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Earth Summit II

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Chapter 3. C. Means of implementation

Financial resources and mechanisms

76. Financial resources and mechanisms play a key role in the implementation of Agenda 21. In general, the financing for the implementation of Agenda 21 will come from a country's own public and private sectors. For developing countries, official development assistance is a main source of external funding, and substantial new and additional funding for sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 21 will be required. Hence, all financial commitments of Agenda 21, particularly those contained in chapter 33, and the provisions with regard to new and additional resources that are both adequate and predictable need to be urgently fulfilled. Renewed efforts are essential to ensure that all sources of funding contribute to economic growth, social development and environmental protection in the context of sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 21.

77. For developing countries, particularly those in Africa and the least developed countries, official development assistance remains a main source of external funding; it is essential for the prompt and effective implementation of Agenda 21 and cannot generally be replaced by private capital flows. Developed countries should therefore fulfil the commitments undertaken to reach the accepted United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product as soon as possible. In this context the present downward trend in the ratio of official development assistance to gross national product causes concern. Intensified efforts should be made to reverse this trend, taking into account the need for improving the quality and effectiveness of official development assistance. In the spirit of global partnership, the underlying factors that have led to this decrease should be addressed by all countries. Strategies should be worked out for increasing donor support for aid programmes and revitalizing the commitments that donors made at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Some countries already meet or exceed the 0.7 per cent agreed target. Official financial flows to developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, remain an essential element of the partnership embodied in Agenda 21. Official development assistance plays a significant role, inter alia, in capacity-building, infrastructure, combating poverty and environmental protection in developing countries, and a crucial role in the least developed countries. Official development assistance can play an important complementary and catalytic role in promoting economic growth and may, in some cases, play a catalytic role in encouraging private investment and, where appropriate, all aspects of country-driven capacity-building and strengthening.

78. Funding by multilateral financial institutions through their concessional mechanisms is also essential to developing countries in their efforts to fully implement the sustainable development objectives contained in Agenda 21. Such institutions should continue to respond to the development needs and priorities of developing countries. Developed countries should urgently meet their commitments under the eleventh replenishment of the International Development Association.

79. Continued and full donor commitment to adequate, sustained and predictable funding for Global Environment Facility operations is important for developing countries so that global environmental benefits can be further achieved. Donor countries are urged to engage in providing new and additional resources, with a view to equitable burden-sharing, through the satisfactory replenishment of the Facility, which makes available grant and concessional funding designed to achieve global environmental benefits, thereby promoting sustainable development. Consideration should be given to further exploring the flexibility of the existing mandate of the Facility in supporting activities to achieve global environmental benefits. With regard to the project cycle, further efforts should be made to continue streamlining the decision-making process in order to maintain an effective and efficient, as well as transparent, participatory and democratic framework. The Global Environment Facility, when acting as the operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, should continue to operate in conformity with those Conventions and promote their implementation. The Facility implementing agencies, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank, should strengthen, as appropriate and in accordance with their respective mandates, their cooperation at all levels, including the field level.

80. The efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the operational activities of the United Nations system must be enhanced by, inter alia, a substantial increase in their funding on a predictable, continuous and assured basis, commensurate with the increasing needs of developing countries, as well as through the full implementation of General Assembly resolutions 47/199 of 22 December 1992 and 48/162 of 20 December 1993. There is a need for a substantial increase in resources for operational activities for development on a predictable, continuous and assured basis, commensurate with the increasing needs of developing countries.

