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Delegates heard reports on national sustainable development strategies on Friday, 26 April 1996.

BULGARIA: Yoncho Pelovsky, Deputy Minister of the Environment, noted that Bulgaria faces serious problems with industrial pollution and that the energy generation sector is a primary polluter, due to the high sulfur content in Bulgarian coal. He reported on charges and fees to punish polluters and collect money to finance projects, and noted national strategies regarding the conservation of biodiversity and wetlands, a water treatment programme, a Black Sea programme and a programme to phase out leaded gasoline.

UNITED STATES: Jonathan Lash, Co-Chair of the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, described the Council’s final report, which includes: a vision statement; changes in decision making needed to achieve sustainable development; ten long-term goals; and a set of quantitative indicators. Recommendations address: increasing the cost- effectiveness of environmental management; creating a flexible regulatory management system; expanding market-driven pollution control programmes; changing tax policies to discourage environmentally damaging production and consumption decisions; and eliminating government subsidies.

FINLAND: Jukka Sarjala, Director General, National Board of Education, described efforts to integrate environmental considerations into sectoral policies, such as the development of partnerships with industry and local Agenda 21s. He also highlighted the work of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development to coordinate measures and include all stakeholders. Iri Sarjala, a student, reported on a school-wide Agenda 21 and conducting eco-audits.

COLOMBIA: Ernesto Guhl-Nanneti, Vice-Minister for the Environment, noted elements of Colombia’s integrated environmental programme, including the consolidation of institutional capacity and international cooperation programmes. Environmental education is pursued through television, radio, publications and projects developed by NGOs. Environmental policy is adapted to the different regions, and popular participation is an important component. National difficulties include insufficient human and financial resources. Difficulties at the international level include the lack of political will, the problem of making national agendas compatible with international agendas, and the need for technology transfer.

MEXICO: Margarita Par�s Fern�ndez, Program Evaluation Director, Secretaria de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca, said the Mexican national strategy involves political and institutional reforms, innovations for decentralized public policy, and development of social participation. Steps to restrain deterioration trends include: the protection of resources combined with sustainable and more diversified use; the use of resources that favor equity with a view to overcoming poverty; and the development of pluralistic, participatory environmental management, and new negotiating methods for conflict resolution.

JAPAN: Yoshihiro Natori, Special Advisor to Director General, Global Environment Department, Environment Agency, discussed Japan’s basic environment law and plan, and efforts related to sustainable development indicators, sustainable production and consumption patterns and strengthening the role of major groups. Policy instruments include emission controls, environmental impact assessments and economic instruments. Japan has created a “Green Purchasing Network” of enterprises, local governments and consumer groups to help promote and exchange information on products. A “Partnership Plaza” will be established in July to serve as a focal point to facilitate the exchange of experiences between NGOs, private enterprises and local administrations.

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