The WSSD Process:
Commission on Sustainable Development in NY in 2001, the PrepComI
PrepComs II, III, IV in NY, NY and Bali, as well as many other preparatory
meetings since the UNCED (UNConf. on Environment and Development) in Rio
In terms of process, the Bali conference dealt in the main with negotiations
by the official delegations of the Chairman’s Text which is the gist of
the WSSD review of Rio, programme of action, and implementation arrangements.
This text is based on the global, regional, and national reviews of progress
since Rio in the sustainable development agenda.
Running parallel to these official negotiations were the multi-stakeholders
dialogue where representatives of global civil society through some nine
major groups and others shared their views on evaluating Rio outcomes,
comment on progress of Agenda 21 implementation to date, and more importantly
how they wish the process move forward from Bali pushing for a meaningful
and value-added outcome from the WSSD in Johannesburg later in August/September
2002. The nine major groups included NGOs, Youth, Women, Indigenous Peoples,
Business, Local Governments, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Farmers,
and Trade Unions. There were also plenary sessions, numerous side events,
caucus meetings, discussions in contact groups, informal plenary meetings,
press conferences, corridor discussions, interest group caucuses, country
alliances, geographical representations, and countless one-to-one meetings
all feeding in to the Bali process.
The Draft Plan of Implementation
Negotiated by three working groups, contact groups, ‘in-the-corridor’
consultation’, informal plenary, and high-level ministerial consultation
with inputs from the multi-stakeholders dialogue, this is expected to be
the main outcome of the Summit. The consolidated text has the most contentious
issues of energy, oceans, biodiversity, finance and trade, good governance,
globalization, partnerships, and sustainable development initiatives for
This reaffirms the
(10 years ago in Rio) outputs and acknowledges
that the implementation should benefit all and that good governance, peace,
security and stability are essential to achieve sustainable development.
The most contentious issues here include respect of human rights, the principle
of common but differentiated responsibilities (cbdr) in international cooperation,
importance of having an ethical framework for
SD, good governance, and
measures that contravene the UN Charter.
II. Poverty Eradication:
This is the greatest global challenge and addresses the
of halving of poverty for those with income of less than $1 per day by
2015 as well as those without access to safe drinking water which are not
Other issues still contentious are the establishing of an
international solidarity fund for eradicating poverty, improving indigenous
peoples access to economic opportunities, access to reliable and affordable
energy, increase of income generating employment opportunities, and others.
There has been agreement however on actions at all levels aimed at
poverty eradication, industrial contribution to poverty eradication, and
international cooperation to assist developing countries address child
labour and its root causes.
III. Changing Unsustainable Patterns of Production and Consumption:
This section addresses issues of consumption and production,
energy, transportation, and chemical and hazardous wastes. Here there is
difficulty in the principle of cbdr, enhancing corporate environmental
and social responsibility and accountability, trade-distorting subsidies,
development of a 10-year work programme to improve resource efficiency,
targets for renewable, phasing out energy subsidies, and public-private
partnerships on energy for Sustainable Development, Millennium Development Goals,
the use of targets and timeframes for access to energy, transition to liquid
and gaseous fossil fuel, and use of cleaner technologies.
was agreed in its entirety after discussions on reducing Green House Gases
gas emissions by developed countries and delegates accepted language on
reducing adverse health effects and safe and affordable transportation.
Agreement on Waste was reached prioritizing development of systems and
infrastructure for waste prevention and minimization, reuse, recycling
and environmentally sound disposal.
On Chemicals, despite difficulties
in the term ‘chemicals’ with reference to toxic and hazardous, target dates,
the precautionary principle, the delegates agreed to specify reference
to the Basel Convention with the only unresolved issue being the precautionary
principle and approach.
IV. Protection and Managing of the Natural Resource Base of Economic
and Social Development:
This section elaborates issues on water, oceans, disaster management,
climate change, agriculture, desertification, mountains, tourism, biodiversity,
forests, and mining.
