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The World Summit on 
Sustainable Development
Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting

 27-29 November 2001, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Highlights from Tuesday, 27 November


ENB Final Summary

Mon 03

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On the first day of the Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, participants convened in a Roundtable on Sustainable Development and engaged in informal consultations on the Draft Platform on Sustainable Development. Delegates heard an opening address from Kim Hak-Su, ESCAP Executive Secretary and an address by Mok Mareth, Cambodian Minister of Environment. During the Roundtable, chaired by Cielito Habito, Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines), the Draft Platform was introduced by Ravi Sawhney (Environment and Natural Resources Development Division, ESCAP), and reports were presented on the regional Roundtables held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (East Asia and the Pacific) and in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (Central and South Asia). The East Asia and Pacific Roundtable emphasized, inter alia: a sustainable development philosophy based on local and regional values and lifestyles, which have come under attack from commercialism and consumerism; the role of finance, trade and economic development ministries; poverty as an impediment to achieving progress in sustainable development; and a multilateral approach to food security. The Central and South Asia Roundtable emphasized: globalization; socioeconomic issues; reform of international governance; financial resources and transfer of technology; putting sustainable development into practice; consumerism; and peace and security. Reports were also heard from the subregional intergovernmental meetings, including those held in: Central Asia; South Asia; Southeast Asia; Northeast Asia; and the Pacific. Reports from a subregional stakeholders' meeting held in Central Asia and from business and industry consultations were also presented. A Special Session on Financing Sustainable Development, chaired by Kalman Mizsei (UNDP) was convened in the afternoon, and included the following panelists: Jagdish Pokharel (Member, Planning Commission, Government of Nepal); Cielito Habito; and Lin See Yan (CEO, Lin Associates, Malaysia). Ensuing discussions addressed issues such as: an international framework on investment; domestic resource mobilization; extensive funding of unsustainable projects and corruption; and return of international aid to donors via payments to foreign technical advisors. Informal consultations on the Draft Platform on Sustainable Development took place in the late afternoon and into the night, with delegates only taking a short break from negotiations to attend an ESCAP-hosted reception. Even given the pressure to complete negotiation of the Platform by the start of the following day's Ministerial Segment, progress was slow, with the group only reaching paragraph 8 of 42 by 10:45 PM - and at the time of posting - no sign of adjourning. General comments revealed concerns regarding, inter alia, decreasing ODA, the unwelcome entry of the WTO into the environment policy arena, and the need for proper mechanisms for technology transfer. Specific and contentious issues revolved around the headings of various sections and references to "good governance," inadequate financial resources as a major constraint to sustainable development implementation, and ethnic and interstate conflicts. Photo: Kim Hak-Su, ESCAP Executive Secretary (right) and Roundtable Chair Cielito Habito

Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, emphasized the region's interest in an open, participatory and transparent UNCED review process, noting efforts made towards this end in the regional preparatory process. He said the Roundtable was convened to consolidate the assessment of the achievements, identify major constraints and new initiatives, and make new commitments toward overcoming the constraints and fostering progress.
Dr. Mok Mareth, Cambodian Environment Minister, welcomed participants, noting that the region is the most diverse in terms of geography, politics, economics, culture, language and religion. Mareth highlighted water, coastal and transboundary issues and called for: adaptive approaches to address sustainable development at the national level; poverty reduction through multi-sectoral, gender-integrated economic growth; efforts to link environmental concerns with economic growth; development of mechanisms to solve sustainable development challenges; and collaboration of developed and developing countries for technology development and skills transfer for sustainable development.

Roundtable Chair Cielito Habito made a few observations based on his involvement in WSSD-related meetings and stressed the need to: consider sustainable development holistically, comprehensively and in an integrated manner at the sectoral, planning, governance and implementation levels; focus on the "how to" elements of achieving sustainable development; and find concrete ways to operationalize partnerships between government, civil society and the private sector.

During the closing session, Chair Habito summarized key points raised during the Roundtable, stating that progress has been made in regards to Agenda 21, but it has been far from satisfactory. Many speakers noted that the Asia-Pacific is the most diverse region in the world, and priorities for action need to take this into account. Participants identified subregional priority issues including, inter alia, poverty, globalization, capacity building, governance, financing for sustainable development, environmental security and safety; external debt burden, biotechnology, gender equity consideration, investment, the WTO, and unsustainable consumption.

Regional Platform on Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific
Introduction by ESCAP, brief reports by the chairpersons of the two regional roundtables for East Asia and the Pacific and Central and South Asia

Ravi Sawhney, Environment and Natural Resources Development Division, ESCAP, expressed his hope that the meeting will communicate to the global process the central role that the Asia-Pacific region plays in sustainable development, and outlined the history of the process, highlighting challenges associated with the region's diversity. He stated that the Draft Platform addresses the "why and how" of implementation mechanisms, such as financing, one of the major constraints to Agenda 21 implementation. Describing the six initiatives in the Draft Platform, he noted that the first one addresses capacity building, and that each of the other five relate to the subregions.

