United Nations System-Wide
  Working Paper 3 - UNEP/EWWP4/3 of 2 March 1998

Agenda Item 4: Task Manager functions for Chapter 40

(Adopted by the Special Session of the General Assembly, 23-27 June 1997)
[emphasis added]

1. Integration of economic, social and environmental objectives

24. (b) In integrating economic, social and environmental objectives, it is important that a broad package of policy instruments, including regulation, economic instruments, internalization of environmental costs in market prices, environmental and social impact analysis and information, be worked out in the light of country-specific conditions to ensure that integrated approaches are effective and cost-efficient. To this end, a transparent and participatory process should be promoted....

Changing consumption and production patterns

28. ...Actions in this area should focus on:

(c) Developing core indicators to monitor critical trends in consumption and production patterns, with industrialized countries taking the lead;


31. ...The clear linkage between health and the environment needs to be emphasized and the lack of information on the impact of environmental pollution on health should be addressed. Health issues should be fully integrated into national and subnational sustainable development plans and should be incorporated into project and programme development as a component of environmental impact assessments. Important to efforts at national levels is international cooperation in disease prevention, early warning, surveillance, reporting, training and research, and treatment.

2. Sectors and issues


34. ...There is an urgent need to:

(f) Strengthen the capability of Governments and international institutions to collect and manage information, including scientific, social and environmental data, in order to facilitate the integrated assessment and management of water resources, and foster regional and international cooperation for information dissemination and exchange through cooperative approaches among United Nations institutions, including UNEP, and centres for environmental excellence. In this regard, technical assistance to developing countries will continue to be important;

Oceans and seas

36. ...there is an urgent need for:

(g) Governments to take actions, individually and through their participation in competent global and regional forums, to improve the quality and quantity of scientific data as a basis for effective decisions related to the protection of the marine environment and the conservation and management of marine living resources; in this regard, greater international cooperation is required to assist developing countries, in particular small island developing States, to operationalize data networks and clearing houses for information-sharing on oceans. In this context, particular emphasis must be placed on the collection of biological and other fisheries-related information and the resources for its collation, analysis and dissemination.


54. There is also a need to strengthen systematic observational networks to identify the possible onset and distribution of climate change and assess potential impacts, particularly at the regional level.

Radioactive wastes

61. Increased global and regional cooperation, including exchange of information and experience and transfer of appropriate technologies, is needed to improve the management of radioactive wastes....


66. .. There is an urgent need... to:

(h) Stress the importance of the establishment of a clearing-house mechanism by Parties consistent with the provisions of the Convention;

Small island developing States

72. Considerable efforts are being made at the national and regional levels to implement the Programme of Action. These efforts need to be supplemented by effective financial support from the international community. External assistance for building the requisite infrastructure and for national capacity-building, including human and institutional capacity, and for facilitating access to information on sustainable development practices and transfer of environmentally sound technologies in accordance with paragraph 34.14 (b) of Agenda 21 is crucial for small island developing States to effectively attain the goals of the Programme of Action. To assist national capacity building, the small island developing States information network and small island developing States technical assistance programme should be operationalized as soon as possible, with support to existing regional and subregional institutions.

3. Means of implementation

Transfer of environmentally sound technologies

88. The availability of scientific and technological information and access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies are essential requirements for sustainable development....

95. Governments of developing countries should take appropriate measures to strengthen South-South cooperation for technology transfer and capacity- building. Such measures could include the networking of existing national information systems and sources on environmentally sound technologies, and the networking of national cleaner production centres, as well as the establishment of sector-specific regional centres for technology transfer and capacity-building....

97. There is a need to further explore and enhance the potential of global electronic information and telecommunication networks. This would enable countries to choose among the available technological options that are most appropriate to their needs. In this respect, the international community should assist developing countries to enhance their capacities.


100. ...Both developed and developing countries, in cooperation with relevant international institutions, need to strengthen their efforts to develop and implement strategies for more effective sharing of environmental expertise and data.


102. International consensus-building is facilitated by the availability of authoritative scientific evidence. There is a need for further scientific cooperation, especially across disciplines, in order to verify and strengthen scientific evidence and make it accessible to developing countries. This evidence is important for assessing environmental conditions and changes. Steps should also be taken by Governments, academia, and scientific institutions to improve access to scientific information related to the environment and sustainable development. Promotion of existing regional and global networks may be useful for this purpose.

104. The international community should also actively collaborate to promote innovations in information and communication technologies for the purpose of reducing environmental impacts, inter alia, by taking user-needs based approaches to technology transfer and cooperation.

International legal instruments and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

108. Access to information and public participation in decision-making are fundamental to sustainable development. Further efforts are required to promote, in the light of country-specific conditions, the integration of environment and development policies, through appropriate legal and regulatory policies, instruments and enforcement mechanisms at the national, state, provincial and local levels. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in the communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision- making processes....

110. Implementation of and compliance with commitments made under international treaties and other instruments in the field of environment remains a priority.... It is also important to further improve reporting and data-collection systems and to further develop appropriate compliance mechanisms and procedures, on a mutually agreed basis, to help and encourage States to fulfil all their obligations, including means of implementation, under multilateral environmental agreements. Developing countries should be assisted to develop these tools according to country-specific conditions.

