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The World Summit on Sustainable Development
 European Regional Preparatory Meeting

Geneva, Switzerland; 24 - 25 September 2001

The Europe and North America Regional Ministerial Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD, closed on Tuesday, 25 September 2001 in Geneva, Switzerland. Two Ministerial Panels were held on Governance and Sustainable Development and on Poverty and Sustainable Development, chaired by Svend Auken, Danish Minister of Environment and Energy, and Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning.

A drafting group focusing on the Ministerial Statement from the UNECE Region finished its work, and the meeting adopted the Statement. Chair Deiss, Switzerland, closed the meeting at 2:20pm. 

Svend Auken's opening remarks. Listen to the RealAudio

Svend Auken


Thur 27

Monday, 24 Sep

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Paula Dobriansky


Paula Dobriansky, US Under-Secretary-of State for Global Affairs, assured participants that the recent tragic events in the country will not deter it from acting globally. She said the WSSD must provide positive forward-looking initiatives and stressed six areas related to good governance, which contribute to economic growth, higher living standards and social equality, as priorities: capacity building; institution building; public access to environmental and other information in support of sustainable development; informed and science-based decision-making; public participation, coordination and partnerships; and access to justice in environmental matters and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations

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Mark Moody-Stuart

Mark Moody-Stuart, Business Action for Sustainable Development, noted that the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have set up Business Action for Sustainable Development as an initiative to forward the business contribution to WSSD. With regard to businesses’ improvement of their sustainability, he said it happens through consultations and openness, providing examples such as the Marine Stewardship Council and sustainable forestry. He stressed that the initiatives are on a sectoral basis, as critical issues differ, and said this should be considered at Johannesburg

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Mark Moody-Stuart in response to a question by the chair

Ilona Boda, Political Secretary of State at the Hungarian Ministry for Environment, noted the balancing of the three complex pillars of sustainable development as a challenge for governments, and called for strategic thinking and planning to harmonize long and short term interests. She suggested setting targets and developing indicators to monitor progress, and to involve stakeholders in the process. She supported strategic environmental assessments, economic instruments based on the polluter pays principle and voluntary agreements, and concluded by stressing today’s task to be ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens and continued improvement of the quality of life

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Ilona Boda

Victoria Elias

Victoria Elias, European EcoForum, stressed that better decision-making builds on public support. She characterized good governance as a system based on democracy, freedom, trust, efficient and fair institutional arrangements, reliable rights for citizens, transparency and public participation. She noted good governance is slowly being developed in the UNECE region and got a boost through the Aarhus Convention

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Yves Cochet, French Minister of Environment, noted the lack of progress since Rio and highlighted Johannesburg as an opportunity to start over. He noted as priorities: the protection of natural resources, with an emphasis on eco-efficiency; linking environmental protection and poverty eradication, providing renewable energy resources as an example; the globalization of sustainable development; and questions of governance. On international environmental governance he noted current difficulties and called for a progressive strengthening of structures including a World Environment Organization, hoping it could be agreed on at Johannesburg

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Yves Cochet

Nurlan Iskakov


Nurlan Iskakov, Vice-Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Protection in Kazakhstan, noted important effects of the Rio Summit, such as the establishment of civil society in countries previously lacking it. He highlighted positive aspects of elaborating sustainable development strategies in Kazakhstan, and noted the rise of a free market economy, media, internet, consumer rights, and environmental projects in cooperation with donors. He said Kazakhstan has opted to be a non-nuclear state, stressing that it will make sure to ward off the threat of international terrorism as one aspect of its sustainable development policy

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Nicolae Stratan, Moldovan Deputy Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development, stressed the important role of regional cooperation in small countries such as Moldova. He called for government action to achieve sustainable development, especially in the NIS, as well as for bilateral and multilateral cooperation between. He said every effort must be made at this meeting to prepare the ground for the WSSD in an action-oriented manner

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Nicolae Stratan


Olivier Deleuze, Belgian State Secretary of Energy and Sustainable Development, underscored sustainable development as a horizontal issue, meaning it needs to be integrated into all sectors. He highlighted the Belgian council for sustainable development, which involves all sectoral departments proposing sustainable development initiatives, and proposed a similar initiative at the international level

