Summary report, 15–18 October 2001

African Preparatory Conference for the WSSD

The African Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took place at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15-18 October 2001. The Conference was attended by approximately 300 government delegates and observers.

During the four-day Conference, delegates met in a two-day Technical Segment on Monday and Tuesday, 15-16 October, and a two-day Ministerial Segment held on Wednesday and Thursday, 17-18 October. The Conference, characterized by good humor, aimed to outline key regional policy issues, priorities and follow-up actions for the WSSD, to provide substantial inputs to its preparatory process, and to forward regional views on international cooperation for sustainable development at the regional and global levels. Delegates negotiated an African Ministerial Statement drawing on an Assessment Report and the outcomes of subregional preparatory meetings. The African Ministerial Statement reviews the last decade, identifying the achievements and constraints faced, and highlights 26 priority areas for action.

Despite flaws both in process and substance, and numerous procedural hitches, delegates were satisfied with the final African Ministerial Statement. Many considered it more balanced, stronger and specific than the initial draft, although in need of additional focus. While there was enthusiasm that holding the WSSD in Johannesburg presents an opportunity for Africa to drive the process, there was acknowledgement that the real test is whether the G-77/China will buy into Africa’s agenda.

The results from this regional preparatory meeting will be fed into the second preparatory session for the WSSD, scheduled for 28 January to 8 February in New York. The WSSD will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 2-11 September 2002.


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

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

UNGASS-19: Also at its 47th session in 1992, the General Assembly adopted resolution 47/190, which called for a special session of the General Assembly to review Agenda 21 implementation five years after UNCED. The 19th Special Session of the UN General Assembly for the Overall Review and Appraisal of Agenda 21, which was held in New York on 23-27 June 1997, adopted a "Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21." 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 General Assembly adopted resolution 55/199, in which it decided on a ten-year review of UNCED in 2002 at the summit level to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. The General Assembly accepted South Africa’s offer to host the event. The resolution decided that the review should focus on accomplishments and areas requiring further efforts to implement Agenda 21 and other UNCED outcomes, leading to action-oriented decisions. It should also result in renewed political commitment for sustainable development.

PREPCOM I: CSD-10, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the WSSD, took place at UN headquarters in New York from 30 April to 2 May 2001. The session prepared and adopted decisions on: progress in the preparatory activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, as well as by major groups; modalities of future PrepCom sessions; the 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, to raise awareness, and to mobilize stakeholders. Subregional and regional preparatory meetings for the Johannesburg Summit were to be held between June 2001 and November 2001. Eminent Persons’ Roundtables on the WSSD have been held in all five UN regions. The African Preparatory Conference is the second regional meetings, after the European/North American meeting on 25-26 September 2001.

AFRICAN ROUNDTABLE OF EMINENT PERSONS: The African Roundtable in preparation for the WSSD took place on 25-27 June 2001, in Cairo, Egypt, to provide governments with an independent view on key sustainable development priorities for Africa. The report highlights a number of sustainable development challenges that Africa still faces, inter alia: poverty; low economic growth; and lack of financial resources. It also identifies priority action areas for the region, sums up the priorities for the decade and calls for new region-specific economic development paradigms.

SUBREGIONAL CONSULTATIVE MEETINGS: Consultative meetings in preparation for the African Preparatory Conference were held in the five subregions, namely, Central Africa (17-19 September 2001), East Africa (10-12 September 2001), North Africa (5-7 September 2001), Southern Africa (17-19 September 2001) and West Africa (1-3 October 2001), to identify regional priority issues. The issues in common were poverty and mobilization of resources for sustainable development, while desertification and land degradation, international trade and market access, and coastal and marine ecosystems were identified as key by at least three of the regions. The meetings were organized by the Expanded Joint Secretariat (JES) comprised of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Organization of African Unity (OAU), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in conjunction with the subregional intergovernmental organizations.


Sekou Touré, Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Africa (ROA), opened the meeting at 11:30 am and invited the host Government, Kenya, to make an opening statement.

Welcoming delegates, Simon Mbarire, Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, highlighted questions that would be under consideration at the Summit, inter alia: government fulfillment of Agenda 21; sustainability achievement indicators; and lessons learned from Agenda 21 implementation.

In his opening remarks, Sekou Touré, on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer and the JES, noted that Africa has many stakes in the 2002 Summit, particularly as host and in view of the effects of globalization. He gave an overview of the African preparatory process and the institutions involved.

Zambia, current Chair of the OAU, was elected by acclamation to chair the Conference. In her opening remarks, Chair Enes Chiyenge (Zambia) emphasized the importance of the meeting and called for delegates’ support and guidance.

Chair Chiyenge suggested that the Conference Bureau be constituted from among the African countries already serving on the Bureau of the WSSD Preparatory Committee, namely, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. Delegates also elected by acclamation Mbasi Menye (Cameroon) to represent both francophone countries and the Central African subregion. He also served as Rapporteur.

Presenting the agenda, Chair Chiyenge said the Technical Segment would focus on progress made in Africa since Rio, and delegates could comment on the draft Ministerial Statement. The Statement would be considered and adopted at the Ministerial Segment.

Regarding modalities of work, delegates called for discussion of the Assessment Report before the Ministerial Statement. Nigeria’s proposal to move forward the start of the working groups to Monday, 15 October, was accepted. Following consultation with the Bureau, Chair Chiyenge announced that there would be only one working group to discuss the Assessment Report, which would meet concurrent to a Drafting Committee considering the Ministerial Statement.


