LACK OF FINANCIAL AID WILL KILL DREAM OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, GROUP OF 77 TELLS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION19970408 European Union Calls for New Initiatives on Patterns Of Consumption and Production, Freshwater Resources, Energy Services
The decline in financial aid from the developed countries showed their lack of commitment and sincerity to implementing the Rio agreements, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania told the Commission on Sustainable Development as it began its high-level segment this afternoon.
At the current session the Commission is functioning as a preparatory and negotiating body for the special session of the General Assembly, which will review the implementation of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (Rio de Janeiro, 1992).
Speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, the Tanzanian representative said the emphasis on private capital flows was a fallacious argument, since very little of such flows was going to the countries that needed them most. Lack of aid would mean the collapse of discussions on international cooperation, thus killing the dream of sustainable development, especially in the developing countries. Developed countries should reaffirm their commitments to increase their financial aid levels at the forthcoming special session.
Speaking on behalf European Union and associated States, the Minister for Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment of Netherlands, Margaretha de Boer, said the political declaration of the Assembly's special session should include three initiatives. Firstly, a new initiative was required on patterns of production and consumption, where the industrialized countries had to learn to use their natural resources and energy in a sustainable way. Further, in line with that eco-efficiency approach, two issues called for specific initiatives: freshwater and energy.
A global water initiative was required to ensure the optimal use and protection of all freshwater resources, so that needs of everyone on the planet could be met within 10 years from now, she said. In addition, she called for the elaboration of a common strategy for a sustainable energy
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future. Such a strategy should aim to provide access to energy services for the 2 billion people worldwide currently lacking them, she add.
The representative of the United States urged that the special session focus on decisions, results and solutions and not on processes, committees and forums. He also highlighted the need to advance the ongoing climate change negotiations by securing a strong and unified statement from government leaders. Further, there was need to agree to a plan of action for sustainable management of the world's forests.
Addressing cross-sectoral issues, the representative of the Republic of Korea said the transfer of publicly owned technology could serve as a catalyst for operationalizing the transfer of all types of technology. It could propel the whole issue of technology transfer beyond the conceptual stage to that of implementation. His Government would fund a project on the potential of publicly owned technologies in the context of technology transfer if it was included in the Commission's multi-year programme, he said.
Also this afternoon, statements were made by: the Minister for the Environment of France, Corrine Lepage; Minister for Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry of Poland, Stanislaw Zelichowski; Minister for Environment of Portugal, Elisa Guimaraes Ferreira; and the Minister for the Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe, Chen Chimutengwende.
Also speaking were the following: Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Volodymyr D. Khandogy; Minister for the Environment of Sweden, Anna Lindh; and the Minister for the Environment of Morocco, Noudrine Benomar Alamai. Also participating in the debate were the Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, Angela Merkel; the Vice-Minister for the Environment of Colombia, Ernesto Guhl-Nannetti; Secretary of State for the Environment of the United Kingdom, John Gummer; the Secretary of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development of Argentina, Maria Julia Alsogaray; the Ambassador for Global Environmental Affairs of Japan, Toshiaki Tanabe; and the Deputy Minister for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works of Greece.
Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also made statements: Women's Environment and Development Organization; Third World Network; and Latin American Youth Network.
The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 April, to continue the high-level segment of its fifth session.
Commission Work Programme
The Commission on Sustainable Development met this afternoon to begin its high-level segment, which is scheduled to discuss the reports of the Commission's Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-sessional Working Group and of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.
The report of the Inter-sessional Working Group (document E/CN.17/1997/13) was drafted during the Working Group's meeting in New York from 24 February to 7 March. The Inter-sessional Working Group, co-chaired by Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim (Brazil) and Derek Osborn (United Kingdom), was mandated to assist the Commission's fifth session in preparing for the special session that will review the implementation of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
The Working Group's report recommends the structure of the proposed final document for the special session and the main elements to be included in it. Section I of the report, entitled "proposed outcome of the special session" provides a starting point for further discussion and negotiation. The document is not a negotiated text, just a compilation of ideas expressed by participants in the Working Group's session. It contains the main proposals made and concerns expressed by participants on key issues that should be addressed in preparing for the special session.
