Vol. 5 No. 217
SUMMARY OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL
PREPARATORY MEETING FOR THE 13TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON
The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) for the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) took place from 28 February to 4 March 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. The IPM sought to discuss policy options and possible actions to enable the implementation of measures and policies concerning water, sanitation and human settlements – the thematic cluster of issues for the CSD-12/CSD-13 Implementation Cycle.
Throughout the week, delegates met in plenary and in parallel sessions to consider policy options for the three themes and to discuss interlinkages and cross-cutting aspects. These deliberations were reflected in a draft Chair’s text, which is expected to form the basis of further discussions during CSD-13, scheduled to meet from 11-22 April 2005, in New York.
Following the conclusion of the IPM, many delegates had varying views on the value of the preparatory meeting, but agreed that one of the most important elements of the IPM was the incubation space it provided for the generation of ideas and proposals. During the week, numerous delegations took the opportunity to circulate non-papers and express their visions for the Policy Year’s outcomes. Many of the issues proposed were met with a wide range of responses, some of which received varying degrees of support and some which were met with deep skepticism. While the IPM provided delegates the space to digest new ideas to move implementation forward, the divergent views on many of the issues discussed will require CSD-13 Chair John Ashe to delicately navigate the CSD’s uncharted waters and balance delegations’ views concerning the Commission’s role in providing prescriptive global, national and regional level policy options and actions.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CSD AND THE INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS ON WATER, SANITATION AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS
The Commission on Sustainable Development emerged from Agenda 21, the programme of action for sustainable development adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the “Rio Earth Summit,” in June 1992. Agenda 21 called for the creation of the CSD to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, and examine progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at the local, national, regional and international levels. In 1992, the 47th session of the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 47/191, which established the CSD’s terms of reference and composition, organization of work, relationship with other UN bodies, Secretariat arrangements, and guidelines for the participation of Major Groups. The CSD held its first substantive session in June 1993 and has met annually since. During its first five years, the CSD systematically reviewed the implementation of all chapters of Agenda 21.
UNGASS-19: In June 1997, five years after UNCED, the 19th Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS-19), also known as “Rio+5,” was held to review the implementation of Agenda 21. Negotiations produced a Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. Among the decisions adopted at UNGASS-19 was a five-year CSD work programme, which identified sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/Major Group themes for the subsequent four sessions of the CSD.
MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: The UN Millennium Summit, held from 6-8 September 2000, in New York, adopted the Millennium Declaration, which contains, inter alia, a number of international development goals. Two of these goals relate directly to water and human settlements, namely the goals to halve by 2015 the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and to achieve by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. These and other development and poverty-related goals contained in the Millennium Declaration were elaborated and developed into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as contained in the September 2001 Report of the Secretary-General on the Road Map towards the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration (A/56/326). The MDGs, which have become commonly accepted as a framework for measuring progress in development, comprise eight overarching goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators. The safe drinking water and human settlements goals appear as “targets” under Goal 7 on ensuring environmental sustainability.
WSSD: The World Summit on Sustainable Development met from 26 August to 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and adopted two main documents: the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development. In the JPOI, governments reaffirmed their commitment to the safe drinking water and human settlements goals agreed in the Millennium Declaration, and further committed to halve by 2015 the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation. Governments also agreed to develop integrated water resources management (IWRM) and water efficiency plans by 2005. In addition to the JPOI and the Johannesburg Declaration, over 200 non-negotiated partnerships/initiatives for sustainable development were launched at the Summit, supplementing the commitments agreed to by governments through the intergovernmental process.
CSD-11: The eleventh session of the CSD (CSD-11) took place from 28 April to 9 May 2003, at UN headquarters in New York. The session decided that the Commission’s multi-year programme of work for the period 2004-2017 would be organized as a series of two-year Implementation Cycles, each comprising a Review Session and a Policy Session and considering a thematic cluster of issues and a suite of cross-cutting issues. The CSD further decided on the modalities for reporting, partnerships, and enhancing both UN system coordination and Major Groups’ contributions. A Partnerships Fair and Learning Center courses took place concurrently with the session.
CSD-12: The twelfth session of the CSD (CSD-12) was held from 14-30 April 2004, at UN headquarters in New York. The first three days of CSD-12 (14-16 April) served as the preparatory meeting for the International Meeting on the 10-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The following two weeks (19-30 April) were devoted to the CSD-12 Review Session.
