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Dialogue Session at the 8th Informal Meeting of Environment Ministers  

15 September 2000 Bergen

 Chairman's Conclusions

Stakeholder participation in intergovernmental processes on sustainable development

1                Representatives of business, local government, trade unions, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and women's groups from North and South, drawn together by UNED Forum, were grateful for the opportunity to participate in a dialogue with Environment Ministers at the beginning of their informal meeting at Bergen. (Prior to the dialogue the participating stakeholders had held preliminary discussions between themselves on promoting a more sustainable approach to the management of energy and freshwater and securing access to these necessities for those communities who are at present deprived and marginalised. Each main sector group prepared position papers in advance and some common positions were established which stakeholders presented to Ministers during the dialogue.) Some of the principal points made by stakeholders in the dialogue are noted here as a contribution to the following informal Ministerial meeting.

2                The stakeholders recalled that such a dialogue was an important innovation at the major Bergen Conference on sustainable development in 1990 and had been carried further at the Rio conference in 1992 and in CSD meetings since then. They urged Ministers to consider during their meeting how such dialogue could be developed further in the preparations for Earth Summit 2002 or Rio + 10, at that conference itself and in the follow-up.

3          Governments cannot achieve sustainable development by themselves alone. It requires the active commitment and participation of all sectors of society at all levels, from the workplace to the surrounding communities and from the regional to national and international levels. Stakeholders urged Ministers to consider how the process of multi-stakeholder engagement at international meetings can be developed into a recognised transparent mechanism which clearly links to the decision-making processes of governments as well as providing a forum for stakeholders to interact with one another in the search for solutions and joint commitments for action.

4                Drawing in other key stakeholders in a constructive way must be a key part of any worthwhile institutional reform of global governance. The UN compact with partners, the dialogues between social partners, the commitments and engagements of local and regional authorities through ICLEI and other local initiatives, numerous NGO activities, women's networks, Indigenous Peoples organisations and partnerships throughout the world all provide examples which need to be drawn into the partnership for sustainable development. 2002 could be made the occasion for integrating all these efforts into a common march towards a more sustainable pattern of future development. In 2002 stakeholders might undertake joint commitments alongside government on programmes of action for implementation

Earth Summit 2002. Two key issues -sustainable energy and sustainable freshwater.

5          Earth Summit 2002 will be a major event that will command a large amount of political and media attention worldwide. If properly planned it could provide the catalyst for new commitments and a different approach to address the issues. The participating stakeholders urged the importance of concentrating on a few well-focused topics on which it might be possible to agree substantial programmes of action, rather than sterile debates on reruns of Agenda 21. They suggested that the promotion of sustainable approaches to the provision of energy and fresh water, particularly to the most deprived communities, should be two of the priority subjects. Equitable access to safe and reliable supplies of freshwater and energy is crucial for successful social and economic development at the micro and macro levels. The topics also require addressing key cross-cutting issues including consumption/production patterns, pollution of the commons and depletion of finite resources. There are very strong reasons for looking for the most sustainable solutions possible to these issues.

6    For developed countries, key elements include addressing the behavioural, social and technical causes of over-consumption; targeted education and awareness raising; applying appropriate economic tools for demand management and accounting for environmental externalities, including the elimination of subsidies; more active promotion of sustainable energy technologies and improved policies for water conservation and against pollution.

7    Developed countries are still excessively dependent on the use of fossil fuels. The transition towards more sustainable forms of energy is not going fast enough to arrest the rapid depletion of non-renewables and increase of greenhouse gases. A more rapid transformation will require more vigorous action by governments, using all the instruments at their disposal.

8    For developing countries, key challenges are to make sure that everyone has access to safe, reliable and affordable supplies of water and energy that meets local needs and prioritises the needs of the poor and landless, many of whom are women. Access to water should be treated as a basic human right. Solutions should include involving local communities in the supply and management of water and energy; targeted education and awareness raising; capacity building, the promotion of sustainable resource use; identifying sources of investment and finance and creating acceptable social conditions under which this can be forthcoming.

9    Stakeholders offered to mobilise support among their constituencies throughout the world to build effective action programmes on these subjects over the next two years if Ministers decided to adopt them as priorities. They expressed themselves willing as responsible partners in the process to consider any challenges that Ministers wished to put to them in the context of preparing for CSD9 and Earth Summit 2002.

Elements for sustainable energy and water programmes

 10       Stakeholders stressed the importance of an inclusive planning process in each country, drawing in all members of society and working at the appropriate geographic and administrative scales. Involving representatives of civil society throughout the 2002 process means allowing sufficient time and resources for 'bottom-up' consultations, so that wider society can contribute as active partners in developing the solutions. Governments need to be aware that participation of women and Indigenous Peoples needs particular attention to ensure meaningful processes. Integrated action is needed stretching from the workplace and local communities to international decision making

11    Stakeholders emphasised the importance of the following key elements:

      Promoting the sustainability of the development plans and programmes for energy and water with a greater emphasis on the inclusion of smaller-scale developments, shaped to community needs and extending access to those presently without water and energy .

      Promoting partnerships between stakeholders both in the workplace, local communities and different levels of government.

      The identification or creation of models of excellence in process, technology and outcome for sustainable supply of water and energy which can become exemplars for others and for whole programmes. They noted that exhibitions of advanced sustainable energy technologies at CSD 9 and on a larger scale at Earth Summit 2002 might playa very useful part in developing awareness and interest in the technical possibilities in this field.

      Using technologies sensitive to local needs and conditions and ensuring arrangements for appropriate technology transfer to developing countries on favourable terms.

      The establishment of realistic targets for achievement over the next two decades. These would include the existing human development targets to bring access to freshwater and energy to people everywhere, but should also include elements which emphasise the importance of sustainable solutions, including targets for the percentage of energy to be supplied by renewable sources, energy-conservation and water-conservation targets.

      Recognition of the investment and financial needs of the programmes, and using 2002 as the occasion for seeking and securing strong commitments from the suppliers of finance for investment, and realistic economic bases for the operation of water and energy undertakings.

      Reconciling the need to establish economic pricing structures for demand management of water and energy with the social, political and cultural norms of local communities and the need to safeguard the ability of the poor to access these necessities.

             Promoting widespread access to affordable, appropriate technologies and greater water and energy efficiency.

             Supporting pilot projects in the host region of Earth Summit 2002 to serve as real-world case studies for those discussions.

             Embracing a set of core values in the area of human rights, labour standards and environmental practices

             Initiating a Declaration of Interdependence, between humans and the environment and between the low and high income people of the world, to use interdependency as the organising principle for a global society.

Next Steps. Getting things Moving.

12 There is not much time between now and 2002 and preparations need to be started very soon. Stakeholders emphasised the importance of securing an early and strong UN General Assembly resolution setting up the 2002 process and suggested that the Ministers gathered in Bergen give an important lead in this direction, including reference to important topics to be addressed in that process.

13      They suggested that building on the existing international, regional and national programmes and dialogues, 2002 could be used to create a real political impetus and commitment to the delivery of the human development targets of sustainable energy and sustainable freshwater for all on an accelerated timetable. There should be special attention to the issue of equitable access to resources, which is a common theme, particularly for women and Indigenous Peoples.

14 Meaningful stakeholder participation will require adequate time and resources to allow the groups to prepare and initiate a bottom up consultation process. Stakeholders again emphasised their willingness to play an active part in whatever preparatory processes are established.

Derek Osborn

Chair, UNED Forum

15 September 2000.