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Daily report for 27 August 2002


Delegates to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) convened in two Partnership Plenaries to address agriculture and cross-sectoral issues. The Vienna setting convened in morning, afternoon and evening sessions to continue negotiations on outstanding paragraphs in the draft Plan of Implementation. The contact groups on means of implementation and institutional arrangements also continued their deliberations.


AGRICULTURE: Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (South Africa) presided over and Jan Pronk, Special Envoy of the WSSD Secretary-General, moderated the Partnership Plenary, which included presentations by experts, commentary by resource persons and general discussion by delegations.

Presentations: M.S. Swaminathan, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, highlighted agriculture’s role in guarding against poverty and the polarization of agribusiness and small-scale farming cultures. He called for trade policies that support micro-enterprises, value-added agricultural products, and retention of youth in farming. He urged the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to include national community food banks, and the Group of Eight (G-8) to focus on achieving goals to foster sustainable agriculture in developed countries. Pedro Sanchez, Millennium Development Goals Hunger Task Force, stated that declining soil fertility in Africa is a leading cause of underproduction and hunger, and proposed remediating fertilizer deficiencies in small-scale ways by 2015. He recommended that small farmers grow high-value crops and that large-scale farmers grow lower-value crops such as grains. He suggested redirecting some of the US$1 billion per day spent on agriculture subsidies in North America and Europe to ending hunger and poverty in developing countries.

Panel Discussion: A number of resource persons expressed concern about free trade and subsidies, and one said subsidies help make up for low world prices and that market entry is as important as access. Speakers distinguished between agricultural workers and farmers; called for consideration of both on- and off-farm employment; and highlighted the role of women in addressing problems related to privatized water, genetic pollution and land tenure. Speakers noted that business partnerships could include cooperatives, national companies and multinationals. Speakers called for limiting patent protection, government protection of traditional farming, and elimination of the threat to indigenous communities and seeds from genetically-modified organisms.

Plenary Discussion: Pronk requested delegates to focus on issues relating to small farmers and governance issues in developed countries. Regarding small farmers, AUSTRIA, TANZANIA and the UK highlighted the importance of infrastructure development in rural areas. TANZANIA and the UK underscored the need for credit financing for small farmers. COTE D’IVORE and the UK stressed the importance of stabilizing land tenure, and SOUTH AFRICA called for land rights for women. The representative of BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY suggested focusing on economic empowerment.

On governance issues, CAPE VERDE, ETHIOPIA and MALAWI urged increased mobilization of resources in the developed world, and SYRIA urged technology transfer. Several countries highlighted the challenge of improved market access, and called for the reduction of subsidies in developed countries. TANZANIA, SENEGAL and the INDIAN MOVEMENT noted that while developing countries are required to phase out subsidies, developed countries continue providing subsidies to their farmers. The EC highlighted the need for new trade rules focused on increasing market access and decreasing trade-distorting support. The UK that OECD countries provide US$350 billion in subsidies per year, but said this signified the scope for improvement in market access. AUSTRALIA noted the benefits of ‘good subsidies’ such as those for research and development. ETHIOPIA stressed the need for international cooperation on food security and market stability. IRAQ noted the negative agricultural and environmental impacts of economic blockades. The CONSULTATIVE GROUP ON INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH recommended focusing on research to find solutions.

CROSS-SECTORAL ISSUES: Chair Srganj Kerim (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) presided over the afternoon plenary that discussed: finance/trade, technology transfer, consumption and production patterns, education, science, capacity-building and information.

Panel Discussion: The panel of resource persons said that new research was needed on natural, social and economic systems and their interactions, as the status of observational data is worse than it was ten years ago. They noted that UN agencies, and cooperation among them, can help with information-gathering and dissemination, education and the integration of scientific and traditional knowledge. Speakers warned against the trend of science becoming market-driven. Speakers noted that resolving gender inequality is a necessary condition of sustainable development. They said that governments should establish policy frameworks, including on corporate accountability. One speaker noted the greater prominence of business at the WSSD than in Rio, due in part to increased public demand for accountability. Speakers also discussed the implications of Doha, globalization, scientific progress, and the divide between rich and poor.

Plenary Discussion: Several countries stressed the need for: technology transfer, financial assistance and capacity building; improved market access; debt relief; and funds for halting desertification. BOTSWANA stressed that the benefits of financial assistance and debt reduction must reach people. NORWAY supported doubling development assistance and increasing market access.

FINLAND supported a 10-year target for sustainable consumption and production patterns, and stressed the need to explore the link between poverty and consumption. YUGOSLAVIA noted the importance of cross-sectoral solutions. The INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN noted that the male paradigm is a cause for women’s impoverishment, and called for their right to development. JAPAN emphasized three approaches underlying its policies: human resource development; ownership and solidarity in development; and the notion that today’s complacency would be tomorrow’s plight. NEPAL suggested inter alia: rooting development in the cultural values and priorities of people; developing equitable incentives to encourage environmentally sound and sustainable behavior; and enlisting participation of all relevant parties. The EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY highlighted the importance of data, and the US stressed the key role of information in decision-making. BUSINESS ACTION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT called for ‘responsible prosperity.’


The Main Committee deferred negotiations to the Vienna setting and the contact groups on the means of implementation and institutional arrangements.

Editor’s Note: Coverage of the negotiations ended at 10:00 pm.


Changing Unsustainable Patterns of Consumption and Production: Regarding time-bound targets for renewable energy resources (19(e)), the facilitator noted a draft formulation referencing a global increase of renewables to at least 15% by 2010 and a 2% increase in renewables within industrialized countries by 2010 relative to 2000. Both developing and developed countries were split on their support for such targets. Those developed countries opposing a target called for flexibility in national policies, and some developing countries noted potential adverse economic impacts and highlighted access to energy as a priority. Developed countries supporting the targets questioned arguments about adverse economic effects and stated that the global and industrialized country targets provide leeway for developing countries. A group of developing countries called for more ambitious time-bound targets, highlighting the importance of energy autonomy. No agreement was reached.

Regarding the adoption of national policies with timetables to phase out energy subsidies (19(p)bis), a number of countries supported deleting the provision, arguing that it is overly prescriptive, especially as more general language on energy subsidies is agreed (19(p)). Some developed countries again noted the need for specific actions within the draft Plan of Implementation. Delegates also disagreed over referencing the framework from CSD-9 or developing other recommendations (19(s)) in defining further steps for implementation. Regarding the promotion of partnership cooperation, the informal consultations generally agreed to work on the basis of paragraph 19(w), although differences still remain.

The facilitator of the informal side consultations on the sound management of chemicals (22, 22 (h)) reported that no consensus had been achieved and referred outstanding text back to the Vienna setting. Developing countries could not agree to the time-bound target of 2020 (22), while a developed country delegation expressed its intention to adjust its position in support of the target. Several developed countries proposed modifying the target date, while one delegate proposed replacing the 2020 medium-term target with language on a long-term goal for the sound management of chemicals. The group could not agree on language addressing the manner in which chemicals are to be used and produced to ensure they significantly reduce or do not lead to adverse effects on human health and the environment (22). The group agreed to delete brackets on text renewing commitments to the sound management of chemicals as outlined in Agenda 21. Delegates could not agree to language addressing an appropriate international response to the reduction of risks posed by heavy metals (22(h)). Developing countries highlighted concerns that this text could prejudge the outcomes of the UNEP global assessment on mercury.

Protecting and Managing the Natural Resource Base: After a small group consultation facilitated by South Africa and a lengthy debate in the Vienna setting, delegates were still unable to resolve differences in the first paragraph of the chapter (23). The Chair and delegations put forth numerous proposals, but delegates could not agree on the different formulations. Developing countries initially would not accept a reference to reversing the trend of resource degradation but agreed to it after the Chair suggested qualifying the statement with "in an effort to" reverse the trend. Several delegations underscored the target date and the ecosystem approach, while others emphasized that natural resource degradation could not be measured as a whole and that the ecosystem approach was irrelevant in this general opening paragraph. Delegates finally decided to revert to the original small group consultation reformulation of the paragraph, which has text remaining in brackets concerning: reversing the current trend in natural resource degradation; a 2015 target date; reference to the ecosystem approach with application of precaution; and integration of strategies and programmes.

Delegates finalized text concerning fisheries (30) and (30(e)), following several proposals, including one by developing countries to consider the "rights of coastal States and special requirements of developing coastal States." After lengthy discussion, delegates agreed to adhere to UNCLOS language giving due consideration to the "rights, duties, and interests of coastal states," but debated whether to reference the specific UNCLOS article in the text. Delegates decided against the reference. The final text also includes consideration of "special requirements of developing States." As part of the package, bracketed language on achieving "equitable" fisheries in the chapeau (30) was removed.

Sustainable Development for Africa: Delegates agreed to support Africa’s efforts to implement the NEPAD energy access target to secure access for at least 35% of the African population within 20 years through establishing and promoting programmes, partnerships and initiatives (56(j) and (i)). The group agreed to assist African countries in mobilizing resources for: adaptation to the adverse affects of climate change; extreme weather events; sea level rise; climate variability; development of national climate change strategies; mitigation programmes; and actions to prevent adverse climate changes in Africa (56(k)).

Developed and developing countries failed to reach consensus on text to support African efforts to protect universally-agreed human rights (56(a)). Regarding bracketed language on health care (58(a)), developing countries preferred reference to health care services, while one developed country supported health care and services.

Delegates almost adopted text on efforts to attain sustainable tourism in accordance with obligations under the CBD, CITES and regional biodiversity agreements, through, inter alia, supporting the conservation of Africa’s biological diversity; the sustainable use of biodiversity; as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources (64(e)). Reference to commitments or obligations remains unresolved.

CONTACT GROUP ON INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS: Within the contact group on Chapter X of the draft Plan of Implementation, co-chaired by Lars-Göran Engfeldt (Sweden) and Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria), intermissions were used for small group consultations on parts of the text, which were continuously revisited. The group failed to reach agreement on any outstanding paragraphs, though some progress was made towards compromise language.

The group had an extensive debate on the paragraph related to the rule of law and human rights (121(b) and (d)). A group of delegations proposed a short formula on the rule of law and strengthening institutions, with other delegations insisting on retaining the notion of human rights as a separate element in this paragraph or elsewhere in the text. The issue was deferred. Several versions were proposed for language on integrating the social dimension of sustainable development, and on the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work (122(g)). A group of delegations suggested using text based on the first part of the paragraph, as reference to the ILO document was already addressed in paragraph (9(b)). Other delegates supported retaining specific reference to the ILO. Discussion was inconclusive.

A group of countries tabled new text on good governance at the international level (123), which includes a revised chapeau and subparagraphs (d) on a convention on corruption and illicit funds, and (g) in support of multilateralism. No substantive discussion of the draft was held. Alternative language was explored on the provision regarding ECOSOC’s role in the WSSD and Monterrey Consensus follow-up (126(f)), with reference to "agreements and commitments" remaining a sticking point. Existing text on partnerships (138(b)) was addressed again, with a country group suggesting a shorter version, emphasizing that partnerships should not substitute for government commitments. Another group proposed moving this paragraph to the section dealing with the CSD, and other delegations supported a provision designed to monitor follow-up of partnerships.

CONTACT GROUP ON MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION: The contact group, facilitated by John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), convened in the evening to consider a revised draft of his paper on finance, trade and globalization. Ashe suggested that unresolved issues may be referred to Ministers. This was challenged by one of the delegations, who asked if the facilitator was planning to bypass the Vienna-style process.

In a sentence in the introductory paragraph acknowledging the need for significant increases in financial resources, one delegation proposed deleting a reference to "in the flow" of financial resources; and replacing "to" with "in" developing countries. He explained that resources are not only provided "to" but are also generated within countries. The facilitator questioned the resulting formulation: "new and additional financial resources in developing countries." The proposer agreed to accept the original reference to resources, "in particular to developing countries." On environmentally-sound technologies, the same delegation proposed: replacing a reference to "transfer" with "access to"; and inserting a reference to "including" on a concessional and preferential basis. The facilitator cited Agenda 21 and suggested that the proposal would require ministerial attention. A developing country group objected to a reference to recognition that each country has primary responsibility for its own development. A reference to common but differentiated responsibilities is to be dealt with in a contact group on the Rio Principles.

In a paragraph on mobilizing the effective use of financial resources, one delegation informed the facilitator that he had omitted important text on encouraging countries to establish transparent, participatory and accountable governance, and on the task of enhancing macro-economic policy. He proposed a new paragraph on good governance, taken from the Monterrey Consensus. He objected to a proposal that the new paragraph be moved to the section on good governance.

A group of countries proposed an alternative subparagraph encouraging foreign direct investment and export credits "which are consistent" with sustainable development. After one delegation explained that its relevant banking institution would have legal problems with the proposed formulation, text was agreed on encouraging foreign direct investment, and export credits, that could be instrumental to sustainable development.


As negotiators in the Vienna-style setting continued to reiterate stated positions in open session, observers increasingly turned to speculation about whether or not there "is more or less to this meeting than meets the eye." With closed informal discussions and bilaterals proliferating as the Main Committee surpassed the notional 9:00 pm deadline for completing discussions on the draft Plan of Implementation, the only evidence of what was taking place behind these doors were the barbed comments that sometimes crept into interventions in the Vienna setting. Seasoned conference watchers and delegates commented on the predictable pattern of frustration and speculation, as colleagues begin to identify the elements of a package consisting of trade-offs and concessions for Ministerial consideration.

NGO caucus groups were working hard to gather information on some of the crunch issues such as trade, energy and climate change, and targets for elements such as renewable energy. Some highlighted their difficulties with interacting with delegates in the negotiation rooms, but expressed some relief at the resolution of the bigger problem of limited access to the conference center (for now).


PARTNERSHIP PLENARIES: Partnership Plenaries on water and sanitation at 10:00 am and energy at 3:00 pm will be held in the Plenary Hall.

MAIN COMMITTEE: The Main Committee will meet at 10:00 am in Exhibition 1. An announcement on the timing and conduct of the negotiations is expected.

CONTACT GROUP ON INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS: The contact group will meet at 10:00 am in Committee Room 5.

CONTACT GROUP ON MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION: Check the Journal for a meeting time and place.

Further information