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Earth Summit II

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Chapter 3. B. Sectors and issues

33. The present section identifies a number of specific areas that are of widespread concern since failure to reverse current trends in these areas, notably in resource degradation, will have potentially disastrous effects on social and economic development, on human health and on environmental protection for all countries, particularly developing countries. All sectors covered by Agenda 21 are equally important and thus deserve attention by the international community on an equal footing. The need for integration is important in all sectors, including the areas of energy and transport because of the adverse effects that developments in those areas can have on human health and ecosystems; the areas of agriculture and water use, where inadequate land-use planning, poor water management and inappropriate technology can result in the degradation of natural resources and human impoverishment and where drought and desertification can result in land degradation and soil loss; and the area of management of marine resources, where competitive overexploitation can damage the resource base, food supplies and the livelihood of fishing communities, as well as the environment. The recommendations made in each of the sectors take into account the need for international cooperation in support of national efforts, within the context of the principles of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, including, inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It is likewise understood that these recommendations do not in any way prejudice the work accomplished under legally binding conventions, where they exist, concerning these sectors.

Freshwater

34. Water resources are essential for satisfying basic human needs, health and food production, and the preservation of ecosystems, as well as for economic and social development in general. It is a matter of urgent concern that more than one fifth of all people still do not have access to safe drinking water and more than one half of humanity lacks adequate sanitation. From the perspective of developing countries, fresh water is a priority and a basic need, especially taking into account that in many developing countries fresh water is not readily available for all segments of the population, inter alia, owing to lack of adequate infrastructure and capacity, water scarcity, and technical and financial constraints. Moreover, fresh water is also crucial for developing countries in order to satisfy the basic needs of their population in the areas of agricultural irrigation, industrial development, hydroelectric generation, and so forth. In view of the growing demands on water, which is a finite resource, it will become a major limiting factor in socio-economic development unless early action is taken. There is growing concern regarding the increasing stress on water supplies caused by unsustainable use patterns, affecting both water quality and quantity, and the widespread lack of access to safe water supply and suitable sanitation in many developing countries. Because the commitments of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade of the 1980s have not been fully met, there is still a need to ensure the optimal use and protection of all fresh-water resources, so that the needs of everyone on this planet, including access to safe drinking water and sanitation, can be met. This calls for the highest priority to be given to the serious fresh-water problems facing many regions, especially in the developing world. There is an urgent need:

(a) To assign high priority, in accordance with specific national needs and conditions, to the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for integrated watershed management, including issues related to pollution and waste, the interrelationship between water and land, including mountains, forests, upstream and downstream users, estuarine environments, biodiversity and the preservation of aquatic ecosystems, wetlands, climate and land degradation and desertification, recognizing that subnational, national and regional approaches to fresh-water protection and consumption following a watershed basin or river basin approach offer a useful model for the protection of fresh-water supplies;

(b) To strengthen regional and international cooperation for technological transfer and the financing of integrated water resources programmes and projects, in particular those designed to increase access to safe water supply and sanitation;

(c) To ensure the continued participation of local communities, and women in particular, in the management of water resources development and use;

(d) To provide an enabling national and international environment that encourages investments from public and private sources to improve water supply and sanitation services, especially in fast growing urban and peri-urban areas, as well as in poor rural communities in developing countries; and for the international community to adopt and implement commitments to support the efforts to assist developing countries in achieving access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all;

(e) To recognize water as a social and economic good with a vital role in the satisfaction of basic human needs, food security, poverty alleviation and the protection of ecosystems. Economic valuation of water should be seen within the context of its social and economic implications, reflecting the importance of meeting basic needs. Consideration should be given to the gradual implementation of pricing policies that are geared towards cost recovery and the equitable and efficient allocation of water, including the promotion of water conservation, in developed countries; such policies could also be considered in developing countries when they reach an appropriate stage in their development, so as to promote the harmonious management and development of scarce water resources and generate financial resources for investment in new water supply and treatment facilities. Such strategies should also include programmes assigned to minimize wasteful consumption of water;

(f) To strengthen the capability of Governments and international institutions to collect and manage information, including scientific, social and environmental data, in order to facilitate the integrated assessment and management of water resources, and foster regional and international cooperation for information dissemination and exchange through cooperative approaches among United Nations institutions, including the United Nations Environment Programme, and centres for environmental excellence. In this regard, technical assistance to developing countries will continue to be important;

(g) For the international community to give support to the efforts of developing countries, with their limited resources, to shift to higher-value, less water-intensive modes of agricultural and industrial production and to develop the educational and informational infrastructure necessary to improve the skills of the labour force required for the economic transformation that needs to take place if use of fresh-water resources is to be sustainable. International support for the integrated development of water resources in developing countries, and appropriate innovative initiatives and approaches at the bilateral and regional levels are also required;

(h) To encourage watercourse States to develop international watercourses with a view to attaining sustainable utilization and appropriate protection thereof and benefits therefrom, taking into account the interests of the watercourse States concerned.