Several issues that cut across the text were dealt with collectively
such as the precautionary principle, the Rio cbdr principle, timelines,
provision of technical and financial support, and new and additional resources.
On water resources there were difficulties on the
MDG re 2015 reference
to halving those without access to sanitation, use of satellite for water
management, targets, and reference to the precautionary principle and approach.
Agreed to was coordination on water issues, support on efficient, cost-effective
and environment-friendly programmes in developing countries on sea water
desalinization, and water harvesting from coastal fogs.
On Oceans, problems
UNCLOS implementation, sustainable and equitable fisheries, and
the rights of developing coastal states in the allocation of highly migratory
Compromise was reached on marine protected areas, elimination
of subsidies contributing to illegal and unreported fishing, invasive species
in ballast water, transport of radioactive waste, and the application of
the ecosystem approach.
On disaster management, delegates could not reach
agreement on supporting the establishment of institutional support whilst
there was agreement to an integrated approach to address vulnerability,
risk and disaster management, as well as early warning systems.
change, entry into force of the Kyoto protocol is still bracketed whilst
there was agreement on satellite use for atmospheric observation, assessing
impacts of air pollution, and language on assessing ‘the’ (not ‘adverse’
of ‘any’) effects of climate change.
On agriculture, divergence arose on
phasing out of export subsidies, illicit use of crops, improving market
access, ratification of international treaties, integrated land management,
land and water use rights, market-based incentives for agricultural enterprises,
and protection of indigenous resource management systems and role of women
in rural agriculture.
On desertification, the use of GEF as the financial
mechanism for the
UNCCD is still outstanding whilst there is agreement
in strengthening and mobilization of resources for the implementation of
UNCCD, and providing local access to information to improve monitoring
and early warning for desertification and drought.
On mountains, the text
was agreed to quickly and includes reference to vulnerability of mountain
ecosystems, gender-sensitive policies to address inequality facing mountain
communities, and promote traditional mountain economies.
On tourism, this
too was accepted without controversy calling for programmes to increase
participation and eco-tourism, enable indigenous and local communities
to benefit from eco-tourism, technical assistance to developing countries
for sustainable tourism business development, and reference to supporting
the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
On biodiversity, five contested
issues were the 2005 target for reduction in biodiversity loss, benefit
sharing from biodiversity by local people, the creation of an international
regime to effectively promote and safeguard the fair and equitable sharing
of biodiversity benefits, recognize the rights of indigenous communities
as holders of traditional knowledge, and the relationship between the CBD
and WTO to enhance synergy and mutual supportiveness.
On forests, delegates
accepted the multiple benefits of both natural and planted forests and
trees, sustainable forest management involving partnerships among governments
and stakeholders, transfer of environmental sound technologies, addressing
unsustainable harvesting of timber, and implementing the CBD and forest
On mining, the text is clean supporting efforts to address
the environmental, economic, health, and social impacts and benefits of
mining, minerals and metals.
V. Sustainable Development in a Globalizing World.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the draft plan where there
is still unresolved text going to Joahnnesburg. It contains provisions
on sound macro-economic policies, the multilateral trading and financial
systems, trade-related assistance and capacity building programmes, foreign
direct investments, and corporate responsibility and accountability.
there was some agreement on promotion of a rules-based trading system that
benefits all countries, and enhanced capacity for developing countries
to benefit from liberalized trade opportunities, differences remained on
the Doha Declaration, subsidies, the Monterrey Consensus implementation,
good governance, contribution of the WTO, the precautionary principle,
sustainable trade, international agreements on human rights, environment
and labour standards, assistance to developing countries to promote impact
assessments, as well as government support for private industry, financial
market regulation, assistance from financial institutions that improve
access, accuracy, timeliness and coverage of information on countries and
VI Health and Sustainable Developement
Delegates agreed on a number of issues such as environment-health linkages,
UNGASS-Children, traditional medicine and knowledge, intellectual property
protection systems, health care services, promote preservation, development
and use of effective traditional medicine knowledge and practices where
appropriate in combination with modern medicine, launch international capacity
building initiatives as appropriate that assess heath and environment linkages,
improve access to sufficient, safe, culturally acceptable and nutritionally
adequate food, mobilize adequate public and private financial resources
for research and development on diseases of the poor, support the phasing
out of lead in gasoline, and assist developing countries in providing affordable
energy to rural communities.
Issues left outstanding include WTO agreement
on Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public
health, and reference to health care system to deliver health services
for all consistent with national laws and cultural and religious values.
VII. Sustainable Development of SIDS:
Contentious issues include
UNCLOS , sustainable fisheries management,
and elaboration of specific initiatives ‘in defining and’ managing where
appropriate the ‘extended’ continental shelf areas.
Agreed text include
action at all levels to reduce, prevent and control waste and pollution
and their health-related impacts, work to ensure SIDS are taken cared on
in the ongoing negotiations of WTO work programme on trade and economies,
develop community-based initiatives on sustainable tourism, assist SIDS
in mobilizing adequate resources and partnerships for their adaptation
needs relating to the adverse effects of climate change, sea level rise
and climate variability, strengthen ongoing efforts on energy supply and
services, support SIDS develop capacity and strengthen health care
services and health systems, and undertake a full and comprehensive review
of the Barbados Programme of Action in 2004.
VIII. Sustainable Development for Africa:
Prolonged debate ensued on references to the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) and globalization, limited benefits from international
trade, declining ODA, the Tokyo International Conference of African Development,
protection of human rights, competitiveness in global markets, energy initiatives,
market access, and climate change.
Agreed paragraphs refer to actions at
all level to create an enabling environment, support the implementation
NEPAD , enhance industrial productivity and diversity of African countries,
enhance the contribution of the industrial sector, in particular mining
minerals and metal, provide technical and financial support to strengthen
capacity of African countries to undertake legislative policy and institutional
reform and for reforestation and reforestation and to implement the
deal with natural disasters and conflicts, promote integrated water resources
development and optimize upstream and downstream benefits, achieve improved
sustainable agricultural productivity and food security, achieve sound
management of chemicals, bridge the digital divide and create digital opportunity
on access to infrastructure and technology transfer.
IX. Means of Implementation:
Most contentious, this section contains sub-sections on trade and finance,
technology transfer, role of scientific community, education, capacity
building, and information for decision making. All references to ‘actions
at all levels’ are bracketed as well as references to the precautionary
principle, new and additional resources, global public goods, paragraphs
on indicators, strategic environmental assessment, sustainability assessment,
technology transfer, and role of scientific community.
The finance and
trade sub-section dealt with issues of debt, WTO and Doha agreement implementation,
market access, trade liberalization, elimination of tariffs and subsidies,
as well as measures to address international terrorism and the removal
of obstacles to the realization of people’s rights to self-determination.
Concerns were raised on mechanism to deal with debts other than
HIPC , access
to markets for developing country products including agricultural products
with the potential to contravene the WTO agreements on non-discrimination,
and the selective use of excerpts from Monterrey and Doha.
Calls to move
beyond Monterrey and Doha language expressing preference for the Monterrey
Consensus which was a political process as opposed to the technical programme
of Doha. Progress on consultation continue to fail and the Ministers mandated
Mohammed Valli Moosa of South Africa to facilitate informal consultations
in order to reach agreement on trade, finance, and globalization.
informal compromise paper was very good from the view point of developing
countries as it contained references to the principles of ‘
mobilization to attain internationally agreed development goals, conducive
environment for resource mobilization, attainment of ODA targets, application
of existing financial mechanisms, reduce debt burden, pursue the Doha agreements and WTO commitments, capacity building for commodity-dependent countries,
mutually supportive trade and environment policies, creation of voluntary
market-based mechanisms for trade in organic products, and the need to
address public health problems affecting developing countries. Unfortunately,
whilst this was supported by many Ministers, there was not a consensus
and Valli Moosa’s text was withdrawn.
On technology transfer, there was
agreement on country-driven technology needs assessment, transfer of technology
related to early warning systems, interaction and collaboration, stakeholders
relationships and networks between and among universities, partnerships
conducive to investment and technology transfer, development and diffusion,
and access to environmentally sound technology that are politically owned.
On role of the scientific community, there was agreement on greater capacity
in science and technology for SD, collaboration between natural and social
scientists and between scientists and policy makers, use of scientific
knowledge and technology, support for scientific assessment and decision
Agreed paragraphs on education refer to financial assistance
and support, research, public awareness, MDG on universal primary education,
impact of HIV/AIDS on educational system, allocation of resources to basic
education, the Dakar Framework for Action on Education for All, integrate
SD into education, provide wide range of non-formal and formal continuing
education opportunities, integrate information and communication technologies
in school curriculum and access of students from developing countries to
universities and research institutions of developed countries.
on capacity building relate to provide technical and financial assistance
to developing countries to assess their own capacity development needs,
design capacity building programmes, and develop capacity of civil society.
On information for decision making, delegates agreed to paragraphs on access
to environmental information and judicial and administrative proceedings
in environmental matters, statistical and analytical services for SD, global
observing systems and research, and access to disaster-related information
on early warning purposes.
X. Sustainable Development Governance:
This section is divided into sub-sections on chapeau, objectives, the
role of the General Assembly, the role of
ECOSOC , the role and function
of CSD, the role of international institutions, strengthening institutional
SD , and participation of major groups. Whilst most of
the section has been agreed, there was failure to reconcile differences
on the principle of ‘cbdr’, means of implementation, the link to rule of
law and human rights, international finance and trade institutions and
their links to SD,
to cover domestic environmental benefits, complete
the UN convention on corruption, and ECOSOC role in the follow-up to WSSD
and Monterrey and its commitments. Agreed text however sets out the specific
measures to strengthen SD at all levels and commits the international community
to integrate SD goals as outlined in Agenda 21 and the outcomes of WSSD
in the work of the UN and international financial and trade institutions
to improve collaboration.
The UNGA is to adopt SD as a key element of the
overarching framework for UN activities, ECOSOC is to increase its role
in systems-wide coordination and integration of economic, social and environmental
aspects of UN policies aimed at promoting SD, the CSD is to be strengthened
to give more emphasis to implementation of the three dimensions of SD,
as well as to partnerships and new initiatives.
Negotiations of CSD will
be limited to every two years instead of four years pushed by the US and
Japan. The section stresses the need to enhance the effectiveness
and coordination of international institutions within and outside the UN,
and the participation of major groups is to be enhanced including through
partnerships between governments and non-government.
Overshadowed by the governance consultation, the informal consultations
on type 2 outcomes on partnerships/initiatives engaged government delegates,
UN agencies, business and industry, and NGOs in discussing the framework
and follow-up mechanisms.
A summary text of these consultations was adopted
by the Plenary as an annex to the report on this and includes observations
on the guiding principles for partnerships, potential areas for partnerships,
follow-up to WSSD after Johannesburg, selection of partnership.
an explanatory note on the guiding principles for partnership for SD provided
background and elaborates on the following partnership principles - voluntary
nature/respect for fundamental principles and values, link with global
agreed outcomes, integrated approach to SD, multi-stakeholder approach,
transparency and accountability, tangible results, funding arrangements,
new/value-added partnerships, local involvement and international impact,
and follow-up process.
In opening statements, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette
underscored the human-environment relationship as a core concern for Johannesburg.
Her Excellency Megawati Soekarnoputri President of the Republic of Indonesia
called for cooperative efforts for SD including capacity building and accessible
and affordable science and technology. Ministers comments which followed
on the Implementation Plan during the interactive dialogue raised points
including the importance of ratifying and implementing treaties, not reopening
negotiated text from Rio and others, adherence to Rio principles, build
on the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Ministerial agreements, support for
, establish an independent monitoring system, and time-bound targets.