Information and tools to measure progress

111. The further development of cost-effective tools to collect and disseminate information for decision makers at all levels through strengthened data collection including, as appropriate, gender disaggregated data, including information that makes visible the unremunerated work of women for use in programme planning and implementation, compilation and analysis is urgently needed. In this context, emphasis will be placed on support of national and international scientific and technological data centres with appropriate electronic communication links between these centres.

112. A supportive environment needs to be established to enhance national capacities and capabilities for information collection, processing and dissemination, especially in developing countries, to facilitate public access to information on global environmental issues through appropriate means including high-tech information and communication infrastructure related to the global environment, in the light of country-specific conditions, using, where available, such tools as geographic information systems and video transmission technology, including global mapping. In this regard, international cooperation is essential.

113. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are an important national tool for sustainable development. In accordance with Principle 17 of the Rio Declaration, EIAs shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority, and, where appropriate, they shall be made available early in the project cycle.

114. The Commission's work programme on indicators of sustainable development should result in a practicable and agreed set of indicators, suited to country-specific conditions, including a limited number of aggregated indicators, to be used at the national level, on a voluntary basis, by the year 2000. Such indicators of sustainable development, including, where appropriate, and subject to nationally specific conditions, sector-specific ones, should play an important role in monitoring progress towards sustainable development at the national level and in facilitating national reporting, as appropriate.

115. National reports on the implementation of Agenda 21 have proved to be a valuable means of sharing information at the international and regional levels and, even more important, of providing a focus for the coordination of issues related to sustainable development at the national level within individual countries. National reporting should continue. (See also paragraph 133 (b) and (c).)

D. International institutional arrangements

1. Greater coherence in various intergovernmental organizations and processes

119. Institutional arrangements for the convention secretariats should provide effective support and efficient services, while ensuring that in order for them to be efficient, at their respective locations, appropriate autonomy is necessary. At the international and national levels there is a need for, inter alia, better scientific assessment of ecological linkages between the conventions; identification of programmes that have multiple benefits; and enhanced public awareness-raising for the conventions. Such tasks should be undertaken by UNEP in accordance with the relevant decisions of its Governing Council and in full cooperation with the conferences of the parties to and governing bodies of relevant conventions. Efforts of convention secretariats, in response to requests from the respective conferences of the parties, to explore, where appropriate, modalities for suitable liaison arrangements in Geneva and/or New York for the purpose of enhancing linkages with delegations and organizations at those United Nations centres are welcomed and fully supported.

120. It is necessary to strengthen the ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development and its system of task managers, with a view to further enhancing system-wide intersectoral cooperation and coordination for the implementation of Agenda 21 and for the promotion of coordinated follow-up to the major United Nations conferences in the area of sustainable development.

2. Role of relevant organizations and institutions of the United Nations system

124. ... UNEP should continue providing effective support to the Commission on Sustainable Development, inter alia, in the form of scientific, technical and policy information, analysis and advice on global environmental issues.

4. Methods of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development

133. ... the Commission... should:

(b) Continue to provide a forum for the exchange of national experience and best practices in the area of sustainable development, including through voluntary national communications or reports. Consideration should be given to the results of ongoing work aimed at streamlining requests for national information and reporting and the results of the "pilot phase" on indicators of sustainable development. In this context, the Commission should consider more effective modalities for the further implementation of commitments made in Agenda 21, with an appropriate emphasis on means of implementation....

Return to homepage


1998 session

Overriding issues: poverty/consumption and production patterns


- Review of outstanding chapters of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-8, 10-15, 18-21, 23-34, 36, 37, 40.


- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-4, 6, 16, 23-37, 40.

Economic sector/major group: INDUSTRY

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 4, 6, 9, 16, 17, 19-21, 23-35, 40.

1999 session

Overriding issues: poverty/consumption and production patterns
Comprehensive review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States

Sectoral theme: OCEANS AND SEAS

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 5-7, 9, 15, 17, 19-32, 34-36, 39-40.


- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-10, 14, 18-32, 34-36, 40.

Economic sector/Major group: TOURISM

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-7, 13, 15, 17, 23-33, 36.

2000 session

Overriding issues: poverty/consumption and production patterns


- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-8, 10-37, 40.


- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-4, 23-33, 36-38, 40.

Economic sector/major group: AGRICULTURE (including forestry)

Day of Indigenous People

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-7, 10-16, 18-21, 23-34, 37, 40.

2001 session

Overriding issues: poverty/consumption and production patterns

Sectoral theme: ATMOSPHERE; ENERGY

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 4, 6-9, 11-14, 17, 23-37, 39-40.


- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2, 4, 6, 8, 23-36, 38-40.

Economic sector/major group: ENERGY; TRANSPORT

- Main issues for an integrated discussion under the above theme: Agenda 21, chapters 2-5, 8, 9, 20, 23-37, 40.

2002 session

Comprehensive review

Return to homepage

UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination, Geneva