Press Releases

     
    

    ENV/DEV/630
    26 March 2002

    PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR JOHANNESBURG WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ADOPTS AGENDA, CONSIDERS ACCREDITATION OF NGOS, INTERGOVERNMENTAL BODIES

    Committee Also Hears Reports of Recent, Related Conferences

    NEW YORK, 25 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development opened its third session this morning, adopting its agenda and considering the accreditation of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

    During the current session, from 25 March to 5 April, the Committee was expected to agree on the text of a document reviewing the implementation of Agenda 21, which is based on the fundamental principles of sustainable development laid down at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

    The final preparatory session is scheduled for 27 May to 7 June in Bali, Indonesia, it was announced today. It had been previously planned for Jakarta. The Summit itself is planned for Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September.

    Opening the session and outlining the tasks of the working groups, Chairman Emil Salim of Indonesia charged them to go beyond words and rhetoric towards the actions required to achieve specific goals in sustainable development, actions that would make a real difference in the life of people. He urged representatives to avoid empty rhetoric and finalize deliberations on time, pursuing partnership initiatives energetically.

    Nitin Desai, Secretary-General of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that much political energy had been focused on mustering resources to further the Millennium Declaration Goals at the recent Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development. One of the challenges faced by the Preparatory Committee was to link those Millennium Goals with the goals of separate programmes, such as programmes on desertification and water. Partnerships were meant to leverage additional resources and change the quality of implementation.

    Several other speakers also reported on the results of recent conferences this morning. Ousmane Moutari of the Niger and Severino Soares Almeida of Cape Verde introduced reports of meetings related to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Hussein Moeini Meybodi of Iran presented the Ministerial Declaration of the United Nations Forum on Forests, adopted on 15 March.

    Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), spoke about the results of the Cartagena Conference.

    Also this morning, Venezuela's representative made a statement on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China.

    The Preparatory Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.

    Background

    The Commission on Sustainable Development, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, opened its third preparatory session this morning. [For further information, please see Press Release ENV/DEV/629 of 22 March.].

    Statements

    EMIL SALIM (Indonesia), Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, opened the session and outlined the themes and arrangements planned for the working groups. The Summit, he hoped, would go beyond words and rhetoric towards the actions required to achieve specific goals in sustainable development -- for example, access to power and drinking water -- with road maps for implementation. The key objective was a realistic implementation plan that would make a difference in the life of people.

    It was also expected, he said, that partnerships with various stakeholders, such as international institutes and the private sector, would be facilitated during the preparatory committee session. He urged representatives to avoid empty rhetoric, to finalize deliberations on time, and to pursue partnership initiatives as far as possible.

    NITIN DESAI, Secretary-General of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the Monterrey meeting had been a success. Among other positive developments, there had been substantial commitments to increase official development assistance (ODA). Development had been placed at the centre of finance policy. The central focus on principles of economic management in the Monterrey consensus started with development that addressed key issues of poverty and marginalization. The Monterrey success posed an important challenge, as everybody in Monterrey had referred to the Johannesburg World Summit as the necessary third step.

    He said one of the lessons from Monterrey was the fact that the agreement between governments had been finalized before the Summit itself. The whole focus in Monterrey had, therefore, been on the speeches and actions of the high-level participants. Summit meetings must be treated as summit meetings, and not as a continuation of negotiations. Monterrey had also involved an effort to bring together governments and other actors.

    The challenge before the Preparatory Committee was to generate a text within two weeks which would reflect the priorities of Member States and would be translatable into practical implementation. The mandate of the Johannesburg World Summit was not to renegotiate Agenda 21, but to agree on an implementable programme of action. Partnerships, the so-called type two initiatives, could not be at the expense of clear, firm agreements by governments. In Monterrey, much political energy was focused on resources to further the Millennium Declaration Goals. One of the challenges faced now was to link the Millennium Goals with the goals of separate programmes, such as programmes on desertification and water. Partnerships were meant to leverage additional resources and change the quality of implementation by combining the managerial and technical resources of the partners.

    The issue of governance must also be addressed in the Preparatory Committee. The Commission on Sustainable Development, which was the centrepiece in development issues, had been responsible for many innovations in the way the United Nations worked, and had kept the issue of sustainable development on the policy agenda. One of its weak spots, however, was that it had not been able to generate sufficient pressure for implementation. The stakeholder dialogue also needed to be strengthened. The past months had revealed a genuine willingness to find common ground. That willingness should be exploited in the Johannesburg process to implement many of the major policies that had been agreed on in the past, he said.

    KLAUS TÖPFER, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), spoke about the results of the Cartagena Conference (the seventh special session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held from 13 to 15 February 2002). Important agenda items at that meeting included international chemical management, compliance and enforcement of multinational agreements, partnerships and implementation of marine environment protection agreements. The meeting also discussed ways in which its outcomes would contribute to the World Summit, and he outlined agenda items in that regard.

    OUSMANE MOUTARI (Niger) said it had been a great honour for his country to host the Panel of Eminent Personalities on the Poverty/Environmental Nexus in the context of the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification. The issue was an important one to discuss in relation to sustainable development. As Secretary General Kofi Annan had emphasized, extreme poverty often coincided with desertification. The members of the Panel had stressed the inextricable link between the two phenomena.

    Participants, he said, called on the industrialized countries to pay particular attention to desertification, and pressed for relevant conventions to be used as tools to combat it. They called on developed countries to lift obstacles to successful implementation and support adequate funding mechanisms. They also called for an environment that would encourage local residents to fight actively against desertification. He thanked countries which had supported the Panel's work, and hoped that its results would be heeded in Johannesburg.

    SEVERINO SOARES ALMEIDA (Cape Verde) informed the Preparatory Committee on the outcome of a forum on the fight against desertification by countries seriously affected by drought or desertification, particularly in Africa. The forum, organized by representatives of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held in Praia, Cape Verde, from to 5 to 8 April 2001.

    He said two documents from that forum -- "Conclusions and recommendations of the technical segment of the Praia Forum on Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, preparatory to the World Summit on Sustainable Development" and "Ministerial Forum on the implementation of the UNCCD preparatory to the World Summit on Sustainable Development" -- would be distributed shortly.

    MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that all efforts to finance development must lead to an important conclusion in Johannesburg by identifying what kind of development was being financed and ensuring it was sustainable. The Preparatory Committee must cooperate in order to agree on a joint plan of action.

    HUSSEIN MOEINI MEYBODI (Iran) presented the Ministerial Declaration of the United Nations Forum on Forests adopted on 15 March and requested its inclusion on the agenda of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

    Following its adoption of the provisional agenda and approval of the organization of work, the Preparatory Committee then accredited the following intergovernmental organizations to the World Summit: Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN); Comisión Permanente del Pacifico Sur-CPPS; Common Fund for Commodities; Interstate Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Promotion of Knowledge and Adult Education; Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden; Sahara and Sahel Observatory; and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme.

    Before accrediting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the World Summit, it heard a statement from the Secretariat regarding the Tibet Justice Centre.

    JOAN DISANO, Director, Division of Sustainable Development, said that an evaluation had found that the organization's activities were relevant. However, the Secretariat had also come across political activity, including advocacy, activism and other activities related to the status of Tibet.

    The Preparatory Committee then decided to consider the accreditation of the Tibet Justice Centre at a later date.

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