Read in: French

Summary report, 25 March – 5 April 2002

3rd Session of the WSSD Preparatory Committee

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), acting as the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), met for its third session from 25 March to 5 April 2002, at UN headquarters in New York. Nearly 1500 representatives of governments, UN agencies and convention Secretariats, international organizations, and Major Groups attended.

The purpose of the session was to consider the Chairman’s Paper transmitted from PrepCom II, address ways of strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development, evaluate and define the role and programme of work of the CSD, and agree on a document containing review and assessment, as well as conclusions and recommendations for further actions.

The first week of PrepCom III was dedicated to preliminary consideration of the Chairman’s Paper, with discussions on the subsequent compilation text taking place during the second week. The PrepCom also held preliminary discussions on an informal paper on sustainable development governance, prepared by the Bureau on the basis of comments made during PrepCom II. In addition, delegates began consideration of Type 2 outcomes (partnerships/initiatives).

PrepCom Chair Emil Salim’s (Indonesia) hopes of producing a negotiated text for PrepCom IV were dashed, as delegates trudged through the Chairman’s Paper and the subsequent compilation text. As participants departed, many reflected on persistent frustrations arising from what boiled down to insufficient guidance on the content, process and direction of the PrepCom. The situation was aggravated by UN budget cuts that stifled regional consultations, curtailed night sessions and prevented timely and adequate availability of documentation. As a result, the Bureau will have its work cut out for it in the coming weeks as its members prepare a new "consensus" text to replace the compilation text and a text on sustainable development governance, which will be negotiated during PrepCom IV, as well as a paper on partnerships.


The WSSD is being held 10 years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, took place from 3-14 June 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 100 Heads of State and Government, representatives from 178 countries, and some 17,000 participants attended the Summit. The principal outputs of the Summit were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 – a 40-chapter programme of action, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Statement of Forest Principles.

In Chapter 38, Agenda 21 called for the creation of a Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to: ensure effective follow-up to UNCED; enhance international cooperation and rationalize intergovernmental decision making; and examine progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at all levels. In 1992, the 47th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) set out, in resolution 47/191, the terms of reference for the CSD, its composition, guidelines for NGO participation, organization of work, relationship with other UN bodies, and Secretariat arrangements. The CSD held its first meeting in June 1993 and has met annually since.

UNGASS-19: Also at its 47th session in 1992, the UNGA adopted resolution 47/190, which called for a Special Session of the UNGA to review implementation of Agenda 21 five years after UNCED. The 19th Special Session of the UNGA for the Overall Review and Appraisal of Agenda 21, which was held in New York from 23-27 June 1997, adopted the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (A/RES/S-19/2). It assessed progress made since UNCED, examined implementation, and established the CSD’s work programme for the period 1998-2002.

RESOLUTION 55/199: In December 2000, the UNGA adopted resolution 55/199, in which it decided to embark on a ten-year review of UNCED in 2002 at the summit level to reinvigorate global commitment to sustainable development. The UNGA accepted South Africa’s offer to host the event. The resolution decided that the review should focus on accomplishments, identify areas requiring further efforts to implement Agenda 21 and other UNCED outcomes, lead to action-oriented decisions, and result in renewed political commitment to achieve sustainable development.

PREPCOM I: CSD-10, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the WSSD, held its first session at UN headquarters in New York from 30 April to 2 May 2001. The session adopted decisions on: progress in WSSD preparatory activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, and by Major Groups; modalities of future PrepCom sessions; tentative organization of work during the Summit; provisional rules of procedure; and arrangements for accreditation and participation of Major Groups.

NATIONAL, SUBREGIONAL AND REGIONAL PREPARATORY PROCESSES: National preparatory committees for the WSSD have been established to undertake country-level reviews, raise awareness, and mobilize stakeholders. Subregional and regional preparatory meetings for the Johannesburg Summit were held between June 2001 and January 2002. Eminent Persons’ Roundtables on the WSSD took place in all five UN regions, and regional preparatory meetings were held for Europe/North America (25-26 September 2001), Africa (15-18 October 2001), Latin America and the Caribbean (23-24 October 2001), West Asia (24 October 2001), Asia and the Pacific (27-29 November 2001), as well as for small island developing States (7-11 January 2002).

PREPCOM II: CSD-10 met as a PrepCom for its second session from 28 January to 8 February 2002, at UN headquarters in New York. The session conducted a comprehensive review and assessment of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21, and agreed that the Chairman’s Paper (A/CONF.199/PC/L.1) would serve as the basis for negotiation at PrepCom III. The PrepCom also adopted its report (E/CN.17/2002/PC.2/L.1), which contains the Chairman’s Summary of the Second Preparatory Session, the Chairman’s Summary of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Segment, and the Proposals for Partnerships/Initiatives to Strengthen the Implementation of Agenda 21.

INFORMAL CONSULTATION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE: An informal consultation on sustainable development governance was held on 28 February 2002, at UN headquarters in New York. The consultation was based on an informal paper prepared by Bureau Vice-Chairs Lars-Göran Engfeldt (Sweden) and Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria). Based on this consultation, the Vice-Chairs produced a paper to be discussed at PrepCom III.


Chair Emil Salim (Indonesia) opened PrepCom III on Monday morning, 25 March. Salim announced that PrepCom III would negotiate elements for decisions contained in the Chairman’s Paper (A/ CONF.199/PC/L.1) and in a discussion paper – Sustainable Development Governance at the International, Regional and National Levels. Stressing that PrepCom III should not produce drafting suggestions, Chair Salim called for formulating concrete actions for achieving specific sustainable development goals, and invited international agencies and financial and development institutions to provide technical expertise to the working groups. He added that informal consultations would be held on partnership initiatives – Type 2 outcomes – and stressed that these should not replace political commitments.

WSSD Secretary-General Nitin Desai briefed delegates on the outcomes and implications to the WSSD of the recent International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) held in Monterrey, Mexico, and highlighted the importance of partnerships. UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer presented the outcomes of the meetings of the Intergovernmental Group of Ministers or Their Representatives on International Environmental Governance (IGM/IEG) and of the UNEP Seventh Special Session of the Governing Council/Third Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF-3), held in Cartagena, Colombia.

Ousmane Moutari (Niger) presented the report of the second meeting of the Panel of Eminent Personalities that was held in Agadez, Niger, from 25-28 February 2002. He noted that the meeting considered the poverty-environment nexus within the context of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and emphasized the role of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as a mechanism to finance the UNCCD. Severino Soares Almeida (Cape Verde) drew attention to the Ministerial Message from Praia, issued by Ministers and Heads of Delegations of Parties to the UNCCD, who met on 7-8 March 2002, in Praia, Cape Verde.

Venezuela’s Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the G-77/China, Milos Alcalay, presented the report of the Third High-Level Forum on Cooperation between Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in the context of the Inter-regional Cooperation Platform that was held on 19-20 February 2002, in Caracas, Venezuela. He also presented the Caracas Declaration on the Implementation of the UNCCD, which was issued by the Forum. Iran, on behalf of the Chair of the Second Substantive Session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF-2) Knut Øistad, elaborated on the Ministerial Declaration adopted by UNFF-2 and expressed hope that the Declaration and its message would be taken up by the WSSD.

Chair Salim proposed, and delegates adopted, the agenda (A/ CONF.199/PC/1) and organization of work (A/CONF.199/PC/1/ Add.1). Delegates also accredited intergovernmental organizations (A/ CONF.199/PC/10). Accreditation of one NGO, the Tibet Justice Center, was postponed to allow further consideration by delegates.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: During the two-week meeting, delegates met primarily in three working groups: Working Groups I and II considered the Chairman’s Paper and Working Group III considered sustainable development governance. There were also informal consultations to begin consideration of Type 2 outcomes (partnerships/initiatives). Working Group I, co-chaired by Vice-Chairs Kiyotaka Akasaka (Japan) and Maria Viotti (Brazil), considered the first four sections of the Chairman’s Paper, namely, introduction, poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and protecting and managing the natural resource base. Working Group II, co-chaired by Vice-Chairs Richard Ballhorn (Canada) and Ihab Gamaleldin (Egypt), considered sustainable development in a globalizing world, health and sustainable development, sustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS), sustainable development initiatives for Africa and means of implementation.

