CSD NGO Women's Caucus
Preliminary Views and Suggestions on the Preparations for the Ten-Year
Review of the Implementation of the Outcome of the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development
Given the strong commitments the international community has made in
Agenda 21, Chapter 24, throughout Agenda 21, and in other international
agreements, a review of progress in the area of women and sustainable
development is a necessary element of a review and forward looking process
I. Preliminary views and suggestions on the preparations for the ten-year review of the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
B. General considerations
6. Many Governments stressed that there is a need to revitalize the international dialogue on sustainable development and strengthen the commitment of the international community to sustainable development. Governments felt that the ten-year review should be seen as an opportunity to mobilize political support for the further implementation of the outcome of UNCED, in particular Agenda 21.
Comment: Governments need to strongly reaffirm their commitments, including making available the necessary resources to implement agreed measures to ensure equal and full participation of women.
7. Governments stressed that Agenda 21 continues to provide a solid and vital foundation on which to build. While Agenda 21 should not be re-negotiated, the review process should identify new and emerging areas that were not included in Agenda 21 and would warrant consideration.
Comment: Increasingly important issues such as
and others mentioned in the current (Non) Papers on 2002, need to be addressed with a gender perspective. This should include women's participation when identifying priority issues for 2002; making necessary information available well in advance; and drawing on the expertise of grassroots women and experts alike.
8. Several Governments emphasized that the 2002 review would have the potential to increase the level of commitment to sustainable development by civil society partners if it was based on the notion of shared responsibility. The involvement and participation of business and industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the scientific community and other major groups would be crucial and should be supported, not only in the event itself but also throughout the preparatory process.
Comment: Including a strong and explicit gender perspective in the process would help to mobilize a powerful network of women's NGOs which would strengthen the process and increase its visibility. An affirmation of the need for women's participation and gender mainstreaming of the work towards 2002 in the CSD decision would help mobilize the networks around the Beijing+5, Copenhagen+5 and Istanbul+5 processes, the organisations working around CEDAW, etc.
Resources need to be made available to women's NGOs and grassroots women's groups from all countries enabling them to prepare for and to attend meetings at national, regional and international level. In all efforts of consultation, outreach, information dissemination and participation, it is particularly important to ensure participation of representatives from developing countries and from the grassroots level.
C. Format, participation and venue of the 2002 event
9. While most Governments were of the opinion that the 2002 event should be organized as a special conference, organizing it as a special session of the UNGA was also put forth as an option. Several proposals were made on the form and the title of the event to acknowledge its importance and high political profile. Proposals included:
(a) a Ministerial Conference, including a Summit segment with the participation of Heads of State and Government,
(b) a World Conference at the level of Heads of State and Governments,
(c) a conference, with participation at least at Ministerial level,
(d) a World Summit Conference on Sustainable Development, and
(e) a World Conference on Sustainable Development. There was, however, a common recognition that the event should provide for high political visibility and attract participation at the highest political level.
Comment: A World Summit on Sustainable Development should be held at the highest political level.
13. Many Governments stressed the importance of ensuring a productive dialogue among all partners of civil society, thereby building on the modalities that have successfully evolved in the CSD. Adequate arrangements should be made during the preparatory process and in the event itself, bearing in mind their intergovernmental nature and the rules and procedures of the United Nations.
Comment: Towards 2002, a review process on women and sustainable
development should be conducted as an inclusive, transparent and
consultative process, including women's NGOs and grassroots women's groups
taking a leading role on women and sustainable development issues. To obtain
the information about implementation and obstacles women's NGOs and
grassroots women's groups need to be closely involved. Much more than what
is available at the CSD is going on, and much of that is being done by
D. Scope of the review
16. Many Governments emphasized that the 2002 review should focus on the comprehensive and critical review and assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21. Reviews and assessments should be carried out at all levels including local, national, regional and international levels and by Governments and all other national stakeholders, and the United Nations system. Actions taken to implement Agenda 21 and constraints that have hampered its effective implementation need to be addressed, along with measures to improve the further implementation of Agenda 21. The comprehensive review and assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21 would serve to identify:
(a) areas where progress has been made,
(b) areas where further effort are needed, and
(c) new challenges and opportunities that have emerged since UNCED, in particular those resulting from globalization and technological progress such as in the area of new communication technology.
Comment: One focus must be to closely look at the reasons why
implementation is lacking behind, despite numerous and strong commitments
made, eg on women and sustainable development issues. Obstacles as well as
success factors need to be identified.
E. Goals and focus
19. Many Governments emphasized the need for establishing clear goals for the 2002 event, in part to establish the political importance of the 2002 event in the eyes of high-level policy-makers and the public at large as well as to ensure the desired outcome. Such goals could include, among others:
(a) Comprehensive and critical assessment of the progress that has been made in sustainable development at all levels and by Governments and all other stakeholders.
(b) Identification of new challenges since UNCED that have not been included in Agenda 21 and of priorities for further action, and ways to address those challenges and priorities.
(c) Endorsement of renewed efforts to attain the UNCED commitments and to further
implement the concept of sustainable development, as it encompasses the interdependent triangle of social, economic and environmental dimensions.
(d) Adoption of measures for an effective and efficient follow up to the 10-year review, including, among others, a programme of action for the improved implementation of Agenda 21, strengthening the institutional capacity of the UN system to promote sustainable development, improvements in the methods of work of the CSD, and a future work programme of the CSD.
Comment: Among the measures for an effective and efficient follow-up should be an endorsement of on-going multi-stakeholder processes and clear guidance regarding their role, responsibilities, preferred modes of operation and links to the intergovernmental decision-making process.
20. Governments stressed that the agenda for the 2002 review should be agreed through a process of consultations between Governments and with the active involvement of all stakeholders. Many Governments highlighted the need for a focused agenda, which would greatly facilitate the preparatory process, provide a point of departure for addressing priorities and new challenges in the field of sustainable development, and allow for substantive and forward-looking results. While some Governments favored a focus on cross-sectoral issues, others suggested including discussions on important sectoral areas such as forests, oceans, climate, freshwater and energy. Many Governments advocated a balance between the sectoral and cross-sectoral issues of Agenda 21.
Comment: Mainstreaming the cross-sectoral issues of finance, technology transfer and capacity-building into the work on sectoral issues can lead to more comprehensive and practical strategy development. At the same time, linking preparations for 2002 with the Finance for Development process and its outcomes will be important to avoid duplication of work and to strengthen both processes.
21. A number of Governments emphasized that priorities should be chosen on which to focus the agenda of the 2002 review. In choosing priorities, Governments suggested the following considerations:
(a) The economic and social pillars of sustainable development should be given more consideration in integrating all dimensions of sustainable development.
Comment: The women's caucus believes this to be one of the most
important points. It is also the area where problems of gender injustice are
most apparent and where more relevant data are available, as compared to the
area of women and the environment.
(b) The 2002 review should put a special focus on development aspects. In that context, poverty reduction should be a central issue, and the interrelations between poverty reduction and sustainable development should be adequately addressed.
Comment: Given the fact that 70 % of the world's 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty are women, addressing poverty eradication needs to include a strong gender perspective.
(c) Moving towards more sustainable patterns of production and consumption patterns continues to be of great importance.
Comment: As UNEP's GEO 2000 has so eloquently pointed out, poverty and over-consumption are the two major causes of environmental degradation. The 2002 review should address the linkages between poverty and over-consumption both in the 'Global South' and the 'Global North' on the one hand, and gender injustice, on the other hand, need to be considered. This ultimately requires to more radically spell out the questions of the value basis of social equity goals and how a common value base can be found and put into practice.
(g) The implementation of the outcome of the 2002 review need to be assured. In this regard, suitable instruments should be identified and emphasis be given to improved coordination and integration of relevant policies and institutional arrangements.
