Earth Summit Conference in preparation for World Summit on Sustainable Development

Tourism

23 October 2001
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

 

CONTACT TRUST
Your experts in natural resource policy and legislation information services

Tel: (021) 426 1411
email:
sandy@contacttrust.org.za
www.contacttrust.org.za
______________________________________________________________


The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings
.

ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND tourism PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

23 October 2001
EARTH SUMMIT CAMPAIGN: FIRST PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE AHEAD OF THE WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – A GLOBE INITIATIVE


MORNING SESSION

Chairperson:
Ms G. Mahlangu

Documents handed out:
Bridging the Energy Divide by EDRC
People, Planet, Prosperity: Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa (Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism)
WSSD Deliberations (World Bank)
United Nations Environment Programme and the World Summit on Sustainable Development Statement (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark)
A Stakeholders’ Perspective on the WSSD Process (United Nations Environment and Development (UNED) Forum, United Kingdom)
Relevant documents

SUMMARY

The conference was convened to prepare Parliamentarians for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to take place in Johannesburg in September 2002. The conference was organised by Globe Southern Africa and hosted by the South African Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

The opening session of the conference began with a welcome address by Ms G. Mahlangu, Chairperson of the South African Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and this was followed by the keynote address delivered by Mr V. Moosa, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Toursim. The Committee was also addressed by Mr C. Warner of the World Bank, Dr Y. Adebayo of UNEP, Ambassador D. Nielsen of Denmark and Mr D. Osborn, Co-Chair of the UN Environment and Development Forum. The speakers focused on reviewing the legacy of the previous international summits on the environment and highlighting the challenges for the Johannesburg Summit. Speakers emphasised the importance of integrating the debate on environmental management with development and fighting poverty in the developing countries. Delegates engaged in debate over the presentations, and the first session of the conference adjourned for lunch.

MINUTES
The Chairperson welcomed delegates to the conference and asked them to introduce themselves. In her opening remarks she emphasised the importance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) that would take place in Johannesburg in September 2002. She said that members of Globe and delegates to the conference had the challenge of making the Earth Summit work. Parliamentarians needed to take seriously the duty to save the earth through the policies and legislation they passed in their Parliaments. She stressed the necessity to work for a sustainable environment strategy through co-operation and commitment.

The Chairperson listed the results that she believed the Earth Summit should achieve: increased sustainable use of renewable energy, beneficiation to developing countries, increase debt relief, creation of an enabling environment for investment in Africa, partnership of stakeholders, and technology transfers.

In concluding her introductory remarks, she welcomed international delegates to South Africa and wished them a good stay in the country. She introduced Mr V. Moosa, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa, and invited him to give the keynote address.

Keynote Address: People, Planet, Prosperity
The Minister welcomed delegates to the conference, which he deemed a very important step towards making the ‘Earth Summit’ in Johannesburg a success. He asked members to look back at the Rio legacy and the good things that came out of it. Agenda 21 represented a number of valuable steps and resolutions. It linked care for the environment and development, set up the Commission on Sustainable Development, set up the Convention on Biological Diversity and CITES, and it established the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, the Basel Convention on Hazardous waste, the Convention for Prior Informed Consent for Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste, the Climate Change Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Stockholm Convention on POPs.

The Minister stated that an assessment of the Rio legacy would reveal shortcomings. He said the post-Rio globalisation process had reinforced global inequality. Sustainable development programmes and commitments had been unable to reverse inequality and there was a failure to integrate international systems for trade, finance and investment with sustainable development commitments. Other problems were the fragmentation of conventions and implementing institutions. Development institutions were under-funded and, subsequently, ineffective. Complex governance systems hindered developing countries from participation and co-ownership. Aid funds were limited and were aligned to developed country priorities. He also commented on poor implementation of development targets and the gaps between international conventions.

The Minister expressed that the Johannesburg legacy would depend on a properly managed global consensus between governments and between all stakeholders. Global leaders would need to have ownership of resolutions, and there would have to be concrete outputs and deliverables, excellent logistics, security, symbolism, branding and legacy.

He said South Africa’s message for the ‘Earth Summit’ was that poverty and inequality were the greatest threats to sustainable global development in the 21st century. To seriously tackle inequality would involve changes in terms of trade, investment and debt relief. Governments could not achieve the necessary results alone. Partnerships with business, industry, civil- society, United Nations agencies, and development funding organizations were crucial. In the partnerships, government would have to contribute country strategies with matching state resources, create an environment conducive to implementation, and engineer regional implementation agreements. Business would have to agree to tackle marginalisation of the poorest with growth agreements on trade, investment, financing, and infrastructure linked to governance. Business would also need to adopt environmental and social auditing systems and proactive investments in development initiatives.

The Minister said that the New Africa Initiative was the delivery model for Africa. Peace, democracy, security and stability were essential for sustainable development. The environmental, economic and social pillars of sustainable development needed to be strengthened. The effectiveness of the Commission for Sustainable Development would have to be improved and the global governance for the environmental system reformed.

He stated that the outputs of Johannesburg would be a global partnership to address inequality, poverty and the integration of trade, finance and investment issues into a sustainable development agenda. Additionally, specific sectoral agreements and programmes would need to be created. The resulting programme of action from the Summit would be designed to deliver on the WSSD outcomes, and these would include the Millennium Summit targets with delivery and financing mechanisms, monitoring, and timeframes.

In conclusion, the Minister suggested that the slogan for the Summit should be ‘People, Planet, Prosperity.

WSSD Deliberations

Mr C. Warner, standing in for Mr F. Omar, congratulated the Government of South Africa for taking the bold initiative to host the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). By holding the WSSD in South Africa, the expectation was that the needs of developing countries, particular those in sub-Saharan Africa, would be highlighted.

