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    ENV/DEV/632
    2 April 2002

    SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT PREPARATORY COMMITTEE HEARS REPORT ON RECENT ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS' MEETING IN CARTAGENA

    NEW YORK, 28 March (UN Headquarters) -- The security of Earth was at stake in the face of continuing over-exploitation and mismanagement of environmental resources, a dwindling natural assets base, disappearing species and the impact of changing climate, the Commission on Sustainable Development was told this afternoon.

    David Anderson, President of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council, said ecosystems around the world were still losing their capacity to support human needs. Coral reefs were dying at an alarming rate and the demands of a growing population continued to take their toll.

    As he provided the Commission with an oral report on the Third Global Ministerial Environment Forum and seventh special session of the UNEP Governing Council held in Cartagena, Colombia, Mr. Anderson, Canada’s Environment minister, said Ministers in Cartagena had agreed to make the Governing Council Forum more effective and results-oriented, so environment ministers could craft a common agenda and see it through.

    They had also, he added, agreed on the need to: address the overall financial situation of UNEP; develop an inter-governmental strategic plan for technology support and capacity-building for developing countries; improve the coordination between and effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements; and to strengthen the United Nations inter-agency Environmental Management Group.

    He also told the Commission, which is acting as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September that the meeting in Cartagena had been a key milestone on the road to Johannesburg. Alongside the gains made at the Doha World Trade Organization meeting and the recent International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, there were encouraging signs and growing expectations for a successful World Summit.

    Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, said that all the high Government officials he had spoken to recently had expressed a similar wish for results from Johannesburg; no new goals, no new theories, no new words -- just action and a programme of deliverables. The Monterrey Conference had been a bigger success than anticipated because the downward trend in development funding had been reversed. For a further step towards success in Johannesburg, however, the new resource commitments must be used to catalyze more resources from, in particular, the private sector.

    Also speaking this afternoon were the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a representative of the Global Environment Facility, who gave a report on the results of an 11 March round table on forests held in New York.

    Background

    The Commission on Sustainable Development, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development met this afternoon to hear an oral report by the President of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). [For further information, see Press Release ENV/DEV/629 of 22 March 2002.]

    Statements

    DAVID ANDERSON, Minister for the Environment of Canada and President of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), reported on the Third Global Ministerial Environment Forum and seventh special session of the Governing Council held in Cartagena, Colombia, six weeks ago.

    He said Ministers had decided: to pursue a strategic approach to international chemicals management; on a plan to enhance civil society engagement in the work of UNEP; and to adopt guidelines on compliance with and enforcement of multilateral environmental agreements. They had agreed on steps to strengthen international environmental governance.

    Describing Cartagena as a key milestone on the road to Johannesburg, he said that, alongside the gains made in Doha and more recently in Monterrey, there were encouraging signs and growing expectations for a successful World Summit. Ministers had spoken of the environment as part of a larger reality –- the environment in the context of sustainable development. They had recognized instinctively that environmental protection and conservation demanded effective action at the local, regional and global levels and that ecosystems did not stop at national borders.

    Ecosystems in many parts of the world were still losing their capacity to support human needs, he noted. Environmental resources were being over-exploited and mismanaged, while the size and quality of the natural assets base was dwindling. Too many species were still being lost too fast, coral reefs were dying at an alarming rate, the impact of climate change was increasingly evident and the demands of a growing population continued to take their toll. The security of Earth was at stake.

    He said Ministers felt that the following areas merited further attention: assessment and early warning; cultural and biological diversity; ethics of sustainable development; health, the environment and poverty; health and environment of the Americas; and effective governance.

    He said the Ministers had agreed to use the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) to promote international cooperation in the field of environment, and making it a more effective, results-oriented forum in which environment ministers could craft a common agenda and see it through. They had also agreed on steps to address the overall financial situation of UNEP.

    Ministers had also agreed to develop and inter-governmental strategic plan for technology support and capacity-building for developing countries, he said. They had further agreed to pursue opportunities to improve the coordination between, and the effectiveness of, multilateral environmental agreements. Finally, Ministers had agreed to strengthen the United Nations inter-agency Environment Management Group.

