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INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THE UNITED KINGDOM


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INTEGRATED DECISION-MAKING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions co-ordinates the UK Government's work on sustainable development and is the focal point for contact with the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Action within other Government Departments is co-ordinated by "Green Ministers" charged with ensuring that environmental considerations are integrated into the strategy and policies of their own Departments. Green Ministers report to the Cabinet Committee on the Environment chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. This Committee has responsibility, at the strategic level, for ensuring that environmental considerations are fully integrated into all areas of policy in a joined up way in order to help achieve sustainable development.

The Government Panel provides Government with independent advice on sustainable development, both at home and abroad; identifies major problems and opportunities, monitors progress, and considers priorities. The UK Round Table was established in the beginning of 1995 to bring together leaders from a range of disciplines to seek to build a consensus about action necessary to achieve sustainable development. The Government proposes to establish, from the beginning of 2000, a new Sustainable Development Commission. This will subsume the Panel and the Round Table. Its main responsibility will be to monitor progress on sustainable development, and to build consensus on action to be taken by all sectors to accelerate its achievement.

Environment Agency (for England and Wales, and a similar agency for Scotland) established by the Environment Act to protect and enhance the environment in line with the government's commitment to sustainable development.

In addition to the above bodies, the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee scrutinises how far the policies and programmes of Government Departments and agencies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

It is not possible for the UK to give an estimate of how much the legislation, decrees and administrative guidelines have been reviewed and revised since Rio, taking into consideration sustainable development aspects. However, since the Rio Summit, sustainable development has been central to the government's policies in all areas, and the UK has therefore endeavoured to make sustainable development a consideration when formulating legislation or guidelines. This process has been re-invigorated following the publication of the UK Strategy.

The Environment Act of 1995 places a duty on Ministers to give the Environment Agencies guidance periodically on objectives and the contribution they make to achieving sustainable development. It is believed that greater integration will mean that it will be better placed than its predecessor bodies to: consider the environment as a whole, rather than compartmentalised; deliver a consistent approach to regulation and; provide a more streamlined service to industry and the public.

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are generally required where a project would be likely to have significant environmental impacts.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

On 17 May 1999, the United Kingdom Government published a better quality of life: a strategy for sustainable development for the UK. The Strategy defines sustainable development as ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. It sets out the objectives and principles of sustainable development, some of the priorities for action in the UK, key actions being taken and commitments which the Government has made. It also includes indicators which will be used to judge whether of not the country is progressing towards a more sustainable form of development.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

The UK is engaged with a multi-sectoral Local Agenda 21 process which is co-ordinated and driven by the Improvement and Development Agency (formerly the Local Government Management Board) under direction of Local Agenda 21 Steering Group. Local Agenda 21 involves all sectors of the community and it aims to develop local policies for sustainable development and building partnerships between local authorities and other sectors to implement them. The Prime Minister has made clear that he wants all local authorities in the UK to adopt Local Agenda 21 strategies by the year 2000.

The following major group organisations are full members of the National Sustainable Development Co-ordinating Mechanism: (women) National Federation of Women's Institutes, (youth) Great Barr Grant Maintained School(1), (NGOs) Friends of the Earth & International Institute for Environment and Development, National Federation of Consumer groups, National Society for Clean Air, Neighborhood Energy Action, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds & World Wide Fund for Nature, World Wide Fund for Nature Scotland, (local authorities) Convention of Scottish Local Authorities Planning Committee, Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, Leicester City Council, Local Agenda 21 Steering Group, (workers and their Trade Unions) British Petroleum Company, Confederation of British Industries, General Electric Company, Northern Foods Plc, PowerGen, Severn Trent Water, Weetabix Ltd, Whitworth Holdings Ltd, (scientific and technological community) Centre for Transport Studies, Green College Oxford, Open University, and (farmers) Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group. Going for Green, UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, Secretary of State for Scotland's Advisory Group on Sustainable Development and Environment.

