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CSD NGO Women's Caucus

Comments on

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
Report of the Secretary-General


Caucus Preface

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 towards 2002.
Sustainable development requires the full and equal participation of women at all levels. None of the three aspects of sustainable development can be achieved without overcoming the prevailing problems of gender inequality and inequity.
Complexity of the issues as well as rapid development of the world's political, social, economic and environmental state are reflected in several parallel UN processes all of which address gender issues and women's participation in a more or less prominent way. (1) Through, first, equal and full participation of women, and second, incorporating a gender perspective into the work on all issues addressed in the 2002 process, the necessary re-integration of work towards sustainable development could be "championed" by a comprehensive review process on women and sustainable development.
The challenge for the intergovernmental process will be to support women's NGOs and grassroots women's groups to enable them to participate and deliver their share of expertise, experience, and enthusiasm. The challenge will also be to integrate what is being done elsewhere, and to identify the issues which are not covered in other processes. Governments will continue to have the main responsibility for achieving progress on women's / gender issues, but they need to build stronger links with women's NGOs and civil society in general, including grassroots organisations and the private sector.
The challenge for all stakeholders will be to engage in an effective process of consultation and collaboration; the history of stakeholder involvement at the CSD is good reason for positive expectations. However, the links between processes of stakeholder involvement and the formal decision-making process need to be discussed and made more transparent.

Comments: (quoted are the paragraphs commented on)

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

globalisation and trade
links between (women's) empowerment, poverty and peace
environmental health
environmental security issues
environmental refugees

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 women's groups.
A participatory process would need to identify priority issues; review what data are available (including material submitted to other UN agencies) and what information needs to be developed through the CSD process; and be an integral part of the evaluation of information and discussions on future measures.
An inclusive and transparent participatory process requires strong political support and substantial resources. In the spirit of Agenda 21, stakeholders should be supported in developing their own views and engaging in preparations amongst themselves at national, regional and international levels. Women's national, regional and international preparatory processes would help to draw the views of women's NGOs and grassroots women's groups' constituent parts together to feed into the regional and international process.
If other Major Groups engage in similar processes, they should be linked together and include multi-stakeholder dialogues on priority issues for 2002. The strength of this approach is that it engages the groups at the regional and international level. The dialogue process at the CSD is an attempt to create discussion between the different stakeholders, concentrating on informing governments decision-making process, and to try and create a positive forum for the groups to discuss their disagreements and come to ways by which they might be addressed.
Formal, transparent links between participatory structures and governance structures are very important for the preparatory process. Women's NGOs need to have a clear idea of the links between participatory structures and the UN governance structure - between stakeholder input and debate and decision-making. CSD should discuss modalities of such involvement and its transparency as it is an important political question what weight and role Major Groups' input will be given. Stakeholder representatives should be invited to contribute their views regarding effective participation.

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.
In many cases, analysing problems with a view to environmental, economic and social aspects suggests strategies forward which satisfy all three goals, but this is not true in all cases. Therefore, preparations for 2002 should also include to addressing the questions of balancing the three pillars of sustainability and discussing problems of prioritization, where necessary.

(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 done.
For example, Agenda 21, Chapter 24., Para 2.c on strategies eliminating all obstacles to women's participation in sustainable development and in public life, includes a precise timeline but has not been reviewed nor is a review planned in the current CSD work programme until 2002. Therefore, the agreement is rather reduced to a lip-service.

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.
One problem with the national councils as opposed to other multi-stakeholder bodies is that they have been set up by governments and in some cases are serviced by government officials. In some cases, this can cause relying on the national councils not to be a viable process beyond the national level. Any resulting coordination will, if it is mostly government official attending meetings and representing national councils, no longer be multi-stakeholder and should only serve as a basis for sharing ideas and capacity-building.
Another problem with national councils is their lack of gender balance in many cases. Equal participation of women and men, however, is a pre-requisite of a viable review.

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.
Reviewing implementation in the area of women and sustainable development needs to measure progress using data and indicators covering the following aspects:

Women's participation in environmental planning, decision-making and management. (Some information through the Beijing+5 process. National governments, UNEP, women's NGOs, environment NGOs would also be relevant sources of information.)
Women's involvement in Local Agenda 21 processes is another important aspect. (National governments; local authorities associations such as ICLEI and IULA; and grassroots women's networks would be relevant sources of information.)
Progress regarding mainstreaming gender into development should be measured, particularly where attempts were made to integrate environmental aspects into development work. (Relevant sources regarding attempts made and their impact would be national governments; donor agencies, and women's NGOs.)
Women's access and use of information enabling timely and efficient participation, particularly information and communication technologies. Being put forward as an emerging issues in the Beijing+5 process and gender gaps having partly been assessed in the HDR 1999, this issue needs to be included when addressing (obstacles to) participation.

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 process itself.
CSD should call upon the UN Agencies dealing with the relevant review processes to provide relevant material and contribute to the preparatory process, such as:

Beijing+5, where the largest contribution needs to come from. Governments reports and alternative NGO reports (at national, regional and global level) should be used to assess progress on issues addressed in Sections K, A, B, C, F, G, and H.
ICPD+5, on education, poverty, urban populations, HIV/AIDS
WSSD+5, on commitments 5, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8
Istanbul+5, on urban governance; secure tenure; social inclusion; and particularly Section III.D. of the Habitat Agenda
WFS, on commitments 1, 2
CEDAW Committee, available national reports from governments and NGOs

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.
In addition, relevant upcoming reports should include information on women's issues and research up to 2002 should be undertaken with a strong gender perspective. For example:

UNDP should consider focusing the Human Development Report for 2001 or 2002 on sustainable development, including a strong emphasis on gender issues and providing gender disaggregated data. (2)
UNEP should, in its Global Environment Outlook Report 2002, include a section on women and the environment, reporting gender differentiated impacts of environmental degradation, as well as consider gender aspects of each environmental sector covered in the report, including, inter alia, women's environmental health, women environmental refugees, etc.
The World Bank, in its World Development Report (WDR) for 2002 which will be covering the theme of sustainability, should also include a distinct section on women and sustainable development as well as cover all other sections without omitting the necessary gender perspective. The WDR 2002, on poverty, will also provide useful information.

All three reports - HDR, GEO and WDR - should be developed with a strong participatory component and including gender specialists in the preparatory research teams.
Regional reporting on the state of the environment should also be included. For example, the European Environment Agency (EEA) is planning to report on the state of the environment in Europe before 2002. The report shall also include projections towards the future. EEA should be asked to include information about gender specific impacts of environmental degradation and conservation. Resources should be made available which would allow similar reporting and projections to be produced in other UN regions; these could be carried out by UNEP Regional Offices and closely linked with the work of the UNEP GEO Group.



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:
Further developing indicators as tools to support national decision-making processes, taking into account the work undertaken in the context of the CSD Work Programme on Indicators of Sustainable Development;

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 - 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.