The "proposed outcome" consists of a statement of commitment, assessment of progress made since UNCED, implementation in areas requiring urgent action, and international institutional arrangements. The report also focuses on the need for greater coherence in various intergovernmental organizations and processes, the role of the United Nations system, the Commission's future role and programme of work, as well as its method of work.
The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (document E/CN.17/1997/12) is the outcome of the Panel's four sessions, held between 1995 and 1997. Established by the Economic and Social Council on the Commission's recommendation, the Panel was given the task to pursue consensus and formulate options for further actions in order to combat deforestation, and to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests consistent with the Non-Legally-Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of all Types of Forests adopted by UNCED.
The report contains a range of proposals for action to promote sustainable forest management. In areas in which there was no consensus, such as on the establishment of an international fund to support activities for the sustainable forest management of all types of forests, market access for
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forest products and the question of the relationship between obligations under international agreements and national measures, the Panel proposed a number of options for the Commission to consider.
Other options suggested by the Panel include continuing the intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests through the establishment of an ad hoc open-ended intergovernmental forum under the auspices of the Commission to monitor progress in the sustainable management of all types of forests, and promote the Panel's proposals for action. The proposed forum would possibly negotiate a legally-binding instrument and report to the Commission in 1999.
(For details on the two reports and background information on the Commission's fifth session, see Press Release ENV/DEV/406, of 4 April.)
Also before the Commission is a note by the Secretary-General transmitting a contribution of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to the special session (document A/S-19/5), which is annexed to it. It says that since UNCED, the Programme had continued to promote sound environmental management and sustainable development through the provision of information, guidance and assistance on environmental assessment, policy and management. It also had built consensus on international environmental policy and action.
The noteworthy features of the implementation of Agenda 21, by UNEP, listed in the report, include: strengthened and extended partnerships with international and intergovernmental institutions and the development community; and a greater integration in the design and delivery of programmes related to freshwater, marine resources and coastal areas, land, forest and biodiversity. In addition, it had made a deliberate effort to relate programme policy and design to promote sustainable development, including its economic, social and human aspects, such as poverty, women and population.
The Commission also has before it a note by the Secretary-General on the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of UNCED (document A/51/82).
Annexed to the note is the report of the first part of the tenth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Elaboration of an International Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa. That session was held in New York from 6 to 17 January.
At the January session, the Committee decided to request the Secretary- General to appoint an Executive Secretary of the Convention, after consultation with the Conference of the Parties and through its bureau, the report says. Further, it decided that in order for the permanent secretariat to enjoy the administrative and financial autonomy necessary to ensure
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efficient servicing of the Convention, it should not be fully integrated into the management structure of any particular department or programme of the United Nations.
The Committee also approved a number of other decisions, including those on the identification of an organization to house the Convention's Global Mechanism; on financial rules of the Conference of the Parties, its subsidiary bodies and the permanent secretariat; and on rules of procedure of the Conference of the Parties. Other decisions approved included those on: the Committee on Science and Technology and its organization of work; and on participation of non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.
MOSTAFA TOLBA (Egypt), Chairman of the Commission, said that in the high-level segment the Ministers should set the tone for the following negotiations in order to identify some specific goals and tasks as well as what they wanted the Commission's final draft document to reflect.
MSUYA WALDI MANGACHI (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said Rio had seen an upsurge of optimism about a new global partnership in which the developed countries and the international community would help the developing countries to move towards sustainable development by providing financial resources and enabling easier technology transfer. However, financial aid from the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had declined since UNCED. Those countries had shown lack of commitment and sincerity to implement the Rio agreements. At the Assembly's special session, developed countries should reaffirm their commitments to increase their financial aid levels. The emphasis on private capital flows was a fallacious argument. Very little of such flows were going to the countries that needed them most.
An increase in flows of foreign direct investments (FDI) to developing countries must reach as many of those countries as possible, including marginalized regions such as Africa and least developed countries, he said. Such funds should be invested on a long-term basis. Short term speculative FDI should be penalized. The relationship between FDI and sustainable development should be defined to establish a multilateral regime for FDI to assist the pursuit of environmentally sustainable development. The Group of 77 and China felt that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) capital was insufficient, given the challenge of placing future global development on a sustainable path. There was need to improve the Facility's capital and improve its disbursement terms for developing countries. The special session should consider establishing funding mechanisms for each environmental
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convention. That would ensure the equitable implementation of all environmental conventions without selectivity.
