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Statement on Summary and Elements for a Draft Decision
from the NGO Caucus on Sustainable Production & Consumption (SPAC)

Presented by Carolyn Nunley, Consumers International
23 February, 1999, United Nations, New York

Mr. Chairman,

We thank you for this opportunity to address you and the distinguished delegates. We appreciate your hard work and that of the Secretariat in producing these draft documents.

We are pleased to see the many valuable improvements made to these documents, for example, the shift in language from "increased consumption" to "improved standards of living" and the continued recognition of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

We would like to emphasize that the elements discussed in this paper are part of the sustainable production and consumption frameworks which Heads of State agreed to at Rio, and which were emphasized in the Programme of Work. Regrettably, it appears that the commitment to developing such integrative policy frameworks may have been forgotten since it is not mentioned.

This emphasis on developing an overall integrative framework on sustainable production and consumption policies is important because many national policies, such as those on trade and investment, are often at odds with the goals of sustainable production and consumption. For example, trade and investment policies tend to overemphasize the power of the market to solve environmental and social problems. Those places where conflicts or ambiguities arise should not be avoided, but discussed openly with full participation of all stakeholders through major groups dialogues and public consultations.

A key element of national frameworks should be mechanisms for partnerships with major groups and we appreciate the consistent reference you have made to this element. Such partnership mechanisms are especially important in order to include attention and vehicles for dialogues and participation by local communities, indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders who might otherwise be overlooked.

In this regard, please note that NGOs are actively working to develop a mechanism for creating channels of communication between citizens and governments. This NGO initiative, SPAC WATCH, is designed to improve understanding of the problems, opportunities and actions being taken to move societies towards sustainable production and consumption. We invite you to discuss with us ways we can improve the contribution SPAC WATCH makes to our mutual goals.

The papers frequently raise and promote the concept of voluntary initiatives. We would like to emphasize the importance of the multi-stakeholder review process initiated at CSD6 and noted in the summary paper, and urge your support for continuation of this process at CSD7.

Finally, we would like to also call your attention to the recent NGO conference on sustainable production and consumption "From Consumer Society to Sustainable Society" held in Soesterberg, Netherlands, this past month and hope you will reference it with the other conferences noted in the summary paper.

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