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Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Groups of the Ninth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development

UN Headquarters, New York
6-16 March 2001                                                                                           

 

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Highlights from Tuesday, 13 March

Delegates attending the Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Information for Decision-making and Participation and on International Cooperation for an Enabling Environment began and concluded general discussion of the Secretary-General's report on international cooperation for an enabling environment for sustainable development during a morning session, and adjourned for the day. The Co-Chair's summary and elements for a draft decision on information for decision making and participation were made available in the afternoon.

Above photo: Co-Chair Madina Jarbussynova (Kazakhstan)

Click here for coverage of the side event sponsored by the Australian government on Information for Decisions: From Data to Information to Knowledge

ENB Coverage of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy and Sustainable Development met in New York from 26 February to 2 March 2001

These photos are copyrighted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). For permission to use any of the photos on this site, please contact Kimo Goree at kimo@iisd.org. For enlarged photos to download, double click the desired photo.

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JoAnne DiSano, Director, UN Division on Sustainable Development, introduced the Secretary General's Report on International Cooperation for an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Development (E/CN.17/2001/5). She noted that the report focuses on the implications for sustainable development of the major changes in the international environment as a result of globalization, and examines initiatives to ensure all countries benefit from globalization through international cooperation.

Iran, for the G-77/China, described the increasing disillusionment among policy makers about globalization due to, inter alia, the lack of tangible benefits to, and social dislocation in, many developing countries. He identified actions that could be supportive to sustainable development objectives, including: accelerating debt reduction for highly indebted countries; reversing the decline of ODA flows; and enhancing access to developed country markets.

Photos: Mohammad Reza Salamat (Iran) and with Alexander De Barros, Secretariat (right)

Egypt warned against moral obligations that can be circumvented and the loss of credibility of the multilateral system. He noted the absence of good governance at the international level, and called for North-South solidarity toward achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. CHINA cautioned that globalization can enhance developing countries' dependence on developed countries, stated that environmental problems should not be solved through market mechanisms and noted the gap between donor interests and developing country needs in international cooperation.
Sweden, for the EU and associated countries, said the overall effect of international trade and capital flows on sustainable development will depend on whether globalization and economic growth result in social benefits and more eco-efficient resource allocation, or in marginalization of the poor and additional pressure on scarce environmental resources. He emphasized that improved market access and a strengthened multilateral trading system are key to achieving economic development for developing countries.
China cautioned that globalization can enhance developing countries' dependence on developed countries, stated that environmental problems should not be solved through market mechanisms and noted the gap between donor interests and developing country needs in international cooperation.
Argentina underscored the negative impact of subsidies on developing countries and sustainable development. He noted distortions, such as those created by agricultural subsidies, have damaged the environment. He said the multilateral trade system can provide an enabling environment if, inter alia, developed countries eliminate discriminatory trade practices and non-tariff trade barriers.
Indonesia and India

Indonesia called for a stable and dynamic trade environment and for debt relief. He noted globalization is resulting in the marginalization of developing countries and deepening the inequalities, and said that total ODA has fallen below UN targets. He added that preferential treatment in trade can increase investments and incomes and can contribute to sustained economic growth and environment protection.

India said that even if poverty eradication and development were the primary responsibility of developing countries, they could not achieve these goals without provision of new and additional resources. She supported a non-discriminatory, open and fair trading system, increased market access for goods from developing countries, common but differentiated responsibilities and meeting ODA targets.

Australia stated that ODA plays a catalytic and complementary role to private sector resources in achieving development objectives. She identified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change clean development mechanism and the Global Environment Facility as increasingly valuable tools for sustainable development.

Saudi Arabia highlighted: improved market access for developing countries; taxes to reflect carbon content; technology transfer; and a timetable for achieving UN targets for ODA.

Stressing the three pillars of sustainable development, Switzerland said globalization and trade liberalization should be accompanied by environmental protection and social justice. He highlighted the priority action areas for an enabling environment, such as: cleaner production in developing countries; market access; debt relief; and private financial flows. He said national action in governance, public expenditure allocation to sustainable development, and coordination, including the strengthening of the global environmental architecture.

Nigeria highlighted the marginalization of developing countries due to globalization and the volatility of private financial flows. He noted the overall trend of international aid has declined substantially, resulting in lower budgets for the UNDP and other UN agencies involved in development, and said private sector involvement and public participation cannot change the status quo if new and additional resources are not mobilized. He said developed countries have proven they have the capacity, if not the will, to help developing countries and to create partnerships with their private sectors and civil societies. He further said it was "futile" to require developing countries to create an enabling environment as they lack the power to influence the decisions taken in Bretton Woods institutions.