The special session should revive the debate on the related issues of an equitable economic order and the debt crisis, he said. Much more needed to be done to resolve the external debt problem, especially in the least developed countries, low income and heavily indebted middle income developing countries. On technology transfer, he said the Group was disappointed by the lack of progress in that area -- the second plank of what was seen as developed countries' commitment to facilitating sustainable development. The Group was of the view that responsibility for technology development could not be confined to the market forces alone nor could the market approach be relied on to ensure that such technologies became widely available.
He went on to say that the eradication of poverty and hunger, greater equity in income distribution and human resource development remained major challenges especially in developing countries. The importance of North-South partnership in dealing with all environment issues must be stressed. If it became universally accepted that even aid was no longer an option, then it could be predicted that discussions on international cooperation would collapse. What would remain would be the call for each country to find its own resources if it could. That would kill the dream of sustainable development, especially in the developing countries.
MARGARETHA DE BOER, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union and Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Liechtenstein, said the Union wished to highlight certain issues in the Commission's programme of work. Those included freshwater, land resources, oceans and seas, energy, transport and tourism. She introduced three initiatives that the Union was interested in seeing as part of the political declaration to be adopted by the Assembly's special session. The Union believed that a new initiative was required on the patterns of production and consumption. The industrialized countries had to learn to use their natural resources and energy in a sustainable way. They had to strive toward an eco-efficiency revolution.
Further studies should take into account that a shift in the demand for primary resources could have a serious consequence for the export position of a number of developing countries, she said. The transfer of environmentally sound technology to developing countries backed by adequate finance from private and public sources would be essential to assist them in achieving the necessary productivity. She proposed that the Commission elaborate that initiative in the coming years to explore the necessary policies to implement eco-efficiency. In line with that eco-efficiency approach two issues called for specific initiatives: freshwater and energy.
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Given the seriousness of the situation vis-a-vis freshwater, there was an urgent need to act now, she said. To that end, the Union proposed a global water initiative. It was the Union's goal to ensure the optimal use and protection of all freshwater resources, so that needs, including the availability of safe drinking water and sanitation, of everyone on the planet could be met within 10 years from now. That initiative should lead to a global programme of action. She proposed that the Commission at its 1998 session concentrate on water in a broad horizontal perspective of combining water and land management.
The European Union also called for the elaboration of a common strategy for a sustainable energy future, she said. In such a framework, governments should commit themselves to develop and promote sustainable energy policies. Such a strategy should aim at providing access to energy services for the 2 billion people worldwide currently lacking them and the increased use of renewable sources of energy. As far as economic instruments were concerned, the special session should consider the initiative to prepare at the international level air fuel taxation. She also stressed the need for an adequate replenishment of the GEF. The Union would do its utmost for a positive outcome to the negotiations on the Facility's replenishment.
MARIA JULIA ALSOGARAY, Secretary of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development of Argentina, said for Latin America and the Caribbean the environment-related conventions adopted since UNCED had been a valuable tool, enabling those countries and others to have a unified view of sustainable development. However, there were certain structural problems in the Latin American region and elsewhere. Water and energy use were the major problems to be resolved in the next few years. It was important to incorporate environmental costs in production processes. That issue that had not been thoroughly studied.
Expressing concern at the crises in some international entities in charge of implementing environmental issues, she referred to the Governing Council of UNEP. It was essential that the Commission begin to draw up guidelines for UNEP. Another concern was the proliferation of meetings, including preparatory meetings, which consumed a lot of resources. Such resources must be rationalized. The Rio Conference had prompted important changes in the direction towards sustainable development, but many structural difficulties must be corrected. That was the task for the next few years.
CORRINE LEPAGE, Minster of the Environment of France, said much still needed to be done following Rio. The international community was far from achieving the goals of the Conference. Every government should work towards sustainable development. Developed countries admitted their responsibility for unsustainable development. Her Government was playing its role to create awareness among its people. The French Commission for Sustainable Development
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had drawn up a national strategy for sustainable development, which would be discussed and be submitted to the national parliament for approval.
