United Nations


General Assembly

12 May 1997

                                 OF AGENDA 21

            Letter dated 6 May 1997 from the Permanent Representative
            of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations addressed
                          to the Secretary-General

    I have the honour to inform you that the 97th Conference of the
Inter-Parliamentary Union was held at Seoul from 10 to 15 April 1997,
at the invitation of the Parliament of the Republic of Korea.  The
Conference brought together 572 Members of Parliament from 118
countries and the representatives of 25 observer delegations.

    As the host country of the 97th Conference of the Inter-
Parliamentary Union, I also have the honour to transmit to you
herewith the results of the Conference.

    I should be grateful if you would have the text of the present
letter and its annex circulated as a document of the nineteenth
special session of the General Assembly.

                                     (Signed)  PARK Soo Gil      
                                         Permanent Representative


                                  [Original:  English and French]


   Resolution adopted without a vote by the 97th Inter-Parliamentary
                  Conference (Seoul, 14 April 1997)

The 97th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

    Wishing to contribute to the Special Session of the United Nations
General Assembly on Agenda 21,

1. Urges parliaments and parliamentarians the world over to bring
pressure to bear on their governments to ensure that, as the,y
participate in the June 1997 global evaluation of Rio follow-up
measures, they reaffirm the commitments undertaken in 1992, adopt
decisions making it possible to reinforce action taken since then, and
set concrete, measurable goals with precise deadlines, and calk on
parliaments to adopt measures to establish the legal framework for
honouring such commitments;

2. Urges that parliamentarians be included in the National Delegations
attending the special session of the United Nations General Assembly
and recommends that delegations to the next IPU Conference present an
assessment of measures taken by governments, and of progress achieved
on proposals approved during the 97th InterParliamentary Conference
(Seoul, April 1997);

3. Adopts the following Declaration to be submitted to the General
Assembly Special Session.



"To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for
all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns
of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic

(Principle 8 of the Rio Declaration)

    Throughout its evaluations of the follow-up to Rio, the
Inter-Parliamentary Union has been struck by the fact that, although
the Earth Summit created general awareness of the issues relating to
sustainable development, this awareness has not brought about a
world-wide improvement in the environment through a radical shift in
the dominant development model or a reduction in inequalities between
rich and poor within countries and from one reason to another.

    The Inter-Parliamentary Union cautions against the dangers of a
«wait-and-see policy », which has already led to a worsening of the
situation since Rio and could cause the destruction of humanity. It
believes that preserving the world partnership for sustainable
development should be given the highest possible priority, and that
governments of both North

    In South therefore have no choice but to honour the commitments
undertaken after lengthy consideration in Rio.

    In this connection, it forcefully reaffirms that granting the
developing countries foreseeable, new and additional financial
resources remains one of the keys to the achievement of sustainable
development throughout the world.

    Considering however that the economic, social and environmental
dimensions of the concept of sustainable development are inseparable,
it realises that financial input on its own is not enough. It must be
accompanied by an overall policy likely to ensure that this concept
becomes ingrained in citizens' behaviour. The advantage of such a
policy is that it also mobilises additional resources and allows cost
savings, e.g. by reducing expenditure on repairing damage caused by
unsustainable production and consumption patterns.

    The question of consumption and production patterns is at the core
of sustainable development issues. It crystallises the aspiration of
all inhabitants of the planet to live in the best possible conditions
and pass on to their descendants an environment Which will enable them
in turn to achieve this legitimate aspiration. It touches on the
notion of interdependence between generations and between the
different countries and regions.

    This fundamental issue is at the heart of the concerns which gave rise

- Civilisation today is endangered by the consequences of
overexploitation of resources, which compromises the Earth's capacity
to sustain the human species and other forms of life;

- Despite this overexploitation of nature, hundreds of millions of
persons still live below the poverty threshold;

- Such inequalities constitute an ongoing threat to the peace and
security of many countries and, ultimately, to the economic and
political stability of the planet.

    In Rio, States had the following to say:

- The constant degradation of the world environment is primarily due to
lifestyles an.; consumption patterns that stand in the way of
sustainable development;

- These lifestyles and consumption patterns are largely due to the
development model of the industrialised world;

- It is essential to alter them since most countries in the world use
this model as a basis .

    On the basis of these considerations, governments committed
themselves, within the framework of the principle of « common yet
differentiated responsibility »:

- To seeking production patterns which, while favouring growth, on the
one hand reduce consumption of energy and non-renewable resources and
on the other hand limit pollution, particularly the production of
environmentally harmful waste;

- To adopting harmonious consumption patterns which could be satisfied
by natural resources on a sustainable basis.

    Since UNCED and despite difficulties in applying the
recommendations of Agenda 21, there are signs of progress:

- Community organisations and the media are playing an increasingly
important role in encouraging consumers to adopt environmentally sound

- Consumers in industrialised countries appear more willing to opt for
non-polluting, recyclable products. Accordingly, a broad range of
goods, services and equipment has been designed on the basis of
environmental considerations;

- Some governments have set an example by applying instruments for
intervention in such fields as regulation, incentives and
disincentives, information and education, and the development and
dissemination of environmentally sound technologies;

    Although encouraging such process is far from sufficient to meet
the soaring increase in human needs generated by unsustainable
population growth and a development model based on unsound utilisation
of natural resources. Indeed, eminent observers have noted that the
world has reached the limits of resources available to satisfy such

    Soil depletion, dwindling water resources. world-wide deforestation,
depletion of ocean resources, emissions of gas into the atmosphere etc., are
seriously jeopardising humanity's chances for survival.