35. Considering the urgent need for action in the field of fresh water, and building on existing principles and instruments, arrangements, programmes of action and customary uses of water, Governments call for a dialogue under the aegis of the Commission on Sustainable Development, beginning at its sixth session, aimed at building a consensus on the necessary actions, and in particular, on the means of implementation and on tangible results, in order to consider initiating a strategic approach for the implementation of all aspects of the sustainable use of fresh water for social and economic purposes, including, inter alia, safe drinking water and sanitation, water for irrigation, recycling, and waste-water management, and the important role fresh water plays in natural ecosystems. This intergovernmental process will be fully fruitful only if there is a proved commitment by the international community to the provision of new and additional financial resources for the goals of this initiative.

Oceans and seas

36. Progress has been achieved since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in the negotiation of agreements and voluntary instruments for improving the conservation and management of fishery resources and for the protection of the marine environment. Furthermore, progress has been made in the conservation and management of specific fishery stocks for the purpose of securing the sustainable utilization of these resources. Despite this, the decline of many fish stocks, high levels of discards, and rising marine pollution continue. Governments should take full advantage of the challenge and opportunity presented by the International Year of the Ocean in 1998. There is a need to continue to improve decision-making at the national, regional and global levels. To address the need for improving global decision-making on the marine environment, there is an urgent need for Governments to implement decision 4/15 of the Commission on Sustainable Development, 23/ in which the Commission, inter alia, called for a periodic intergovernmental review by the Commission of all aspects of the marine environment and its related issues, as described in chapter 17 of Agenda 21, and for which the overall legal framework was provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. There is a need for concerted action by all countries and for improved cooperation to assist developing countries in implementing the relevant agreements and instruments in order that they may participate effectively in the sustainable use, conservation and management of their fishery resources, as provided for in the Convention and other international legal instruments, and achieve integrated coastal zone management. In that context, there is an urgent need for:

(a) All Governments to ratify or to accede to the relevant agreements as soon as possible and to implement effectively such agreements as well as relevant voluntary instruments;

(b) All Governments to implement General Assembly resolution 51/189 of 16 December 1996, including the strengthening of institutional links to be established between the relevant intergovernmental mechanisms involved in the development and implementation of integrated coastal zone management. Following progress on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and bearing in mind Principle 13 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, there is a need to strengthen the implementation of existing international and regional agreements on marine pollution, with a view in particular to ensuring better contingency planning, response, and liability and compensation mechanisms;

(c) Better identification of priorities for action at the global level to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment, as well as better means for integrating such action;

(d) Further international cooperation to support the strengthening, where needed, of regional and subregional agreements for the protection and sustainable use of the oceans and seas;

(e) Governments to prevent or eliminate overfishing and excess fishing capacity through the adoption of management measures and mechanisms to ensure the sustainable management and utilization of fishery resources and to undertake programmes of work to achieve the reduction and elimination of wasteful fishing practices, wherever they may occur, especially in relation to large-scale industrialized fishing. The emphasis given by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its fourth session to the importance of effective conservation and management of fish stocks, and in particular to eliminating overfishing, in order to identify specific steps at national or regional levels to prevent or eliminate excess fishing capacity, will need to be carried forward in all appropriate international forums including, in particular, the Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

(f) Governments to consider the positive and negative impact of subsidies on the conservation and management of fisheries through national, regional and appropriate international organizations and, based on these analyses, to consider appropriate action;

(g) Governments to take actions, individually and through their participation in competent global and regional forums, to improve the quality and quantity of scientific data as a basis for effective decisions related to the protection of the marine environment and the conservation and management of marine living resources; in this regard, greater international cooperation is required to assist developing countries, in particular small island developing States, to operationalize data networks and clearing houses for information-sharing on oceans. In this context, particular emphasis must be placed on the collection of biological and other fisheries-related information and the resources for its collation, analysis and dissemination.