She stressed the importance of achieving sustainable development in Europe, including in eastern Europe. Referring to the French Fund for the Environment, she expressed the hope that the next summit for Francophone countries would discuss improving the means of implementing the Rio agreements. The Commission should adopt a new attitude towards sustainable development, including focusing its debate on the issue of an appropriate level of resources and ensuring that all adhered to the Rio commitment.
The problem of sharing water could give rise to conflicts among countries, she said. There were numerous adverse effects resulting from decreased water supplies. There was need to focus on international law for sustainable development. Greenhouse gases must be reduced. France had acted in support of the rapid adoption of a legally binding instrument on forests.
JOHN GUMMER, Secretary of State for the Environment of the United Kingdom, said he wanted to emphasize that participation in the Rio plus five process had to be two-way. Rich nations and developing countries had to be a part of the process. In fact, if the process did not succeed the South would suffer the most. However, the North could not operate unless it understood that the South was a part of the process. Furthermore, the North must take its environmental responsibility seriously.
Lifestyles must change if the environment was to be protected, he continued. Mere cosmetic changes would not do. Also, the hidden resources of young people in the area of environmental protection must be tapped. Stressing that there was an acute danger to the oceans from overfishing, he said every part of the world where fish provided protein would be poorer, for the fish being driven into non-existence. The environment had to be integrated into fishery policies, and the discussion had to be more than a mere negotiation of sharing of fisheries. Practical measures were needed, such as research and better management. "We need to protect the fisheries for the fishers of the future", he said.
STANISLAW ZELICHOWSKI, Minister of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry of Poland, said the goal for both developing economies and economies in transition was to achieve the level of economic advancement achieved in the developed countries in as short a time as possible. Reaching that goal depended upon the economic and intellectual potential, natural resources and capital invested in those countries. It was crucial that economic policies in those countries follow the principles of sustainable development.
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Such principles had been adopted as underlying development guidelines in Poland as early as one year before Agenda 21 was established, he said. They had been consistently implemented, often at considerable sacrifice to society. As a result, between 1990 and 1995 the level of particulate emissions had been reduced by 62 per cent, gaseous emissions by 30 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent, against the baseline of 1988. The amount of untreated sewage had been reduced by 30 per cent during that period. Those results had been achieved as a result of regulatory mechanisms, management policies and economic instruments applied in the environmental field.
BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said over the last five years many countries had formulated local and national Agenda 21 plans. Yet, despite that, many important goals remained only that, with 450 million more people inhabiting the planet than in 1992, greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise, even as new scientific evidence confirmed the risks of global climate change, and forest losses around the world proceeding at alarming rates. Technology transfer had yet to be realized where it mattered the most. As a result, sustainable development to most people remained a concept, not a reality.
The special session should not focus on processes, committees and forums, but on decisions, results and solutions, he said. The following four specific outcomes should be aimed for: advancing the ongoing climate change negotiations by securing a strong and unified statement from government leaders; agreeing to a plan of action for sustainable management of the world's forests; clarifying the role of institutions and strengthening them to meet tomorrow's challenges; and articulating an agenda for the future of the Commission, with clear, yet focused and attainable, priorities.
Sustainable development required both economic growth and social development in addition to environmental protection, he said. Unfortunately, the institutions for environment and sustainable development had not fared very well. The UNEP had faced particular challenges, although recent developments had led to guarded optimism. The Nairobi Declaration adopted in February provided a revised and streamlined mandate for UNEP, which the United States supported. Moreover, the United States believed that the Commission should focus on a limited number of key sustainable development issues.
VOLODYMYR D. KHANDOGY, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said there was no doubt that since UNCED, the world community had made certain progress in achieving the goals and objectives of sustainable development. Among those contributions, he noted, were the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Biological Diversity and Anti-Desertification Conventions; conclusion of an agreement on straddling and migratory fish stocks; and the elaboration of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.
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In spite of all those achievements, he regretted that the world was still far from achieving the major goals proclaimed at Rio five years ago, and the state of the environment remained one of concern. Among the factors hindering the implementation of the Rio agreements were the continuation an unfavourable economic situation which resulted in the lack of resources for sustainable development, and the absence of real progress in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. He further noted that the difficulties in the achievement of sustainable development were also caused by the fact that the change in the consumption and production patterns demanded the rejection of the old, fixed philosophy that had existed in that area for decades.
