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Report

COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT

REPORT

IMPLEMENTATION OF AGENDA 21:
REVIEW OF PROGRESS MADE SINCE THE
UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON
ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT, 1992

Information Provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat to the
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Fifth Session
7-25 April 1997
New York

United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
Division for Sustainable Development
The Information contained in this Profile is also available on the World Wide Web, as follows:
http://www.un.org/dpcsd/earthsummit

COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT

This profile has been provided by:

Name of Ministry/Office: Commonwealth Secretariat

Date: 11 March 1997

Submitted by: Rumman Faruqi, Director, Economic Affairs Division

Mailing address: Marlborough House Pall Mall London SW1Y 5HX

Telephone: 0171-747-6250

Telefax: 0171-747-6235

E-mail:

Note from the Secretariat: An effort has been made to present all country profiles within a common format, with an equal number of pages. However, where Governments have not provided information for the tables appended to Chapters 4 and 17, those tables have been omitted entirely in order to reduce the overall length of the profile and save paper. Consequently, there may be some minor inconsistencies among the formats of the different country profiles.

All statistics are rendered as provided by the respective Governments.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACRONYMS
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
OVERVIEW
AGENDA 21 CHAPTERS
2. International cooperation to accelerate sustainable development in developing countries and related domestic policies
3. Combating poverty
4. Changing consumption patterns
5. Demographic dynamics and sustainability
6. Protecting and promoting human health
7. Promoting sustainable human settlement development
8. Integrating environment and development in decision-making
9. Protection of the atmosphere
10. Integrated approach to the planning and management of land resources
11. Combating deforestation
12. Managing fragile ecosystems: combating desertification and drought
13. Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development
14. Promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development
15. Conservation of biological diversity
16. Environmentally sound management of biotechnology
17. Protection of the oceans, all kinds of seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and coastal areas and the protection, rational use and development of their living resources
18. Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources: application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources
19. Environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals, including prevention of illegal international traffic in toxic and dangerous products
20. Environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, including prevention of illegal international traffic in hazardous wastes
21. Environmentally sound management of solid wastes and sewage-related issues
22. Safe and environmentally sound management of radioactive wastes
23-32. Major groups
33. Financial resources and mechanisms
34. Transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building
35. Science for sustainable development
36. Promoting education, public awareness and training
37. National mechanisms and international cooperation for capacity-building in developing countries
38. International institutional arrangements
39. International legal instruments and mechanisms
40. Information for decision-making

ACRONYMS

APELL Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level
CFC chlorofluorocarbon
CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research
CILSS Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel
EEZ exclusive economic zone
ECA Economic Commission for Africa
ECE Economic Commission for Europe
ECLAC Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
ELCI Environmental Liaison Centre International
EMINWA environmentally sound management of inland water
ESCAP Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
ESCWA Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GAW Global Atmosphere Watch (WMO)
GEF Global Environment Facility
GEMS Global Environmental Monitoring System (UNEP)
GEMS/WATER Global Water Quality Monitoring Programme
GESAMP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution
GIPME Global Investigation of Pollution in Marine Environment (UNESCO)
GIS Geographical Information System
GLOBE Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment
GOS Global Observing System (WMO/WWW)
GRID Global Resource Information Database
GSP generalized system of preferences
HIV human immunodeficiency virus
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
IAP-WASAD International Action Programme on Water and Sustainable Agricultural Development
IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer
IBSRAM International Board of Soil Resources and Management
ICCA International Council of Chemical Associations
ICES International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
ICPIC International Cleaner Production Information Clearing House
ICSC International Civil Service Commission
ICSU International Council of Scientific Unions
IEEA Integrated environmental and economic accounting
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
IGADD Intergovernmental Authority for Drought and Development
IGBP International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (ICSU)
IGBP/START International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme/Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training
ILO International Labour Organisation
IMF International Monetary Fund
IMO International Maritime Organization
INFOTERRA International Environment Information system (UNEP)
IOC Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPCS International Programme on Chemical Safety
IPM integrated pest management
IRPTC International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals
ITC International Tin Council
ITTO International Tropical Timber Organization
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
MARPOL International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
PGRFA plant genetic resources for agriculture
PIC prior informed consent procedure
SADCC South African Development Co-ordination Conference
SARD sustainable agriculture and rural development
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNDRO Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
UNU United Nations University
WCP World Climate Programme (WMO/UNEP/ICSU/UNESCO)
WFC World Food Council
WHO World Health Organization
WMO World Meteorological Organization
WWF World Wide Fund for Nature (also called World Wildlife Fund)
WWW World Weather Watch (WMO)

ORGANISATION: COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT

Brief Description:

The Commonwealth Secretariat, an international organisation established in 1965, is the focal point for multilateral intergovernmental consultation and exchange of information among the association's 53 member countries. Members - who are found in every continent and ocean of the world - vary greatly in size (from 900 million people to 8,000). They include some of the world's most developed countries and some of its least. More than half of the Commonwealth's members are small states, the majority of whom are small island developing countries.

The biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is the pre-eminent mechanism for Commonwealth intergovernmental co-operation and consultation. Senior Officials meet in alternate years between CHOGMs and other policy/decision-making mechanisms including ministerial meetings and conferences. The high-level Commonwealth Consultative Group on Environment (in which all member states participate) is the primary Commonwealth intergovernmental forum for consultation and co-operation on environmental issues. It usually meets annually in the wings of the high-level segment of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The 1997 meeting of the CCGE will be held during the UN General Assembly's Special Session (on Agenda 21's implementation) in June 1997.

OVERVIEW

In their 1991 Harare Declaration, Commonwealth Heads of Government identified the protection of the environment, through respect for the principles of sustainable development enunciated in their 1989 Langkawi Declaration on Environment, as an area of priority. At their meeting in Cyprus in 1993, Heads of Government reaffirmed the high priority they attached to the pursuit of environmentally sustainable development, and stressed the need for all the Rio commitments to be translated urgently into action. In New Zealand in 1995, Commonwealth leaders concluded that the Commonwealth should focus on those aspects of the international sustainable development agenda where it has a comparative advantage and can have maximum impact.

The Secretariat's work on environmentally sustainable development, which is shaped by the priorities of member governments, focuses on consensus building and policy development on key environmental issues; strengthening national capacities for environmental management; and support for the Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme in Guyana, a flagship Commonwealth project for the sustainable management of forests and biodiversity.

Since Rio, significant progress has been made in accelerating the transition to environmentally sustainable development in member countries, developed and developing, large and small. The large majority of members have ratified the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity; adopted national plans/strategies to address environmental issues; and established national mechanisms to co-ordinate the implementation of Agenda 21. Public awareness of environmental issues has grown steadily and there has been increasing participation of non-governmental organisations in the planning and implementation of environmental projects.

At the same time, environmental degradation continues to pose a major threat to human welfare in several countries and it is recognised that there is a substantial "unfinished agenda". In particular, there is a need to set priorities more carefully and identify least-cost approaches which achieve environmental and developmental objectives simultaneously; use market-based incentives to reduce environmental damage; establish partnerships with the private sector; and promote public participation in priority-setting and project implementation more widely. Several Commonwealth member countries, particularly small states, continue to need technical assistance and training to improve skills and strengthen institutional capacities for environmental management. At its June 1997 meeting, the Commonwealth Consultative Group on Environment will take stock of progress since Rio and identify priorities for further Commonwealth action to implement Agenda 21.

The Secretariat's activities relevant to the implementation of different parts of Agenda 21 are reported below. Since the Secretariat concentrates on areas where it has a comparative advantage and can have maximum impact, all the chapters of Agenda 21 are not necessarily covered. In the case of most of the activities mentioned, it has been found that conditions which favour the Secretariat's interventions include adequate absorptive capacities and a favourable policy environment in the countries receiving assistance; and strong commitment of governments to sustain projects initiated with the Secretariat's support. Effective co-ordination and consultation between governments is particularly helpful in the execution of projects at regional and sub-regional levels.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 2: INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TO ACCELERATE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND RELATED DOMESTIC POLICIES (with special emphasis on TRADE)

The Secretariat's work on consensus building and policy development on international and national economic issues enables the Commonwealth to contribute to the development of international economic policies for creating a stable international economic environment within which sustained economic growth and development can be achieved. It also promotes the adoption of more effective policies to deal with national economic issues in member countries. Areas of focus include international debt, especially the problems of severely indebted low-income countries and debt owed to multilateral institutions; promotion of private financial flows (foreign direct investment and portfolio flows) to Commonwealth developing countries; private sector and domestic capital market development; trade liberalisation and new issues in the post-Uruguay Round international trading system; strengthening regional economic co-operation; and trade, financial and economic management issues of concern to small states.

