Earth Summit 2002



This paper is the result of a series of informal discussions hosted by the UN CSD NGO Steering Committee.  Taking place at UNEP's Governing Council in 1999, at sessions of the CSD in 1998 & 1999 and at the WHO/UNECE London Environment and Health Conference, the paper reflects the views of a range of different groups involved in the Sustainable Development Agenda.  The purpose of the paper is to stimulate discussion and thinking around what Earth Summit 2002 can achieve and on the role of different stakeholders in preparation to the Summit and in follow up.


Non Paper 2 February 2000

Earth Summit 2002



The Earth Summit in 1992 was a very significant event. Not only did it agree on Agenda 21, but also the Rio Declaration, two conventions (Climate and Biodiversity) and the Forest Principles. It set in motion a series of processes that are impacting on our lives in many different ways. The Summit provided enormous amounts of energy and commitment to people to try and find solutions to the problems that Agenda 21 identified. It helped to show people the link between themselves, their environment locally and globally and the links between social, environmental and economic decisions.

The UN General Assembly Special Session in 1997 (Earth Summit II) took many governments by surprise. They hadn’t prepared for this session and the enormous work that had gone into creating the political climate for 1992 was not repeated in a satisfactory manner. Most governments started preparation less than a year before the Special Session and did so with the realization that the Rio accord had not been kept to by many countries notably the developed world. In particular, funding for the implementation of Agenda 21 had decreased from 1992 to 1997, and not increased as had been promised. The result of this was an event that did not give a clear message of where we might be going and how we might get there together. Instead it was filled with disappointment and frustration.

The world has changed enormously since the 1992 Summit. We have seen globalization come to the forefront, we have experienced the outcome of the changes in Eastern Europe, as well as the increased role for multi-national companies, to mention but a few changes. For us to address these, Earth Summit 2002 needs to rekindle the fire of the Rio accord and to update it in light of what we have learnt in the last ten years.

The next Summit needs to map out a clear agenda for the first part of the 21st century in a way that enables people, their communities, Major Groups, governments and the UN, to understand what role they have and they need to play. We need timetables and targets and financial support to release them.



United Nations

Earth Summit 2002 should be held outside New York. Preferences are for it to be held in a developing country. The General Assembly can meet and discuss modalities for 2002 at the earliest in May 2000.

There should be an agreement at the General Assembly in 2000 to formally link the Istanbul + 5 process to the Earth Summit 2002 process. This should be done by focusing at Istanbul + 5 on the local implementation of Agenda 21 as well as the Habitat II Agenda. The Istanbul + 5 Conference should have a significant section dedicated to Dialogues between governments and stakeholders on implementation and good practice on the above.

A Secretary General for the Summit should be agreed in 2000.

As soon as possible a secretariat should be put together by the UN to work on preparations for the Summit. This should be a separate secretariat brought together from the UN and capitals to organize and service the Summit preparatory process. The CSD Secretariat should concentrate on servicing the review of Agenda 21 which should be completed by the CSD Intersessional and the CSD in 2002

The UN Regional Commissions should be requested to hold regional preparatory meetings between 2000 and the end of 2001.


Commission on Sustainable Development 2002


The CSD in 2002 and the Intersessional in 2002 should deal with reviewing implementation and looking at the roadblocks and lessons learnt. It should prepare a paper for the Summit on the basis of this.

The UNGASS for Copenhagen + 5 (2000), Beijing + 5 (2000) and Istanbul + 5 and the Commission on Population and Development should be asked to report on those aspects of Agenda 21 they have been working on to the CSD in 2002.

UN Agencies should be asked to report to the CSD in 2002 on their implementation of Agenda 21 and address the obstacles and how they are going to overcome them.

The Rio Conventions should report to the CSD in 2002 on the work they have done and the roadblocks to future action.

The National Councils on Sustainable Development should prepare reports for the CSD in 2002 on:

a) the development of National Sustainable Development Strategies;

b) the implementation of Agenda 21. Sustainable Development in 2003 and 2004 respectively.


Earth Summit

There should be a separate preparatory process for the Summit. The Prep Coms should look at the new agenda around globalization and sustainable development.

