Daily report for 27 April 2004

CSD 12

In the morning, delegates discussed the relationship among water, sanitation and human settlements, focusing on poverty eradication and other cross-cutting issues. In the afternoon, CSD-12 Chair Brende presented the Chairs Summary Part I, following which delegates made brief comments on the paper.


This session was chaired by CSD-12 Vice-Chairs Bolus Paul Zom Lolo (Nigeria) and Toru Shimizu (Japan).

Poverty eradication: Margaret Catley-Carlson, Global Water Partnership, discussed why access to water is critical to eradicating poverty. Outlining the law of how things work, she said the poor suffer the most in the absence of functioning systems, and emphasized the need to extend water services to the poor in support of their livelihoods. She also noted the ill-health costs of not providing water services.

Richard Jolly, University of Sussex, UK, said lack of sanitation undercuts many of the benefits achieved from clean water, and stressed the role of sanitation and hygiene in affording human dignity. He informed participants that rapid progress is possible if actions begin at the local level and called for allocating resources to address rural and slum areas. He also stressed the need to recognize and support the role of women and children as agents of change.

Pietro Garau, MDG Task Force on Slum Dwellers, noted the reluctance of the international community to address urban issues, in particular the urbanization of poverty. He highlighted the challenges of upgrading existing slums and preventing the emergence of new slums, and stressed the importance of involving local authorities in the implementation of the JPOI and MDGs.

Discussion: Many delegates supported addressing the themes in an integrated manner. The EU stressed the need to address means of implementation and links to cross-cutting issues throughout CSD-12. FIJI highlighted the challenges in urban and rural planning from a SIDS perspective, particularly in maintaining traditional systems and cultural integrity in the face of rapid urbanization.

KENYA called for decentralization and laws to support effective stakeholder participation. UGANDA outlined its activities supporting the role of women and children as agents of change. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY identified framework conditions for enabling private sector participation, including: good governance; the elimination of corruption; a clear division of responsibilities between private and public sectors; risk guarantee schemes; and capacity building. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES stressed that regarding water as a commodity rather than a human right makes the achievement of the MDGs more elusive each day. She also said market systems are not designed to conserve natural resources, since maximizing profit results in overexploitation of such resources. IRAN emphasized the importance of community management, and Garau noted that sustainable solutions are characterized by community leadership. IUCN said good governance of river basins entails the participation of both down and upstream users. SOUTH AFRICA called for inclusive consultative processes in the management of water resources and highlighted the role of youth in promoting hygiene.

On financing, SWITZERLAND emphasized the need for access to credit, called on donors to develop mechanisms to open credit lines for the poor, and highlighted the role of the private sector at the national and local levels in mobilizing resources for reaching the MDGs. KAZAKHSTAN called attention to the heavy burden of subsidizing water. AUSTRALIA stressed the importance of enhancing economic growth to generate opportunities for the poor, highlighted the role of microfinancing and noted their efforts in removing barriers to trade and agricultural products. Jolly said subsidies should be used to stimulate demand, rather than for installing sanitation services.

On PRSPs, the EU stressed the need for developing countries to integrate the water and sanitation goals into national strategies for sustainable development (NSSDs) and PRSPs. Jolly urged PRSP processes to draw on the expertise of UN agencies. Garau said PRSPs should be government-owned and cautioned against UN agency or donor-driven priorities. The US said PRSPs should not end up on the shelf, but should catalyze multistakeholder processes in poverty reduction.

On transboundary water issues, CANADA highlighted their experience, and TRADE UNIONS called attention to potential conflicts arising from water scarcity. UNECE encouraged participation in the regions Convention for the Protection and Use of Transboundary Waters and International Lakes.

NORWAY underscored the role of education in achieving the MDGs and JPOI targets, and stressed the need for separate latrines in schools. SWITZERLAND stressed the importance of healthy ecosystems, and Catley-Carlson highlighted the role of environment flows in maintaining ecosystem services. Several delegates stressed the need for rural development. Garau called attention to the need for disaggregated data distinguishing the urban middle class from slum areas. The EU underlined the role of renewables in providing energy to the poor. The SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY stressed the need to, inter alia, review, maintain and improve national data collection and monitoring networks for sound scientific advice, and undertake interdisciplinary and policy-relevant research. CANADA supported the central role of science and technology in monitoring and assessment, and in identifying the means to improve human health. SENGAL highlighted the failure to undertake environmental impact studies prior to the development of human settlements.

Other cross-cutting issues: Discussion: The EU highlighted its experience concerning sustainable consumption and production. FRANCE stressed the importance of awareness raising to make consumption and production patterns more sustainable. YOUTH highlighted the significance of education in generating an army of agents of change. FARMERS noted how training women to maintain water pumps improved infrastructure and led to womens empowerment. NIGER stressed the need for capacity building to enable all stakeholders to participate in water management, particularly in the context of high illiteracy rates. The SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY called attention to the link between scientific research, monitoring and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Presenting an example of regional cooperation in the Southern African Development Community, SOUTH AFRICA outlined the establishment of functional river basin organizations characterized by equitable information sharing and the consideration of down and upstream users.