ASSESSMENT OF PROGRESS ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA SINCE RIO: This discussion was conducted in one working group session, on Monday afternoon, 15 October. A UNEP Consultant, S.K. Imbamba, presented the report, Assessment of Progress on Sustainable Development in Africa since Rio (1992) (UNEP/(ROA)/WSSD/1/1 and Add.1), prepared by the JES. The report integrates the outcomes of subregional meetings, and presents Africa’s achievements since Rio. The Report, inter alia: describes the constraints faced in implementing Agenda 21; highlights the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development in Africa; describes priority areas for African countries; and calls for proposals in such areas as governance, conflict prevention and an increased role for civil society.

Delegates’ discussion of the Assessment Report focused on issues of peace and security, role of civil society, poverty and the impact of globalization on Africa. Several delegations urged consideration of the economic and social components of sustainable development, not just environmental issues, and Sierra Leone called for the Africanization of sustainable development. Egypt urged that the outcome of the meeting be a set of concrete priorities for Africa, not the renegotiation of the Rio Principles or elaboration of new "Johannesburg Principles."

Delegates highlighted the need to: re-think the poverty/environment nexus and prioritize poverty eradication; support innovative ways to reduce debt and mobilize resources for sustainable development; emphasize the need for domestic resource mobilization; call for a re-emphasis on financial resources and technology transfer; and involve civil society. On conflicts, Sudan urged solution by traditional methods and Burundi called for addressing issues of refugees, war and HIV/AIDS.

Other concerns were also noted. Egypt called for globalization that supports sustainable development, and said foreign direct investment (FDI) is lacking in developing countries. Tunisia called for discussion of, inter alia, illiteracy, negative impacts of globalization, benefits of scientific research, South-South cooperation, mobilization of financial resources and the creation of a World Solidarity Fund. Senegal urged promotion of a system of green accounting. Other issues raised were: science and technology for sustainable development; sustainable human settlements; follow-up mechanisms to enhance synergy between conventions; and the need to reflect malaria and meningitis epidemics.

Commenting on the discussion, Imbamba noted that some of the concerns raised were addressed in the Report, the composition of delegations to regional meetings may have contributed to the Report’s environmental bias, and that his terms of reference limited the scope of the Report.

The discussion of this agenda item was concluded on Tuesday morning, 16 October. The Assessment Report will be used by the African governments as a background reference document throughout the WSSD preparations.

AFRICAN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: Imbamba also presented the draft African Ministerial Statement (ACP for WSSD – Final 27.9.01). He highlighted general principles; Africa’s efforts toward Agenda 21 implementation; and the national, subregional and regional preparations undertaken. On Africa’s stake in the WSSD, he elaborated on: the impact of globalization; opportunities from recent UN conferences and the New African Initiative (NAI), which spells out Africa’s strategy for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century; and challenges, particularly arising from poverty and resource mismanagement. He concluded by highlighting priority concerns and expectations.

Following discussion of the Assessment Report, the open-ended Drafting Committee, chaired by Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria), started drafting a new African Ministerial Statement on Monday afternoon, 15 October. The drafters worked late into the night on both Monday and Tuesday, to produce a clean text on Wednesday evening, 17 October. Groups of two to three delegations were often appointed by Chair Anaedu to prepare text on paragraphs that provoked protracted discussion.

In their preliminary discussions the Committee agreed to develop a concise and "punchy" document to replace the existing text drafted by the JES. There was agreement that the statement should strongly project the African case in the WSSD preparatory process, contain clear-cut and time-defined priorities and goals, and suggest concrete implementation tools.

Delegations drew heavily from the Millennium Declaration, the NAI, the Cairo Eminent Persons meeting, and the outcomes of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) consultation held in Mauritius in September 2001, other regional preparatory events, and the draft Ministerial Statement. Three introductory chapters of a general nature were finalized rapidly, but longer discussion ensued when delegates considered the remaining chapters.

A long list of priorities for action was incorporated in the text. Poverty eradication, globalization and health, in particular HIV/AIDS, emerged as central themes. Considerable discussion and drafting was devoted to food security and other economic issues, such as trade, debt relief and official development assistance (ODA) for Africa, and their linkages to the environment, as well as the question of proper implementation tools. Issues of governance and the WSSD outcome dubbed the "Johannesburg Vision" were resolved easily.

REVIEW OF RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TECHNICAL SEGMENT: An evening Plenary was convened on Tuesday, 16 October, at 8:00 pm to enable the Technical Segment to adopt the draft Ministerial Statement. Chair Chiyenge presented and proposed the adoption of the text, noting the intensive efforts that had gone into its preparation. A number of delegations proposed minor amendments, after which the draft was approved for transmission to the Ministerial Segment for adoption. The Technical Segment then adopted its draft report (UNEP/(ROA)/WSSD/1/L.1) without objection. Chair Chiyenge thanked the Chair of the Drafting Committee and delegates for their hard work, and called the Technical Segment to a close at 9:15 pm.


An Opening Ceremony on Wednesday morning, 17 October, marked the start of the ministers’ work. Keli Walubita, Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the current Chair of the OAU, called the meeting to order at 11:30 am, suggesting that, similar to the procedure of the Technical Segment, the Chair of the OAU (Zambia) would chair the Ministerial Segment. He noted the progress achieved at the meeting of experts in the Drafting Committee, summed up the goals of the Conference, stressed the ecological interdependence between nations and the importance of social and economic considerations, and urged that efforts to influence the WSSD agenda continue beyond this meeting.

