Report of main proceedings for 28 February 2005
CSD 13 Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM)
The CSD-13 Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) commenced on Monday with delegates observing a moment of silence in memory of the lives lost in the recent tsunami disaster. In the morning, delegates considered procedural matters, heard reports from the UN Regional Commissions, and were presented the Secretary-General’s reports on water, sanitation and human settlements. Delegates also heard presentations on the outcomes of relevant intersessional meetings and initial statements from several delegations. In the afternoon, Major Groups presented their views on policy options and possible actions on the three themes, following which an expert panel presented on policy options and possible actions for water and sanitation.
Opening the IPM, CSD-13 Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) noted that CSD-12 identified the major obstacles and constraints to meeting the international targets on water, sanitation and human settlements, and said the IPM’s task is to focus on policy options and possible actions to overcome those obstacles and constraints. Chair Ashe highlighted the critical importance of this meeting, noting that the credibility of the reformed CSD process hinges on the Commission’s ability to move towards effective implementation of the commitments made by the international community.
The Commission then adopted the IPM agenda (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/1), approved its organization of work (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/1 Annex I), and approved the accreditation of the Global Water Partnership (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/L.1).
JoAnne DiSano, Director of the UN Division for Sustainable Development, presented the Secretary-General’s reports on water, sanitation and human settlements (E/CN.17/IPM/2005/2, 3 and 4), noting that the reports do not offer recommendations for all countries, but rather provide policy options and possible actions to overcome constraints and challenges.
OVERVIEW FROM UN REGIONAL COMMISSIONS: The UN Economic Commission for Africa reported on the fifth session of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW; November 2004, Entebbe), announcing that the Council’s input to CSD-13 would be finalized by March. He also presented on the outcomes of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD; January 2005, Durban), highlighting the adoption of an enhanced framework of implementation for housing and urban development in Africa and a declaration establishing the AMCHUD and its constitutional structure.
The UN Economic Commission for Europe highlighted lessons learned from its experience with a variety of regional instruments and approaches, including approaches to transboundary pollution and integrated water resources management (IWRM), noting that these may be valuable to other regions. He said much remains to be done in the region, stating that 120 million people still lack access to adequate water and sanitation.
The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean reported on conclusions from three intersessional regional meetings. Focusing on water issues, she highlighted key challenges and identified enabling conditions, including: a stable system of water rights; coordination of water policies with policies of other sectors; and organization of water companies at the regional level. She also underscored that water rates should not be tied to foreign exchange rates.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific informed delegates that its report would be presented to CSD-13, noting delays from responding to the tsunami disaster and preparing for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development.
REPORTS FROM INTERSESSIONAL MEETINGS: Reporting on the outcomes of the Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Forum (WASH; November 2004, Dakar), Mamadou Ba, Senegal’s Minister for Prevention, Public Hygiene and Sanitation, urged other countries to support African initiatives aimed at meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and emphasized that sanitation is necessary to protect water quality.
Maria Mutagamba, Uganda’s Minister for Water, Land and Environment, presented the outcomes of the International Conference on IWRM (December 2004, Tokyo) and the fifth AMCOW session. Outlining recommendations from the IWRM conference, she urged national IWRM plans to focus on initial actions and changes from current water management practices, and called for an additional target to halve the deaths resulting from water-related disasters by 2015. On AMCOW, Mutagamba reported that the meeting, inter alia, recognized African funding and technical capacity needs and the critical role of women and civil society, and initiated a process for assessing the development of IWRM plans.
María Antonia Trujillo, Spain’s Minister of Housing, reported on the outcomes of the Second World Urban Forum (September 2004, Barcelona), noting that improving living conditions should not involve relocations except in areas of risk, and recommending the exchange of experiences in implementing Local Agenda 21.
Presenting on the outcomes of the World Water Week (August 2004, Stockholm), the STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL WATER INSTITUTE highlighted the need: to convince decision-makers of the important contributions of sound water management and investment to economic growth; to integrate water and sanitation into the urban planning process; and for time-bound sector-specific water efficiency and investment targets.
MOROCCO invited participants to the upcoming Second International Forum on Partnerships for Sustainable Development (March 2005, Marrakesh), highlighting that the Forum will focus on water and energy partnerships.
Presenting on the FAO/Netherlands Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems (January 2005, The Hague), THE NETHERLANDS stressed the conference’s focus on actions to implement commitments related to water for food and ecosystems. He highlighted recommendations encouraging local involvement and shifting away from both government-led and sectoral approaches.
UNEP presented on the outcomes of the 23rd session of its Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (February 2005, Nairobi), highlighting that ministerial consultations considered the environmental underpinnings of the MDGs, with a focus on the goals concerning poverty, gender and environmental sustainability. He said the deliberations were reflected in a President’s summary, which will be forwarded to CSD-13 and ECOSOC.
DELEGATION STATEMENTS: Jamaica, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, underscored the Group’s commitment to achieving the water, sanitation and human settlements goals and highlighted cross-cutting issues constraining implementation. Noting the challenges in meeting these goals, he said the Group could not support the renegotiation of existing goals or the setting of new targets. He highlighted the inter-relatedness of the themes and stressed the need for them to be addressed in a balanced manner based on national realities. He further called attention to factors impacting national financial and human capacity, such as declining commodity prices and HIV/AIDS.