Working Group III was co-chaired by Vice-Chairs Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria) and Lars-Göran Engfeldt (Sweden), while Vice-Chairs Jan Kára (Czech Republic) and Diane Quarless (Jamaica) co-chaired the informal meetings on partnerships.


In addition to the opening Plenary that dealt with organizational matters, brief Plenary sessions were convened on Wednesday, 27 March, and Thursday, 28 March. On Wednesday, 27 March, Spesioza Wandira Kazibwe, Vice-President of Uganda, stressed, inter alia, the need for improved land and water resource productivity, and strengthened political leadership and commitment.

On Thursday, 28 March, UNEP Governing Council President David Anderson presented a comprehensive report of the February 2002 Governing Council/GMEF meeting. He highlighted WSSD-related decisions during the session. Jan Pronk, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the WSSD, reported on findings from his intersessional visits to country capitals, noting, inter alia: objection to new goals; call for implementation of Agenda 21, Millennium Declaration goals and past financing commitments; and support for Type 2 outcomes. Zéphirin Diablé, UNDP Associate Administrator, described UNDP’s new Capacity 2015 initiative to develop local level capacity, and called for new financing mechanisms and partnerships. Herbert Acquay, GEF Team Leader of Land and Water Resources, reported on the March 2002 roundtable on forests.


On Monday afternoon, 25 March, delegates met for regional consultations on the Chairman’s Paper. From Tuesday to Thursday, 26-28 March, delegates conducted a first reading of the Chairman’s Paper, providing preliminary comments and submitted new proposals, on the basis of which the Bureau prepared a compilation text. During the second week, delegates considered the compilation text.

This section presents some of the comments during both the preliminary consideration of the Chairman’s Paper, and substantive discussion of the compilation text released at the beginning of the second week, following submission of text comments by delegations. It also highlights some of the new proposals, contentious issues and areas of consensus reached during discussion.

At the end of PrepCom III, a revised text was not distributed, as delegations were given time to submit additional comments on certain text sections. The Bureau and the Chair will draft new text for consideration and negotiation at PrepCom IV.

I. INTRODUCTION: The introduction to the Chairman’s Paper was discussed on Tuesday morning and evening, 26 March, but did not discuss this section in the compilation text. New paragraphs were suggested during the preliminary consideration of the Chairman’s Paper on: an enabling international environment and the failure of the international community to fulfill the Rio commitments (Venezuela, for the G-77/China); good governance at the national level and on international cooperation to promote sustainable development (Switzerland); institutional coordination at national and international levels (Canada); and the ecosystem approach and the role of the private sector (EU). References were also suggested on: the Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainable development; family planning and literacy for women and the poor; gender issues; and outcomes of major UN conferences.

II. POVERTY ERADICATION: Delegates discussed issues of poverty eradication in the original Chairman’s Paper on Tuesday and Wednesday, 26-27 March. Discussion continued on the compilation text on Monday and Tuesday, 1-2 April. During the initial discussion of the Chairman’s Paper, Australia and the US expressed concern that time-bound commitments could reduce flexibility of emerging development needs. Delegations proposed new text, including:

  • integrating environmental issues into national poverty reduction strategies, and on sustainable energy and resource use (EU);
  • establishing a World Solidarity Fund for Poverty Eradication, and on improved market access for developing country products (G-77/China);
  • encouraging policy and programme coordination at all levels (US);
  • good governance and participation of the poor (Switzerland);
  • mainstreaming a gender perspective (Canada); and
  • developing countries’ resilience to natural and man-made disasters (Japan).

Proposed text focused heavily on the Millennium Declaration goals, drew from the World Food Summit targets and the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and called for implementation of International Labor Organization core labor standards.

Incorporating the numerous proposals to the original Chairman’s Paper, new subsections were created in the compilation text. Issues raised during consideration of the compilation text are presented by subsection. There was general agreement to merge many of the proposals in order to make the text more concise. Also, many of the issues are covered elsewhere in the compilation text (under sections III and IV), and delegations agreed to move some of the sectoral issues to these sections.

Chapeau: Discussion reinforced achieving the poverty reduction goals of the Millennium Declaration. The G-77/China again emphasized the establishment of a World Solidarity Fund for Poverty Eradication.

Governance and Participation: This topic was minimally discussed as governance was under consideration by a separate group.

Women and Gender: Delegates agreed to streamline the proposed text and gather all text relating to gender issues.

Water and Sanitation: Discussion focused on whether or not to reference recent agreements and targets on water and improved sanitation.

Energy: Discussion focused on whether to move this issue to the energy subsection.

Livelihoods: Delegates supported implementing ILO core labor standards.

Rural and Agricultural Development: Extensive discussion focused on the issue of trade-distorting subsidies and barriers to trade for agricultural products.

Education: Delegates again raised the issue of consistency with Millenium Declaration goals.

Settlements and Housing: Canada withdrew a proposal highlighting the issues of urbanization.

Health: Delegations supported moving this issue to the health and sustainable development section.

Disasters and Conflict: A short discussion focused on natural versus man-made disasters and disasters in developing versus developed countries.

Industrial Development: This section was generally accepted by delegates.

III. CHANGING UNSUSTAINABLE PATTERNS OF CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION: Delegates gave preliminary comments on this section on Wednesday, 27 March, and discussed the revised section on Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-3 April. Incorporating the numerous proposals to the original Chairman’s Paper, new subsections were created in the compilation text. Issues raised during consideration of the compilation text are presented by subsection.

Chapeau: New paragraphs were suggested by the EU on a ten-year work programme to achieve Millennium Declaration goals, de-couple economic growth from environmental degradation, promote equitable access to natural resources and consumption, and develop and implement a set of sustainable development indicators.

Public/Consumer Awareness: In this subsection, new paragraphs were proposed by the G-77/China on recognizing, supporting and enhancing traditional knowledge, and by Turkey on assuring consumer confidence in labeling and control systems regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A brief discussion yielded comments on consumption patterns of richer populations and the role of advertising.

Cleaner Production: In this subsection, paragraphs were introduced on:

  • developing eco-efficiency incentive and support schemes (EU);
  • collecting and disseminating cost-effective best practices in cleaner production (Australia); and
  • transferring technology and providing financial resources to improve productivity and competitiveness (G-77/China).

Corporate Responsibility: Australia, Canada and the EU suggested new paragraphs on the Global Reporting Initiative. The EU also tabled paragraphs on development of certification and on workplace-based partnerships and programmes for sustainable development.

Policies: New paragraphs were suggested on: application of environmental and social considerations in decision making, life-cycle approaches, and sustainable development indicators (EU); economic instruments and market incentives (Australia); government procurement policies (Tuvalu); and data and information systems (US). In deliberations, delegates accepted a G-77/China proposal to exchange best practices in environmentally sound technologies (ESTs).

Energy: In this subsection, paragraphs were introduced on:

  • energy supply diversification and structural reforms in the energy sector (Canada);
  • capacity building at national and regional levels, expansion of renewable energy markets, and incorporation of sustainable development objectives in international financial institutions’ energy sector restructuring programmes (EU);
  • an international legally binding agreement on mainstreaming and commercialization of environmentally sound renewable energy technologies (Tuvalu);
  • implementation of CSD-9 recommendations and conclusions, and on exchange of information and cooperation between UN agencies and the CSD (G-77/China);
  • reducing energy intensity and on increasing energy prices to approximate their economic value (Russian Federation); and
  • a global alliance for renewable energy and efficient, clean conventional energy technologies (Iceland).