Charles arap Kirui, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Finance, urged delegates to negotiate for increased attention for Africa in its efforts to implement Agenda 21, noted Africa’s accomplishments and expressed Kenya’s support for a strengthened UNEP, with an appropriate financial base.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer welcomed the ministers for environment, economic development, planning, and foreign affairs, noting that their participation enhances integration of different sectors. He said the Summit agenda should address: poverty; quantitative and qualitative targets; implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the NAI; and further development of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD). UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of its Africa Bureau, Abdoulie Janneh, said human concerns should be a central focus at Johannesburg. He highlighted UNDP’s past activities within the Rio mandate and potential action areas, emphasizing, however, that programmes will be based on country priorities.

Josue Dione, on behalf of the ECA, noted that the global community had failed to hear the warnings of Rio, having reacted with an adequacy of words, but inadequacy of actions, and suggested priority action areas for Johannesburg, inter alia: controlling population growth; climate change and backing the Kyoto Protocol; combating desertification; and access to technologies. Andrey Vasilyev, representative of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on behalf of Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, expressed hope that the Johannesburg Summit would result in stronger world solidarity to make life in Africa more prosperous, sustainable and secure, operationalize sustainable development, deal with the challenges of globalization, and increase financial resources for sustainable development. Allan Mtegha, African Development Bank (AfDB): noted the prevalence of poverty in Africa and highlighted some of its causes; recognized Africa’s human rights achievements; highlighted the Bank’s efforts to realize sustainable development; and outlined new threats, particularly HIV/AIDS, and key constraints to sustainable development.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Chair Walubita said that in keeping with the Technical Segment decision, the Bureau would be comprised of the same countries appointed on Monday, 15 October, namely, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Rwanda, as Rapporteur. The two-day provisional agenda was adopted without objection.

OVERVIEW OF AFRICA’S WSSD PREPARATORY PROCESS: Mohammed Valli Moosa, South Africa’s Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, presented South Africa’s sustainable development strategy, assessed the legacy of Rio, noted that the NAI is the delivery model for Africa, and summed up the three key WSSD issues as: poverty; a change in the global terms of trade, investment and debt relief; and partnership development. He highlighted Summit targets, forthcoming meetings, and some of the key issues to be addressed on the economic, environment and social fronts, suggesting "Prosperity, Planet and People" as terms that correspond to the three pillars of sustainable development, and as the theme for the Summit. He concluded by outlining the anticipated outputs of Johannesburg, namely, global partnerships to address inequality, a Programme of Action (POA) to deliver the WSSD decisions; and integration of trade, finance and investment into sustainable development.

Sekou Touré explained the work of the JES in the regional preparatory process and stressed the importance of involving civil society, including NGOs and industry, in the preparatory process.

Discussion: During comments on the presentations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) made reference to the 11 September events in the United States, calling for guaranteed peace and security worldwide, and Burundi noted a proliferation of arms and armed groups in Africa, calling for appropriate strategies to uphold security of the African people. Angola proposed a declaration on terrorism in Africa and its effects on sustainable development. Chair Walubita referred to a conference on terrorism concurrently underway in Dakar, Senegal.

Regarding desertification, Tunisia stressed the need to support the Sudano-Sahelian Observatory rather than to create new structures. Burkina Faso, with others, emphasized the need to link poverty to combating desertification, and requested the Executive Secretary of the CCD to inform delegates about the work of the Panel of Experts addressing this issue. Burundi said the CCD is the most financially neglected of the environmental conventions and asked about the potential for Global Environment Facility (GEF) support. Drawing attention to Agenda 21 implementation constraints, Swaziland spoke on compliance mechanisms, and Mali stressed the need for: capacity building and resources for effective programme implementation; and partnerships among governments, and with other stakeholders.

Regarding the gaps in the report, Togo identified bushfires, Ghana noted marine and coastal management issues, and Cameroon recalled natural disasters. Rwanda noted that some issues, such as water and forests, are not only environmental, but social and economic as well.

Noting the opportunity presented by the Summit to advance the African agenda, Libya stated that the delegates’ input was environment-focused, yet the environment was neither the only, nor the most important, aspect of sustainable development, and emphasized the need: for unity in words and action; to make specific demands and avoid generalities; and to address the issue of landmines as an obstacle to sustainable development.

Benin requested elaboration from South Africa on the contribution needed from African governments to make the Summit a success. Rwanda noted the proliferation of meetings, which will strain the negotiating capacities of countries with limited resources, and proposed holding the meetings back-to-back.

Responding to delegates’ comments, Moosa noted that the NAI makes reference to the questions of peace, stability, security and good governance. Regarding desertification, he noted the under-implementation of the CCD, its inadequate funding and insufficient global interest in the issue. He concurred with Rwanda on the importance of protecting equatorial forests and the proliferation of meetings, but doubted the possibility of streamlining them; and with Libya’s point about ensuring a united African voice at Johannesburg.

In response to the Chair’s request for comments, CCD Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo said Africa has demonstrated its total commitment to the CCD: all 53 countries have ratified the CCD; 22 countries have prepared national action programmes; and every subregion has prepared its own action programme. Regarding the WSSD agenda, Diallo: urged delegates to make CCD implementation a fundamental objective; said the efforts to convince the GEF to provide financing for CCD should continue; and called for approaches enabling Africans to combat desertification and for developed countries to accord the CCD high priority.

PRESENTATION OF REPORTS OF KEY PREPARATORY MEETINGS: On Wednesday morning, 17 October, Chair Walubita called upon stakeholders to present their views on the Conference agenda.

