|Previous Issues of Sustainable Developments|
Volume 6, Number 3
Environment ministers left Toronto one step closer to their goal of integrating sustainable development into APEC's overall agenda by endorsing these strategies, which they will now present to heads of government at the upcoming Economic Leaders meeting in November. Despite this accomplishment, however, a number of fundamental questions, particularly regarding the scope of issues and of coordination, will need to be addressed if APEC is to succeed in its sustainable development endeavors.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF APEC AND ENVIRONMENTEstablished in 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is the principal inter-governmental vehicle for economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. The APEC forum focuses on promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, as well as economic and technical cooperation. Its 18 member economies -- Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and the US -- had a combined gross domestic product of more than US$13 trillion in 1995, approximately 55% of total world income and 46% of global trade. APEC member economies also account for over half of the world's emissions of pollutants, energy use and food production and consumption.
The first APEC Economic Leaders meeting was held on 20 November 1993 on Blake Island in Seattle, Washington. Leaders agreed to an "Economic Vision" that noted, inter alia, the need to protect the quality of air, water and green spaces, and manage energy sources and renewable resources to ensure sustainable growth and provide a more secure future. To initiate a process of integrating environmental considerations into APEC member economies, environment ministers were invited to meet in Vancouver, British Columbia from 23-25 March 1994. This meeting resulted in a Vision Statement and a Framework of Principles for Integrating Economy and Environment in APEC.
At the second APEC Economic Leaders meeting, held on 15 November 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, Leaders agreed to the Declaration of Common Resolve, which states, inter alia, that APEC will provide opportunities for developing economies to increase further their economic growth and level of development consistent with sustainable growth, equitable development and economic stability.
At the third Economic Leaders meeting, held on 19 November 1995 in Osaka, Japan, Leaders initiated the work of translating the Blake Island Vision and Bogor Declaration into action by adopting the Osaka Action Agenda. Leaders recognized that the Asia-Pacific region's rapidly expanding population and economic growth would sharply increase the need for food and energy and add pressures on the environment. They agreed to add this issue to APEC's long-term agenda and to discuss ways that joint action could ensure sustainable economic prosperity for the region.
In July 1996 in Manila, the Philippines, the APEC Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Development produced a Declaration and Action Program on key areas for cooperation on sustainable development, including sustainable cities, cleaner production and technologies, and sustainability of the marine environment.
At the fourth Economic Leaders meeting, held on 25 November 1996 in the Philippines, Leaders adopted the Manila Action Plan for APEC. The Action Plan includes individual and collective action plans and progress reports on joint activities of all APEC economies to achieve the Bogor objectives of free and open trade and investment in the APEC region. Leaders further instructed that high priority be given to six key themes within economic and technical cooperation, including the promotion of environmentally sustainable growth. Leaders also endorsed an initial focus on the three priority areas, Sustainable Cities, Cleaner Production and Sustainability of the Marine Environment, put forward by the Manila Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Development.
REPORT OF THE APEC ENVIRONMENT MINISTERIAL MEETINGSergio Marchi, Canadian Minister of Environment, formally opened the meeting on Monday, 9 June. He stated that balancing economic and population growth with environmental protection will involve two key challenges: developing action plans containing practical solutions to help create more sustainable urban areas and marine environments and cleaner production methods; and sending a clear message to the November meeting of APEC Economic Leaders that economies must redouble their efforts to make sustainable development the overarching objective by integrating economic, development, social and trade agendas.
Chris Henderson, CEO of the Delphi Group, outlined the key issues for the Business Leaders and Local Authorities Forum on Sustainable Cities. He stated that only through marshaling the capital, expertise and ingenuity of the business sector, in partnership with governments and the voluntary sector, can the pressing environmental challenges of APEC cities be met. Youth Caucus representatives Yeow Wei Pang (Singapore) and Bryce Hartnell (Canada) called on governments to facilitate youth's participation in decision-making by providing infrastructure, guidance, funding and training.