The revised energy subsection was discussed in informal-informal consultations, facilitated by Gustavo Ainchil (Argentina), on Thursday and Friday, 4-5 April. On 4 April, most discussion focused on the use of CSD-9 language, both as a basis of work and as a source of text. A revised energy subsection was introduced on 5 April. The issue of using CSD-9 text was further deliberated, especially with respect to its placement in the chapeau, and in the provisions pertaining to policy reform and to an institutional framework for promoting energy for sustainable development. Other contentious issues included: targets for the renewable energy share as part of total energy use; references to the Kyoto Protocol; and subsidies.

Transport: Canada proposed a paragraph on an integrated approach to policy making, Japan introduced paragraphs on environmentally friendly vehicles and on air monitoring systems, and Switzerland proposed a paragraph on taxation of bunker fuels. The latter was discussed at length, with Switzerland suggesting alternative text referring to the ongoing work in the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization on internalizing external costs.

Waste: New text was proposed on: achieving a recycling-based society (Japan); production of reusable consumer goods (EU); and compensation for damages resulting from the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous wastes (Turkey).

Chemicals: Paragraphs were introduced on: development of a strategic approach to chemical management ( EU and JUSCANZ); strengthening knowledge and management capacity in developing countries and on a heavy metals protocol to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Norway); implementation of the Globally Harmonized System for classification and labeling of chemicals (JUSCANZ and Norway); illegal trade in hazardous chemicals (US); and technical and financial assistance to developing countries and on partnerships with industry (EU).

IV. PROTECTING AND MANAGING THE NATURAL RESOURCE BASE OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Delegates discussed this section of the Chairman’s Paper on Thursday, 28 March, and revisited the topic in the compilation text on Wednesday and Thursday, 3-4 April. Informal-informals on oceans were held on Thursday and Friday, 4-5 April.

Chapeau: Several delegations proposed chapeau formulations: Norway highlighted the precautionary and polluter-pays principles; Turkey stressed adequate allocation of water resources; and the EU emphasized the ecosystem approach and traditional knowledge.

Water Resources: Delegations made numerous new text proposals during initial consideration of the Chairman’s Paper. During both initial comments and discussion of the compilation text, delegates focused on, inter alia, sustainable water resources management and equitable use, Millennium Declaration goals on access to water, ecological integrity, water infrastructure, regional and international cooperation on shared water resources, pollution prevention, and integrated watershed management. Uzbekistan urged support for an international convention on the Aral Sea Basin. During discussion, countries were divided on referencing the results of the International Conference on Freshwater, and several delegations objected to text on water pricing models.

Oceans: This subsection was discussed only in informal-informal consultations, facilitated by Guy O’Brien (Australia), during which additional text was proposed on the following issues: partnerships; fisheries subsidies; aquaculture; fish stocks; environmental damage by ships; invasive alien species; flags of convenience; maritime transport of radioactive material; scientifically based integrated coastal, marine and river basin management; and protected areas.

Areas of consensus included: the need for regional cooperation, an ecosystem approach, and assessment; use of the term "conserve" rather than "preserve"; information for decision making; and suspending discussion of UN agency coordination until after the UNGA Informal Consultative Process on ocean affairs. Delegates diverged over use of the term "living marine resources" versus "fisheries" and over reference to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Discussion of transboundary movement of hazardous wastes was postponed to PrepCom IV after New Zealand and the G-77/China presented a reformulation of the text, and Japan, with the Russian Federation, refused use of any text beyond agreed CSD-9 language. Facilitator O’Brien requested submission of comments to by Tuesday, 9 April, after which he will produce a new text.

Natural Disasters: This topic produced minimal discussion. Proposed language addressed: early warning systems; hazard and vulnerability assessment; and disaster reduction and preparedness.

Climate Change: New text in this section was proposed on: recalling the Marrakesh Ministerial Declaration (US); ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (EU); using Millennium Declaration language (Russian Federation); and working together to address climate change (Japan). Discussions focused on the Kyoto Protocol, with the US preferring language reflecting its position against ratification, and calling for text on flexible mechanisms of the Protocol and continued development of adaptation strategies.

Atmosphere: Proposals on atmosphere included reference to: strengthening the system of monitoring transboundary air pollution and acid rain; developing an international framework on air pollution; considering the interrelation of ozone depletion and climate change; and illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances. In brief discussions, the US expressed preference for removing reference to Kyoto Protocol commitments. The EU and Japan opposed, and Norway supported, a specific deadline for the provision to developing countries of environmentally sound alternatives to ozone-depleting substances.

Agriculture: New text on agriculture was presented on: stakeholder participation, integrated assessments of socioeconomic and environmental potentials, new markets for agricultural products, and capacity building (EU); integrated and sustainable land use planning (Czech Republic); efficient water use (Japan); a global strategy for plant conservation (Switzerland); and technical and financial assistance and protection of oases (G-77/China). Australia, Canada, the G-77/China and New Zealand supported, and Japan and Norway objected to, deleting references to the multifunctions of agriculture. On illicit crops, Norway requested, and Canada opposed, reference to the precautionary principle, while the G-77/China suggested "taking into account the negative social, economic and environmental impacts" of combating illicit crops.

Desertification: The G-77/China proposed new paragraphs on synergies among multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and changing the pattern of utilization of grassland resources. Discussion focused on proposals regarding desertification and the role of the GEF, including: the GEF as the permanent financial mechanism for the UNCCD and reference to the Praia Ministerial Declaration (G-77/China); the GEF Assembly to take steps to ensure that degradation, desertification and deforestation are effectively handled in the GEF portfolio (Norway); and consideration of the matter by the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (Canada). Uzbekistan suggested adding reference to the Aral Sea Basin.

Mountains: Most new paragraphs were introduced by Switzerland, including on: conservation and preservation of mountain ecosystems; sustainable mountain agriculture and forestry; inclusion of mountain communities in decision making; indigenous knowledge systems; spiritual values of mountain landscapes; equitable benefit sharing from extraction or use of mountain resources; further research; and small-scale energy production. The G-77/China presented new paragraphs based on multi-stakeholder dialogues on sustainable mountain development, multilateral and bilateral cooperation, and public awareness campaigns. Brief discussions generated proposals by Andorra on land use planning and by Norway on vulnerable Arctic ecosystems.

Tourism: New paragraphs were introduced on: ecotourism (Japan); UNESCO’s International Year of Cultural Heritage in 2002 (Norway); and sustainable tourism development, technical assistance to developing countries, local enterprise, and managed visitation of tourism attractions by host communities (G-77/China). During brief discussions, the US provided text on technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition (CEITs) for sustainable tourism.

Biodiversity: Proposals in this subsection related to: renewed commitment to and implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); multi-stakeholder initiatives for conservation of biodiversity hotspots; implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); impacts of invasive alien species; conclusion of World Intellectual Property Organization processes on intellectual property, traditional knowledge and genetic materials; and access and benefit sharing. In discussions, the EU emphasized the importance of the outcomes of the CBD Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6), and delegates diverged over specific dates on reducing the rates of biodiversity loss.

Forests: Despite a number of new paragraphs proposed on international cooperation, valuation of forest goods, and poverty and deforestation, most delegates emphasized language from UNFF pertaining to, inter alia, sustainable forest management, political commitment, and partnerships. The EU suggested finalizing this section after CBD COP-6.

Minerals and Mining: New paragraphs in the compilation text addressed: the contribution of the mining, minerals and metals sector to sustainable development; assistance to developing countries; consultation with local and indigenous communities; and development of environmentally sound exploitation and management. On Thursday, 4 April, Canada circulated new text, supported by most delegates, which addressed partnerships, developing countries and CEITs, life-cycle considerations, and stakeholder consultations.

V. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN A GLOBALIZING WORLD: Preliminary discussion of the Chairman’s Paper was held on Tuesday, 26 March and, on Friday, 5 April the compilation text was taken up. It addressed a broad range of issues related to globalization and contained cross-references to trade issues and outcomes of the FfD, and was heavily amended. In the course of discussions, several paragraphs were moved to sections of the compilation text addressing trade and governance. The chapeau, which attempted to explain globalization as a multifaceted process, led to a protracted discussion that centered on benefits and negative effects such as the pros and cons of "managing" globalization or "responding" to it. Several alternative texts were tabled by the end of the PrepCom, with the US proposing a "positive" statement, the EU suggesting a balanced text, and the G-77/ China insisting on a short paragraph that would avoid defining globalization and instead focus on difficulties experienced by developing countries.

The compilation paper mentioned the need for social protection policies and making globalization equitable and inclusive, although these issues raised some opposition. There was inconclusive discussion on text dealing with promoting greater policy coherence and coordination in the UN system and among financial and other international institutions. The G-77/China repeatedly called for mentioning the concerns of developing countries. The EU, the US and other developed countries stressed the need for "good governance," rule of law, and a domestic environment conducive to attracting foreign capital and enable globalization. Attempts were made to condense the many proposals to reference the outcomes of Doha and Monterrey, by using globally agreed language. On corporate responsibility, delegates suggested deleting reference to OECD guidelines for multilateral enterprises. The US proposed "encouraging voluntary" corporate responsibility. There were strong objections from the US to text on promoting of more transparent forms of financial market regulation, and on addressing excessive volatility of short-term capital flows. References to public access to information and justice led to an inconclusive debate, and objections were raised on developing global multilateral guidelines on the issue. The paper contains a passage on a UN convention against corruption, which remains controversial. After deliberations on Friday evening, 5 April, the Co-Chairs announced that further comments by the delegations on this section should be submitted electronically to

VI. HEALTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Preliminary comments on this issue were presented on Tuesday and Wednesday, 26-27 March. Discussion on the compilation text was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, 1-2 April.

During preliminary comments, several countries suggested that this section should focus on human well-being. There was emphasis on, inter alia, resources for implementation, targets and commitments, infant and child mortality, support for the eradication of infectious diseases, and links between health, development and the environment. Other concerns related to capacity building, traditional knowledge and its protection, access to health services, policy coherence, impact assessment, and animal husbandry and livestock diseases.

Numerous proposals were introduced, including: regional cooperation to combat HIV/AIDS (Russian Federation); nutritional supplements and food fortification (US); adequate shelter (Holy See); policies, strategies and programmes to strengthen research efforts (EU); and cooperation among relevant international organizations (G-77/China).

Delegates diverged over many of the proposals in the compilation text, particularly: access to, and protection of, traditional knowledge; targets for reducing HIV infection; use of the ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS as the basis for tackling occupational health; and sources of particulates that cause air pollution. The G-77/China, the EU and the US agreed on the production and use of biodegradable products, assistance to enhance developing country health systems and services, and the incorporation of traditional knowledge into these health systems. The G-77/China and the US agreed to delete references that would make it mandatory for governments to ensure public access to information and incorporate traditional knowledge into health systems. Developed countries bracketed all references to financing, including commitment to financing the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Delegates agreed to move to the chemicals subsection, related health issues such as chemical contamination, and poisoning and physical hazards, although there was divergence over the need to establish a global chemical classification system, and the addition of a heavy metals protocol to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

VII. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS): This section was taken up on Wednesday, 27 March, and Thursday, 4 April, after the G-77/China presented an updated version of the text. This text was accepted as the basis for negotiation, and was broadly supported by the EU and New Zealand. It presented the case for addressing the constraints and challenges experienced by SIDS due to various vulnerability factors, marginalization, exposure to economic shocks, and small internal markets. The text also emphasized the need for increased financial support from the international community. The question of additional financing met with objections on the part of Japan and the US, who, with the EU, suggested deleting all references to target dates for various initiatives contained in the text, except for the comprehensive review in 2004 of the Barbados Programme of Action for SIDS. Australia and the US also wished to drop references to "a global initiative" to assist SIDS in mobilizing resources for all adaptation needs relating to climate change and other natural events.

There was much discussion on whether the trade-related paragraphs – which called for adjustment assistance regarding globalization and trade liberalization, and for recognition of the special situation of SIDS in the World Trade Organization (WTO) work programme – should go beyond the Doha mandate. Japan objected to mentioning the Convention on the Conservation of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, because it contradicts the UNCLOS. Samoa urged developed countries to reconsider their amendments to the G-77/China text, especially on provision of support to SIDS and on target dates for suggested programmes and initiatives. The discussion ended with statements from Japan and the US promising to revisit issues at a later round of negotiations.

VIII. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES FOR AFRICA: This section was considered on Friday evening, 5 April, following the closing Plenary of the PrepCom. Co-Chair Ballhorn noted that discussion of the section was delayed to allow conclusion of a meeting on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) that was taking place in Africa, following which revised text was submitted by the G-77/China.

The section notes that the NEPAD is a pledge by African leaders to, inter alia, eradicate poverty and place their countries on a path to sustainable growth and development. This section also highlights priority support areas, including establishing clear mechanisms for immediate implementation of the NEPAD.

Noting the late submission of the G-77/China revised text, Co-Chair Ballhorn invited general comments. Many delegations expressed support for the section, but said they needed more time to consider it in depth.

The US, with the EU, said the text was heavy on financing, and with Japan, added that the text was too ambitious, needed prioritization, and that the NEPAD should not be the only mechanism for collaboration with Africa. The EU noted insufficient emphasis on the social pillar of sustainable development. The EU and Canada proposed moving to the relevant sections issues that also relate to other regions. Norway, with Japan, expressed appreciation for the NEPAD as a homegrown initiative, with Norway noting that there had been a lack of internal, but not external, initiatives in Africa.

The US stressed economic growth as the engine of development, and expressed concern about provisions on expanding the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and official development assistance (ODA) targets. The EU stressed the importance of the poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), water, energy, and the NEPAD peer reviews.

Responding, Nigeria stressed that the NEPAD is a framework and noted the importance of establishing a financial mechanism for the UNCCD. South Africa said the NEPAD had commitment from African leaders at the highest political levels, sets Africa’s priorities for the next 10 years, and that Africa is already engaged with the G-8 on the NEPAD.

Before Co-Chairs Ballhorn and Gamaleldin called the Working Group session to a close at 7:50 pm, delegates agreed on a 15 April deadline for the submission of detailed comments to

IX. MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION: Preliminary comments on this section were made on Wednesday and Thursday, 27-28 March, and the compilation text was considered on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 2-4 April. The section contains subsections on finance, science and technology, trade, capacity building and information for decision making.

Finance: During preliminary comments, the G-77/China sought to introduce the Rio Principle of common but differentiated responsibilities with regard to new and additional resources. Delegates diverged over whether to reference this Rio Principle, its linkage to new and additional resources, and its placement in the text.

During substantive discussion, many delegations, including Australia, Canada, Japan, the EU, and the US, supported using language from the Monterrey Consensus, with Australia stressing that the outcome had been recently negotiated prior to this PrepCom session, and New Zealand calling for "celebrating the international success in Monterrey." Mexico urged actions beyond Monterrey.

Developed and developing countries differed in regard to: focus on ODA; best practice on untying of aid; broadening of the HIPC initiative; implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs; management of aid and mechanisms for its administration; timeframes for achieving targets; and forms of assistance to developing countries.

Trade: During preliminary discussions: the G-77/China focused on market access, special and differential treatment, and elimination of trade barriers; the EU emphasized technical assistance and preferential trade schemes for developing countries, as well as trade in organic produce; and Japan, the US and the Russian Federation focused on the WTO and Doha processes.