81. Private capital is a major tool for achieving economic growth in a growing number of developing countries. Higher levels of foreign private investment should be mobilized given its mounting importance. To stimulate higher levels of private investment, Governments should aim at ensuring macroeconomic stability, open trade and investment policies, and well-functioning legal and financial systems. Further studies should be undertaken, including studies on the design of an appropriate environment, at both the national and international levels, for facilitating foreign private investment, in particular foreign direct investment flows to developing countries, and enhancing its contribution to sustainable development. To ensure that such investments are supportive of sustainable development objectives, it is essential that the national Governments of both investor and recipient countries provide appropriate regulatory frameworks and incentives for private investment. Therefore further work should be undertaken on the design of appropriate policies and measures aimed at promoting long-term investment flows to developing countries for activities that increase their productive capability, and at reducing the volatility of these flows. Official development assistance donors and multilateral development banks are encouraged to strengthen their commitment to supporting investment in developing countries in a manner that jointly promotes economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

82. The external debt problem continues to hamper the efforts of developing countries to achieve sustainable development. To resolve the remaining debt problems of the heavily indebted poor countries, creditor and debtor countries and international financial institutions should continue their efforts to find effective, equitable, development-oriented and durable solutions to the debt problem, including debt relief in the form of debt rescheduling, debt reduction, debt swaps and, as appropriate, debt cancellation, as well as grants and concessional flows that will help restore creditworthiness. The joint World Bank/International Monetary Fund Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative supported by the Paris Club creditor countries is an important development to reduce the multilateral debt problem. Implementation of the Initiative requires additional financial resources from both bilateral and multilateral creditors without affecting the support required for the development activities of developing countries.

83. A fuller understanding of the impact of indebtedness on the pursuit of sustainable development by developing countries is needed. To this end, the United Nations Secretariat, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are invited to collaborate with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in further considering the interrelationship between indebtedness and sustainable development for developing countries.

84. While international cooperation is very important in assisting developing countries in their development efforts, in general financing for the implementation of Agenda 21 will come from countries' own public and private sectors. Policies for promoting domestic resource mobilization, including credit, could encompass sound macroeconomic reforms, including fiscal and monetary policy reforms, review and reform of existing subsidies, and the promotion of personal savings and access to credit, especially micro-credit, in particular for women. Such policies should be decided by each country, taking into account its own characteristics and capabilities and different levels of development, especially as reflected in national sustainable development strategies, where they exist.

85. There is a need for making existing subsidies more transparent in order to increase public awareness of their actual economic, social and environmental impact, and for reforming or, where appropriate, removing them. Further national and international research in that area should be promoted in order to assist Governments in identifying and considering phasing-out subsidies that have market distorting, and socially and environmentally damaging impacts. Subsidy reductions should take full account of the specific conditions and the different levels of development of individual countries and should consider potentially regressive impacts, particularly on developing countries. In addition, it would be desirable to use international cooperation and coordination to promote the reduction of subsidies where these have important implications for competitiveness.

86. In order to reduce the barriers to the expanded use of economic instruments, Governments and international organizations should collect and share information on their use and introduce pilot schemes that would, inter alia, demonstrate how to make the best use of them while avoiding adverse effects on competitiveness and the terms of trade of all countries, particularly developing countries, and on marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society. When introducing economic instruments that raise the cost of economic activities for households and small and medium-sized enterprises, Governments should consider gradual phase-ins, public education programmes and targeted technical assistance as strategies for reducing distributional impacts. Various studies and practical experience in a number of countries, in particular developed countries, indicate that the appropriate use of relevant economic instruments may help generate positive possibilities for shifting consumer and producer behaviour to more sustainable directions in those countries. There is, however, a need to conduct further studies and test practical experience in more countries, taking into account country-specific conditions and the acceptability, legitimacy, equity, efficiency and effectiveness of such economic instruments.

87. Innovative financial mechanisms are currently under discussion in international and national forums but have not yet fully evolved conceptually. The Secretary-General is to submit a report concerning innovative financing mechanisms to the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 1997. In view of the widespread interest in those mechanisms, appropriate organizations, including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are invited to consider conducting forward-looking studies of concerted action on such mechanisms and to share them with the Commission on Sustainable Development, other relevant intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. In this regard, innovative funding should complement official development assistance, not replace it. New initiatives for cooperative implementation of environment and development objectives under mutually beneficial incentive structures should be further explored.

Transfer of environmentally sound technologies

88. The availability of scientific and technological information and access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies are essential requirements for sustainable development. There is an urgent need for developing countries to acquire greater access to environmentally sound technologies if they are to meet the obligations agreed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and in the relevant international conventions. The ability of developing countries to participate in, benefit from and contribute to rapid advances in science and technology can significantly influence their development. This calls for the urgent fulfilment of all the Conference commitments concerning concrete measures for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries. The international community should promote, facilitate and finance, as appropriate, access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and the corresponding know-how, in particular to developing countries, on favourable terms, including concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed, taking into account the need to protect intellectual property rights as well as the special needs of developing countries for the implementation of Agenda 21. Current forms of cooperation involving the public and private sectors of developing and developed countries should be built upon and expanded. In this context, it is important to identify barriers and restrictions to the transfer of publicly and privately owned environmentally sound technologies, with a view to reducing such constraints while creating specific incentives, fiscal and otherwise, for the transfer of such technologies. Progress in the fulfilment of all the provisions contained in chapter 34 of Agenda 21 should be reviewed regularly as part of the multi-year work programme of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

89. Technology transfer and the development of the human and institutional capacity to adapt, absorb and disseminate technologies, as well as to generate technical knowledge and innovations, are part of the same process and must be given equal importance. Governments have an important role to play in providing, inter alia, research and development institutions with incentives to promote and contribute to the development of institutional and human capacities.

90. Much of the most advanced environmentally sound technology is developed and held by the private sector. The creation of an enabling environment, on the part of both developed and developing countries, including supportive economic and fiscal measures, as well as a practical system of environmental regulations and compliance mechanisms, can help to stimulate private sector investment in and transfer of environmentally sound technology to developing countries. New ways of financial intermediation for the financing of environmentally sound technologies, such as "green credit lines", should be examined. Further efforts should be made by Governments and international development institutions to facilitate the transfer of privately owned technology on concessional terms, as mutually agreed, to developing countries, especially the least developed countries.

91. A proportion of technology is held or owned by Governments and public institutions or results from publicly funded research and development activities. The Government's control and influence over the technological knowledge produced in publicly funded research and development institutions open up the potential for the generation of publicly owned technologies that could be made accessible to developing countries, and could be an important means for Governments to catalyse private sector technology transfer. Proposals for the further study of the options with respect to those technologies and publicly funded research and development activities are to be welcomed.

92. Governments should create a legal and policy framework that is conducive to technology-related private sector investments and long-term sustainable development objectives. Governments and international development institutions should continue to play a key role in establishing public-private partnerships, within and between developed and developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Such partnerships are essential for linking the advantages of the private sector - access to finance and technology, managerial efficiency, entrepreneurial experience and engineering expertise - with the capacity of Governments to create a policy environment that is conducive to technology-related private sector investments and long-term sustainable development objectives.

93. The creation of centres for the transfer of technology at various levels, including the regional level, could greatly contribute to achieving the objective of transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries. For this purpose, existing United Nations bodies, including, as appropriate, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and the regional commissions, should cooperate and mechanisms be used, such as technical cooperation among developing countries and economic cooperation among developing countries.

94. Governments and international development institutions can also play an important role in bringing together companies from developed and developing countries and countries with economies in transition so that they can create sustainable and mutually beneficial business linkages. Incentives should be provided to stimulate the building of joint ventures between small and medium-sized enterprises of developed and developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and cleaner production programmes in public and private companies should be supported.

95. Governments of developing countries should take appropriate measures to strengthen South-South cooperation for technology transfer and capacity-building. Such measures could include the networking of existing national information systems and sources on environmentally sound technologies, and the networking of national cleaner production centres, as well as the establishment of sector-specific regional centres for technology transfer and capacity-building. Interested donor countries and international organizations should further assist developing countries in those efforts through, inter alia, supporting trilateral arrangements and contributing to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for South-South Cooperation.

96. Attention must also be given to technology needs assessment as a tool for Governments in identifying a portfolio for technology transfer projects and capacity-building activities to be undertaken to facilitate and accelerate the development, adoption and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies in particular sectors of the national economy. It is also important for Governments to promote the integration of environmental technology assessment with technology needs assessment as an important tool for evaluating environmentally sound technologies and the organizational, managerial and human resource systems related to the proper use of those technologies.

97. There is a need to further explore and enhance the potential of global electronic information and telecommunication networks. This would enable countries to choose among the available technological options that are most appropriate to their needs. In this respect, the international community should assist developing countries in enhancing their capacities.


98. Renewed commitment and support from the international community is essential to support national efforts for capacity-building in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

99. The United Nations Development Programme, inter alia, through its Capacity 21 programme, should give priority attention to building capacity for the elaboration of sustainable development strategies based on participatory approaches. In this context, developing countries should be assisted, particularly in the areas of the design, implementation and evaluation of programmes and projects.

100. Capacity-building efforts should pay particular attention to the needs of women in order to ensure that their skills and experience are fully used in decision-making at all levels. The special needs, culture, traditions and expertise of indigenous people must be recognized. International financial institutions should continue to give high priority to funding capacity-building for sustainable development in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Special attention should also be given to strengthening the ability of developing countries to absorb and generate technologies. International cooperation needs to be strengthened to promote the endogenous capacity of developing countries to utilize scientific and technological developments from abroad and to adapt them to local conditions. The role of the private sector in capacity-building should be further promoted and enhanced. South-South cooperation in capacity-building should be further supported through "triangular" cooperative arrangements. Both developed and developing countries, in cooperation with relevant international institutions, need to strengthen their efforts to develop and implement strategies for more effective sharing of environmental expertise and data.


101. Public and private investment in science, education and training, and research and development should be increased significantly, with emphasis on the need to ensure equal access to opportunities for girls and women.

102. International consensus-building is facilitated by the availability of authoritative scientific evidence. There is a need for further scientific cooperation, especially across disciplines, in order to verify and strengthen scientific evidence and make it accessible to developing countries. This evidence is important for assessing environmental conditions and changes. Steps should also be taken by Governments, academia, and scientific institutions to improve access to scientific information related to the environment and sustainable development. The promotion of existing regional and global networks may be useful for this purpose.

103. Increasing efforts to build and strengthen scientific and technological capacity in developing countries is an extremely important objective. Multilateral and bilateral donor agencies and Governments, as well as specific funding mechanisms, should continue to enhance their support for developing countries. Attention should also be given to countries with economies in transition.

104. The international community should also actively collaborate in promoting innovations in information and communication technologies for the purpose of reducing environmental impacts, inter alia, by taking approaches to technology transfer and cooperation that are based on user needs.

Education and awareness

105. Education increases human welfare, and is a decisive factor in enabling people to become productive and responsible members of society. A fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development is an adequately financed and effective educational system at all levels, particularly the primary and secondary levels, that is accessible to all and that augments both human capacity and well-being. The core themes of education for sustainability include lifelong learning, interdisciplinary education, partnerships, multicultural education and empowerment. Priority should be given to ensuring women's and girls' full and equal access to all levels of education and training. Special attention should also be paid to the training of teachers, youth leaders and other educators. Education should also be seen as a means of empowering youth and vulnerable and marginalized groups, including those in rural areas, through intergenerational partnerships and peer education. Even in countries with strong education systems, there is a need to reorient education, awareness and training so as to promote widespread public understanding, critical analysis and support for sustainable development. Education for a sustainable future should engage a wide spectrum of institutions and sectors, including but not limited to business/industry, international organizations, youth, professional organizations, non-governmental organizations, higher education, government, educators and foundations, to address the concepts and issues of sustainable development, as embodied throughout Agenda 21, and should include the preparation of sustainable development education plans and programmes, as emphasized in the work programme of the Commission on Sustainable Development on the subject adopted in 1996. 39/ The concept of education for a sustainable future will be further developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in cooperation with others.

106. It is necessary to support and strengthen universities and other academic centres in promoting cooperation among them, particularly cooperation between those of developing countries and those of developed countries.

International legal instruments and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

107. The implementation and application of the principles contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development should be the subject of regular assessment and reporting to the Commission on Sustainable Development by the Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, in particular.

108. Access to information and broad public participation in decision-making are fundamental to sustainable development. Further efforts are required to promote, in the light of country-specific conditions, the integration of environment and development policies, through appropriate legal and regulatory policies, instruments and enforcement mechanisms at the national, state, provincial and local levels. At the national level, each individual should have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in the communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. Governments and legislators, with the support, where appropriate, of competent international organizations, should establish judicial and administrative procedures for legal redress and remedy of actions affecting environment and development that may be unlawful or infringe on rights under the law, and should provide access to individuals, groups and organizations with a recognized legal interest. Access should be provided to effective judicial and administrative channels for affected individuals and groups to ensure that all authorities, both national and local, and other civil organizations remain accountable for their actions in accordance with their obligations, at the appropriate levels for the country concerned, taking into account the judicial and administrative systems of the country concerned.

109. Taking into account the provisions of chapter 39, particularly paragraph 39.1, of Agenda 21, it is necessary to continue the progressive development and, as and when appropriate, codification of international law related to sustainable development. Relevant bodies in which such tasks are being undertaken should cooperate and coordinate in this regard.

110. Implementation of and compliance with commitments made under international treaties and other instruments in the field of the environment remain a priority. Implementation can be promoted by secure, sustained and predictable financial support, sufficient institutional capacity, human resources and adequate access to technology. Cooperation on implementation between States on mutually agreed terms may help reduce potential sources of conflict between States. In this context, States should further study and consider methods to broaden and make more effective the range of techniques available at present, taking into account relevant experience under existing agreements and, where appropriate, modalities for dispute avoidance and settlement, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. It is also important to further improve reporting and data-collection systems and to further develop appropriate compliance mechanisms and procedures, on a mutually agreed basis, to help and encourage States to fulfil all their obligations, including means of implementation, under multilateral environmental agreements. Developing countries should be assisted to develop these tools according to country-specific conditions.

Information and tools for measuring progress

111. The further development of cost-effective tools for collecting and disseminating information for decision makers at all levels through strengthened data collection, including, as appropriate, gender-disaggregated data and information that makes visible the unremunerated work of women for use in programme planning and implementation, compilation and analysis is urgently needed. In this context, emphasis will be placed on support for national and international scientific and technological data centres with appropriate electronic communication links between them.

112. A supportive environment needs to be established to enhance national capacities and capabilities for information collection, processing and dissemination, especially in developing countries, to facilitate public access to information on global environmental issues through appropriate means, including high-tech information and communication infrastructure related to the global environment, in the light of country-specific conditions, using, where available, such tools as geographic information systems and video transmission technology, including global mapping. In this regard, international cooperation is essential.

113. Environmental impact assessments are an important national tool for sustainable development. In accordance with Principle 17 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, environmental impact assessments should be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority; where appropriate, they should be made available early in the project cycle.

114. The work programme of the Commission on Sustainable Development on indicators of sustainable development should result in a practicable and agreed set of indicators, suited to country-specific conditions, including a limited number of aggregated indicators, to be used at the national level, on a voluntary basis, by the year 2000. Such indicators of sustainable development, including, where appropriate, and subject to nationally specific conditions, sector-specific ones, should play an important role in monitoring progress towards sustainable development at the national level and in facilitating national reporting, as appropriate.

115. National reports on the implementation of Agenda 21 have proved to be a valuable means of sharing information at the international and regional levels and, even more important, of providing a focus for the coordination of issues related to sustainable development at the national level within individual countries. National reporting should continue (see also para. 133 (b) and (c) below).

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