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Special Report on Selected Side Events at WSSD PC-III
UN Headquarters, New York; 25 March - 5 April 200
published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development
in cooperation with UNDP
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Events convened on Friday, 5 April 2002

Progress toward sustainable production and consumption: a civil society assessment
Presented by the Citizen Network for Sustainable Development, ANPED, Third World Network and the International Coalition for Sustainable Production and Consumption

Jeffrey Barber, Integrative Strategies Forum, notes that the report of the SPAC Watch Initiative will be presented at PrepCom IV, and stresses the need for extended producer responsibility, which he says is inadequately addressed in political discussions on sustainable production and consumption.
Jeffrey Barber, Integrative Strategies Forum, presented the Sustainable Production and Consumption (SPAC) Watch Initiative, a civil society assessment of progress toward SPAC that addresses, inter alia: policy implications of projected trends, impacts on developing countries, the effectiveness of policy measures, and implementation of national commitments. He emphasized the need to focus on overcoming obstacles for sustainable production and consumption, including: resistance to the development of adequate national policy frameworks; promotion of consumerism by the media; corporate responsibility without accountability; corporate influence over policy; lack of understanding of the forces driving consumption; and lack of consumer education.

Bas de Leeuw, UNEP, presented a UNEP/Consumer International global survey on the status of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection. The survey received responses from 51 countries, and indicated low awareness about the Guidelines, and found that only a few governments promote product testing and ecolabelling, or conduct research on and measure progress toward sustainable consumption. De Leeuw reported that governments are content with the Guidelines and willing to implement them, but they require capacity building on sustainable production and consumption. He presented a UNEP/Consumer International initiative to develop a three-year training programme on sustainable consumption in cooperation with national cleaner production centers in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Carolyn Nunley Cairns, Consumers Union, highlighted the need for sustainable alternatives to conventional products that are easily available, identifiable, attractive, affordable and practical, as well as for research and development of new technologies to achieve sustainable consumption. She highlighted the role of ecolabelling, and said the WSSD and future work programmes should: address the need for policy environments for ecolabelling and producer responsibility; allow the use of ecolabelling and ensure that trade agreements do not interfere with sustainable consumption; and review existing ecolabelling programmes.

James Rochow, Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, addressed the problem of lead poisoning in the context of sustainable production and consumption. He described efforts to substitute leaded gasoline with harmless fuels, highlighting obstacles such as the failure to use the precautionary principle in the transition to new fuels and an emphasis on victims rather than on sources of pollution, and stressed the need for regulatory approaches to the phase-out of lead in gasoline, and monitoring and measuring progress.

Hanne Gro Haugland, Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development, highlighted the need to address unsustainable military production and consumption and redirect military expenditures toward sustainable development. She presented a position paper by her organization, which calls on world leaders to reconfirm the Rio Principles related to peace and agree to study the linkages between military production and consumption and sustainable development.

Yin Shao Loong, Third World Network, explained the imbalance between the use of resources by globalization’s production and consumption machine and global environmental and social problems, and highlighted the lack of political commitment to address this systematic inequality in the current WSSD discussions. He warned of cultural, environmental and social consequences of transferring the production and consumption patterns of industrialized countries to the rest of the world.

More information:
Jeffrey Barber <jbarber@igc.org>
Bas de Leeuw <sc@unep.fr>
Carolyn Nunley Cairns <cairca@consumer.org>
James Rochow <jrochow@aeclp.org>
Hanne Gro Haugland <haugland@forumfor.no>

Yin Shao Loong <twnkl@po.jaring.my>

Global Science Panel on Population in Sustainable Development
Presented by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Hania Zlotnik, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, emphasized that the complex interrelations between population and the environment and their implications for sustainable development make it difficult to distill courses of action that apply to all populations. She noted that future population increases will be concentrated mostly in urban areas of developing countries, and stressed that discussions of sustainable development must consider the challenges posed by these trends.

Mahendra Shah and Wolfgang Lutz, IIASA.
Mahendra Shah, IIASA, underscored that population affects all problems addressed by Agenda 21 and the WSSD process, but noted that population issues are not integrated into all chapters of Agenda 21 nor throughout the Chairman’s Paper for the WSSD. He emphasized that sustainable development will require concrete policy actions to achieve a balance between population and the resource base, which includes education, human development and livelihoods. He stressed that population is not just about numbers but about qualitative human dimensions, and underscored the need to employ a people-targeted approach and focus on poverty and unsustainable consumption.

Wolfgang Lutz, IIASA, introduced the science-policy Statement on Population in Sustainable Development, which was the result of extensive discussions by the Global Science Panel on Population and Environment. The Statement calls on the WSSD to recall that human beings are at the center of sustainable development, by taking full account of how population and society interact with the environment. It highlights the demographic diversity of the world, with population growing in some areas and shrinking in others, and levels of mortality, mobility, urbanization and education varying among and within regions, and emphasizes that this diversity requires differentiated responses.