New proposals included: the role of trade in sustainable development; elimination or reduction of trade subsidies; assurance of a successful conclusion of negotiations initiated by the Doha Ministerial Meeting; support for measures to increase contributions to the Integrated Framework Trust Fund and to operationalize the Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to LDCs; cooperation between multilateral environmental and trade agreements, UNEP and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); and integration of environment and development considerations into the multilateral trading system.

During substantive discussion, delegates agreed to move provisions on trade contained in the section on globalization to this subsection. Debate focused on tariffs, trade-distorting subsidies, market access, application of ILO core labor standards in business and trade, and linking environment and trade agreements.

The US underscored trade as a critical source of financing for sustainable development, and the G-77/China stressed market access. Australia, Japan and the US emphasized reinforcing, but not going beyond, the Doha achievements, and the EU urged "coherent implementation of the Doha and Monterrey decisions." The G-77/China and others drew attention to the fact that Rio and related processes refer to the "precautionary approach" and not the "precautionary principle," and objected to its reference.

Science and Education: Preliminary comments by delegates included: the role of universities and training institutions in informed policy making; relations among scientists and policymakers; gender equality; and education programmes to reduce illiteracy, eradicate poverty and foster food security.

New provisions in the compilation text included: potential research areas; access by developing countries to university education around the world; attainment of the Millennium Declaration goals of universal primary education and promoting gender equality; the use of all forms of knowledge in policy- and decision making; increased ODA for basic education; and access to genetic resources towards the expansion of scientific knowledge for sustainable development.

During discussion, the G-77/China emphasized the prohibitive cost to developing countries of university education and scientific and research journals. The US and others cited constraints in dictating private sector pricing, preferring to address mechanisms to alleviate economic difficulties experienced by universities in developing countries and CEITs. There was no agreement regarding proposals to ensure developing country students access to university education in developed countries, assistance for education infrastructure development in developing countries, and earmarking ODA allocation for universal primary education.

Technology Transfer: A number of new proposals were made on: access to environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) (G-77/China); improved interaction and collaboration between universities, research institutions, and government agencies (EU); and the provision of targeted financial instruments to facilitate acquisition of ESTs (Switzerland). Other proposals included access to biotechnologies, protection of indigenous knowledge, and enhancement of intellectual property rights.

Discussion centered on the creation of environments in both developed and developing countries to enhance acquisition of technology by developing countries, with: the G-77/China stressing frameworks in developed countries that enhance technology transfer; Australia, the EU and the US emphasizing public/private partnerships; and Australia and the Republic of Korea supporting capacity building in developing countries for intellectual property rights regimes. Other proposals focused on technology transfer mechanisms, with the G-77/China suggesting "an appropriate mechanism," the US, Japan and Canada urging "existing mechanisms," and Switzerland proposing "new credit lines."

Capacity Building: During discussion, delegates generally agreed on many of the amendments and new proposals. New proposals contained in the compilation text included: promoting partnerships focused on capabilities to absorb and adapt scientific and technological knowledge; building on recent best practices and emerging knowledge on capacity development; promoting wide-ranging capacity-building strategies to strengthen enabling environments; integrating environmental concerns in PRSPs; and reducing the adverse effects of the "brain drain" by supporting capacity-building efforts in developing countries.

The US objected to, while the EU supported, a G-77/China proposal to launch a global initiative for capacity building. Many countries supported Mexico’s proposal to enable countries to monitor and evaluate Agenda 21 implementation. Delegates diverged on integrating environmental issues in PRSPs, but agreed on supporting development of poverty reduction strategies.

Information for Decision Making: Many countries called for the development of socioeconomic indicators. The G-77/China proposed equitable exchange of information and experiences, and the EU advocated promoting public access to information and enhancing public participation in decision making. Mexico and the FAO suggested a broader definition of vulnerability, and the Committee on Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS) called for the use of satellite technology for mapping and geographic information.

Additional proposals contained in the compilation text covered: public access to information relevant to sustainable development; enhanced data collection through implementation of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; access to meteorological data for early warning purposes; benefit sharing of information and communication technologies; access to information and communication technologies; development of the International System of Economic and Environmental Accounting; application of environmental impact assessments, and Strategic Environmental Assessments; and establishment of sustainable development indicators for use in planning and implementation.

Discussions focused on the harmonization of data standards, public access to data, global observation systems, and whether to promote access to disaster-related information. The G-77/China proposed establishing regular channels for receiving information to assist developing countries in the implementation of Agenda 21. Many delegations preferred not to specify the types of adverse environmental impacts that satellite technology applications should track, with the US stressing that satellite data could also be used to track beneficial environmental impacts.


Preliminary discussion on this issue was conducted from Monday to Wednesday, 25-27 March. Discussion was based on an informal paper prepared by Vice-Chairs Ositadinma Anaedu and Lars-Göran Engfeldt, which was revised following input from informal consultations on SDG held in New York during the intersessional period. The Vice-Chairs issued a consolidated version of the paper on Saturday, 30 March, based on informal consultation during the first week of PrepCom III, which the Working Group considered on Thursday, 4 April. This is expected to become Section X, Strengthening governance for sustainable development at the national, regional and international levels, of the text to be negotiated at PrepCom IV.

Delegations generally welcomed the paper, which they regarded as well-structured and acceptable as a basis for further work. However, the G-77/China complained that its concerns were not fully taken into account in the new text, and promised to submit substantive amendments in the intersessional period. The paper states that effective SDG at all levels is key to the realization of the goals of sustainable development, outlines the objectives of SDG, and suggests a general framework to achieve these objectives. It presents specific proposals on strengthening SDG at the international, regional and national levels and contains a stand-alone subsection on good governance. The issue of good governance elicited debate between the US, the EU and other developed countries on the one hand, and the G-77/China on the other, as to the prominence that should be given to the issue, and whether it constitutes micromanagement.

On the international section, the G-77/China stressed the importance of taking into account globalization and improving the role of international financial institutions in addressing the sustainable development priorities of developing countries, with promotion of full and effective participation of all countries in the WTO. The US insisted on an overall SDG objective of assisting governments to provide an enabling domestic architecture that makes sustainable development possible.

The roles of the UNGA, ECOSOC and especially the CSD were debated at length. Clearer delineation of these bodies’ responsibilities was strongly suggested, with a sustainable development segment proposed for ECOSOC. The proposals on CSD concerned refocusing its mandate and programme of work toward policy integration, monitoring implementation, receiving reports, exchanging best practices, promoting partnerships, assisting stakeholder dialogue and limiting negotiation of decisions. Universal membership of the CSD received broad support, but the Russian Federation and others expressed doubt about such membership.

Delegations welcomed proposals on strengthening SDG at the regional level, in particular through building intra-regional cooperation and coordination among UN and other regional entities and enhancing the capacities of UN regional commissions in support of sustainable development.

The paper called for coherent policy approaches to SDG at the national level, emphasized the need for all countries to have national sustainable development strategies in place by 2005, and stressed the establishment of national sustainable development councils. Several passages referred to improved capacity building for developing countries and CEITs to enhance national SDG arrangements. In this context, the G-77/China stressed development assistance.

There was general agreement to incorporate the results of UNEP’s IEG process into the final SDG text. At the end of the Working Group session, the Vice-Chairs called for early submission by delegations of written amendments to the paper to, which will be considered informally at the start of PrepCom IV, and then negotiated.


Facilitated by Bureau Vice-Chairs Jan Kára (Czech Republic) and Diane Quarless (Jamaica), informal meetings on Type 2 outcomes – partnerships/initiatives – were held on Tuesday, 26 March, Thursday, 28 March, Monday, 1 April, and Wednesday, 3 April. During these meetings, delegates, UN agencies, regional commissions, industry associations and NGOs exchanged views on Type 2 outcomes, presented initiatives underway, and clarified questions regarding the scope and modalities of potential partnerships.