Elizabeth Dowdeswell, UNEP Executive Director, stated that five years after Rio, the world still engages in the same kind of economics and industry, employs the same technologies, views security from the same narrow perspectives, and engages in the same consumption and production patterns that have brought about the current state of environmental decline. Noting that APEC can provide stimulus to change this trajectory, she stated that the vitality and dynamism of the region could be harnessed to achieve the mutually supportive objectives of trade liberalization and environmental protection.
Beth Johnson, Mayor of Delta, British Columbia, presented key messages from the 60th annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Conference participants highlighted the importance of empowering municipal governments, integrating public and private sector agendas and examining environmental concerns at the community level. They underlined the need to balance population growth, economic growth and human and environmental health, and identified disincentives to investment as the most critical barrier to progress toward sustainable urbanization.
Following these opening remarks, delegates spent the rest of the first day listening to ministerial statements. During the subsequent two days, ministers and delegates discussed the three initiatives on Sustainability of the Marine Environment, Cleaner Production and Sustainable Cities, and agreed to endorse the strategies or action plans on these issues. The environmental input to the Impact of Expanding Population and Economic Growth on Food, Energy and the Environment (FEEEP) and the Leaders' Direction to Promote Environmentally Sustainable Growth in APEC were also discussed. Ministers and delegates heard recommendations from and conducted dialogues with youth, business leaders and local authorities and finalized the Joint Statement. The discussions and dialogues were alternately chaired by Sergio Marchi and John Fraser, Canada's Ambassador for the Environment. The following report summarizes the discussion on these issues.
To bridge the knowledge gap, the Program outlines the following initiatives:
In the discussion that followed, several delegations announced various regional workshops and conferences in the coming year that will serve as fora for the exchange of information and experiences on several issues as they relate to sustainable cities: environmental education; economic instruments for and innovative approaches to financing sustainable cities initiatives; interconnections between social, economic and environmental policy; and water issues. One delegate invited members to participate in a recently established "APEC Environment Protection Center," which can serve as a forum for information exchange, scientific research and personnel training on environmental and economic policies for realizing sustainable cities.
Several delegations outlined efforts to redress problems experienced in their urban centers, such as poor air quality and circulation, overpopulation and transportation. One delegate called for the careful planning of cities according to a multisectoral, global strategy based on specific short-, medium- and long-term objectives. Another delegate stated that the sustainable development of cities was constrained by lack of funds and technology, and underscored the importance of economic and technical cooperation within APEC. Another requested that the concept of sustainability be applied to all aspects of urban planning, not just infrastructure. One delegate proposed three action-oriented programs: a feasibility study of publicly-owned technology; the use of unleaded gas by all APEC countries; and implementation of local Agenda 21s.
Several delegations underscored the importance of environmental education and participation of civil society in devising and implementing sustainable cities. One stated that in order to meet the two key challenges of the future, globalization and information technology, city planners would need to understand the wider inter-relationships between business and government. It was emphasized that achieving sustainable cities will require the participation of all stakeholders, with special consideration for the needs and concerns of the poor and disadvantaged. One delegation stated that poverty eradication must be the basis for any sustainable cities initiative.
Given the need to incorporate other dimensions of sustainable cities, APEC environment ministers were called on to make greater efforts to connect with UN structures, such as Habitat, in which related social and economic discussions are taking place. It was agreed that, because sustainable cities affect the overall APEC agenda, the Program should be adopted by the Leaders as a major cross-sectoral issue and that the SEOs coordinate efforts in this regard.
Citing environmental and health problems associated with poor air quality and contamination, most delegates underscored the need for environmentally-friendly fuels and methods of transportation. Most delegates also emphasized the importance of exchanging information and experiences in order to operationalize the agenda. Many delegates also stressed the need to integrate environmental, social and economic approaches in implementing sustainable cities. A representative of the APEC Secretariat suggested that the SEOs might ensure that the Program of Action, which links more than half of its action items to existing APEC committees, is fully addressed by appropriate APEC fora, including Leaders' meetings. The Chair noted a strong consensus and delegates agreed to endorse the Program of Action.
