Seminar Considers Ecosystems' Role as Water Suppliers
December 2004: The role of ecosystems as water suppliers was the focus of a seminar organized by the Swiss government and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The seminar, which convened from 13-14 December 2004 in Geneva, provided a platform for government officials to meet experts from international and non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and share knowledge on the role of forests and wetlands in the water cycle and the advantages related to their sustainable use, protection and restoration to ensure sustainable water management.
The meeting documented experiences within and outside the UNECE region on best practices and concrete implementation measures aimed at integrating forests and wetlands in sustainable water management.
The seminar resulted in recommendations to promote integrated policies and strategies and facilitate their implementation. These recommendations will be presented at the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) in New York in April 2005, and will be submitted for adoption to the Parties to the UNECE Water Convention at their fourth meeting in 2006. The seminar also fostered the development of concrete joint activities at international, regional, transboundary, national and local levels, and will be considered at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Uganda in November 2005.
A second seminar focusing on environmental services and financing for the protection and sustainable use of ecosystems will be organized in 2005. This seminar is expected to explore the experience of solidarity between upstream and downstream communities, specifically considering the practice of protecting and sustainably-using ecosystems (forests and wetlands) by means of innovative economic tools such as payments for environmental services through successful public-private partnerships and public-public partnerships. More information
THIRD MEETING OF THE UNEP IGSP produces Bali Strategic Plan
The third session of the UN Environment Programme's High-level Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on an Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building took place from 2-4 December 2004, in Jimbaran-Bali, Indonesia.
The session was attended by over 120 delegates representing governments, UN bodies and specialized agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and civil society. The aim of the session was to conclude negotiations on the draft Intergovernmental Strategic Plan (IGSP) based on the compilation of proposals.
The formal session of the Intergovernmental Working Group was preceded by a day of regional group meetings, as well as informal consultations among government delegations. During the meeting, delegates met in plenary and in two working groups to prepare the draft IGSP, which includes sections on objectives, strategic considerations, implementation, coordination mechanism, and financial mechanisms. The session concluded with the agreement on the “Bali Strategic Plan,” which will be forwarded to the 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in February 2005 for final adoption. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin
coverage of this meeting.
TRIPS COUNCIL DEBATES BIODIVERSITY, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE
A proposal aimed at moving forward the debate over the relationship between intellectual property rights, biodiversity and traditional knowledge was the focus on discussions at a recent World Trade Organization meeting.
The WTO's Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) took up the issue from 1-2 December 2004. Delegates discussed a proposal submitted by Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Venezuela.
The proposal focused on disclosure of prior informed consent in patents involving the use of biological resources, with reference to Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The topic forms part of a Checklist of Issues on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD that was submitted by these delegations in March 2004. The Checklist covered matters such as disclosure of origin, prior informed consent, and benefit-sharing.
According to a report on the meeting from the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), most other WTO Members reiterated their previous positions on the issue. Stating that mandatory disclosure is inappropriate, the US suggested that there is no inherent conflict between TRIPS and the CBD, and supported a contract-based approach. The EU suggested that mandatory disclosure would be suitable. Switzerland supported voluntary disclosure of the source, while noting that the World Intellectual Property Organization's Patent Cooperation Treaty is the appropriate forum for this discussion. Canada, Australia and New Zealand proposed testing the three positions, examining how they could have avoided the granting of inappropriate patents. In spite of the divergent views, the debate was reported to be considerably more constructive than those in previous meetings.
Links to further information
The proposal (IP/C/W/438)
ICTSD Trade BioRes report, 3 December 2004
GFSE Regional Workshop - Access to Energy for Sustainable Development & Policies for Rural Areas
Policies and actions to expand energy networks in rural parts of the Himalaya-Hindukush region were the focus of a recent workshop held in Paro, Bhutan.
The workshop considered access to energy supplies as a means of securing sustainable development in the rural areas of a region that covers parts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China (Tibet), India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. Organized by the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy, the workshop, which was held from 24-26 November, also involved representatives of donor countries. The meeting sought to stimulate discussion and networking possibilities on: sustainable energy matters related to sectoral improvement and policy development; capacity building and sharing of best practices within the region; implementation of existing national and regional plans; and improvements in stakeholder communication. The workshop included discussions on the Millennium Development Goals, and on the EU-Energy Initiative, or “EUEI,” focused on poverty eradication and sustainable development. The Sustainable Developments
report of the meeting.
COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER GROWING THREAT OF MARGINALIZATION OF UNITED NATIONS
The Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly has expressed concern over the growing threat of marginalization of the United Nations.
In a meeting of the Council, which convened from 16-18 November at UN Headquarters in New York, present and past GA Presidents signed a Communiqué reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in promoting multilateral cooperation and preserving the stability of the international system. The Council also expressed concern that the rule of law is at risk and that fundamental laws are being disregarded around the world. Furthermore, the Council expressed grave concern at the danger of using unilateralism in international affairs and called for a renewed commitment to multilateral action through the United Nations.
Noting that in the year 2005, the UN has to respond to the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and review the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, the Council said the UN has been presented with the twin challenge of having to ensure security and meet development needs of poor countries and called on the GA to take the lead in these matters.
The Council of Presidents was established at UN Headquarters in November 1997 with the objective of giving the United Nations the benefit of their experience, diplomatic and international, for the purpose of supporting the United Nations in general, and the General Assembly in particular. Click here for the Communiqué by Council of Presidents of General Assembl...
WTO AGRICULTURE TALKS EXPOSE DIFFERENCES
Informal discussions on how to advance agriculture negotiations as part of the World Trade Organization's Doha round have revealed differences in countries' priorities on which technical issues should be taken up first.
The meeting, held on 25 October 2004 in Geneva, saw delegates field an array of preferences, with developing countries favoring discussions on issues such as export competition and domestic subsidy concessions from industrialized countries. The European Union reportedly preferred to begin with talks on issues such as differential export taxes, export credits, food aid and “geographical indicators,” while the Cairns Group of countries proposed starting by examining tariff escalation, quotas, and export credits. Further meetings are scheduled for mid-November and December.
WTO faults EU's agriculture policies
In related news, WTO members have repeated calls for the EU to change its Common Agricultural Policy. The WTO's Trade Policy Review of the EU, which took place from 25-27 October in Geneva, criticized the EU for continuing to limit foreign competition and hampering world trade by producing ongoing surpluses of some key agricultural products. The Review, which was produced by the WTO Secretariat, argued that liberalization of EU policy would result in major benefits for world trade. However, the EU has defended its approach, noting that it is the world's largest importer of agricultural products.
Developing Countries' Needs Debated
Meanwhile, the Trade and Development Committee met for a special session on 28 October to discuss “special and differential treatment” of developing countries. Talks on this issue are intended to support developing countries through favorable treatment, recognizing their special needs and development priorities. The latest meeting was reportedly free of the discord that has marred earlier gatherings and delayed progress on this issue.
Developing countries' concerns about market access were also the subject of discussions in a regular session of the Committee on Trade and Environment held on 14 October. Delegates discussed an EU paper on the impact environmental measures might have on market access. A workshop is likely to be held on the matter in early 2005.
The WTO Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures also met recently, on 4 November. The Committee agreed to extend the transition period for eliminating the export subsidy programmes of 19 developing countries for another year, until the end of 2005.
Links to further information
ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, October
WTO press release on export subsidies
, 4 November 2004
WTO report on Europe's agriculture policy
, 27 October 2004
WTO agriculture briefing paper
, 25 October 2004
8th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and 3rd ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting - ASEAN MINISTERS AGREE TO LAUNCH ENVIRONMENT FUND
Environment Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met on 13 October in Singapore to assess and reinforce cooperation on regional environmental issues.