Throughout discussions, delegates called for guidelines and parameters for Type 2 outcomes, stressing that new partnerships need to contribute to Agenda 21 implementation and the achievement of the Millennium Declaration goals.

Elements of successful partnerships were identified as having: leadership and common objectives; clearly defined deliverables; a participatory approach, where ownership of initiatives is shared among all partners; and leveraged private sector resources and capacity.

Participants raised questions on the scope and modalities of partnerships and their relationship to Type 1 outcomes, stressing that partnerships should not replace agreements by governments, but rather contribute to implementing political commitments.

Concerns regarding corporate accountability, "greenwashing," transparency and equity were raised. Some participants also indicated that supporting new partnerships could divert resources from existing successful partnerships. Many delegates called for a monitoring strategy for Type 2 outcomes, with New Zealand suggesting that the CSD monitor partnerships. The US highlighted the CSD’s potential role in replicating successful initiatives, identifying lessons learned, and facilitating additional partnerships.

Concrete initiatives were announced by CropLife International, Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Land Partnership Initiative, the Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty, the UN Industrial Development Organization, IUCN and Business Action for Sustainable Development. Delegations indicated key interest areas, with: the US focusing on drinking water/sanitation, and food security/ sustainable agriculture/rural development; the Netherlands highlighting water, energy, rural development, sustainable agriculture, health care, urban poverty, and initiatives for Africa; and the Czech Republic underscoring public awareness, education and science.

At the final informal meeting on partnerships, South Africa tabled a non-paper – A Proposed Approach to Action-Oriented, Time-Bound Outcomes for the WSSD – identifying six themes considered critical for poverty eradication in the context of sustainable development: water and sanitation; energy; agriculture and food security; technology; education; and health. The non-paper proposes four elements:

  • a clear, negotiated Type 1 outcome establishing a process and framework for implementation plans;
  • a focused set of priority themes that operationalize poverty-related targets in the negotiated text;
  • a basis for linking Type 2 outcomes to the implementation process; and
  • an illustrative framework for implementation plans that flow from the priority themes.

In view of the discussions held during the session, the Vice-Chairs circulated the Vice-Chairs’ Explanatory Note On Further Guidance For Partnerships/Initiatives during the closing Plenary. The note contains general guidelines elaborating Type 2 outcomes and supplements an explanatory note from the Chair, released at PrepCom II, Proposals for Partnerships/Initiatives to Strengthen the Implementation of Agenda 21. The general guidelines state that Type 2 partnerships/initiatives should:

  • achieve further implementation of Agenda 21 and Millennium Declaration goals;
  • complement globally agreed Type 1 outcomes and not substitute government commitment;
  • be voluntary in nature and not be subject to negotiation within the PrepCom;
  • be participatory, with ownership shared between partners;
  • be new initiatives, or, in the case of ongoing initiatives, demonstrate added value in the context of the Summit;
  • integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development;
  • be international (global, regional or subregional) in scope and reach;
  • have clear objectives, and set specific targets and timeframes for their achievement; and
  • have a system of accountability, including arrangements for monitoring progress.

The paper: states that the role of the CSD in monitoring Type 2 initiatives will be discussed and decided in negotiations on sustainable development governance within the PrepCom; invites interested parties to submit proposals for partnerships/initiatives to the Summit Secretariat; and states that consultations on partnerships will continue throughout PrepCom IV. The paper also mentions that proposed partnerships will be posted on the Johannesburg Summit website at


Although the closing Plenary was scheduled to convene at 3:00 pm on Friday, 5 April, it was postponed by Chair Salim to allow the G-77/ China time to consult. The closing Plenary was called to order at 4:40 pm. Chair Salim invited delegates to re-consider the application of the Tibet Justice Center for accreditation. The Commission considered this application (A/CONF.199/PC/6/Add.1) and a letter from China to the UN Secretary-General (A/CONF.199/PC/12). The US, supported by the EU, stated that legitimate NGOs can contribute to the Summit and that their accreditation should be approved. China objected, saying that the Tibet Justice Center’s mission is designed to split a sovereign state and is therefore against UN principles. China, supported by Pakistan and Cuba, proposed "no action" on accreditation and requested a recorded vote. One hundred seven delegations supported China’s motion, 45 voted against, and 16 abstained. Therefore, no action was taken on the Tibet Justice Center’s application for accreditation.

Chair Salim invited the Vice-Chairs to report on their Working Groups’ considerations of the Chairman’s Paper. Working Group I Co-Chair Maria Viotti reported that deliberations had indicated possible avenues for further negotiations and consensus, and announced that the Co-Chairs would provide a streamlined text to Chair Salim for his consideration.

Working Group II Co-Chair Richard Ballhorn announced that, following the Plenary, the Group would reconvene to conclude its deliberations on sustainable development initiatives for Africa and sustainable development in a globalizing world.

Working Group III Co-Chair Lars-Göran Engfeldt reported on the outcome of three meetings that considered the Co-Chairs’ paper on sustainable development governance. Engfeldt announced that a new compilation text incorporating amendments by delegations would be issued shortly, and that an informal exchange of views will be held at the outset of PrepCom IV, where the paper will be negotiated.

Partnerships Co-Chair Jan Kára presented his report on the four informal meetings held on Type 2 outcomes. He noted that discussions resulted in: interest in partnerships between governments and Major Groups; questions on Type 2 scope and modalities; and consensus that partnerships should have means of monitoring implementation and should not replace Type 1 commitments. Kára noted that the Vice-Chairs had circulated an explanatory note and expect consultations to continue at PrepCom IV.

Regarding the outcome of PrepCom III, Chair Salim drew attention to two elements of UNGA resolution 55/199: that the session was meant to agree on recommendations for further actions; and that it was expected to propose specific time-bound measures to overcome constraints hindering Agenda 21 implementation. Noting that the text produced from PrepCom III had to be concise, action-oriented and based on converging views, he announced that to achieve this goal, Indonesia would host informal-informal consultations in Bali prior to PrepCom IV, with regional group consultations scheduled for Friday, 24 May, and informal-informals on Saturday and Sunday, 25-26 May.

The G-77/China proposed, and many delegations supported, that Chair Salim prepare a text that: is not a compilation text; does not contain normative aspects; will lead to consensus; and is action-oriented and concise. Norway urged that the new text contain language that does not dilute commitments, and stated that partnerships should not be a repackaging of existing initiatives. Saint Lucia said that taking the negotiations out of New York sets a dangerous precedent and places a financial burden on developing countries. Hungary observed that States should assume common responsibility for the creation of the compiled text. Canada encouraged developed countries to assist developing countries, and Indonesia reiterated its willingness to host the additional informal-informal consultations in Bali to ensure success at Johannesburg.

At Chair Salim’s invitation, the Commission, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the WSSD, adopted the report of the third session of the PrepCom (A/CONF.199/PC/L.2). Chair Salim announced that Vice-Chairs Richard Ballhorn and Ihab Gamaleldin will undertake informal consultations with interested parties during the intersessional period to draft elements of a political document and invited interested delegates to submit their views to the Vice-Chairs. At 6:00 pm, Chair Salim closed the session, entreating all delegates to make the WSSD a summit of actions, not simply of words.



The Millennium Summit set the targets; Monterrey elicited the pledges; but to many participants leaving PrepCom III, the main question is whether Johannesburg will actually succeed in defining the programme of action to enhance the implementation of sustainable development goals. The purpose of PrepCom III was to consider the Chairman’s Paper and address ways of strengthening institutional frameworks for sustainable development, and to evaluate and define the future role and programme work of the CSD. It was also expected to agree on the text of a document containing the results of the review and assessment as conclusions and recommendations for further action, to be transmitted to PrepCom IV for information. At a minimum, delegates had hoped to produce some broadly agreed text. PrepCom III achieved neither objective and thus failed to fulfill its mandate. The shortcomings and frustrations at this meeting were attributed to a number of factors, both internal and external to the negotiating process, including weak political commitment, gaps in institutional memory, poor organization of the PrepCom’s work, and a lack of clarity on how the overall process should have been managed to achieve the PrepCom’s goals.