CSD-12 undertook an evaluation of progress in the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, and the JPOI, focusing on identifying constraints, obstacles, successes and lessons learned with regard to water, sanitation and human settlements. The Commission also heard reports from the UN Regional Commissions on the status of implementation, and from the Major Groups on their contribution to implementation. A high-level segment, attended by over 100 ministers and addressed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was held from 28-30 April. At the conclusion of CSD-12, the Commission adopted the report of the session, which includes a Chair’s Summary, reflecting inputs from the session and records of activities held as part of the Partnerships Fair and Learning Centre.
REPORT OF THE IPM
The IPM commenced on Monday, 28 February 2005, with delegates observing a moment of silence in memory of the lives lost in the tsunami disaster.
Opening the IPM, CSD-13 Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) noted that CSD-12 identified the major obstacles and constraints to meeting the international targets on water, sanitation and human settlements, and said the IPM’s task is to focus on policy options and possible actions to overcome those obstacles and constraints. Chair Ashe highlighted the critical importance of this meeting, noting that the credibility of the reformed CSD process hinges on the Commission’s ability to move towards effective implementation of the commitments made by the international community.
The Commission then adopted the IPM agenda (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/1), approved its organization of work (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/1 Annex I), and approved the accreditation of the Global Water Partnership (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/L.1).
JoAnne DiSano, Director of the UN Division for Sustainable Development, presented the Secretary-General’s reports on water, sanitation and human settlements (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/2, 3 and 4), noting that the reports do not offer recommendations for all countries, but rather provide a range of policy options and possible actions to overcome constraints and challenges.
The UN Regional Commissions then presented policy options and possible actions to address region-specific constraints, and informed participants on key regional activities. Delegates also heard reports on the outcomes of the following relevant intersessional meetings:
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of these statements can be found at:
Participants then heard opening statements from delegations. Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), underscored the Group’s commitment to achieving the water, sanitation and human settlements goals and outlined issues constraining implementation. Noting the challenges in meeting these goals, he said the Group could not support the renegotiation of existing goals or the setting of new targets. He highlighted the inter-relatedness of the themes and stressed the need for them to be addressed in a balanced manner based on national realities.
Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union (EU), highlighted the special responsibility of CSD-13 in setting a successful example for further CSD cycles, and urged the Chair to seek the commitment of key actors to implement CSD-13 policy decisions. She identified capacity building and technology transfer, governance, and financing as major challenges, and outlined priority policy options and principles, including: adopting integrated approaches, linking sustainable development and CSD-13 issues with national processes, ensuring ownership of programmes, involving all stakeholders, stimulating decentralization at the lowest appropriate level, and enhancing coordination among UN agencies and international financial institutions.
The US underscored the role of voluntary commitments in implementation, and highlighted the importance of partnerships and “global policy networks,” citing the Global Water Partnership as an example. He welcomed the focus on implementation, noting that CSD’s measure of success will depend on results at the country level.
Following these statements, representatives of the Major Groups presented their priorities for action (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/5). A representative of Farmers called attention to the fact that some 70% of water is already used by agriculture and that food production will have to double on less land to feed growing populations. He highlighted the need for a better balance between urban and rural programmes, as well as for better coordination in programme financing and implementation.
A representative of the Scientific and Technological Community recommended: strengthening capacities to monitor water use with an integrated set of indicators; enhancing national and regional scientific and technological capacities; improving and sharing relevant scientific knowledge; and making scientists, engineers, educators and decision-makers more effective partners in addressing challenges.
A representative of Business and Industry recognized that progress requires the engagement of all sectors of society and that business operates best in a strong and stable legal, regulatory and economic context. He highlighted the need: to identify clear responsibilities for action; to create enabling environments for increased financing; for catchment-level management and planning; for infrastructure development and technology transfer; and to build effective partnerships.
A representative of Trade Unions said access to water and sanitation are fundamental human rights that must be provided through public services, and urged the CSD to recognize that access to decent work is the most direct way to address water, sanitation and housing issues.
A representative of Local Authorities called for: better linkages between national and local plans; capacity building for local level decision-makers; a framework for subsidiarity, decentralization and greater financial autonomy; addressing informal settlements; and promoting exchanges of community experiences.
A representative of NGOs called for the recognition of water, sanitation and affordable housing as human rights. She said water is a public good that must remain publicly managed, stressing that the private sector is not the solution to the financing gap and that its involvement should not be imposed as a conditionality for grants and loans.