THE IMPACT OF EXPANDING POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH ON FOOD, ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT (FEEEP)Avrim Lazar (Canada), representing the Senior Environment/Economic Officials ad hoc group, provided background on the FEEEP process and outlined possible approaches and next steps. He explained that when APEC Leaders met in Osaka in 1995, they recognized that the region's rapid economic and population growth would sharply increase demand for food and energy and put pressure on the environment. As a result, they agreed to consult further on ways to initiate joint action to ensure that the region's economic prosperity is sustainable. The Economic Committee was tasked with coordinating analysis of the issues and is seeking input from relevant APEC fora in this regard. In Manila in 1996, ministers directed SEOs to provide input to the Economic Committee on environmental aspects of FEEEP. The objective for 1997 is to identify relevant issues and generate discussion on the inter-relatedness of the FEEEP elements. The objective for 1998 is to address policy implications and resulting recommendations.
Lazar said environment ministers must decide how to proceed: they may decide to send a message to APEC Leaders or to provide input into the FEEEP discussion. He suggested that such a message should stress the importance of integrating environment into all elements of FEEEP and relate that, in order to sustain growth in the region with a good standard of living, it is essential to move toward more sustainable consumption and production patterns. He suggested that APEC could orient its 1997 FEEEP discussion around developing indices that integrate environmental, social and economic progress or examining the relationship between trade and environment.
Lazar explained that the Economic Committee plans to summarize the year's FEEEP discussion in an interim report to Leaders. SEOs have three ways to influence this discussion: continue to coordinate with other relevant APEC fora to ensure that environmental considerations are addressed in submissions on other FEEEP elements; include an environment section in the report focusing on the integration of environment into all elements, which could take the form of an analytical non-paper to be prepared collectively by volunteering economies; or economies could provide their own input through their Economic Committee representatives.
In the ensuing discussion, some delegations agreed that a concise analytical non-paper would be useful and volunteered to contribute to its preparation. One delegation highlighted the important work of the Energy Working Group and the Task Force on Food, and expressed hope that their inputs will serve as momentum to make progress on FEEEP issues. He suggested that it is premature for APEC to give any specific view on the issue of sustainable consumption and production.
Another delegate suggested that, as a short-term plan, APEC could encourage members to implement integrated domestic policies and forge partnerships with other member economies, including technical consultation on clean production and technology. In the long term, APEC could conduct further study on FEEEP issues and share information, develop analytical tools, build capacity and seek consensus in the region.
One delegation noted that its economy has already developed and is implementing a population, environment and development model and suggested that a global model be developed to predict the impacts of population and economic growth on energy, food and the environment. It was highlighted that the FEEEP issue is complicated as it has implications for all aspects of APEC's work and, therefore, environmental comments should be introduced into all these areas. It was also noted that it would be useful for economies to develop non-papers to facilitate understanding of these issues, but it would be better to report on FEEEP to the Leaders through the Economic Committee.
Based on these discussions, the Chair summarized the emerging consensus that those economies wishing to volunteer would prepare a non-paper to contribute to continuing discussions, and this submission could be forwarded to the Economic Committee and other relevant Working Groups. The Chair noted Canada's willingness to coordinate these activities.
TOWARDS ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE GROWTHAvrim Lazar, representing the APEC Senior Environment/Economic Officials ad hoc group, made opening remarks regarding the Leaders' Direction to Promote Environmentally Sustainable Growth in APEC. He noted that in Subic Bay, the Philippines in 1996, Leaders had directed ministers to promote environmentally sustainable growth as a priority. Two key issues have since arisen: the need for an umbrella or framework to focus and structure their efforts; and the question of mechanisms to ensure implementation. Regarding the first issue, two further questions have arisen: how should sustainable development fit within APEC; and where does APEC fit in the many international fora dealing with sustainable development? The answer that has emerged to the first question is that sustainable development should not be isolated, but treated as a cross-cutting issue to be integrated into all of APEC's activities and fora. The answer that has emerged in response to the second question is that APEC should: carve out a niche that capitalizes on its strengths, such as its spirit of community and its linkages between the private and public sectors; focus on implementation and avoid duplication; and ensure a pragmatic and action-oriented approach.