These Southeast Asian Ministers also met with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea on 14 October to further enhance environmental cooperation with the framework of the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation mechanism.
During the meeting, ASEAN Ministers approved an agreement to establish the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, and endorsed the setting up of the ASEAN Environment Fund, agreeing to explore modalities for establishing the Fund. The Fund will support existing projects and initiate new ones with a focus on education programmes in poor rural areas. According to the press, ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong said member nations planned to establish the fund by the end of 2004, and that it could be worth up to US$10 million.
Ministers also addressed the implementation of a regional agreement on transboundary haze pollution, which came into force in November 2003, stressing the importance of enhancing preventive measures such as surveillance, monitoring and enforcement. Such pollution and haze have been caused by open burning and forest clearing, particularly in Indonesia, which has not yet ratified the agreement. During the session, Ministers also discussed challenges to environmental sustainability, considered proposals to promote environmentally sustainable cities in the region, and exchanged experiences in developing standards to monitor environmental performance.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Links to further information
ASEAN press release
, 14 October 2004
Southeast Asian Nations to set up Environment Fund; Indones...
, ENN, 15 October 2004
3rd ASEAN Plus 3 environment ministers meeting ends
, Xinhuanet, 14 October 2004
Global Women's Assembly on Environment: Women as the Voice for Environment (WAVE)
October 2004: The United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) first Global Women's Assembly on Environment: Women as the Voice for the Environment (WAVE) convened from 11-13 October 2004, in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Assembly focused on generating outputs related to the upcoming Beijing+10 review session, the five-year review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the 13th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13). Over 150 participants from 60 countries attended the Assembly, some from remote indigenous communities and small island developing States.
Participants in the Network drafted informal recommendations on the “Women and Environment” section of the Beijing Platform of Action, which will be forwarded to the 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum and CSD-13. The WAVE Assembly adopted a Manifesto, which included these recommendations. The WAVE Manifesto, and WAVE recommendations and project ideas will be forwarded to relevant intergovernmental meetings. The Assembly highlighted the crucial role of women in promoting: women's leadership in environment; the participation of indigenous, rural and urban women in decision making; local-global linkages; environment and health linkages; capacity building and education; and peace.
IISD RS's coverage
of the Assembly.
Informal Consultations Convene on the Mauritius SIDS International Meeting
October 2004: The second round of informal informal consultations held in preparation for the International Meeting on the Ten-Year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place recently at UN headquarters in New York. During the consultations, delegates continued deliberations on the revised Draft Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOA that was produced following the previous round of informals in May 2004. With the understanding that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, delegates resolved ten chapters of the draft Strategy Paper, and reached partial resolution on seven chapters. Text concerning Graduation, and Trade: Globalization and Trade Liberalization remain contentious, and discussions on Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise were deferred to the International Meeting. [ENB Briefing Note
59th session of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS UN REFORM AND REVITALIZATION OF ITS WORK
Deputy UN Secretary-General Louise Fréchette opened the 59th session of the General Assembly's joint debate on United Nations reform and revitalization of the Assembly's work on 4 October 2004, noting the invaluable contribution of civil society to the United Nations.
She introduced the Secretary-General's report in response to the findings of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations-Civil Society Relations (Cardoso Panel), which had stressed that NGO action should not supplant the role of governments and suggested establishing a single accreditation process and a single trust fund to facilitate the participation of NGO representatives from developing countries, among others.
Speakers during the two-day debate stressed that enhancing participation with NGOs could ensure better outreach and implementation of the UN's initiatives on the ground. Several speakers expressed concerns, including misgivings due to the intergovernmental nature of the UN, the fact that NGOs are not democratically elected, and questions about whether the nature of NGO participation in the General assembly and the benefits from this participation had been clearly identified. General Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) wrapped up the discussion on 5 October, noting that the proposals included in the report of the Secretary-General on civil society relations required careful consideration from the General Assembly.
On the question of strengthening the UN, the EU identified a number of key tasks before the Assembly, including: rationalizing the agendas of the Main Committees; improving the General Committee's working methods; reducing the burden of documentation; and streamlining the plenary's agenda. The Non-Aligned Movement stressed that consultations on UN revitalization should be inclusive and take into account the views of the full membership, including regional and negotiating groups.
During his summary of the discussions, President Ping noted the strong support from delegates for holding meetings between the Presidents of the General Assembly, the Security Council and ECOSOC. He further highlighted two recommendations that emerged on deliberations concerning revitalization: the importance of implementing the resolutions already adopted, and pursuing the examination of remaining items. In conclusion, he proposed consultations with Member States regarding the continuation of the revitalization process.
Links to further information
General Assembly considers proposals to enhance United Nati...
Time is right to take United Nations-Civil Society Partners...
Speakers in General Assembly recommend cautious approach wh...
UN-NGLS webpage on UN Reform/UN-Civil Society relations
Report of the Secretary-General in response to the report o...
We the peoples: Civil Society, the United Nations and Global...
2004 SMALL STATES FORUM FOCUSES ON GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS IN SMALL STATES
Held under the theme “Growth and Competitiveness in Small States” with a focus on investment, the 2004 Small States Forum took place on 3 October in Washington, DC.
The meeting was organized around a panel discussion that heard from both the private and public sectors, and addressed issues relating to competitiveness and resilience of small state economies from natural events, disease, globalization, as well as loss of trade preferences.
Delegates heard presentations from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the EU, the IMF, UNCTAD, the World Bank and the WTO on their activities relating to small states. Delegates also heard from Anwarul Chowdhury, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), who spoke on the 10-year UN review of the Barbados Programme of Action on the sustainable development of SIDS, which is slated to culminate in the Mauritius International Meeting in January 2005. Chowdhury urged prioritizing critical issues for SIDS and creating a proactive implementation and monitoring mechanism with a focus on involving regional bodies.
Hosted by the World Bank, the Small States Forum is held in conjunction with the Bank/IMF Annual Meetings to enable small state representatives and partner institutions to track progress on a number of issues relating to small states, discuss development challenges facing these states, and exchange ideas and experiences. More information
CSD-13 Bureau Discusses Preparations for Spring Meeting
September 2004: The first meeting of the Bureau of the thirteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) convened on 30 September 2004 in New York.
Among the issues discussed was the session's organization of work, with Bureau members agreeing that the Commission should focus on deliverables and mobilize further concrete and tangible action to expedite implementation, and that it should not seek to redefine problems or challenges. The Bureau discussed the unfortunate scheduling conflict of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council (11-15 April 2005) and CSD-13 (11-22 April 2005), particularly in light of the fact that the current CSD cycle is focusing on water, sanitation and human settlements. In response, the Bureau decided to make arrangements for the Governing Council to report on the outcomes of its meeting as an input to discussions at CSD-13 and scheduled the High-level Segment of CSD-13 for 20-22 April 2005. It was noted that the Secretary-General's reports for CSD-13 are scheduled to be posted on the CSD-13 website before the end of December 2004.
During a briefing session on 5 October, CSD-13 Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) highlighted the importance of bringing Ministers of Finance on board in order for them to understand the implications of their policies. He informed delegates that the Bureau had discussed some ideas to engage their participation. The Bureau will be holding four more meetings in: early November, December, end of January 2005, and February 2005.
] [Notes of the first Bureau meeting
] [ENB's Briefing Note on the 5 October briefing
Eighth Session of the CEB/High Level Committee on Programmes Prepares for Fall Session
17 September 2004: The High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) of the UN System Chief Executives Board (CEB) for Coordination held its eighth session in Florence, Italy, from 15-17 September.
