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PRESENTATION OF NATIONAL STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

On Tuesday, 18 April 1995, delegates listened to five presentations of national strategies for sustainable development and experiences in Agenda 21 follow-up.

Bolivia: Alejandro Mercado, Under-Secretary of Development Strategy, presented Bolivia's progress report on implementing Agenda 21. Bolivia's approach to sustainable development includes commitments to: economic growth, incorporating environmental costs; rational use of natural resources; social equity and participation; recognition of cultural diversity; and governability incorporating decision-making capacity and democratization. Unsustainable forestry practices have resulted from an inadequate institutional model for timber resource exploitation. Among actions to be taken is a new forest law that comprehensively addresses forest ecology. Bolivia is establishing a national system of protected areas, promoting conservation of wildlife and germplasm, and managing water basins.

India: N.R. Krishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, described Agenda 21 implementation in India. A Planning Commission and National Development and Environmental Councils have been established. India's environment is taxed by heavy industrial and commercial demands, with 50% of the country's energy needs being met through coal and fuel wood, although alternative energy sources are being promoted. India has shifted from forest-based development to regeneration, conservation and sustainable harvesting. NGO involvement has also been key to India's sustainable agriculture practices. Some of India's rural development programmes address wage employment, water treatment, community health, rural youth training and integrated rural development. India has over 50 environmental laws, including provisions for eco-labeling, and numerous fiscal incentives to promote sustainable development, such as 100% deductions for pollution abatement equipment.

Poland: Professor Maciej Nowicki, Adviser to the Minister of Environmental Protection, presented Poland's progress report on Agenda 21 implementation. Poland's fundamental environmental and economic issues include restoration of industrially damaged regions, preservation of pristine areas, and protection from unsustainable development.

Czeslaw Wieckowski, Director of the Department of Ecological Policy, outlined national strategies for environmental conservation with the participation of civil society. Poland will have to spend more than US$1 billion annually to achieve its sustainability goals.

Professor Nowicki said that energy consumption, after a 1990-91 decrease, has stabilized. Waste discharges have been reduced and protected areas have increased by 150%. Problems remain in the promotion of sustainable agriculture and the increase in transport use. In the long term, Western-style consumption will be the main obstacle to sustainability in Poland.

Uganda: Mr. Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha, Director of Environment Protection, presented Uganda's National Environment Action Plan (NEAP), which provides a framework to integrate environmental concerns into national development plans. The NEAP provides a legal framework for: creation of rights and obligations; environmental impact assessments; protection of fragile ecosystems; and the establishment of the National Environment Management Authority.

Action plans are being prepared for water, wetlands, forests, wildlife, biodiversity, agriculture, mining, climate change, population, drought and desertification. Raising awareness of environmental issues remains a priority, and the government requires the inclusion of environmental education in school curricula. Uganda will produce a national 'State of the Environment' report every two years, and district environmental profiles are being prepared. Uganda is also cooperating with Tanzania and Kenya to solve the problem of water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria. While the process of formulating the action plans has progressed well, implementation remains a problem.

United Kingdom: John Stevens, Assistant Secretary, Environmental Protection Division, Department of the Environment, reported on the UK's Strategy for Sustainable Development, which looks at both economic development and environmental protection toward the year 2012. The strategy examines: the principles of sustainable development; the state of the environment; the impact on the environment of different sectors of the economy; and different types of policy responses. The Strategy identifies new indicators for sustainable development and establishes a task force with representatives from all ministries. Three new bodies have been established to implement the strategy: the Government's Panel on Sustainable Development, the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, and 'Going for Green,' a public awareness campaign.

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