General statements by delegates raise issues on good governance, respect
for indigenous peoples, redress of external debt, access to international
markets, efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, ethics in SD, solidarity in the drive
against poverty and famine, intra- and inter-generational equity, ratification
of the Kyoto Protocol and other agreements, wars and conflicts as well
as occupation and their impact on SD, impacts of climate change on SIDS,
globalization that works for developing countries, and the correlation
between poverty and desertification.
On partnerships, over 60 countries,
regional commissions, UN agencies, and NGOs presented statements where
delegates called for initiatives on poverty, water, energy, education,
biodiversity, and desertification. Suggested principles for partnerships
included equitability, ethics, mutual trust and outcomes, community and
country driven, ownership by partners not donors, and partnerships not
to be a substitute governmental responsibility or replace multilateral
cooperation. Diversity, geographic distribution, and local community participation
were emphasized and stressed good governance, monitoring mechanisms, timelines,
targets, and monitoring and assessment.
Many delegates from developing
countries stressed that partnerships should provide additional resources,
enhance technology transfer, have tangible benefits, enhance South-South
cooperation, recognize regional dimensions, complement national priorities,
strengthen existing commitments, and have mutually agreed terms of reference.
On political declaration the Ministerial Dialogue re-emphasized this to
be a short and concise action-oriented political declaration reaffirming
the Rio principles, have clear targets and timetables, promote partnerships,
and implement the Monterrey Consensus, the Doha Agreements, and
developing countries suggested elements on debt relief or cancellation,
ethics, ‘cbdr’, market access, and HIV/AIDS pandemic. Norway suggested
four sections for the declaration to include a preamble, deliverables for
the implementation plan - water, energy, health, agriculture, biodiversity
(WEHAB) for type 2 initiatives as identified by the UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, - and follow up and monitoring mechanisms.
A Brief Analysis of PrepCom IV:
In terms of outcomes from the Bali conference, it was anticipated that
a political declaration will have been developed in Bali for endorsement
by Heads of Governments in Johannesburg. This was not achieved as a draft
was circulated to country delegations in the last day of the conference
and work is continuing and will continue in Johannesburg to finalize this
in time for the Heads to sign it as one of the more substantive output
from of the WSSD. As it is now, there is strong language to reflect political
will and commitment to implement the programme of action and implementation
arrangements of the WSSD.
However, we expect this to change and weakened
markedly after Johannesburg as the countries of the North will ensure that
this will be consistent with the already very weak Chairman’s text. The
important areas of targets, timeframes, new resources, and commitments
by the developed countries of the world in Rio and related subsequent
conferences, as well as the Millenium Development Goals are rendered not
binding on themselves, and contrary to the principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities as endorsed by them in Rio.
On the Chairman’s Text, the strong language to benefit the developing
countries has been butchered beyond recognition by the developed world
that some members of civil society have referred to it as Rio - 10, a much
backward overview and direct frustration to the process as being
unsustainable development. There were contentious argument by the North
and South on almost all the issues in the Chairman’s Text but more particularly
on consumption and production, energy, oceans, water, biodiversity, agriculture,
climate change, partnership (type 1 and 2), privatization, corporate accountability,
ecological debt, governance, and there is still negotiations ongoing on
trade and financing.
The work on the WSSD programme of action and implementation
arrangements are yet to conclude and there are many bracketed text where
there is no common agreement by countries and groups of countries. The
document will go to Johannesburg for a final decision on these by the countries
if they are able to come to some consensus which usually ends in weak and
On the Multi Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD), this was probably the most
valuable of all the processes despite some views that this did not help
influence the negotiation process on the WSSD programme of action. Contrary
to this view, it was encouraging to hear some of the official delegations
themselves commenting in the corridors and informally on the NGOs and civil
society being the ones most well informed of the issues. Undoubtedly, this
sort of comment by the officials is a genuine reflection of their own personal
and professional sense of the WSSD progress even if their government’s
formal position contradicts their own.
Other than the Business major group which shared very closely and defended
strongly the position of the North, all the other eight major groups in
the MSD were very supportive of the South standpoint. Their statements
complement one another in many of the issues in the Rio review, their outlook
for the future, expectations from the WSSD on what is needed to achieve
sustainable development, and their push to meet the global agreements of
the Millenium Development Goals.
