Special Report on Selected Side Events at the  WSSD
Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4  September 2002
published by IISD, the International Institute for Sustainable  Development in cooperation with UNDP


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Events convened on Wednesday, 28 August 2002

Achim Steiner, IUCN, moderates the agitated discussion, provoked by the presentations of the distinguished speakers.

Who pays the costs, who gets the benefits: How biodiversity
can help fight poverty
Presented by the World Conservation Union (IUCN)

Faima Jibrell, Horn Relieve, explained how the loss of biodiversity in Somalia has resulted in dramatic life-style change for Somalian traditional nomad communities, and turned them into economic refugees. She stressed that for the poor, biodiversity loss means the loss of primary livelihood sources.

William Jackson, IUCN, discussed interlinkages between environmental degradation, health and poverty, stressing that the poor’s heavy dependence on ecosystem services means that they pay the greatest price for the loss of biodiversity. Jackson highlighted the existing polarization between conservation efforts and rural development, and failure to find “win-win” solutions. He called for reassessing the impact of conservation policies on local communities, and for reforming conservation agencies’ policies.

Jan Bojö, the World Bank, presented the results of a World Bank review of countries’ incorporation of environmental considerations into their poverty reduction strategies, which are developed by client countries applying for World Bank funding. The review indicates that environment and biodiversity in particular are poorly recognized as constituting economic resources. He outlined the World Bank’s efforts to integrate environmental considerations in the client countries’ poverty reduction strategies, by inter alia: providing learning opportunities for client countries; training World Bank staff; undertaking quantitative research on poor peoples’ resource dependence; and building partnerships with other donors.

Dennis Garrity, World Agroforestry Center, stressed that integrating conservation and poverty is a slow and sensitive process. He advocated a so-called “drip-feed” approach, which: identifies local needs and values; promotes long-lasting relationships with local communities; and relies on slow and careful spending of available resources, rather than large-scale investments. He underscored that many organizations cannot adopt the “drip-feed” approach because they focus on short-term results.

Claude Martin, WWF, expressed concern that current poverty-related discussions do not distinguish between different types of poverty.  He highlighted that defining poverty in terms of income alone is inadequate, since low-income people living in socially-intact environments should not be considered to be poor. He underscored the necessity of considering the social and cultural contexts of poverty, and noted that poverty is not merely a local problem, since it is often affected by the changing conditions in the world.

Discussion: Participants discussed a range of issues, including:

Deficiency of conservation policy frameworks and the need for intergovernmental organizations and NGOs to be more active in developing and implementing conservation policies; ways of reconciling benefits of the “drip-feed” approach with the need for rapid actions; the importance of moving beyond research toward actions; benefits of participatory planning; the distinction between economic, spiritual and social poverty; and the need for the applying human rights approach to conservation.

More information:
http://iucn.org http://www.worldbank.org http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org http://www.panda.org

Achim Steiner <
[email protected]>
William Jackson <
[email protected]>
Jan Bojö <
[email protected]>
Dennis Garrity <
[email protected]>

Les Sanabria, South African Alliance for Street Children, highlights the importance of children's participation in decision making.

Sipho Mathebula and Edward Mtsuba, South African Alliance for Street Children, describe their experiences as former street children.

Children: Vital partners in globalization and the preservation of the Earth
Presented by Peaceways, the International Save the Children Alliance, and Children of the Earth

Blessing David, Nigeria, urged people of all ages to work with children to find solutions to children’s problems. She presented the Children’s Proposals to the WSSD Decision Makers, which include statements on clean drinking water, HIV, and children’s and human rights.

John Hilary, Save the Children Fund, examined the causes that prevent the world’s poorest children to benefit from globalization. He noted that the Convention on the Right of the Child is inadequately incorporated into relevant WSSD discussions, because they focus on access to markets and privatization without considering adverse impacts on poor people.

Les Sanabria, South African Alliance for Street Children, called upon governments to engage in partnerships with civil society to protect children and to adopt and implement child-friendly legislation. He explained the South African government’s plan of action to ensure recognition of children’s rights.

Sipho Mathebula, South African Alliance for Street Children, shared his experience as a street child in Johannesburg and explained that many children run away from their dysfunctional homes in order to avoid abuse and neglect.

Edward Mtsuba, South African Alliance for Street Children, highlighted that street children have the right to be educated, respected and loved, and emphasized the importance of shelters to enable street children to realize their potentials.

Temidayo Israer-Abdulai, Young General Assembly, presented the book “Let’s do it,” written by children to inspire and unite young people worldwide in implementing the World Fit for Children Plan of Action.

Kul Gautam, Executive Director of UNICEF, said that UNICEF ensures children’s participation in the United Nations decision-making processes. He presented the book “A world fit for children,” which summarizes commitments made by world leaders to improves the lives of children and young people.