Representatives of Indigenous Peoples, Children and Youth, and Women also underscored a rights-based approach, and stressed the need to ensure their groups’ active participation in all aspects and at all levels of planning, management and implementation.
A representative of Indigenous Peoples further stressed that water services be kept outside of trade negotiations, and called for capacity building and appropriate technology-transfer initiatives recognizing traditional water management practices.
A representative of Children and Youth emphasized the need to focus on education, community participation, and increasing financial resources and human capacity. A representative of Women underscored the need for mainstreaming gender perspectives in planning and implementation of actions concerning the three themes. She recommended, inter alia, creating a fund to facilitate the implementation of gender as a cross-cutting issue in the CSD work programme and launching a gender strategy for implementing the water and sanitation targets.
On Monday, an expert panel on water and sanitation presented its views on policy options and possible actions, followed by a general discussion. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of the panel can be found at:
On Tuesday, an expert panel presented its views on policy options and possible actions for human settlements, followed by a general discussion. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of the panel can be found at:
POLICY OPTIONS AND POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO EXPEDITE IMPLEMENTATION
Delegates met from Tuesday to Friday to consider policy options and possible actions for expediting implementation in the areas of water, sanitation and human settlements, and the interlinkages among them. Throughout the discussions, delegates addressed issues relating to: decentralization; stakeholder participation, in particular the role of women; institutional and other enabling frameworks; financing options; and means of implementation. Within these issues, topics covered included: technology transfer and capacity building, including through South-South cooperation; delineating responsibilities among the national, regional and local levels; cost recovery; well-targeted subsidies; innovative funding schemes, and their role in leveraging sustainable and household-level investments; long-term funding sustainability; public and private sector investment; debt relief; and official development assistance (ODA) commitments and conditionalities.
WATER: Delegates met on Tuesday in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Khaled Elbakly (Egypt), and on Wednesday in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Dagmara Berbalk (Germany).
On Tuesday, discussions focused on: providing access to safe drinking water in urban and rural areas; preparing IWRM plans and creating an institutional framework for IWRM; enhancing water-use efficiency and managing competing uses; and water quality, ecosystem management and disaster prevention.
On access to safe drinking water, delegates discussed demand- and supply-driven approaches, market-based approaches, and rights-based approaches. Participants also discussed incorporating the water agenda in development strategies, and outlined options for developing and increasing water resources.
On IWRM, delegates discussed the ecosystems approach, integrating IWRM into national sustainable development and poverty reduction strategies, transboundary cooperation, and the importance of accounting for the environmental value of water resources.
On enhancing water-use efficiency and managing competing uses, delegates discussed: the need for infrastructure maintenance and repair; legal frameworks to address competing uses; and agricultural water efficiency. Delegates also discussed the role of economic instruments, payment for environmental services, and water conservation practices and incentives.
On water quality and disaster prevention, delegations highlighted: waste management and treatment; integrating water quality into IWRM plans; increasing water facilities’ capacities to cope with disasters; and the role of ecosystems in reducing risk.
On Wednesday, discussions focused on strengthening monitoring and evaluation programmes, and securing finance for water-related investments. On monitoring and follow-up, delegates discussed national and global mechanisms, highlighting the need: to evaluate access to services; to collect data to support development of indicators; to develop gender-disaggregated and gender-sensitive monitoring; for a Secretariat’s report based on country implementation reports; and to identify a multilateral institutional home for water within the UN system.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of these discussions can be found at:and
SANITATION: Delegates met on Tuesday in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Berbalk, and on Wednesday morning in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Elbakly.
On Tuesday, discussions focused on provision of access to adequate sanitation in urban and rural areas, wastewater management, and strengthening of monitoring systems. Delegates discussed, inter alia: prioritizing and investing in national sanitation efforts; enhancing the role of women, local authorities, communities and NGOs in decision-making and implementation; promoting education on sanitation, hygiene and water management; using appropriate low-cost technologies; addressing the link between water and sanitation; addressing urban and rural sanitation needs; decentralizing implementation; and strengthening local government capacities and financing.
On Wednesday, discussions addressed capacity and finance requirements for meeting the JPOI sanitation target. Many delegates stressed South-South cooperation, education, capacity building and technology transfer. Delegates discussed:
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of these discussions can be found at:and
HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Delegates met on Wednesday morning in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Boo Nam Shin (Republic of Korea), Wednesday afternoon in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Husniyya Mamadova (Azerbaijan), and Thursday in a session chaired by Vice-Chair Shin.