The World Bank believed that enhancing environmental management in developing countries would only succeed if it were integrated with strategies to reduce poverty. In the view of the World Bank, the key challenge was to assist African countries in reducing and overcoming poverty. The World Bank was therefore looking at the linkages between poverty and the environment and the interventions required to address both issues simultaneously. Indeed, the Poverty Reduction Strategies of the World Bank’s member countries contained components explicitly addressing sound environmental management. Earlier in 2001, together with DFID, the World Bank held a successful workshop with African countries to provide support and training to assist in developing the environmental management components of their Poverty Reduction Strategies.

Mr Warner said that, in Sub-Saharan Africa where inhabitants were reliant on rain-fed agriculture, inland fisheries, harvesting of marine resources and forest products, it was essential to give a high priority to the promotion of sustainable land use practices and the sustainable harvesting of resources. Just as business enterprises safeguarded and maintained their capital assets, it was important to ensure that the poorer nations of the world were assisted to maintain and enhance their natural capital as an ecological, social and economic asset.

The World Bank provided between $18 and $25 billion worth of technical assistance and loans to developing nations per annum. All of the programs and loans were subject to the Bank’s stringent safeguard policies that included EIA. These safeguards, together with sector specific policies, had moved Bank operations from an approach of "lets try reducing harm to the environment" to one of pro-actively rehabilitating and conserving the environment. The Bank’s project and lending portfolio had undergone a fundamental change in the 10 years since Rio. Whereas in the past there was, for example, a substantial portfolio to develop new mines, promote plantation forestry, and develop coal and oil based energy production, this portfolio had shifted. There was an increased focus on the rehabilitation of mining impacts, the sustainable use of indigenous forests, and the promotion of clean and renewable energy. The Bank would continue to adjust its policies and project portfolio to support development that enhanced the environment while reducing poverty.

Mr Warner said that the other key manner by which the Bank supported sustainable development was as an implementing agent of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF had become a key instrument for Africa to access the technical and financial support necessary to implement international conventions. In this regard, the financial and technical resources from bilateral support were equally important. The Bank was constantly engaged with governments and bilateral funders to find ways of assisting delivery programs that would meet the clients needs, bring funding support together, and reduce the potential burden of engaging with a number of funders. The Bank had heard that government officials felt that too much of their time was spent engaging in international conventions or with funders rather than addressing issues on the ground. One way that this could be addressed was through developing programmatic approaches or sector specific programs supported by a number of funders who placed their funds into a common pool that was then disbursed as key targets were met and according to common procurement and disbursement procedures.

He then said that he would like to conclude on two issues. First, it was essential that the emerging focus on poverty reduction and the revitalization of Africa was maintained. This was a just and moral responsibility. In this regard, the farsighted New Africa Initiative, driven by African leaders, had to succeed. A new partnership had to be built between African countries interested in promoting sustainable development and developed countries. His second point arose out of the current focus on safety and security. He stated that a wider definition of safety and security was needed, and it would have to include sustainable development. The sustainable management of the environment would have to be seen as part of the emerging package to improve global and national security. Conflict was exacerbated between and within nations where fresh water, productive soils, natural capital, and other natural resources were scarce or unequally shared. Impacts such as climate change would increase drought and reduce food production in sub-Saharan Africa. The potential for conflict would only increase. Therefore, it was incumbent upon leaders, countries, and regions to continue to define a sustainable development agenda that would reduce the impact of climate change, the loss of natural resources, and cross boundary pollution. The World needed to keep its sights on addressing the basic poverty and environment issues confronting Africa. There was a need to strengthen partnerships between developed and developing countries, global institutions, the private sector, civil society, and NGOs to resolve poverty and reduce environmental losses. This needed to be done today, tomorrow, and until everybody could say that poverty had been eradicated, meaningful sustainability targets achieved, and the planet had become a safer and more secure place for all.

Contribution of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to the Preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)

Dr Y. Adebayo presented on the contribution of UNEP to the preparatory process for the WSSD. He said that UNEP was playing a leading role in the regional preparatory process. UNEP’s role included facilitating the comprehensive review of ten years of implementing Agenda 21 and its induced impact. It also includes facilitating a high profile intergovernmental dialogue, involving the active participation of major regional inter-government mechanisms such as conferences of various ministers of environment and foreign affairs and economic planning and finance, as well as governing bodies of sub-regional organizations. He stated that UNEP was actively promoting and supporting the participation of all stakeholders in the process. To further the process, UNEP has entered into working arrangements with UN agencies, the secretariats of the Rio Convention, the Functional Commissions, the Global Financing Mechanism (the Global Environment Facility and the Global Mechanism of the Convention to Combat Desertification), and the regional development banks.

Dr Adebayo outlined the issues that UNEP believed should be considered at the WSSD, and these included the following: adherence to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; a global deal for a new business model; a new deal for the private sector; the new economy contribution to sustainable development; respect for ethical, spiritual, and cultural values and diversity; protection of indigenous knowledge; development of new goals in support of the values articulated in the Millennium Declaration to reinforce international relations in the 21st century; reduction of tension and social conflicts; and adoption of strategic approaches to international chemicals management. He suggested that trade and environment policies should be mutually supportive. Additionally, there should be international support for the New Africa Initiative and compliance with multilateral environmental agreements and capacity strengthening. Also important would be effective national environmental enforcement in support of ongoing developments of compliance regimes within the framework of international agreements. Lastly, he believed there should be progress in promoting human rights in relation to environmental questions and in the framework of Agenda 21.

A New Global Deal: North-South Relations in Context of the WSSD

Ambassador D. Nielsen stated that the theme for his presentation would be ‘A New Global Deal: North-South Relations in the Context of the WSSD, the Johannesburg Summit.’ He said that the concept of ‘A Global Deal’ should be owned by developing countries and not by the North. Ministers of all developed countries had agreed at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the principles of decoupling the use of resources and environmental degradation from economic growth, reviewing performance in achieving sustainable development, and measuring their progress to this end on the basis of a set of indicators. He said that the Danish Prime Minister had also concluded at that meeting that there was a need to create a new balance between the global economic, social, and environmental development with a view for furthering sustainable development.

At the European preparatory meeting in September, Denmark was asked to give an interpretation of the concept of ‘A Global Deal’. Ambassador Nielsen stressed that the interpretation was not a Danish or European position. It was a sharing of thinking in the hope that it would contribute to defining a focused and action oriented agenda for the Johannesburg Summit. Ambassador Nielsen said that the Summit would provide an important opportunity for the global community to agree on practical actions to eradicate global poverty and tackle environmental degradation. These agreements would lay the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous world. If the Summit was to deliver tangible results, governments, civil society, and business needed to be actively involved. Governments, however, needed to take the lead. Priorities for the Summit included coordinated action to eradicate poverty through achieving international development targets and millennium development goals, enhanced market access for developing countries in areas of key economic importance, enhanced cooperation to promote corporate social responsibility and resource efficiency, entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, successful implementation by OECD countries before the Summit, and improved governance in all countries as a key prerequisite for attracting investment resources for economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable development.

He said that the fact that the WSSD was taking place in South Africa created a unique opportunity to put African issues high on the agenda. He also stated that Denmark was a strong political and financial supporter of Africa. African countries had an important stake in a successful outcome of the Summit. However, he was concerned that there seemed to be no consensus reached yet about the agenda of the Summit. It was important that the preparatory process produced a clear and acceptable agenda before the Summit began. In conclusion he said that he looked forward to developing the proposals in the context of achieving ‘A Global Deal’ as agreed at the European Council in Gothenburg. ‘A Global Deal’ between governments would need to be complemented by contributions from the private sector and civil society. He explained that, within the EU, there would be intensified cooperation prior to the Barcelona Summit of the European Council in March 2002.

A Stakeholders’ Perspective on the WSSD Process

Mr D. Osborn, Co-chair of UNED, opened his presentation stating that the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 had reached a number of ambitious conclusions related to sustainable development. Two major conventions on climate change and biological diversity were signed there, and Agenda 21 established a blueprint for actions needed to achieve a sustainable path for development in the future. The Rio Declaration enshrined a set of core values and principle to which all countries could subscribe. At the time, there seemed to be a basis for a histories deal for the rich countries of the North to commit more resources and technology to helping the countries of the South build the capacity for managing their own development in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

He then said that, five years after the Rio Summit, prospects of success looked less positive. Progress was patchy and the commitment to the North South Deal to make sustainable development happen had not been delivered. Ten years later, the situation had not changed. Slightly Less Unsustainable Development Gesturing at the Environment (SLUDGE) was all that had been achieved. There was better development in other areas such as the Local Agenda 21. The efforts of local communities to take better control of their own environments were an encouraging example. Some businesses had made significant improvement in their standards of operation throughout the world. NGOs of all kinds had achieved some successes on particular issues. The general trend on many aspects of environment and development were, however, for the most part not encouraging or sustainable. Too many people and communities were still living in poverty, the world’s environment was still deteriorating, greenhouse gases were accumulating in the atmosphere, air in cities was polluted, noise levels were increasing, oceans were polluted and over fished, the world’s forests and biodiversity were shrinking, deserts were spreading, and freshwater was becoming scarcer and more polluted. Mr Osborn asked what the prospects were for the Summit making a new start and restoring momentum to the sustainable development process. He said that the choice of an African venue was a good beginning because Africa was in more need of a transition to sustainable development than any other continent. Next came the important role the United Nations could play to provide the structure and support on which the debates would take place, followed by the participants, the governments around the world, and all other stakeholders. He said that the UNED Forum was in touch with many different stakeholders around the world. From this contact with stakeholders, a view had emerged that attempted to put together a theme that might unite and energize different stakeholders around the world. The theme came under five headings: the vision, implementation, governance, development goals, and finance.

Mr Osborn argued that there was a need for a new vision and to endorse the Earth Charter. If the Summit in Johannesburg was to succeed, it needed to embody a vision and a set of values that would inspire people and, at the same time, feed into practical decision making at all levels. He made an example of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the way it captured the imagination of the world in creating a positive influence and response for the past 50 years. The Earth Charter could have a similar impact for the environment. The endorsement of the Earth Charter would be a significant out come of the Summit.

Mr Osborn highlighted the need for a new emphasis on implementation. Action on Kyoto and other multilateral environment agreements was crucial. Universal commitment to all agreements and protocols with the machinery to bring them into force was necessary. A new initiative to strengthen international governance and reinforce UNEP had to be launched. He said that a number of ideas had been expressed to improve international governance for sustainable development, but these efforts could cancel one another out or take too long to achieve consensus. He suggested that it would be best to focus attention on strengthening UNEP. UNEP should be given agency status, its resource base should be broadened, and it should be given regional capacity to support emerging regional environmental groups. He also said that an emphasis on development would have to be prioritized. There was already wide spread agreement that the Summit should endorse and reinforce commitment to the international development targets, the Millennium Summit targets, and, in particular, the eradication of poverty. This was key to building the North and South relationship. It was vital to build concrete programmes for action in some of the specific key areas including water and sanitation, renewable energy, health, and tourism. There needed to be agreement on which organizations would take the lead in developing programmes and how new and additional resources could be mobilized for them.

Mr Osborn stated that there should be a new effort to honour financial commitments. Globalization was bringing all parts of the world closer together and integrating economies. Thus far, it had also exacerbated inequalities between and within countries. Sustainability required collective effort to "tame the globalization tiger" and to establish a fairer basis for trade and other economic relations. It also required serious financial commitments by the wealthier parts of the world. In conclusion, he claimed that a crucial outcome of the Summit would be a realization by the countries of the North of the scale of the problems confronting developing countries in achieving sustainable development, and a full acceptance by the North of their responsibility to help resolve those problems by limiting their own adverse impact and helping positive developments in the South through better market access, technology transfer, and financial support. The South needed to work hard during the next few months to bring forward its own perception of these issues and the way it wants to shape its path towards sustainability. He ended the presentation with a logo, which illustrated the five key themes identified by stakeholders. EARTH NOW - A brief manifesto for the WSSD:

Endorse the Earth Charter,
Act on Kyoto and other environmental agreements,
Reinforce global governance and UNEP,
Target development goals, poverty eradication and sustainable development,
Honour financial commitments.

The Chairperson thanked the presenters and announced a tea break. After the conference re-adjourned, the session moved on to questions and discussion.

Questions and Discussion

A University of Cape Town professor expressed his concern that none of the speakers had mentioned HIV/ AIDS in their presentations. He argued that HIV /AIDS was one of the biggest threats facing Africa, and it would be irresponsible to not consider its effects on sustainable development on the continent. The professor also stated that he had the opinion that UNEP was being sidelined in its efforts to manage environmental and development issues on the continent. He argued that UNEP should be bolstered and not have its wings cut.

A Member of the Parliament from Kenya commented that the processes around sustainable development had been known for a decade, but the level of awareness among Members of Parliament from around the continent was generally zero. She said that the challenge facing Globe was how to sensitise Parliamentarians to prepare them for the Summit in Johannesburg.

A Member of the Parliament from South Africa said that the Government of South Africa had tried, in the seven years, to do a lot for the poor, especially women. The government was doing its best with limited resources. She appealed to the rich countries of the North to do more to share their knowledge and experience with the developing countries.

The Co-Vice President of Globe said that he wanted to follow up the concerns raised by the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. He noted that Africa’s development was reliant on natural resources. African governments needed to take the lead in ensuring that development was fuelled by policies that were environmentally friendly. He proposed that the issue of debt and democracy should be linked to the environmental debate and that attention should be drawn to the New Africa Initiative (NAI). The New Africa Initiative did not emerge out of consultation. In the culture of a participatory democracy, the debates on the NAI should be opened to include civil society.

A Member of the Parliament from Mauritius said that he had noted that from the beginning of the conference words such as consensus and cooperation were mentioned often. This suggested that there was agreement in the continent on issues around sustainable development. What remained were the necessary decisions and actions to be taken. If no action were taken soon about global warming Mauritius would disappear from the world map. There were policies, and the priorities were correct, but everything failed when time for implementation came, so this needed to receive urgent attention.

A delegate pointed out the concern over the agenda raised by Ambassador Nielsen. He said that it was important that there be consensus on the agenda before the Summit began, or the problems associated with the agenda of the World Conference on Racism would also plague the Summit.

A Member of the Parliament from Zimbabwe asked why the governments of Europe and the United States of America placed issues of governance low on the agenda while Mr Moosa had placed it high on the list of priorities in his presentation. She said that the issue of governance was particularly relevant in Zimbabwe. The land distribution process in Zimbabwe, which was presented as a poverty reduction strategy, had gone wrong because of the question of governance. Trendy concepts such as the New Africa Initiative needed to be grounded and entrusted to the people. She warned against the use of terms such as ‘global’ as Ambassador Nielsen had in his presentation. In the developing world, the words ‘global’ and ‘globalisation’ were worrying because, more often than not, they meant that decisions would be made in Washington.

A Member of Parliament from South Africa said that he was reminded of a conversation with a member of the World Bank in 1990 about conserving water in the Eastern Cape. He had asked the official what the World Bank’s position was on supporting the building of smaller dams along rivers to create green belts that would benefit poor rural people. The World Bank had claimed that they would support such a project, but nothing had resulted from that statement yet.

Mr Warner responded that the World Bank had recently received an application from the South African government to assist with the Rural Development Strategy. There was consensus within the World Bank on moving away from building big dams. The World Bank would consider the small dam approach in South Africa in the context of the South African government’s application.

Mr Osborn, responding to the proclamation about UNEP, said that the Committee on Sustainable Development in New York might have inadvertently sidelined UNEP, though that had not been intended because UNEP had an important role. Its staff had gone down in previous years, but it needed strengthening. In some cases, there might be overlapping of responsibilities, but both structures had a different role to play. In response to the question on AIDS, he said that UNED had conducted a stakeholder consultation, and the priorities that came up were energy, food security, freshwater, public health (including HIV/AIDS) and governance.

Mr R. Sherman, Head of Research and Policy Unit for Globe SA, said that this conference and others being planned were part of the effort to sensitize Parliamentarians on issues that needed their attention and to prepare them for the Summit in Johannesburg. He suggested that UNEP organise an Africa-wide conference that would reach as many Parliamentarians on the continent as possible.

The Vice President of Globe added that, wherever Globe members were, they were leaders and initiators. He gave an example of a Globe member in Uganda who had organised a workshop for the Members of Parliament in Uganda to expose them to environmental issues.

A delegate said that he felt that, from the point of view of an NGO working on the ground, he had confidence that the Summit would produce the necessary results. He said that it was important that the Summit set a navigable path to the ground for all the policies and plans it would put in place.