Industry and Business: Laurraine Lotter, on behalf of industry, presented the outcomes of the parallel meeting held on Monday, 15 October, noting the sector’s commitment to work with governments. She called for actions to reduce Africa’s marginalization, such as: ensuring peace and security and managing the opportunities and threats of globalization. The gaps identified in the draft Ministerial Statement were: extension of basic services to all; linking sustainable development to good governance and poverty reduction; formation of partnerships among all stakeholders; and technology transfer.

Mark Moody-Stuart of Business Action for Sustainable Development highlighted outputs of a meeting held in Paris the previous week, and attended by African partners to review progress made by business since Rio. The meeting concluded that good business practices must: address economic, social and environmental aspects; work in partnership with other stakeholders; and have measurable targets; and also concluded that governments need to honor their pledges in financing the Summit.

NGOs: Vore Gana Seck, Green Senegal, presented the report of the NGO/civil society forum held on Monday and Tuesday, 15-16 October, noting with concern that the draft Ministerial Statement does not address the development needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the problems in Somalia. She presented the African civil society common position, calling on governments to, inter alia, ensure immediate debt cancellation; eradicate corruption and poverty; involve civil society in NAI discussions; increase involvement of young people in sustainable development initiatives; and ratify the Biosafety Protocol and other agreements, in particular International Labor Organization’s (ILO) conventions.

Trade Unions: Austin Muneku, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, noting that workers are often the first to suffer the impacts of unsustainable development, presented the key demands of workers and trade unions, namely: integration of the three pillars of sustainable development; workplace-based strategies for sustainable development, health and safety; government ratification of ILO core labor standards; implementation of Agenda 21, particularly Chapters 14 (sustainable agriculture), 19 (toxic chemical management), 29 (strengthening the role of trade unions); cancellation of African debt; and development of less polluting forms of production and consumption.

Youth: On behalf of the World Youth Organization, Yvonne Khamati suggested, inter alia: convening an African Youth Forum; creating employment opportunities; consulting with youth on the NAI; canceling the African debt; elaborating a pan-African model of development; and adopting the Earth Charter as the ethical framework for sustainable development.

United Nations Agencies: The UN Secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) noted increased incidence of natural disasters in Africa, particularly flooding and drought, and underscored the need for Africa to take up this issue in its WSSD agenda.

REVIEW AND DISCUSSIONS ON THE DRAFT WSSD AFRICAN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: On Thursday morning, 18 October, Chair Walubita invited Enes Chiyenge, Chair of the Technical Segment, to present the work of the Drafting Committee and to summarize the draft Ministerial Statement (document K0128102). Chiyenge explained that the delegates had worked around-the-clock to generate a strong consensus text. She elaborated the priority areas for action from the draft Statement and submitted the document for discussion and approval by the ministers.

Delegates made general remarks and submitted amendments to the text. Although they initially agreed to conduct a paragraph-by-paragraph reading of the document, the Chair reverted to a page-by-page reading due to the slow pace of discussion of proposed amendments.

Mali called for a reference to improved disbursement of financial assistance for projects, South Africa proposed text on the stakeholder dialogue, youth and partners and their contribution to the preparatory process, and Sudan spoke on women’s participation in sustainable development. Libya requested mention of landmines, which hamper sustainable development. Senegal presented text on the adequate management of dangerous chemical products, and on the need to hold a forum for the youth of Africa within the context of the WSSD. Botswana and Côte d’Ivoire proposed the deletion of references to racism, but South Africa urged mentioning the World Conference on Racism. Mauritius proposed highlighting the Barbados Global Programme of Action (POA) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and, opposed by the DRC, called for a reference to marine biological diversity. Kenya presented a text that would make the WSSD call for a greatly strengthened UNEP with a predictable financial base.

Other proposals concerned:

  • access to finance in the rural sector and provision of microcredit;
  • promotion of local handicrafts industries;
  • the link between industry and sustainable development;
  • protection of marine and coastal environments;
  • the international environmental governance (IEG) process;
  • information dissemination;
  • simplification of GEF operational procedures;
  • export of second-hand goods to developing countries;
  • sound management of freshwater resources;
  • displaced persons;
  • bushfires; and
  • management of humid areas.

Ethiopia said that the Johannesburg POA should contain provisions for monitoring of both resource flows and implementation. South Africa proposed a redraft of the section on the "Johannesburg Vision," which resulted in extensive discussion, including whether the South African concept proposal, "People, Planet, Prosperity," should be attached to the Ministerial Statement as an annex.

Debate on this issue was concluded at 12:25 pm to allow time for the revision and translation of the text.

STRATEGIC DISCUSSION, WAY FORWARD AND PLAN OF ACTION: This issue was considered on Thursday afternoon, 18 October. The Chair opened but did not explain this agenda item. Discussion was limited, with Senegal urging the involvement of youth, Burkina Faso requesting more information on this item and, with Tunisia, urging consideration of the next steps and the setting of a calendar. Nigeria clarified the opportunities for input and explained the preparatory process, stating that all regional inputs will be considered at PrepCom II (January 2002), where themes will be selected to frame the WSSD agenda, and after PrepCom III (March 2002), it will be difficult to add anything to the agenda. Discussion was concluded without further comments.

ADOPTION OF THE AFRICAN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: At 5:00 pm on Thursday, 18 October, Chair Walubita re-opened Plenary for adoption of the amended draft Ministerial Statement. Several proposals from earlier debate were adopted, on:

  • implementation of the Barbados Global POA for the Sustainable Development of SIDS;
  • establishment of follow-up mechanisms for the WSSD POA;
  • participation of civil society;
  • presence of landmines;
  • eradication of poverty;
  • affordable energy;
  • the handicrafts industry;
  • youth participation in sustainable development;
  • information dissemination for improved livelihoods;
  • opening of markets to African products;
  • importance of marine biodiversity;
  • disaster preparedness and prevention;
  • countering the export of obsolete goods to African countries;
  • management of chemical products;
  • the needs of refugees and displaced people; and
  • IEG and a predictable financial base for UNEP.

Discussion was prolonged on industrialization and resources development, with an added reference to industrialization accepted. References to specific statistics and countries were removed from the draft. It was agreed to annex the text on the Johannesburg Vision to the report of the Ministerial Segment, rather than including it in the Ministerial Statement.

The African Ministerial Statement (document K01281082 181001) was adopted, as amended, at 7:25 pm.

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE MEETING: Delegates then considered the report of the Ministerial Segment (UNEP/ (ROA)/WSSD/1/L.2). Senegal proposed, and delegates adopted, adding a provision encouraging the convening of a youth Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Expressing support for the Ministerial Statement, Libya noted that the Arabic version was not available when this agenda item was considered. The report was adopted as amended.


The adopted African Ministerial Statement is organized in three sections: from Rio de Janeiro to Johannesburg; achievements and constraints since Rio; and priority areas for action.

The review of progress from Rio to Johannesburg explains the purpose of the African preparatory meeting, the constraints encountered, areas where further efforts are needed and the challenges confronting Africa within the framework of implementing Agenda 21. The Statement:

  • highlights the importance of poverty eradication and of addressing all three pillars of sustainable development;
  • affirms the need for an enabling international environment to address the challenges of financing for development, globalization, market access and external debt;
  • supports good governance and transparency in the financial, monetary and trading systems;
  • notes the limited progress in Agenda 21 implementation in Africa;
  • calls for a Johannesburg Summit output containing a concrete POA with time-bound measures, a follow-up mechanism, and specified sources of funding for implementation;
  • supports use of the NAI as a framework for sustainable development in Africa; and
  • acknowledges the role of business and civil society in the preparatory process.

Regarding achievements and constraints since Rio, the Statement notes the following:

  • increased awareness of the fragility of the African environment;
  • the establishment and strengthening of policy, legislative, and regulatory frameworks, including the ratification of environmental conventions and the formulation and implementation of environmental action plans;
  • life expectancy in many African countries remains low, despite some improvements;
  • overall literacy rate remains low, but access to education has improved, especially for females;
  • restricted "access to safe water;"
  • decline of most African economies; and
  • wars, civil conflicts, and the continued presence of landmines and proliferation of small arms have hampered the efforts of many African countries to achieve sustainable development.

The Statement outlines a number of priority areas for action. On poverty, it notes that globalization has further marginalized Africa, outlines an approach to redress poverty, and recommends, inter alia, promoting the handicrafts industry and establishing the World Solidarity Fund.

Regarding agriculture and food security, the Statement: recognizes that Africa has potential for food self-sufficiency and suggests doubling agricultural production within five years; calls upon lending institutions and the GEF to increase financing for agriculture and for the full implementation of the CCD; and urges that Africa should not be a dumping ground for subsidized nor genetically modified food from developed countries.

On human development, the Statement: notes that communicable diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, retard the economies and productivity of Africa’s human resources; calls for access to affordable health care and medicine; and emphasizes the importance of empowering women.

With regard to youth, the Statement emphasizes: the participation of young people in sustainable development; upgrading education; launching literacy campaigns; and improving girls’ access to education.

On trade and market access, the Statement notes the need for: opening of markets for African products; WTO promotion of resource flows to developing countries; and poverty reduction by half within 15 years.

With respect to financing for sustainable development, the Statement: notes the lack of means to implement Agenda 21; calls for mobilization of all available resources; and stresses the need for increased FDI in African economies and for efforts to assist African countries to create necessary conditions for FDI and to enhance domestic investment.

The Statement also:

  • calls for debt relief measures for African countries to be evaluated appropriately, taking into account the special needs of Africa and the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs);
  • stresses that African countries should be assisted to find a lasting exit from external debt;
  • calls on the international community to support the African initiative to seek a negotiated agreement to provide further debt relief to countries participating in the initiative;
  • recalls the objective of 0.7% of GNP for ODA, and the NAI call for ODA reform;
  • calls for improving GEF procedures as an important source of financing the global environmental agenda, including the CCD; and
  • affirms commitment to implement the Habitat Agenda and the outcome of the UN Special Session on Human Settlements, as well as the global campaigns on adequate shelter for all, secure tenure and achieving sustainable human settlements in Africa.

On intellectual property rights, it urges the appropriate management in order to promote increased science and technology activities in African countries while minimizing barriers to access to knowledge worldwide; and calls for assistance to African countries to gain access to new technologies.

Regarding resource management, the Statement:

  • invites the WSSD to acknowledge the CCD as a sustainable development convention and tool for eradicating poverty in Africa, and invites the GEF Assembly to finance the Convention;
  • calls upon the Summit to incorporate the outcomes of the African process for protecting and developing the marine and coastal environment;
  • commits African countries to implementing legislation for regulation of access to biological resources and for biosafety in line with the OAU Model Law;
  • suggests that a legal instrument for forests should be conditional on addressing the needs of low forest cover countries and the transfer of financial resources and technology to developing countries,
  • notes the contribution of mining activities to economic development in Africa;
  • urges the finalization of the Kyoto Protocol and operationalization of the Climate Change funds;
  • calls on the Summit to strengthen African capacities for disaster preparedness and prevention;
  • emphasizes the critical importance for Africa of the management of hazardous waste and calls on developed countries to prevent Africa from becoming the dumping ground of obsolete goods;
  • calls for assistance to African countries in the management of chemical products;
  • stresses the need for the Summit to deliver a POA to reach the Millennium Assembly target on access to water and sanitation services, and for support to regional shared water initiatives;
  • calls on the WSSD to deliver a deal that promotes global access to affordable energy for sustainable development; and
  • asks for support for regional cooperation and economic integration and calls on the Summit to endorse urgent international support for the newly established African Union.

Finally, the Statement urges the WSSD to agree on the need for an effective governance regime for sustainable development; consider peace, security and stability as prerequisites for sustainable development; and call upon the international community to provide resources and support for mechanisms as developed by African States to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.


Chair Walubita convened the closing ceremony and invited Kenya’s Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Stephen ole Ntutu, to make a statement. Ole Ntutu said Johannesburg must achieve: renewed commitment to the implementation of Agenda 21; a framework for combating poverty; a clear POA with commitments and targets; and a delivery mechanism for adequate resources and monitoring.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer expressed regret at the turn of events following the suspected anthrax scare at the UN Nairobi complex, which had constrained his participation at the Ministerial Segment; noted that there was much work to be done before the WSSD; and expressed hope that the African output would figure highly in the negotiations with other regions, as the continent must set the pace.

Modou Diagne Fada, Minister for Youth, Environment and Public Health of Senegal, proposed a vote of thanks to host country Kenya, UNEP and its staff, the JES, interpreters and the partners from other sectors, and called upon African governments to ensure the African people are massively represented in Johannesburg.

Closing the ceremony, Chair Walubita thanked those who contributed to the success of the meeting, noted with pleasure that the African youth conference would be held in Dakar, Senegal, and thanked South Africa for providing the Segment with "a way to Johannesburg." With a call of "long live Africa, long live the NAI," Chair Walubita called the meeting to a close at 8:36 pm.



Delegates left Nairobi generally pleased with the document generated from the meeting, despite their criticism and frustration over the manner in which the proceedings were organized and conducted. Flaws in the substance of the documentation prepared by the Expanded Joint Secretariat (JES) and initial resistance to delegates’ attempts to change both the agenda structure and to amend documents were overcome, as it was quickly recognized that ownership of both substance and process were critical to the success of the meeting and the African input to the WSSD. Under time pressure to redraft and adopt the Ministerial Statement, deliberations in the Technical and Ministerial Segments, as well as the Drafting Committee, occasionally threatened to degenerate into acrimony. But thanks to the sensitivity and humor of the Chairs and delegates, tension was promptly diffused and each item successfully concluded. This analysis examines the factors that shaped the Conference deliberations and challenges ahead for the African Group.


Procedural shortcomings cost the Conference needed time. At the outset of the Technical Segment, delegates manifested confusion about which document was intended for discussion and the intended use of the outcome document – whether it would be sent to the January PrepCom II in New York or be presented by the OAU at the Johannesburg Summit. Since the agenda items were not described in writing or by the Chairs, and also lacked corresponding documentation, discussion was minimal, except in regard to the Assessment Report and Ministerial Statement, both of which had documentation. In addition, sessions opened or closed with no advance warning from the Chair, resulting in poor attendance, with delegates milling around and wasting precious time. Some agenda items, while sounding important, as epitomized by the "strategic discussion, way forward and plan of action" agenda item, did not lead to any discussion for lack of speakers or guidance. The Plenary to adopt the Report reverted to a drafting session with those who had been absent from the Drafting Committee making numerous amendments, causing frustration for both the Chair and delegates who had stayed up nights negotiating the draft. New York-based representatives had to step in and provide guidance on several occasions. At the heart of the problem was the inadequate communication and consultation between the delegates and the JES prior to the Conference, as a majority of participants claimed to have received the meeting’s documents on the first day of the Technical Segment. Some noted, however, that the lack of communication between missions and their technical officers may also have been a factor.


Both the Assessment and the draft Ministerial Statement were criticized as being fuzzy, long and overburdened with repetitious detail. Other complaints focused on the overemphasis on the environment pillar in deliberations held at the subregional level, content of the Assessment Report and the draft Ministerial Statement, and even in the composition of delegates attending the meeting. UNEP expertise also figured prominently in preparations and dominated documentation. Further, many delegates thought it odd that in a continent of 53 countries, the original documents provided for political negotiation were prepared by a consultant (admittedly with the input of subregional meetings and other documentation), rather than coming from governments themselves. This approach resulted in a gnawing sense of lack of ownership of the documents, and may have been part of the reason that ministers had so much to say during Plenary when they were supposed to adopt the document presented by technical experts, but which, in fact, nearly turned into another drafting free-for-all. The exercise paid off, however, with many participants asserting that the adopted draft was much better, stronger, specific and balanced, albeit unfocused in terms of a prioritized agenda to put forth to PrepCom II.