The Chairs Summary Part I summarizes the discussions and events that have taken place during the official segment of CSD-12. It includes a section that addresses: the overall review of progress; inter-agency cooperation and coordination; national reporting; indicators; partnerships; and the interactive discussions with Major Groups. On each of the three themes, the summary provides: a review of progress; constraints and obstacles; lessons learned; and continuing challenges. This is followed by a section on the relationship among the three themes, a summary of the regional sessions, and a synthesis of the highlights from the Partnerships Fair, Learning Center and Side Events that took place over the first week.

In his brief presentation of the Chairs Summary Part I, Chair Brende said the summary will not be negotiated, that it is a record of the session, and that it will serve as an additional input to the Ministerial interactive discussions during the high-level segment. He thanked the Secretariat for their assistance in producing a fair and balanced document. He noted that delegates have succeeded in reviewing a broad range of issues in an integrated manner, and have identified obstacles and constraints in the three themes. He said the in-depth examination revealed that many countries were not on track to meet the water, sanitation and human settlement goals, and that poverty continues to be a critical issue. He identified the lack of financing, declining ODA and the need for capacity building and technology transfer as major challenges.

All delegations who spoke commended the summary as an even presentation of the discussion. The G-77/CHINA urged the Chair to reflect concerns raised by the Group, in particular the many obstacles and difficulties facing developing countries in implementing the MDGs and the JPOI targets. The EU said interlinkages and cross-cutting issues should be reflected in the summary. He proposed referencing regional inputs, as well as the Partnerships Fair and other events. He said the high-level discussions could place greater emphasis on: good governance and national responsibility for pursuing goals and targets; mainstreaming water, sanitation and human settlements into NSSDs or PRSPs; the supporting role of IFIs; and ecosystems protection. He highlighted the nature and shape of the implementation process between CSD-12 and CSD-13 as “key,” and called on the Chair to set out a concise action plan drawing on the high-level segment, as well as on stakeholder support.

The US drew attention to the pragmatic nature of the discussion and emphasized the importance of the Partnerships Fair and the Learning Center. He noted increased interaction and participation of Major Groups in comparison with previous CSD sessions, which, in his view, provides an example for how to organize debates at CSD-13. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the summary outlines the specific problems that need to be resolved and lays a practical foundation for future cooperation. INDIA said the summary indicated a wide divergence of views on a range of issues, and stressed that countries need strategies in accordance with their national priorities. He noted that some concepts presented in the summary are not intergovernmentally-agreed and said equal attention should be given to the three themes under discussion at the session. MEXICO requested inclusion of a reference to the LAC Ministerial Forum held in Panama in November 2003. IRAN called for a reflection of its position on inter-agency cooperation, and the requirement for the agencies not to go beyond the JPOI agreements. JAPAN supported this intervention, and called for: referencing disaster and flood preparedness; linking agricultural and forest practices to sanitation and water; and better use of networks emanating from the 3rd World Water Forum. AUSTRALIA suggested that more positive emphasis be placed on regional reviews, partnerships, as well as good governance and the potential role of markets and the private sector. SWITZERLAND urged dedicating time to discussing ways of addressing water issues after the current cycle. Several other delegations made textual suggestions in the summary.


The official release of the Chair’s Summary and the arrival of high-level officials generated an atmosphere of excitement on Tuesday afternoon. Most delegates have given their favorable “stamp of approval” to the paper, and many statements praised the Chair and the Secretariat for reflecting the session’s discussions to date. With 80 Ministers attending the high-level segment and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressing the Commission for the first time ever, several delegates have commented that the CSD has managed to sustain momentum for sustainable development. While there was general satisfaction with the summary, several delegates wondered whether it was clear enough in identifying key policy issues for the second half of the cycle. The challenge remains as to how Ministers will provide political direction to prepare for the policy year.

Meanwhile, delegates are eagerly awaiting the Bureau’s election on Friday, while speculating on the composition of the CSD-13 Bureau with behind-the-scene discussions on prospective candidates among the regional groups.


HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT: The high-level segment, which will open at 10:00 am in the General Assembly Hall, will be addressed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, following which Chair Brende will present key finding from the first segment of CSD-12. In the afternoon, delegates will convene in Conference Room 1 to hear keynote addresses and participate in a thematic discussion on Creating an enabling environment – policies, governance and finance.

PARTNERSHIPS FAIR AND LEARNING CENTER: Partnerships presentations will take place in Conference Room 6. The Learning Center will be held in Conference Room D. Check CSD Today or http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/csd12.htm for details.

Further information