Conference Report (Part II)

Background Papers


back to Conference Report (Part I)


Plenary Discussion on Information for Decision-Making and Participation, including Indicators

One of the co-authors of a background paper, Thais Corral, and of a workshop paper, Dr. Irmgard Schultz, made presentations.

Dr. Irmgard Schultz emphasised the need to reform the linkage between knowledge generation and political decision making. She criticised the Agenda 21 information pro­visions as being a one-way strategy to bring satellite-based information into “tra­ditional information” while the former was male-expert-based, technology monopolised and ex­cluded all forms of the latter. The question was rather how to ‘rebound’ satellite based information on “traditional” forms of information. Moreover the ‘sputnik view’ of the planet was a male scientists’ worldview which excluded social dimensions. There was a need to apply new participatory scoping methods, give na­tions the right to refuse ‘being geoscoped’, examine gender dimensions and incor­porate a kind of ‘People’s Earth Ob­servation System’ into existing Earth Watch systems.

Introducing her paper 1, Thais Corral stated that thanks to a major mobilisation of women in 1991, culminating in the Global Assembly of Women and the Environ­ment, immediately followed by the World Women’s Congress for a Healthy Planet, 120 rec­ommendations relating to women and the entire chapter 23 had been incor­porated into Agenda 21, adopted a year later by the UN Conference on Environment and Develop­ment in Rio.  Whilst a number of developing countries were now in­creasing availability and dissemination of gender-sensitive statistics as well as main­streaming gender in pol­icy actions, there remained major challenges in may areas. High rates of female illiter­acy (women accounting for 65% of the world’s illiterate people) affected both their economic security and potential for a role in civil society. Recent declines in this illiter­acy in most regions were balanced by reports of in­creased female illiteracy in South Asia.

Amongst the many points made by participants in the subsequent discussion were:

The present dominant worldview is scientistic and patriarchal. How could CSD dis­cussions shift from the scientistic to holistic perspectives?

The major digital divide had implications for women; scientific and technologi­cal proposals and policies should incorporate quantitative and qualitative indica­tors on gender aspects.

Indicators used in the recent WB/IMF/UN/OECD report “A Better World for All”, a document strongly criticised by NGOs, had assessed progress in the South according to indicators developed in the North, not emerging from either the South or a North-South intergovernmental process.

Within the UN Development Assistance Framework, UN agencies were develop­ing gender-sensitive indicators on poverty, income, food security and nutrition, mortal­ity, health, employment, livelihood, environment, drug control and hous­ing. Other indicators related to per capita Co2 emissions, biodiversity, protected land areas, GDP/energy ratios, forest land extension, dependence on fuelwood.

In 1997, the UN CSD adopted a work programme on 134 sustainability indica­tors, to be tested by 20 countries, including Germany. Following a review meet­ing in October 2000, the CSD secretariat has produced 59 indicators to be dis­cussed at CSD-9, but work still remained to be done on their gender sensitivity. At least 5 gender-related indicators should be proposed to CSD-9, perhaps drawn up by a dedicated working group.

Local level data is essential for local political action, but difficult to obtain. Car­ing activities are still categorised as leisure.

There was concern amongst developing countries that information could be used against them (e.g. to supply information about natural resource location to interested private companies without their knowledge or consent).

At least one pilot research programme on gender-sensitive indicators  needed within the process.

More gender-disaggregated environment-related health indicators were needed.

Participants in the workshop adopted the following recommendations:

1. Science and information for decision-making:

1.1  Due to the global digital divide there are significant knowledge gaps, particularly between North and South and between women and men. The UNDP Human Devel­opment Report 1999, for example, is outlining strategies designed to bridge these gaps. Governments and donor agencies should support projects related to the se strategies;

1.2  Gender expertise needs to be integrated into research; scientific advisory bodies and environmental impact assessments (EIAs); for example:

Women and women's NGOs must participate in the development of social-envi­ronmental information systems;
Social monitoring must be integrated into environmental monitoring; insti­tutions involved in designing environmental monitoring should collaborate with social scientists and gender experts to further such integration;

1.3 The dominating world-view is comparably science-based and technology-ori­ented. While this paradigm provides an important tool in order to understand environmental, economic and social inter-linkages, it was felt that this needs to be complemented by the 'human factor'.

2. Linking information to people and politics

2.1 Equal access by women to information technology and its application in interac­tive decision-making for sustainable development need to be ensured;

2.2  Public interest groups need to be empowered by funding and capacity building to serve as intermediaries of relevant information on gender and sustainable de­velop­ment policies.

3. Developing indicators and indicator systems

3.1  Gender disaggregated data need to be generated on all levels;

3.2  A gender perspective should be integrated into all indicators within the CSD in­di­cator system, where appropriate;

3.3  The CSD indicator system needs to take into account the research done by UNIFEM and other relevant organisations;

To achieve the above, the CSD should, in consultation with the Women's caucus, conduct a gender review of the current CSD set of indicators and produce a revised version. This should build on existing analysis (see work­shop background paper) and existing gender sensitive indicators designed for various areas of sustainable development.

3.4  Apart from gender sensitive indicators with regard to issues such as freshwater, hu­man settlements, etc., key issues that need to be integrated into sustainability indi­cator systems are:

proportion and participation of women in decision-making bodies related to sustain­able development;

the gender division of labour (including paid and unpaid work);

budget allocation to gender related issues in the field of sustainable devel­opment;

women's health and the environment.

3.5 A side event should be held at CSD-9 on gender aspects of sustainable develop­ment indicators.


Plenary Discussion on the 2002 Summit Process

Participants reviewed ideas arising from discussions with organisations and indi­viduals prior to and at the Berlin conference, as well as those developed within the CSD Women's Caucus.

These included the need for a global vision incorporating regional perspectives, de­vel­oping strategies for women’s involvement whether within NGOs, governmental proc­esses or pre-the 2002 Summit multi-stakeholder dialogues and within on-going reviews of Agenda 21. Media outreach and host country activities also needed to be developed. The need for the involvement of women parliamentarians in future ac­tivities was urged as well as better integration into all UN activities, and organisations such as the Global Environment Facility, where Northern networks were very active.

WEDO's plans, presented by Thais Corral, for a re-launch of the Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet received strong support, and had previously been dis­cussed and supported by the Women’s Caucus at its meetings during CSD-8. On WEDO’s ac­tivities on Local Agenda 21 and women, an activity carried out with ICLEI, she said that these would both be presented to the 2002 Summit, and be continued beyond it.

Options for developing a structured strategy were discussed, so as to cluster the ideas and thereby assign responsibilities. Women's strategies towards the 2002 Summit could be facilitated by a small steering group / facilitating team of experi­enced organisations, including the CSD NGO Women's Caucus, with a broader fo­rum of all interested groups around the facilitating group to facilitate effective communication and concerted efforts and ensure transparency. Task Forces for cer­tain subject areas should be formed.

The meeting agreed to continue discussions via the CSD NGO Women's caucus list serve and at the CSD Intersessional and CSD-9 and CSD-10 meetings on the basis of the following initial task force structure (overlaps included):

Advocacy task force

Major focus on the development of concrete, action-oriented recommendations for policy makers

Women's involvement in government and NGO reporting on implementation of Agenda 21 (Produce alternative reports from women's groups and/or NGOs? Pro­duce comments on governments reports from a women's perspective?)

Issue task forces, e.g. on priority issues for the 2002  Summit - teams with ex­pertise on  issues; tap into existing issue- specific networks

Major focus on women's poverty and the development of a new economic model within which women would not be marginalised and social and environmental costs would not be externalised

Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet (initial documents based on exist­ing coalition documents; working with issue specific networks)

Women's involvement in multi-stakeholder processes towards the 2002 Summit (en­sure that women and Indigenous Peoples be included as a distinct group in multi-stakeholder dialogues; create strategic alliances between women and other stakeholder groups)

Introduce a multi-stakeholder approach to selected areas of women’s caucus work; for example, gathering a team of women from different sectors / major groups on a particular issue; produce a women's multi-stakeholder document

Information & networking within the women’s caucus and with other women’s groups

Parallel event task force

Women's Action Agenda for a Healthy Planet (initial documents based on exist­ing coalition documents; working with issue specific networks)

Women & Local Agenda 21 (survey, analysis and developing strategies with ICLEI; hold regional meetings on LA21 & women, e.g. linked with regional PrepComms)

Information & networking (share information about plans and projects)

Host country task force

Possibly to be created by host country women's networks (discussions under­way)

Ensure that women in the host country & region benefit from the Summit being held in SA (e.g. housing projects)

Organisations outside South Africa to support women's organisations in SA & the   region in their preparations (e.g. show-casing success stories in the host country)

Lobby Northern governments to support South Africa, other African countries and developing countries in general in their efforts to prepare for the Summit, including women's organisations & NGOs

Media & communication task force

Work towards an effective media strategy to ensure clear communication; en­sure understanding of gender issues

Share media activities and products (including translations)

Use women's media to provide information & skills training material for women to be effective in the process

Resource task force

Gather and share information about possible funding sources

Joint fund raising depending on possible joint efforts

Participants agreed that each task force should seek how to learn from previous ex­peri­ences and successful strategies. Each of the task forces should work to ensure a global approach, networking and transparency and at the same time ensure appro­priate reflec­tion of regional specifics.

The pros and cons of holding a separate women's event in South Africa around the Summit and/or focus on working within the NGO activities in South Africa were dis­cussed; participants agreed that this was mainly up to the South African groups to de­cide, while non-South African groups and networks would stand ready to help upon re­quest.

It was decided that this initial structure should be further developed by WEDO and UNED Forum (which co-co-ordinate the Women's Caucus), and comments were in­vited. Further strategy developments should include information about who was do­ing what, to be published via the women's caucus list serve and all conference par­ticipants' networks, so as to ensure transparency, generate opportunities for collabo­ration and mutual support, and allow for input and involvement from interested or­ganisations. Par­ticipants also expressed the wish that organisations and networks share information about their on-going and planned activities for Earth Summit 2002, and should, when­ever possible, share information about resources they were accessing.

Further discussions on conference follow-up included the call on all participants to dis­seminate the conference’s outcomes (co-chairs’ summary and full report) within their networks and to other stakeholder groups such as parliamentarians who were often overlooked.

For CSD-9, the women's caucus should convene joint meetings with the NGO en­ergy caucus, the transport caucus, and the forthcoming caucus on information for decision-making.

Participants of the various issue-focused workshops and discussions should keep in touch and strengthen their links and collaboration, for example, participants in the en­ergy workshop should become part of a worldwide women and energy network. Partici­pants should aim to become active participants in existing NGO networks on these is­sues to ensure gender mainstreaming of their work.

Funds would be requested from both official UN structures and private foundations, whilst European based organisations should look to European institutions.






1 Gender and Energy in the South: A perspective from South Africa. By Hesphina Rukato, Minerals and Energy Policy Centre, South Africa. Gender and Energy in the North. By Ulrike Roehr, Life e.V. FrauenUmweltNetz, Frankfurt, Germany. (Authors’ summaries/abstracts and weblink for full texts are given in Annex IV).


1 Gender and Transport in Less Developed Countries: A Background Paper in Preparation for CSD-9 by Deike Peters Co-Co-ordinator, UN CSD Caucus on Sustainable Transport. Gender and Transport in Developed Countries by Kerry Hamilton, University of East London, UK. (Authors’ summaries/abstracts are given in Annex IV, as well as weblinks for full texts.)

1 Women and Information for Participation and Decision-Making in Sustainable Development in Developing Countries by Thais Corral and Pamela Ransom; REDEH Brazil / WEDO. (Author’s summary/abstract given in Annex IV with weblink for full text.) Satellite-based information and political decision-making by Irmgard Schultz, ISOE-Institute for Social Ecological Research, Frankfurt, Germany.


back to Conference Report (Part I)