Mr Osborn responded to the point about globalisation being a worrying factor among developing countries. He stated that the process of creating a united Europe was a globalisation experience for the poorer European countries. The problems these countries had with the process were resolved with support from the wealthier countries through mechanisms that removed the burden from the poorer countries. Similar mechanisms would have to be put into place to support the developing world in participating as full members of the globalisation process.

Ambassador Nielsen said that his presentation did refer to HIV/AIDS, governance, and job creation. He said that the word ‘global’ did not have to be part of the final document if it was threatening.

A Member of Parliament from Kenya said that sustainable alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, were viable solutions for the African continent’s energy needs. These alternatives were, however, not accessible because they were expensive. He appealed to the countries that were advanced in developing these alternatives to share their technology to make sustainable energy accessible to the developing world.

Mr Osborn said that it was not the first time that the issue of the developed world sharing its resources and knowledge with the developing world was raised. This issue never received a satisfactory response. The issue of access to technology and intellectual property would also need to be part of the agenda for the Summit.

Mr Warner said that the World Bank had programmes aimed at developing cleaner technologies to support forestry and transportation systems.

A Member of Parliament from Zimbabwe asked what the concept of sustainable meant for Africa. He asked whether the vision for development of rural communities was aimed at keeping rural areas as they were or at transforming rural areas into advanced villages as in Europe.

A delegate from the African Resources Trust in Zimbabwe suggested that the media should be brought into the sustainable development debate early so that journalist could be educated to know the issues in order to report constructively.

A Member of Parliament from Kenya said that there was no uniformity in Africa on the issue of sustainable development. She argued that women were very important in the development of the continent, but there had been no mention of women in the conference.

A Member of Parliament from Zimbabwe stated that the World Bank received its funding from contributing countries. She asked whether this presented a limitation to the ability of the World Bank to decide its own priorities.

A Member of Parliament from South Africa said that the question of the direction that rural villages were to be taken in their development was a complicated one. She argued that the New Africa Initiative had to be examined to see how it dealt with the issue of rural development.

Mr Sherman directed a question to Ambassador Nielsen on the issue of decoupling. He asked what the OECD expected from African countries in terms of decoupling.

Ambassador Nielsen said that there were no expectations that developing countries would undertake the same commitments in the short term. There were, however, expectations that developing countries would need to perform on good governance.

Mr Warner stated that the World Bank raised its funds from member contributions and independently from the financial markets. However, it was true that in some cases non-replenishment of funds by contributing countries would affect the ability to finance projects.

The Chairperson adjourned the conference for lunch.

AFTERNOON SESSION


Chairperson:
Mr G. Schneemann

Documents handed out:
Paper Presented on the Millennium Declaration and the meeting of Global Poverty Targets (UNDP South Africa)
Bridging the Energy Divide: Energy Sustainability and the WSSD (Energy Efficiency and Environment, Energy and Development Research Center, University of Cape Town)
Managing Water for Peace and Prosperity (IUCN – World Conservation Union, South Africa)

SUMMARY

The Chairperson welcomed everyone back to the conference and said that the second session would deal with poverty, equity and the environment. Ms N. Haque, Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP South Africa, presented on the Millennium Declaration and meeting Global Poverty Targets. Mr R. Spalding-Fecher, Project Leader on Energy Efficiency and Environment for the Energy and Development Research Center (EDRC) at the University of Cape Town, presented on energy sustainability and the WSSD. The final presentation was on water management, and Mr S. Fakir, Director of IUCN – World Conservation Union, South Africa, presented. Members of Parliament from various countries and representatives from non-governmental and civil society organisations were then given an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

MINUTES
The Chairperson for the afternoon session was Mr G. Schneemann, Acting Chairperson for the Housing Portfolio Committee. He welcomed everyone and gave his appreciation for the opportunity to be involved. He asked the first presenter, Ms Haque, to proceed.

The Millennium Declaration and the Meeting of Global Poverty Targets

Ms Haque, Deputy Resident Representative of the United National Development Programme – South Africa, stated that she was an acting member of Globe and a Member of Parliament. She added that it was an honour to be presenting and representing her organisation, UNDP. She believed that this was an important opportunity to form alliances before the Summit next year. Ms Haque proceeded to explain that poverty and unequal development would be the greatest threats to the environment, people and long-term security of the world. WSSD was not to be an environmental summit but one on poverty reduction and sustainable development. In South Africa, she mentioned, it was believed that the Millennium Assembly’s goal of halving world poverty by 2015 should be the guide for all development and environmental initiatives, particularly at Johannesburg 2002, and WSSD should be founded in poverty reduction and sustainable development goals.

Ms Haque then discussed the United Nations Millennium Declaration saying that the challenge it identified was making globalisation a positive force for all in the world rather than a force creating unevenly shared costs and benefits. Key objectives identified in the Declaration were: 1) peace, security and disarmament, 2) development and poverty eradication, 3) protecting our common environment, 4) human rights, democracy and good governance, 5) protecting the vulnerable, 6) meeting the special needs of Africa, and 7) strengthening the UN. Heads of States also agreed to work on additional issues including freedom from war, strengthening respect for the rule of law, controlling drugs, minimising the adverse effects of UN economic sanctions on innocent populations, fighting international terrorism, eliminating anti-personnel mines, and promoting peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic Ideal.

Concerning development and poverty reduction, resolutions of the Declaration included making a right to development a reality for all, creating equitable trading systems, addressing needs of least developed countries such as debt relief and more generous assistance, and addressing the particular needs of small island states and landlocked countries. The most important part of the Declaration concerned goals for the year 2015, including that all children have primary schooling, girls and boys have equal access to all levels of education, maternal mortality be reduced by three quarters, under-five child mortality by two thirds, and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Ms Haque also mentioned a focus on the need to further empower women, to develop better strategies for employing young people in productive work, to make essential drugs and benefits of new technologies available to all, and to develop a productive partnership between the private sector and civil society organisations. In the Declaration, Heads of States also committed to support and achieve the principles and goals set out in Agenda 21 and the Kyoto Protocol, to implement fully the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, and to stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources.

Ms Haque stated that, according to the UNDP, the major challenge for this conference was to create concrete suggestions for WSSD. She believed that, according to the human poverty index, many developing countries had made great progress in reducing poverty. She then listed seven specific goals for 2015 included in the Declaration that were drawn up from several conferences and summits in the 1990s. These included the afore-mentioned goals for that year in addition to providing access to reproductive health services to all and implementing national strategies for sustainable development by 2005 so as to reverse the loss of environmental resources by the target year. More would have to be done, however, to reach the poverty reduction target by 2015. Most success had been in East Asia, and the rest of the world had a population growth greater than the reduction in poverty, so the number of poor people had been increasing even though the proportion had been going down. The improvements in education as well as in maternal and under-five child mortality were also not occurring fast enough. The spread of HIV/AIDS was still a serious impoverishing factor throughout the world, and the resurgence of malaria and tuberculosis had also become detrimental.

She then commented that, though most countries had poverty reduction plans, many were based on monetary measures rather than human poverty targets and lacked adequate budgets or organisations for successful implementation. It was not necessarily true that rapid growth with social spending and safety nets would be sufficient. Pro-poor growth was necessary, but little existed in the way of practical policies to achieve this. Successfully solving this problem required addressing sources of inequality stemmed in unequal distribution of land and the deteriorating environment of the poor. Issues such as debt and trade also needed to be linked to poverty programmes. Ms Haque then focused on the major issue of accountability that was a key missing link in poverty reduction. Local governments needed to be given adequate capacity to deal with poverty at that level, and people needed to be well-informed and organised so that they could hold their governments accountable. Civil society organisations and community based organisations remained very important, but it was important that they did not take over legitimate government functions thus weakening government’s accountability and capacity to deal with the issues properly. She explained that many of the issues were being addressed by a "newer generation of poverty reduction strategies," such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) required in some countries by the World Bank and the IMF.

Ms Haque continued, stating that the Millennium Summit had renewed UNDP’s 1995 World Summit for Social Development mandate to support national poverty reduction strategies, and the UNDP helped to ensure that these strategies were nationally owned and participatory. The Declaration’s environmental goals focused on the fact that current consumption and production patterns were simply unsustainable and needed to be changed. Despite the commitments at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, producing and implementing strategies for sustainable development and conservation of natural resources had not occurred effectively. However, Ms Haque did mention reasons to be optimistic including increasing global literacy rates and better access to health care for more people. Additionally, environmental degradation caused by population growth could be controlled by policy shifts such as empowering the poor as actors, engaging them as partners for planning and implementation, creating incentives for the poor and the private sector to mobilise resources, and giving the poor real rights and ownership of assets. Government reform would have to include improved accountability, transparency, representation and decentralisation, as well as a more pluralistic approach to decision making. She stated that high-income countries would have to reduce tariffs and provide more aid for developing countries to make this possible. She emphasised that globalisation could and should be an opportunity for growth and development. Regarding HIV/AIDS, treatment needed to be more affordable to all. The bottom line was that all these goals needed to be reached by every country.

Since this conference was taking place in South Africa, Ms Haque believed that South Africa’s more holistic approach to poverty reduction should be mentioned. It occurred through a decentralised governance system within communities and municipalities, and she was hopeful that this was the right approach. UNDP was planning a conference in South Africa in November aimed at sensitising Parliament to the issues. UNDP support to the country for the WSSD provided for round table meetings for preparation of National Agenda 21 Report, ensuring that the Summit was itself environmentally friendly, documenting success stories and encouraging towns to clean up their environments, and hopefully giving grants to support community-based initiatives. Additionally, she hoped women would benefit the most since they were the poorest.

Ms Haque thanked all present for the opportunity and said that she hoped they would all negotiate, allocate more funds and seek more solutions before the problems all got out of hand.

The Chairperson stated that the conference was running behind, so he apologised and asked the following presenters to please limit their presentations to fifteen minutes.

Bridging the Energy Divide: Energy Sustainability and the WSSD

Mr R. Spalding-Fecher, Project Leader on Energy Efficiency and Environment for the EDRC, began his presentation with the question of how the energy divide could be bridged. Energy was a catalyst, a means for development and poverty alleviation. It provided a means to an end. He stated that the perceived tension was between the cost of access and the cost of environmental sustainability, but there was potential for a win-win situation since most energy was indeed wasted. Targets should be universal access to electricity and increasing the share of electricity coming from renewables. Targets would need to be coupled with implementation and resources. He then focused on African priorities based on the New Africa Initiative / Millennium Africa Plan. The specific targets here were to cut poverty in half from 1990 to 2015, increase access to commercial energy from 10% to 35% by 2015, and support a boost in GDP growth to 7%, all in order to reverse environmental degradation from traditional fuels. This would necessitate implementing strategies for regional development of hydropower, grid and pipelines. ODA targets of .7% would have to be met, but there would have to be more discussion of resources including how these targets must be met.

