United Nations
Commission on Sustainable Development

Background Paper


Commission on Sustainable Development              Background Paper No.23
Sixth Session
20 April-1 May 1998


              ASSESSMENT OF PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION
                   OF AGENDA 21 AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL:
                        SUMMARY TABLES AND GRAPHS


                            TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                               Pages

I.  Introduction                                                 1-3

2.  Ratification of International Agreements                     4-6

3.    National Decision-Making Structures
      Africa                                                      7
      Asia and the Pacific                                        8
      Europe and Northern America                                 9
      Latin America and the Caribbean                            10
      Analysis of Implementation by All Reporting Countries      11

4.    National Instruments and Programmes
      Africa                                                     12
      Asia and the Pacific                                       13
      Europe and Northern America                                14
      Latin America and the Caribbean                            15
      Analysis of Implementation by All Reporting Countries      16

5.    Policies, Programmes and Legislation (Sectors)
      Africa                                                     17
      Asia and the Pacific                                       18
      Europe and Northern America                                19
      Latin America and the Caribbean                            20
      Analysis of Implementation by All Reporting Countries      21


                                 *      *      *

                                  INTRODUCTION


      The information contained in this background document is
supplementary to a number of other documents being submitted to the sixth
session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, including the
following:

      -     Report of the Secretary-General on National Reporting to the
            Commission on Sustainable Development (E/CN.17/1998/8)

      -     Report of the Secretary-General on Modalities for the Exchange
            of National Experiences at the Regional Level (E/CN.17/1998/9)

      -     Assessment of progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at
            the national level: table of key coordination mechanisms and
            actions (Background Paper # 24).

      -     List of official sustainable development contacts (Background
            Paper # 25).

      -     List of  official World Wide Web Sites identified by
            Governments (Background Paper #26)

      Each of these documents focuses on different aspects of the same
data, that is, information provided by Governments to the Commission on
Sustainable Development.  This background document attempts to capture
graphically some of the key areas of national progress  in the
implementation of Agenda 21.  It is based on the information provided by
Governments both in the 1997 Country Profiles and in response to the 1998
Guidelines. As of 31 March 1998, one hundred and six countries have
submitted national information.

      This document includes ratification of major international
agreements of relevance to sustainable development, national decision-
making structures, national instruments and programmes, and sectoral
policies, programmes and legislation.  Information is given by country,
grouped by regions.  An area referred to as -Northern Americaž which
includes Canada and the United States, is combined with Europe.

      At the end of each section there is a summary table on
implementation by all reporting countries by subject area.  This provides
an opportunity to compare progress across sectors and issues.  For more
detailed information, please refer to the UN System-Wide Web Site on
Sustainable Development, which draws on the national reports to the UN
Commission on Sustainable Development to present country- and issue-
specific information on sustainable development worldwide, with
hyperlinks to relevant web sites throughout the United Nations System,
the Secretariats of the Conventions and official web sites of national
Governments.  Information is updated as it is received from Governments.

             WWW address is: http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo

                            Notes on the Methodology

General Issues:

      Every effort has been made by the Secretariat to interpret the
country data accurately.  Nonetheless, it should be kept in mind that
some ambiguities in the texts were inevitable, and this might have
resulted in errors in interpretation and analysis.  In particular, the
following points should be kept in mind in reading the graphs:

1.    Information has been taken from the 1997 Country Profiles submitted
      to the fifth session of the CSD, as well as information received
      from Governments in response to the 1998 Guidelines. Information from
      a total of 106 countries has been analyzed.

2.    A blank space may indicate either a -nož or a lack of information.
      As more information becomes available, these graphs will be updated.

3.    Many developing countries and countries with economies in transition
      have recognized and even emphasized the importance of formulating
      integrative policies and programmes in various areas, but note that
      action has been prevented because of a lack of resources. 
      The graphs have no method for reflecting "good will" in the absence of
      action, but it is important and should be taken into account.

4.    The overall political structure of a country may colour its
      responses.  For example, a country with a weak federal authority
      but strong provincial or state authorities is less likely to reflect
      the existence of major national programmes and plans.  At the same time,
      comprehensive and integrative action may be taking place at
      decentralized levels.  In a standardized graphs or table, it is not
      always possible to capture these nuances.

5.    Several countries have policies that are officially referred to as
      "sustainable development" policies, or some variant thereof.  Many also
      have "environmental policies" In general, if an "environmental"
      policy is defined by the country as incorporating most or all of the
      issues contained in Agenda 21 in an integrative manner, it was
      considered to be equivalent to a "sustainable development" policy. 
      If, however, there was no explanation of the policy, or if it were
      clearly designated as strictly environmental, it was not considered to
      be a national sustainable development policy.

Sectoral Issues:

6.    In the sectoral areas, credit has been given specifically for "Policies,
      Programmes and Legislation".  Consequently, a number of important
      activities may be underway in a country but not indicated here. 
      However, where a set of activities has been presented as an integrated
      and consistent whole, it has been presumed that this reflects
      the existence of at least an implicit policy or programme.

7.    Some sectors are not particularly relevant for some countries, and
      where possible, it has been indicated as "not applicable" (n/a). 
      This should be taken into consideration when reading these graphs. 
      Countries may also have chosen to report a single programme in the
      chapter on forests or agriculture, for example, when, in fact, the
      programme is addressing all or most of  the  areas of Agenda 21. 
      The Secretariat has attempted to identify these cases and reflect them
      appropriately, as possible.

8.    In some cases, countries may not have a national programme, because
      of lack of  relevance, but they are heavily involved in supporting
      bilateral and multilateral efforts in other countries.  This is
      particularly true in the area of deserts.  Such international assistance
      has not been included in the graphs since the emphasis here is on
      national action at the national level.

                                 *      *      *


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PLEASE NOTE: The Secretariat would like to provide the Commission
with information as accurate and up-to-date as possible.  Countries
are invited to provide their additions or corrections to the National
Information Analysis Office of the Division for Sustainable
Development.  Contact: Ms. Maria Mercedes Sanchez, Tel. (212) 963.9421.
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Ratification of International Agreements (not available)

National Decision-Making Structure
    Africa (not available)
    Asia and Pacific (not available)
    Europe, Northern America (not available)
    Latin America and Caribbean (not available)

National Decision-Making Structure - Analysis of Implementation by All
Reporting Countries (not available)

National Instruments and Programmes
    Africa (not available)
    Asia and Pacific (not available)
    Europe, Northern America (not available)
    Latin America and Caribbean (not available)

National Instruments and Programmes - Analysis of Implementation by All
Reporting Countries (not available)

Policies, Programmes, and Legislation
    Africa (not available)
    Asia and Pacific (not available)
    Europe, Northern America (not available)
    Latin America and Caribbean (not available)

Policy, Programmes, and Legislation - Analysis of Implementation by All
Reporting Countries (not available)

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30
Comments and suggestions: DESA/DSD