On debt, the Commonwealth has maintained a particularly active involvement in the resolution of the multilateral debt problem faced by heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs), through discussions and initiatives at Finance Ministers Meetings and technical work (a paper on the subject was circulated to the IMF and World Bank Executive Boards in February/March 1996). On trade, the Secretariat has undertaken technical work in two main areas: post-Uruguay Round challenges; and post-Lome IV arrangements for the group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Several new issues, including trade and environment, have been proposed for multilateral rule-making in the WTO. The Secretariat prepared a policy-oriented report on these new issues to assist member governments with their participation in the Singapore WTO Ministerial Conference in 1996.

The Secretariat assists member countries, both through policy development and technical assistance, to attract and cope with private capital flows. A working group of senior Commonwealth finance officials is currently studying the role of national and international policies in encouraging private capital flows for investment. Under the Commonwealth Private Investment Initiative (CPII) launched by Finance Ministers in 1995, a series of regional funds are being established to channel long-term commercial investments in developing member countries. The first of these - the Commonwealth Africa Investment Fund - was launched in 1996.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 3: COMBATING POVERTY

A commitment to assist members to eradicate poverty is reflected in all the Secretariat's activities in the field of economic and social development. Following the 1992 Commonwealth Consultation on Poverty Alleviation in Sri Lanka, an overall strategy which explicitly includes poverty reduction objectives in development policies and programmes was recommended. Key aspects of this strategy include: pursuance of policies that encourage macro-economic stability, investment and long-term economic growth and equitable distribution of its benefits; the development of gender-inclusive food security policies; improvements in the agriculture sector as a means of increasing disposable incomes, generating increased demand for non-agricultural goods and services and, through a multiplier effect, stimulating growth in the rural sector; self-help programmes, such as rural credit and micro-credit for small-scale enterprise development; and human resource development through education and training.

Particular attention has been given to the integration of gender issues into policies on food security and rural development. On the basis of detailed country studies, a Handbook on Incorporating Gender in Food Security Policies was prepared for Africa, in consultation with the FAO, IFAD and UNIFEM. The Handbook was distributed widely at the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome and positive feedback has been received from African ministries responsible for agriculture and women's affairs, international development agencies, and NGOs.

Human resource development is vital in the Commonwealth's battle against poverty. The Secretariat's efforts in this area are guided by the recommendations of the Commonwealth Working Group report, "Foundation for the Future". Five key strategies were identified to enhance the value of human resources: well managed and more professional government; partnership with NGOs and the private sector; priority for women; mobilisation of additional resources; and the use of new technologies.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 4: CHANGING CONSUMPTION PATTERNS

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 5: DEMOGRAPHIC DYNAMICS AND SUSTAINABILITY

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 6: PROTECTING AND PROMOTING HUMAN HEALTH

The Secretariat focuses on promoting technical co-operation which matches heath resources to health needs, particularly in the priority areas of child survival, control of AIDS and other communicable diseases, human resource development for environment and heath, and the reduction of drug abuse.

Environmental health impact assessment (EHIA) manuals, developed in collaboration with Australia, have been piloted in Tonga and Solomon Islands. The Secretariat convened a small expert group meeting, hosted by the Centre for Environmental Management and Planning in Aberdeen, to identify core health impact assessment requirements in EIA material and develop proposals for training applications of the core material. The framework developed by the group is being used in the Asia and Pacific regions for the preparation of training materials. In Africa, a regional survey of urban sanitation lead to a pilot project for developing an integrated strategic plan in Zambia. A report describing progress has been prepared for distribution in the region.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 7: PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE HUMAN SETTLEMENT DEVELOPMENT

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 8: INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN DECISION-MAKING

(See pages vii and viii at the beginning of the profile)

Technical assistance and training have helped to strengthen environmental planning processes and institutional capacities in several member countries. Since the costs of inappropriate economic policies on the environment are high, the Secretariat is also assisting members to move "upstream" by integrating environmental considerations in the early stages of policy-making. Pan-Commonwealth and regional workshops held in Malta and Sri Lanka, respectively, helped economic and environmental policy-makers from several countries to gain a better understanding of the linkages between the economy and the environment; the practical dimensions of economic and environmental policy integration; and how market-based economic instruments such as pollution charges and taxes can be deployed to implement the "polluter pays" principle and achieve environmental objectives. Further workshops are planned for the Commonwealth African and Caribbean regions, after which more specialised work will be undertaken, tailored to the specific requirements of individual countries or groups of countries. The Secretariat has published handbooks of training materials to assist policy-makers in integrating economic and environmental policies.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 9: PROTECTION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Several Commonwealth members, especially small islands, have a vital interest in the strengthening of the 1992 Convention on Climate Change. Apart from monitoring developments in this area, the Secretariat also provides some technical assistance. For instance, it has helped to strengthen the capacity of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme to monitor climate change and sea-level rise.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 10: INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT OF LAND RESOURCES

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 11: COMBATING DEFORESTATION

The Secretariat is supporting the development of the Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme in Guyana, which was launched under the Commonwealth's auspices in 1990. The Programme was made possible by Guyana's generous and unprecedented offer, at the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malaysia, to set aside almost a million acres of its pristine rain forest for both conservation and sustainable development. Half of the forest is a Wilderness Preserve where biodiversity is being conserved for scientific research; the remainder will be exploited, in an environmentally sound manner, to provide economic benefits.

Following an agreement signed by the President of Guyana and the Secretary-General at the 1995 CHOGM in New Zealand, legislation was enacted unanimously by Guyana's Parliament in March 1996, guaranteeing the autonomy of the forest area and the Iwokrama International Centre which is responsible for its management. Governed by a distinguished Board of Trustees, the Centre has three core programmes: sustainable management of the tropical rain forest; conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity; and sustainable human development. These are supported by two cross-cutting programmes: research on forests and biodiversity; and information and communication.

A medium-term plan and strategy statement have been prepared, and a Donor Support Group constituted, for Iwokrama. The Donor Support Group consists, at present, of the Government of Guyana; the Commonwealth Secretariat; the UNDP and Global Environment Facility; and Canada's International Development Research Centre. The Secretariat, which has been a major provider of technical assistance, continues to guide the Iwokrama Programme's development through its membership of the Board of Trustees. It is now co-ordinating efforts to prepare a business plan and mobilise additional support from the donor community, in order to make the Programme financially sustainable. A Consortium is also being formed to enable Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth research institutions with interests in sustainable forest management and biodiversity, to participate in Iwokrama's research and training activities.

A complementary project, the Commonwealth Forestry Initiative (launched in 1993) is helping to disseminate experience gained from the management of production forests in Ghana, India, Uganda, Australia and Sri Lanka.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 12: MANAGING FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS: COMBATING DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

International Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Drought and/or Desertification

Particularly in Africa

Additional comments relevant to this chapter

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 13: MANAGING FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS: SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 14: PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT

The Secretariat has assisted member countries to diversify their agriculture, develop livestock, and introduce new technologies for sustainable rural development activities. Together with non-governmental partners, the Secretariat has published two books which set out the scientific and social aspects of problems in the management and sustainable use of communal rangelands in Africa. In the Caribbean, a study was made, with the support of Britain's ODA, of soil conservation and small-scale farming in the face of the continued loss of agricultural land on steep slopes by erosion.

The Secretariat works closely with regional organisations such as CARICOM and SADC on agricultural development programmes, and also supports training courses in managing rural credit and other aspects of rural development. As noted earlier, sustainable agriculture-led rural development is the primary focus of the Secretariat's work on poverty alleviation.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 15: CONSERVATION OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

Member countries receive practical assistance to conserve and sustainably utilise their biological resources. Activities focus specifically on capacity-building through training, development of networks for exchange of information and expertise, and assistance with the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

A pilot project for monitoring biodiversity and its utilisation in SIDS has been launched. More than 50 scientists, teachers and NGO representatives have received training in fields such as mycology, plant tissue culture and herbarium curation. A syllabus for a 10-module multimedia training programme on biodiversity management was developed as a joint initiative with the Commonwealth of Learning in 1994. In collaboration with the International Centre for Underutilised Crops, the Commonwealth Science Council helped set up an Underutilised Tropical Fruit Network in Asia (UTFNANET) to improve propagation, production and management of tropical fruits. A similar network on Underutilised Crops for Southern and Eastern Africa is being developed, and one CSC project is helping to promote cassava as a crop which can improve the local and national economy as well as food security in Zimbabwe.

The Secretariat also supports the Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme in Guyana, which is helping to improve methods for the conservation and sustainable use of the biological resources of the rain forest (also see Chapter 11).