The NGO’s Perspective - Let Us Be Honest In Johannesburg:
In the closing of the MDG process, the NGO’s representative Ms Chee
Yoke Ling of Third World Network delivered a very powerful, genuine and
frank speech to the governments and secretariat. The UNCED in Rio 10 years
ago planted a vision of partnership between the North and South based on
the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ (cbdr), equity
between and within nations, endorse the conceptual link between environment
and development (with its three pillars of economic development, social
development, and environment protection), endorse the precautionary principle,
expand the rights of communities and indigenous peoples, etc. Yet in the
WSSD process, it apparent that there is a ‘crisis in implementation’ where
everyone laments openly the lack of political will to implement sustainable
development as officials struggle to agree to time frames and targets for
In WTO, there is political will to set specific time frames and obligations.
Failure to comply triggers powerful enforcement machinery that come with
sanctions and governments are obliged to change national laws, policies,
and even constitutions to comply with WTO rules. As well, there is political
will to enforce decades of repayment of debt servicing by heavily indebted
countries where interest repayments exceed original sum borrowed. The debt
burden continues to worsen as economic liberalization contribute to new
But there is no political will here in the WSSD process, no will to
resolve the debt crisis, no will by the rich countries to make the much
needed reform to the International Financial Institutions to better serve
the countries of the South.
The NGOs call for unconditional debt cancellation based on the ecological
debt owed to the South by the North and repatriation to the South of resources
stemmed from centuries of colonization, slavery, exploitation, contamination
of natural resources, etc. NGOs also call for political will to ratify
multilateral environmental agreements and treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol,
not dilute and subvert them from their original intent and objectives,
and refrain from engaging in pushing deep contradictions that paralyze
the WSSD process.
This has somewhat injected fear in achieving a strong
political declaration because the current climate has economic liberalization
reign over sustainable development. The NGOs also note that the rights
of the Trans National Corporations have expanded to undermine the sovereignty
of countries where governments can be sued for loss of opportunity, as
NAFTA , when environment standards are applied to hazardous products.
Yet the rights of the communities to resources that they own are severely
reduced and weakened. Even racism is deepened in dumping toxic waste, hazardous
chemicals, as well as dirty industries that plague the poor and minority
communities of the South. The ‘rights-based approach’ is strongly endorsed
by all the major groups, but instead of rights, there is now the concept
of ‘stakeholders’ which assume equality amongst all parties when they are
The discussion on ‘partnership’ stress these unequal power relations
and push for ‘corporate accountability’ and liability. Not partnership
with big business as this era is pushing for ‘corporate rights’ to expand
disproportionately to ‘peoples rights’.
PrepCom IV’s failure to complete its work on the Draft Plan of Implementation
for the WSSD was not unexpected. The NGO community urged the negotiators
to take the bracketed text to Johannesburg rather than settle for a bad
The outstanding issues are best summed in two categories. First and
fundamental to the stalemate concern finance, terms of trade, and globalization.
The second is the Rio principle of’cbdr’. Other issues relate to the development
of the Programme of Work originated from Agenda 21 to include time-bound
targets and examining the gap in implementation of Agenda 21.
Attention will now shift to the Johannesburg WSSD itself to settle
many of these outstanding issues including the entry in to force of the
Kyoto Protocol which Australia and the US have again disassociated themselves
from. Problems will continue on finance, trade, means of implementation,
time-bound targets such as halving by 2015 the number of people without
access to sanitation, significantly reduce biodiversity loss, review by
2007 of progress in developed countries on phasing out of energy subsidies,
restore depleted fish stocks by 2015, and timing for commitment to new
work on sustainable consumption and production and energy for developing
countries. Expected to be difficult also in Johannesburg are the new funding
initiatives including the proposed world solidarity fund to tackle poverty,
financing for the
Gratefully yours in Servas,
Peace Secretary of Servas International