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Daily report for 30 April 2001

1st WSSD Preparatory Session (PrepCom-1)

The tenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-10), acting as the preparatory committee (PrepCom) for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, opened today at UN Headquarters in New York. In the morning session, delegates elected members of the Bureau and considered the agenda and organizational matters. They also heard reports regarding progress toward the World Summit on Sustainable Development and comments on the process for setting the agenda and determining possible main themes for the Summit, which continued during the afternoon session. The Secretariat presented the draft rules of procedure for the Summit.


ELECTION OF OFFICERS: After opening the session, CSD-9 Chair Bedrich Moldan (Czech Republic) invited delegates to elect the Bureau of the PrepCom. Delegates elected by acclamation Emil Salim (Indonesia) as PrepCom Chair. In his opening statement, Chair Salim reviewed main concerns regarding sustainable development, specifically that environmental issues are not yet mainstreamed within development. He called for the need to chart a collaborative course for sustainable development to avoid "crashing Spaceship Earth into an environmental disaster."

The following Bureau members were elected by acclamation: Ahmed Ihab Gamaleldin (Egypt) and Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria) for Africa; Kiyo Akasaka (Japan) for Asia; Jan Kara (Czech Republic) and Alexandru Niculescu (Romania) for Eastern European States; and Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil) and Diane Marie Quarless (Jamaica) for Latin America and the Caribbean. To represent the Western Europe and Others Group, the Plenary elected by secret ballot Richard Ballhorn (Canada) and Lars-Göran Engfeldt (Sweden).

ORGANIZATION OF WORK: Chair Salim introduced, and delegates adopted, the agenda and organization of work (E/CN.17/ 2001/PC/1).


Chair Salim drew attention to the 24 PrepCom documents of the session (listed in E/CN.17/2001/L.1) and invited delegates to consider agenda items on progress in the Summit preparatory activities and on the process for setting the agenda and determining possible Summit themes.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s reports, Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai: called for global responsibility as a sustainable development ethic; presented planned Summit activities; and recommended resources for Summit preparations, including a website and listserv.

PRESENTATIONS BY MAJOR GROUPS: On behalf of the WOMEN’S CAUCUS, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization described preliminary Agenda 21 review activities that will culminate with a launch in Johannesburg of a Women’s Agenda for Earth Summit 2002, and urged that the location of meetings be determined on a thematic, not stakeholder, basis. On behalf of the YOUTH CAUCUS, the United Nations Association of Canada recommended: recognition of the link between poverty, overconsumption and the environment; consideration of the unsustainable Western lifestyle; and integration of sustainability into the education of economists and engineers. Speaking for the INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ CAUCUS, the International Indian Treaty Council urged Member States and the Secretariat to ensure broad input from Indigenous Peoples into the preparatory sessions and highlighted the link between cultural and biological diversity.

Emphasizing the relationship between disempowerment and environmental degradation, the South African NGO Host Committee, for NGOs, said the 2002 Summit should reframe global environmental issues in terms of, inter alia, poverty. Speaking for TRADE UNIONS, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions urged governments to ensure a proper mix of major group representatives in their delegations, and suggested themes for the Summit such as, inter alia, poverty, employment, food security, and public health. On behalf of LOCAL AUTHORITIES, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives said the future success and credibility of sustainable development depend on articulation and endorsement of local strategies at the Summit. On behalf of BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY, the International Chamber of Commerce emphasized innovation, investment, integration and implementation of policies. Speaking for the SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY, the International Council for Scientific Unions pointed out the need for strengthened scientific and technological capacity in developing countries and strengthened ethics and responsibility of science.

On behalf of FARMERS, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers identified issues for the Summit agenda: food security, rural development, and sustainable livelihoods. He also supported concentrating on poverty reduction and capacity building to strengthen social capital.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer outlined changes since Rio, including the increasing role of globalization, growth in the knowledge society, the new biological revolution, as well as UNEP’s contribution to the Summit by: finalizing a review by May 2002 of Agenda 21 implementation; the completion of the third Global Environmental Outlook; and activities for improving international environmental governance (IEG).

IRAN, for the G-77/CHINA, underlined UN General Assembly (GA) resolution 59/199 and emphasized that, inter alia: the PrepCom should decide the Summit agenda; CSD-10 should include a draft decision on the linkages between IEG and the Summit preparatory processes; the review process be based on a genuine bottom-up approach; Agenda 21 is not up for renegotiation; and commitments on technology transfer, capacity building and financial resources should be fully implemented. SWEDEN, for the EU, emphasized, inter alia, the need for: a comprehensive review that subsequently addresses challenges that have arisen since Rio; mobilizing interest at the highest levels of government; operationalizing sustainable development at different levels; examining the possibility of a "new deal"; and supporting regional intergovernmental preparatory meetings. Highlighting the importance of the Barbados Programme of Action, SAMOA, for the Alliance of Small Island States, underlined the need to build the capacity of institutions, governments and community-based organizations.

