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PANEL DISCUSSIONS

During the course of the High-Level Segment two panel discussions were held on employment and sustainable development as well as on the media and sustainable development.

PANEL DISCUSSION ON EMPLOYMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The moderator, Naresh Singh of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, noted that poverty, employment and social integration are central to sustainable development. Poul Nielson, Denmark's Minister for Development Cooperation, called for policies on worker health and safety, working conditions, and education and training. He also noted that green taxes may contribute to employment and environmental protection, but that political action is needed.

Igor Khalevinski, Russian Deputy Minister of Labor, noted the factors that pose problems in addressing unemployment. He referred to recent initiatives to: attract investment from Russian business; promote social sustainable development; and shift attention from economic to social programmes. Marius Enthoven, Director-General for Environment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection, European Commission, suggested: integrating economic growth and environmental protection; stimulating the green industry; focusing on environmental performance rather than productivity; reviewing unsustainable subsidies and the tax system.

Dick Martin, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canada Labor Congress, noted the possible results if all 1.5 million ICFTU workplaces implemented a local Agenda 21. He suggested environmental audits and promoting workers' environmental rights. Clement Millin, Texaco, recommended: the adoption of key business principles to promote sustainable development and economic growth; promotion of market economies to promote investment; and the building of education infrastructure capacity.

In the discussion that followed, Paula DiPerna (Cousteau Society) noted the public's fear of job loss. Nielson responded that education is the key to change. Nielson referred to the jobs that were generated from the newly established SO2 exhaust- cleaning industry. Simone Bilderbeek (Netherlands Committee for the IUCN) highlighted the concept of job-sharing to ensure equitable resource-sharing. Martin responded that some people are working too hard, while some do not have enough work. Richard Tapper (WWF) noted that a sustainable economy is more likely to support higher employment because it increases efficiency in resource use. Carol Lubin (International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centres) asked about women's under-employment. Martin said that women are usually at the bottom of the economic scale and the victims of environmental neglect.

PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE MEDIA AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: UNCED Secretary-General Maurice Strong said sustainable development cannot be presented as a generic term. The relationship between particular events and themes must be explained. Political interest depends on media interest. David Lascelles, Natural Resources Editor, Financial Times, said sustainable development must be explained in terms of its application to policy and business decision-making. Sustainable development is not yet an imperative, politically or legally. The CSD should avoid presenting the concept on an ethical basis. Barbara Pyle, Vice President for Environment Programmes, CNN/Turner Broadcasting, said the media needs more knowledge and policy makers need to be more accessible. Scientific uncertainty is a significant barrier. Censorship, high level interference and training inadequacies also create coverage problems. She suggested that the CSD: develop a stake in the issues; adopt a bold charismatic spokesperson; find local models of sustainable development; and highlight immediate issues.

Michael Keats, IPS World Desk Editor said that media coverage of development issues is confined to the occasional disaster story or global conference. Most stories have sustainable development dimensions, although many governments often prevent access to key information. Blair Palese, Chief Press Officer, Greenpeace International, said that CSD discussions must not be carried out in a vacuum. Real problems, people and issues must be highlighted. Problems in media coverage include the lack of linkage with other issues and the lack of coverage of available solutions. The Internet, the World Wide Web, interactive video and CDROM are useful communication tools. Ingebrigt Sten Jensens, JBR Rehlamebyra, described messages that could be used to market sustainable development: consumption levels in the developed world are unsustainable; political leaders do not communicate the importance of reducing consumption for fear of losing political support; the people of the rich world do not long for more garbage; and a society based on sustainable consumption is not a society based on unbearable hardship but on a better life.

In the discussion that followed, the UN Correspondents Association said the UN puts its news through a 'blanding' machine. Algeria noted the lack of media coverage of desertification and drought. Friends of the Earth (UK) cited the importance of presenting sustainable development within a wider agenda. Sweden said television promotes unsustainable lifestyles.

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