In preparing for its 2004 fall session, the Committee focused on: preparations for the 2005 comprehensive review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration; issues relating to bridging the digital divide; and implementation of the development agenda at the country-level. The Committee also followed-up on decisions regarding transnational crime, financing for development, and conflict prevention, and addressed its work programme for 2004-2005 and beyond. Committee members also heard a briefing by the UN Population Fund on the ongoing 10-year review process of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.
On preparations for the 2005 UN major review, discussion focused on the formulation of the key messages that would help orient the CEB's contribution to the approaches that would guide the Secretary-General report on the 2005 event, and on the “accountability” report regarding the UN system's response to the Millennium Declaration. On bridging the digital divide, the Committee focused on the coherence of policy advice provided to countries in setting comprehensive strategies to harness ICT for economic and social progress, and the opportunities that ICT offers for system-wide knowledge management and knowledge creation.
On its work programme, the Committee considered: follow-up to WSSD; NEPAD; civil society relations; HIV/AIDS and linkages with food security and governance; and communications strategy. The Committee heard an update on the follow-up to the WSSD in the areas of water, oceans and energy, including the adoption of UN-Water's terms of reference. The Committee also heard a presentation on the Secretary-General's report on the Implementation of the Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations.
More information can be found in the report of the meeting
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY CLOSES 58TH SESSION
The UN General Assembly concluded its 58th session on Monday, 13 September 2004.
In his closing address to the Session, outgoing General Assembly President, Julian Hunte of St. Lucia noted that during the session, the Assembly had made real headway on such issues as sustainable development, revitalizing the body's work and reform of the Security Council. GA President Hunte also conveyed the UN's sympathy and strong solidarity with the governments and peoples of the Caribbean suffering the after-effects of the devastating hurricanes and tropical storms that have struck that region. The final session of the Assembly concluded consideration of 35 items on its agenda, including follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, environment and sustainable development, information and communication technologies for development, and the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, and deferred 29 of them to the 59th GA session. The session also submitted to the forthcoming session the provisional agenda as well as the programme of work for the Assembly's plenary meetings. The Assembly further adopted a resolution, approving the draft Relationship Agreement between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations. More information is available at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/ga10252.doc.htm
SECOND MEETING OF THE ISP
The second session of the UN Environment Programme's High-level Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on an Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building (IGSP) took place at UN headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from 2-4 September 2004.
The session was attended by over 200 delegates representing governments, UN agencies and programmes, secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, intergovernmental organizations and civil society. Throughout the session, delegates met in plenary and in two working groups to consider the IGSP Chair's “building blocks” paper, with the aim of producing a negotiating text for the third session of the intergovernmental working group, to be held from 2-4 December 2004, in Bali, Indonesia.
The meeting was held in a cooperative atmosphere, with almost no negotiation of proposed text, as delegates mostly engaged in substantive explanation of positions presented. The general feeling was that Nairobi presented a good opportunity to explore the “philosophy” of a strategic plan, while “serious bargaining” will start in Bali. Click here for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin report
on this meeting.
EIGHTH MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT GROUP (EMG)
The Eighth meeting of the EMG was held in Nairobi on 1 September immediately prior to the second meeting of the High-level Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on an Intergovernmental strategic plan for technology support and capacity building (IGSP).
The main focus of the meeting was on the EMG's work in the area of environment-related capacity building, including its contribution to the development of the Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building.
The EMG discussed the status and the progress of work of its Issue Management Group (IMG) on the UN system (including the Secretariat's of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements) environment-related capacity building activities and initiatives in two pilot areas of biodiversity and chemicals management.
The Group also considered the draft outline prepared by its second IMG on the overall UN activities and initiatives on environment related capacity building and agreed to submit the current results of the two IMG's work to the second meeting of the IGSP for its information and consideration. The Group commended the work of the two IMG's and observed that the two studies needed to be further developed taking into account the additional inputs of the EMG members on their experiences and lessons learned in view of better contributing to the discussions of the second and the third meetings of the IGSP in September and December 2004 respectively.
The Group also discussed the issue of “Sustainable Procurement for the UN System.” In view of the need to work further on the inclusion of sustainable development considerations in procurement practices; as recognized in Agenda 21 and in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (chapter III, paragraph 19) and in follow up to the International Expert Meeting on a 10-year-framework of programmes for sustainable consumption and production in June 2003, which recommended that 'the United Nations itself should adopt sustainable procurement and environmental management programmes for is offices and operations' (paragraph 154 of the meeting report); the EMG at its 7th meeting on 20 April decided to focus on this area in order to assist in developing sustainable procurement policies throughout the UN system.
Accordingly, the Group decided that in close cooperation with the Interagency Sustainable Procurement Group, the EMG should contribute to raising awareness on sustainable procurement throughout the UN system. To that end, the EMG at its eighth Session considered a background document on sustainable procurement and environmental management programmes for the UN system and the role of the EMG. The Group requested further work in this area, through establishing an IMG , including completion of a survey on current regulations and activities and the preparation of a proposal for further work in this area within the UN system.
The Group decided to hold its next meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2004 back to back with the final meeting of the IGSP. More information is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/whats_new/EMGbrief.doc
XIV MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT (NAM) UNDERSCORES COMMITMENT TO MULTILATERALISM
The XIV Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) took place from 17-19 August 2004 in Durban, South Africa.
Ministers addressed developments in the international situation, reviewed implementation of decisions taken at the XIII NAM Conference of Heads of State held in Kuala Lumpur in February 2003, and prepared for the next NAM Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Havana, Cuba in September 2006. The meeting concluded with a Ministerial Declaration that flagged concern at the “growing to resort to unilateralism and unilaterally imposed methods” and reaffirmed the Movement's commitment to advancing multilateralism. While recognizing the limitations of the United Nations, the Movement highlighted the UN as the only platform for addressing many of today's global challenges. The NAM identified underdevelopment and poverty as fundamental concerns of the South, urged all countries and international institutions to intensify partnerships and coordinate resources to address imbalances in the global agenda, and signaled its commitment to a rules-based global trading system. The meeting also heard discussions on revitalizing the UN General Assembly, strengthening ECOSOC's role in formulating development programmes, and democratizing the Security Council.
The NAM has its roots in a 1955 meeting of African and Asian countries at which Heads of State addressed common concerns such as colonialism and Western influence. Following fears that the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States would result in war, the first NAM Conference convened in Belgrade in 1961, which decided that member countries could not be engaged in alliances or defense pacts with the two then superpowers. The focus of the NAM has gradually shifted away from primarily political issues, to advocating solutions to global economic and social issues. The midterm review of the recent Durban Ministerial Conference considered global issues such as the UN Millennium Declaration, and strengthening, restructuring, revitalizing and democratizing the UN, and addressed social issues such as advancement of women, children and human rights. A wide range of economic issues were also considered, relating to globalization, FDI, sustainable development, food security, science and technology, ICT, South-South cooperation, and LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.
Click here to view the Durban Declaration on Multilateralism
and the XIV Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)...
AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT 2004 - AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS ADOPT SOLEMN DECLARATION ON GENDER EQUALITY
Gender equality was the focus of deliberations at the recent African Union Summit that took place from 6-8 July in Addis Ababa.
Nigeria was elected Chair of the current third session of the AU Assembly, succeeding Mozambique who held the post for the previous session.
Delegates to the AU Summit adopted a “Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa,” agreeing, inter alia, to accelerate the implementation of gender specific measures aimed at combating HIV/AIDS and to implement agreements on Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other related infectious disease. Such measures include ensuring that treatment and social services are available to women at the local level, enacting legislation to end discrimination against women living with HIV/AIDS, and increasing budgetary allocations to alleviate women's burden of care. Other agreements address: women's participation in the peace process; recruitment of child soldiers and abuse of girls; gender-based violence and trafficking; human rights for women and girls; education and literacy; and promotion of the implementation of legislation that guarantees women's land, property and inheritance rights.
