The 11th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-11) begins today at UN headquarters in New York and will meet until 9 May 2003. Convening officially for the first time since the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002, the Commission is expected to take decisions on its future multi-year programme of work and to consider new modalities for its organizational arrangements.
CSD-11 will include a three-day high-level ministerial segment (28-30 April), where ministers will consider the future modalities and work programme of the CSD, and engage in interactive ministerial roundtables, with participation of leaders from Major Groups, on the theme "Priority actions and commitments to implement the outcomes of the WSSD." Regional Implementation Forums will also take place on Tuesday and Wednesday (29-30 April). These Forums will inform delegates of initial steps taken in each region to implement the WSSD’s outcomes, and of arrangements for regional or subregional cooperation.
On Thursday, 1 May, CSD-11 Chair Mohammed Valli Moosa, South Africa’s Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, is expected to present the session’s draft decisions. Delegates will consider these draft decisions during the second week. On Monday, 5 May, delegates will discuss preparations for the 10-year review of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and a draft decision on this matter will be proposed for consideration by the Commission on Tuesday, 6 May. Major Groups will present their views on the CSD’s future work programme during a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Thursday, 1 May, while a Partnerships Fair and a Learning Center will take place concurrently with the session.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CSD
The CSD emerged from Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in June 1992. Agenda 21 called for the creation of the CSD to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, rationalize intergovernmental decision-making capacity, and examine progress of Agenda 21 implementation at the local, national, regional and international levels. In 1992, the 47th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) set out, in Resolution 47/191, the CSD’s terms of reference, its composition, guidelines for the participation of NGOs, the organization of work, its relationship with other UN bodies, and Secretariat arrangements. The CSD held its first substantive session in June 1993 and has met annually since.
UNGASS-19: In June 1997, five years after UNCED, the 19th General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS-19) was held to review the implementation of Agenda 21. Negotiations produced a Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. Among the decisions adopted at UNGASS was a five-year CSD work programme, which identified sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/Major Group themes for the subsequent four sessions of the CSD.
UNGA RESOLUTION 55/199: On 20 December 2000, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 55/199 on the 10-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of the outcomes of UNCED. In this Resolution, the General Assembly decided to organize a 10-year review of UNCED in 2002 at the summit level to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. The General Assembly accepted South Africa’s offer to host the summit, which was called the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Among other things, the Resolution decided that CSD-10 would serve as the preparatory committee for the Summit.
WSSD PREPARATORY PROCESS: Four sessions of CSD-10 were held between April 2001 and June 2002. Chaired by Emil Salim (Indonesia), the PrepCom conducted a comprehensive review and assessment of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21. By PrepCom IV, held in Bali, Indonesia from 27 May to 7 June 2002, a draft Plan of Implementation for the WSSD had been produced, and was transmitted to the Summit for further negotiation. The Bali meeting also circulated a non-negotiated document containing guiding principles for the development of voluntary partnerships for sustainable development – or "Type II" outcomes.
WSSD: The World Summit on Sustainable Development convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, bringing together over 21,000 participants from 191 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, academia and the scientific community. The WSSD negotiated and adopted two main documents: the Plan of Implementation and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development. Over 200 non-negotiated partnerships/initiatives for sustainable development aimed at implementing Agenda 21 were launched, supplementing the commitments agreed to by governments through the intergovernmental process. Further partnerships have been launched since the WSSD.
The Plan of Implementation is designed as a framework for action to implement the UNCED commitments, and includes a number of new agreements. It contains chapters on poverty eradication, consumption and production, the natural resource base, globalization, health, SIDS, Africa, other regional initiatives, means of implementation, and an institutional framework.
Chapter XI on Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development contains a section outlining the role and function of the CSD. It calls for the CSD’s role to be enhanced, and states that the Commission should: review progress and promote implementation of Agenda 21; address new challenges; and focus on actions related to Agenda 21 implementation. The Plan also states that CSD should serve as a focal point for discussion of partnerships, consider more effective use of national reports and regional experiences, and exchange and promote best practices. It further directs the Commission to address the practical modalities of its work programme at its next session.