Brazil welcomed South-South cooperation and stressed the need to: address unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; improve the share of financial resource flows; and turn trade into a powerful tool for growth.
Norway said the global consensus on goals should meet with increasing ODA, and said Norway aims to increase its ODA to one percent of gross national product (GNP). He called for debt relief without compromising aid budgets and for the CSD to coordinate with the Third Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC III) and the Financing For Development conference. Regarding national responsibility in creating an enabling environment, he stressed: the importance of national sustainable development strategies and stakeholder input; the need for a supportive macro-economic framework, institutions, and policy framework on trade; and good governance and social infrastructure, as well as support for access to information, financial resources and capacity building.
South Africa highlighted the negative effects of globalization, and called for, inter alia: sustainable mobilization of finance; more effective debt-relief measures and accelerated debt reduction; a timeframe to meet ODA targets; improved access to markets bilaterally and through the conclusion of a new round of negotiations; involvement of IFIs as investors in key economic infrastructure to leverage the private sector; and strategic partnerships that involve civil society and the private sector.  

Canada said CSD-9 can enhance ongoing debates on improving the reach and effectiveness of international cooperation and should seek to better understand how globalization is impacting international policies and programmes on sustainable development and international cooperation. She said CSD-9 could note that international development cooperation increasingly includes areas that were treated in isolation and requires policy coherence across traditionally separate disciplines, and that LDC III and the Financing For Development conference provide opportunities for addressing such coherence.

Noting that inequitable market access and protectionist barriers constrain sustainable development, Cuba called for the realization of ODA targets, measures to find a lasting solution to the debt problem and the elimination of the structural causes of debt for both low- and middle-income countries.

The International Indian Treaty Council underscored the value of traditional knowledge, and called on governments and relevant UN agencies and processes to, inter alia: observe the principle of prior informed consent in all traditional knowledge research; and strengthen Indigenous Peoples' in situ forms of traditional knowledge registration and protection, as well as their customary laws, rather than impose a strict regime of intellectual property rights.

Information for Decisions: From Data to Information to Knowledge

Australia hosted a side event titled, "Information for Decisions, From Data to Information to Knowledge," at which Tricia Kaye, Director, Australian Environmental Resources Information Network (left), and Mark Hyman, Assistant Secretary, International and Intergovernmental Issues in Relation to the Environment (below right), presented an Australian initiative to establish a multipurpose database that could be used by civil society and the private sector to make various policy decisions. They outlined work undertaken in the last decade to collect, assess and utilize baseline information on the country's ecosystem in order to provide information solutions for data-poor environments. Using seven different case studies, they demonstrated how the data gathered is used by stakeholders and four key lessons to be retained: the need to define goals and information requirements before establishing such an initiative; the need to develop a framework using information standards; the need for information to serve multiple purposes; and the need to involve stakeholders and develop cooperative frameworks in order to guarantee access.

The following seven case studies were used to illustrate experiences at local, regional and national scales:Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (rapid and transparent assessment to meet decision outcomes); Carbon Accounting (significantly advancing world knowledge on land based sources and sinks); Pollutant Inventory (basic information about industry and non-industry knowledge); Air Quality Forecasting System (modelling emission to analyse local effects); Land and Water Resources Audit (where are our land degradation/salinity hotspots and what is causing them); Regional Forest Agreements (bringing stakeholders and information together to get the best possible outcome for conservation and development); and Sustainable Fisheries (stakeholders drive and managing the process). Conclusions regarding the most important actions on information for decisions are: defining goals and requirements; developing a decision support framework using information standards; collecting information for multiple purposes; and involving stakeholders and ensuring access.

Photos: Tricia Kaye (above left) and Mark Hyman (right)

For more information, visit Environment Australia at http://www.environment.gov.au

Also check out the following websites: The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Database http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc; National Land and Water Resources Audit http://www.nlwra.gov.au; National Pollutant Inventory www.npi.ea.gov.au; Australian Greenhouse Office www.greenhouse.gov.au; National Reporting Framework for Australian Fisheries http://www.brs.gov.au; Australian Air Quality Forecasting System http://www.dar.csiro.au/info/AAQFS

In the ensuing discussion, participants inquired about: the institutional framework within which the initiative falls; the human resource capacity; the total cost of the 10-year initiative; the challenges faced in establishing the network; and whether the initiative has resulted in behavior change. Responding, the presenters said the initiative falls within an intergovernmental authority and the national environment strategy, has 30 staff members and costs between AUS$1-2 million annually, with additional human resource and finances incurred by collaborating institutions. They said it is still early to determine whether behavior has changed, although there is evidence of a more positive attitude among companies required to submit reports. They said the main challenges have been the inability to address technological aspects due to cost and reaching agreement with the other players on a cooperative framework. Photo: Tricia Kaye and Penny Wensley of the Australian delegation


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