Forests

37. The management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests are a crucial factor in economic and social development, in environmental protection and in the planet's life- support system. Forests are one of the major reservoirs of biological diversity; they act as carbon sinks and reservoirs; and they are a significant source of renewable energy, particularly in the least developed countries. Forests are an integral part of sustainable development and are essential to many indigenous people and other forest-dependent people practising traditional lifestyles, forest owners and local communities, many of whom possess important traditional forest-related knowledge.

38. Since the adoption of the Forest Principles at the Rio Conference, tangible progress has been made in sustainable forest management at the national, subregional, regional and international levels and in the promotion of international cooperation on forests. The proposals for action contained in the report of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests on its fourth session, 24/ which were endorsed by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its fifth session, 25/ represent significant progress and consensus on a wide range of forest issues.

39. To maintain the momentum generated by the Intergovernmental Panel process and to facilitate and encourage the holistic, integrated and balanced intergovernmental policy dialogue on all types of forests in the future, which continues to be an open, transparent and participatory process, requires a long-term political commitment to sustainable forest management worldwide. Against this background, there is an urgent need for:

(a) Countries and international organizations and institutions to implement the proposals for action agreed by the Intergovernmental Panel, in an expeditious and effective manner, and in collaboration and through effective partnership with all interested parties, including major groups, in particular indigenous people and local communities;

(b) Countries to develop national forest programmes in accordance with their respective national conditions, objectives and priorities;

(c) Enhanced international cooperation to implement the Intergovernmental Panel's proposals for action directed towards the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests, including provision for financial resources, capacity-building, research and the transfer of technology;

(d) Further clarification of all issues arising from the programme elements of the Intergovernmental Panel process;

(e) International institutions and organizations to continue their work and to undertake further coordination and explore means for collaboration in the informal, high-level Inter-agency Task Force on Forests, focusing on the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel's proposals for action, in accordance with their respective mandates and comparative advantage;

(f) Countries to provide consistent guidance to the governing bodies of relevant international institutions and instruments with respect to taking efficient and effective measures, as well as to coordinating their forest-related work at all levels, in respect of incorporating the Intergovernmental Panel's proposals for action into their work programmes and under existing agreements and arrangements.

40. To help achieve this, it is decided to continue the intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests through the establishment of an ad hoc open-ended Intergovernmental Forum on Forests under the aegis of the Commission on Sustainable Development to work in an open, transparent and participatory manner, with a focused and time-limited mandate, and charged with, inter alia:

(a) Promoting and facilitating the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel's proposals for action;

(b) Reviewing, monitoring and reporting on progress in the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests;

(c) Considering matters left pending as regards the programme elements of the Intergovernmental Panel, in particular trade and environment in relation to forest products and services, transfer of technology and the need for financial resources.

The Forum should also identify the possible elements of and work towards consensus on international arrangements and mechanisms, for example, a legally binding instrument. The Forum will report on its work to the Commission on Sustainable Development in 1999. Based on that report, and depending on the decision of the Commission at its eighth session, the Forum will engage in further action on establishing an intergovernmental negotiation process on new arrangements and mechanisms or a legally binding instrument on all types of forests.

41. The Forum should convene as soon as possible to further elaborate its terms of reference and decide on organizational matters. It should be serviced by a small secretariat within the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development of the United Nations Secretariat supported by voluntary extrabudgetary contributions from Governments and international organizations.

Energy

42. Energy is essential to economic and social development and improved quality of life. However, sustainable patterns of production, distribution and use of energy are crucial. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) will continue to dominate the energy supply situation for many years to come in most developed and developing countries. What is required then is to reduce the environmental impact of their continued development, and to reduce local health hazards and environmental pollution through enhanced international cooperation, notably in the provision of concessional finance for capacity development and transfer of the relevant technology, and through appropriate national action.

43. In developing countries, sharp increases in energy services are required to improve the standard of living of their growing populations. The increase in the level of energy services would have a beneficial impact on poverty eradication by increasing employment opportunities and improving transportation, health and education. Many developing countries, in particular the least developed, face the urgent need to provide adequate modern energy services, especially to billions of people in rural areas. This requires significant financial, human and technical resources and a broad-based mix of energy sources.

44. The objectives envisaged in this section should reflect the need for equity, adequate energy supplies and increasing energy consumption in developing countries and should take into account the situation of countries that are highly dependent on income generated from the production, processing and export, and/or consumption, of fossil fuels and that have serious difficulties in switching to alternative sources of energy, and the situation of countries highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

45. Advances towards sustainable energy use are taking place and all parties can benefit from progress made in other countries. It is also necessary to ensure international cooperation for promoting energy conservation and improvement of energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy and research, and the development and dissemination of innovative energy-related technology.