In raising the question of how to focus APEC's sustainable development activities, Lazar outlined four points:
An issue related to the transport and disposal of radioactive nuclear waste was then raised. Many delegations expressed serious concern about such transfers and there was unanimous support for the requirement that international transfers and storage of such wastes comply fully with internationally-accepted safety standards, including the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Several other delegations also noted that transparency and strict supervision were essential to such activities.
DIALOGUE WITH YOUTHConcurrent with the Environment Ministerial meeting, 50 youth delegates from many different economies attended an APEC Environmental Youth Caucus, where they discussed and formulated recommendations on four topics:
Youth delegates Arief Budiman (Indonesia) and Keegan Haselhan (Canada) presented the recommendations on youth and sustainability: create a scientific youth alliance within each economy to tackle regional socioeconomic and environmental problems; and provide environmental education for youth to develop a holistic approach, incorporating concepts, ethics, experiential learning and tools for action.
Cecilia Wong (Canada) and Eka Putra (Indonesia) presented the recommendations for engaging individual action from primary stakeholders: facilitate partnerships and linkages between individuals and community-based groups by exchanging ideas, cooperating on projects and sharing resources; and create and raise individual awareness of environmental issues by sharing experiences and knowledge through media, Internet, brochures and workshops.
Darren Thomas (Canada) and Rojanee Saidontree (Thailand) presented recommendations on encouraging governments and business to invest in sustainability: give individuals, companies and businesses incentives/awards for environmental consciousness; and promote mutual benefits through interactive education and experiential learning.
Daniel Huxtable (Australia) presented recommendations for sharing and applying knowledge on sustainability: support international networking and active promotion and presentation of new ideas about sustainability through structured organizations, workshops and conferences; develop a program and utilize community groups and resources to link ongoing action at the individual level within the existing education system; and initiate environmental awareness activities among the youth that mutually support the principles of sustainable development.
Trudy Seri Samuel (Canada) outlined the next steps needed to follow up on the Youth Caucus, including creating a network, setting dates for Internet conferences, and e-mailing information and updates to the Caucus. She stressed that youth are calling on APEC for help with: access to the Internet; appointing a feedback mechanism from APEC; establishing a structure to keep the network alive; providing feedback from this meeting; formulating plans for inclusion of youth; and officially recognizing youth as stakeholders.
Following these presentations, ministers, delegates and youth representatives engaged in dialogue. Many delegations agreed to the importance and positive results of engaging youth in APEC. One delegate said APEC should think about how to create an institutional capacity to involve youth on a regular basis. She also suggested that youth move beyond the process issues articulated in their recommendations and focus on the substantive issues under consideration at the meetings. Another youth delegate responded that the recommendation for a youth alliance to tackle these problems is a means of furnishing them with the knowledge and tools to enable them to make high quality, informed contributions in these areas.
A youth delegate asked ministers how continued commitment to the action plans agreed at this meeting would be ensured in the face of frequent changes in governments and officials. One delegate responded that the youths' recommendations would be sent to APEC Leaders in November and that the "community of APEC" rather than individual APEC ministers will embrace these ideas to ensure that they live on. Another minister suggested that youth participation be formally considered by ministers at the next meeting.
Youth representatives expressed hope that the ministers would implement their recommendations and voiced their commitment to help them in this regard. They stressed that the time for action and for youth involvement is now.
DIALOGUE WITH BUSINESS LEADERS AND LOCAL AUTHORITIESIn conjunction with the Environment Ministerial meeting, representatives of the private sector and local government attended a three-day forum on Sustainable Cities, comprised of eight workshops on: air pollution; water and wastewater management; waste management; cleaner production; public-private partnerships; privatization of environmental services; policy and regulatory reform; and financing strategies. From the outcomes of these workshops, delegates devised a series of concrete action-oriented recommendations for consideration by the ministerial meeting.
On Wednesday, 11 June, Michael Harcourt, former Premier of British Columbia, and Paul Antle, Chair of the Canadian Environmental Industries Association, presented the Forum's recommendations, stating that they must be considered in the context of minimizing political risks and maximizing business opportunities. The presenters underscored several converging trends that have had impacts on the sustainable development of APEC cities and the competitiveness of APEC economies: rapid urbanization of APEC economies; rapid deterioration of air and water quality; and rapid erosion of the quality of life. Antle explained that the environmental risks that threaten cities can present tremendous business opportunities for traditional industries if they are provided with:
Regarding the recommendation for developing performance indicators, one delegation suggested that APEC might consider its value-added in the context of work already being undertaken by other fora on sustainability indicators. In response to a request to define "Clean Transportation Initiative," Harcourt proposed that the environment and transport ministers convene a meeting to consider the comprehensive air pollution plans already being developed in APEC economies.
One delegation requested that foreign companies respect voluntary standards until such time as they become harmonized with environmental norms of other countries where they are compulsory. Another delegate stated that it had produced a compendium of success stories regarding APEC sustainable cities. One delegation stated that it was struck that the recommendations targeted governments without addressing the role of the private sector, particularly in facilitating and providing financial and technological capital. In response, Harcourt indicated that the emphasis was on local authorities because, as service providers, they are in close contact with their citizens and have a wealth of knowledge within APEC. Antle added that the real challenge would be to provide local authorities with the flexibility to marshal the private capital required to meet the infrastructure requirements of sustainable cities. Another delegation expressed hope that the recommendations could emphasize the need for technology cooperation and the contribution of business in this respect. Another delegation proposed a "sister-city system" that would foster closer cooperation and information exchange among local authorities within APEC. Based on the above interventions and noting broad support for the recommendations, the Chair proposed that the meeting instruct the SEOs to consider how to integrate them into the work plan of future APEC meetings, including the upcoming Leaders' Meeting, for further consideration and action.
Amb. Abdul Rahman Ramly (Indonesia) spoke on behalf of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), which was created in 1995 by APEC Leaders to serve as an independent structure to voice the business community's position. Ramly stated that two major goals were identified at ABAC's meeting held in Papua New Guinea in February 1997: the assessment of the Manila Action Plan for APEC; and the implementation of the recommendations in ABAC's 1996 Report, ten of which were considered to be "flagship." In drafting the 1997 Report, ABAC hopes to draw on the experience of its members in meeting the following objectives: building consensus on trade objectives in the region; implementing a "bottom-up" and well-integrated approach to business within APEC; and supporting economic policies and transactions that create conditions for the free flow of trade, investment and financing. The report, which will be presented at the Leaders' meeting in November, will make targeted recommendations to several APEC Committees. In so doing, he concluded that sustainable development did not constitute a specific agenda item but rather a part of ongoing deliberations regarding key issues such as technology cooperation, human resources development and infrastructure.
CLOSING PLENARYChair John Fraser summed up the accomplishments and outcomes of the Ministerial Meeting. He noted that environment ministers have: provided guidance on input to the FEEEP process; instructed APEC Leaders to consider the recommendations presented to them by youth, business leaders and local authorities; and approved solid plans of action on Sustainable Cities, Clean Production and Sustainability of the Marine Environment. While APEC is still a new organization, its success in reaching consensus on these issues is commendable and should be recognized. He stated that ministers and delegates must now look to the future, and expressed confidence that the Canadian Prime Minister will stress the importance of sustainable development and sustainable cities at the APEC Leaders meeting in Vancouver. He called on ministers and delegates to concern themselves with how to maintain the momentum that this meeting has generated. He expressed regret that Malaysia will not host an environment ministers meeting next year, but noted that they will be undertaking a number of other important activities as the Chair of APEC for 1998. He stated his hope that another APEC economy would discuss hosting an Environment Ministerial meeting to avoid too long a lapse between meetings. He said that the success of a meeting depends on what everyone contributes, and, in this regard, the standard here has been excellent.