57TH SESSION OF UNGA: In February 2003, the UNGA adopted Resolution 57/253 endorsing the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation, and adopting sustainable development as a key element of the overarching framework for UN activities, in particular for achieving the internationally-agreed development goals, including those contained in the UN Millennium Declaration. The Resolution also decides to give overall political direction to the implementation of Agenda 21 and its review. It urges governments, and all relevant international and regional organizations and Major Groups, to take timely actions to ensure the effective follow-up and implementation of WSSD outcomes.
The Resolution requested ECOSOC to ensure that the CSD holds an organizational meeting for its next session in January 2003 and its session in April/May 2003. It also requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report containing proposals on the modalities of the future work of the Commission, taking into account the decisions contained in the Plan of Implementation.
CSD-11 ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION: CSD-11 held its organizational session on 27 January 2003, at UN headquarters in New York, to elect a new Bureau. South Africa’s Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mohammed Valli Moosa, was elected as CSD-11 Chair, and Nadine Gouzée (Belgium), Bruno Stagno (Costa Rica), Irena Zubevi (Croatia) and Hossein Moeini Meybodi (Iran) were elected as Vice-Chairs.
INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: Informal consultations in preparation for CSD-11 took place from 24-25 February and 24-26 March 2003, at UN headquarters in New York. The purpose of these consultations was to hear the initial views of delegations on the future programme of work of the CSD, and to allow for informal discussions on the Secretary-General’s report on the Follow up to Johannesburg and the Future Role of the CSD – The Implementation Track (E/CN.17/2003/2). The report contains a range of proposals covering various aspects of the Commission’s future work, including: the CSD’s multi-year programme of work; selection of issues for future CSD sessions; high-level political engagement in the CSD process; and the transformation of CSD’s Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Groups. It also suggests means to engage Major Groups and ways to enhance contributions from the scientific and educational communities, and recommends arrangements to enable the Commission to serve as a focal point for the discussion of partnerships.
Participants at the informal consultations discussed the proposed organization of work, which calls for a two-year cycle involving "review" and "policy" years. Many delegates expressed concern that the organization of work should not lead to a proliferation of meetings. On the selection of issues for future CSD sessions, delegates discussed the three options in the Secretary-General’s report for narrowing the focus within the future CSD work cycles. Participants also considered the frequency and extent of ministerial involvement in the CSD, and discussed the role of Major Groups and ways to enhance contributions from various implementation actors. On partnerships, delegates called for accountability and transparency, discussed the need for further elaboration on guiding principles, and considered the CSD’s role as a focal point for partnerships.
OPEN-ENDED AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON UN CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS: GA Resolution 57/270 established the Open-ended ad hoc Working Group of the General Assembly on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits in the economic and social fields. The Working Group has been meeting since January 2003 at UN headquarters in New York. It is addressing implementation and follow-up issues regarding various UN conferences and summits, as well as the work of the +5 and +10 reviews. It is also discussing implementation of internationally-agreed development goals, the work of the General Assembly and its Second and Third Committees, and the review of conference implementation. The Working Group is expected to submit its report by late June 2003, for consideration by the General Assembly.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
OPENING OF THE SESSION: The first meeting of CSD-11 will convene at 10:00 am in Conference Room 4 to elect the Rapporteur, adopt the agenda and organization of work (E/CN.17/ 2003/1 Annex I), and hear introductory statements.
HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT: Participants will continue to meet in Conference Room 4 from 10:30 am - 1:00 pm to hear ministerial statements on the future modalities and work programme of the CSD. An interactive ministerial roundtable will take place from 3:00 - 6:00 pm in Conference Room 1. Participants will begin with a discussion on poverty eradication followed by changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.
LEARNING CENTER: A Learning Center is being introduced during CSD-11 on an experimental basis with the aim of furthering implementation of Agenda 21 and the WSSD outcomes. The Learning Center will facilitate teaching/training at a practical level on various aspects of sustainable development for interested representatives of Major Groups, governments and intergovernmental organizations. A course on Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainable Development will be held from 3:00 - 6:00 pm at the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium.