulation of these related developments, the more helpful it is to governments. The second stage is that governments must take consistent and coherent decisions on policy and programme matters in the various intergovernmental bodies of the UN system where they are members. 74. The CSD's political role lends itself to agenda-setting in relation to critical and emerging issues, drawing on its mandate to monitor progress in meeting the objectives of Agenda 21. Its mandate to monitor progress in respect of the support available to promote sustainable development gives the CSD an interest in cost-effective use of existing and new resources. Thus, system-wide coordination and joint programming are important objectives. ECOSOC will consider further streamlining and adjustments in relation to certain of its subsidiary intergovernmental and expert bodies in 1997. Adjustments to better integrate the results of major UN conferences into the policies and programmes of the UN system may also be considered. It is important that their implications for sustainable development be considered systematically in the deliberations of the CSD. V. FUNDING ARRANGEMENTS 75. The post-UNCED period has been characterized by zero growth, if not reductions in regular budgets of most UN system organizations, which have not matched the increased demand and expectations for results in the field of sustainable development. While sustainable development concerns have been integrated into existing programmes of work and budget and priorities adjusted, with a corresponding reallocation of resources, new demands stemming from UNCED cannot be fully accommodated within existing resources. Nor, for most organizations, has the level of extrabudgetary funds for Agenda 21-related activities increased, despite greater efforts in this area. In meeting demands from existing resources, the organizations have been called upon to shift priorities and reallocate resources. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Illustrative funding arrangements Habitat: Investment for UNCHS activities in supporting sustainable development in rural and urban settlements by working with local and national partners, is highly leveraged and comes primarily from the private sector, regional development banks and the World Bank. UNHCR: Field offices are encouraged to specifically budget environmental activities within the existing operational projects, either under Special Programme or annual Programme funding. ICAO: introduced a funding mechanism to which Contracting States and funding institutions could contribute for the financing of technical co-operation projects aimed at the sustainable development of civil aviation facilities and human resources in developing countries in accordance with ICAO■s Standards and Recommended Practices. World Bank: Joint programming between Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) Vice Presidency and the regions operates within a budget provided through ■cross support■ whereby the regions provide budget resources for such joint programming initiatives. IFAD: established a technical assistance grants programme for environmental assessment and another to assist countries in implementing the Desertification Convention. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 76. Agencies have therefore been hard pressed to carry out both their mandated responsibilities and the new responsibilities stemming from UNCED. The constraints affect individual agency initiatives as well as the development and undertaking of joint efforts. The shortage of funds for existing agency programs is aggravated by the need to spread available resources over a number of new bodies and activities related to the environment and sustainable development. 77. While the financial crisis throughout the United Nations system has been a major obstacle, there is evidence from agency planning and budgeting exercises that programmes on environment and sustainable development were given priority and therefore benefitted in the reallocation of funds, or were at least spared the cutbacks suffered by other programme elements. In some cases, integrated programmes in environment and development have existed since the early 1980s, and these have long attracted extrabudgetary resources. In other cases, by integrating environmental considerations more fully into existing programmes, the agency sought to address UNCED goals and at the same time avoid establishing new programmes which might be subject to future cutbacks. A number of agencies found they were more successful in attracting funding for specific projects when the projects were identified as particularly relevant to UNCED follow-up or specific aspects of Agenda 21. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Global Environmental Facility (GEF) The GEF was restructured by Participating States in 1994, with 2 billion dollars pledged to its Trust Fund. It operates on the basis of collaboration and partnership among its Implementing Agencies (UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank), as a mechanism for international cooperation for the purpose of providing new and additional grant and concessional funding to meet agreed incremental costs of measures to achieve global environmental benefits in the areas of biodiversity, climate change, international waters, ozone layer depletion, and possibly land degradation as it relates to the other four areas. The Instrument for the Establishment of the Restructured GEF was agreed by the States participating in the GEF in March 1994, and subsequently adopted by each of its three Implementing Agencies. Project activities of the GEF are managed by one of the Implementing Agencies, which meet regularly with the GEF Secretariat to contribute to joint work programmes and to reach agreement on operational procedures. The three Implementing Agencies are accountable to the GEF Council for their GEF-financed activities, and for the implementation of the operational policies, strategies and decisions of the Council in their project activities. The GEF Assembly, which will hold its first meeting in 1998, will review the operations and general policies of the Facility. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 78. There has been some growth in extrabudgetary resources for sustainable development initiatives. Since donors usually earmark these funds for programmes of interest to them, the result is often disproportionate funding for certain countries and regions, for certain substantive areas, and in relation to particular functional activities. 79. Within the UNDP system, there has been a general reduction in the level of the Indicative Planning Figure (IPF), which has been a major source of funds for technical cooperation involving the organizations of the United Nations system. The hope that UNDP's Capacity 21 programme would become a funding source for system-wide capacity-building initiatives has so far not fully materialized, due mainly to the shortfall in funding for the programme. 80. In some instances, cooperation between UN organizations and the World Bank has grown substantially, for example in such areas as health, freshwater and food security. The GEF is another example of improving cooperation between UN agencies and the World Bank for the purpose of providing financing to achieve global environmental benefits in the areas of biodiversity, climate change, international waters and ozone layer depletion. These arrangements generally are country-driven and often based on national priorities designed to support sustainable development. 81. The Chairman/CEO of the GEF meets at least annually with the Heads of the Implementing Agencies to review strategic operational issues. At a meeting in June 1996, it was noted that the quality of GEF projects has risen appreciably over time and that the ability to commit resources to projects is proceeding satisfactorily. It was noted, however, that the disbursement of funds continues to be a challenge for the agencies, and all three Heads of Agencies committed their staff to exploring opportunities for further speeding up the processing and disbursement of GEF-project financing within their agencies. The GEF Council has approved in the last year a number of expedited procedures to enhance project approval and implementation. Also needed to be addressed in the future is the genuine concern of other agencies for their low level involvement, particularly in GEF-funded technical assistance and investment projects. 82. The international funding sources for the implementation of Agenda 21 include multilateral and bilateral funding arrangements as well as private foreign flows. While there was a decline in official bilateral and multilateral development assistance (ODA), private flows increased. But the latter is restricted in geographic allocation. 83. Another problem is that resources, without an adequate enabling environment, will not automatically lead to a shift toward sustainable activities, as considered in Section III.C. 84. The CSD is charged with monitoring resource flows for support of Agenda 21 objectives and reporting thereon. There is room for improving its role in promoting the mobilization of new and additional resources. The United Nations and other agencies should leverage their resources through closer cooperation with the private sector, for example, in areas such as specialized education and capacity building. Greater involvement of local authorities in sustainable development may offer new funding sources. VI. CONCLUSIONS Promising Changes, Unfulfilled Expectations, and Emerging Priorities 85. The international institutional arrangements put in place following UNCED could be considered a work in progress, moving in right direction. Their role should be construed as enabling sustainable development at the national level. The individual and cumulative support provided by international agencies, global and regional, should continue to develop in response to national concerns. 86. International institutions support national initiatives by facilitating access to specialized information and analyses, technical expertise and financial resources. They serve as a forum to promote international agreement on methods, policies and practices which advance sustainable development at the country level and shape country-level programme delivery. A. Individual Organizations 87. With respect to the individual organizations of the United Nations system, the feedback from intergovernmental bodies, individual governments, and major groups indicates that policy and programme changes in support of sustainable development are largely positive. This includes internal agency policies as well as the policies and practices adopted by intergovernmental bodies as guidance for national action. In all cases, strong political support at the highest levels of the organization was considered essential for achieving an organization-wide response. Following UNCED, sustainable development received substantial attention in the governing bodies of various organizations and was less subject to budget cuts. Lately, however, there are signs that this trend is changing. 88. In view of the varying functions and mandates of the organizations of the United Nations system, there is no single blueprint for organizational arrangements that promote an integrated approach. No matter what the choice of structural arrangements, coordination and cooperation throughout the organization will continue to be necessary. Efforts are needed to improve training and reward structures for interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives. 89. It is critical that structural arrangements and the expansion and integration of expertise related to sustainable development be reinforced by corresponding financial arrangements both inside and outside the organization. If budget allocations concentrate on sectoral or departmental outputs without providing for interdisciplinary input and coordinating arrangements, the best policies and procedures will not be matched by results. 90. To assist in future institutional reviews, it would be useful to articulate clear criteria and standards for assessing the relevance and impact of these changes. 