JOINT STATEMENTA Joint Statement was prepared and adopted by ministers at the Environment Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Development on Wednesday, 11 June. A Chair's drafting group prepared an initial draft of the Statement at the meeting for consideration by SEOs, and modified the draft over the course of the meeting based on private consultations among SEOs and a short round of negotiations on the final day. In this brief negotiating session, only three parts of the text, on environmental industries, radioactive waste and climate change, remained outstanding and were discussed. The majority of the statement was adopted by consensus without further negotiation. The Statement is outlined below, followed by a brief summary of the discussion on the outstanding issues.
The Statement's preamble notes the ministers' commitment to sustainable development as a fundamental objective to achieve human prosperity and a healthy environment, and specifies that they:
A section on Sustainable Cities notes that, with an expected 20% increase in the proportion of people living in the region's cities by 2015, addressing the environmental impact of urban activities is an important objective. Thus all aspects of urban planning and development must be people-centered and account for environmental protection and economic and social considerations. It calls for special emphasis on pollution prevention and control, environmentally sustainable infrastructure development and the needs of poor urban settlements. To improve the quality of urban environments while promoting sustainable growth, ministers are implementing the Program of Action on Sustainable Cities, which identifies specific measures to: bridge the knowledge gap; encourage investment; integrate the agendas of the public and private sectors; engage stakeholders; and enhance human well-being and quality of life. The text states a commitment to double the number of communities with local Agenda 21 plans by 2003 and to share APEC best practices for sustainable urbanization through a compendium of member economies' examples of success.
A section on Sustainability of the Marine Environment states that the health of the marine environment is crucial to the economic and social well-being of the region's people. It expresses ministers' commitment to take action to protect this collective resource and to make dramatic progress toward clean oceans and seas in the region. The text states that APEC action can contribute to the 1998 Global Year of the Oceans Agenda. It notes that APEC has established goals and performance measures to achieve three objectives: integrated approaches to coastal management; prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution; and sustainable management of marine resources. The Strategy for Sustainability of the Marine Environment in the APEC region, completed by the Marine Resource Conservation Working Group in May, is endorsed and commended to Leaders.
A section on Cleaner Production notes that new investment in industrial capacity in the region offers opportunities to incorporate flexible and cost-effective environmental management techniques to achieve more sustainable industrial development. It states that APEC will promote cleaner production in industrial sectors by identifying and expanding best practices and establishing a cooperative agenda for technology diffusion with particular attention to the needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises. The agricultural sector is identified as an important area for implementation, and relevant fora are invited to adapt the Cleaner Production Strategy for this sector. The text states that APEC will promote broader adoption of cross-cutting policies and methods for cleaner production through a variety of partnerships. It further notes that, in order to encourage application of environmentally sound and economically efficient technologies, policies and practices, APEC has agreed to encourage:
A paragraph outlining action Towards Environmentally Sustainable Growth calls for improved coordination to link and integrate the many sustainable development initiatives within APEC by: building on the existing structure or linking APEC fora; minimizing incremental administrative burdens; and maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency with which APEC initiatives are implemented. The text directs APEC officials to work with other APEC fora to develop appropriate means for furthering such cooperation.
A paragraph on FEEEP stresses that the environment should continue to be addressed as an important cross-cutting element of this initiative and directs APEC officials to continue to be actively involved in the FEEEP process.
A paragraph on global sustainable development recognizes APEC members' responsibility to implement global environmental commitments and emphasizes strong support for the success of UNGASS. The text calls on UNGASS to reaffirm the Rio commitments and to endorse a meaningful program of work on sustainable development.
A paragraph on climate change recognizes the adverse impact of climate change on APEC economies and stresses the importance of the third Conference of the Parties (COP-3) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The text states that all APEC economies agree to take steps to meaningfully address the adverse impact of climate change and recommends that Leaders send a strong message of support to ensure the success of COP-3. The Statement concludes with ministers' agreement to meet again to review and ensure meaningful progress and further the cooperation within APEC.
Ministers considered three outstanding issues in the Joint Statement, on environmental industries, radioactive waste and climate change. In the text on Sustainable Cities, ministers debated a paragraph stating that "many" economies endorse an examination of the environmental industries sector as a candidate for early voluntary liberalization in APEC, as a means to foster environmental industries and to increase the flow of goods, technology and services for sustainable development. Recalling that trade ministers had recently considered and approved a similar statement, some ministers noted that "many" did not accurately reflect the level of approval and proposed using "the majority" or "large majority." Other ministers proposed that only "some" had endorsed this idea. One minister opposed singling out environmental industries, noting that the term was unclear. Lacking consensus, ministers deleted the entire reference.
Ministers also debated the inclusion of a paragraph noting the concerns raised regarding the prospective transfer of nuclear waste and calling for compliance with internationally accepted safety standards. Ministers agreed to delete the reference following the comments of some that APEC, as a regional forum, should not set a precedent for addressing bilateral matters. On climate change, ministers agreed to language stating that all APEC economies agree to take steps to meaningfully address "the adverse affects of" climate change.
Following this discussion, the Statement was adopted and the Chair closed the meeting at 3:15 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE APEC ENVIRONMENT MINISTERIAL MEETINGEnvironment ministers left Toronto one step closer to their goal of integrating sustainable development into APEC's overall agenda. They endorsed concrete, action-oriented strategies to implement the three themes of Sustainable Cities, Cleaner Production and Sustainability of the Marine Environment, which they will now present to heads of government at the upcoming Economic Leaders meeting in November. Despite this accomplishment, however, a number of fundamental questions, particularly regarding the scope of issues and of coordination, will need to be addressed if APEC is to succeed in its sustainable development endeavors.
APEC'S TREATMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: The adoption of the three strategies, which some praise as pragmatic and focused, represents tangible progress in this regard. Others, however, suggest that this focus is tantamount to "tunnel vision." Upon closer examination, the specific actions outlined to operationalize these strategies, with a few exceptions, are limited to information exchange, training seminars and loose commitments to "cooperation." For this reason, some observers express concern that the nature of these actions is indicative of a modesty in APEC's sustainable development agenda. If APEC, under the optimal circumstances of having an environmentally-minded Chair such as Canada, cannot define a more ambitious sustainable development agenda, then when can it?
In addition, it is often noted that APEC member economies not only represent a dynamic economic force, but are major contributors to, and therefore key to the resolution of, many global environmental problems. One minister noted that APEC has the potential, if not the responsibility, to add value to multilateral environmental discussions. In this respect, both the US and New Zealand emphasized that APEC should address climate change. Others have expressed concern that failure to consider the global dimension will weaken APEC's environmental credibility.
The challenge will be for APEC to consider these issues without losing the "value-added" of its innovative approach. This approach, based on APEC's strengths of capacity-building, information sharing and partnerships between the public and private sectors has to date enabled them, despite diverse development levels, to avoid the clash between weaker economies' development concerns and stronger economies' environmental concerns. APEC's focus on cooperation, rather than confrontation, could provide the comparative advantage needed to distinguish it from other, frequently deadlocked, international fora. APEC's current efforts to integrate sustainable development into its trade and investment liberalization and economic cooperation agenda may provide a useful framework for the practical implementation of global environmental agreements.
