World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) International Eminent Persons Meeting on Interlinkages Bridging Problems and Solutions to Work Towards Sustainable Development

Tokyo, Japan 3-4 September 2001


Highlights from Monday, 3 September
The United Nations University (UNU), in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, and Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) International, are the organizers of the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) International Eminent Persons Meeting on Inter-Linkages - Bridging Problems and Solutions to Work Towards Sustainable Development. The meeting is being held at the UN House in Tokyo, Japan, on 3 and 4 September 2001. The official website for the meeting is www.unu.edu/interlink. Click here for background documents. On Monday, conference participants heard opening remarks from Hans van Ginkel, Rector, UNU (right photo), Yoriko Kawaguchi, Japanese Minister of the Environment, Shigeo Uetake, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan, and Ryutaro Hashimoto, Chairman, GLOBE, Japan, Former Japanese Prime Minister. Maurice Strong, President of the Earth Council, University for Peace gave the key note address (left photo). Participants then heard case study presentations to to introduce the 3 working groups from Martin Kohr, Third World Network, Samnotra Vijay, Head of Synergies and Interlinkages Unit, UNEP, and Norman Myers, Honorary Visiting Fellow, Oxford University. In the afternoon, the Working Groups convened: Working Group 1 on Linkages between Chapters of Agenda 21, chaired by Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment; Working Group 2 on Linkages between MEAs, chaired by Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention; and Working Group 3 on Strategies for Sustainable Development, chaired by Norman Myers, Honorary Visiting Fellow, Oxford University. Photo above left: Maurice Strong gives the keynote address

In his opening remarks, Hans van Ginkel, Rector, United Nations University (above right), noted that this meeting takes place at a critical stage and will contribute concrete proposals for renewing the momentum and spirit of Rio. Noting increased international environmental cooperation ever since the 1970s, he underscored the need for coherence. He stressed that progress with regard to fulfilling the goals of Agenda 21 has been unsatisfactory and noted new challenges emerging, such as globalization and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He called for original contributions, new ideas and thinking as well as practical proposals during this meeting.

(Click here for photos from the Working Groups)


Opening and Welcoming Remarks

Yoriko Kawaguchi, Japanese Minister of the Environment, highlighted the difficulty of arriving at a common understanding of the multiple, complex issues underlying sustainable development, and their linkages. She said more efforts are needed to bridge the gaps, and commended the interlinkages initiative of the UNU.
Shigeo Uetake, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan, highlighted the need to meet the concerns of future generations and accommodate development needs. Uetake highlighted the use of Japanese Official Development Assistance in promoting the compatibility of environment and development. He closed by supporting use of market mechanisms, environmental technologies, and the involvement of business, scientists and civil society.
Ryutaro Hashimoto, Chairman, GLOBE, Japan, Former Japanese Prime Minister, proposed addressing inter-linkages between national and local governments, as well as between environment and economic spheres. He reviewed lessons from pollution and waste problems in Japan, remarking that initial actions often had unexpected secondary effects. He noted that initial incineration practices for waste led to new pollutants, while early policy responses for reducing industrial pollution had a positive impact resulting in new industries and technologies.
Shigeo Uetake and Ryutaro Hashimoto

Keynote Address: Maurice Strong

Maurice Strong, President of the Council, University for Peace, underscored that this Conference promises to make a valuable contribution to preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. He proposed that the theme of the Johannesburg conference could be "Earth Security" and noted his disappointment that the Rio Conference had failed to address interlinkages in its final results. He underscored that the 2002 Summit can provide new impetus and direction to the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Rio Conventions, provided that world leaders recognize practical and policy linkages between issues that will lead to strengthening and reorientating sustainable development institutions and processes. He proposed measures that could make the Johannesburg Summit a successful milestone on the pathway to a sustainable future including: affirmation of decisions and commitments made at the Earth Summit and subsequent, related international fora; establishment of an "Earth Security Support Fund" committing governments to providing new funds to developing countries at a minimum level of 1% of Gross National Product (GNP); establishment of a "People's Earth Fund" and a Consultative Group on Clean Energy; upgrading of UNEP to a specialized agency, making it the centerpiece of a "UN Environment Group" to ensure cooperative decision-making and coordinated action on environment and sustainable development issues within the UN; using a single framework for sustainable development-related conventions for administrative and policy coordination purposes; expansion of the GEF's mandate; and endorsement of the "Peoples" Earth Charter. Click here for text of Maurice Strong's address.
Ryutaro Hashimoto, Maurice Strong and Jan Pronk, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, the Netherlands
Langston "Kimo" Goree, Director, Reporting Services, International Institute for Sustainable Development (kimo@iisd.org) with Shinichi Arai, Secretary General, IGES, (left); Participants exchange business cards (right)
Gary Sampson, Chair of International Economic Relations, UNU/IAS, and Bradnee Chambers, Fellow, UNU Institute of Advanced Studies

Case Study Presentations to introduce the Working Groups
Martin Kohr, Director, Third World Network (twn@igc.apc.org or twnet@po.jaring.my), highlighted the conflict raised by globalization and links to sustainable development. He said that achievements of Rio had been weakened because the sustainable development paradigm was competing with the globalization paradigm. He suggested that globalization had found a new institutional home in WTO agreements and that the WTO's dispute settlement system based on retaliation and sanctions gave it a strong enforcement capability. He noted that UNCED did not have a compliance system nor a strong agency for following up its agreements. He said that that the most glaring weakness at Rio was the failure to include frameworks to regulate business, financial institutions, TNCs and new technologies. Kohr's paper on Globalization and Sustainable Development
Samnotra Vijay, Head of Synergies and Interlinkages Unit, UNEP (Vijay.Samnotra@unep.org) highlighted the International Environmental Governance initiative and related consultations with the MEA secretariats. He said UNEP supports an approach based on incremental steps to make the existing system work more efficiently, to enhance coordination, coherence, compliance and capacity building. He outlined aspects of the UNEP approach including the strengthening of: coordination between MEAs at the international policy level; coordination at the national level; harmonization of information systems, exchanges and access; joint efforts with regard to compliance and enforcement, and capacity building transcending administrative and sectoral boundaries; cost effectiveness and rational organization of MEA meetings; and financing. UNEP Proposal for a Systematic Approach to Coordination of MEAs.
Norman Myers, Honorary Visiting Fellow, Oxford University (myers1n@aol.com), noted that the problem with addressing and acting on interlinkages is their intangible and abstract nature. Using examples of bananas and gasoline, he highlighted that their market price does not include all of the interlinkages or externalities involved in their production and consumption, most especially environmental impacts. He proposed shifting to full-cost pricing of products and services to reflect the true environmental and social effects. He recommended shifting the tax burden from productive individuals and businesses to those causing pollution and unsustainably exploiting natural resources. Myers' paper on Sustainable Development: Tackling Problems--Or Sources Of Problems?

Related Links

Official website for the conference with background documents

United Nations University
Global Environment Information Center  
IISD coverage of Workshop on Interlinkages, Synergies and Coordination among MEAs 26-27 February 2001
IISD coverage of Interlinkages Conference 14-16 July 1999

Sustainable Developments home page ~ Linkages home page

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