91. It would be useful to examine how the potential of specialized bodies outside the United Nations system could contribute most effectively to the information and advisory needs of international organizations and convention processes, bearing in mind the importance of professional organizations as a source of peer review and quality control for methodological approaches and data products. B. System-Wide Coordination and Linking the Decisions of Governing Bodies 92. The overarching goal of sustainable development requires an unprecedented degree of multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral coordination. The challenges for institutional arrangements at all levels are daunting. The IACSD Task Manager system has made some important inroads, but greater efforts are needed on the part of both intergovernmental and secretariat arrangements. The need for feedback among the different functions of intergovernmental bodies -- in data and information resources, the formulation of policies and practices, and operational programmes -- has only begun to be addressed. 93. If international institutions are to respond to national sustainable development concerns, it must be helpful if the latter are integrated into a single national framework for country-level action. As these are lacking in many countries, effective international support cannot be optimally programmed. Nevertheless, by sharing lessons learned and improving system-wide coordination at the country level, international organizations can help country efforts to integrate sustainable development concerns into a country-specific framework for action and subsequently into programmes and projects. More efforts are needed to ensure that a country-driven balance is reflected in national strategies among economic (e.g. agriculture and industry), social (e.g. health and education) and natural resource (e.g. environmental protection/conservation) development. 94. National concerns and priorities are also reflected in the decisions of regional and global bodies. The work programmes of the conventions express more immediate priorities of a transboundary, regional or global nature. In this respect, they help focus programme support. More efforts are needed to coordinate these immediate, focused concerns with the broader objectives and initiatives of international institutions. 95. At the global level, the Commission on Sustainable Development, in delivering its functions outlined in GA resolution 47/191 in the future, should focus on those areas where it has comparative strength. It could continue to provide a forum for periodic review of the overall progress in the implementation of Agenda 21; for policy debate and consensus building on sustainable development issues; for strengthening partnerships for sustainable development, including with major groups. In other areas, such as coordination of implementation at the national level or sectoral assessments, the Commission could limit itself to maintaining and strengthening communication/interaction with other actors involved in Agenda 21 implementation. The aim would be to advise ECOSOC and the General Assembly on the promotion of coherent actions and provide general policy guidance. 96. The mandate of the CSD, as the intergovernmental forum to monitor overall follow-up to UNCED, including implementation of Agenda 21, contemplates linkages beyond the United Nations system to include conventions and intergovernmental bodies outside the system. It permits an overview of these arrangements and their cumulative effects in relation to the UNCED objectives. The decisions taken in the CSD have reinforced decisions taken in other bodies, but the full potential of the CSD to rationalize intergovernmental decision-making capacity for the integration of environment and development issues has not been realized. There is a need for governments to ensure that the views they express on policy and programme matters in different intergovernmental bodies are generally consistent and coherent. 97. For the most part, the decisions of the CSD and the decisions of other governing bodies have been mutually supportive. The respective secretariats have kept their governing bodies informed of related developments. UNEP■s Governing Council, for example, maintains a close relationship with the CSD through the UNEP Secretariat. Relevant CSD decisions are brought to the attention of the Governing Council at its regular sessions, in order that they are taken fully into account in the execution of its role to direct and prioritize the work of the Programme. The Governing Council at its 18th session, re-emphasized the need for UNEP, in accordance with its mandate and in implementation of Agenda 21, to continue to provide effective support to the work of the CSD. The decision 18/7 of the UNEP■s Governing Council clarifies the mandates and practices of the Governing Council and its Secretariat in relation to the mandate and practice of CSD and the IACSD. 98. With regard to other bodies, programmes and organizations of the United Nations system, including financial institutions, their future role in the implementation of Agenda 21 seems two-fold: a) the main focus of their activities should be the coordinated implementation of specific programmes and activities emanating from Agenda 21, conventions relevant to sustainable development, and the decisions taken after UNCED by the CSD and other bodies and conferences. Priority here should be given to achieving synergy, promoting joint programming and supporting implementation at national level. b) they should continue to support sustainable development debate in the CSD by providing the Commission with expert advice and policy proposals on specific aspects of sustainable development. Such advice would be provided through their governing and policy-making bodies as well as through their secretariats. 99. The IACSD and its Task Manager system has been effective in pulling together theme-oriented reports which summarize the agencies' activities. Questions about the respective roles and mandates of different organizations have been addressed at the inter-agency level through the IACSD■s Task Manager system which established a division of labour with regard to Agenda 21. At the intergovernmental level, the CSD provides an overview of UNCED follow-up, which can enable more consistent and coherent decision-making by governments. 