He emphasized that the process of improvement of legislation in the field of environmental protection in Ukraine was being carried out according to the principles and goals declared at Rio. He noted, however, that the process was being hampered not only by a difficult and painful process of carrying out market reforms, but by the aftermath of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Considerable financial resources -- up to 12 per cent of the national budget -- were being spent each year for the purposes of minimizing the consequences of that disaster, constituting a major obstacle to the attainment of sustainable development. In the light of the forthcoming eleventh anniversary of the disaster, he called upon the world community to enhance international cooperation to confront that global ecological problem.
He cautioned that the special session should not be limited by the adoption of a political declaration reiterating decisions of the Rio Conference. The main objective of the special session should be the attainment of a new level of global partnership and commitments, as well as a new programme for promoting the achievement of the goals of Agenda 21. He suggested that the main attention should be focused on the following priorities: the degradation of soils, forests, water resources and air; the transfer of environmentally sound technologies; the search for new financial resources for the purposes of sustainable development; and private sector participation in the implementation of the concept.
He further drew attention to the seriousness of the problem of nuclear safety, storage, transportation, transboundary movements and burial of radioactive waste. In addition, the final document of the special session should adequately reflect the specific needs and demands of those countries facing the burial of radioactive wastes close to their borders without internationally accepted safe storage facilities and guarantees of safety. Calling for "a new global partnership", he urged more attention to issues relating to the safety of nuclear installations and the observance of international rules and standards.
KANG HYON-WOOK, Minister for the Environment of the Republic of Korea, said since the Rio summit, environmental protection had gained momentum in his
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country. Developments included a national plan of action for the implementation of Agenda 21 as well as a long-term comprehensive environmental preservation scheme. The special session should include a statement or declaration enunciating the commitment of governments at the highest political level to the goal of sustainable development. The text from the Inter- sessional Working Group needed to be streamlined to focus on an action- oriented work programme that had global significance and an integrated approach striking a balance between sectoral and cross-sectoral issues.
Progress on cross-sectoral issues relating to sustainable development had been mixed, he continued. Progress had been lacking in commitments for official development assistance (ODA) and technology transfer, which were both vital to the full realization of Agenda 21. In response to that challenge, in February his country had proposed a feasibility study on the transfer of publicly owned technology. That particular agreement, contained in Agenda 21, had not received much attention. Transfer of publicly owned technology could serve as a catalyst for operationalizing the transfer of all types of technology, propelling the whole issue of technology transfer beyond the conceptual stage to that of implementation.
His Government would fund a project on the potential of publicly owned technologies in the context of technology transfer if it was included in the Commission's multi-year programme, he said. Meaningful progress had been made on sectoral issues. However, on issues such as energy and hazardous and radioactive wastes, there had been insufficient progress. Freshwater and forest also needed to be reviewed as areas in which there had been little progress. There was need for alarm at a planned shipment of radioactive waste by Taiwan Province of China to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which contravened established international practices.
He supported a more focused approach in the Commission's future programme of work. There was need for enhanced partnership among the various organizations which were essential for achieving sustainable development. That included increased partnership in the United Nations system and other bodies as well as partnership among different sectors of society. He stressed the importance of the role of regional cooperative schemes in the Commission's work. The Republic of Korea was therefore concentrating on North-east Asia and the region of the region of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.
ELISA GUIMARAES FERREIRA, Minister for the Environment of Portugal, stressed the importance of the links between political, economic and environmental issues. Her Government had tried to build a spirit of partnership with other States, including organizing a meeting of Portuguese- speaking countries on the environment. A global agreement was established at that meeting for joint implementation of Agenda 21 in those States. It
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stressed a number of issues, including the coordination of policies to use the international legal instruments in a more effective way.
In the context of the European Union's policy for the environment, Portugal had devised a strategy which focused on forestry, waste management and the oceans. It focused on the need for a negotiating committee to be set up to debate the issue of a forestry convention; the increasing progress of urbanization and its relationship to waste management; and the need to increase awareness to ensure recycling and waste reduction.