CHINA noted their ongoing national assessment of sustainable development and called for poverty eradication, technology transfer and capacity building. CHILE noted an upcoming subregional meeting and called for linking sustainable development and poverty eradication. MAURITANIA noted that the success of the Summit depends on developing country input to the preparatory process. EGYPT said GA resolution 55/199 should provide the sole basis of work, and proposed that in order to evaluate successes and challenges, the UN should prepare reports on three facets of Agenda 21 implementation: trends at the national level; evaluation of UN system assistance; and contributions of major groups. He suggested undertaking the regional preparatory meetings before setting Summit themes and priorities. INDONESIA called for a comprehensive assessment of, and programme of action for, sustainable development that takes advantage of best practices and meets present economic needs without compromising those of the future.

On possible outcomes from the Summit, ICELAND cautioned against producing more long texts on "pet subjects," instead calling for focus on the themes of fighting poverty, decoupling economic growth and environmental damage through resource efficiency, and maintaining the functional integrity of ecosystems. PAKISTAN stressed the importance of an integrative approach at all levels, including: stakeholder and government initiatives; the three pillars of sustainable development; and participation of major groups. TURKEY called for additional financial resources, capacity building and technology transfer for Agenda 21 implementation. CANADA supported clear global sustainable development objectives around the themes of: health and environment; conservation and stewardship; IEG; sustainable communities; and innovation and partnership, particularly between the North and South. VENEZUELA called for the transfer of clean technologies and warned against the danger of cultural homogenization.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for enhancing linkages and coordination among diverse programmes, and addressing institutional inertia of major government cooperative mechanisms. Regarding implementation of Agenda 21, the US highlighted the role of major groups, particularly the private sector, and international and domestic governance. SWITZERLAND stated that economic, technological and social changes for sustainable development are only possible through mobilization of all actors in a strong political alliance, but pointed out that resistance may occur if it causes significant discomfort in people’s lives. NORWAY urged broadening the sustainable development agenda to explicitly address poverty reduction issues, and highlighted the challenge of changing production and consumption patterns. MEXICO stated that environmental degradation threatens the viability of development strategies.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION outlined national actions toward the 2002 Summit. Noting that the Summit is a political process, not a diplomatic negotiation or a technical seminar, BRAZIL said the Summit should undertake a clear assessment of the successes and failures in implementing Agenda 21. BOLIVIA said the Agenda 21 review should, inter alia: establish a bottom-up process that is open to full developing country participation and is based on UN principles; and consider the themes of globalization, financial resources, instruments of Agenda 21 implementation and mountain ecosystems.

SAUDI ARABIA called for: a bottom-up approach that addresses poverty; GA resolution 55/199 and the Rio rules to guide the process; all outputs, including that of IEG, to be channeled through the PrepCom processes; and common but differentiated responsibilities. JAPAN reported the establishment of the NGO, Global Environmental Action, to spearhead the national preparatory process. The BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY said the PrepCom must address spirituality within the context of the ethic of global responsibility in the achievement of sustainable development, and outlined possible approaches.


Presenting the proposed rules (E/CN.17/2001/PC/24), Director of the Division for Economic and Social Affairs, JoAnne DiSano, drew attention to the GA resolution mandating the PrepCom to decide on the rules for major group participation in the Summit process. She noted that the provisional rules need approval by the GA on the recommendation of the PrepCom, and recommended that the draft rules of procedure be considered by this PrepCom with a view to submitting them to the 56th session of the GA. She suggested that delegates consider following Rule 31 of the GA on the election of the President and Vice-Presidents. Discussion of this agenda item was deferred until Tuesday morning.


CSD-10 opened to a full house of delegates and observers, indicating greater interest in the Summit process than in the more substantive discussions of CSD-9. Two related issues were raised and speculated upon by numerous participants: the content and the physical setting of the Summit. First, a number of more skeptical participants are already beginning to question the Summit process, wondering whether the economic and environmental costs of yet another "global gabfest" could not be used more productively. Noting uncertainty as to what the Summit will produce in concrete terms, they have urged that, as a minimum, the Summit should seek to measure and minimize its "ecological footprint." Second, some participants were concerned about the logistical constraints of such a large event, particularly regarding location and organization of meeting sites in Johannesburg. NGOs and delegates have expressed their hope to avoid the much-criticized division of NGOs and government representatives that occurred at Rio and Beijing. In order to facilitate a mix of stakeholder input, several participants proposed organizing the Summit around dominant themes to be addressed at separate locations, ensuring involvement of representatives of all major groups to address each issue.


PLENARY: Delegates will continue consideration of the draft rules of procedure from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm in Conference Room 3. They will also address specific modalities of future preparatory meetings, including matters related to the accreditation of relevant NGOs for participation in the preparatory process and in the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In addition, presentations by South Africa on preparatory work for the Summit and by Indonesia on the third preparatory session will be held in the morning. The introduction and consideration of draft decisions will take place from 3:00-6:00 pm in Conference Room 3.

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