APEC ENVIRONMENTAL COORDINATION: One of the pressing questions considered at this meeting pertains to APEC's institutional coordination of environmental issues. Member economies agreed to refrain from creating a new, discrete working group on the environment -- a decision owed at least in part to APEC's aversion to bureaucratic proliferation. As a result, the economies have underscored the benefits of a coordinating mechanism comprised of already existing groups: the SEOs and the Joint Fora (which consists of the Lead Shepherds of the ten APEC Working Groups, a representative from the Economic Committee and the Committee on Trade and Investment and the SMO Chair). The current proposal is for a joint meeting of the SEOs and the Joint Fora to be held periodically for the purpose of reviewing environmental work in APEC and providing guidance on policies and priorities. This meeting would immediately precede regularly scheduled Joint Fora meetings so that additional resource requirements are minimized.
Some agree that this proposal seems innovative and presents the potential for more effective work by ensuring that, as ministers agreed is desirable in the context of both the FEEEP process and the Sustainable Cities agenda, environment is a cross-cutting issue that should be integrated into all aspects of APEC's work. Such an approach would also respond to ministers' reluctance to commit substantial resources to discussions that do not produce new and additional results. However, without a strong environmental "home," there remains a risk that the sustainable development agenda will not command the prominence that some claim it requires within the APEC process.
FUTURE CHALLENGES: Although APEC is a relatively young body, it is nonetheless approaching a critical stage in its development when it will have to clarify its role and scope and prove its mettle. A fundamental concern is that while APEC has been characterized as a "club of winners," operating on the basis of consensus and the premise of equality of members, real differences in member economies' levels of development remain a reality. During deliberations on Sustainable Cities, for example, some countries focused on cleaner production as a "fix-it" strategy, whereas others emphasized that poverty eradication must be the basis for any solution. Such potentially divisive issues could jeopardize the long-term success of the institutions efforts to address sustainable development. No one can state with certainty whether APEC will evolve into a forum for genuine cooperation on the environment, but given its rapid economic and population growth, all eyes are fixed on the region.
One key challenge will be to exercise vigilance in getting the coordinating mechanism up and running and to maintain its momentum over time. Some observers have expressed concern that due to the ad hoc nature of the institution and the prospect that next year's Chair will not host an environment ministers' meeting, the momentum that has been built in Toronto could dissipate. As APEC continues efforts to integrate sustainable development into its agenda, the consideration being given by the SEO ad hoc group to this issue may prove vital. For the future, APEC will have to build on the suggestion made by this group that it ``carve out a niche that capitalizes on its strengths'' so that further economic growth in this dynamic region is truly sustainable.
THINGS TO LOOK FORAPEC MEETINGS: The following is the list of upcoming APEC meetings:
WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: The following is a list of upcoming WTO meetings:
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Special Session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled for 23-27 June 1997. The session, which will be preceded by a week of informal consultations, will conduct an overall review and appraisal of progress in implementing the UNCED agreements since the 1992 Earth Summit. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, UN Division for Sustainable Development; tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit the Home Page for the Special Session at http://www.un.org/DPCSD/earthsummit/.
FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The next sessions of the subsidiary bodies are scheduled to take place from 28 July to 7 August at the Hotel Maritim in Bonn, Germany. The subsidiary bodies (SBSTA, SBI and AG13) will meet from 28-30 July and will likely meet once more the following week. The Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM) will meet from 31 July - 7 August. The subsidiary bodies (except for AG-13) are scheduled to meet again from 20-31 October 1997 at a conference facility in Bonn to be determined. The third Conference of the Parties (COP-3) is scheduled for 1-12 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. COP-3 will immediately allocate the completion of decisions of the Berlin Mandate process to a sessional Committee of the Whole, open to all delegations. The political negotiations will be finalized in a ministerial segment, which will be convened from 8-10 December and where the final text of a protocol or other legal instrument will be adopted. For all meetings related to the FCCC, contact the Secretariat in Bonn, Germany; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: email@example.com. Also try the FCCC home page at http://www.unfccc.de and UNEP's Information Unit for Conventions at http://www.unep.ch/iuc.html.
Last Modified: 07:21pm , June 13, 1997
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