The informal Ministerial Panel on Sustainable Development and the Economy, organized by Germany, focused its discussions on finance and technology. The panelists were: Enrique Iglesias (Inter-American Development Bank), Jonathan Lash (World Resources Institute), Lin See Yan (Bank of Malaysia), Maurice Strong (Ontario Hydro and Earth Council), and Vito Tanzi (IMF).
Canada noted that those in attendance were "the converted." Most agreed that all governments should internalize external costs, especially environmental costs. Lin noted that the cost to implement Agenda 21 is US$625 annually, requiring many policy changes such as taxes, tradeable permits and incentives. While these concepts are not new, the question of how to implement them on a global scale has not been answered. Accordingly, the CSD has been asked to continue with detailed studies in this area.
Lash was concerned that in most countries it was still not profitable to be "green" because the full environmental costs of projects are not internalized. When asked if industries move to States with lower environmental standards, Lash replied that while there is a strong visceral belief that companies do move, he knows of no evidence to support this.
Strong mentioned some greening of Ontario Hydro and called for the CSD to provide a strong impetus for the drive towards energy efficiency. He acknowledged that energy prices are too low and do not reflect the environmental cost. The Chair asked if the recent Basel ban of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries would in fact make matters worse by moving environmentally unsound industries out of OECD countries and into non-OECD countries, especially small island States. Denmark responded that the ban was one of the few substantial things to have happened since Rio and it is unlikely to have such an effect. Denmark also called for similar bans on hazardous chemicals and pharmaceuticals, noting how disgraceful it is that what cannot be sold in some countries can be exported to less developed countries.
The US asked how the economic costs of health impairments can be better reflected and included in financing decisions. She described how the removal of leaded gasoline in the US has saved approximately US$400 million in reduced healthcare costs, not to mention the benefits to the lives of millions of children to which a cost cannot be given. She also asked how progress in the implementation of financial mechanisms can be measured and questioned whether indicators could be developed. Lin suggested that the global implementation of internalizing environmental costs would require a "green round" of negotiations.
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