Programmes and Projects 

National Instruments and Programmes

1. Sustainable. Dev. or environmental education incorporated into school curricula: YES
2. Sustainable Development Indicators Programme: YES
3. Ecolabel Regulations:  
4. Recycle/Reuse Programmes: IN PROCESS
5. Green Accounting Programme:  
6. Access to Internet: YES
7. Access to World Wide Web: YES
8. National World Wide Web Site for Sustainable Development or State of the Environment: YES

Policies, Programmes and Legislation

1. Combatting poverty: YES
2. Changing consumption and production patterns: YES
3. Atmosphere: YES
4. Land Use Planning: YES
5. Forest and Deforestation: YES
6. Desertification and Drought: NO
7. Sustainable Mountain Development: YES
8. Sustainable Agriculture: YES
9. Biological Diversity: YES
10. Biotechnology: YES
11. Oceans and Coastal Areas: YES
12. Freshwater Management: YES
13. Toxic Chemicals: YES
14. Hazardous Wastes: YES
15. Solid Wastes: YES
16. Radioactive Wastes: YES
17. Energy: YES
18. Transport: YES
19. Sustainable Tourism:  

Status 

National Decision-Making Structure

1. National Sustainable Development Coordination Body: YES
2. National Sustainable Development Policy: YES
3. National Agenda 21/other strategy for SD YES
4. Local/Regional Agenda(s) 21: YES
5. Environmental Impact Assessment Law: YES
6. Major Groups involved in Sustainable Development Decision-Making: YES

 

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

Going for Green develops ideas on getting sustainable development across to the general public, and organises promotional events.

Information 

Beginning in 2000, the UK Government will bring together and publish annually the latest information about progress against each of the headline indicators in the UK Strategy, and to account for the action that the Government has taken, and proposes to take, in priority areas.

Research and Technologies 

The UK has participated in funded studies by Natural Resources Institute/ UN Development Programme on desertification indicators and participatory planning.

Financing 

The UK will continue to work towards the GEF's adoption as the permanent funding mechanism for the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions and develop use of ODA Project framework system as a means of assessing and evaluating GEF projects and programmes.

Cooperation

In 1995, the UK submitted the UK Report to the CSD. The UK played full part in April CSD session and preparations, including pressing for agreement to the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.

The UK contributed to drafting of the Habitat Agenda (Global Plan of Action) and drafted a National Report on UK planning for sustainable settlements in urbanised world.

In 1995, the UK developed an operational strategy, monitoring and evaluation systems and linkages to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions for the GEF. 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth and eighth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 5 October 1999.

Click here for Sustainable Development: Opportunities for Change Consultation Paper on a Revised UK Strategy

Click here for information on Greening Government

Click here to access the UK Environment Agency

Click here to access the UK State of the Environment

Click here for information on Enforcement and Prosecution Policy

Click here for information on environmental assessment in the UK

Click here for information on policy appraisal and the environment

For information on Environmental Law around the World, click here

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MAJOR GROUPS

WOMEN

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

Discrimination in education on grounds of gender is illegal in accordance with the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975. The right of students to equality of treatment is embodied in the Government's Charters for Further and Higher Education.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Groups representing women's interests are full members of the national coordinating mechanism for sustainable development. Steps have been undertaken to foster opportunities for women in non-traditional fields and eliminate gender stereotyping in curricula through, e.g., improving enrolment opportunities, reforming entrance and teacher staffing policies and providing incentives for establishing child-care facilities.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The UK Government has long sought to persuade employers to make better use of the talents and abilities of their female workers. Since 1991 there have been a number of positive developments in the law and in practice in the UK. These include: 1) the requirement of employers to justify wage differences between jobs of equal value (1995), 2) abolishing discriminatory terms in collective agreements in industrial tribunals (1993), 3) a new requirement for Training and Enterprise Councils, in charge of Government training programmes, to establish and monitor the delivery of equal opportunities in all their programmes from 1994 and 4) a new Development Unit established as of 1994 to develop the means to secure the potential, skills and expertise of women in science, engineering and technology professions where they are currently under-represented.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

The United Kingdom ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women on 7 April 1986.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

For information on Women Watch in different countries, click here

For information on national plans of action in the follow-up to the Beijing Conference, click here.

 

 

CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Relevant youth fora that promote dialogue between the youth and government include International Children's Conference, GLOBE and Eco-schools.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The UK Government is committed to tackling childcare as an obstacle to women's economic activity. It launched the Out of School Childcare Grant Initiative in April 1993 to offer parents of school aged children the opportunity to participate more fully in the labour market, by increasing the quantity and quality of out of school childcare. 45 million is being channelled through Training and Enterprise Councils (LECs in Scotland), with the aim of creating up to 50,000 new after school holiday places for children under 5 years of age.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

No information is available.

