World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) International Eminent Persons Meeting on Interlinkages Bridging Problems and Solutions to Work Towards Sustainable Development

Tokyo, Japan 3-4 September 2001

IISD's Summary Report is available online in HTML ball.gif (204 bytes) TEXT ball.gif (204 bytes)PDF

Highlights from Tuesday, 4 September

Click here for photos and RealAudio of opening remarks, Maurice Strong's keynote address and case study presentations for the Working Groups from Monday, 3 September

(Click here for photos from the Working Groups)
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) International Eminent Persons Meeting on Inter-linkages: Strategies for Bridging Problems and Solutions to Work towards Sustainable Development took place from 3-4 September 2001 at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan. The meeting, organized by the United Nations University (UNU), the Japanese Ministries of the Environment and Foreign Affairs, and the Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) International, was attended by over 70 participants, including representatives of governments, the academic and scientific communities, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and the secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). The purpose of this meeting was to: review the state of the environment based on linkages between issues; examine the problems and challenges arising from such linkages and their policy responses; and assess how such issues could best be addressed within preparatory processes leading to the WSSD to be held in Johannesburg 2002. Participants met in three working groups focusing on inter-linkages in Agenda 21, inter-linkages among MEAs, and strategies for sustainable developmentThe official website for the meeting is, which includes background documents.

During the concluding segment, Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk (photo above right) highlighted the vastly different political climates marking the Rio and Johannesburg Summits. Chair Pronk noted that UNCED followed upon positive changes in the international system, including improved international relations with the Cold War's end and recognition of the impoverished countries' development needs. In contrast, he predicted that the run up to the WSSD would be marked by failures and political clashes at events such as the World Conference against Racism in Durban, the annual World Bank/IMF meeting in Washington DC, the WTO Ministerial in Doha and the next G-8 Summit which would be absorbed in the world economic recession and increasing conflict in the Middle East. Given this context, Pronk challenged participants to state how the WSSD could be a success. (see below for more RealAudio from the concluding segment)

Working Group Chair Presentations during the Final Plenary

Moderator Cielito Habito, Working Group 2 Chair Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention, Working Group 1 Chair Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, and Working Group 3 Chair Norman Myers, Honorary Visiting Fellow, Oxford University

Working Group 1: Linkages between Chapters of Agenda 21

Jan Pronk, Minister for Housing, Spatial Development and Environment presents the results of the Working Group As a result of the discussion on globalization, he highlighted several possible options to deal with globalization: embracing globalization unconditionally, stopping it or retarding it. He said globalization might also be accepted while having to deal with its social and environmental consequences. Alternatively, globalization could be supported by defining specific conditions that need to be met, or countervailing institutions created to override the economic realm (e.g. social, cultural, environmental, human rights institutions). He also said globalization could be shaped by mainstreaming and changing the face of liberalization though integrating all aspects within one realm. On institutional arrangements for addressing globalization, the group agreed: that an incremental approach is better than a revolutionary approach; on the need to reform existing institutions from within, with specific guidance to balance environment, poverty, and development; and to focus from within existing frameworks and institutions on inter-linkages.

Working Group 2: Linkages between MEAs

Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention, presented Working Group results to Plenary

: The Chair's conclusions, inter alia: note that MEAs are an evolving process and encouraged reviews on an ongoing basis; suggest that the WSSD recommend universal membership in all MEAs; recommend that MEA negotiations include major groups and stakeholder consultations; suggest that MEAs be used as instruments of sustainable development by integrating them fully into socioeconomic development planning; and recommend that MEA Parties fully operationalize their treaty obligations. Based on the discussions in the group, the conclusions suggest the clustering of conventions into five clusters, conventions related to: biodiversity; oceans and seas; freshwater, forests and lands; the atmosphere; and chemicals and hazardous waste.

Working Group 3: Strategies for Sustainable Development

Norman Myers, Honorary Visiting Fellow, Oxford University, presents the results of Working Group 3 The Group developed recommendations in three specific areas: general strategies for sustainable development; local and national strategies; and international and global strategies. Regarding general strategies for sustainable development the group highlighted four core issues for strategy formulation: a focus on basic human needs; the need for lifestyle changes; modification of consumption; and promotion of equity values. The group recommended that the WSSD concentrate on issues such as Earth and human security. The group also called for characterizing sustainable development strategies at the national level and mandating support, including funding, to address issue integrations and "holism" at all levels.

Panel Discussion: Global Environmental Governance and the Future of Sustainable Development

Hans van Ginkel, Rector, UNU, Schiko Kuwabara-Yamamoto, Executive Secretary, Basel Convention Secretariat, Panel Chair Cielito Habito, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, John Sewell, Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Hafiz Pasha, UN Assistant Secretary General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP, and Frank Loy, Former US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Schiko Kuwabara-Yamamoto Executive Secretary, Basel Convention Secretariat, supported the clustering of related MEAs, such as the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions. She also highlighted efforts to define a life-cycle management approach to hazardous substances addressing their production, use and disposal. She stressed the need to examine possibilities for collaboration between MEAs that do not have immediately obvious linkages, and to develop follow-up mechanisms for issue areas to be addressed at the WSSD.

Hans van Ginkel, Rector, UNU, suggested that to be successful the WSSD might adopt a captivating theme, for example, Earth or human security, or achieving clean air in cities by the year 2020. He said productive summits should not be venues for negotiations by governments that are later penalized for doing nothing, but rather opportunities for sharing good practices in order to motivate people. He stressed that improved frameworks are important and that the CSD could be strengthened at Johannesburg.

John Sewell, Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (, highlighted three competing visions of globalization focusing on the market, the state and people. He outlined the struggle between the visions and suggested integrating what he considered to be their beneficial aspects to arrive at a new approach to globalization. He called for a new guiding principle in a globalized world, noting that the post-World War II logic combining a liberal international economy with the welfare state is no longer appropriate. He also supported allowing space for creative experimentation in sustainable development issues.

Hafiz Pasha, UN Assistant Secretary General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP, said that globalization should not be viewed as contrary to sustainable development, as it has in some cases contributed to sustainable development. He said that the debate should be on injecting equity into the globalization discussions and on finding a way for globalization to work for the poor.

Frank Loy, Former US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs (, expressed concern that environmental ministries tend to be given less prominence than trade and finance ministries, and said that one focus of WSSD should be to educate Presidents and Prime Ministers on the importance of elevating environment ministries. He said that there is a need to highlight the successes of Rio and not just its problems, lest we reduce the momentum to move forward. He noted that rich nations will have to acknowledge that globalization has not helped everyone equally and that the poor will have to recognize that environmental issues considered important in developed countries are also relevant to the poor.

In closing the panel discussion, Chair Cielito Habito, University of the Philippines at Los Banos (, highlighted the need to explicitly address the expectations and products to come out of the WSSD. He also stressed the success of partnerships involving different stakeholders stemming from the Rio Summit and the need for their further enhancement in Johannesburg.

Concluding Segment

Jan Pronk challenged participants to develop workable proposals for the WSSD
Ambassador Richard Elliot Benedick, Joint Global Change Research Institute (; Frank Loy, Former US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs (

Martin Kohr, Third World Network, during the concluding segment

Ryokichi Hirono, Professor Emeritus, Seikei University (, stressed attention to the poor, including issues such as health, education, public services and employment.

Felix Dodds, Executive Director, UNED-Forum (
Final Plenary

Minister Jan Pronk with Kimo Goree, Director, Reporting Services, IISD

Related Links

Official website for the conference with background documents

United Nations University
Global Environment Information Center  
IISD coverage of Workshop on Interlinkages, Synergies and Coordination among MEAs 26-27 February 2001
IISD coverage of Interlinkages Conference 14-16 July 1999

Sustainable Developments home page ~ Linkages home page

�2001, IISD. All rights reserved.