Dialogue Session at the 8th Informal Meeting
of Environment Ministers
September 2000 Bergen
Stakeholder participation in intergovernmental processes on sustainable development
Representatives of business, local government, trade unions,
NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and women's groups from North and
South, drawn together by UNED Forum, were grateful for the
opportunity to participate in a dialogue with Environment Ministers
at the beginning of their informal meeting at Bergen. (Prior to the
dialogue the participating stakeholders had held preliminary
discussions between themselves on promoting a more sustainable
approach to the management of energy and freshwater and securing
access to these necessities for those communities who are at present
deprived and marginalised. Each main sector group prepared position
papers in advance and some common positions were established which
stakeholders presented to Ministers during the dialogue.) Some of
the principal points made by stakeholders in the dialogue are noted
here as a contribution to the following informal Ministerial
The stakeholders recalled that such a dialogue was an
important innovation at the major Bergen Conference on sustainable
development in 1990 and had been carried further at the Rio
conference in 1992 and in CSD meetings since then. They urged
Ministers to consider during their meeting how such dialogue could
be developed further in the preparations for Earth Summit 2002 or
Rio + 10, at that conference itself and in the follow-up.
Governments cannot achieve sustainable development by
themselves alone. It requires the active commitment and
participation of all sectors of society at all levels, from the
workplace to the surrounding communities and from the regional to
national and international levels. Stakeholders urged Ministers to
consider how the process of multi-stakeholder engagement at
international meetings can be developed into a recognised
transparent mechanism which clearly links to the decision-making
processes of governments as well as providing a forum for
stakeholders to interact with one another in the search for
solutions and joint commitments for action.
Drawing in other key stakeholders in a constructive way must
be a key part of any worthwhile institutional reform of global
governance. The UN compact with partners, the dialogues between
social partners, the commitments and engagements of local and
regional authorities through ICLEI and other local initiatives,
numerous NGO activities, women's networks, Indigenous Peoples
organisations and partnerships throughout the world all provide
examples which need to be drawn into the partnership for sustainable
development. 2002 could be made the occasion for integrating all
these efforts into a common march towards a more sustainable pattern
of future development. In 2002 stakeholders might undertake joint
commitments alongside government on programmes of action for
Earth Summit 2002.
Two key issues -sustainable energy and sustainable freshwater.
Earth Summit 2002 will be a major event that will command a
large amount of political and media attention worldwide. If properly
planned it could provide the catalyst for new commitments and a
different approach to address the issues. The participating
stakeholders urged the importance of concentrating on a few
well-focused topics on which it might be possible to agree
substantial programmes of action, rather than sterile debates on
reruns of Agenda 21. They suggested that the promotion of
sustainable approaches to the provision of energy and fresh water,
particularly to the most deprived communities, should be two of the
priority subjects. Equitable access to safe and reliable supplies of
freshwater and energy is crucial for successful social and economic
development at the micro and macro levels. The topics also require
addressing key cross-cutting issues including consumption/production
patterns, pollution of the commons and depletion of finite
resources. There are very strong reasons for looking for the most
sustainable solutions possible to these issues.
6 For developed countries, key elements include
addressing the behavioural, social and technical causes of
over-consumption; targeted education and awareness raising; applying
appropriate economic tools for demand management and accounting for
environmental externalities, including the elimination of subsidies;
more active promotion of sustainable energy technologies and
improved policies for water conservation and against pollution.
7 Developed countries are still excessively dependent
on the use of fossil fuels. The transition towards more sustainable
forms of energy is not going fast enough to arrest the rapid
depletion of non-renewables and increase of greenhouse gases. A more
rapid transformation will require more vigorous action by
governments, using all the instruments at their disposal.
8 For developing countries, key challenges are to
make sure that everyone has access to safe, reliable and affordable
supplies of water and energy that meets local needs and prioritises
the needs of the poor and landless, many of whom are women. Access
to water should be treated as a basic human right. Solutions should
include involving local communities in the supply and management of
water and energy; targeted education and awareness raising; capacity
building, the promotion of sustainable resource use; identifying
sources of investment and finance and creating acceptable social
conditions under which this can be forthcoming.
9 Stakeholders offered to mobilise support among
their constituencies throughout the world to build effective action
programmes on these subjects over the next two years if Ministers
decided to adopt them as priorities. They expressed themselves
willing as responsible partners in the process to consider any
challenges that Ministers wished to put to them in the context of
preparing for CSD9 and Earth Summit 2002.
sustainable energy and water programmes
10 Stakeholders stressed the importance of
an inclusive planning process in each country, drawing in all
members of society and working at the appropriate geographic and
administrative scales. Involving representatives of civil society
throughout the 2002 process means allowing sufficient time and
resources for 'bottom-up' consultations, so that wider society can
contribute as active partners in developing the solutions.
Governments need to be aware that participation of women and
Indigenous Peoples needs particular attention to ensure meaningful
processes. Integrated action is needed stretching from the workplace
and local communities to international decision making
11 Stakeholders emphasised the importance of the
following key elements:
the sustainability of the development plans and programmes
for energy and water with a greater emphasis on the inclusion of
smaller-scale developments, shaped to community needs and extending
access to those presently without water and energy .
partnerships between stakeholders both in the workplace,
local communities and different levels of government.
identification or creation of models of excellence in
process, technology and outcome for sustainable supply of water and
energy which can become exemplars for others and for whole
programmes. They noted that exhibitions of advanced sustainable
energy technologies at CSD 9 and on a larger scale at Earth Summit
2002 might playa very useful part in developing awareness and
interest in the technical possibilities in this field.
technologies sensitive to local needs and conditions and
ensuring arrangements for appropriate technology transfer to
developing countries on favourable terms.
establishment of realistic targets for achievement over the
next two decades. These would include the existing human development
targets to bring access to freshwater and energy to people
everywhere, but should also include elements which emphasise the
importance of sustainable solutions, including targets for the
percentage of energy to be supplied by renewable sources,
energy-conservation and water-conservation targets.
of the investment and financial needs of the programmes, and
using 2002 as the occasion for seeking and securing strong commitments
from the suppliers of finance for investment, and realistic economic
bases for the operation of water and energy undertakings.
the need to establish economic pricing structures for demand
management of water and energy with the social, political and
cultural norms of local communities and the need to safeguard the
ability of the poor to access these necessities.
Promoting widespread access to affordable, appropriate
technologies and greater water and energy efficiency.
Supporting pilot projects in the host region of Earth
Summit 2002 to serve as real-world case studies for those
Embracing a set of core values in the area of human
rights, labour standards and environmental practices
Initiating a Declaration of Interdependence, between
humans and the environment and between the low and high income
people of the world, to use interdependency as the organising
principle for a global society.
Getting things Moving.
12 There is not much time between now and 2002 and preparations need to
be started very soon. Stakeholders emphasised the importance of
securing an early and strong UN General Assembly resolution setting
up the 2002 process and suggested that the Ministers gathered in
Bergen give an important lead in this direction, including reference
to important topics to be addressed in that process.
13 They suggested that building on the existing international, regional and national programmes and dialogues, 2002 could be used to create a real political impetus and commitment to the delivery of the human development targets of sustainable energy and sustainable freshwater for all on an accelerated timetable. There should be special attention to the issue of equitable access to resources, which is a common theme, particularly for women and Indigenous Peoples.
14 Meaningful stakeholder participation will require adequate time and
resources to allow the groups to prepare and initiate a bottom up
consultation process. Stakeholders again emphasised their
willingness to play an active part in whatever preparatory processes
Chair, UNED Forum
15 September 2000.