The Summit should set timetables and targets that can be achieved up to the next global summit in 2012. This should be an integrating Summit for Copenhagen, Rio, Istanbul and Cairo.

The Summit should encompass the Stakeholder Dialogue Process into all of the preparatory meetings and the Summit itself.

The future of the Commission on Sustainable Development will have to be addressed by the Summit. The CSD has been a success at keeping the sustainable development agenda together but not at moving the agenda forward in enough of a significant way. The CSD for the period from 2003-2012.

There should be active involvement of all relevant UN Agencies, Conventions and UN Commissions to developing the new agenda for the 21st Century.

It might be considered that in addition to the global preparatory meetings, there could be some key issue preparatory meetings. These might include:

a) The Freshwater Conference to be hosted by Germany in 2001.

b) The Third Financing for LDCs Conference to be held in Belgium in 2001.

After Earth Summit III the UN Regional Commissions should be asked to review annually the regional implementation of the outcomes of Agenda 21 and to develop regional legally binding agreements where appropriate. There could be a Summit of the Regions in 2007 to:

a) review implementation of Agenda 21 and Campaign 21 - A New Deal;

b) share good practice.



Governments should complete their National Sustainable Development Strategies by late 2001, so that they can be analyzed for the Summit in 2002. This should focus on what the elements of a key Sustainable Development Strategy should be.

National Councils on Sustainable Development should be asked to produce a review of the national implementation of Agenda 21 in their countries. They should report to the CSD in 2002.

Developed countries should produce plans on how they are going to reach the OECD development targets for 2015.

Governments should review the policy framework they are operating in the relationship they are having with different UN Agencies and the Bretton Woods Institutions, putting sustainable development at the centre of that framework. This should ensure joined-up government thinking.


Major Groups

NGOs and other Major Groups should prepare for Earth Summit 2002 by organizing national, regional and global preparatory meetings of their own. This should lead to not only input to the formal process, but also to agree their own set of targets and to negotiate with other stakeholders initiatives to be announced in 2002.

The Centre for Human Settlements should co-ordinate with local authority organizations (ICLEI and IULA), NGOs, Women, Industry and other Major Groups a review of LA21 processes for Istanbul + 5. It should also produce guidelines for ensuring that LA 21 process does cover the whole of sustainable development issues.

The Division for Sustainable Development should work closely with UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO and the relevant Major Groups (including NGOs, Business and Industry, and Trade Unions) to review the role of Voluntary Initiatives and Agreements in implementing Agenda 21, and produce a mechanism to support that work (such as a toolkit).

For 2002 the ICC Business Charter for Sustainable Development should be reviewed with recommendations for elements of a new Charter. There should be a major stakeholder meeting at Earth Summit 2002, including the participation of CEOs from companies prepared to endorse the new Charter. The Charter should include measurable targets and dates.

The media needs to be engaged earlier in the preparation for Earth Summit 2002. An advisory group including leading experts from the media (television, newspapers, radio and electronic media) should be convened to work with stakeholder groups.

Reviewing the list of Major Groups and developing a framework for recognizing new ones e.g. older people, religious community and the education community.

The Major Groups, Governments, UN to agree upon a methodological framework to collect good practice examples to analyse them and draw recommendations, as well as to agree a mechanism for wide dissemination.



The Earth Charter being developed by the Earth Council should become the initial text for the Charter negotiations for 2002. It will be the equivalent to the Rio Declaration. The Charter could have an annex including guidelines for the implementation of its principles.


Finance, Trade and Investment

Some of the developed countries have Governments that are now willing to consider increases in aid flows. This is the first time since Rio that this has happened, already Canada and the UK are increasing aid and the Nordic Governments and the Government of the Netherlands are still providing very high levels of aid. In preparation for 2002 developed countries should be honest about what is possible in aid giving. By itself aid will not be sufficient to ensure that we implement sustainable development policies in developing countries.