Comment: Suitable instruments include agreeing concrete targets and
clear benchmarks. They can help to create the necessary (peer group)
pressure to bring about change. However, these need to be monitored and
reviewed and at 2002, agreements should be reached on how this shall be
F. The preparatory process
22. Various Governments stressed that the ten-year review should keep in mind the need to take a coordinated and integrated approach to the implementation of all the relevant major United Nations conferences since UNCED. The outcomes of the five-year reviews of the Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul conferences should feed into the review process. The outcomes of the South Summit in April 2000 and the high-level consultations on finance for development in 2001 could also add value to the review process.
Comment: Women's and gender issues are but one, though particularly prominent, example of how inter-linked the problems addressed in the above-mentioned processes are and how much agreements overlap. Re-integrating the available information into the process towards 2002 would also help to avoid conference and review fatigue, reduce duplication of work and lead to a comprehensive approach on priority issues.
1. Preparations at the national and regional levels
26. Most Governments emphasized that priority should be given to review processes that are country- and region-based. It was emphasized that countries need to make their own assessments, through a collective effort including Governments and all other stakeholders. The establishment of national working groups of experts could contribute to a coordinated review process at country level and facilitate inter-linkages with regional preparatory processes.
Comment: Governments should engage in multi-stakeholder processes for the purpose of reviewing and looking forward. These should include representatives from all major groups and of various backgrounds, such as grassroots groups; academic experts; etc. Participation needs to be gender balanced. The goal should be to achieve a real dialogue with all groups of citizens.
29. The National Councils for Sustainable Development or their equivalents could play an important role in facilitating national preparations and linking such preparations to regional preparatory processes. A major purpose of the forthcoming meeting of National Councils for Sustainable Development being organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Earth Council prior to the eighth session of the CSD, would be to discuss ways and means to consolidate country assessments on progress achieved in sustainable development into comprehensive regional assessments.
Comment: The preparatory process should make use of national councils
of sustainable development where they exist as coordinating bodies, or
through other appropriate machinery such as bodies similar to the Norwegian
Forum on Development and Environment, the German or the Brazilian Forum for
Environment and Development.
37. The first and second preparatory sessions should undertake a comprehensive and critical review of the implementation of the outcome of UNCED, in particular Agenda 21. These two preparatory sessions should result in an agreed text for a "review" document containing the conclusions of deliberations, including priority areas where further action is needed, and a future work programme of the CSD. As suggested by Governments, the review should be undertaken on the basis of the reports from Governments, National Councils and/or Focal Points for Sustainable Development, regional reports, reports from the secretariats of the conventions that are related to Agenda 21, and a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21 carried out by the United Nations system for the ten-year period since UNCED. Governments also suggested, that the review should include an assessment of the mechanisms established to support the implementation of Agenda 21, with a view to improve the coordination and comprehensive implementation of Agenda 21. The first and second preparatory sessions could include multi-stakeholder dialogues, hearings or other innovative arrangements to ensure participatory, high-quality preparations.
Comment: Stakeholder participation needs to be supported by making resources available to ensure their preparations, maximum outreach and involvement of their constituencies and gender and regionally balanced attendance. Again, concrete arrangements for stakeholder involvement needs to be clarified to ensure a transparent process of interaction.
3. Preparation of documentation
39. In addition to the formal documentation needed to support the deliberations, the 2002 review process provides an opportunity for disseminating a variety of related reports, background documents and publications, which could be made available. The preparations of these contributions should start well in advance and their results made available prior to the commencement of the intergovernmental preparatory process.
Comment: With regard to many of the relevant aspects of a review,
gender-sensitive indicators would need to be agreed. The sustainable
development indicators developed by UN DSD so far have not included gender
disaggregated information. However, outreach into the academic community
could help as useful measurement instruments exist. In many cases, gender
disaggregated data are not readily available for all countries. A review of
available data and gaps should be conducted and governments should be
supported in collecting the relevant data, as appropriate.