46. Therefore there is a need for:

(a) A movement towards sustainable patterns of production, distribution and use of energy. To advance this work at the intergovernmental level, the Commission on Sustainable Development will discuss energy issues at its ninth session. Noting the vital role of energy in the continuation of sustained economic growth, especially for developing countries, be they importers or suppliers of energy, and recognizing the complexities and interdependencies inherent in addressing energy issues within the context of sustainable development, preparations for this session should be initiated at the seventh session and should utilize an open-ended intergovernmental group of experts on energy and sustainable development to be held in conjunction with inter-sessional meetings of the eighth and ninth sessions of the Commission. In line with the objectives of Agenda 21, the ninth session of the Commission should contribute to a sustainable energy future for all;

(b) Evolving concrete measures to strengthen international cooperation in order to assist developing countries in their domestic efforts to provide adequate modern energy services, especially electricity, to all sections of their population, particularly in rural areas, in an environmentally sound manner;

(c) Countries to promote policies and plans, bearing in mind the specific needs and priorities of developing countries, that take into account the economic, social and environmental aspects of the production, distribution and use of energy, including the use of lower-pollutant sources of energy such as natural gas;

(d) Evolving commitments for the transfer of relevant technology, including time-bound commitments, as appropriate, to developing countries and economies in transition so as to enable them to increase the use of renewable energy sources and cleaner fossil fuels and to improve efficiency in energy production, distribution and use. Countries need to systematically increase the use of renewable energy sources according to their specific social, economic, natural, geographical and climatic conditions and cleaner fuel technologies, including fossil fuel technologies, and to improve efficiency in energy production, distribution and use and in other industrial production processes that are intensive users of energy;

(e) Promoting efforts in research on and development and use of renewable energy technologies at the international and national levels;

(f) In the context of fossil fuels, encouraging further research, development, and the application and transfer of technology of a cleaner and more efficient nature, through effective international support;

(g) Encouraging Governments and the private sector to consider appropriate ways to gradually promote environmental cost internalization so as to achieve more sustainable use of energy, taking fully into account the economic, social and environmental conditions of all countries, in particular developing countries. In this regard, the international community should cooperate to minimize the possible adverse impacts on the development process of developing countries resulting from the implementation of those policies and measures. There is also a need to encourage the reduction and the gradual elimination of subsidies for energy production and consumption that inhibit sustainable development. Such policies should take fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries, particularly least developed countries, as reflected in the special and differential treatment accorded them in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures;

(h) Encouraging better coordination on the issue of energy within the United Nations system, under the guidance of the General Assembly and taking into account the coordinating role of the Economic and Social Council.

Transport

47. The transport sector and mobility in general have an essential and positive role to play in economic and social development, and transportation needs will undoubtedly increase. Over the next twenty years, transportation is expected to be the major driving force behind a growing world demand for energy. The transport sector is the largest end-user of energy in developed countries and the fastest growing one in most developing countries. Current patterns of transportation with their dominant patterns of energy use are not sustainable and on the basis of present trends may compound the environmental problems the world is facing and the health impacts referred to in paragraph 31 above. There is a need for:

(a) The promotion of integrated transport policies that consider alternative approaches to meeting commercial and private mobility needs and improve performance in the transport sector at the national, regional and global levels, and particularly a need to encourage international cooperation in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies in the transport sector and implementation of appropriate training programmes in accordance with national programmes and priorities;

(b) The integration of land-use and urban, peri-urban and rural transport planning, taking into account the need to protect ecosystems;

(c) The adoption and promotion, as appropriate, of measures to mitigate the negative impact of transportation on the environment, including measures to improve efficiency in the transportation sector;

(d) The use of a broad spectrum of policy instruments to improve energy efficiency and efficiency standards in transportation and related sectors;

(e) The continuation of studies in the appropriate forums, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, on the use of economic instruments for the mitigation of the negative environmental impact of aviation in the context of sustainable development;

(f) Accelerating the phasing-out of the use of leaded gasoline as soon as possible, in pursuit of the objectives of reducing the severe health impacts of human exposure to lead. In this regard, technological and economic assistance should continue to be provided to developing countries in order to enable them to make such a transition;

(g) The promotion of voluntary guidelines for environmentally friendly transport, and actions for reducing vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, as soon as possible;

(h) Partnerships at the national level, involving Governments, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, for strengthening transport infrastructures and developing innovative mass transport schemes.

Atmosphere

48. Ensuring that the global climate and atmosphere are not further damaged, with irreversible consequences for future generations, requires political will and concerted efforts by the international community in accordance with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under the Convention, some first steps have been taken to deal with the global problem of climate change. Despite the adoption of the Convention, the emission and concentration of greenhouse gases continue to rise, even as scientific evidence assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other relevant bodies continues to diminish the uncertainties and points ever more strongly to the severe risk of global climate change. So far, insufficient progress has been made by many developed countries in meeting their aim to return greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. It is recognized as one critical element of the Berlin Mandate 26/ that the commitments set out under article 4, paragraph 2 (a) and (b), of the Convention are inadequate and that there is therefore a need to strengthen them. It is most important that the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, at its third session, to be held at Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, adopt a protocol or other legal instrument that fully encompasses the Berlin Mandate. The Geneva Ministerial Declaration, 27/ which was noted without formal adoption, but which received majority support among ministers and other heads of delegation attending the second session of the Conference of the Parties, also called for, inter alia, the acceleration of negotiations on the text of a legally binding protocol or other legal instrument.

49. At the present nineteenth special session of the General Assembly, the international community has confirmed its recognition of the problem of climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the next century. The leaders of many countries have stressed the seriousness of this problem in their statements to the Assembly, and have outlined the actions they had in hand to respond to the challenge, both in their own countries and internationally.

50. The ultimate goal that all countries share is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This requires efficient and cost-effective policies and measures that will be sufficient to result in a significant reduction in emissions. At the present session, countries reviewed the status of the preparations for the third session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. All agreed that a satisfactory result was vital.

51. The position of many countries with respect to these negotiations is still evolving, and it was agreed that it would not be appropriate to seek to predetermine the results; however, useful discussions on evolving positions took place.

52. There is already widespread but not universal agreement that it will be necessary to consider legally binding, meaningful, realistic and equitable targets for countries listed in annex I to the Convention that will result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within specified time frames, such as 2005, 2010 and 2020. In addition to establishing targets, there is also widespread agreement that it will be necessary to consider ways and means of achieving them and to take into account the economic, adverse environmental and other effects of such response measures on all countries, particularly developing countries.

53. International cooperation in the implementation of chapter 9 of Agenda 21, in particular in the transfer of technology to and capacity-building in developing countries, is also essential to promote the effective implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

54. There is also a need to strengthen systematic observational networks so as to identify the possible onset and distribution of climate change and assess potential impacts, particularly at the regional level.

55. The ozone layer continues to be severely depleted and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer 28/ needs to be strengthened. The Copenhagen Amendment to the Protocol needs to be ratified. The recent successful conclusion of the replenishment negotiations with respect to the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund is welcomed. This has made available funds for, among other things, earlier phase-out of ozone-depleting substances, including methyl bromide, in developing countries. Future replenishment should also be adequate to ensure timely implementation of the Montreal Protocol. An increased focus on capacity-building programmes in developing countries within multilateral funds is also needed, as well as the implementation of effective measures against illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances.

56. Rising levels of transboundary air pollution should be countered, including through appropriate regional cooperation to reduce pollution levels.

Toxic chemicals

57. The sound management of chemicals is essential to sustainable development and is fundamental to human health and environmental protection. All those responsible for chemicals throughout their life cycle bear the responsibility for achieving this goal. Substantial progress on the sound management of chemicals has been made since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in particular through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety and the Inter-Organizational Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals. In addition, domestic regulations have been complemented by the Code of Ethics on the International Trade in Chemicals and by voluntary industry initiatives, such as Responsible Care. Despite substantial progress, a number of chemicals continue to pose significant threats to local, regional and global ecosystems and to human health. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, there has been an increased understanding of the serious damage that certain toxic chemicals can cause to human health and the environment. Much remains to be done and the environmentally sound management of chemicals should continue to be an important issue well beyond 2000. Particular attention should also be given to cooperation in the development and transfer of technology of safe substitutes and in the development of capacity for the production of such substitutes. The decision concerning the sound management of chemicals adopted by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme at its nineteenth session 29/ should be implemented in accordance with the agreed timetables for negotiations on the conventions relating to prior informed consent and persistent organic pollutants. It is noted that inorganic chemicals possess roles and behaviour that are distinct from organic chemicals.

Hazardous wastes

58. Substantial progress has been made in the implementation of the Basel Convention, 30/ the Bamako Convention, 31/ the Fourth Lome' Convention 32/ and other regional conventions, although more remains to be done. Important initiatives aimed at promoting the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes under the Basel Convention, include (a) activities undertaken to prevent illegal traffic in hazardous wastes; (b) the establishment of regional centres for training and technology transfer regarding hazardous waste minimization and management; and (c) the treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes as close as possible to their source of origin. These initiatives should be further developed. It is also important and urgent that work under the Basel Convention be completed to define which hazardous wastes are controlled under the Convention and to negotiate, adopt and implement a protocol on liability and compensation for damage resulting from the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous wastes. Land contaminated by the disposal of hazardous wastes needs to be identified and remedial actions put in hand. Integrated management solutions are also required to minimize urban and industrial waste generation and to promote recycling and reuse.

Radioactive wastes

59. Radioactive wastes can have very serious environmental and human health impacts over long periods of time. It is therefore essential that they be managed in a safe and responsible way. The storage, transportation, transboundary movement and disposal of radioactive wastes should be guided by all the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and by Agenda 21. States that generate radioactive wastes have a responsibility to ensure their safe storage and disposal. In general, radioactive wastes should be disposed of in the territory of the State in which they are generated as far as is compatible with the safety of the management of such material. Each country has the responsibility of ensuring that radioactive wastes that fall within its jurisdiction are managed properly in accordance with internationally accepted principles, taking fully into account any transboundary effects. The international community should make all efforts to prohibit the export of radioactive wastes to those countries that do not have appropriate waste treatment and storage facilities. The international community recognizes that regional arrangements or jointly used facilities might be appropriate for the disposal of such wastes in certain circumstances. The management of radioactive wastes 33/ should be undertaken in a manner consistent with international law, including the provisions of relevant international and regional conventions, and with internationally accepted standards. It is important to intensify safety measures with regard to radioactive wastes. States, in cooperation with relevant international organizations, where appropriate, should not promote or allow the storage or disposal of high-level, intermediate-level or low-level radioactive wastes near the marine environment unless they determine that scientific evidence, consistent with the applicable internationally agreed principles and guidelines, shows that such storage or disposal poses no unacceptable risk to people or the marine environment and does not interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea. In the process of the consideration of that evidence, appropriate application of the precautionary approach principle should be made. Further action is needed by the international community to address the need for enhancing awareness of the importance of the safe management of radioactive wastes, and to ensure the prevention of incidents and accidents involving the uncontrolled release of such wastes.

60. One of the main recommendations of Agenda 21 and of the Commission on Sustainable Development at its second session in this area was to support the ongoing efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Maritime Organization and other relevant international organizations. The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management currently being negotiated under the auspices of the Agency is now close to completion. It will provide a comprehensive codification of international law and a guide to best practices in this area. It will rightly be based on all the principles of best practice for this subject that have evolved in the international community, including the principle that, in general, radioactive wastes should be disposed of in the State in which they were generated as far as is compatible with the safety of the management of such material. Governments should finalize this text and are urged to ratify and implement it as soon as possible so as to further improve practice and strengthen safety in this area. Transportation of irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level waste by sea should be guided by the INF Code, which should be considered for development into a mandatory instrument. The issue of the potential transboundary environmental effects of activities related to the management of radioactive wastes and the question of prior notification, relevant information and consultation with States that could potentially be affected by such effects, should be further addressed within the appropriate forums.

61. Increased global and regional cooperation, including exchange of information and experience and transfer of appropriate technologies, is needed to improve the management of radioactive wastes. There is a need to support the clean-up of sites contaminated as a result of all types of nuclear activity and to conduct health studies in the regions around those sites, as appropriate, with a view to identifying where health treatment may be needed and should be provided. Technical assistance should be provided to developing countries, recognizing the special needs of small island developing States in particular, to enable them to develop or improve procedures for the management and safe disposal of radioactive wastes deriving from the use of radionuclides in medicine, research and industry.

Land and sustainable agriculture

62. Land degradation and soil loss threaten the livelihood of millions of people and future food security, with implications for water resources and the conservation of biodiversity. There is an urgent need to define ways to combat or reverse the worldwide accelerating trend of soil degradation, using an ecosystem approach, taking into account the needs of populations living in mountain ecosystems and recognizing the multiple functions of agriculture. The greatest challenge for humanity is to protect and sustainably manage the natural resource base on which food and fibre production depend, while feeding and housing a population that is still growing. The international community has recognized the need for an integrated approach to the protection and sustainable management of land and soil resources, as stated in decision III/11 of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 34/ including identification of land degradation, which involves all interested parties at the local as well as the national level, including farmers, small-scale food producers, indigenous people(s), non-governmental organizations and, in particular, women, who have a vital role in rural communities. This should include action to ensure secure land tenure and access to land, credit and training, as well as the removal of obstacles that inhibit farmers, especially small-scale farmers and peasants, from investing in and improving their lands and farms.