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 16: ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

See chapter 15

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 17: PROTECTION OF THE OCEANS, ALL KINDS OF SEAS, INCLUDING ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS, AND COASTAL AREAS AND THE PROTECTION, RATIONAL USE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR LIVING RESOURCES

With support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Secretariat has undertaken a review of the management of marine resources in the Caribbean region which is being considered by Environment Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). A similar review of marine resources management in the Indian Ocean region is being undertaken with the participation of South Africa, Mauritius, India and Australia. The Secretariat also assists member countries with their implementation of coastal zone management programmes. In 1995, a project to provide training in the use of remote sensing and geographical information systems was started at the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) in Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean region. Similar projects are expected to be introduced in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific regions. Technical assistance has helped to establish a new Physical Oceanography Unit at the IMA in Trinidad and Tobago, which is the region's leading centre in this discipline, and further managerial support has been provided to the IMA.

Member countries are assisted in several ways to manage and develop their fisheries. In the legal domain, the Secretariat offers technical assistance in maritime boundary delimitation. One of the many projects currently in place involves support to co-ordinate boundary delimitation requirements for members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. Several countries have also been helped to develop regulatory frameworks and negotiate investment and access agreements for fisheries. Surveys of marine fisheries and programmes for their sustainable development have been undertaken in several small states (e.g. Brunei and Papua New Guinea). In the latter, assistance is being provided to co-ordinate training and fisheries development programmes for women. Support for management training in the fisheries sector is being provided through a number of programmes for South Pacific SIDS and countries in South Asia. Technical assistance has helped to strengthen the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency. At a more general level, the Secretariat is implementing a programme, partly funded by CIDA, to review development assistance in the fisheries sector in a number of member countries. The objectives are to review the impact, effectiveness and limitations of international development assistance in the fisheries sector and to recommend ways in which any shortcomings may be overcome.

Almost two-thirds of the Secretariat's technical assistance is directed to small member states, the majority of whom are small island developing states (SIDS). Much of the assistance given to Commonwealth SIDS is relevant to areas covered by the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action. These include: sustainable management of natural resources (especially coastal and marine resources), biodiversity conservation, water resources management, energy, tourism, science and technology, education and human resource development, management and administration, and strengthening of regional institutions. The Secretariat is also developing a Vulnerability Index for small states and is in the process of updating the 1985 Commonwealth Report on the Vulnerability of Small States. The new report, which is expected to be completed by October 1997, will address all aspects of vulnerability (security, economic, social, environmental) and identify strategies to promote the sustainable development of small states in the context of the rapid globalisation of the world economy.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 18: PROTECTION OF THE QUALITY AND SUPPLY OF FRESHWATER RESOURCES: APPLICATION OF INTEGRATED APPROACHES TO THE DEVELOPMENT, MANAGEMENT AND USE OF WATER RESOURCES

The Secretariat's work in this area focuses on improving capacities for managing and improving the quality of groundwater resources; water resources management in small islands and arid and semi-arid lands; and water supplies in urban and rural areas, including the introduction of low-cost, small-scale water treatment technology suitable for rural areas. To assist members with their preparations for the 1994 CSD's review of this chapter of Agenda 21, the Secretariat prepared a paper highlighting strategic policy issues relevant to the management of water resources in an integrated manner. Technical assistance to the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission has addressed these issues in relation to small island states in the South Pacific.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 19: ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF TOXIC CHEMICALS, INCLUDING PREVENTION OF ILLEGAL INTERNATIONAL TRAFFIC IN TOXIC AND DANGEROUS PRODUCTS

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 20: ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF HAZARDOUS WASTES, INCLUDING PREVENTION OF ILLEGAL INTERNATIONAL TRAFFIC IN HAZARDOUS WASTES

Health and environmental concerns associated with hazardous wastes are of increasing concern to many member countries. A project has been initiated with the Royal Society of Chemistry of Britain to enhance the scientific capacities of developing member countries to manage and dispose of toxic waste; the project is being executed jointly with the UN Environment Programme. In the plastics sector, the Secretariat has helped member countries to find ways of putting plastics waste to good use through recycling. A Commonwealth Plastics Network, established in 1991 to exchange information in this area, has since evolved into a Global Plastics Network.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 21: ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF SOLID WASTES AND SEWAGE-RELATED ISSUES

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 22: SAFE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTERS 23-32: MAJOR GROUPS

The role of major groups are also covered under the various chapters of Agenda 21. The following is a summary of main objectives outlined in Agenda 21. Please check the appropriate boxes and describe briefly any important steps or obstacles.