100. Affirmation of the economic, social, environmental and cultural principles inherent in the concept of sustainable development would be enhanced by more systematic consideration of the follow-up to UNCED and related major United Nations conferences. The means for intergovernmental and inter-agency follow-up need to be further elaborated. The results of major UN conferences related to sustainable development should be treated in an integrated manner in the deliberations of the CSD, which should consider also how to improve support for integrated follow-up at regional and national levels. Further streamlining and adjustments may be appropriate to avoid duplication of functions within the structure of ECOSOC. 101. As the number of decision-making fora has multiplied, particularly through the conventions, it has become increasingly difficult for governments, agencies and others to discern the relationships among many related policy and programme mandates. A collaborative process among secretariats can highlight specific policy and programme relationships as initiatives are developed in international institutions and convention processes, global and regional. Secretariats should assist intergovernmental decision-making by ensuring that intergovernmental decision-making takes into account any issues of consistency. The information may be useful at the national level in preparing for international fora and in forging integrated responses to the conventions and policy documents adopted by United Nations institutions and major conferences. To help governments and others have a coherent overview, it may be useful for the cooperating secretariats to develop reporting formats which clearly indicate intergovernmental guidance given by governing bodies, as well as interactions and synergies among agency (and convention) initiatives in relation to data and information, policy formulation, and operational programmes. Regional and sectoral implications could also be summarized. 102. In order to fulfill the role envisaged for the Task Manager system by the IACSD, it should evolve at the global level from report-preparing mechanism to a mechanism which promotes inter-agency cooperation on multisectoral issues. Further means should be explored to promote forms of joint programming among UN system organizations and convention secretariats. The participation of representatives of convention secretariats in inter-agency arrangements would be useful, depending on the agenda of the fora. Existing mechanisms at regional and country level could use this same modality. The need for inter-sectoral cooperation in sustainable development and scarcer resources, favour greater use of joint-programming modalities, which may or may not necessarily be system-wide. IACSD at the inter-agency level and the CSD at the intergovernmental level need to reflect on how they can promote, including through the use of incentives, these types of cooperative arrangements. Such arrangements could include normative work at the global and regional levels, as well as technical assistance at country level. 103. A significant challenge for the IACSD will be how to make its multisectoral system-wide initiatives and more focused, inter-sectoral arrangements more mutually reinforcing and supportive of national and regional level activities. Further consideration of Task Manager roles may be necessary if its mandated functions are to be performed optimally. In particular, clarification is needed on what task managers can and cannot do to strengthen programme delivery at country and regional levels, given that IACSD was originally conceived to be a global-level mechanism and that mechanisms for cooperation at the national and regional levels already exist. 104. There is a need for better understanding of the costs involved in an effective Task Manager system in terms of staff time in preparing discussion papers and reports and face to face interaction among representatives of different institutions at global and regional levels. These costs may grow as joint programming expands but may be off-set where there are possibilities to pool human and financial resources. 105. The CSD has a special role to play in reaching out to build new alliances and partnerships and promote contributions and interactions with major groups. Task Managers should ensure consultations with major groups in preparing reports and joint programmes, both at individual and inter-agency levels. Representativity and selectivity of major groups are becoming issues as their numbers expand. Modalities and criteria are needed and the IACSD, or some other inter-agency mechanisms, may wish to pursue these issues. The experience of the organizations with NGO consultative mechanisms to improve programme design and delivery should be studied as a basis for refinements. Improvements are needed in procedures for NGO participation in the Bretton Woods Institutions. 106. At the regional level, there is a need to use intergovernmental and inter-agency processes more effectively in order to address issues which are regional in nature and require a regional response. The multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral mandates of the United Nations regional commissions and of certain regional bodies outside the United Nations system are conducive to broad-based discussions of these issues at both policy and technical levels. The background material suggested above on relationships among the policies and programmes of international institutions and convention processes could help inform these discussions and relate them to priorities consistently expressed at the regional level. 107. The role of regional convention processes in defining and shaping specialized initiatives warrants further attention. There is growing emphasis on regional agreements and more detailed regional implementing instruments, as well as on regional implementation. Convention secretariats and international agency staff are increasingly called upon to assist governments at the regional level in preparing for convention fora and implementing the results. These activities range from awareness-raising and interpretation to the types of policies, laws, institutions, information, and technical measures called for. Advice on the relationships among a growing array of conventions is increasingly the subject of requests for assistance. 