63. It remains essential to continue efforts for the eradication of poverty through, inter alia, capacity-building to reinforce local food systems, improving food security and providing adequate nutrition for the more than 800 million undernourished people in the world, located mainly in developing countries. Governments should formulate policies that promote sustainable agriculture as well as productivity and profitability. Comprehensive rural policies are required to improve access to land, combat poverty, create employment and reduce rural emigration. In accordance with the commitments agreed to in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, adopted by the World Food Summit, 35/ sustainable food security for both the urban and the rural poor should be a policy priority, and developed countries and the international community should provide assistance to developing countries to this end. To meet these objectives, Governments should attach high priority to implementing the commitments of the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action, especially the call for a minimum target of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015. Governments and international organizations are encouraged to implement the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, adopted by the International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources held at Leipzig, Germany from 17 to 23 June 1996. At the sixth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, in 1998, the issues of sustainable agriculture and land use should be considered in relation to freshwater. The challenge for agricultural research is to increase yields on all farmlands while protecting and conserving the natural resource base. The international community and Governments must continue or increase investments in agricultural research because it can take years or decades to develop new lines of research and put research findings into sustainable practice on the land. Developing countries, particularly those with high population densities, will need international cooperation to gain access to the results of such research and to technology aimed at improving agricultural productivity in limited spaces. More generally, international cooperation continues to be needed to assist developing countries in many other aspects of basic requirements of agriculture. There is a need to support the continuation of the reform process in conformity with the Uruguay Round agreements, particularly article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture, and to fully implement the World Trade Organization Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries.

Desertification and drought

64. Governments are urged to conclude (by signing and ratifying, accepting, approving and/or acceding to) and to implement as soon as possible the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, which entered into force on 26 December 1996, and to support and actively participate in the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, which is to be held in Rome in September 1997.

65. The international community is urged to recognize the vital importance and necessity of international cooperation and partnership in combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought. In order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing financial mechanisms, the international community, in particular developed countries, should therefore support the global mechanism that would have the capacity to promote actions leading to the mobilization and channelling of substantial resources for advancing the implementation of the Convention and its regional annexes, and to contribute to the eradication of poverty, which is one of the principal consequences of desertification and drought in the majority of affected countries. Another view was that the international community, in particular developed countries, should provide new and additional resources towards the same ends. The transfer to developing countries of environmentally sound, economically viable and socially acceptable technologies relevant to combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought, with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas, should be undertaken without delay on mutually agreed terms.

Biodiversity

66. There remains an urgent need for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of components of genetic resources. The threat to biodiversity stems mainly from habitat destruction, over-harvesting, pollution and the inappropriate introduction of foreign plants and animals. There is an urgent need for Governments and the international community, with the support of relevant international institutions, as appropriate:

(a) To take decisive action to conserve and maintain genes, species and ecosystems with a view to promoting the sustainable management of biological diversity;

(b) To ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity and implement it fully and effectively together with the decisions of the Conference of the Parties, including recommendations on agricultural biological diversity and the Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity, and pursue urgently other tasks identified by the Conference of the Parties at its third meeting under the work programme on terrestrial biological diversity, 36/ within the context of the ecosystems approach adopted in the Convention;

(c) To undertake concrete actions for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, consistent with the provisions of the Convention and the decisions of the Conference of the Parties on, inter alia, access to genetic resources and the handling of biotechnology and its benefits;

(d) To pay further attention to the provision of new and additional financial resources for the implementation of the Convention;

(e) To facilitate the transfer of technologies, including biotechnology, to developing countries, consistent with the provisions of the Convention;

(f) To respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles, and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from traditional knowledge so that those communities are adequately protected and rewarded, consistent with the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity and in accordance with the decisions of the Conference of the Parties;

(g) To complete rapidly the biosafety protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity, on the understanding that the United Nations Environment Programme International Technical Guidelines for Safety in Biotechnology may be used as an interim mechanism during its development, and to complement it after its conclusion, including the recommendations on capacity-building related to biosafety;

(h) To stress the importance of the establishment of a clearing- house mechanism by Parties to the Convention, consistent with the provisions of the Convention;

(i) To recognize the role of women in the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of biological resources;

(j) To provide the necessary support to integrate the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of biological resources into national development plans;

(k) To promote international cooperation to develop and strengthen national capacity-building, including human resource development and institution-building;

(l) To provide incentive measures at the national, regional and international levels to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and to consider means to enhance developing countries' capabilities to compete in the emerging market for biological resources, while improving the functioning of that market.