    JAN PRONK, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, said that all the high government officials he had spoken to recently concerning the summit, expressed wishes that the programme of action would both further the programme of Agenda 21 and also meet Millenium Summit development goals. They wanted no new goals, no new theories, no new words -- just action. They, from North and South, urged the creation of a programme of deliverables.

    He said that the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference was a bigger success than anticipated, not because the optimum amount of funding was pledged, but because the downward trend in development funding was reversed. To make that meeting a step towards success in Johannesburg, however, the new resource commitments would have to be used to catalyze more resources from, in particular, the private sector. For that to happen, ministers of developing countries would have to confer with Chief Executive officers to develop programmes for specific sectors. In addition, the new commitments from Monterrey should be seen as a source of finance for initiatives agreed upon in Johannesburg. The funding must be guided directly toward those goals. To avoid repeating the failures of 1992, the pledged funds must also be delivered.

    Regarding so-called "Type 2", or secondary activities, he said ideas must be allowed to flourish. Such activities, however, should not replace priority activities. A consensus much be reached, after which value, in the form of other activities, could be added. Any added activities must relate to sustainability and, in doing so, be inclusive, with gender and human rights as major considerations. In addition, all such activities must be expressed as concrete commitments or actions, involving multiple stakeholders beyond governments. They should not planned by certain countries for the benefit of other countries; activities should be planned and implemented together. All activities, finally, must clearly support the global goals of the Summit.

    ZEPHIRIN DIABRÉ, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the agency was proposing a capacity development platform called "Capacity 2015" for review by delegations. It would help to achieve the Millennium development goals within the framework of Agenda 21. He added that Agenda 21 had provided the framework for sustainable development, the Millennium Summit had provided clear targets, the Monterrey Summit had offered the financial means and the World Summit should define the concrete initiatives.

    He said Capacity 2015 would be based on the successful experiences, lessons learned and methodologies of Capacity 21 and other innovative programmes, such as the Global Environment Facility, Small Grants Programme, LIFE and Africa 2000. The UNDP had prepared the proposal with partners from all regions of the world at a global round table held in Bolivia earlier this month. Other such UNDP-facilitated meetings would address: the needs of small island developing States (St. Lucia); trade (Nigeria); the Millennium Development Goals (China); networking partners (Egypt); and energy (Brussels).

    The platform, he went on, would assist communities around the world to: develop their capacities to nurture healthy local economies, societies and environment; effectively face the challenges of globalization; and derive the greatest possible benefits from current and emerging global trends. The platform must have multiple sources of funding, including the participation of socio-economic actors in local communities, as well as build on partnerships with international financial institutions, multilateral agreements, the private sector, civil society and others.

    He emphasized that local initiatives within countries -- municipalities, villages or other appropriate levels according to national economic and political structure -- could not exist in a vacuum. They required strong national and international support if they were to build sustainable communities. The platform should help communities assess the challenges they faced from globalization, determine the main bottlenecks to sustainability and their best opportunities to overcome them in the framework of national strategies for sustainable development.

    HERBERT ACQUAY, Team Leader of Land and Water Resources of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), gave a summary of the GEF Round table on Forests, which discussed forest management issues within the context of sustainable development. Despite commendable efforts that had been made to face deforestation in the past 10 years, he said that the situation was still deteriorating rapidly.

    The Round table had concluded that it was essential to strengthen institutions, or develop new ones, which could manage forests across jurisdictions in an integrated, holistic way. In addition, it was pointed out that even though much new knowledge had been gained in forest management, such information was often not available at the field level, or to the range of stakeholders. It must be made accessible.

    In addition, new mechanisms for financing forest preservation had begun to be developed, he said, channeling resources through multilateral conduits, for example. Such mechanisms must continue to develop. Cross subsidization must grow, along with the dissemination of lessons on what works, what doesn't and why. In all those areas, the private sector needed to be enlisted as part of the solution and not just part of the problem. Certification of forest products had a role to play, as did measures to eliminate unfair competition from illegal logging operations.

    The overall conclusion of the Round table, he said, was that much had been learned since Rio in the area of forests and sustainable development. Leaders and participants in Johannesburg were urged to recognize the severity of the problem, to commit the necessary resources, and combine efforts with all relevant institutions toward a solution.

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