On Wednesday, discussions focused on providing improved housing and associated services to the poor, and creating jobs and promoting local entrepreneurship. On the provision of housing and services, many delegates stressed the importance of land tenure for slum dwellers, often highlighting that this as well as inheritance rights, were especially important for women. Delegates also stressed decentralization, strengthening local authorities, good governance, and integrated and participatory approaches to design and implementation.
On creating jobs for the poor, delegates highlighted, inter alia: sound and transparent legal and regulatory mechanisms; investment in infrastructure; the role of the construction sector and creating local construction cooperatives; local procurement; strengthening the informal sector; and supporting small to medium enterprises.
On Thursday, discussions focused on increasing and facilitating financing options for the poor, including through: the provision of seed money for revolving funds; domestic capital markets; enabling frameworks that reduce the cost of borrowing; micro-credit institutions; loan guarantees that leverage private capital; and mortgage guarantee systems. Delegates also urged special consideration for vulnerable groups, including women, youth, refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of these discussions can be found at:and
WATER AND SANITATION: Chaired by CSD-13 Vice-Chair Berbalk, a session convened on Thursday morning to discuss integration, synergies and linkages between water and sanitation. Discussions focused on:
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of these discussions can be found at:
WATER, SANITATION AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: On Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, delegates convened in a plenary session, chaired by Chair Ashe, to discuss the interlinkages and cross-cutting aspects of the three themes. On interlinkages, discussions focused on: integrated planning; enabling conditions and policy frameworks; the need for decentralization, as well as the role of local governments and means to empower them; the importance of community participation and means of stakeholder empowerment; and integrated approaches to mobilizing finances.
On cross-cutting aspects, delegates focused on: the need for gender mainstreaming, strategies to empower women, financing options, and means to mobilize resources. Delegates also urged a greater focus on the cross-cutting aspects decided at CSD-11, in particular: sustainable development for Africa, sustainable development of SIDS, and means of implementation. Delegates further addressed the issue of monitoring and reporting, and the role of UN bodies and inter-agency coordination in follow-up.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s coverage of these discussions can be found at:
CONSIDERATION OF THE CHAIR’S TEXT: The draft Chair’s text was circulated to delegates on Friday in the early afternoon, following which delegates had two hours to review the text. In the late afternoon, Chair Ashe introduced the draft Chair’s text in plenary, stating that the text focused on policy options and possible actions that were identified by delegations and other participants throughout the meeting. He highlighted that while the options seek to apply to as wide a range of countries as possible, special consideration was given to addressing the needs of Africa, LDCs and SIDS, recognizing the challenges they face in achieving sustainable development and in meeting the JPOI targets and MDGs. He said the text comprised three sections corresponding to each of the three themes, and one section addressing the interlinkages among them. Chair Ashe then invited delegations to provide comments on the text.
With regard to the prioritization of issues in, and structure and format of the text, delegates recommended:
With regard to the content of the text, delegates called for greater emphasis on, inter alia:
Delegates also identified a number of issues that were overlooked in the text, including reference to:
On international water and sanitation governance, many delegates expressed support for using existing mechanisms, with several highlighting the role of UN-Water, the UN inter-agency mechanism and focal point for UN system-wide activities on water-related issues. Many delegates also raised questions on how the cross-cutting issues identified at CSD-11 were to be addressed.
Following comments by delegations on the draft Chair’s text, the Commission then took note of the text and transmitted it to CSD-13 for its consideration. The Commission considered and adopted the report of the IPM (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/L.2), which also contains the Chair’s text.
Chair Ashe then invited delegations and Major Groups to present their final statements. The G-77/China said the meeting had moved the implementation process forward. The EU said CSD-13 should proceed from identifying obstacles to defining measures to overcome them, including through the identification of actors to meet the challenges. She called for innovative action-orientated outcomes, combined with political commitment and action. The US requested the Chair and the Secretariat to provide a clear sense of how voluntary commitments can be brought forward at CSD-13. He said there was a need to discuss the Secretariat’s role in support of the CSD’s organization of work, and requested that CSD-13 include an opportunity to discuss possible guidance the Commission might give on the Secretariat’s future role.
Japan said CSD-13 must serve as a forum for taking further concrete steps for the implementation of sustainable development. He proposed that the post CSD-13 phase continue to focus on the implementation of the thematic cycle, including by capitalizing on different entities in the UN system, such as UN-Water. Norway urged CSD-13 to address the formalization of economic assets into secure legal rights. She said Norway, Sweden and the World Health Organization are releasing a study during CSD-13 on the macroeconomic case for investments in water and sanitation, containing the key message that improved investments will boost economic growth and contribute to poverty eradication.
UNICEF stressed the need to address decentralization, financial resources, expertise, gender inequalities and adequate central government support. UN-HABITAT called for a greater balance in the Chair’s text between human settlements issues and water and sanitation issues.
The representative of Trade Unions expressed frustration that their proposals were not reflected in the Chair’s paper. He also called for countries to include utility managers in their CSD-13 delegations. A representative of Women highlighted the consensus from the Beijing+10 deliberations that no tool is as effective for sustainable development as investing in women.
The Scientific and Technological Community representative said CSD-13 should recognize the need for more science and technology in water and sanitation integration, and stressed, inter alia, the need for building enhanced regional scientific and technological capacities, especially in developing countries.
NGOs, pointing out that the actions to which States commit must add up to coherent packages in the context of each country, called for CSD-13 to produce country-specific tables of commitments by each player active in the country, and for both “upward and downward” reporting systems.
The Local Authorities representative underscored that the environmental pillar has been neglected in the Chair’s text, and called for commitments for action and financial resources to support decentralization and local authorities. Noting the negative impacts of water development infrastructure on indigenous communities, the representative of Indigenous Peoples underscored the need for consultations and transparent governance, responsive to their concerns.
A representative of Farmers highlighted the challenges of concurrently increasing food production and ensuring environmental protection. A Youth and Children representative said the Chair’s text had missed the opportunity to focus on human settlements, which was the most relevant theme for youth. The representative of Business and Industry highlighted that in addition to providing financial resources in the area of partnerships, they could offer technical and managerial expertise.
Highlighting the Commission’s collective goal of producing a concise, concrete, and action-oriented outcome, Chair Ashe urged delegates to reflect on which options and actions would advance implementation and require intergovernmental agreement, and forward specific examples of case studies and measures to the Secretariat, with the aim of sharing these practices on the internet. In closing, he highlighted that the CSD has undertaken significant reforms, and said the success of the first IPM hinged on whether the Commission can take decisions on options that will have a real impact. He then closed the meeting at 5:45 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE IPM
Whether the IPM’s discussions and identification of policy options and possible actions addressed the constraints and obstacles to implementation identified during the Review Year and, therefore, provide the basis for a watershed outcome at CSD-13, is still up for discussion. As delegates left Conference Room 3, many had varying views on the value of the preparatory meeting, but agreed that one of the most important elements of the IPM was the incubation space it provided for the generation of ideas and proposals. As the session opened, numerous delegations took the opportunity to express their visions for the Policy Year’s outcomes, which included a focus on: the form of the CSD-13’s outcomes; how the CSD should address the issue of water governance at the international level; the relationship between the Commission and various intergovernmental fora on water, sanitation and human settlements; addressing cross-cutting issues; follow-up to the Implementation Cycle; and the distinction between the Review and Policy Years. Many of the issues proposed were met with a wide range of responses, some of which received varying degrees of support and some which were met with deep skepticism. This analysis focuses on the major issues that emerged during the IPM, which will likely be the focus of negotiations during the Commission’s April session.
Foremost among the issues to emerge during the IPM were those focusing on what form the outcomes of CSD-13 should take. Most countries generally supported the view that CSD-13 should negotiate a clear action-oriented outcome. However, delegations were also aware that if the Commission was to be successful and remain relevant, the CSD-13 outcomes need to be significantly different from those of the pre-WSSD era.
The G-77/China proposed that negotiated recommendations must address global and regional challenges and constraints, while taking note of the importance of both governmental and non-governmental national-level actions. The priority for the developing world, as in past sessions, was the lack of progress on provision of the means of implementation in areas such as trade, finance, technology transfer, capacity building, obstacles to economic growth in poor countries, and the reform of the global economic and trading systems. While supporting a negotiated outcome, the G-77/China clearly stated their opposition to the notion of renegotiating or establishing new targets, which they argued will divert both attention and resources. The EU also supported a negotiated outcome that identified implementation actions to be taken at the national level. They argued that the negotiations should focus on generic issues, policy responses and enabling frameworks to “guide and speed up” the implementation of the JPOI and the MDGs, including the identification of actors willing and committed to act.