According to the UN wire, Nigeria's President and new AU Chair Olusegun Obasanjo said that most, “if not all” African societies were deeply chauvinistic. Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade focused on female genital mutilation as a practice that must be ceased and told fellow AU leaders that they “have a duty to stop” the early marriage of girls. Rwanda's Paul Kagame identified women as “indispensable” to the process of reconstruction and reconciliation in his country, a decade after genocide terrorized the population. South Africa's Thabo Mbeki urged governments to encourage gender equality in the private sector.
African leaders also adopted a declaration on the ongoing review of the EU Common Agricultural Policy and its impact on trade in commodities with ACP countries, and took decisions on, inter alia, the: vision and mission of the AU, and the strategic plan, programme and budget of the Commission; implementation of NEPAD; report of the Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization; upcoming Conference of Intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora; hosting of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa; establishment of the Pan African Parliament; and the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
On NEPAD implementation, the decision notes that at current rates of development, many African countries are unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals due to lack of resource flows. Delegates resolved to undertake necessary measures to enhance the development of expanded and integrated national development plans and related policies, and to fast-track the adoption of NEPAD programmes as a means towards achieving the MDGs. The decision further notes the importance of agriculture in Africa's development, and reaffirms commitment and determination to raise food production, reduce hunger and transform rural Africa by way of developing and launching Africa's Green Revolution. More information is available at: http://www.africa-union.org/home/Welcome.htm
10TH REGULAR SESSION OF AMCEN ADDRESSES IMPLEMENTATION OF NEPAD ENVIRONMENT INITIATIVE ACTION PLAN, DISCUSSES ENGAGEMENT WITH OTHER INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES
African Environment Ministers met recently to discuss the implementation of the NEPAD Environment Initiative's action plan and to address engagement with other international environmental processes, including the development of a strategic approach to international chemicals management (SAICM), Africa's strategy concerning disaster risk reduction and African's input to the ongoing UNEP process on an Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for technology support and capacity building.
The Ministerial segment of the 10th regular session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) took place from 29-30 June in Sirte, Libya, and was preceded by a preparatory meeting that convened from 26-28 June.
During the session, African Ministers discussed issues relating to and adopted decisions on: the implementation of the action plan of the NEPAD environment initiative; the role of AMCEN in the implementation of the NEPAD environment initiative's action plan; the AMCEN Constitution; and the status and use of the AMCEN general trust fund. Ministers also took decisions on the: development of a SAICM and other chemicals and hazardous waste management issues; phase-out of leaded gasoline in sub-Saharan Africa; draft Africa strategy for disaster reduction risk reduction; and Africa's submission to the High-Level Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on an Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for technology support and capacity building (ISP).
On the development of a SAICM, ministers decided, inter alia
, to emphasize the need for African Governments to prioritize sound chemicals management in national, subregional and regional planning, and to urge stakeholders to elaborate a comprehensive plan for enhanced capacity-building for developing countries in the development of a SAICM. Ministers further decided to urge the UNEP Governing Council to adopt a decision on undertaking the tasks assigned to it in ensuring the prevention of illegal international traffic in toxic and dangerous products.
On the ISP, ministers submitted the capacity building component of the Action Plan of the NEPAD Environment Initiative as African's input to the work of the ISP and requested that the component be used as the basis of support for capacity building in Africa. The component outlines the principles on which a guiding framework for the ISP should be based, lists potential elements for the Strategic Plan, and identifies priority areas.
The session also concluded with the adoption of the Sirte Declaration on the Environment for Development, in which Ministers, inter alia
* stress the urgent need to promote the integration of the environmental dimension into poverty reduction strategies;
* request the AMCEN President to develop a mechanism for consensus building, through transboundary projects, in the management of natural and shared resources;
* call upon the GEF to continue giving high priority to African countries in allocating financial resources for the successful implementation of the action plan to combat desertification;
* urge development partners to implement the WSSD decision to establish a world solidarity fund to eradicate poverty by providing the necessary resources to this fund; and
* call upon the AMCEN President in collaboration with the Minister responsible for the environment in Senegal to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Conference in December 2004 to review the implementation of the action plan of the NEPAD environment initiative.
Download the declaration
and the adopted decisions
FAO TECHNICAL CONSULTATION MEETING REVIEWS PROGRESS OF IPOA-IUU IMPLEMENTATION
FAO convened a technical consultation from 24-29 June 2004 in Rome to review progress and promote the implementation of the International Plan of Action (IPOA) to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Attended by 84 FAO members and representatives of the European Union, the meeting recommended that governments increase the severity of penalties for IUU fishing, cooperate more to suppress trade in illegally caught fish, and establish better international controls on exports of fishing boats from one region to another. Noting an ongoing build-up of capacity in tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean, delegates suggested that governments in the region should give priority attention to addressing the situation, including halting introductions of additional large-scale fishing vessels. They also tasked FAO with: creating a central repository of information on IUU fishing activities worldwide; developing a common set of benchmarks for measuring fishing capacity; conducting a global review of fishing capacity; and intensifying the technical support provided to developing countries struggling with the problems of capacity management and illicit fishing. More information is available at: ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/DOCUMENT/tc-iuu-cap/2004/default.htm
FIRST MEETING OF THE UNEP ISP
The first session of the United Nations Environment Programme's High-level Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on an Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building (ISP) took place at UN headquarters in New York on Friday, 25 June 2004.
The aim of the session was to reach agreement on how the Working Group would proceed, and to engage in an initial exchange of views as input for the preparation of a draft ISP. A number of speakers said the strategic plan should be action-oriented, take a long-term strategic approach, and be consistent with the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The ENB report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/unepgc/uisp1/
Fourth Summit of ACP Heads of State
The fourth Summit of the Heads of State and governments of the ACP countries, which took place from 21-24 June in Maputo, Mozambique, convened under the theme “Together Shaping Our Future.” The Summit considered issues relating to and took decisions on: peace, security and stability; the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); intra-ACP cooperation; ACP-EU relations; negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements; and WTO negotiations.
The Summit further adopted a resolution on ACP sugar in light of the ongoing review of the European Commission's sugar regime.
On the MDGs, ACP leaders took a decision to mandate the ACP Council of Ministers to: take the necessary steps in reviewing and assessing the impact of ACP-EU Cooperation programmes on the attainment of the MDG s; organize regular consultations between the ACP States and other States or regional and international organizations on experiences and progress achieved by member States towards the attainment of the respective set targets of the MDGs; and take action to launch an appeal for donors to strongly support the efforts of developing countries towards the attainment of MDGs.
On WTO negotiations, the ACP leaders expressed concern at the lack of progress in key areas for the group such as in special and differential treatment for vulnerable developing country groups. According to ICTSD, ACP leaders welcomed the emergence of the G-90 group within the WTO context, whereby the ACP countries have combined forces with the least developed countries (LDCs) and the African Union in an effort to bolster their negotiating position.
The meeting also concluded with the adoption of the Maputo Declaration, which addresses peace, security and stability, multilateralism, sustainable development, visibility of the ACP group, and external relations. The section on sustainable development deals with the economic, social, environmental and cultural dimensions of development, and ICT for development. The subsection on economic dimensions of development considers financing for development, private sector development, trade and agriculture, while the subsection on social development addresses universal primary education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, and migration.