Reporting on the Roundtable addressing Central and South Asia, Nordin H.J. Hasan, Malaysia, observed that civil society is emerging as an important factor in promoting sustainable development, challenging development paradigms and initiating partnerships with governments at different levels. He said the Roundtable emphasized, inter alia: a sustainable development philosophy based on local and regional values and lifestyles, which have come under attack from commercialism and consumerism; the role of finance, trade and economic development ministries; poverty as an impediment to achieving progress in sustainable development; and a multilateral approach to food security.
Noting that the region comprises approximately half of the world's population, Chair of the Central and South Asia Roundtable, Asylbek Aidaraliev (Kyrgyzstan), highlighted the issues discussed by the Roundtable such as globalization, socioeconomic issues, reform of international governance, international instruments, financial resources and transfer of technology, putting sustainable development into practice, consumerism, peace and security. The priority issues identified were the debt, mountain and desert issues.
Karibaiti Taoaba, Kirabati, for the South Pacific, noted the key areas identified for the South Pacific region such as ocean management, climate change, island vulnerability, energy, health and governance issues, capacity building, and financial resources for sustainable development.
For Northeast Asia, Park Eun-kyung highlighted the main issues identified at the subregional meeting, such as participation by major groups, education, desertification and lands degradation and biodiversity loss.
Reporting on the outputs from the stakeholders' meeting, Andrey Aranbaev (Uzbekistan) noted the lack of implementation of the international environmental agreements, concerns relating to water, desertification and biodiversity, and drew attention to the need for a subregional coordination mechanism on agreements relating to natural resource use and management.
Bulat Yessekin (Kazakhstan), on behalf of the Chair of the intergovernmental subregional meeting for Central Asia, said the meeting took place in September 2001 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The meeting identified water management as a major concern, supported a public initiative to create subregional public forums for sustainable development, and five countries called for support from the international community in the preparation of national action programmes for the Convention to combat Desertification.
The Third World Network elaborated on two key sustainable development issues: globalization and militarism, specifically the resource drain of the military-industrial complex and a few large transnational corporations, and noted that if this region is proud to be a model of diversity, then it cannot expect to have only one model of sustainable development.
Reporting on regional industry consultations, Editha Cabrera (right), inter alia, called for integration of regional small and medium-sized enterprises into sustainable development initiatives; improved consumer awareness; institutional capacity-building; and consideration of the impacts of climate change on business.
The Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists noted the role that journalists can take to raise environmental awareness and internalize environmental conservation, and supported creation of a regional information center.
The Indonesian Forum for Environment stressed the need for more regional cooperation on issues such as the timber trade and depletion of fish stocks in the South Pacific, and the need to address extensive high-level corruption, which as hindered the implementation of sustainable development.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Foundation, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Peoples' Forum, pointed out critical sustainable development issues absent from the Draft Platform on Sustainable Development, such as, inter alia, environmental and social security, biopiracy, misappropriation of resources by corporations and alternative development approaches. She expressed concern with text promoting globalization, privatization of essential services, and the use of market mechanisms to achieve sustainable development

Kamal Melvani, Neo-Synthesis Research Center (left) highlighted ecological restoration as a key issue, and shared examples of experiences and technology that have been used in Sri Lanka to address environmental destruction.

Michie Kishigami and Tomiyuki Shindo (right), International Council for Local Initiatives (ICLEI) (above right), reported on the findings of an ICLEI global survey on local Agenda 21, noting six key elements of local sustainable development, namely, inter alia: local government are key delivery agents of sustainable development; high cooperation between all layers of government; new mechanisms to supporting to implementing; and promoting various forms of environmental management systems.

Daphne Roxas, the Asian Women's Network, presented the declaration from the Asian Women's Conference on Gender, Finance and Sustainable Development highlighting, inter alia, increasing poverty and diminishing human security, and called on the reaffirmation of commitment to gender equality and women's rights.
Philippe Bergeron, Director, the Regional Institute for Environmental Technology, noted several meetings had been held by the business community, stated that sustainable development will never be achieved without investment and proposed that: investment is added in the main text as aspect of economic transformation; and the addition of the finance and academia as stakeholder groups.
Malee Suwana-Adth, APPROTECH Asia observed that the Draft Platform initiative regarding biodiversity and natural resource conservation focuses on ex situ or "virtual" conservation, and called for text ensuring future access to genetic resources.

Special Session on financing sustainable development
Ravi Sawhney, ESCAP, Kim Hak-Su, ESCAP Executive Secretary, Kalman Mizsei, UNDP, Lin See Yan, Lin Associates, and Cielito Habito, Special Advisor to the Earth Council
Kalman Mizsei, UNDP, chaired and opened this afternoon session, expressing thanks to Cambodia for hosting the meeting and for including this topic and opportunity for discussion. He noted success at the country level in terms of capacity building and regulations, but the need to link supply and demand sides and to work on law enforcement.
Jagdish Pokharel, Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, noted some of the positive results in financing for sustainable development such as: tax reforms; environmental taxes; reduced subsidies; and privatization of inefficient sectors. He provided examples from Nepal, including grassroots initiatives.

Miscellaneous photos

Linkage's Portal to the Johannesburg Summit 2002
ENB Coverage of the First Preparatory Session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development
ENB Coverage of the UNECE Regional Ministerial Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
ENB Coverage of the African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
ENB Coverage of the West Asia Regional Preparatory Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
ENB Coverage of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development

UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Process
Stakeholder Segment at the Asia-Pacific Regional PrepCom

South Africa Summit Site
UN Official Summit Website

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