Some of the aspects listed can be reviewed by using data and analysis
which are available; some of them would need to be addressed through the CSD
When obtaining information from governments and other stakeholders, the
preparatory body for 2002 should ask for data on women and sustainable
development issues, particularly addressing issues identified as gaps left
by other on-going processes. Women's NGOs inputs - including those submitted
to other UN agencies - should be taken into account when producing reports
on implementation, obstacles, feasible measures, and emerging issues.
All three reports - HDR, GEO and WDR - should be developed with a strong
participatory component and including gender specialists in the preparatory
II. Cross-sectoral theme: information for decision-making and participation and international cooperation for an enabling environment
A. Information for decision-making and participation
7. Particular action would be required on two major programme areas, namely:
(a) bridging the data gap and
(b) improving the availability of information. The integration and informed use of available information in decision-making processes remains a key issue. There exist, however, considerable differences between geographical regions and countries at different stages of development, as to the availability of relevant primary data (e.g. in the area of sustainable development), the quality, comparability and frequency of data compilation and the subsequent quality of information systems. It should be noted that the Government of Canada has offered to host a meeting of experts on Chapter 40 in preparation for CSD-9 during 2000.
Comment: In most cases, gender disaggregated data are not readily available for all countries. A review of available data and gaps should be conducted. Developed countries should amend their censuses and other data collecting measures accordingly and developing countries governments should be supported in collecting the relevant data. In some cases, relevant data could, within the limits of data protection, be obtained from the private sector, such as insurance companies and banks.
8. It should be suggested to focus the deliberations at the ninth session
on a set of priority issues, with the objective to identify options for
further actions. Such priority issues could include:
Comment: With regard to many of the relevant aspects of a review of Chapter 40 and towards 2002, gender-sensitive indicators would need to be agreed. The sustainable development indicators developed by UN DSD so far have not included gender disaggregated information. Outreach into the academic community could help here, as there are useful measurement instruments available which complement the Human Development Report's indices. (2)
(d) Improving access of the public to information related to sustainable development, including through the use of multi-media technologies and tools such as animated graphical presentations;
Comment: Making information available on the internet, for example, is an important tool. However, considering the gap between developing and developed nations as well as between women and men with regard to access to modern information technologies (HDR 1999), there is a need, first, to engage in significant efforts to improve information technology infrastructure and access in developing countries and for women, and, second, to also rely on other matters such as printed material and radio.
B. International cooperation for an enabling environment
9. Global change continues to accelerate. Further globalization of world markets, the increase of private sector finance flows, the widening gap between rich and poor, the world’s population passing six billions, and increasing degradation of the natural environment with consequences on resource pressure, all have opened up new opportunities but also created new problems for sustainable development.
10. In the debate at the fifty-fourth UNGA, Governments stated that globalization has created a new imperative for international dialogue and cooperation. They also recognized that the UN is in a unique position to foster international cooperation in addressing the impact of changes in the enabling environment on development, which have emerged as a result of globalization and the technological progress. UNGA resolution 54/218 called upon the CSD, among others, to play its role in assessing the opportunities and challenges of globalization as they relate to sustainable development.
Comment: The women's caucus is stressing the need for assessing the gender specific impact of globalization and identifying measures to alleviate negative impacts on women.
(1) CSD NGO Women's Caucus, 2000. Women & Sustainable Development 2000 – 2002. Recommendations in Agenda 21 and Suggestions for a Review of Implementation. CSD NGO Women's Caucus, London / New York. Available at http://www.csdngo.org/csdngo - click on "Women" under "Major Groups" and go to "Caucus Position Papers".
(2) The Human Development Report's (HDR) two gender-related indices, the Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure, provide useful and up-to-date data. The GDI is based on the Human Development Index (HDI) which measures the average achievements in a country in the basis of three dimensions, namely longevity; knowledge; and real GDP per capita. The GDI takes account of inequality in HDI achievement between the sexes. The GEM aims to evaluate whether women are able to actively participate in key areas, namely the economic, social, political. GDI focuses on capabilities and conditions, while GEM is rather concerned with their use for full participation.