In 1993, an NGO desk was established in the Commonwealth Secretariat to serve as a focal point for co-ordinating the organisation's dealings with NGOs, specifically with those involved in economic and social development at the grass-roots level. Several activities of the Secretariat now entail a considerable amount of interaction with NGOs inside and outside the Commonwealth. Criteria have also been agreed for the accreditation of NGOs at Commonwealth meetings, including those of Heads of Government.

Since the launch of a new Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and Development in 1995, the Secretariat has been integrating gender issues in an increasing number of divisional programmes and activities. The Secretariat is also providing technical assistance to help member governments to establish gender management systems and facilitate the initial stages of gender mainstreaming and management. Heads of Government and Ministers Responsible for Women's Affairs urged member governments in 1993 to implement Chapter 24 of Agenda 21, emphasising that more women needed to have access to education and training if they were to be effective as environmental managers. Based on a series of regional training manuals, a pan-Commonwealth training module on women and the environment has been developed. It is intended for trainers, extension workers, policy-makers and NGOs who require more knowledge about environmental policies and programmes of special relevance to women.

'Environment' was the theme of the 1994 Youth Exchange Programme, organised by the Caribbean Centre of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). About 100 young women and men from 16 countries in the region participated in the two-week programme which focused on environmental protection. In collaboration with the International Youth Development and Environment Network, the CYP developed a series of materials, entitled 'Voices of the Rainbow', which highlight the perspectives of young people on the issues addressed by UNCED, as well as national policies of member countries relating to young people and the environment.

The Secretariat has established a Commonwealth Business Network aimed at strengthening the role of private business organisations throughout the Commonwealth in promoting international flows of trade, investment and technology for sustainable development. The Commonwealth Consultative Group on Technology Management (CCGTM), a co-operative network advising member countries on integrating technology management into their socio-economic and environmental planning processes, has been transformed from a unit within the Commonwealth Secretariat into a private company - the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management Ltd (CPTM), based in London. The CPTM is harnessing technology management for sustainable development through formal and informal partnerships between the public and private sectors in member countries.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 33: FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS

Financial resources and mechanisms are also covered under each sectoral chapter of Agenda 21 where relevant. This summary highlights broader national financial policies, domestic and external (including ODA)

Commonwealth governments have emphasised the need for enhanced transfer of resources to developing countries to assist their implementation of Agenda 21. Many of the Secretariat's activities in the areas of consensus building on economic issues, provision of economic policy advice, and private capital flows and investment funds, highlight the importance of increased financial flows to developing countries to supplement their own domestic resource mobilisation efforts.

ODA policy issues

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 34: TRANSFER OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND TECHNOLOGY, COOPERATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING

Transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building is also covered under each sectoral chapter of Agenda 21 where relevant. This summary highlights broader national policies and actions relating to chapter 34.

The Secretariat has developed a programme focusing on the identification, transfer and development of environmentally sound technologies. This will assist decision-makers to make informed choices about alternative technology options in industrial development. The Commonwealth/Global Plastics Network mentioned earlier (see chapter 20) also facilitates the dissemination of information on cleaner production techniques in the plastics sector.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 35: SCIENCE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Several activities help member countries to use science and technology for better environmental management. In Eastern and Southern Africa, the Secretariat has assisted the development of programmes for the biological control of waterweeds by training scientists and helping to establish local colonies of the natural enemies (insects or bacteria) of such weeds. An integrated pest management programme also aims to promote the use of biological control techniques to combat infestation of whitefly, thrips, and the Diamondback moth in the Caribbean, as well as the pink mealybug in Grenada. In the energy sector, the Secretariat is assisting the introduction of photo-voltaic (PV) systems as a cheap and renewable source of energy in rural areas in Commonwealth Southern African countries. These projects include training for technicians in installing, repairing or upgrading local PV systems.

In order to improve natural resource management, workshops have been held for the African and Asian regions to impart training in the use of remote sensing and GIS. A project is also being developed to train technicians from SIDS in the use of these technologies in integrated coastal zone management. Through the Chemical Research and Environmental Needs project in the Asia-Pacific region, member countries have also been helped to improve local capacities to monitor chemical changes in the environment, in the context of efforts to control chemical pollution.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 36: PROMOTING EDUCATION, PUBLIC AWARENESS AND TRAINING

The Secretariat provides technical assistance and training to build capacities for more effective environmental management in developing member countries. The details are given under chapter 37.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 37: NATIONAL MECHANISMS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION FOR CAPACITY-BUILDING IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

National capacity building is also covered under sectoral chapters.