 

 

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

During the first two sessions of the CSD, the Government included representatives from the NGO community, the business sector and the local government in its delegation. The Government's Environmental Action Fund assists voluntary organisations in carrying out environmental work.

There is extensive collaboration and consultation with NGOs on a variety of environmental issues through mechanisms such as the UK Round Table.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Overseas Development Administration works closely with international and nationally based NGOs in the delivery of aid programmes.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

 

 

LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Local authorities and the voluntary sector are also represented on the UK Groups established to implement the commitments in the "Biodiversity Action Plan".

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The UK Government supports the Local Government Association's Local Agenda 21 Initiative to encourage all local authorities to contribute to sustainable development at the local level. In January 1998 central and local Government jointly launched a 'Sustainable Communities' document to show all councils why and how to produce an effective Local Agenda 21 strategy, in line with the Prime Minister's target for all the UK local authorities to have a strategy in place by 2000. A cross-sectoral steering group comprised of elected members, representatives of voluntary, educational, and environmental organisations, business, trade unions, and women's groups promotes this effort.

At least 347 (73%) local authorities are pursuing local agenda 21 initiatives or strategies, involving either formal or informal representation of women and/or youth.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

Click here for Local Agendas 21: Case Studies

Click here for information on Sustainable Local Communities for the 21st Century: Why and How to Prepare an Effective Local Agenda 21 Strategy

 

WORKERS AND UNIONS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The Government works in partnership with trade unions, employers, and other interested parties in developing and implementing its policies. The United Kingdom also supports partnership approach within workplaces, encouraging employers, employees and their unions to work jointly to produce safe and efficient workplaces. The Government will publish a White Paper in the first part of 1998, which will set out its policies on partnership and fairness at work. The White Paper will include proposals to establish a statutory right for unions to be recognised for collective bargaining purposes, where a majority of the relevant workforce vote for it in a ballot.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

 

 

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

Through the policy of producer responsibility, the Government is working with business to achieve higher levels of re-use, recovery and recycling in the packaging, vehicles, tyres, batteries, newsprint, and electrical and electronic equipment sectors. Most of these sectors are the subject of proposed EC recycling legislation and one, packaging, is the subject of an adopted Directive which has been implemented through the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

The Government supports a range of initiatives to help business and industry contribute to sustainable development. A notable example is the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme launched in June 1994. This programme encourages the adoption of cost-effective clean technologies and promotes waste minimization.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

The Technology Partnership Initiative (TPI), launched in 1993 following the Rio Earth Summit, fulfils the need for networking and information on environmental technology. TPI provides a link between companies and organisations in rapidly industrialising and developing countries, and UK industry. It provides them with signposting, advice, and information which they need to tackle their environmental problems. TPI's Network currently has a membership of nearly 6,000 worldwide including decision-makers throughout the developing world.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

 

 

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

The national Forensic Programme contributes significantly to setting priorities and stimulating new initiatives such as the LINK Programme on Technologies for Sustainable Development. Considerable effort is devoted generally to improving public understanding of science.

Status 

Improving the understanding and long-term assessment of the social, economic, scientific and technological dimensions of environment and sustainable development policies is the fundamental objective of many UK domestic and overseas education and development programmes. The latter are funded by a wide range of Government and private bodies.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

 

FARMERS

No information is available.

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SCIENCE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) is responsible for the legislation, policy and related applied research sustainable development. Many other UK and territorial (e.g. Scottish) Departments and agencies contribute significantly in their areas of responsibility.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulation

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The UK's White paper on Science and Technology aims to encourage near market research which should stimulate development of new technologies, including environmentally sound technologies (EST), which will then be available for transfer.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

The Government is keen to promote participation of women in all aspects of public life including science, engineering and technology, and has placed much greater emphasis on relevant initiatives than hitherto.

Programmes and Projects 

The Office of Science & Technology (OST) in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also funds the LINK initiative on technologies for sustainable development which is one of many relevant initiatives developed from the national Foresight Programme. This programme aims to exploit and focus science and engineering for sustainable quality of life and wealth creation in the longer term.

