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UNED Forum, April 2001

Suggestions for a CSD-10 decision on the multi-stakeholder dialogues for the preparatory meetings towards Earth Summit 2002 *

The UN General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/55/199 (20 December 2000) on the "Ten-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development", 

"12. Encourages effective contributions from and the active participation of all major groups, as identified in Agenda 21, at all stages of the preparatory process, in accordance with the rules and procedures of the Commission on Sustainable Development, as well as its established practices for the participation and engagement of major groups; ()

19. Stresses that the preparatory meetings and the 2002 Summit itself should be transparent and provide for effective participation and inputs from Governments and regional and international organizations, including financial institutions, and for contributions from and active participation of major groups, as identified in Agenda 21;"

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development has pioneered multi-stakeholder engagement with the UN with the CSD Multi-stakeholder Dialogues, which have informed the deliberations of the Commission on different topics since 1998. Internationally, the Dialogues represent the most advanced multi-stakeholder discussions within the UN system on sustainable development issues.

This tradition should be developed further in the process towards Earth Summit 2002. Stakeholder dialogues give civil society voices, not votes. The following suggestions are meant to make those voices as effective as possible, in order to: raise awareness of the Earth Summit 2002 process among stakeholders and the general public; ensure informed decision-making through acquiring substantial contributions from all Major Groups; ensure Major Groups participation a transparent and inclusive manner; and build commitment and partnerships which will further the implementation of agreements reached at the Summit.

Process for multi-stakeholder dialogues and thematic round tables

To achieve these goals, the multi-stakeholder dialogues at the Regional and International Preparatory Meetings and the Global Thematic Round Tables should be designed and conducted based on the following principles and steps:

Approach all Major Groups asking for their active engagement in the process towards Earth Summit 2002;

Clarify the role of the dialogues and the global thematic round tables and their linkages with the intergovernmental decision-making process;

Work with a steering group of representatives of all Major Groups, as identified (elected, appointed) by the Major Groups, throughout the process;

Ensure transparency of the processes through ensuring wide consultations within Major Groups' constituencies and publishing minutes of consultations to Major Groups;

Enable meaningful participation by supporting Major Groups through the trust fund, including equitable access to all relevant information and participation at meetings;

Ensure publication of information on the process, issues and outcomes to all stakeholders and the general public.


Identify the issues on the basis of consultations with the steering group, with a view to put precise questions before the stakeholders;

Identify the respective participating Major Groups for each dialogue or round table in consultation with the steering group, based on a careful analysis of which are the most significant stakeholders (key actors, key affected groups); non-participating stakeholders should be informed about procedures and outcomes;

Ask Major Groups to identify their respective representatives at dialogues through transparent processes within their constituencies;

Ask Major Groups to submit background documents well in advance, outlining problem areas, possible solutions, relevant institutions, and possible partnerships for implementation; publish these background documents on the UN website for 2002; provide or commission analysis of the background documents well in advance, identifying commonalities and differences;

Allow sufficient time for preparations, including for consultations within Major Groups constituencies; time tables should be agreed among those participating in the process.


Dialogues should be held at the beginning of meetings and enable governments to participate (no parallel negotiating sessions);

Dialogues should be chaired with a view to identifying common ground among stakeholders and encouraging partnerships for implementation of possible agreements;

Dialogues should be documented in Chair's Summaries to be put forward to subsequent negotiations; participating stakeholders should be consulted when finalising the summaries.

Issues for multi-stakeholder dialogues at PrepComms and global thematic round tables

With regard to identifying the issues to be addressed by the multi-stakeholder dialogues at the International PrepComms, we suggest the following process for the 2nd 4th international PrepComms:

The CSD Secretariat should approach all Major Groups asking for their active engagement in the process towards Earth Summit 2002, and conduct processes of identifying priority issues for the Summit within their constituencies in the most inclusive, transparent, and equitable manner, and ensuring regional and gender balance. These should follow a common format (problem areas; possible solutions; institutional framework; possible achievements for the Summit), and be submitted by September 2001. They should be analysed by November 2001 to identify commonalities and overlaps, which shall be the issues discussed at the dialogue sessions; 

Multi-stakeholder dialogues at the 2nd International PrepComm in January 2002 should focus on discussions on common priority issues. This should include all Major Groups and can be organised in two or three sessions to avoid impractically large numbers of participants;

Multi-stakeholder dialogues at the 3rd PrepComm in March 2002 should focus on priority issues as identified in the official process;

Multi-stakeholder dialogues at the 4th PrepComm should focus on priority issues as identified in the official process, and include a Dialogue Session with Ministers;

Multi-stakeholder dialogues at the Summit itself should focus on a small number of priority issues as addressed by the Summit; these should include all Major Groups but not necessarily the same Major Groups in all dialogue sessions;

With regard to the multi-stakeholder dialogues at the 3rd and 4th International PrepComms, decisions on which Major Groups should participate should be made on the basis of (a) a careful analysis of which ones are the most significant with regard to a particular issue, and (b) consultations with all Major Groups.

The issues to be addressed by the multi-stakeholder dialogues at the Regional PrepComms should be identified through consultations with steering groups of regional Major Groups representatives, with a view to addressing emerging priority issues in the regions (national and regional reports).

The issues to be addressed by the global thematic round tables should be identified through consultations with the steering group of international Major Groups representatives.


* UNED Forum has been working on developing a methodological framework, principles and a step-by-step guide for multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs). The draft report will be discussed at an international workshop (New York, 28/29 April).
Contact: Minu Hemmati (minush@aol.com) and Felix Dodds (fdodds@earthsummit2002.org). All material is available at www.earthsummit2002.org/msp.

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Contact Minu Hemmati and Felix Dodds for further information.