The UN has a series of finance related meetings which should help develop the background agenda for Earth Summit 2002. These are:

Financing Development -  the Financing Development Conference/General Assembly in 2001 which is having a series of preparatory meetings throughout 1999 and 2000 on issues such as:

(a) Mobilizing domestic resources for development;

(b) Mobilizing international private financial flows for development;

(c) International financial cooperation for development; and

(d) External debt (bilateral, multilateral and commercial) .

High Level ECOSOC - the high level meetings between ECOSOC and the Bretton Woods Institutions;

CSD - the CSD discussion on finance, trade and investment in 2000.

Millennium Round - under the WTO

Third Conference on Financing LDCs - 2001 Belgium

There are also a series of other debates that may impact on this process.

World Bank - the more progressive role that the Bank is taking and the need to target the work of the Bank to delivering sustainable development;

GEF - the Global Environment Facility should be expanded to cover the additional international costs of the implementation of Agenda 21;

Debt - the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign;

UNDP - the focusing of UNDP on poverty targets;  


Public Goods - the work by UNDP on Public Goods could open up a significantly debate. Issues such as equity and justice, market efficiency, environment and cultural heritage, health, knowledge and information, peace and security. The public goods debate also looks at the key weaknesses in the current arrangements for providing global public goods the jurisdictional, participation and incentive gaps;

Investment - should there be a new multi-lateral agreement on investment negotiated under the United Nations, taking into consideration the environment, human rights and labour conventions? Promotion of the UNEP Banking and Insurance Initiatives;

New Financial Mechanisms - the development of new financial mechanisms such as:

a) Air fuel Tax - If Europe could agree an Air fuel Tax by 2002 the income could be focused on sustainable development in developing countries;

b) Tobin Tax - now needed even more than before to put a damper on current speculation;

c) Tax on Internet in the north.

UN Agency involvement: World Bank, IMF, WTO, UNCTAD and UNDP


Globalization - Private Capital Flows

This issue is probably the most important the world has to face in the near and medium term future. The richest 225 persons in the world now control more than $1 trillion in wealth equal to the annual income of the poorest 47% of the world's population. When one adds to this the amount of private capital under the direction of mutual funds and other investment mechanisms, we have a situation where a small group of individuals and institutions have the power to determine the economic development or collapse of economies world wide. This situation calls out for supra- national or multilateral regulatory mechanisms, without which development for most of the world will be outside the control of the countries who most need it. The Regional Preparatory UN Conferences should address this and bring recommendations forward.



1. Rio Conventions - there are a series of Conventions that were negotiated for Rio or came out of Rio/CSD. These are known as the Rio Conventions.

a) Climate Change



d) Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks

e) Persistent Organic Pollutants and Prior Informed Consent (to be completed by 2001)

UN Agency Involvement: UNEP and Convention Secretariat

2. Earth Summit 2002 - should produce a review of the implementation of the present set, a quantification of their impacts and the obstacles that need to be addressed by 2002. This analysis should also include conventions such as Basel, CITES and the Montreal Protocol which predated Rio.

The relationship between these conventions and the WTO needs to be agreed formally and may need to be incorporated into the Millennium Round of the WTO.

There are some possible new conventions that might be negotiated by 2002:

Forests - the Inter-governmental Forum on Forests will make its recommendations to the CSD in 2000 on whether there should be a new convention on forests or not. If the CSD does not recommend the setting up of an INC then it may keep the option open for the Summit to address in 2002.

UN Agency involvement: FAO, UNEP, DCSD

3. Access to Information - the UN ECE negotiated in 1998 the Aarhus Convention - on Access to Information, Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. There are three possible ways forward on this area:

a) a global convention;

b) promotion of regional conventions;

c) signing on to the Aarhus Convention.

UN Agency involvement: UNECE, UNEP and other UN Commissions.

4. Chemicals - a chemical framework convention could be started after the POPs (targeted for completion by 2001) and PICs (completed in 1998 needs 50 ratifications) have been

UN Agency involvement: UNEP

5. Bio-Safety - renewed impetus needs to be given to work on the bio-safety protocol to the biodiversity convention.

6. Bio-Prospecting and Benefit Sharing - a bio-prospecting protocol to the bio-diversity convention could be ready.

UN Agency involvement: UNEP, Biodiversity Convention

7. Regional Conventions - there are a series of regional conventions that could be developed either in time for Earth Summit 2002, eg:

a) Transport - a UNECE regional Convention on Transport;

b) Air Pollution - an Asian regional Convention on Air Pollution;

or more broadly afterwards; on issues such as freshwater, forests, air pollution;  as part of a co-coordinated approach by the UN Regional Commissions.

UN Agency Involvement: DESA, UN Regional Commissions, Relevant UN Convention Secretariats


Emerging and Emergency Issues

Earth Summit 2002 will have to deal with a set of issues that are thought to need urgent international action. These are likely to include the issues addressed in the convention section and the following:

1. Education

One of the key issues underlying all of the issues in Agenda 21 is Education. The development of Chapter 36 into a more coherent work programme is crucial. Education must support the other work areas within Agenda 21. UNESCO should be asked to prioritize outreach to young people on sustainable development for Earth Summit 2002.

UN Agency Involvement: UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP

2. Poverty Eradication

The developed countries have now set the target for halving the world's poorest people by 2015. The summit should review progress towards this target and suggest strategies for achieving it. The commitment in WSSD for all countries to have a poverty strategy should be reviewed and recommendations for harmonization with sustainable development strategies agreed. All issues that will be addressed by Earth Summit 2002 should be looked at their impact on reducing poverty. This will include finance which is addressed above.

UN Agency Involvement: UNDP, World Bank, Regional Development Banks, IMF, UNCHS, UN Development Group

3.; Cap33. Capacity Building

UN Agency Involvement: UNDP, UNEP, UNCTAD, UNICEF, UNESCO, FAO, DESA, World Bank, ILO

4.  Technology Co-operation

UN Agency Involvement: UNCTAD, UNDP, FAO, WHO, ILO


Environmental Security Issues

1. Freshwater. We know that this is becoming an increasing problem. The World Water Commission should be asked to input formally to the preparations for Earth Summit 2002 with their analysis and recommendations for solutions with timetables and targets.

UN Agency Involvement: UNDP, UNEP, UNCHS, FAO

2. Food. With an increasing population - we are at present at or near the steepest part of the increase in population, even though it will stabilize. The access to adequate food in the early part of the millennium will be crucial. Issues such as GMOs may need to be addressed by the Summit.

UN Agency Involvement: FAO, UNDP, World Bank, UNICEF

3. Consumption and Production. The present and future impacts of our consumption patterns need to change to enable us to retail our resource base. The promotion and integration of factor 4 and factor 10 will have an important impact but we also need to look more closely at consumer behaviour, what the drivers to consumption are e.g. age and gender, to be able to influence it more effectively. The UK organized Down to Earth Conference, the Norwegian and Brazil process and the new Oxford Commission should work together to ensure that we might be able to address these issues with more clarity by 2002.

UN Agency Involvement:

4. Health. Particularly HIV and TB. Development is not possible in a society, which does not have access to adequate health care. There are two diseases or plagues, which are decimating societies in the South: HIV and TB. Today, there are already more than 34 million people infected with HIV and 14 million have already died. At current rates of infection by the year 2016 we will have an infection rate numbering somewhere in the neighbourhood of 140 million, more than 96% in the developing countries. TB will have killed more than 30 million people this decade. These are development issues, which must be addressed in any review of Agenda 21.

UN Agency Involvement:

5. Science and Technology. One of the new emerging issues here is the rights to compulsory licensing of patents, particularly as regards pharmaceutical products and patent extensions. In addition, one has to address not only the issue of biotechnology and bio prospecting but also the patenting of naturally occurring human proteins and enzymes. Perhaps in preparation for 2002 the science community should host a conference to look at the future environmental challenges.

UN Agency Involvement:


7.  Tourism. The CSD in 1999 dealt with tourism for the first time. Tourism offers an important driver for sustainable development. A set of sustainable tourism guidelines for any tourist development should be agreed.

UN Agency Involvement: WTO, DESA, UNEP, UNDP, ILO

8. Transport. We are seeing a massive increase in the use of transport using fossil fuels. This increases not only CO2 emissions but also other gases, which contribute to pollution that results in numerous health hazards and environmental damage - both domestically and internationally. The negotiating of a UNECE Convention on Transport should offer a model for other UN Regions.

UN Agency Involvement: UN Regional Commissions, UNEP, UNDP

9. Oceans and Seas. The 1999 CSD set up a new process for reviewing the work and progress on Oceans and Seas. For 2002 we would want to know the progress in implementing:

a) the impact of the straddling and highly migratory fish stocks agreement;

;;;; b) t bb) theWashington Global Plan of Action;

c) the status of the implementation of UNEPs Regional Seas Conventions;

d) the Law of the Sea Convention;

e) the gaps in institutional responsibility for ocean related issues;

In addition to review the chance need to start negotiating a protocol to MARPOL for oil platforms.

UN Agency Involvement: IMO, UNCHS, UNEP, UNDP, UN Regional Commissions


The Role of Multinational Corporations

Agenda 21 has brought in an unprecedented development of partnerships between all stakeholder groups. This has been a positive outcome but at the same time with globalization we have seen the ability of companies to move quickly around the globe at times with very negative impacts. The CSD in 1998 agreed to look at the role of Voluntary Initiatives but a larger discussion is needed about a possible Global Charter for Multi-National Corporations (possibly the new ICC Charter) also taking into consideration the OECD Review of Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.. This would not be legally binding but would enable countries to ask companies coming in to abide by the outlined principles. Such a charter might form the basis of guidelines for national legislation.

UN Agency Involvement: UNEP, DESA, ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD

Institutional Options 

What follows is some discussion on institutional options that might be considered for 2002.

1) UN Charter change

Perhaps one of the easiest ideas would seem to embed a change in the UN Charter so that the body as a whole is able to promote sustainable development throughout its work. Like any constitution the ability to amend one is taken very seriously and the idea of amending the Charter may become an outcome of the UN Millennium Assembly. It has gained support from many stakeholder groups and some governments. If not then the Summit in 2002 should have it as one of the issues that it would address.

2) Utilizing the Security Council

Under the Charter of the UN the functions and powers of the Security Council allow for it to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purpose of the United Nations

Environmental security issues can to be brought to the Security Council. Under articles 22 and 29 of the UN Charter a Standing Committee on Environment and Development could be created which as one of its tasks would be to raise in the Security Council issues of environment and development that could undermine international peace and security. It is only relatively recently that the issue of environmental security has come further up the political agenda. UNEP’s Global Outlook Report (GEO) 2000 registered, for the first time, that environmental refugees are now a greater number than those caused by conflict. The GEO 2000 report also showed other issues that might cause conflict in the future where we will see 2/3rds of the world’s population by the year 2020 living in water stressed areas. NATO and other bodies are now seriously looking at environmental security issues - so should the Security Council.

The Security Council has dealt with development crisis issues and called on NGOs such as Oxfam to address the Security Council. This approach should be expanded in a co-ordinated way.

3) Realigning the Bretton Woods Institutions


One of the key questions that needs to be addressed by developed countries for the Summit will be: are they committed to democratic governance and transparency within the UN system? The 1990s have seen a shift among developing countries and the former Soviet block to democratic regimes. This has happened at the same time as there has been a move away from the UN towards the Bretton Woods institutions for discussions on finance, trade and even some poverty debate. The result of this is that the developed countries now have a greater control of the agenda through Bretton Woods institutions. The integration of the Bretton Woods institutions back into the UN is something that needs to be on the agenda for 2002.

The Economic and Social Council have been conducting a series of dialogues with the Bretton Woods institutions. It is too early to say where these are going, but the hope is that they start to bring the institutions into a more focused and accountable relationship with ECOSOC. One of the issues here is not only related to the World Bank, but also related to what impact does a decision by ECOSOC or the General Assembly have on UN Agencies and Programmes?

4) Trusteeship Council

The Trusteeship Council is one of the United Nations six principal organs [1] and has played a vital role in the process of decolonization and overseeing the progress of trust territories to independence and self government. One of the recommendations from the Commission on Global Governance was that the Trusteeship Council should be given a new mandate: 

to exercise trusteeship over the global commons.