Sustainable tourism

67. Tourism is now one of the world's largest industries and one of its fastest growing economic sectors. The expected growth in the tourism sector and the increasing reliance of many developing countries, including small island developing States, on this sector as a major employer and contributor to local, national, subregional and regional economies highlights the need to pay special attention to the relationship between environmental conservation and protection and sustainable tourism. In this regard, the efforts of developing countries to broaden the traditional concept of tourism to include cultural and eco-tourism merit special consideration as well as the assistance of the international community, including the international financial institutions.

68. There is a need to consider further the importance of tourism in the context of Agenda 21. Tourism, like other sectors, uses resources, generates wastes and creates environmental, cultural and social costs and benefits in the process. For sustainable patterns of consumption and production in the tourism sector, it is essential to strengthen national policy development and enhance capacity in the areas of physical planning, impact assessment, and the use of economic and regulatory instruments, as well as in the areas of information, education and marketing. A particular concern is the degradation of biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mountains, coastal areas and wetlands.

69. Policy development and implementation should take place in cooperation with all interested parties, especially the private sector and local and indigenous communities. The Commission should develop an action-oriented international programme of work on sustainable tourism, to be defined in cooperation with the World Tourism Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and other relevant bodies.

70. The sustainable development of tourism is of importance for all countries, in particular for small island developing States. International cooperation is needed to facilitate tourism development in developing countries - including the development and marketing of eco-tourism, bearing in mind the importance of the conservation policies required to secure long-term benefits from development in this sector - in particular in small island developing States, in the context of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

Small island developing States

71. The international community reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. The Commission on Sustainable Development carried out a mid-term review of selected programme areas of the Programme of Action at its fourth session, in 1996. At its sixth session, in 1998, the Commission will undertake a review of all the outstanding chapters and issues of the Programme of Action. A full and comprehensive review of the Programme of Action, consistent with the review of other United Nations global conferences, is scheduled for 1999. The Commission, at its fifth session, adopted a resolution on modalities for the full and comprehensive review of the Programme of Action, in which it recommended that the General Assembly hold a two-day special session immediately preceding its fifty-fourth session for an in-depth assessment and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action. 37/ The full implementation of the decision would represent a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the Global Conference for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

72. Considerable efforts are being made at the national and regional levels to implement the Programme of Action. These efforts need to be supplemented by effective financial support from the international community. External assistance for building the requisite infrastructure and for national capacity-building, including human and institutional capacity, and for facilitating access to information on sustainable development practices and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies, in accordance with paragraph 34.14 (b) of Agenda 21, is crucial for small island developing States to effectively attain the goals of the Programme of Action. To assist national capacity-building, the small island developing States information network and small island developing States technical assistance programme should be made operational as soon as possible, with support for existing regional and subregional institutions.

Natural disasters

73. Natural disasters have disproportionate consequences for developing countries, in particular small island developing States and countries with extremely fragile ecosystems. Programmes for sustainable development should give higher priority to the implementation of the commitments made at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction held at Yokohama, Japan from 23 to 27 May 1994. 38/ There is a particular need for capacity-building for disaster planning and management and for the promotion and facilitation of the transfer of early-warning technologies to countries prone to disasters, in particular developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

74. Given that further work is needed throughout the world, there is a special need to provide developing countries with further assistance in:

(a) Strengthening mechanisms and policies designed to reduce the effects of natural disasters, improve preparedness and integrate natural disaster considerations in development planning, through, inter alia, access to resources for disaster mitigation and preparedness, response and recovery;

(b) Improving access to relevant technology and training in hazard and risk assessment and early warning systems, and in protection from environmental disasters, consistent with national, subregional and regional strategies;

(c) Providing and facilitating technical, scientific and financial support for disaster preparedness and response in the context of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Major technological and other disasters with an adverse impact on the environment

75. Major technological and other disasters with an adverse impact on the environment can be a substantial obstacle in the way of achieving the goals of sustainable development in many countries. The international community should intensify cooperation in the prevention and reduction of such disasters and in disaster relief and post-disaster rehabilitation in order to enhance the capabilities of affected countries to cope with such situations.

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