The Statement emphasizes the impacts of population on development and the environment, noting that rapid population growth can exacerbate problems such as freshwater depletion, climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation of agricultural lands, and that high consumption rates magnify the environmental impacts of population growth in high-income countries. It emphasizes that the majority of the world’s population will live in urban areas by the end of the decade.

The Statement underscores that policy must account for differential vulnerability within populations, as deteriorating environmental conditions affect different countries, populations and households differently, and says vulnerability can be reduced by promoting empowerment, investing in human resources, and fostering participation in public affairs and decision making. The Statement emphasizes that empowerment through education and reproductive health has multiple benefits for people and the environment, and that efforts to achieve sustainable development should give these policies the highest priority.

Discussion: Participants emphasized that the Statement should address, inter alia: migration; the need for more women in public life; women’s reproductive health as a human right; and education to reduce unsustainable consumption. Participants emphasized the urgent need to address the absence of language on population issues in the Chairman’s Paper.

More information:
Hania Zlotnik <zlotnik@un.org>
Mahendra Shah <shah@iiasa.ac.at>

Wolfgang Lutz <lutz@iiasa.ac.at>

Vulnerability, safety nets and sustainable development for the poorest
Presented by the World Bank, World Food Programme, and the Government of Bangladesh
Sabihuddin Ahmed, Minister of Environment and Forests, Bangladesh, moderated this event, which addressed the relationship between vulnerability and poverty.
Listen to Ahmed's presentation

Werner Kiene, World Food Programme, outlines lessons learned from food-based safety net programmes in Bangladesh, including the need for supporting policies, ready response capacity, and the importance of building political support through “safety ropes for all, with safety nets for the poorest.”
Emil Tesliuc, World Bank, explained that poverty is often a transient rather than a permanent condition, into which households fall as a result of distinct political, health, financial, or environmental events. He said high risk and vulnerability can cause households to fall into poverty more easily or to remain trapped by poverty when repeated shocks occur. Noting that the poor generally have broad exposure to risk, he said the framework of social risk management should take stock of sources and characteristics of risk, and establish multiple strategies for shock prevention, mitigation and coping.
Listen to Tesliuc's presentation (Part 1)
Listen to Tesliuc's presentation (Part 2)
Listen to Tesliuc's presentation (Part 3)

Tesliuc described the World Bank’s efforts to operationalize social risk management through the creation of a Risk and Vulnerability Analysis Toolkit, which helps governments identify risks and prioritize and develop intervention programmes. He highlighted the use of the Toolkit in Guatemala and its applications in addressing poverty of consumption, as well as poverty of education, health and social opportunity.

Werner Kiene, World Food Programme (WFP), described WFP’s application of risk and vulnerability analysis in Bangladesh, which found that, when faced with food shortages, households tend to give food preference to breadwinners, reduce expenditures on education and health, avoid entrepreneurial risk, and use such “destructive coping mechanisms” as depending on expensive loans and mortgages and selling productive assets. He said food transfers can help break poverty cycles and should be combined with non-food outreach such as training and credit provision, thereby enabling people to take advantage of development opportunities.
Listen to Kiene's presentation

Kiene outlined the Vulnerable Group Development Programme and Vulnerable Group Feeding Programme, which were used in Bangladesh to reduce household vulnerability by providing time-limited food transfer, and highlighted the successful aversion of famine following a severe flooding incident.

Discussion: Participants discussed issues such as the dangers of disrupting market mechanisms through food transfer programmes, and strategies for bringing poverty and vulnerability linkages to the attention of the WSSD process.

More information:
Emil Tesliuc <etesliuc@worldbank.org>
Werner Kiene <werner.kiene@wfp.org>


The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) on the Side is a special publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Editor of ENB on the Side is Kira Schmidt kira@iisd.org . This issue has been written by Tamilla Gaynutdinova miloin@yahoo.com, Jenny Mandel jenny@iisd.org and Kira Schmidt kira@iisd.org. The Digital Editors are Andrei Henry andrei@iisd.org, Leila Mead leila@iisd.org, Diego Noguera diego@iisd.org and Kenneth Tong ken@iisd.org. Funding for publication of ENB on the Side at PCIII is provided by UNDP. The opinions expressed in ENB on the Side are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD and funders. Excerpts from ENB on the Side may be used in non-commercial publications only and only with appropriate academic citation. For permission to use this material in commercial publications, contact the Managing Editor at kimo@iisd.org . Electronic versions of issues of ENB on the Side from PC-III can be found on the Linkages WWW server at http://enb.iisd.org/2002/pc3/.

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