More information:

John Hilary <
[email protected]>
Les Sanabria <
[email protected]>
Sipho Mathebula <
[email protected]>
Temidayo Israel-Abdulai <
[email protected]>
Kul Gautam <
[email protected]>

From left to right: May East, Global Ecovillage Network, Mercedes Bresso, United Towns Organization, and Marcel Boisard, UNITAR, discussing sustainable urbanization.

Capacity building and training for sustainable urbanization: A public-private partnership
Presented by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

Marcel Boisard, UNITAR, noted the wide range of partners involved in the Partnership on Capacity Building and Training for Sustainable Urbanization, and presented the partnership’s components, including: establishment of training centers; application of international instruments at the local level; and guaranteed access to vital services. He underscored the importance of working with and training local authorities in achieving sustainable urbanization.

Jochen Eigen, UN-HABITAT, noted that sustainable urbanization is a prerequisite for sustainable development. He underscored the critical role of local authorities, stressed the need for partnerships, and advocated capacity building of local authorities to enable them to mobilize local resources and energy. Eigen emphasized the importance of avoiding gaps and overlaps in promoting sustainable urbanization, and suggested to hold meetings to identify options for mutual support, and to report on progress.

The mayors of the cities of Durban, Curitiba, Lyon and Kuala Lumpur shared their experiences in promoting sustainable urbanization, highlighting issues and initiatives relevant to the Partnership, and expressed their willingness be involved in the Partnership.

Mercedes Bresso, United Towns Organization, stressed the importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors, and advocated decentralization and city-to-city cooperation.

Dominique Heron, Vivendi Environment, highlighted the Partnership’s result-oriented approach, and the Partnership activities’ direct link to key issues of sustainable urbanization.

May East, Global Ecovillage Network, noted the success of eco-villages in eradicating poverty and in protecting the environment through a low-impact lifestyle.

Catherine Day, European Commission, emphasized training of local authorities, including politicians, and noted challenges shared by cities in developing and developed countries.

Jean-Louis Lambouray, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, underscored the human dimension of sustainable development and called upon mayors to take action against AIDS.

Christian de Perthuis, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation, underscored the importance of local level skills, and advocated North-South partnerships.

Luc Rigouzzo, Groupe Agence Française du Développement, highlighted the importance of long-term capacity building and projects run by local authorities.

Deisi Weber, World Family Organization, underscored families’ duties and rights, and called for decentralization at all levels.

Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, stressed the importance of local governance capacity, and highlighted sustainable urbanization through capacity building as a key to sustainable development. 

More information:

Marcel Boisard <
[email protected]>
Jochen Eigen <
[email protected]>
Dominique Heron <
[email protected]>
May East <
[email protected]>

Rajendra Singh, Tarun Bharat Sangu, stresses that enabling local communities is preferable to command and control measures in order to attain good governance.

Environmental governance and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region
Presented by UNDP and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)

Kim Hak-Su, UNESCAP, introduced a report entitled “Environmental Governance and Sustainable Development in the Asia-Pacific Region.” He stressed the need for integrated, coherent and time-framed policies and a comprehensive, balanced approach to combating environmental degradation. Kim noted that governments should act as facilitators rather than providers of solutions.

Hafiz Pasha, UNDP, noted the report’s finding that the failure of environmental governance in the Asia Pacific region results from lack of implementation and enforcement of policies. He explained that weak implementation stems from a high level of corruption, lack of political will, and insufficient institutional means to ensure integrated and sustainable approaches to development. He presented some of the report’s recommendations, including: the need to integrate environmental plans into development strategies; stronger accountability and transparency; rationalization; discussions with all stakeholders at sub-regional levels; and collaborative efforts.

Cielito Habito, Ateno de Manila University, noted that environmental governance is likely to be successful if it: uses market-based instruments, including pricing policies; addresses externalities; and employs regulatory mechanisms such as command and control measures. Habito stressed the need for participatory mechanisms at all levels.

Mere Pulea, University of the South Pacific, emphasized the role of law in implementing sustainable development, and the need to strengthen institutions. Noting the interlinkages between environmental protection, economic development and human rights, Pulea said that countries should determine their environmental agenda according to local contexts. She noted the natural, social and political constraints of the Asia Pacific region and recommended, inter alia: multistakeholder cooperation; setting objectives and targets; defining rights and responsibilities; updating laws; adopting enforcement mechanisms; and institutional coordination.

Rajendra Singh, Tarun Bharat Sangu, introduced a project in which a local Indian community was empowered to efficiently utilize water resources by building capacity and employing common sense and traditional wisdom. He stressed that good governance starts at the community level, and not at the international level.