He then used South African priorities as an example of what a country might do. This included the White Paper on Energy Policy for improving access, improving energy sector governance, improving economic efficiency, increasing diversity of supply sources, and minimising environmental impacts of energy. At a national level, they were only now developing targets and resources. Good targets would have to be created, and then came the question of how to get international action for support. Next, the State needed to distinguish what action should be taken at each level. Mr Spalding-Fecher explained that, at a national level, it was useful to look into specific policies to promote access and renewables. This might include equipment and building efficiency standards, vehicle efficiency standards, and a ‘wires charge’ to fund public benefits programmes. Each country would have to determine what its own specifics should entail. For the regional level, he continued, they had already discovered in Africa that they could focus on regional infrastructure and trade, harmonising regulations, achieving economies of scale and exchanging information. Internationally, it was easy to say that transfers needed to occur from North to South, but no hard mechanisms were yet in place. Global targets and technology transfer commitments and mechanisms needed to be set.

Mr Spalding-Fecher explained that energy was not on the agenda until the fifth anniversary of Rio in 1997, and only this year had the international community requested action on the issue. He then discussed the CSD9 documents of 2001 that made recommendations for national, regional and international action on the energy issue. The focus divided between areas and cross-cutting issues. Areas of focus were accessibility, efficiency, renewable energy, rural energy, transport, advanced fossil technologies, and nuclear technologies. Cross-cutting issues were research and development, capacity building, technology transfer, information sharing, financial resources, making markets work, and participation. He said that they should expect a programme of action on energy to come out of WSSD, and this would have to include targets and timeframes for international action. He then discussed the G8 Renewable Energy Task Force as an example of a partnership approach. This task force did not consist only of government officials but made a real effort to involve other shareholders. It also spelled out more clearly what the roles and commitments were for governments, international financial structures, civil society, and business. Mr Spalding-Fecher then listed the innovative international actions that they should collectively expect and bring about. These included providing stronger guidance to international financial institutions, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, organising a world energy forum for global dialogue, creating a permanent UN inter-agency task force on energy rather than a new international agency, and holding annual meetings on global sustainable energy finance. Concerning the role of Parliamentarians, he stated that, in addition to negotiating on an international level, much of the action could only occur at a local and national level through legislation. Their duty was also to monitor national progress towards accomplishing these goals. He then thanked the Chairperson and all present for the opportunity to present.

The Chairperson gave the floor to the Mr Fakir to present.

Managing Water for Peace and Prosperity

Mr S. Fakir, Director of IUCN – World Conservation Union, South Africa, thanked everyone present and gave special thanks to his colleague and co-author of the paper, Alexandra Baillie. Because of the limited time, he stated that he would cover the basics on the water agenda for peace and prosperity. Water was a passionate issue, particularly for many rural women, because it was an integral part in daily life. It was an issue not only for nation-states but for the commercial and private sector as well. He stated that it was a very scarce resource important for trade and for livelihoods, yet one in five people did not have access to drinking water and 50% did not have adequate sanitation. Therefore, in order to eradicate poverty, addressing the water issue would be necessary.

Mr Fakir stated that water could be a source of conflict but also an opportunity for peace. He mentioned the recent struggles in southern Africa over access to water in the Okavango. There was a growing scarcity of water, but there was tremendous room to increase cooperation thereby pre-emptively maintaining peace and avoiding conflict. Water was not only important for commercial use but also for human rights and environmental issues. He then highlighted important efforts made since Rio. The goals set up at Rio were to: 1) satisfy basic food and water needs for all humans, 2) ensure adequate freshwater supplies for sustainable development in all nations, 3) preserve ecosystem integrity, and 4) reduce water related diseases. The seven program areas defined to achieve these goals included: 1) integrated water resources development and management, 2) water resources assessment, 3) protection of water resources, water quality, and aquatic ecosystems, 4) drinking water supply and sanitation, 5) water and sustainable urban development, 6) water for sustainable food production and rural development, and 7) impacts of climate change on water resources. Mr Fakir concluded that policy focus had been very good but implementation had not been very effective because of a lack of finances, incapacity of government agencies, and a lack of technology. He said that an important shift included recognition that water could not be protected solely by investing in physical infrastructure. More efficient management would be necessary.

Mr Fakir explained that farming was an important area where water conservation needed to be reviewed as there was much room for greater efficiency. Interesting things were happening in alternative water storage and supply, even in South Africa, and he mentioned small community efforts in rainwater harvesting as an example. Water was also an important inducer for other matters of economy such as improving income capacity, so it was not simply a matter of drinking water availability. To conclude, he stated that the upcoming Summit was one of many fora in which this issue could be pursued, and they would need to examine how water security and access could be improved. He then thanked the Chairperson and all present.

Questions and Discussion
The Chairperson highlighted a few issues from the presentations. On the first presentation, he deduced that globalisation should be a positive force and not be seen as negative. Other issues raised were HIV/AIDS, the Kyoto Protocol, and the crucial link between poverty and sustainable development. Additionally, the government was sometimes the missing link in poverty reduction, efforts needed to be shifted down to local levels, and there should be an emphasis on the empowerment of women and community involvement. On the energy presentation, he mentioned that an increase in access and affordability of energy was necessary, priorities were given, and a focus on hard targets and international action was needed. Concerning the presentation on water, the Chairperson noted that access to water was crucial to eradicating poverty but could be a source for both conflict and cooperation. He noted the international efforts that had taken place since 1992 and that there needed to be a change in the attitude of the users of water. There was also a need for greater efficiency in water use in agriculture.

The Chairperson noted that they needed to allow the representative from NAWISA to speak.

The NAWISA representative explained that his organization was composed of civil society organisations in southern Africa that looked at water issues in their region. He said that large reservoirs of water had high levels of biodiversity and contained many resources for food and construction materials. These reservoirs were important for agriculture, tourism and other economic matters. He said that water was also necessary for transportation for local communities. It was important to manage reservoirs as river basins in totality, and they needed to allow for fair and equitable distribution for all. Additionally, he stated that, when water was commercialised, some of the very large water schemes necessitated relocation of local people. Water was often not made available to those relocated in support of the commercial use of the water from which they were removed. He said that managing water resources in the form of a basin could lead to peace and cooperation between countries involved and better management of natural resources.