Links to further information
Fourth ACP Summit website
Maputo Decisions and Resolutions
ICTSD Bridges Weekly, 30 June 2004
UNECE SEMINAR ADDRESSES FLOOD PREVENTION, PROTECTION AND MITIGATION
Members of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) met from 21-22 June 2004 in Berlin to address the UNECE's Water Convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes, focusing on the implementation of the Guidelines on Sustainable Flood Prevention, adopted by the Parties to the Convention in March 2000.
Several countries reported on how the guidelines have been incorporated into national legislative acts, programmes or internal agreements, and that international river basin commissions have been established in most river basin districts in Europe and in some cases flood action plans have been adopted or are in the preparation or planning stages. Members also concluded that UNECE Guidelines for Sustainable Flood Prevention are an effective instrument, and that there was at present no need for a substantial revision. They proposed some additions on particular issues, notably: that the solidarity principle should be applied across the entire UNECE region; that existing financial mechanisms should be used for non-EU Member States sharing rivers with the EU and supporting initiatives, particularly the EU Water Initiative component for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as the Balkans countries; and that the contact of flood management should be broadened by applying the principles of the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context and its recent Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessments in order to better integrate environmental and health considerations. More information is available at: http://www.unece.org/env/water/meetings/flood/seminar.htm
FIFTH BALTIC SEA STATES SUMMIT - BALTIC SEA LEADERS EXPRESS INTEREST IN DEVELOPING AREA AS “ECO-REGION”
Heads of government and representatives of the Baltic States met on 21 June in Laulasmaa, Estonia, to discuss: the future of Baltic Sea regional cooperation; economic cooperation, investments and infrastructure; maritime safety and environment issues; and regional cooperation on social issues.
On the future of regional cooperation, Heads of States noted new opportunities created by the recent EU enlargement and welcomed the results of the EU-Russia Summit held in Moscow in May. Representatives underscored the importance of integrating the principles of sustainable development into policymaking by all relevant stakeholders. The meeting also considered a report by Baltic 21 – a multistakeholder advisory forum organized in response to Agenda 21 – on regional progress toward sustainable development, and expressed interest in Baltic 21's proposal to develop the region as an “Eco-region, where eco stands for both economy and ecology and where the social dimension is strongly integrated.”
On maritime safety and environment issues, delegates stressed the need to further protect and preserve the region's marine environment, called for more effective measures against illegal oil discharges and underscored the need for information exchange against offenders and on legal proceedings. Taking note of the IMO MEPC's recent decision to designate the Baltic Sea, with the exception of Russian waters, as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, representatives agreed to follow up on the identification of Associated Protective Measures in accordance with IMO decisions.
On social issues, representatives expressed concern with the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region and called for immediate measures. Delegates also urged efforts at all levels and cross-border cooperation in the prevention of human trafficking.
Links to further information
5th Baltic Sea States Summit Chair's conclusions
Five Years of regional progress toward sustainable developme...
Baltic 21 press release, 18 June 2004
G8 SEA ISLAND SUMMIT 2004
While discussions focused on Iraq and combating terrorism, the 2004 G8 Summit, which took place from 8-10 June at Sea Island, Georgia, US, produced a number of environment and sustainable development-related outcomes.
These include agreements on: an action plan to “apply the power of entrepreneurship and the private sector” toward poverty alleviation; taking all necessary steps to eradicate polio by the end of 2005; an initiative to help prevent famine by improving worldwide emergency assessment and response systems, raising agricultural productivity, and helping 5 million chronically food insecure people in Ethiopia attain food security by 2009; and taking new action against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative, strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency, and refraining from new transfers of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology.
G8 leaders also said agreed to launch in 2005 the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Initiative,” a plan aimed at cutting down on waste, promoting recycling, reducing barriers to trade in goods and materials for recycled and remanufactured products, and promoting science and technology on relevant technologies. This initiative is expected to be launched in early 2005 at a ministerial meeting hosted by the Government of Japan. The Summit also saw commitment to increasing action to promote global economic growth and directing trade ministers to successfully conclude the WTO's Doha global trade negotiations. Next year's G8 Summit will be held in the United Kingdom.
Links to further information
G8 Sea Island Summit website
ENS, 11 June 2004
GLOBAL CONSCIENCE CONFERENCE OFFERS ALTERNATIVE VOICE
The “Global Conscience-Environment, Poverty and Social Development” conference convened in Copenhagen, Denmark from 23-24 May 2004 to offer an alternative voice to the Copenhagen Consensus conference.
Speakers included Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller, Executive Director of UNEP Klaus Töpfer, EU Commissioner for the Environment Margot Wallström, and former Danish Minister of the Environment Svend Auken. Participants at this meeting criticized the Copenhagen Consensus' use of cost-benefit analyses to determine the value of addressing each global challenge, and sought to demonstrate that the fight against poverty and the struggle for a better environment are inseparably interlinked. Its final statement was directed at the Danish government, the Danish Parliament, the EU Parliament, and the governments of other countries, “urging them to sustain in the struggle for sustainable development and to implement such development.”
In the final statement, participants expressed concern that the focus on war and terror has pushed attention on poverty, environmental and resource problems into the background, and that the Precautionary Principle is in danger of becoming undermined at a global level. They highlighted that “mankind has the choice between acting in accordance with the ecological carrying capacity of the Globe or continuing the destruction of the most important common life conditions: Water, air, food, earth, biological diversity.” They also stressed the right to clean drinking water, and the rights of workers to organize themselves and to enter into collective agreements, to have a good working environment and to get a pay on which they can subsist.
Recommendations from this conference included: extending the Millennium Goal for ensuring environmental sustainability to include the central agreements at the WSSD and agreements from major international environmental agreements; meeting the 0.7% of GNP for ODA target in the course of a few years; abolishing environmentally detrimental subsidies, including for farmers; taxing speculative money transactions and fuel for international transport; decreasing rich countries' resource consumption by a factor 4 within the next 20-30 years and by a factor 10 in the long term; implementing the Kyoto Protocol and commencing negotiations on commitments for the period after 2012 as soon as possible; commitment by industrial countries to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions before 2030 and by certain developing countries to reducing emissions; prioritizing international environmental and workers rights' agreements over free trade rules; and ratifying the ILO conventions on worker's rights by all governments.
More information is available at the Global Conscience conference website at: http://www.globalconscience.dk/indeng.htm
GEF NGO Consultation and Council Meeting Convene
May 2004: Convening from 19-21 May 2004, in Washington, DC, the GEF Council approved its work programme, endorsing US$233.5 million in grants for 25 projects. The total value of the projects amount to US$980.7 million with cofinancing of $3 for every $1 approved. The Council also approved decisions on the: appointment of the Monitoring and Evaluation Director and Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit; terms of reference for the GEF's third Overall Performance Study; institutional relations; performance based allocation framework; corporate budget for the 2005 fiscal year; and LDC Trust Fund Budget.
On the Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, the Council recognized the high potential for renewable energy projects in developing countries and requested that the GEF Secretariat (GEFSEC), the Implementing Agencies and the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit examine the barriers that might be impeding the success of renewable energy projects, and propose a strategy to address those barriers.
On institutional relations, the Council addressed relations with, inter alia, the UNFCCC, CBD, CCD and UNEP. Responding to the CBD decision on expanded eligibility for certain capacity building activities related to biosafety, the Council recommended that the GEFSEC develop procedures ensuring that GEF financing leads to ratification of the Cartagena Protocol. The GEFSEC and UNEP were requested to organize consultations of regional scientists and technical experts to provide advice on the project for building capacity for participation in the biosafety clearinghouse of the Cartagena Protocol. The Council also requested the GEF to inform the next Council meeting of proposals to respond to CBD decision VII/20, which requests the GEF to support the implementation of the programme of work on protected areas and in particular to “support country driven early action by continuing to streamline its procedures and the provision of fast disbursing resources through expedited means.”
Regarding land degradation, the GEFSEC was requested to prepare a note on the allocations foreseen under the land degradation focal area as well as allocations to land degradation through the other GEF focal areas and to prepare an analysis of the scope, implementation focus and coherence of the land degradation activities for the next Council meeting in November 2004. Regarding CCD Decision 6/COP.6 on a MoU to facilitate collaboration between the GEF and the CCD, the Council requested the CEO to submit a draft of the MoU, including a clarification of the roles of the Global Mechanism and the GEF, to the Council for its review and comment. On POPs, the GEFSEC was requested to review its priorities for financing under the POPs focal area to ensure that they are consistent with the priorities of the Stockholm Convention and national implementation plans.
Recognizing the GEF's contribution to the work of a number of ongoing processes, the GEF was encouraged to continue participating in the deliberations of the CSD, the UNFF and the International Meeting for the ten year review of the BPOA for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.
The GEF Council functions as an independent board of directors responsible for developing, adopting, and evaluating GEF programmes. Representing 32 constituencies (16 from developing countries, 14 from developed countries, and two from countries with economies in transition), the Council meets twice a year for three days. [http://www.thegef.org/gef/meetingdocs/97/59
79th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers and 29th Session of the ACP/EC Council of Ministers
The 79th session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers met from 3-5 May 2004 in Gaborone, Botswana, to discuss, inter alia, the review of the Cotonou Agreement and the Group's post-Cancun WTO strategy.
This session was followed by the 29th session of the ACP/EU Council of Ministers, which met from 6-7 May to consider among other things HIV/AIDS and the impact of EU enlargement on the ACP countries. The ACP Council of Ministers is the Group's main decision making body and the supreme body responsible for implementing the guidelines established by the ACP Summit, the next of which will be held in June in Maputo.
During the session, the ACP Council of Ministers took decisions and adopted resolutions on: the review of the Cotonou Agreement, approving a time-frame and negotiating structure for the review process, which would be focused on poverty reduction; ongoing WTO talks, agreeing to convene meetings in June and July to further consider a strategy to better defend trade interests; urging the EU to undertake the reduction of cotton export subsidies with the view to eliminating all forms of cotton subsidies; securing preferences for rice, sugar and bananas; and access to affordable medicines.
The ACP/EU Council of Ministers meeting discussed the impact of HIV/AIDS and global governance and instruments to respond to the epidemic. The Council also considered how EU enlargement would affect ACP countries, particularly regarding the impact on aid and trade preferences ACP countries currently enjoy. The Council took decisions and resolutions on, inter alia: the review of the Cotonou Agreement and the second phase of the Economic Partnership Agreement; a joint ACP-EU project on combating drought and desertification; and water sector financing. More information is available at: http://www.acpsec.org/gaborone/gaborone-en.htm
12th Session of the CSD
April 2004: The twelfth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12) was held from 14-30 April 2004, at UN headquarters in New York.
The first three days of CSD-12 (14-16 April) served as the preparatory meeting for the International Meeting on the 10-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. The subsequent two weeks (19-30 April) were devoted to the CSD-12 Review Session, the first session held under the Commission's new multi-year programme of work adopted at CSD-11.
CSD-12 undertook an evaluation of progress in implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, focusing on identifying constraints, obstacles, successes and lessons learned with regard to water, sanitation and human settlements, the thematic cluster of issues for the CSD-12 and CSD-13 Implementation Cycle. The Commission also heard reports from the UN Regional Commissions on the status of implementation, and from the Major Groups on their contribution to implementation. A high-level segment, attended by over 100 ministers and addressed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was held from 28-30 April, comprising presentations, interactive discussions and ministerial statements. Throughout the session, delegates also attended the Partnerships Fair and Learning Center courses.
At the conclusion of CSD-12, the Commission adopted the report of the session, which included a non-negotiated Chair's Summary. A unanimous verdict was passed on the success of CSD-12: it produced a clearer picture on the progress of implementation and the actions needed to increase the pace of delivery; it provided the space for ministers to look at progress, identify challenges, constraints and obstacles without the need to battle over drafting formulas; and it reaffirmed political commitment to achieving the internationally-agreed goals and targets on water, sanitation and human settlements. The ENB summary and analysis of this meeting is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/csd12/
60TH ESCAP SESSION
The 60th Session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific convened from 22-28 April 2004 in Shanghai, China, concluding with the adoption of the Shanghai Declaration, which reaffirmed the central role of the UN in promoting international cooperation for development and called for the highest priority to be given to reducing poverty in the region.
Resolutions were also adopted on: a regional call for action to enhance capacity building in public health; implementing ESCAP Technical Projects; the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network; the Centre for Alleviating Poverty through secondary Crops Development; and the revitalization of the UNESCAP Pacific Operation Centre and Pacific Urban Agenda.
During the senior officials segment of the ESCAP session, which took place from 22-23 April, delegates discussed issues relating to: managing globalization; poverty reduction; emerging social issues; least developed, landlocked and island developing countries; and programme planning and evaluation, including ESCAP's strategic framework for 2006-2007. The ministerial segment, which was held from 26-28 April, comprised a high-level visionary meeting for the region, and heard statements by countries on policy issues for the ESCAP region, including on implications of recent economic and social developments, and on meeting the challenges of globalization and strengthening regional development cooperation.
At the session, 25 countries signed the Asian Highway Network Agreement, a multi-pronged 140,000-kilometre-long network of standardized roadways connecting 32 countries and linking Europe to Asia. Several new initiatives were launched including the inaugural session of the Asia Business Forum and the ESCAP Business Advisory Group to discuss emerging trade and investment opportunities and engage the private sector at the institutional level.
Prior to the ESCAP session, the Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries met for its eighth session from 20-21 April 2004 to discuss key policy issues that Pacific island Governments need to consider in their pursuit of sustainable urban management and the support that will be required. The Special Body also reviewed the status of the Commission's activities in Pacific island countries in 2003. More information is available at: http://unescap.org/60/index.asp
2004 SPRING MEETING OF THE IMF AND THE WORLD BANK GROUP
Free trade and more aid are needed if the world is to meet the needs of developing countries and the UN Millennium Development Goals, according to officials attending the latest World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting.
Participants at the annual joint Spring meeting of the World Bank and IMF, held in Washington, DC from 24-25 April, have agreed on the need to make progress in trade talks. Delegates also heard forceful speeches from World Bank President James Wolfensohn, IMF acting head Anne Krueger, and others on the need to increase support to developing countries. On trade talks, Krueger warned of the dangers of moving away from multilateralism into a fractured system based on regional and bilateral deals.
World Bank's oil, climate policies condemned
The meeting also saw the World Bank come under fire for its policies on oil and mining projects and climate change. The Bank's support for fossil fuel projects was questioned by Dutch development minister Agnes Van Ardenne, who reportedly argued that the environmental impacts of such projects must be recognized. She also questioned the argument that such initiatives help combat poverty, suggesting that other more socially and environmentally-friendly options are readily available. Her statement appeared to support a recent recommendation that the Bank end its funding for oil, gas, and mining projects in developing countries. The recommendation, contained in the Extractive Industries Review report prepared by former Indonesian Environment Minister Emil Salim, apparently met with some skepticism from key figures within the World Bank. A group of major commercial banks have also opposed the report's recommendations. However, the Dutch minister's speech was welcomed by environmental lobby group, Friends of the Earth.
“Oil exploitation and mining have not brought benefits to impoverished people, but rather led to human rights abuse, increased corruption, depletion of resources, environmental damage and climate change,” said Elias Dias Pena of Friends of the Earth Paraguay. “We commend the Dutch government for taking this position, and hope other governments will follow this example.” The issue is to be discussed internally by the Bank in June.
