Action Agenda Comes Into Sharp Focus as Prepcom II Concludes
| Mr. Emil
Salim, Chairman of the CSD10 Bureau
||8 FebruaryThe international community has moved one step
closer toward engaging governments, business and civil society in delivering
action to promote economic growth and social development while protecting the
environment. The progress came after two weeks of intensive talks, as the
session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, held from 28 January to 8 February, came to a close.
The issues for the Summit are now clearly in focus. Building on a process that
began at the country and regional levels, and after dialogues among all the
major groups at the global level, Preparatory Committee Chairman Emil Salim of
Indonesia issued a summary identifying key topics to be addressed in
Johannesburg. The topics are clustered under the foci of poverty eradication,
unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, sustainable management of
natural resources, and the underpinning need to make globalization work to
promote sustainable development. For each broad topic, there are several dozen
recommendations for immediate action.
The Summit, which will be held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September
this year, is expected to result in three outcome documents: a political
declaration that expresses new commitments and direction for implementing
sustainable development; a negotiated programme of action that will guide
government implementation; and a non-negotiated compilation of new commitments
and partnership initiatives for specific actions.
The Chairman's text, which will serve as the basis for negotiations at the next
Prepcom, to start on 25 March in New York, and ultimately the basis for the
Summit programme of action, was warmly received by delegations. Prepcom
participants roundly applauded the Chairman after he presented the text to the
Venezuela, speaking for the G-77, the group of over 130 developing countries,
said it was pleased with the Chairman's text, particularly on how it dealt with
poverty eradication and the issue of unsustainable consumption and production
At a press conference, Salim noted that his text came to a mere 21 pages,
taking after the magic number in Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable
development that was negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
"The intent is not to talk about lofty ideas-there have been too many
speeches already," he said. Rather, "we have to say, 'look fellows,
we are not changing Agenda 21. We are building up implementation in a
Salim said the text only contains realistic, achievable suggestions, and that
"anything that could not be implemented was thrown out the window."
He added that the recommendations that remained were not strictly
environmental, economic or social efforts, but merged all three elements.
With 90 per cent of the growth in world population projected to take place in
developing countries that are on the road to becoming more developed, Salim
said it was necessary to ensure these countries did not follow in the footsteps
and the mistakes of the industrialized countries. Production and consumption
patterns must be changed, he said, in order to use less energy and produce less
waste, within the limits of what natural ecosystems and resources can bear.
Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said the Summit was all about
generating action proposals and promoting the notion that partnerships between
various major groups could lead to more effective implementation. But these
partnerships, he said, "are not a substitute for action by
The release of the Chairman's text capped a two-week period of intensive
discussions, including sessions, one of which was held in the General Assembly
Hall, that were dedicated to dialogue among governments and the nine major
groups identified in Agenda 21: farmers, scientists, non-governmental
organizations, business and industry, local authorities, trade unions, women,
indigenous people and youth. Many of the suggestions of these groups have been
incorporated into the Chairman's text.
During the Prepcom, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for the
Summit, Jan Pronk, reported that the word he was receiving from national
capitals was that the Summit should deal with issues that were not addressed in
Rio, such as globalization, insecurity, the underlying causes of terrorism,
technological progress in the areas of communications and genetic engineering,
and failed States.
The Prepcom also heard from a panel of media executives and journalists who
warned that the concept of sustainable development was still not in the public
consciousness, and that the Summit had to result in tangible results if it was
to receive widespread coverage.
Most NGOs saw the developments at the Prepcom as generally positive. Daniel
Mittler of Friends of the Earth International said the right issues have been
put on the agenda, notably the issue of globalization. He called governments
"courageous" for taking up the issue, as it was a topic that
governments had dodged in the run-up to Rio. He also said that efforts to
improve international governance for sustainable development had seemed to move
forward. Still, he felt the process had a clear bias towards free trade, and
worried that whatever happened in Johannesburg would be subservient to the
present trade regime fostered by the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha
A number of NGOs are calling for a legally binding agreement on corporate
accountability. Michael Dorsey of the Sierra Club pointed out that corporate
voluntary rules had not worked over the last decade, and that corporate profits
had grown by some 300 per cent while job creation had gone up only marginally.
He added that corporations themselves were willing to engage in discussions on
regulation, but that governments were dragging their feet.
Copyright © United
Department of Economic and
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006