The general sentiment held by many was that the problems perceived at this session signal the desperate need to muster the high-level political support necessary to ensure Johannesburg’s success. Many felt that logistical constraints and lack of direction provided an opportunity for certain delegations to try and circumvent decisions and principles agreed to in Rio, while pushing for language that would make existing multilateral environmental agreements subservient to WTO rules. However, a handful of delegates with experience from the Rio process felt that it was too early to pass judgment on the fate of the WSSD, arguing that what transpired during PrepCom III is an inevitable stage in any multilateral negotiating process, including the Rio preparatory process. As WSSD Secretary-General Nitin Desai stated in a press conference at the close of the meeting, "The test of a negotiation is not simply reaching agreement, but whether the agreement meets the challenge of the conference."

For this kind of a process to succeed, it is essential that three aspects of the negotiation are clearly defined – process, content and direction. These aspects hinge on the existence, or lack of, political will and engagement. This analysis will review these three aspects in light of the PrepCom III mandate and attempt to lend insight into future challenges and opportunities as delegates proceed to PrepCom IV in Bali.


From the outset, it was clear that PrepCom III was in trouble, with observers pointing to three main factors they claim undermined the process: poor preparation of group positions; inadequate guidance from the Bureau; and time constraints resulting from budgetary limitations at the UN.

Many delegations, especially those in the G-77/China, were not fully prepared for the meeting. The Group’s preparatory meeting in the intersessional period was held concurrent to the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey – the week before PrepCom III. This meant that key negotiators were absent and their late arrival from Monterrey or capitals subsequently delayed the elaboration of a Group position in New York. This poor preparation was not confined only to the developing country groups. Some suggested that the EU too was experiencing some problems in trying to coordinate a group position, as was the US that repeatedly called for deferment of discussion to allow for more time to prepare.

The role of the Bureau over the past two weeks also warrants consideration. Part of the responsibility for the poor group preparations relates to the absence of guidance from the Bureau regarding direction the work. One reason cited for the weak guidance was the fact that, like some regional groups, the Bureau did not meet intersessionally. It met on the eve of the session, 24 March, limiting the ability of regional groups to effectively align their preparation with the Bureau’s plans. This also hindered the Bureau’s ability to take strategic decisions in light of the UN budget cuts. Also, reverting to the Internet as the sole source of documentation proved to be a bad idea since some delegations were unable to print out the documents. It not only constrained group preparation, but also resulted in confusion as delegates used different versions of the text during the negotiations. At one point there were four different versions of the same reference text in use by delegations in one working group.

There also appeared to be significant divergence of opinion among Bureau members as to how the process should be managed, especially regarding the nature of the documents under negotiation. The differing views on the process could be partly attributed to the fact that some members still perceived the preparatory process as another routine CSD meeting, which differs from this preparatory process by virtue of the nature of these outcomes. The CSD tends to focus on policy statements, and not the action-oriented outputs that are being demanded of the Summit.

The functioning of the Bureau was also constrained by the dual role its members had to play – providing impartial guidance to the process, yet ensuring their regional interests were met. However the regional representatives did not have the political mandate from the negotiating groups. This raises the question as to whether the situation could have been eased had the Bureau members’ role been confined to leading the process, with regional concerns addressed through an extended Bureau.

It is too simplistic to blame the Chair for the lackluster performance of the session, as some were inclined to do; however, leadership requires a strong Chair and Bureau, and an effective Secretariat, backed by political engagement at both the UN and national government levels. Along these lines, many would have preferred higher visibility of the Secretary-General of the WSSD in this process. Many felt that his presence would have served to boost the morale of the delegations.

In addition, the time available for the PrepCom was insufficient. The entire first week was devoted to hearing views and receiving comments from delegations on the Chairman’s Paper. This was a time-consuming task, which was not made any easier by the fact that meetings had to end at 6:00 pm, due to UN budgetary constraints. The PrepCom also lost a full day of work on Good Friday. Even though many lamented the impacts of the budgetary reductions on conference services – availability of interpretation, microphones and meeting facilities, and dissemination of documentation – it should be noted that there was consensus in the UN General Assembly’s Fifth Committee to cut back the budget by US$75 million. Clearly, delegations, especially those in the G-77/China, had not anticipated how much it would directly affect their work.

Finally, when text was finally released at the start of the second week, it took the form of a compilation text five times larger than the original Chairman’s Paper. This text was criticized by many participants as being unwieldy and difficult to negotiate. Some participants questioned why submissions were not requested during the intersessional period for timely compilation. Some attributed inefficient time management to poor leadership, particularly the inability to cope with logistical limitations. Some participants felt that preparing a revised, succinct Chairman’s Paper out of the submissions, rather than producing a compilation text, would have made for more efficient work. Others, however, recognized that the compilation text was a necessary, although inefficient, part of the process.


A recurrent question heard in the corridors was "What are we supposed to be doing?" According to the mandate given by the General Assembly (Resolution 55/199), the session was required to prepare a concise and focused document that would call for global partnership to achieve the goals of sustainable development, and for an integrated and strategically focused approach to Agenda 21 implementation. Delegates seemed unclear regarding the substance of a document that would ensure deliverables. This confusion was evident from the contents of the working texts and the nature of the debate, which tended to follow the CSD trend of descriptive policy statements rather than concrete actions.

A major drawback was the reversion by delegations to "tired" negotiation text. The US, with Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia, attempted to re-open old debates, a tactic tantamount to renegotiating aspects of Agenda 21. Meanwhile, the G-77/China’s focus was on previously agreed text on ODA and new mechanisms. Another shortcoming was the failure to address how new actions would be implemented, or how proposed actions would actually result in sustainable development. Repeated attempts were made to use language from Monterrey and Doha and even Agenda 21 rather than new formulations that better address the issues of sustainable development implementation. This clearly fuelled frustration, as delegates questioned the added value of the WSSD, and whether world leaders were being invited to a Summit to re-adopt previous agreements.

Another major flaw was the preoccupation with actions in developing countries without recognition of necessary actions in developed countries. Some regarded the compilation text as leaning toward a framework for sustainable development in developing countries, rather than a global programme of action. As one delegate pointed out, all the developed countries are being asked to do is "pull out their checkbooks." This skewed approach may create an impasse in the deliberations on issues such as national governance, and may inadvertently assume the status of a new set of conditionalities for developing countries.


Discussions on two categories of outcomes were brought to the fore – Type 1, which are multilaterally negotiated and agreed outcomes, and Type 2, which would involve a series of voluntary, non-negotiated implementation partnerships and commitments. Many developing countries remain skeptical of the Type 2 outcomes, arguing that they might detract from political commitments. However, some wondered why keen interest was shown by the WSSD Secretary-General in promoting the Type 2 outcomes, speculating that this could emanate from a desire to have tangible outcomes that can attract high-level participation at the WSSD.


Events at PrepCom III led to the conclusion that the current situation resulted from lack of clarity on the content, direction and process of the negotiations. As veterans from Rio and similar processes were quick to point out, this is an inevitable stage in the preparatory process, and therefore, it is unrealistic to expect much more. Still, it begs the question of whether these two weeks could have been handled differently. Seasoned delegates argue that timing is of the essence in producing consensus text; introducing such text at the wrong time can irreparably jeopardize the process. This painful stage, therefore, served to seek the identity of this negotiation, which, while built on the CSD platform, is not the CSD. It is also a necessary phase to rein in ambitious expectations for the WSSD and define clear, implementable ideas.