One of the strengths of the idea is it would be a body acting on the behalf of all nations. It would give due recognition to the importance of the environment. Its functions would, according to the Commission on Global Governance, include the administration of environmental treaties in such fields as climate change, bio diversity, outer space and the Law of the Sea. It would refer, as appropriate, any economic or security issues arising from these matters to the Economic Security Council [2] or the Security Council.

Putting this recommendation into practice would have a drastic impact on UNEP and the CSD and could see the discussion of sustainable development again taken apart with economic and social issues being referred to the proposed Economic Security Council or to the present Economic and Social Council and environmental issues going to the Trusteeship Council.

Another possible way of approaching the Trusteeship Council is to have it take the place of the CSD and address the soft and hard areas of sustainable development but at a higher level within the UN. This would ensure and further the necessary integrated approach to sustainable development. If the practice of how the CSD operates could be retained and the active involvement of capitals then it would take away the need for the CSD recommendations to go to ECOSOC and to the GA. If sustainable development is taken in its broadest sense then it could include work done at present by some of the other functioning Commissions of ECOSOC, like the Social Development Commission.

5) World Environment Organization 

In the preparation for the 1997 Earth Summit II the issue of the need to create a counterbalance to the World Trade Organization became more and more obvious.

The discussion on the World Environment Organization was brought to the 1997 Special Session of the General Assembly by Germany, with the support of South Africa, Singapore and Brazil. The discussion fell on deaf ears as there had been little real preparation and the financial situation in the world did not allow for the creation of such a body.

One suggestion for the WEO is to collect together under one organization UNEP, the Conventions and the Global Environmental Facility. By doing so it would enable the Conventions to have the financial mechanism to deliver the convention built into the same institution. There are some interesting issues that would have to be addressed if this approach were to be taken. These would be:

Should the body be set up with a universal membership?

How can the issue that different countries have ratified different conventions be addressed?

What relationship will this body have to the UN as a whole and to the WTO?

What relationship will it have to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development?

If these questions can be answered adequately, then finally it will have to answer the issue of focusing on environment and not sustainable development. It will strengthen greatly the environmental axis but where does that put the interplay between the environment and development agendas that Rio brought about?

A different suggestion concerning how one constructs a World Environment Organization has come from the Yale Environmental Governance Dialogue. They suggest that some of the key problems that need to be addressed are:

That there is fragmentation of the present environmental regime (UNEP, CSD, UNDP, WMO, IOC, FAO, UNESCO, and treaty organizations) and that this hampers efforts on co-ordination;

The organizations that we depend for internationally to deal with environmental issues have narrow mandates and small budgets;

 The location of UNEP;

The present global environmental governance structure is dated and needs restructuring;


The Yale Dialogue came forward with some suggestions of the way forward. They suggested that a global environmental organization should have the capacity to:

Gather data and monitor environmental indicators;

Provide an early warning system to forecast and identify environmental disasters and societies at risk;

Promote information and technology exchange;

Serve as a catalytic force to focus the world community on emerging global scale pollution and resource management issues;

Acts as a convening authority to co-ordinate global responses to environmental challenges (engaging not only governments but also civil society at large including business and NGOs) offer a forum for dispute resolution;

Establish policy guidelines to promote global responses to environmental challenges.


They argue that in the short term, institutional co-ordination might be achieved through a new UN Development and Environment Group, chaired jointly by the heads of UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank. They suggest that the new global environment organization should have a three level structure. The core function should be an effective international response to inherently global issues.

At the centre of this entity, organizations responsible for the global commons - UNEP, WMO, the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO could be merged. They suggest a second level would be co-ordination of the conventions without compromising the legal character of the Conferences of the Parties. The third level would be permanent consultation links with CSD, UNDP, FAO, WHO and UNESCO and the multilateral economic and development agencies as well as stakeholders working in the field of environment.

What is clear is that the discussion on a World Environment Organization is now being addressed seriously by NGOs, think tanks and governments. There is a rich agenda of ideas on the way forward which will make it more likely that there will be progress.