Meanwhile, environmental and human rights groups have called for the World Bank's climate change fund to be shut down. An alliance of 80 non-governmental organizations believe the Prototype Carbon Fund, which was set up to support projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions, is being used to support some projects that actually harm the environment or local populations. The Fund, which is designed to operate within rules established under the Kyoto Protocol, is supposed to contribute to sustainable development.
Links to further information
IMF press briefings and background information
World Bank press release, 19 April 2004
UN News Wire report, 26 April 2004
Friends of the Earth press release, 27 April 2004
Carbon Trade Watch press release, 19 April 2004
ENS news wire, 19 April 2004
OECD Environment Ministers Assess Progress on Environmental Strategy
April 2004: Representatives from 37 countries attended the OECD Environment Ministers meeting from 19-21 April 2004 in Paris, France.
On 19 April, participants engaged in a consultation with stakeholder partners, during which representatives from business, trade unions, and environmental NGOs highlighted the responsibility of governments to set policy frameworks, establish targets, provide notification of planned policies, and address their social implications. The environment ministers met from 20-21 April, during which they assessed their progress in implementing the OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century, which was adopted in 2001. Ministers shared experiences in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of policies, and discussed experiences with partnerships with other ministries, other countries and NGOs.
Among their many decisions and outputs were the: endorsement of a draft Recommendation of the Council on the Use of Economic Instruments in Promoting the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity; adoption of a Ministerial Statement highlighting priorities and support for the recommendations of the OECD Ad Hoc Group on Sustainable Development, which will be presented to the 13-14 May 2004 OECD Meeting of Council at Ministerial Level; endorsement of a draft Recommendation of the Council on Material Flows and Resource Productivity and a draft Recommendation of the Council on Assessment and Decision Making for Integrated Transport and Environmental Policy; and a request that the OECD include analysis of subsidy reform and the costs of inaction in the next OECD Environmental Outlook. The Environment Ministers agreed to meet again no later than 2008.
Links to further information
Chair's Summary of the meeting
Draft Recommendations endorsed by the Environment Ministers
Statement by Environment Ministers on Further Work at the OE...
SEVENTH MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT GROUP (EMG)
The Environmental Management Group (EMG) met for its seventh meeting on 20 April 2004 in New York to consider its Programme of Work for 2004 concerning environmental capacity building, and sustainable production and consumption/sustainable procurement.
On environmental capacity building, participants heard a presentation on the background and process for the Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building (ISP) and its linkages with the work of the EMG. The need for an ISP was identified at the 2002 Seventh Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/GMEF and elaborated in subsequent UNEPGC sessions. The Intergovernmental Working Group for the ISP is scheduled to meeting three times in 2004, with the first meeting held in New York on 25 June prior to the ECOSOC session, the second in early September in Nairobi, and the third in early December in Indonesia. Participants also heard presentations on and discussed the outlines for the EMG's study on capacity building in the areas of biodiversity and chemicals management.
On sustainable production and consumption/ sustainable procurement, it was proposed that the EMG Secretariat would collect information on and report to the next meeting the current situation in terms of procurement regulations and operations and environmental management programmes for UN compounds and offices. The EMG would then examine how best it can contribute to advancing sustainable procurement practices and environmental management of UN compounds and offices. It was also proposed that the World Bank would lead the further work on this issue. More information on this meeting is available at: http://www.unemg.org/download_pdf/report7.pdf
CSD Acts as PrepCom for International Meeting to Review Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action
April 2004: The Preparatory Meeting for the International Meeting on the Ten-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States took place from 14-16 April 2004, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting commenced with the official opening of the 12th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, which was tasked to undertake the three-day preparatory meeting for the International Meeting, scheduled to take place in Mauritius later this year.
During the three days, delegates conducted a first reading of the Strategy Document on the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action, adopted at the inter-regional preparatory meeting held in the Bahamas in January 2004, and endorsed and forwarded by the G-77/China to the Commission in preparation for the International Meeting. At the conclusion of the preparatory meeting, delegates decided to use a compilation text as the basis for further intersessional informal informals. Delegates also adopted draft decisions on the provisional agenda of and the accreditation of NGOs to the International Meeting. CSD-12 also considered preparations for the International Meeting at its high-level segment on Friday, 30 April.
Several trends emerged from the preparatory meeting: there was a positive and constructive dialogue between SIDS and their development partners; there is still a monumental amount of negotiating left to transform the compilation text into an action-oriented Strategy; and resolving issues regarding trade, finance and providing directives to the international community and organizations will require creative drafting solutions that meet the needs of both SIDS and their development partners. Despite these challenges, the preparatory meeting has laid a solid foundation for fulfilling the mandate set out by the General Assembly to renew international political support for SIDS. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis: http://www.iisd.ca/sids/bpoa10/sidsprep/
OECD's DAC DEFINES REPORTING RULE FOR CDM PROJECT FINANCING
The OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), comprised of the world's principal aid donors, met in Paris, France, from 15-16 April 2004, to review recent aid figures and progress toward the goals set under the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
The meeting was also attended by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, senior representatives of the World Bank and IMF and of non-DAC OECD Members.
Participants took stock of Official Development Assistance (ODA) trends and noted that an increase of 11% has taken place over the last two years, reversing declines in aid over the previous decade. Some of the major factors of this increase include the growth of bilateral grants and the reconstruction aid directed toward Iraq. Among other decisions, the High Level meeting defined a new reporting rule to ensure consistent reporting in ODA statistics of aid provided to finance projects under the Clean Development Mechanism. The new rule requires that the value of any carbon credits acquired by donors be deducted from ODA. A statement adopted at the conclusion of the meeting further notes the Committee's resolve to gear aid volume and effectiveness, and other development-related policies, toward achieving the MDGs particularly in light of the major UN review in 2005.
Links to further information
Statement adopted by the meeting
OECD press release, 16 April 2004
EIGHTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL/FIFTH GLOBAL MINISTERIAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The eighth Special Session of the United Nations Environment Programme's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum took place from 29-31 March 2004, at the International Convention Centre in Jeju, Republic of Korea.
Nearly 775 participants, including delegates from 153 countries, as well as representatives of 13 UN agencies, 15 intergovernmental organizations, 55 non-governmental organizations and 110 international and national media outlets attended the three-day meeting. Fifty-three of the fifty-eight Member States of the Governing Council were represented.
Ministers and delegates convened in a ministerial consultation, a Committee of the Whole (COW), and an open-ended drafting group. At the conclusion of the ministerial consultations, delegates adopted the “Jeju Initiative,” containing the Chair's summary of the discussions. Negotiations in the COW and the drafting group resulted in four decisions regarding small island developing States (SIDS), waste management, regional annexes, and implementation of decision SS.VII/1 on international environmental governance. The decisions were adopted in the final Plenary on Wednesday, 31 March.
The eighth Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum was the first meeting held in Asia, the first meeting to include the participation 90 ministers from 153 countries (the most ever), and the first special session since the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It was also the first meeting that concentrated on a substantive issue cluster (water, sanitation and human settlements) that is the foremost item on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development's agenda for its first work cycle in 2004-2005. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of this meeting can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/unepgc/gmef5/
Sixth Meeting of the CSD 12 Bureau
March 2004: The sixth meeting of the Bureau of the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) took place at UN Headquarters in New York on 19 March 2004.
CSD-12 Chair Brende briefed the Bureau Vice-Chairs on his meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said the Secretary-General reaffirmed the importance of following up on the World Summit on Sustainable Development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and confirmed that he would address the High-level Segment of CSD-12.