More information:

Kim Hak-Su <
[email protected]>
Hafiz Pasha <
[email protected]>
Cielito Habito
<[email protected]>
Mere Pulea <
[email protected]>
Rajendra Singh <
[email protected]>

The World Business Council on Sustainable Development and Greenpeace International present common views on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change and the Kyoto Protocol
Presented by the World Business Council for Sustainable

Development (WBCSD) and Greenpeace International

Rémi Parmentier, Greenpeace International, and Björn Stigson, WBCSD, explained that it took 10 years for WBCSD and Greenpeace to put some of their differences aside and jointly emphasize the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They noted ongoing disagreements between the two organizations, but stressed that this event was a first step to build trust between them.  Parmentier and Stigson called upon world governments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at the WSSD and implement the commitments agreed upon in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Chris Boyd, Lafarge, highlighted the importance of a global framework to reduce GHG emissions and noted in this context that it will be easier for businesses to implement global climate change policies rather than adhere to different national regulations.

Charles Nicholson, British Petroleum (BP), said that BP has set itself voluntarily targets to reduce carbon emissions. He underscored the need for stronger policies that would encourage businesses to foster solutions to climate change problems.

Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace International, emphasized that governments must implement the commitments agreed to the UNFCCC. He highlighted that Greenpeace encourages: the promotion of access to energy, especially for the least developed countries; targets for renewable energy supply; and reduction of fossil fuel subsidies.

José Goldemberg, Brazil, said that energy efficiency, renewable energy and new technologies are crucial to tackle climate change.  He recommended that the WSSD Plan of Implementation set out targets and timetables for a transition towards renewable energy. Stressing the benefits of renewable energy for developing countries, Goldemberg suggested that developing countries be better informed about these.

Discussion: Participants discussed the role of the WBCSD/Greenpeace partnership in motivating the US and Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. A participant called upon delegates to join the Climate Legacy programme, which seeks to neutralize carbon emissions associated with the Summit.

More information:

Rémi Parmentier <
[email protected]>
Björn Stigson <
[email protected]>
Chris Boyd <
[email protected]>
Charles Nicholson <
[email protected]>
José Goldemberg <
[email protected]>


Ogunlade Davidson, University of Cape Town, states that current power sector development initiatives will soon light up Africa.

Njeri Wamukonya, UNEP, stresses that renewable energy technologies must contribute to poverty reduction

Energy and sustainable development in Africa
Presented by the Energy and Development Research Centre (EDRC), the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, and the Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment (KITE)

Abdoulie Janneh, UNDP, underscored the need to address access to energy in fighting poverty, and called for increased investment in the field.

Jayant Sathaye, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, addressed the challenge of sustainable energy, and advocated a move towards higher energy efficiency. He called for policies that: create an enabling environment; mobilize additional investment; and develop human and organizational capacity.

Ogunlade Davidson, University of Cape Town, noted that while Africa is rich in both renewable and non-renewable energy sources, only 17% of Africans have access to electricity. He called for up-to-date technologies to avoid pollution, and stressed the importance of subsidized energy in rural areas.

Njeri Wamukonya, UNEP, criticized the fact that most models for power sector reform advocate privatization without addressing access to electricity, and said that most investment in the energy sector is controlled by private companies and is export oriented.  She stressed  that renewable energy technologies must contribute to poverty reduction.

Youba Sokona, Environmental Development Action in the Third World (ENDA), called for: scaling up best practices; reducing time lags between policy conceptualization and implementation; widening access to cleaner fossil fuels; energizing rural areas; mobilizing energy investment; and strengthening government and energy institutions.

Abeeku Brew-Hammond, KITE, presented a knowledge network for energy in Africa which: identifies knowledge gaps and available resources; increases knowledge exchange; and makes data on energy in Africa available to decision makers.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South African Minister of Minerals and Energy, supported the development of hydropower dams, and stated that women’s energy needs should be addressed.

Discussion: Participants discussed, inter alia: armed conflict as an obstacle to sustainable development; hydropower development; liberalization of electricity sectors; climate change; governance in the energy sector; and energizing rural areas.

Listen to Jayant Sathaye

Listen to Ogunlade Davidson

Listen to Njeri Wamukonya

Listen to Youba Sokona

More information:

Jayant Sathaye <
[email protected]>
Ogunlade Davidson <
[email protected]>
Njeri Wamukonya <
[email protected]>
Youba Sokona <
[email protected]>
Abeeku Brew-Hammond <
[email protected]>

Robert Leigh, UNV, explains how volunteerism helps to create more stable and socially cohesive societies.

Volunteering and sustainable development
Presented by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the Red Cross)

At this event, participants discussed the importance of volunteering and shared personal volunteering experiences.

Zoia Skweyiya, South African Minister of Social Development, commended the role of volunteers and of the Red Cross in promoting sustainable development. He called for greater recognition of volunteers, and highlighted their contribution to the WSSD. He reiterated his government’s commitment to promoting volunteerism and stressed that volunteers are important in contributing to Africa’s development.

Najma Heptulla, Inter-Parliamentary Council, outlined the resolution of the Inter-Parlamentary Union on the promotion of volunteerism, and recommended that parliaments worldwide: educate and involve their constituencies in volunteering; inspire volunteer activities in all sectors of society; and incorporate volunteerism in their planning activities. She stressed that even small-scale volunteerism can make a difference.

Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, the Red Cross, highlighted community disaster preparedness and AIDS-related activities as key areas for volunteerism, stressing the need to work at the community level. He described a global Red Cross volunteer network and said that volunteers can play a critical role in improving the life of vulnerable communities. He also emphasized the need for volunteer training, government’s partnerships with volunteer organizations, and concrete actions to promote and encourage volunteerism.

Jane Nelson, International Business Leaders Forum, explained the growing contribution of the private sector in supporting and encouraging volunteering, and recommended that businesses contribute to the promotion of volunteer actions by: sharing their knowledge and skills; donating products; conducting social marketing campaigns; and channeling a percentage of their profits to the communities in which they operate.

Robert Leigh, UNV, noted a UN resolution that underscores political commitment to promoting volunteerism as central to sustainable development. He highlighted the successes of the International Year of Volunteers 2001, including: greater recognition of the importance of volunteerism; increased research; improved legislation; cross-sectoral volunteer networks and partnerships among international organizations; popularity of online volunteerism; and heightened private sector volunteerism.  Leigh stressed the need for: increased awareness; information on volunteering opportunities; integration of volunteerism in national development plans; and promotion of volunteering, in particular amongst the youth.

More information:

Zoia Skweyiya <
[email protected]>
Najma Heptulla <
[email protected]>
Jane Nelson <
[email protected]>
Robert Leigh <
[email protected]>

Roger Dehaybe, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, souligne le lien entre développement durable et francophonie.

Francophonie et développement durable (Francophonie and sustainable development)
Organisé par l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

Roger Dehaybe, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), a présenté les actions menées par l’organisation internationale de la francophonie pour la mise en œuvre des conventions de Rio. Soulignant le fait que la francophonie compte le plus grand nombre de pays pauvres et de pays les moins avancés, il a établi un lien entre francophonie et développement durable. Insistant, notamment, sur les dimensions économiques, énergétiques, sociales, et environnementales de la notion de développement, il a assigné à la francophonie un champ d’action large dépassant les aspects linguistiques, culturels et éducatifs.

Parmi les actions de la francophonie, il a mentionné la représentation des membres lors des négociations internationales et dans les fora internationaux, la diffusion de l’information et la collaboration avec d’autres organisations dans les domaines d’action de l’OIF. Il a insisté sur le caractère indissociable du lien entre démocratie et développement, et identifié la bonne gouvernance comme élément important du développement durable. Rappelant le fait que le taux de scolarisation est inférieur à 50% dans 20 pays membres, il a identifié l’éducation comme champ d�action prioritaire. Il a �galement recommand� une place centrale pour la diversit� culturelle et l��ducation dans la D�claration pour le D�veloppement Durable. Affirmant que la francophonie ne peut se substituer � la coop�ration et l�action multilat�rale, il a n�anmoins soulign� sa contribution � la mise en �uvre d�un plan d�action structur� et compr�hensif, notamment dans les pays membres mis en marge.         

Lors du d�bat cons�cutif, et relativement au plan d�action, les participants ont insist� sur: la n�cessit� d�actions concr�tes et d�un calendrier de mise en �uvre; les actions en mati�re de changements climatiques, de subventions et de dumping, et de transparence et responsabilit�; la cr�ation d�un m�canisme de financement pour la recherche en mati�re d��nergies renouvelables et d�une gestion plus responsable des d�ch�ts; la gouvernance d�mocratique; la sant�; et la diversit� culturelle. Concernant l�OIF, les participants ont recommand� une diversification des sources de financement et l�all�gement des structures administratives. Un d�l�gu� a insist� sur la n�cessit� d�une forte pr�sence fran�aise lors des conf�rences internationales, tandis qu�un autre participant a soulign� la n�cessit� d�une traduction et la mise a disposition de documents et d�information en langue fran�aise. Un d�l�gu� a insist� sur l�importance des partenariats comme expression d�une valeur phare de la francophonie: la solidarit�.

Luc-Marie Gnacadja, Ministre de l�Environnement de l�Habitat et de l�Urbanisme du B�nin, a conclu la r�union en encourageant une francophonie plus active, tandis que Roger Dehaybe, OIF, rapellant que le fran�ais est langue officielle des Nations Unies, a encourag� les gouvernements francophones dans l�utilisation du fran�ais au sein des fora internationaux.

Pour plus d'information:

Roger Dehaybe <
[email protected]>

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

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