6) Strengthening UNEP

Following the 1997 UN General Assembly Special Session to review Rio, the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, established a Task Force on Environment and Human Settlements under the new UNEP Executive Director Klaus Topfer. Its purpose was to draft recommendations for improving of the work of the United Nations in the area of environment and human settlements.


One of the key areas it was to look at was the co-ordination of the UN Conventions in the area of environment. It had become increasingly clear that many of the conventions cover common areas and the need to be able to have them work together has become more important. The Report did make suggestions for better coordination:


7)  A Committee of the General Assembly

One of the suggestions before the Rio Conference was that there should be a setting up of a Sustainable Development Committee of the General Assembly. Discussions then were of a UN Standing Committee similar to the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy which was created after the 1982 UN Energy Conference to oversee follow-up. One of the results of the 1997 Special Session was to take responsibility for this area which the Standing Committee had not dealt with adequately.

A more adventurous idea would be for one of the General Assembly Committees - parts of the second combined with parts of the third - to become the sustainable development GA Committee. This would require governments to commit funds to ensure that the discussion was supported adequately by capital experts in the issues and not just Representatives from Government Missions in New York. It would also require an opening of the system to allow Major Groups a more effective involvement along the lines that the CSD has pioneered. The result though would be a higher level discussion on sustainable development with all countries taking part, not just 53 as is the case with the CSD.

8) UNDP and other UN Agencies

Agenda 21 was full of recommendations for the UN Agencies and Programmes. One of the problems has been to try to ensure that these place sustainable development and Agenda 21 at the heart of their work. There has been some good work by some people in some of the UN Agencies and Programmes but it is hard to see a real concerted and strategic approach being carried out from Rio. Some of the ways this might be approached beyond 2002 are:

The IACSD to produce a report on implementation of the Earth Summit 2002 each year for the CSD and for governments to review it. This will create the opportunity for holding UN Agencies and Programmes answerable in a forum other than their own Governing Council;

The UN Development Group (UNDO) to be empowered to produce reports on implementation at the national level;

UNDP to make poverty eradication the key to delivering their contribution to sustainable development;

All relevant UN Agencies and Programmes to have the follow-up to Earth Summit 2002 an item on their governing council agendas up to 2012.

9) CSD moving the envelope forward

The CSD has moved forward the involvement of Major Groups and, as was mentioned before, it has managed to set itself up as a political forum with a high level of involvement from Ministers.

For the period beyond 2002 the need for more joined up thinking between the CSD and the other UN Commissions that are actively involved in monitoring aspects of Agenda 21 and whatever comes out of Earth Summit 2002 would be very important.

The UN Economic and Social Council has four Commissions that cover areas that could work together more. These are the Commissions on Social Development, Status of Women, Sustainable Development and Population and Development. All of these Commissions are serviced by the UN Department for Social and Economic Affairs (DESA). In the next phase of work these Commissions plus the Commission on Human Settlement, which is a standing committee, could work for a set of common meetings.



Sectoral themes

Key Bodies

Cross cutting issues

Dialogue session


Health- Aids & HIV

Air pollution




UN Commission on Population & Development


International Financial Institutions

trade, investment, consumption and production and poverty

AIDS/HIV and development finance





Commission on Status of Women



trade, investment finance consumption and production






Commission on Social Development, UNDP

World Bank and IMF, FAO

trade, investment, finance, consumption and production

poverty and environment



Commission on Human Settlement, UNDP, UNCHS, UNEP, World Bank

trade, investment, finance, consumption and production


(Table 1 Possible Work Programme of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 2003-2007)

This approach would have some very important side effects. It would not only ensure more co-ordination between the UN Divisions responsible for servicing the UN Commissions but it would also force government departments to co-ordinate among themselves, which should ensure that there is better implementation. Table 1 tries to give some idea of what an integrated approach to beyond 2002 might look like.

10) Regional Commissions monitoring implementations

Post-Earth Summit 2002 there will still need to be a review of government's and other stakeholder's implementation of Agenda 21. This could be devolved to the UN Regional Commissions. The Commissions were under threat in the 1980s from certain countries who saw them as unnecessary institutions.

If financed adequately they have the possibility to be a very effective monitoring and implementation level. The countries that are members tend to have much more in common than at a global level in the area of economic development. Many face similar environmental problems and a structured review at the regional level with built in multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, timetables and targets to implement the agreed outcomes should ensure that developing countries would then want to see the required funds, technological transfer and capacity building released.

The UN Economic Commission for Europe has been an effective law-maker across Eastern and Western Europe in areas such as air pollution. Other UN Regions have yet to go down this way but they could. There is consideration for a Convention on trans-boundary air pollution within the area of the UN Commission for South East Asia. There could be a co-ordinated approach between the different UN Commissions where each would also work to an agreed multi-year thematic programme of work. Table 2 makes an attempt to produce a possible 5 year work programme at moving to create regional law.



Sectoral themes to review

Key Bodies

Cross cutting issues

Dialogue session










Human Settlements

Technological Transfer

Capacity Building


Air pollution











Technological Transfer

Capacity Building













Technological Transfer

Capacity Building









Regional Fisheries Bodies




Technological Transfer

Capacity Building








Table 2: Possible work programme for UN Regional Commission

To support this institutionally, the Inter Agency Committee on Sustainable Development should convene a yearly meeting of high-level representatives from the Regional Commissions and relevant UN Agencies - including the Bretton Worlds Institutions - to oversee co-ordination.

This could lead to a Summit of the Regions [3]  five years after Earth Summit 2002 to share the experiences of implementation and development of a framework of regional law.


Obstacles to Implementation

One of the key problems in the implementation of Agenda 21 has been the lack of systematic and shared understanding of what the obstacles are. Earth Summit 2002 will need to agree to address these issues. They may be:


a lack of peace;



transfer of knowledge and technology;

lack of sufficiently differentiated data;

lack of participation of relevant stakeholders.


One problem with this is that addressing obstacles is an analytical rather than a visionary process. Therefore, this requires a thorough preparatory process to enable Earth Summit III itself to agree upon strategies to overcome obstacles.


The Way Forward

If what was started in Rio at Earth Summit I is going to lead to a more sustainable society and a healthier planet, then the 3rd Earth Summit needs to be as significant as the first. World opinion needs to be re-mobilized and countries and groups need to be held accountable for the commitments they have made to one another. An agenda can be forged that, with careful work and strong partnership, will result in an enormous revitalization of sustainable development agendas as we begin our next century.

At the end of 2002 we should be able to see:

a re-vitalized and integrated UN system for sustainable development;

a new deal on finance - enabling a deal on sustainable development;

a sharing of poverty strategies;

a work program to meet the OECD targets on poverty;

an integration of trade and sustainable development;

a clearer understanding of how governments should move forward nationally in implementing Agenda 21;

a new Charter - the 'Earth Charter' - which could lay the foundations for countries to frame their sustainable development policies;

a review of the work of the present set of Rio Conventions - looking at overlaps, gaps and obstacles and strategies to overcome these;

possibly a set of new regional or even global conventions;

a set of policy recommendations for the environmental security issues that are facing us;

a set of agreed indicators for sustainable development;

a set of strategies to overcome obstacles towards implementation of Agenda 21;

LA21: recognition of LA21 as the multi-stakeholder process for implementation at the local level;

new compliance mechanisms to ensure countries are liable to censure for failure to act in a growing range of sustainable development issues;

a clear set of commitments to implement by the UN, Governments and Major Groups.


The Challenge is now to create the mechanisms to enable this to happen.



[1] The other five are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat.

[2] The Global Governance Commission also argues for an Economic Security Council which would have the aims to continuously assess the overall state of the world economy and the interaction between major policy areas; to provide a long term strategic policy framework in order to promote stable, balanced, and sustainable development; to secure consistency between the policy goals of the major international organisations, particularly the multilateral economic institutions (the Bretton Woods bodies and the WTO), while recognising their distinct role; to promote consensus-building dialogue between governments on the evolution of the international economic system, while providing a global forum for some of the new forces in the world economy - such as regional organisations.

[3] Suggested by a French Government Official.

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