Luxembourg, on behalf of the EU, highlighted the special responsibility of CSD-13 in setting a successful example for further CSD cycles, and urged the Chair to seek the commitment of key actors to implement CSD-13 policy decisions. She identified capacity building and technology transfer, governance, and financing as major challenges, and outlined priority policy options and principles, including: adopting integrated approaches, linking sustainable development and CSD-13 issues with national processes, ensuring ownership of programmes, involving all stakeholders, stimulating decentralization at the lowest appropriate level, and enhancing coordination among UN agencies and international financial institutions.
The US underscored the role of voluntary commitments in implementation, and highlighted the importance of partnerships and “global policy networks,” citing the Global Water Partnership as an example. He welcomed the focus on implementation, noting that CSD’s measure of success will depend on results at the country level.
INPUT FROM MAJOR GROUPS: CSD-13 Vice-Chair Boo Nam Shin (Republic of Korea) said information on Major Groups’ priorities were available in a background document (E/CN.17/2005/5).
FARMERS called attention to the fact that some 70% of water is already used by agriculture and that food production will have to double on less land to feed growing populations. He highlighted the need for a better balance between urban and rural programmes, as well as for better coordination in programme financing and implementation. The SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY recommended: strengthening capacity to monitor water use with an integrated set of indicators; enhancing national and regional scientific and technological capacity; improving and sharing relevant scientific knowledge; and making scientists, engineers, educators and decision-makers better partners in addressing challenges. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY recognized that progress requires the engagement of all sectors of society and that business operates best in a strong and stable legal, regulatory and economic context. He highlighted the need: to identify clear responsibilities for action; to create enabling environments for increased financing; for catchment-level management and planning; for infrastructure development and technology transfer; and to build effective partnerships.
WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS said access to water and sanitation are fundamental human rights that must be provided through public service, and urged CSD to recognize that access to decent work is the most direct way to address water, sanitation and housing issues. LOCAL AUTHORITIES called for: better linkage between national and local plans; capacity building for local level decision-makers; a framework for subsidiarity, decentralization and greater financial autonomy; addressing informal settlements; and promoting exchanges of community experiences. NGOs called for the recognition of water, sanitation and affordable housing as human rights. She said water is a public good that must remain publicly managed, stressing that the private sector is not the solution to the financing gap and that its involvement should not be imposed as a conditionality for grants and loans.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, CHILDREN AND YOUTH and WOMEN also underscored a rights-based approach, and stressed the need to ensure their groups’ active participation in all aspects and at all levels of planning, management and implementation. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES further stressed that water services be kept apart from trade negotiations, and called for capacity building and appropriate technology-transfer initiatives recognizing traditional water management practices. CHILDREN AND YOUTH emphasized the need to focus on education, community participation, and increasing financial resources and human capacity. WOMEN underscored the need for mainstreaming gender perspectives in planning and implementation of actions concerning the three themes. She recommended, inter alia, creating a fund to facilitate the implementation of gender as a cross-cutting issue in the CSD work programme and launching a gender strategy for implementing the water and sanitation targets.
Discussion: Discussions focused on: the issue of appropriate technology; circumstance-specific approaches; fostering enabling environments at the municipal, as well as national and international levels, through capacity building, better governance, financing and technology transfer; and the critical importance of extension services and intensive efforts to reach the poorest resource users.
EXPERTS PANEL: Water and sanitation: Nafisa Barot, Utthan, emphasized, inter alia: women’s vulnerability to water and sanitation problems; the need to enhance the involvement of marginalized populations; hygiene education; micro-financing; long-term investment needs; and the importance of a rights-based approach.
Albert Wright, Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, discussed the need to: establish national institutions that integrate water and sanitation policies into national priorities; utilize franchising to facilitate rapid capacity building; allow governance reform and investment to move in tandem rather than in succession; focus on sustainable service delivery rather than infrastructure provision; focus on full cost recovery to encourage private sector involvement; balance a rights-based approach with civic responsibility; disaggregate urban areas for planning and management purposes; and implement urban sanitation in stages.
Focusing on financing, Carmen Arevalo-Correa, Colombia’s Vice Minister of Environment, stressed the need for sanitation education, and posed questions regarding the pricing of the management and protection of water resources. She discussed the difficulty of locating and defining populations in need of subsidies.
Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter alia, opportunities provided by recycled wastewater, private sector involvement, and use and acceptance of traditional technologies.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Given that this is the first policy session of the new CSD work programme and will set precedents for future cycles, there was a lot of discussion in the corridors about how the session will move from discussion to actions, and on the implementation approaches various delegations will take. The issue of partnerships versus intergovernmental agreed outcomes appears to be re-surfacing as a potentially divisive topic. Delegations are also beginning to question which mechanisms and institutions would be appropriate for following-up on the implementation of the thematic cluster of issues after the conclusion of this Cycle. Another issue bubbling under the surface is the concern from some developing countries that certain delegations may attempt to set new targets, re-open language agreed at the WSSD or renegotiate procedural agreements from CSD-11.