The Chairperson then opened the session of discussion and debate that would be followed by an opportunity for the presenters to reply to any particular questions.

Mr R. Sherman of Globe - Southern Africa asked whether they should be focusing on international principles and guidelines negotiated at a global level or rather on regional levels and their own needs through which more practical solutions might be found.

Following a brief adjournment when the members of the South African National Assembly had to return to the National Assembly for a vote, discussion continued.

A Member of Parliament from Zambia mentioned UN work with world programs. He asked if UN organisations worked together when one group worked on environmental issues while another dropped refugees in another area leaving them with no choice but to deplete the environment in a detrimental manner for survival. He said that many of the delegates originally came from kingdoms that looked after natural resources, but now they were told to do things differently. He asked why they could not talk about traditional leadership being in charge of these problems rather than people from the UN who did not know the communities and areas. He then asked what they were actually taking home for their people after all of the talk.

Mr J. Ken-Wkyamuzi, a Member of Parliament from Uganda, stated that energy levels would remain a nightmare if high tariffs did not come down. He said that Africa must address the problem of other countries lending them money but not seeing that they used it well. Additionally, he believed that they needed to use energy and water as infrastructure. Though the World Bank would like tariffs to go up, Uganda recently rejected high tariffs. He then asked why they did not improve the efficiency of companies producing energy. He argued that those using energy were overtaxed, and they needed to use natural sources of naturally sustaining energy.

A Member of Parliament from Tanzania directed her comment at Ms Haque who claimed that the rate of poverty was decreasing. She said that this must be a paper statement, and the UN should research the reality of it better because people did not feel an improvement. She thanked the donor countries for providing projects but said that they needed to go further. They needed to first get researchers and professionals involved to see whether their projects would be viable. Periodic assessment was necessary because otherwise, at the end of the day, they simply caused more poverty and inflation.

A Member of Parliament from South Africa stated that earlier legislation on water in South Africa used water as a political tool, but water was now seen as a right. She said that the private sector, however, was aiming at profit. The public and private sector should work together, but they would have to determine how to implement this partnership. She complained that the private sector could install a tap but did not have to ensure that it continued working because they already had their money.

A Zimbabwean from Africa Resources Trust said that companies came to Africa because labour was cheap and there was little accountability for abuse of the environment. Big companies benefited at the expense of Africa because these companies did not invest but only provided their governments with taxes. He then said that he was yet to hear of a developing country imposing sanctions on a developed country for not signing the Kyoto Protocol, and this imbalance needed to be redressed.

Dr E. Francis, a Member of Parliament from Uganda, argued that, as global population increased, the number of people frustrated by poverty increased, so the environment would be further degraded. Their governments needed to appreciate the insecurities in their environments. He mentioned small arms proliferation in certain parts of Africa and said that peace, security, and stability were prerequisites to addressing environmental and sustainable development problems, as many had said that morning.

One delegate mentioned that responsibilities for poverty issues, hunger, shelter and education should rest initially on government. He believed that they were wrongfully allowing governments to shift this responsibility to international institutions.

Another mentioned a project in Uganda dealing with hydroelectric power that was found unclean for the environment, so the Ugandans were asked to find an alternative. Their alternative project was found to interfere with the habitat of frogs that gave birth to their young, so they were again told that another alternative would have to be found. He believed compensation for alternatives should be available when the international community asked countries to abandon things in this manner.

A woman from another African Parliament mentioned that they had to first ask who was exploiting Africa’s resources before they could find solutions. Additionally, she said that they would achieve nothing without adopting international standards, and they should consider creating an international court to protect all from the economic terrorism that occurred in many countries represented at the conference. If they did not create a new world economic order, she believed they would forever sit in these conferences to no avail.

The Chairperson gave presenters an opportunity to respond to particular queries.

Mr Spalding-Fecher discussed the issue of Ugandan dams and power sources stating that there was the question when power was developed of who was going to use it, and this brought questions of regional integration that were important for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Mr Fakir responded to the question of whether international or regional efforts were more useful in these issues, and he said that things fundamentally needed to happen at the national and regional levels. His concern about international conventions was that they gave more abstract responses than concrete accomplishments.

Ms Haque responded to the question of whether poverty had actually been reduced since people had not felt it. She said that improvements had benefited Asia the most, and Africa had been short-changed. UNDP funding, she continued, was small and meant to begin projects at local and regional levels. Regarding the comment on UN work with refugees, she said that it was a very political process and a sensitive subject, but the UNDP was not involved in conflict situations. She then responded to the comments about loans and debts stating that it was important to monitor what happened with money borrowed and to ask why a loan was taken. Some countries chose not to take loans, as it was a political decision, but Zambia, for example, had a huge debt burden, and poverty alleviation was not possible with the monetary commitments that that caused. She said that no countries could rely on outside sources alone. Concerning Tanzania specifically, the Member of Parliament questioning the decrease in poverty was correct as Tanzania had not actually improved, but the situation was different for different countries.

Concerning a question posed about how communities should utilise projects such as the rainwater-harvesting project if it did not rain, Mr Fakir replied that this project was complementary to the initiatives and not the ultimate solution. He said that different projects could be useful for different communities, but the real solution would need to be broader.

The Chairperson said that he had been told to conclude the session as it was getting late. He thanked all those who had participated and invited everyone to the reception outside.

The copyright in this material subsists with the Contact Trust. Further distribution or copying of this material is prohibited without the prior agreement of the Contact Trust.
__________________________________________________________________________

Audio

No related

Documents

No related documents

Present

  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: