Written Answers. - Sustainable Development Summit.

Derek McDowell


42 Mr. McDowell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will publish the principles which will guide the Government's participation in the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3739/02]

The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development – UNCED, the Rio Earth Summit – adopted Agenda 21, a framework for integrating and balancing economic, social and environmental policies in support of sustainable development. UNCED also gave rise to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Conventions on Biodiversity and Desertification and helped establish the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN Forum on Forests.

The UN General Assembly has decided to convene a World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD, in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002 to review the progress made towards achieving sustainable development since UNCED. The summit will focus not only on environmental sectors such as forests, oceans, climate, energy and fresh water, but also poverty, development assistance, globalisation and new technologies in biology and communications.

Preparations for the WSSD at national, subregional and regional level are under way. The second meeting of the preparatory committee is currently taking place in New York and it will meet again from 25 March to 5 April. The fourth and final meeting of the preparatory committee will take place in Indonesia from 27 May to 7 June at ministerial level.
At regional level, Ireland with our EU partners participated in the WSSD regional preparatory meeting, convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe, in Geneva last September. This regional meeting contributed to the process of identifying EU priorities in the run up to Johannesburg. The following priorities have emerged: pursuing poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods; making globalisation work for sustainable development; protecting the natural resource base for economic and social development; achieving sustainable production and consumption patterns; and strengthening governance on sustainable development at all levels.
The European Council meeting in Gothenburg in June 2001 proposed that the Johannesburg summit should agree a new global deal or pact between North and South involving all relevant stakeholders to promote an integrated and focused approach to the implementation of Agenda 21. The possible content of such a global deal is one of the items currently being considered by the preparatory committee. The European Commission will issue a communication later this month which will further refine the process of identifying priority areas, constraints, challenges and mechanisms for future action to be considered at the Johannesburg summit.
My Department and the Department of the Environment and Local Government are co-chairing a national committee established to co-ordinate our approach to Johannesburg. The committee includes representatives from relevant Departments and from the NGO community. In addition, last December we convened an open public forum involving all of the relevant stakeholders, representatives of civil society and the UN secretariat to discuss the key issues which will arise at Johannesburg. From the national preparatory process to date, the following principles to guide our approach to the WSSD have emerged. Agenda 21 continues to offer a comprehensive blue-print for the achievement of sustainable development and Johannesburg should not attempt to reinvent it; Johannesburg should focus on a number of key issues in Agenda 21 and on agreeing strategies for their implementation; sustainable development cannot be achieved unless there is a real effort, at all levels, to promote sustainable production and consumption and based on our own positive experience of Comhar, the national partnership for sustainable development; and Johannesburg should address the over-arching issue of partnerships involving central and local government, the private sector and the NGOs to promote sustainable development.
From a development perspective, Ireland believes that poverty is the critical constraint to the achievement of sustainable development. My Department will make financing for sustainable development one of our priorities at Johannesburg. We particularly support the catalytic role of overseas development aid, ODA, in creating an enabling domestic environment for poor countries who are trying to mobilise the resources necessary to implement Agenda 21. We also support the importance of capacity building to enhance developing country efforts to meet the various obligations from the commitments already undertaken in Rio.
My Department, the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the NGO community, will continue to work closely together to contribute, at Johannesburg, to a reinvigorated global effort to implement Agenda 21 which remains central to the achievement of sustainable development.