Stressing that the oceans were humankind's greatest resource for the next millennium, she welcomed the Assembly's proclamation of 1998 as International Year of the Ocean, adding that Portugal would organize an exhibit on oceans. The Commission should propose a code of conduct on coastal zones. She called for institutional means to be found to increase cooperation, including a more coordinated role for the United Nations and a more active role for the Commission.
TOSHIAKI TANABE, Ambassador for Global Environmental Affairs of Japan, said global warming was one of the most critical issues to the survival of humankind. Keeping that in mind, Japan had decided to host in Kyoto in December the third Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention. So far as domestic measures were concerned, the Japanese Government was now implementing an action plan to arrest global warming that had been formulated in 1990.
He expressed concern that the destruction and degradation of forests all over the world had been accelerating rapidly and had become a grave global environmental problem. Efforts to address that issue had included the adoption of the forest principles by UNCED and the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. Japan was also convinced of the need to take measures to prevent oil pollution through accidents by strengthening the control of ships by port-of-call countries and the reconsideration of standards for oil tankers by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as the conclusion of international conventions.
CHEN CHIMUTENGWENDE, Minister for the Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe, said it was an honour for him to address the Commission in his capacity as the President of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change. The key product of his presidency had been the Geneva Ministerial Declaration, that had emanated from the second session of the Conference of the Parties held in Geneva last July. The Declaration had called for acceleration of the negotiations under the Berlin Mandate, aimed at strengthening the commitments of developed countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000. Reports from those countries indicated that many of them were not on track to
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achieving the aim of returning their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
He was pleased to report that the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate was progressing in an orderly way under the guidance of its Chairman Raul Estrada- Oyuela of Argentina. Negotiations would continue in August and October and would be finalized by Ministers, during the third session of the Conference in Kyoto from 1 to 10 December. Noting that the Conference would also have a ministerial segment, he called on all ministers to come to Japan at that time and to show flexibility in working towards an outcome which would leave a mark on the evolution of climate change policy. He also hoped that the GEF would achieve full replenishment in 1997.
ANNA LINDH, Minister for the Environment of Sweden, said there were different ways of measuring time. According to the environmental calendar, she pointed out, it was "five years after Rio", 25 years after the Stockholm Conference. Rio had marked a turning point, evident last week when she visited Skarpnack, a Stockholm suburb where the idea of sustainable development had taken root. Three years ago, the community had taken up work on Agenda 21, and the effort had led to a document of consensus, which had been presented to her, where people, enterprises and organizations agreed on necessary measures to create a sustainable Skarpnack. That was welcome, she noted, as the global environment had not improved much since Rio. Although the challenges may be the same as five years ago, the possibilities for handing the situation had changed, and the major United Nations conferences had added additional dimensions to the issue.
She suggested a number of "keys" to reaching sustainable development. The first was the local Agenda 21. The message from Rio had spread to Swedish municipalities and local organizations, giving rise to a multitude of initiatives. Today, 40 per cent of the population were, to some extent, familiar with Agenda 21, and many of the more devoted supporters were young people and women. The second key was known as "factor 10", meaning that the use of energy and resources could become 10 times more efficient than today. That was especially true of her part of the world where one fifth of the global population consumed four fifths of the total global resources.
The third key, she continued, was "sector responsibility". Agriculture, energy, industry and business must take responsibility for finding new technologies and new products, and replace hazardous compounds. Sector responsibility was not a question of subsidies, but of ecological, economic and moral obligation. The fourth key on reaching sustainable development dealt with governmental action. Governments should formulate operational visions and objectives; stimulate the conversion of infrastructure, as well as energy and waste systems to become more sustainable; direct market forces towards sustainable development; regulate where legislation was required; and
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spread ideas and initiatives of cooperation for sustainable development to the international stage.
Noting that the Swedish National Committee for Agenda 21 had summarized the country's experience in a national report, she stressed that local work and national work must interlink with the global work. She suggested points to be reflected in a strong political declaration to be adopted by the General Assembly in June, among them: the special session should accelerate a number of ongoing negotiations and processes by providing strong political support, and open new avenues and negotiations on such issues as freshwater and forests. In addition, it should agree on an institutional structure which would reflect the new international demands of sustainable development.
NOUDRINE BENOMAR ALAMI, Minister for the Environment of Morocco, said the current session was a time for reflection on the achievements of Rio, which had given rise to hope for a dawning of a new era. Developed countries had committed themselves to assisting developing countries in achieving sustainable development. They had agreed to take up the leadership role in that process. Developing countries should not be asked to make sacrifices unrelated to their current stages of development.
Turning to the Mediterranean region, he said major steps had been taken by the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea in achieving sustainable development. They had committed themselves to act on Agenda 21 by implementing existing international instruments and creating new means of action, such as the development of a Mediterranean strategy and a revision of the Barcelona Convention related to Agenda 21. They had also created a Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development.
Since UNCED the world environment continued to deteriorate, he said. The number of poor people had increased and the international community had been incapable of providing financial resources and ensuring a transfer of environmentally sound technology in support of sustainable development. The increase in private financial flows should not hide the fact that such flows were directed towards certain countries and did not serve to realize sustainable development. Transfer of technology had not been achieved. Developing countries could not participate in improving the environment without appropriate assistance. The special session should evaluate the progress achieved to date and the obstacles that had prevented the developing countries from achieving sustainable development.
ANGELA MERKEL, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, said that in preparing the final document for the special session, the Commission must ask itself what had been achieved since Rio and if the momentum of Rio was still alive. In responding to those questions, the Commission should build upon the draft submitted by the Co- Chairmen of the Working Group and make proposals as to how that draft could be enhanced by concrete decisions and future-oriented concepts. She drew the Commission's attention to the results of the recent informal meeting of environment ministers held from 21 to 23 March in Dresden, Germany, which could be helpful for the Commission's deliberations.
There was an urgent need to reconcile the two central challenges of sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and the sustainable
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management and protection of natural resources and ecosystems by changing patterns of consumption and production, she said. Sustainable consumption and production patterns were a challenge primarily for industrialized countries. A full range of policy instruments, particularly economic incentives, was needed to change the trends and move towards sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Financial and technological cooperation remained an indispensable element of the global environment and development partnership, she said. However, there was no point in relying completely on official development assistance, on the one hand, or on domestic resources and the private sector, on the other. Public development cooperation and private investment would only be effective if framework conditions in developing countries were in place. The international community must increase the mobilization of domestic resources, involve the private sector, deploy the existing instruments of development cooperation more flexibly and effectively and add new, innovative instruments. At its special session, the Assembly must also send out a clear political signal for adequate replenishment of the Global Environment Facility.
Globalization had considerably advanced since Rio, she said. The growth of investment and trade had led to a tangible increase in wealth and prosperity throughout the world, but, at the same time, increasing trade flows had led to a growth in transport and pollution. Growing interlinkages among countries could also restrict the national scope for effective environmental measures, and therefore, there was a need for an ecological framework for the world economy. The worldwide liberalization of trade and a high standard of environmental protection must be mutually supportive. Countries should examine the extent to which regional and international standards for the environment could be an appropriate response to the challenges of globalization.
THEODOROS KOLIOPANOS, Deputy Minister for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works of Greece, said UNCED had contributed to a broad dialogue and public awareness of sustainable development issues. Stressing the importance of coastal management of the marine environment, he said special attention should be given to it in the Commission. The development of sustainable tourism in Greece was closely related to coastal management.
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Sustainable management of water resources, water problems due to drought and measures to avoid transboundary pollution of watercourses also deserved priority action, he said. Desertification and conservation of biodiversity were additional major issues linked to water problems and had to be tackled. In that connection, Greece was organizing an international workshop on the sustainable use of water for agricultural purposes, to be held in Athens from 3 to 6 November.
He also stressed the importance of sustainable forest management. International cooperation on that issue was necessary, in addition to national measures. Greece supported a global forest convention as well as the establishment by the special session of an intergovernmental negotiating committee for the proposed convention. Other areas of concern were the need to resolve socio-economic aspects of development, such as poverty and increases in employment. Action must be taken on the use of instruments and incentives for sustainable production and consumption patterns; capacity- building; and increased cooperation among governments and third partners and major groups, such as producers and non-governmental organizations. The Commission needed to take action. However, to produce significant results, the environmental dimension had to be integrated in all sectoral policies.
ERNESTO GUHL-NANNETTI, Vice-Minister for the Environment of Colombia, said not all nations had made the same effort in modifying consumption patterns which imposed unsustainable pressures upon the planet, stimulated environmental degradation and perpetuated poverty. Many developing countries had accepted strict political and legal compromises that imposed considerable limitations on the use of their natural resources. Colombia had accepted and reaffirmed those compromises which were made for the greater general well- being. His Government believed that a strong will among all States was needed so as to honour their own commitments in modifying their consumption patterns, reduce the technological gap and eradicate poverty among the countries of the world.
Not enough had been done in creating a favourable international environment for sustainable development, he said. Efforts towards trade liberalization and creating favourable conditions for exports from developing countries had also been unsatisfactory. Furthermore, it was important for developed countries to realize that there was a maximum quantity of resources that the human race could consume without compromising the planet's ecosystems. The benefits arising from the natural resource plan must be equitably distributed in order to reduce disparities between the living standards of developed and developing countries. In his Government's view, not much had been advanced in that direction.
Results achieved five years after the Rio Conference had been modest concerning the means of implementation, as laid out in Agenda 21, he said.
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Chapter 33 stated that financing for the execution of Agenda 21 would come from the public and private sectors of each country and that the execution of sustainable development programmes required the provision of new and additional resources to developing countries. However, the ODA provided by bilateral and multilateral sources had diminished in absolute terms since 1992, and the resources that had been deposited in the GEF had been transferred from other aid programmes and financial sources.
Instead of correcting that situation, some countries pretended that the so-called new and additional resources were effectively transferred through foreign direct investment, he said. While valuable, foreign direct investment was not assistance for development, he added. And private investment could hardly replace public investment in critical sectors for development, such as education and basic services. In that regard, the international community must reaffirm the relevance of ODA and the need to honour the compromises set out in Agenda 21.
JOCELYN DOW, of the Women's Environment and Development Organizations, said at the Rio Conference there had been a collective agreement on a more rational and sustainable way of life. The Women's Environment and Development Organization had seen to it that women were represented at the Conference, mentioned in its principles and had a chapter devoted to them. It had made every effort to ensure their mainstreaming. She stressed the negative consequences of militarism and said that a sustainable environment was linked to a nuclear free world.
The links of environment to women's health had to be recognized, she said. "Women intend to be a part of reckoning and they should be central to the review of the past five years", she added. As the Commission met to review the past five years of implementation and non-implementation, the positive impact of women on sustainable development had to be acknowledged.
MARTIN KHOR, of Third World Network, said the non-governmental organizations had put their energies on line for sustainable development. However, today the environmental problems seemed to be worse than ever. Some rich countries insisted that private investment could substitute for aid. That was wrong, for what the poor countries needed was debt relief. It was simply fraudulent to wave private investment as a panacea in their face. He stressed that since Rio, the environment had dropped many notches down in importance.
Globalization had advanced relentlessly, he said. In the process, environment, welfare of the poor and global partnerships had been dislodged by the wave of the free market. He stressed that both UNCED and the Sustainable Development Commission had failed to create international mechanisms to monitor multinationals. In that context, the World Trade Organization
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threatened to override everything else. The globalization process placed profits and greed above all else. It was the antithesis to sustainable development. He emphasized that governments and leaders had to show political will and moral courage and acknowledge that while globalization was not inevitable, it could be channelled in the right direction. The Commission had to make the World Trade Organization more accountable to the world public.
CESAR MACHESINO, of the Latin American Youth Network, said youth organizations were concerned about the lack of progress since UNCED and the need for action towards implementing Agenda 21. They were frustrated since the prospects for development had worsened. Their evaluation was not optimistic. In South America only mega-projects had been pursued which had helped to widen the gap between the poor and the rich. Youth had not participated in any of those processes. He called for the participation of minority groups in all major issues.
Chapter 24 on children and youth in sustainable development had not been implemented in South America and there had been a lack of consultation with local groups, he said. Unless youth took part in the process of sustainable development, progress could not be achieved. The special session should ensure funding of youth activities, ensure that they had access to the decision-making processes and the provision of education and training in the context of sustainable development.
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