Participants who have been with the process since 1992 commented on a sense of déjà vu – a similar approach was used in the UNCED preparatory process, when the ECA developed a document that was thrown out by delegates, who subsequently drafted their own Ministerial Statement. Some participants argued that the JES could have consulted with governments on the drafts to solicit feedback and comment, and possibly held an intergovernmental technical meeting in advance of the Conference to revise the consultant’s draft, and that more time should have been allocated to the Technical over the Ministerial Segment. Still, participants acknowledged that the documents were useful in identifying the key themes and providing detailed background information from which to draw during the re-drafting process.


Key themes that emerged from the meeting were poverty, globalization, financing and debt, and governance. In discussions, the environment pillar was downplayed repeatedly in favor of the social and economic pillars, although this did not necessarily come through in the outcome document. Some participants argued that, for Africans, "the economy is higher than the environment," and even referred to the need to obtain "some environmental breathing space from the North." Others added that the environment already has a strong institutional framework, with numerous conventions, UNEP itself and the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), whereas the social and economic pillars are desperately in need of strong institutions at all levels. Moreover, some observed that in Africa the environment is a component of the social and economic concerns. The need to improve international sustainable development governance over international environmental governance was constantly emphasized, although no tangible strategies were suggested. Peace and security were recurring themes, particularly making connections to current world events, but there was reluctance to link conflict resolution to sustainable development as it opens the possibility for the process to be taken over by the "closed club" of the UN Security Council.


The outcome of Johannesburg was a recurring issue, as was the reiteration that Johannesburg should not be a re-negotiation of the finely-honed decisions of Rio. Thus, the suggestion that the Summit adopt something in the form of "Johannesburg Principles" was promptly shot down, at least at this meeting. Also, despite seeming interest for a parallel African process that would lead to commitments among Africans for a post-Summit agenda, which would not be subjected to international negotiation, there was nevertheless some grumbling about a proposal to develop the plan on the basis of the presentation made by South Africa’s Valli Moosa, as well as in reaction to the overemphasis on the New African Initiative, also spearheaded by the South Africans.

South Africa is in a delicate position, proud to be hosts of the Summit in Africa, keen to have Africa make an impact, in need of financial backing, but also wanting to support its own agenda. By far the biggest delegation in Nairobi, South Africans certainly worked hard to make an imprint on the drafting process and to take an active role in every aspect of this preparatory meeting. Still, there was a lingering impression that the delegation spoke with different voices, and was not completely sure of the ideas it wanted to project. This stood out starkly during discussion of text on the "Johannesburg Vision," a blurry sustainable development marketing concept, which was redrafted repeatedly by the authors and relegated in the end to an annex to the report of the Ministerial Segment, as it was considered insufficiently developed and not yet representative of the continent’s vision, but still needed to be recorded.


As they look to PrepCom II, Africans are contending with a number of issues. They are not fooling themselves: the Ministerial Statement is a big family wishlist, approved in the absence of major opposition and catering to each and every concern, with subregional divergences nearly invisible. Clearly, this is a case of advantage turned into weakness: the list of priorities is so long that the crucial concerns are lost. There is not even a glimmer of hope that the Ministerial Statement will be used as a basis for discussion at PrepCom II when the UN basement-hardened negotiators get down to drafting the Johannesburg themes. A serious weakness of the Statement is that it did not attempt to take into consideration the other regional positions (the UNECE paper may have done this, with its focus on poverty eradication). As one delegate said, the text will be "slashed" when it is fed into the G-77/China, and that may be only the beginning. To avoid this, African governments will have to provide the resources to ensure that their delegates to the PrepCom are well-versed with the issues and process, and that includes the ministries of finance, economic development, trade, environment and social affairs. Countries with limited experience in negotiations and in UN procedures will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Another problem is a seeming lack of commitment to work. Drafting in both the Technical and Ministerial Segments was tortuous, with the Ministerial Plenary attempting to redraft the product emerging from the Drafting Committee, proposing substantive new amendments. Partly to blame was the lack of participation in the Technical Segment’s open-ended Drafting Committee. The number of delegates in the drafting room by 1:00 am on Wednesday morning had dwindled to "the four stalwarts" – Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Ghana – with the first two being formidable New York-based preparatory process driving forces. Unless this practice, and the lack of broad-based involvement, is rectified, it may be the single most important determinant of Africa’s failure to drive the WSSD agenda.

Another challenge will be to round up support from, and in fact assist, the African stakeholders to voice their concerns in a preparatory process already dominated by Northern NGOs. This requires African stakeholders to put their act together, and get civil society and industry on board. Despite participants’ mantra of progress made on civil society participation, their continued confinement to "side events" and lack of opportunity for discussion of their presentations at the Conference demonstrated otherwise. The positive response from Libya and Senegal to the youth request for support to organize their preparations, however, separates the doers from the speakers.

An additional challenge is the lack of clarity regarding the Johannesburg agenda or outcomes. The notion of a "Global Deal" as enunciated by the EU is controversial; in fact, it never found its way into the African Ministerial Statement. However, with the identification of partnerships as an important theme, Africa needs to be prepared to address the "Global Deal" and "Global Compact" concepts, which are linked to partnership. To aid this process, seasoned negotiators emphasized the indispensability of adequate, integrated national preparations.


Whatever the deficiencies of the African Preparatory Conference, the Ministerial Statement that emerged, containing reference to the economic and social pillars of sustainable development and specific targets and proposals, is a welcome contribution to the preparatory process. Still lengthy, it is shorter than the original version and clearly a considerable improvement, both in structure and content. For many delegates, the bottom line was the adoption of a clear, strong paper that displayed a sense of ownership by African governments, which many felt was attained in the end. The launch of the African Union immediately prior to the Summit and, possibly, the wholehearted adoption of the New African Initiative may signal Africa emerging as a unified significant global actor, ready to shed the image of a pauper in constant need of handouts.


