By Charles Nouhan and Minu Hemmati, OUTREACH 2 May, 2000
Discussions on 2002 were among the most lively during the High Level
Segment last week. Ministers raised a number of substantive issues, and
there seemed to be wide support for a comprehensive review of Agenda 21 and
a forward-looking Summit.
Ministers also put forward key issues which should be among a short list of
priorities for a Summit in 2002, among them poverty eradication,
globalisation, freshwater, forests and energy.
Lacks vision –
and strong regional preparations to promote substantive work were also
The debate in Working Group 3, however, which started on Monday, seems to
lack some of the substantive points and reference to key issues. Most of
all, it lacks a clarity of vision for the content and design of a successful
process towards 2002.
Donors for Funding
Discussions were not all unanimous. Brazil, the US, and Canada made strong
points on financing the preparatory work for the review, and G77/China began
a debate on the source and identification of donors for funding the
implementation of Agenda 21.
Egypt and Canada spoke against including the subjects of poverty and
globalization, which would shift the focus to environment issues rather than
General Assembly decides
The case for a decision on 2002 to be made by the General Assembly, not at
the CSD, was advocated – points that were repeated on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s session took on a more direct course when the working group went
through the G77/China proposal point by point. Many points were not debated
– that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated; that the preparations for
Earth Summit 2002 should be early and effective, with high quality inputs
from all major groups; that governments should undertake national review
processes; and that ECOSOC should submit its views to the General Assembly
at its 55th session.
Although it was agreed that preparations at the national level should
commence at the conclusion of CSD-8, there was disagreement on the proposal
that preparations at the international level begin in January 2001. Concern
focused on the time needed to consider the larger agenda.
Focus on Further Implementation
In addition, despite broad agreement that the ten-year review should focus
on the further implementation of Agenda 21, the point was made that Earth
Summit 2002 should not ignore the other products of Rio, nor preclude
discussing new issues raised since Agenda 21.
By suggestion from the EU the CSD-8 Chairman’s Summary on 2002 will be
added to the G77 working document. At one point, the US expressed
uncertainly regarding the review taking place at the summit level in a
Korea eloquently argued that at the High Level Segment, there was consensus
on both points. In an unexpected twist, the issue of an environmental focus,
rather that one including the poverty and globalization agendas, did not
Late in the debate, Egypt suggested that the ten-year review should not
include the major groups, since the original summit in Rio was a summit of
governments. This was quickly rejected.
Few South Delegates
The meeting concluded with a lively debate on the establishment of a trust
fund to ensure effective participation of developing countries. Morocco
quickly pointed out that seats in the room usually occupied by delegates
from developing countries were empty, poignantly demonstrating the ongoing
scarcity of funds.
The CSD Secretariat clarified the role that such funding played at Rio in
1992. At that time UNCED set up two trust funds – one for major group and
expert participation and one for developing country participation – both
of which were funded by voluntary contributions. The Secretariat implied a
similar commitment to Earth Summit 2002.
Reviewing the discussion in Working Group 3 so far, one would hope that the
debate turns to picking up some of the concerns and issues raised by NGOs,
such as the importance of multi-stakeholder dialogue and clarifying its role
vis-à-vis the official process.
CSD needs to make strong and consensual recommendations to enable
governments and major groups to start preparations now. Early beginnings
will be absolutely crucial to ensure that all relevant information is on the
table and that meaningful participation can take place.
Remember the Ministers!
Finally and importantly, the debate needs to remember what Ministers
discussed last week and incorporate it with the same amount of clarity,
urgency and energy into the CSD decision on 2002. Otherwise, officials might
have a hard time explaining why their vision and impetus is not reflected
after in the CSD outcome. And Ministers will ask questions!