The Natural Environment, the Engineering & Physical Sciences, the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences, the Medical and the Economic and Social Research Councils and the Royal Society support fundamental research and post-graduate training. There are inter-agency committees for Global Environment Change (IACGEC) and Marine Science & Technology (IACMST) to ensure co-ordination of national efforts in all the sciences. Science, engineering and technology are considered vital to sound policies for the environment and sustainable development.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

Sustainable development indicators have been developed often from national environmental monitoring and research programmes.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

The UK continues to play active roles in the EU Research and Development Framework Programme IV and in the formulation of Framework Programme V, in the International Panel on Climate Change, in the International Geosphere Biosphere the World Climate Research and the International Human Dimensions Programmes, and in the Europe North Africa International Programme on Climate Change. Research Councils co-operate closely with the Department for International Development (DFID) and international bodies and contribute to a range of training and research programmes in developing countries covering issues such as water and geological resources, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and human health. DETR also supports training and research to assist developing countries maintain their biodiversity through the Darwin Initiative. A range of other bodies including universities, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Natural Resources Institute and the Fisheries and Forestry Departments' agency laboratories make other important contributions.

Improving understanding and long term assessment are fundamental objectives of many UK domestic and overseas programmes mentioned above. UK research funders have, for example, collaborated to develop a number of new research programmes in sustainable urban development. Many of those programmes in developing countries are designed to build lasting capacity and capability.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

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INFORMATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

An important new element is a subset of 14 key headline indicators, intended to focus public attention on what sustainable development means, and to give a broad overview of whether we are achieving a "better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come".

The Government believes that the development of environmental account methodologies would assist decision-making.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

On 17 May 1999, the United Kingdom Government published A better quality of life: a strategy for sustainable development in the United Kingdom. The document sets out the principles of sustainable development, some of the priorities for action in the UK, key actions being taken and commitments which the Government has so far made. Within the UK the new devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will, in the future, be developing their own sustainable development strategies, with their own objectives, priorities and indicators.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The indicators have been developed following wide consultation and with reference to work in other countries and international organisations - particularly UNCSD, OECD, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. However, they are not fixed. They will need to be revised in response to changing circumstances, and as our knowledge develops. It is, however, intended that this UK national framework of key objectives and indicators might provide a useful reference and checklist for those working to develop indicators - for sub-national and local use, for use in business reporting, and for those working in other countries and in international organisations.

At local level, many local communities, usually led by local authorities, have developed "Local Agenda 21" strategies, and indicators of sustainable development in their areas. In June 1997, the Prime Minister set a target for all local communities to have such strategies in place by 2000. The Government and local government associations are developing a core menu of indicators which local authorities could use. These will be closely linked to the headline indicators and the indicators to be used in national reporting. These will be published later in the 1999/2000 financial year.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

The Government has revised the national set of sustainable development indicators published in 1996. The new set of around 150 indicators is referred to throughout the new Strategy, and will be at the core of future reports on progress.

A wide range of environmental and socio-economic data are collected and regularly published, the most relevant of which were published in the UK Sustainable Development Strategy and in the "UK Environment". The UK also publishes annual digests on environmental, energy, transport, agricultural, economic and social statistical themes.

A publication explaining the indicators in more detail will be published later in 1999.

The main users of sustainable development information are decision-makers at national, local, regional levels; industry and institutions, university researchers, major groups, NGOs, the private sector, and the general public.

Computer networks with access to international information services are generally available throughout both the public and private sectors. Efforts are being made to make publications and information available via the Internet.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

International organizations, e.g. the OECD, EC-EUROSTART, UNICEF and UNEP play an active role in environmental, social and economic data collection. Much of the information required is already available, but further consideration is needed on what additional information is desirable or needs to be better integrated.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.

Click here for the UK's national report on Indicators of Sustainable Development.

Click here for the indicators of sustainable development in the UK.

Click here for UK Environment in Facts and Figures.

Click here for information on A European Conference - Bridging the Gap:New Needs and Perspectives in Environmental Information .

Click here for statistical information on Member States of ECE.

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INTERNATIONAL LAW

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

In signing/ratifying international agreements, there is an established administrative and legal process that considers the relationships and overlaps between international legal agreements through an ad hoc process - consisting of consultation with lawyers to ensure there is no overlap and it is consistent with other Departments. The UK believes a simplification of negotiations at the international level and a reduction in the number and length of negotiations and meetings is possible.

Challenges

There are no major constraints in the UK to implementing international legal instruments related to sustainable development.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of the United Kingdom to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 30 May 1998.



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