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Joahannesburg Summit 2002
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Desai Tells PrepCom that Monterrey Success Brings Boost and New Challenges

25 March, New York– The success of the Financing for Development conference in Monterrey, Mexico, last week, where billions of dollars in new resources were pledged for development, poses a major challenge for the World Summit on Sustainable Development this August, according the Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai, and that is how the new resources are going to be used to promote sustainable development.

Governments, along with representatives of business and citizen groups, will work to address that challenge at the third preparatory committee meeting for the Summit, which began today and will continue for two weeks. Discussions and negotiations at the PrepCom will result in a text that will reflect the priorities for the action-oriented outcome of the Summit, which will be held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September.

"By any standard, Monterrey was a success," Desai told the opening of the PrepCom. He said the new commitments from the United States and the European Union, which will add an extra $30 billion for development starting in 2004, amounted to the largest increase for assistance at any conference. But the announced commitments, he said, were not the only success of Monterrey, where countries also reached agreements on debt relief, fighting corruption, and policy coherence.

"Monterrey put development at the centre of financial policy," he said, adding that the conference concluded with an important "meeting of the minds" between North and South, and also brought together representatives of business with other parts of civil society.

"There is a new willingness to find common ground," he said. "We should use this atmosphere of accommodation to reach a credible outcome."

Desai noted that there were some non-governmental organization members who were not "completely satisfied" with the Monterrey outcome, and who were concerned about the impacts of liberalization and globalization. But he said tackling these issues was a job for the Johannesburg Summit. "It is our task to see that we address these concerns in a manner that is equitable and reasonable," he said.

Negotiations during the PrepCom will take place in three working groups, which, Salim said, should not renegotiate Agenda 21-the blueprint for sustainable development agreed upon at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro -- but "endeavour to develop a roadmap for implementation."

One of the working groups will be devoted to discussions on sustainable development governance, including how to manage the intergovernmental process after the Summit. Desai said that the Commission on Sustainable Development has been an innovative body that has succeeded in keeping sustainable development alive on the international agenda. But it needs some changes.

"Institutions like the CSD have to reinvent themselves," he said. While the Commission has brought ministers and representatives of all major groups together, Desai said its main weakness is that it has not been able to generate sufficient action for implementation. He said the Commission should be strengthened to have an impact on the regional and sub-regional levels. He also said that there should be a more direct relationship between the CSD and the World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organization.

In addition, delegates will hold a session on Tuesday to discuss possible partnership arrangements that will result in initiatives to actually implement sustainable development programmes and projects. The partnerships will be voluntary, but Desai explained that they would not come at the expense of "clear, goal-oriented" agreements by governments.

The Johannesburg Summit process could learn from Monterrey. Desai said that while some people had worried that having a finalized agreement going into Monterrey would detract from the conference, in practice, it turned out to be a very positive step. "People wanted to know, what were the heads of State assembled there going to say," he said. "That is what led to the success."

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24 August 2006