While generally not in favor of using the Commission as a negotiating arena, the US stressed the need for countries to bring forward voluntary commitments to overcome obstacles to implementation and to advance mechanisms that deliver results. They argued that the IPM and CSD-13 must help identify the most promising tools and practical methods that policymakers and other relevant stakeholders can draw from to expedite implementation, including through partnerships and global policy networks. The US also circulated a “recipe book” of concise and non-prescriptive policy options to be undertaken at the national level, underpinned by illustrative case studies.
While the US recipes are indeed the kind of elements needed to make progress at the national level, their general approach that calls for non-negotiated and voluntary commitments by national governments, supplemented by partnership arrangements, was not enthusiastically welcomed by everyone. One delegate made the point, which resonated with the views of many developing countries, that the CSD is not the forum where the “rich and able come to dish out more work for the poor.” The G-77/China argued that the significant differences in culture, experiences, capacities, as well as the nature and relative importance of the three thematic issues among developing countries, make the US approach on partnerships and sharing case studies, while informative, impotent in addressing many of the implementation obstacles at the national level.
A second major issue to emerge from the incubation chamber was a range of non-paper proposals on how the CSD should address water governance at the international level. Many delegates felt that the lack of a dedicated home for water and sanitation issues in the UN system was indeed the kind of focused global-level debate suited for the CSD. The proposals generally focused on what changes should be made to current institutional arrangements to ensure that the international water and sanitation commitments are met, and many were cautious to avoid the establishment of new institutional structures and arrangements. Switzerland’s paper proposed the need for a global water process to support the implementation of international water governance. France’s paper outlined a comprehensive observation mechanism for water and sanitation. Canada’s paper presented several options, including: the establishment of a UN intergovernmental panel under the CSD; a revised and strengthened UN-Water; an International Strategy for Water; strengthening existing institutions; and intergovernmental input on freshwater issues in ECOSOC and UN General Assembly sessions. During the discussions, Nigeria, South Africa and other developing countries also proposed a UN mechanism that promotes intergovernmental discussion on the delivery of the JPOI’s water and sanitation targets. While these proposals were not formally presented, the IPM provided a sounding board and the opportunity for informal discussions on many of the issues addressed in these papers.
A third emerging issue, closely linked to the issue of international water governance, focused on the relationship between the Commission and other intergovernmental fora. With regard to water and sanitation, a number of international events have focused on the implementation of the JPOI water and sanitation targets, including: the Global WASH Forum; the third World Water Forum; UNEP’s GCSS-8/GMEF and GC-23/GMEF; and the FAO/Netherlands Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems. Given that each of these meetings has added, both conceptually and substantively, to the WSSD’s water and sanitation-related outcomes, there is a need to link their outcomes to the Commission’s work. As the EU noted, a better understanding of the respective scope of each of these water fora in relation to the Commission’s work would be a valuable outcome from CSD-13. However, resolving this issue is easier said than done. As some are quick to point out, these outcomes, while intergovernmental in nature, differ from the intergovernmental agreements negotiated by member States under the auspices of the UN and CSD, and thus lack the same authority of a JPOI or an Agenda 21. Nevertheless, the sheer number of international recommendations on water has led some delegates to question what added value a CSD-negotiated outcome on water and sanitation would offer to the already large volume of previously-defined plans and programmes of action.
With regard to the issue of human settlements, the Commission also needs to consider its relationship with relevant international bodies. This issue is somewhat more complicated, due to the fact that global decisions on human settlements are already addressed by UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council. The lack of discussion on this issue was not lost on several delegates, who wondered how the Chair’s text will be received by the Governing Council meeting in April and how in return, CSD-13 will respond to the decisions of the Governing Council. Clarification of the reciprocal nature of the Commission’s decisions vis-à-vis those of other intergovernmental decision-making bodies has been recognized by some as an important outcome of CSD-13 that could set a precedent for addressing this issue in future Implementation Cycles.