108. When it comes to programme delivery and implementation, improvements are needed to ensure that the policy and programme initiatives of United Nations institutions, consistent with their mandates, respond to needs and priorities identified in the region. Institutional arrangements should ensure effective consultations and coordination between the headquarters and regional organs of the system, both at regional and country levels. Enhanced cooperation at regional and national levels is needed also among all institutions represented at the regional level, whether within or outside the United Nations system. 109. Consideration should be given to whether a Task Manager type of approach could enhance cooperation among intergovernmental bodies and their secretariats represented at the regional level. In the first instance, this would involve organizations of the United Nations system. More consideration needs to be given to coordination and cooperation with regional intergovernmental bodies and their secretariats outside the system, including the conventions. The growing number of regional organizations requires a clear division of labour and a better use of existing regional cooperation mechanisms. This would help strengthen the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of actors in the region. Where regional arrangements can cost-effectively support and reinforce national action, they should be strengthened. 110. Institutional arrangements also need to be strengthened to ensure effective consultation and coordination between the headquarters and regional organs of the system, both at regional and country levels. Such arrangements help devolve implementation actions related to Agenda 21 from the global to the regional level, as stressed by CSD at its fourth session. The follow-up to UNCED calls for interaction and partnerships among a wide range of regional entities within and outside the UN system, as part of such arrangements. This should include closer cooperation and coherence between the work of different regional intergovernmental bodies and their secretariats. 111. These issues should be reviewed by the IACSD and/or through existing inter-agency mechanisms at the regional level, and by governments in each region, bearing in mind the ECOSOC review of regional arrangements in 1997. 112. At the national level, a more effective and mutually supportive link must be developed between global policy discussion, national needs and realities, and UN system support to implementation at the national and regional levels. It is essential to ensure that policy decisions and recommendations on sustainable development adopted at the global level are translated into specific programmes and projects carried out in relevant sectors/areas by agencies and organizations, and into concrete actions at the field level. At the same time, policy discussions on sustainable development could benefit from practical experiences gained through international cooperation at the country and regional levels, as well as in specific sectoral programmes. 113. Capacity building for sustainable development, in turn, should respond to country-specific needs articulated in the country framework document, wherein capacity building needs in the different disciplines and sectors could be related. National sustainable development strategies are an important mechanism for relating capacity-building needs in different disciplines and sectors, while providing an actual/potential framework for country-level action in sustainable development. It is important that the Bretton Woods Institutions -- World Bank and IMF -- work together with UNDP to strengthen capacities for developing and implementing these strategies, keeping in mind country-specific nature and government ownership of the process. 114. The work of the IACSD Task Force on Sustainable Development Strategies needs to be intensified and harmonized with parallel processes with Country Strategy Notes, Country Policy Frameworks and aid coordination. While funding for UNDP's Capacity 21 Programme is a limiting factor, there is also a need for the broader involvement of other UN organizations in its refinement and implementation. The scope of the Programme must address all elements of sustainability, including social and economic aspects. Moreover, capacity building should not stop once general national sustainable development strategies have been formulated. A national strategy is a dynamic instrument which requires ongoing attention and specialized expertise in relation to particular sectors. Support and motivation at the regional level can be important in furthering these objectives at the national level. New mechanisms for consultation and cooperation at the regional level, considered above, could improve international support for capacity-building. 115. There is not yet a well consolidated means of coordinating country-level programming among the organizations of the United Nations system, let alone other the wider range of bilateral and multilateral support programs. Further work is needed among the agencies to bring issues of coordination and integration to the attention of finance and planning ministries as well as sectoral agencies, and there is a need to examine how information resources identified and developed in the course of projects can contribute to integrated national databases in support of national sustainable development. The relationship between reporting, indicators, and the broader information requirements for sustainable development should be taken up at a future stage. 116. The growing importance of local decision-making with regard to Agenda 21 objectives calls for greater attention to local level Agenda 21s and partnerships with local authorities. 117. At all levels, it is important to reinforce the post-UNCED trend emphasizing cooperation among United Nations bodies and conventions as well as alliances with new partners, including non-United Nations bodies and conventions, bilateral donors, regional development banks, and major groups. C. Funding Arrangements 118. The decline in ODA and the ongoing financial crisis of the United Nations system have placed serious constraints on funding for the objectives of UNCED. The UN organizations have faced years of zero or negative growth in their regular budgets, while programme demands have increased steadily. UNCED follow-up activities have placed substantial additional demands on the system, and extrabudgetary resources were necessary to meet these needs. As a result, the ratio of extrabudgetary funding to regular budget resources has increased. 119. Discrepancies increasingly exist between programme priorities identified by governing bodies and the funds made available in regular budgets. While donors may make extrabudgetary funds available to supplement the regular budget, they usually earmark them for a special part of the approved programme of interest to the donor. This may reduce the organization's flexibility in meeting broad programme objectives. Donor governments providing extrabudgetary support are urged to take into account priorities set by the governing bodies of the organizations concerned. Other governments are urged to join the few countries which presently provide extrabudgetary support for UNCED follow-up activities, through both regular and extrabudgetary resources. 120. While some economies may have resulted from reallocating existing budgets to better reflect sustainable development goals, the expanded demands for technical and financial assistance to implement them has far surpassed funds available from the generally reduced budgets of the committed organizations. Core funding is needed to maintain and strengthen in-house expertise in the relevant disciplines and sectors and to ensure effective inter-agency coordination at all levels. 121. The level of funding available to support international initiatives related to UNCED goals, for example through the GEF and Capacity 21, has not met original expectations. Drastically reduced contributions to the International Development Association (IDA) undermine the ability of the poorest nations to move toward sustainable development. Support to UNDP's Capacity 21 Programme should be complemented with support at the national and regional levels. 122. In 1997 a replenishment of the financial resources of the GEF will be negotiated. A successful replenishment will be of critical importance for the achievement of the GEF mission of integrating global environmental concerns into the sustainable development process and for realizing the goals of the global environmental conventions negotiated during the Rio process, as well as for the continued financial viability of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions. 123. The level of funding and its sources remains a critical issue, but equally important is the way in which funds are used. Without an adequate enabling environment for sustainable activities, funding alone will not suffice. International and national sectoral agencies should improve their dialogue with national economic and financial authorities in order to mobilize resources and , helping to forge an integrated programme for sustainable development. This approach should be reinforced by the international financial institutions which interact primarily with economic and financial authorities. 124. Funding strategies at both local and global levels should aim at developing sources of funding for sustainable development and for exploring innovative fund-raising schemes. To foster public-private partnerships, for example, programmes should be more effectively formulated. 125. The CSD can play a very useful role in promoting diversified and innovative funding arrangements with its full range of partners. ENDNOTES 1) E/CN.17/1996/16, 28 February 1996; and Background Paper No.1 2) Background paper No. 11, Report of the Meeting of Regional Institutions (New York, 6-7 December, 1995). 3) An Inter-Agency Expert Group Meeting on Post-UNCED Institutional Arrangements was convened by DPCSD in New York, 31 October - 1 November 1996, to assess progress in individual organizations of the United Nations system and with respect to several aspects of system-wide coordination. 4) ACC statement to the special session (E/CN.17/1997/13). 5) Terms of Reference for the IFCS, Annex I to the Resolution on the establishment of an IFCS, Doc. IPCS/IFCS/94.Res.1, 19 April 1994, as contained in UN Doc. E/CN.17/1994/19, 12 May 1994. The conference establishing the IFCS was convened by the executive heads of ILO, WHO, UNEP and held in Stockholm at the invitation of the Government of Sweden. 6) Of particular relevance are discussions on funding the operational activities for development of the United Nations system; review of the mandates, composition, functions and working methods of ECOSOC functional commissions and expert groups and bodies; review of the regional commissions; inter-agency coordination; and the relationship between the United Nations and international finance and trade institutions. A/RES/50/227, 1 July 1996. 7) The ACC has established three inter-agency task forces for this purpose, concerned with (a) an enabling environment for social and economic development, (b) employment and sustainable livelihoods, and (c) basic social services for all. These are seen as complementing the work of the IACSD task managers. Report of the Seventh Meeting of the IACSD, ACC/1991/1, 6 March 1996. 8) E/1993/15, 1 February 1993 and Press Release SG/A/548, ENV/DEV/211, 1 July 1993. 9) Working with NGOs: Operational Activities for Development of the UN System with NGOs and Governments at the Grassroots and National Levels, prepared by F. Mezzalama and S. Schumm, Joint Inspection Unit (Geneva 1993); and Participation by NGOs in the GEF, GEF/PA.93/2, 30 November 1993. 10) A/RES/50/227, 1 July 1996, Annex I, para. 36. 11) Report of UNCED: Institutional Arrangements, Report of the Secretary-General, A/47/598, 29 October 1992. 12) A/RES/50/227, 1 July 1996, Annex I, para. 74. 13) Report of the High Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development at its fourth session(New York, 30 May - 1 June 1995).
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Date last posted: 10 December 1999 17:25:35