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 Introduction to Johannesburg Summit 2002
 The CSD Process: CSD 1-10

  Return to Linkages' Johannesburg Summit portal


Introduction to Johannesburg Summit 2002



The 55th Session of the United Nations General Assembly resolved in December 2000 to hold the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. The GA also decided that the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) would serve as the central organizing body for the Summit and coordinate a comprehensive 10-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21.


Johannesburg 2002: The World Summit on Sustainable Development was scheduled to take place from 2 - 11 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Summit will now convene from 26 August - 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg. World governments, concerned citizens, UN agencies, multilateral financial institutions, and other major groups are expected to participate and assess global change since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992.


The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or "Earth Summit" convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 3 - 14 June 1992. This global conference was held on the 20th anniversary of the first international Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972 and brought together policy-makers, scientists, media and NGO representatives from 179 countries in an effort to reconcile the impact of human socio-economic activities on the environment. A major achievement of UNCED was Agenda 21 - a comprehensive plan of action that was to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN System, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact the environment.


The 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm focused international attention on environmental issues, in particular those relating to environmental degradation and "transboundary pollution", highlighting the fact that pollution does not recognize political or geographical boundaries. Over the decades, environmental issues have been increasingly recognized as transnational in nature, requiring concerted efforts by all countries and regions to deal with them.


Johannesburg Summit 2002 will strive to answer some of the following questions: What accomplishments have been made since 1992? How have participating countries been implementing Agenda 21? Have they ratified the conventions they agreed to since 1992? What obstacles have they encountered? What lessons have they learned about what works and what does not work? What new issues have emerged to change the situation? Where should we focus further efforts?


For more information:

For the 55th General Assembly Resolution on the World Summit on Sustainable Development:


For ENB's Daily Coverage of UNCED PrepCom IV:


For ENB's Daily Coverage of the UNCED in 1992 in Rio, including Pre-Conference Consultations:


the CSD Process: CSD 1-10


The Commission on Sustainable Development (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 (GA) set out, in resolution 47/191, the CSD's terms of reference, composition, guidelines for the participation of NGOs, organization of work, relationship with other UN bodies, and Secretariat arrangements. The Division for Sustainable Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) serves as the CSD Secretariat. The CSD held its first substantive session in June 1993 and has since met annually in the spring at UN Headquarters in New York. The spring (April-May) meetings are preceded by two weeks of intersessional meetings (February-March). Expert meetings focusing on CSD agenda items are often held prior to the intersessional and/or Commission sessions.

First five CSD sessions: The CSD's first substantive session (CSD-1) met from 14-25 June 1993 and adopted a multi-year thematic programme of work. CSD-2, CSD-3 and CSD-4 subsequently met at UN Headquarters in New York during annual spring sessions. Each session reviewed different sectoral chapters in Agenda 21. They all considered cross-sectoral issues including finance, technology transfer, trade and the environment, and consumption and production patterns. CSD-2 added panel discussions to the work method to enable participants to enter into a dialogue on the session's agenda items. CSD-3 established the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. CSD-4 completed the Commission's multi-year thematic programme of work and began considering preparations for the 19th Special Session of the UN General Assembly to Review Implementation of Agenda 21 (UNGASS). CSD-5 focused on negotiations in preparation of UNGASS.

UNGASS: In June 1997, five years after UNCED, the General Assembly held a Special Session (UNGASS-19), which adopted a "Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21." Among the decisions adopted at UNGASS was a new five-year CSD work programme, which identifies sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/major group themes for the subsequent four sessions of the CSD. Overriding issues for each year are poverty, and consumption and production patterns.

CSD-6: CSD-6 met from 20 April to 1 May 1998. Participants considered the economic theme of industry and the sectoral theme of strategic approaches to freshwater management. They also reviewed implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and discussed the cross-sectoral themes of technology transfer, capacity building, education, science and awareness raising.

CSD-7: CSD-7 met from 19-30 April 1999, to consider the economic theme of tourism, the sectoral theme of oceans and seas and the cross-sectoral theme of consumption and production patterns. Participants also prepared for the review of the Barbados Programme of Action.

CSD-8: CSD-8 met from 24 April to 5 May 2000. Participants deliberated on the economic theme of sustainable agriculture and land management, the sectoral theme of integrated planning and management of land resources and the cross-sectoral themes of financial resources, trade and investment, and economic growth. The conclusions and proposals in the final report of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests were also discussed, as were preparations for the ten-year review of UNCED.

CSD-9: CSD-9 met from 16-28 April 2001. Participants focused on the economic theme of energy and transport, the sectoral themes of atmosphere and energy and the cross-sectoral theme of information for decision-making and participation and international cooperation for an enabling environment.

WSSD preparations: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) will be held 10 years after the UNCED to review implementation and to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. In December 2000, the General Assembly adopted resolution 55/199, in which it decided to embark on this ten-year review. The General Assembly accepted South Africa's offer to host the event in 2002. The resolution decided that the review should focus on accomplishments and areas requiring further efforts to implement Agenda 21 and other UNCED outcomes, leading to action-oriented decisions. It should also result in renewed political commitment to achieve sustainable development.

CSD-10, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the WSSD, held its first session at UN Headquarters from 30 April to 2 May 2001. The session adopted decisions on: progress in WSSD preparatory activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, as well as by Major Groups; modalities of future PrepCom sessions; tentative organization of work during the Summit; provisional rules of procedure; and arrangements for accreditation and participation of Major Groups.

The second session of the PrepCom was held from 28 January to 8 February 2002 at UN Headquarters. The session engaged in review and assessment of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21, agreed to transmit to its third session the Chair's Paper as the basis for negotiation, and adopted the Chair's Report, to which are annexed the Chair's Summary of the Second Preparatory Session, the Chair's Summary of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Segment, and the Proposals for Partnerships/Initiatives to Strengthen the Implementation of Agenda 21.

The third session of the PrepCom took place at UN headquarters in New York from 25 March to 5 April 2002. The first week of PrepCom III was dedicated to preliminary consideration of the Chairman's Paper, with discussions on the subsequent compilation text taking place during the second week. The PrepCom also held preliminary discussions on an informal paper on sustainable development governance, prepared by the Bureau on the basis of comments made during PrepCom II. In addition, delegates began consideration of Type 2 outcomes (partnerships/initiatives).

The fourth session convened in Bali, Indonesia from 27 May - 7 June, with informal consultations beginning on 25 May. During the session, delegates produced the Draft Plan of Implementation for the WSSD , which was transmitted to the Summit in Johannesburg for further negotiation. They also agreed on the modalities for the organization of work during the Summit (A/CONF.199/PC/L.7) and, based on the consultations held, mandated PrepCom Chair Emil Salim to prepare elements for a political declaration and post them on the Johannesburg Summit website by the end of June 2002. Although the session had hoped to conclude negotiation of the implementation plan, round-the-clock negotiations by ministers during the last three days of the session failed to produce consensus on key aspects of the plan, particularly on trade, finance and globalization.

The WSSD is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002, with informal consultations on the Draft Plan of Implementation to be held from 24-25 August.