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Michael Scoullos, Mediteranean Information Office For Environment, Culture and Sustanable Development, Athens, Greece
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Richard Ballhorn

Richard Ballhorn, Chair of the drafting group, noted that all brackets had been resolved. He highlighted the concept of the ecological footprint, a global deal, ODA targets, the ideas of the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle as the final contentious issues that had been resolved

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Alexander Pankin, Russian Mission to Geneva, in the drafting group

Nadine Gouzée, Coordinator of the Task Force on Sustainable Development, Belgium, in the drafting group


The drafting group


Jan Pronk


The Ministerial Panel on Poverty and Sustainable Development was held on Tuesday morning, 25 September. Chaired by Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, it focused on: national policies for social integration; ageing and social security; the impact of poverty on the environment; the impact of migration flows and refugees on sustainable development; employment opportunities and constraints; security and the impact of war on poverty; national policies for social integration and social security; natural resource use and poverty; and sources of financing

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Nino Chkhobadze

Nino Chkhobadze, Georgia, asserted that her country can break the vicious circle of poverty. She elaborated means for eradicating poverty through environmental programs, in particular through attention to water issues. She noted several programs in her country that have stimulated economic and social development, and have proven the value of Sustainable Development for poverty relief. She drew attention to the difficulty of mobilizing financial resources, implementing fiscal discipline and financing environment-sensitive policies

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Serhii Kurykin, Ukrainian Minister of Environment and Natural Resources noted the situation in countries with economies in transition, and said poverty is complicated because it is caused by a complex set of issues. He said poverty leads to the violation of sustainability principles, noting unsustainable resource extraction in EITs and growing gaps between the rich and the poor, between those that over-consume and those without resources

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Richard Hayworth, Canada, argued that for many developing and transition countries, he asserted, natural resource development is vital for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating funds for social development - medical services, education, and community involvement in decisionmaking. Responsible use of resources, integrating environmental, economic and social considerations in decisionmaking, is needed. In Canada, many natural resource-rich sites are located among remote Native communities. While partnerships between mining companies and communities began a few decades earlier only with providing jobs through resource extraction, today these partnerships include lifeskills training, education, and other social services. Based on that experience, he asserted that partnerships are important. He noted the UN Forum on Forests and a Canadian initiative in Latin America on mining as examples of mechanisms to promote sustainable development

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Richard Hayworth


Karine Danielyan, NGO Association for Sustanable Human Development, argued that for the poor, many of whom are women, there is no Sustainable Development. She traced the links between affluence, degradation of the environment, and poverty - which she called �a lack of choices�. Those who are poor seek to escape poverty, but lack access to and control of resources, and are economically and socially excluded. She argued that each person has an equal right to use the planet Earth, and that we need greater redistribution of resources. She urged greater investment in defining and tackling the links between the environment and poverty

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Karine Danielyan

Michael Meacher


Michael Meacher,UK pointed to the declining percent of GDP devoted to foreign assitance. While the ODA granted by the UK is below the 0.7% target and has fallen over the last decade, he noted, the present government has reversed the downward trend. He pointed out that the US is substantially below this international aid target, and noted that if they reached even 0.3%, it would represent a major contribution

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Joseph Deiss

The closing plenary took place in the afternoon on Tuesday, 25 September. Chair Deiss introduced agenda item seven, adoption of the draft Ministerial Statement. Richard Ballhorn, Chair of the drafting group, noted that all brackets had been resolved. He highlighted the concept of the ecological footprint, a global deal, ODA targets, the ideas of the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle as the final contentious issues that had been resolved. The Ministerial Statement was then adopted by acclamation.

Chair Deiss said a chair�s summary of the meeting would be distributed, and submitted to the second WSSD Preparatory Commitment to be held in New York in January. In a closing address, he noted that the meeting represented the first if the regional preparatory meetings, and that it had succeeded in formulating a message for the WSSD that would inspire other regions

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View from a window at the UN, the grounds and lake Geneva


Monday's coverage

UNECE Region's website for the WSSD
Introduction to Johannesburg Summit 2002
Linkage's Portal to the Johannesburg Summit 2002

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