2002 WSSD REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETINGS: The following regional preparatory meetings for the WSSD are scheduled in 2001: the Latin American and Caribbean meeting on 23-24 October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the West Asia meeting on 24-25 October in Cairo, Egypt; and the Asia and Pacific meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 27-29 November. For more information, contact: Hiroko Morita-Lou, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-8813; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Internet:

THE FOURTH WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE: This meeting is expected to consider the need for a new round of trade negotiations and is scheduled for 9-13 November in Doha, Qatar. For more information, contact: WTO; tel: +41-22-739 51 11; fax: +41-22-731 42 06; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE: The fourth and fifth IEG meetings will be held on 1 December 2001, in Montreal, Canada, and at the end of January 2002 in New York, USA, prior to WSSD PrepCom II. For more information, contact: Masa Nagai, UNEP, Nairobi; tel: +254-2-623493; fax: +254-2-230198; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FRESHWATER: This conference, hosted by the German Federal Ministries for the Environment and for Development Cooperation, will be held from 3-7 December 2001, in Bonn, Germany. It will serve as preparation for the WSSD, and will review Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 focusing on freshwater issues. For more information, contact: Angelika Wilcke, Conference Secretariat; tel: +49-228-28046-57; fax: +49-228-28046-60; e-mail:; Internet:

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY COUNCIL: The GEF Council meeting is expected to consider issues relating to designation of land degradation as a fourth focal area of its financing and is expected to take place on 6-7 December 2001, in Washington, DC. It will be preceded by an NGO consultation on 5 December. For more information, contact: Mohammed El-Ashry, CEO; tel: +1-202-473 3202; +1-202-522 3245; email:; Internet:

PAN AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY CONFERENCE FOR WSSD: This conference is hosted by Kenya�s Organizing Committee for the WSSD process, in collaboration with the South Africa NGO Secretariat, and will take place from 17-20 December 2001, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, contact: Njogu Barua, EcoNews Africa; tel: +254-2-721099; fax: +254-2-725717; email:; Internet:

SOUTHERN NGO SUMMIT: This summit to prepare for the WSSD will take place in January 2002 in Algiers, Algeria. For more information, contact: Esmeralda Brown, Southern Caucus Chairperson, New York; tel: +1-212-682-3633; fax: +1-212-682-5354; e-mail:; Internet:

GLOBAL MEETING ON HEALTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: This interministerial meeting aims to define issues relating to health and sustainable development, with a focus on the SADC region, and will take place from 23-25 January 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, contact: Y.E.R. Von Schirnding, WHO Focal Point for Agenda 21; tel: +41-22-791 3533; fax: +41-22-791 4153; email:

SECOND WSSD PREPARATORY SESSION: This meeting will take place from 28 January - 8 February 2002, at UN Headquarters in New York, to review the results of national and regional preparatory processes, examine the main policy report of the Secretary-General, and convene a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Major groups contact: Zehra Aydin-Sipos, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-8811; fax: +1-212-963-1267; e-mail:; Internet:

AFRICAN YOUTH SUMMIT IN PREPARATION FOR THE WSSD: This meeting is aimed at enabling African youth to prepare their input to the Youth Summit and the WSSD. It will take place from 4-8 March 2002, in Dakar, Senegal. For more information, contact: Jacqui Brown, SANGOCO-WSSD; tel: +27-11-403 4119; fax: +27-11-403 0790; email:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT: This conference will be held from 18-22 March 2002, in Monterrey, Mexico, and will bring together high-level representatives from governments, the United Nations, and other leading international trade, finance and development-related organizations. For more information, contact: Harris Gleckman, Financing for Development Coordinating Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-4690; fax: +1-212-963-0443; e-mail: or Federica Pietracci; tel: +1-212-963-8497; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD WSSD PREPARATORY SESSION: This meeting will take place at UN headquarters in New York from 25 March - 5 April 2002. It will aim to produce the first draft of a "review" document and elements of the CSD�s future work programme. For more information, contact Andrey Vasilyev, DESA (see above).

INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN�S CONFERENCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT: The fourth UNEP International Children�s Conference on the Environment will take place in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, from 22-24 May 2002. The conference is expected to bring together 800 children from 10 to 12 years of age from over 100 countries, and will produce a statement from children to the world leaders at the WSSD. For more information, contact: Theodore Oben, UNEP; tel: +254-2-623262; e-mail:; Internet:

AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY/NGO CONFERENCE: This meeting is expected to take place in April 2002 to enable African NGOs to prepare for the fourth and last WSSD PrepCom. The venue is to be determined. For more information, contact: Solomzi Madikane, SANGOCO; tel: +27-11-403 4119; fax: +27-11-403 0790; email:; Internet:

FOURTH WSSD PREPARATORY SESSION: This meeting will take place from 27 May - 7 June 2002, in Indonesia. It will include Ministerial and Multi-stakeholder Dialogue Segments, and is expected to result in elements for a concise political document to be submitted to the 2002 Summit. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, DESA (see above).

AFRICAN UNION GENERAL ASSEMBLY: This meeting of Heads of State is to formally launch the African Union. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa, in June 2002. For more information, contact, Director of Conferences, OAU: tel: +251-1-517 700; fax: +251-1-517 844; email:; Internet:

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 2-11 September 2002. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, DESA (see above).

Further information