Based on questions raised during discussions between Bureau members and regional groups, the Bureau agreed that the High-level Segment would consist of introductory presentations by eminent speakers, interactive discussions and statements. The Bureau endorsed the Secretariat's initiative to webcast the discussions at the High-level Segment and other activities, such as the opening of CSD-12 and a selection of thematic and regional discussions, Partnership Fair events and Learning Centre courses. The Bureau decided to hold a briefing on 22 March to communicate the results of its sixth meeting to delegates. The Bureau also decided to hold a meeting to review progress in the informal consultations on matters related to the SIDS preparatory meeting, and to meet with the organizing partners of Major Groups in New York on 18 April to further review the contributions of Major Groups to CSD-12.
More information on the sixth Bureau meeting can be found at: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/bureau_meeting_6th.h...
. An Earth Negotiations Bulletin Briefing Note on the 22 March briefing can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/csd12/CSD12_Briefing_3.22.04.html
CSD-12 Briefing on the PrepCom for the International Meeting for the 10-year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action
March 2004: The Bureau of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) held a briefing on 15 March 2004 in New York on the preparations for the portion of the 12th Session of the CSD that will serve as the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the International Meeting on the 10 year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA +10).
The International Meeting is scheduled to be held in Mauritius from 30 August-3 September 2004. During the briefing, participants were alerted to the availability of the Secretary-General's report on Implementation of the BPOA. The G-77/China announced that it has endorsed the AOSIS Strategy Paper, which was adopted at Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting, held in the Bahamas in January 2004. This document will be formally submitted to the CSD Bureau this week and is expected to serve as the basis for negotiations at the PrepCom. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin Briefing Note: http://www.iisd.ca/sids/bpoa10/BPOA10_Briefing_3.15.04.html]...
ONLINE FORUM DEBATES US ROLE IN INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE REGIME
The future role of the United States in international efforts to address climate change has been the subject of debate in a recent online forum.
The US came under the microscope in an internet-based discussion hosted by the “Future International Action on Climate Change” website, a recent initiative supported by Germany's Federal Environment Agency. The online debate took place from 26 February to 5 March 2004, and was the second online meeting to be hosted on the website. Participants shared their views on a range of issues raised in a background paper, which asked how the US could be “re-engaged” in the multilateral process, what impact action at the state level might have on federal government policy, and how the private sector could make a positive contribution.
During the discussion, a number of participants drew attention to a recent report for the US Defense Department assessing the risks of abrupt climate change, and asked whether it might lead to a policy shift within the Bush administration. On the impact that action at the state level could have on decision makers in Washington, DC, some participants offered an upbeat assessment, while at least one contributor remained skeptical that states could change US policy. On how to “re-engage” the US, participants made various suggestions, although most observed that any significant policy change was unlikely, at least in the short term. One participant considered the possible impact of a more active technology policy, while another stressed the need to make the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme a success. The discussion can be viewed online at: http://www.fiacc.net
Fifth Meeting of the CSD 12 Bureau
March 2004: The fifth meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development's (CSD) Bureau convened on 1 March 2004 in New York.
On the organization of work for CSD-12, Bureau members discussed issues that emerged during a 25 February briefing, regional briefings and communications to Bureau members from member States. Questions raised during the 25 February briefing included how Major Group representatives would participate in official discussions, how their input would be incorporated into the chair's summary of the discussion, who could participate in the High-level Segment and how it would be organized. At its 1 March meeting, the Bureau agreed that there would be a speaking list for the High-level Segment and delegations could indicate a preferred date and discussion theme for Ministers' interventions. The Bureau also reiterated the importance of Major Groups' participation during CSD-12. The Bureau will meet again on 19 March 2004 in New York.
For more information, see the note on the Bureau meeting: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/bureau_meeting_5th.h...
and the Earth Negotiations Bulletin Briefing Note on the 25 February briefing: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/csd12/CSD12_Briefing_2.25.04.html
Fourth Meeting of the CSD-12 Bureau
January 2004: The fourth meeting of the Bureau of the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12) convened in New York on 23 January 2004.
Participants discussed preparations for the April 2004 session, including its organization of work. The Bureau clarified that a Chair's summary of the officials' segment to be distributed during CSD-12 would capture the highlights of statements and interactive discussions, including case studies and lessons learned, as well as activities of the Partnerships Fair and Learning Center, but it would not be a detailed account of those activities or be open for negotiation. The Bureau also took note of ECOSOC's informal consultations on the status of WSSD-accredited NGOs and other Major Groups and expressed hope that a satisfactory solution to the issue could be reached as soon as possible to allow full participation of those groups in the work of CSD-12. The next Bureau meeting was scheduled for 19 March 2004, but due to delegates' interest in providing input on the organization of work, as expressed during a briefing following the Bureau meeting, the date may change to end of February or early March.
For more information, see the note on the meeting: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/bureau_meeting_104.h...
, and the ENB briefing note on the briefing following the Bureau meeting: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/csd12/CSD12_Briefing_1.23.04.html
ECE Regional Implementation Meeting
January 2004: The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) at its eleventh session (CSD-11) invited the United Nations Regional Commissions to consider organizing regional implementation meetings to contribute to the work of the CSD. In response to this invitation, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) incorporated consideration of the CSD agenda in its deliberations at its first Regional Implementation Forum on Sustainable Development, which met from 15-16 January 2004, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Delegates discussed regional water, sanitation and human settlement issues with regard to outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. On human settlements, delegates recommended, inter alia, mobilizing international support to address poverty and inequality in human settlements through targeted official development assistance in urban planning, land administration and good governance. Recommendations on water included developing innovative financial mechanisms, such as compensation schemes for water-linked environmental services, revolving funds, and project development facilities. On sanitation, delegates recommended taking a holistic approach to water protection, water supply and sanitation, among others. The outcome of this meeting will be transmitted to the UN Secretary-General to contribute to the preparations for CSD-12.
Full Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage can be accessed at: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/rim/ece/
Intergovernmental Consultation on Strengthening the scientific base of UNEP
The intergovernmental consultation on strengthening the scientific base of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was held at UNEP headquarters at the Gigiri complex in Nairobi, Kenya, from 14-15 January 2004.
The two-day meeting was part of UNEP's implementation of decisions taken at the 22nd meeting of its Governing Council (GC) held in Nairobi from 3-7 February 2003, in particular, decision 22/1/IA on strengthening the scientific base of UNEP, which requests the Executive Director to facilitate an intergovernmental consultation in preparation for the eighth Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council (GCSS-8)/fifth Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF-5) in March 2004. Over 195 participants representing governments, UN agencies and bodies, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organization were in attendance.
During the meeting, participants met in Plenary to discuss three questions posed in decision 22/1/IA, namely: What are the likely gaps and types of assessment needs with respect to the environment and environmental change?; How are UNEP and other organizations currently meeting those assessment needs?; and What options exist with respect to meeting any unfulfilled needs that fall within the role and mandate of UNEP?
The meeting also considered cross-cutting issues relating to: scientific credibility, salience, legitimacy and relevance in the assessment processes; interaction between science and policy development; the role of existing institutions; possible options including strengthening existing institutions and mechanisms and the establishment of an intergovernmental panel on global environmental change; links and sectoral integration; duplication, cooperation, complementarity and added value to the work of other assessment processes, international agencies and multilateral environmental agreements; cost-effectiveness and efficiency; and developing country participation and capacity building. The IGC adopted conclusions and recommendations that will be used by UNEP's Executive Director in preparing his report to GCSS-8 on strengthening the scientific base of UNEP. The ENB summary report of this meeting is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/unepgc/igc/