Donors: You may wish to describe here how Agenda 21 has influenced your ODA policies in this area.

Developing countries: You may wish to describe any new national mechanisms for capacity building - and any changes in technical cooperation.

The Secretariat helps to develop skills and strengthen institutional capacities in sectors where member countries have identified their greatest needs. Under the Langkawi Awards Scheme (which ended in June 1994), about 400 Commonwealth nationals benefited from training programmes and workshops on several subjects, including general environmental management, pollution control, environmental assessment, marine environmental protection and soil and water conservation. Training programmes have since focused on strengthening capacities to deal with environmental disasters and hazards (e.g. in meteorology in small islands vulnerable to hurricanes); the preparation of practical manuals and guidelines for pollution prevention and control; and workshops to increase awareness of emerging critical issues in environmental management. Short-term training attachments have also been supported in areas such as environmental conservation, fisheries management and marine geology. A new programme, developed over the last two years, related to the identification, transfer and development of environmentally-sound technologies, is helping decision-makers to take an informed, long-term view of technological and industrial development.

Technical assistance is provided to member countries in several areas. For instance, a public health adviser is helping St Lucia to review and restructure the operations of its Environmental Health Branch; an environmental economist/policy analyst is strengthening environmental and natural resource management at the Planning Institute of Jamaica; and advisers are assisting the management of a Central Environmental Laboratory, the improvement of environmental legislation, and the development of environmental guidelines for the oil palm industry in Mauritius, Brunei, and Papua New Guinea, respectively.

Assistance is also provided on a regional basis. For example, a long-term expert is helping the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP, based in Western Samoa) to implement a strategy for the protection of the marine environment in the South Pacific region; another has been assigned to the University of the West Indies Centre for Environment and Development to boost capacities for environmental management in Caribbean small island states; and workshops were held in all regions of the Commonwealth to enable senior planning officers to gain a better understanding of how environmental impact assessment (EIA) techniques can be used in the planning and monitoring of development projects. A Handbook on EIA has been prepared to complement these workshops.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 38: INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

No information

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 39: INTERNATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENTS AND MECHANISMS

Ch. 39: International Legal Instruments are covered under the relevant sectoral chapters. This is a listing of major agreements/conventions (not already covered) entered into and relevant to Agenda 21:

The Secretariat monitors the implementation of major international legal instruments on environmental issues which are of particular concern to member countries. It is helping them, particularly SIDS, to examine the legal implications of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and is developing a new project which will help to strengthen domestic legal capacities to implement important international environmental conventions in some member countries.

AGENDA 21 CHAPTER 40: INFORMATION FOR DECISION-MAKING

This chapter is also covered under sectoral and other chapters of this profile. The matrix below gives an overview of how national authorities rate the available information for decision making.

Rating of available data and information suitable for decision-making

Agenda 21 Chapters
Very
good
Good
Some good
data but
many gaps
Poor
Remarks
2. International cooperation and trade
3. Combating poverty
4. Changing consumption patterns
5. Demographic dynamics and sustainability
6. Human health
7. Human settlements
8. Integrating E & D in decision-making
9. Protection of the atmosphere
10. Integrated planning and management of land resources
11. Combating deforestation
12. Combating desertification and drought
13. Sustainable mountain development
14. Sustainable agriculture and rural development
15. Conservation of biological diversity
16. Biotechnology
17. Oceans, seas, coastal areas and their living resources
18. Freshwater resources
19. Toxic chemicals
20. Hazardous wastes
21. Solid wastes
22. Radioactive wastes
24. Women in sustainable development
25. Children and youth
26. Indigenous people
27. Non-governmental organizations
28. Local authorities
29. Workers and trade unions
30. Business and industry
31. Scientific and technological community
32. Farmers
33. Financial resources and mechanisms
34. Technology, cooperation and capacity-building
35. Science for sustainable development
36. Education, public awareness and training
37. International cooperation for capacity-building
38. International institutional arrangements
39. International legal instruments
40. Information for decision-making

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Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org
Last updated 1 November 1997