The challenge facing PrepCom IV is how to move the debate from its focus on policy formulation and give more guidance to concrete implementation. Granted, it is not easy to move a process that is built on a culture of policy formulation to one that will elaborate real action. It will therefore be necessary to chart a course of action based on a clear framework to which delegations can contribute. PrepCom IV in Bali will also have to ensure that the emerging implementation programme assumes a global perspective.

Despite the setbacks of PrepCom III, there is still hope that Johannesburg will end with a "big bang," and not a whimper. But whether this "big bang" introduces a brave new world, with "renewed" energy to implement Agenda 21, or leaves the world gasping for air, depends on whether countries will make the most of the remaining time to bring the process on the right track directed toward the oft-heard mantra of tangible, "time-bound and action-oriented outcomes."


CBD COP-6: The Sixth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-6) takes place from 7-19 April 2002 in The Hague, the Netherlands. The COP is expected to receive reports from its subsidiary bodies, the Executive Secretary and the GEF, review the implementation of its programme of work, and consider, inter alia, forest biological diversity, invasive alien species, and access and benefit sharing as related to genetic resources. For more information, contact: the CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD MEETING OF THE OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL CONSULTATIVE PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN OCEAN AFFAIRS: This meeting will take place from 8-15 April 2002, at UN headquarters in New York. For more information, contact: tel: +1-212-963-3962; fax: +1-212-963-2811; e-mail:; Internet:

G-8 ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS MEETING: The G-8 Environment Ministers are scheduled to meet from 12-14 April 2002, in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The meeting will focus on: environment and health; environment and development; and effective national and international environmental governance under the theme "On the Road to Johannesburg." For more information, contact: Environment Canada; tel: +1-819-956-5212; fax: +1-819-956-5964; e-mail:; Internet:

BEIJING FORUM FOR NEW AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: This Forum is scheduled to take place from 15-17 April 2002, in Beijing, China. The purpose of the meeting is to promote the role of business-science partnerships in utilizing new and emerging technologies for sustainable development. For more information, contact: Mr. Kui-Nang Mak, Chief, Energy and Transport Branch, DSD, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-8798; fax: +1-212-963-9883/9886; e-mail:; Internet:

UNDP GLOBAL ROUNDTABLE SERIES: UNDP will be convening a series of global roundtables between April and July 2002. The roundtable on energy for sustainable development will take place on 25-26 April, in Brussels, Belgium. The roundtable on vulnerability and SIDS – exploring mechanisms for partnerships – will take place on 29-30 April, in Saint Lucia. The roundtable on trade and investment for sustainable development will be held on 10-11 June, in Abuja, Nigeria. The roundtable on Millennium Development goals and sustainable development will convene on 8-9 July, in Beijing, China. The roundtable on networking partners for sustainable development will meet on 22-23 July in Cairo, Egypt. For more information, contact: Ms. Yasmin Padamsee, UNDP; tel: +1-212-906-6175; fax: +1-212-906-5364; e-mail:; Internet;

WORLD ECOTOURISM SUMMIT: This Summit will take place from 19-22 May 2002, in Québec City, Canada. The World Ecotourism Summit is expected to be the largest-ever gathering of stakeholders involved in or affected by ecotourism. For more information, contact: Ecotourism 2002 Secretariat; tel: +1-418-692-1699; fax: +1-418-692-5587; e-mail:; Internet:

FOURTH INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S CONFERENCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT: This conference will take place from 22-24 May 2002, in Victoria, Canada. The event is expected to bring together 800 children from 10-12 years of age from some 115 countries, who will learn about and discuss the state of the environment and showcase environmental initiatives by schools. The conference will also produce a statement from children to the WSSD. For more information, contact: Mr. Theodore Oben, Children, Youth and Sport Programmes, UNEP, Nairobi; tel: +254-2-623262; fax: +254-2-623692; e-mail:; Internet:

SUSTAINABLE JUSTICE 2002 – CONFERENCE ON IMPLEMENTING INTERNATIONAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW: This conference will take place from 22-25 May 2002, in Montreal, Canada. Organized by the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), the conference seeks to address issues related to the environment, economy, social justice, human rights, health and their interlinkages. For more information, contact: CISDL; tel: +1-514-398-8918; fax: +1-514-398-8197; e-mail:; Internet:

FOURTH SESSION OF THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR THE WSSD: PrepCom IV will take place from 24 May - 7 June 2002, in Bali, Indonesia. Regional group consultations are scheduled for 24 May and informal-informals for 25-26 May. PrepCom IV will also include Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues and a Ministerial Segment, and is expected to complete the document on review of Agenda 21, with recommendations for further action, and develop a concise political document, to be submitted to the WSSD. For more information, contact: Mr. Andrey Vasilyev, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Major groups contact: Ms. Zehra Aydin-Sipos, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-8811; fax: +1-212-963-1267; e-mail:; Internet:

INDONESIAN PEOPLE’S FORUM (IPF): The IPF will be held concurrently with PrepCom IV from 25 May - 7 June 2001, in Bali, Indonesia. The IPF is a forum for local, regional, national, and international civil society, and a medium for national and international campaigns aimed at contributing inputs to strengthen the outcomes of PrepCom IV. For more information contact: IPF Secretariat; tel: +21-794-1672; fax: +21-794-1673; e-mail:; Internet:

16TH SESSIONS OF THE UNFCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES: SBSTA-16 will take place from 5-14 June 2002, and SBI-16 will convene from 10-14 June 2002, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; Internet:

POPS INC-6: The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS INC-6) will be held from 17-21 June 2002, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact: UNEP Chemicals Unit; tel: +41-22-917-8193; fax: +41-22-797-3460; e-mail:; Internet:

G-8 SUMMIT: This Summit is scheduled to take place on 26-27 June 2002, in Kananaskis, Canada. For more information, contact: Mr. John Klassen, Summit Management Team; tel: +1-613-957-5555; fax: +1-613-941-6900; e-mail:; Internet:

WORLD CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM: This Forum will be held from 14-19 July 2002, in Geneva, Switzerland. It will promote cooperation between civil society and international organizations in, inter alia, environment, health, human rights, education, peace, security, and information technology. For more information, contact: The World Civil Society Forum; fax: +41-22-959-8851; e-mail:; Internet:

IMPLEMENTATION CONFERENCE - STAKEHOLDER ACTION FOR OUR COMMON FUTURE: This meeting will be held from 20-23 August 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Facilitated by the Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future, the conference aims to develop concrete action plans focusing on: freshwater, renewable energy, food security, public health and HIV/AIDS, and tools for corporate/stakeholder citizenship. For more information contact: Ms. Minu Hemmati; tel: +44-20-78391784; fax: +44-20- 79305893; e-mail:; Internet:

ENVIROLAW CONFERENCE 2002: This conference will take place from 22-25 August 2002, in Durban, South Africa. It will offer a platform for the international legal community to suggest mechanisms for interlinking international and regional treaties and conventions to improve their implementation and enforcement. For more information contact: EnviroLaw Solutions; tel: +27-11-269-7944; fax: +27-11-269-7899; e-mail:; Internet:

WSSD LOCAL GOVERNMENT SESSION - LOCAL ACTION MOVES THE WORLD: This event will take place along with the WSSD from 27-30 August 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) will be convening a forum focusing on how local government can achieve tangible improvements in global environmental and sustainable development conditions through cumulative local action. For more information, contact: ICLEI World Secretariat; tel: +1-416-392-1462; fax: +1-416-392-1478; e-mail:; Internet:

WSSD CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM INDABA: The WSSD Civil Society Forum Indaba will be held during the WSSD in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, contact: Civil Society Secretariat; tel: +27-11-403-4119; fax: +27-11-403-0790; e-mail:; Internet:

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place from 26 August - 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, contact: Mr. Andrey Vasilyev, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Major groups contact: Ms. Zehra Aydin-Sipos, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-8811; fax: +1-212-963-1267; e-mail:; Internet:

Further information