    The number of areas experiencing food shortages is on the increase
due to declining production and rising prices.

    Collision with the limits of development could well lead to major
destabilisation of societies; for the environmental crisis causes not
only damage to the environment but economic decline and social
disintegration as well. In an ever-growing number of countries, the
economic impact of pollution and depletion of natural resources has
resulted in falling production, lost jobs and declining exports. Yet
the Inter-Parliamentary Union recognises that radical changes in the
behaviour patterns that have led to this situation cannot be made
overnight. However, rethinking society in the light of natural
constraints and limits, and reconsidering a conception of well-being
and prosperity which is based on the idea that natural resources are
free and may be utilised indefinitely, must be a rapid process.

    Accordingly, it appeals to all acto authorities, companies, NGOs,
international and national organisations, academia and, in particular,
the scientific community, etc. - to encourage and join in such a

    It urges governments and parliaments to redouble their efforts to
adopt and implement national and international policies which are
really conducive to harmonising lifestyles with the fundamental
principles of sustainable development, though without lowering living
standards and the quality of life.

    It recalls in this connection the need to integrate environmental
considerations at all levels of economic decision-making by studying
and adopting policy packages and complementary instruments like the
phasing-out of subsidies conducive to environmentally harmful
production patterns, the internalisation of environmental costs,
eco-taxes, the application of the " polluter pays " principle,
together with that of rewarding non-polluters, systematic
environmental impact studies. etc.

    It calls for the adoption at the international level of adequately
co-ordinated measures to promote environmental consciousness in trade
so as to prevent ecological damage as well as importation and
exportation of goods that are produced using non environmentally sound
technologies, without introducing non-tariff barriers to trade with
developing countries.

    It recommends that governments introduce such measures and
instruments by stages after conducting awareness-building campaigns,
and that they provide financial compensation for vulnerable groups,
households and small and medium-sized industries whose costs could
well rise.

    It invites those responsible for economic policy and regional
development to adopt the eco-space concept so as to ensure that the
consumption potential of the inhabitants of a given region matches the
carrying capacity of the region's ecosystems.

    It stresses the usefulness of the principle of eco-efficiency
which makes it possible to maximise the productivity of energy and
material inputs in order to reduce resource consumpbon and
pollution/waste per unit of output.

    It stresses the need to rationalise transport of passengers and
goods so as to avoid the increase in ecological and social costs which
derives from new patterns of production and lifestyles.

    It invites governments to pursue their efforts along these lines
by systematically applying eco-efficiency criteria themselves, inter
alia to public-sector procurement and investment policies, for example
by encouraging households to integrate these criteria in their
consumpbon strategies, and by urging companies to apply them more
broadly so as to be able to "produce more while polluting less".

    It is convinced that all measures and all instruments which are
supposed to have an impact on the behaviour of consumers and producers
must be studied within the framework of dose co-operation between the
public and private sector and that, to facilitate implementation,
NGOs, consumer associations, trade unions and all other actors of
civil society should be involved in this exercise.

     It calls for a clear and internationally compatible consumer
information system.

    It advocates evaluations making it possible to measure both the
effectiveness and the impact, on economic development, of all
instruments used to effect changes in consumption and production
patterns. The results of such studies should be published at the
national and international levels primarily in order .o promote the
pooling of information on experience gathered.

    It urges governments to introduce the issue of sustainable
development in comprehensive curricula of educational institutions at
all levis with a view, in particular, to preparing young people to
adopt radically different and sound behaviour patterns in their adult

    It stresses that it is up to the industrialised countries to set
the example within their own countries and regions and to transfer
their experience to developing countries.

    It calls on the developed nations of the world to take special
care to ensure that subsidised exports to developing countries do not
negatively affect the fragile economies of those countries

    In particular, it urges all actors of the industrialised countries
(public and private enterprise, transnational corporations,
development institutions, etc.) to see to it that they transfer only
environmentally sound technologies and production processes (including
technologies and processes for handling and disposal of waste) to the
developing countries.

    It stresses the need to establish effective co-operation in the
field of environmental protection and to co-ordinate environmental
aspects of the economic activities of neighbouring countries which
form a single environmental and economic area and it urges the
intentional community, especially governments and parliaments, to
discourage the transfer of nuclear waste to other countries, whose
ability to dispose of them safely has not yet been verified

    It calls on the developed countries to provide the developing
countries with technical and financial assistance in the use of
environmentally friendly technologies; and further calls on the
developed countries to fulfil their pledge to contribute 0.7% of their
GNP to Official Development Assistance by the year 2000, taking into
consideration the need to eradicate poverty.

    It stresses that these technologies and processes should be
demand-oriented, environmentally sound and tailored to the reeds of
their potential users, in the light of the social, economic and
cultural situation and priorities of the countries concerned giving
preference, whenever possible, to local environmentally sound
technologies which are likely to foster sustainable development.

    It urges - States, especially the developed ones, to reallocate
resources intended for military objectives to such peaceful purposes
as development co-operation that will foster the well-being of the
peoples of the developing world.

    It calls on ail individual parliamentarians and States to work
together for regional and international peace and security, which are
essential to truly sustainable development.

    Lastly, it recalls that sustainable development can only be
achieved by better economic and social policies and conditions,
especially regarding the status of women, and calls for the
introduction of gender-affirmative programmes to raise awareness in
women so as to enable them to play a more active role in introducing
the changes needed to eliminate consumption and production patterns
which impede sustainable development.


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Date last posted: 15 January 2000 16:15:30
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