The fourth thread of issues concerned the Commission’s new work programme, with questions focusing on how to address cross-cutting issues, follow-up to the Implementation Cycle, and the distinction between the Review and Policy Years. Following the elaboration of the new CSD programme of work in 2003, with its focus on a thematic cluster of issues to be addressed through a cross-cutting lens, many delegates voiced concerns over the lack of recognition of the cross-cutting issues on the IPM’s agenda. While discussions generally focused on the three themes, cross-cutting issues such as Africa, SIDS, trade and globalization, and sustainable consumption and production were only addressed in some country statements and never commanded the status some felt the CSD-11 decision had assigned to them. Seeing that these issues were not substantially addressed during the session, and given that the IPM is meant to lay the foundation for negotiations in April, many are wondering how and when the cross-cutting issues will be addressed, in a balanced and systemic manner.
Another concern that was frequently raised by many delegates related to the post-Implementation Cycle follow-up of the three themes. Many delegations from both developed and developing countries urged the Commission to address mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the targets and commitments during subsequent Implementation Cycles. In particular, they urged a more systemic approach than that taken in previous sessions, and cautioned against leaving a host of issues for the overall review in 2016. South Africa, for example, proposed that the Commission make a provision to receive voluntary progress reports from countries and UN agencies every two to three years between 2006 and 2014. Other monitoring proposals included the EU and Canada’s intention to strengthen UN-Water, the recently established inter-agency mechanism, by giving it the mandate for monitoring and tracking progress. However, developing countries are generally opposed to giving this important role to a body that is not intergovernmentally constituted.
During the IPM, concerns were also raised on the need to clearly define where and when the Review Year ends and the Policy Year starts. This was evident in the confusion over the status of CSD-12 Chair Borge Brende’s text from the 2004 Review Year, which seemed to have disappeared from the process, despite Chair Ashe’s reference to it as “the blueprint of the key obstacles and constraints to meeting the JPOI and related MDG targets.” In addition, many felt the discussions during the IPM resembled those of the Review Year. Indeed, for many delegates it was not clear that the IPM added much value to Brende’s blueprint.
The task at hand and its importance to the future work of the Commission were not lost on delegates during the IPM, with many, as well as Chair Ashe, stressing the importance of this meeting – the first IPM of the first-ever Review Year. In addition to identifying policy options, the meeting had the extra burden of testing the post-WSSD CSD reforms, and shouldering the long-term credibility of the CSD. There is little doubt that a positive outcome of CSD-13 would serve as a model for future sessions. However, many delegates have observed that if the Commission cannot move the international community towards effective implementation of agreed-upon commitments, the relevance of its work is at stake.
While the IPM provided delegates the space to digest new ideas and proposals to move implementation forward, the divergent views on many of the issues discussed will require Chair Ashe to delicately navigate the CSD’s uncharted waters and balance delegations’ views concerning the Commission’s role in providing prescriptive global, national and regional level policy options and actions. To paraphrase the words of several CSD veterans, the last thing this process needs is another lengthy and carefully-balanced text that appeases everybody, but does nothing to catalyze implementation.
2ND INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON PARTNERSHIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Organized by the Moroccan Ministry of Territory Planning, Water and Environment in cooperation with DESA, this Forum will take place from 21-23 March 2005, in Marrakesh, Morocco, and focus on advancing water and energy implementation through partnerships. For more information, contact: Moroccan Ministry of Territory Planning, Water and Environment; tel: +212-37-77-26-62; fax: +212-37-77-26-40; e-mail: ; internet:
FIFTH MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: This conference will be held from 24-29 March 2005, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Organized by ESCAP, UNEP, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, this conference will convene under the theme “achieving environmentally sustainable economic growth.” For more information, contact: ESCAP; tel: +66-2-288-1234; fax: +66-2-288-1000; e-mail: ; internet:
20TH SESSION OF THE UN-HABITAT GOVERNING COUNCIL: This meeting will convene from 4-8 April 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya. Among the key issues to be discussed are the UN-HABITAT work programme for 2006-2007, the UN-HABITAT and Human Settlements Foundation budget for 2006-2007, and a progress report on UN-HABITAT activities. The two themes of the session are: involvement of civil society in improving local governance, and assessment and reconstruction in post-conflict and natural and man-made disasters. For more information, contact: Joseph Mungai, Secretary to the Governing Council; tel: +254-20-623-133; fax: +254-20-624-175; e-mail: ; internet:
CSD-13: The thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development will convene from 11-22 April 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. For more information, contact: UN DSD; tel: +1-212-963-2803; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd13/csd13.htm