Developing the Summit's agenda
51. If the Johannesburg Summit is to tackle sustainable
development in its widest sense, a clear and focused agenda needs
to be established in advance. Otherwise there is a danger that
the Summit will just provide an excuse for international discussion
on any environmental, economic or social issue rather than the
interface and synergies between them. Business is already expressing
concern that the Summit will be diverted from its "action-orientated"
intentions and revisit individual agendas around intractable problems.
The DPM acknowledged the danger that the Summit might merely create
a massive number of demands and become another talking shop.
52. Since Rio, it is clear that there is much greater
multi-stakeholder participation both internationally and within
the UK than there was ten years ago. This enhanced participation
brings its own challenges. As Dr Paul Jefferiss of the RSPB, observed
to the Committee, "with a multiplicity of voices, there is
a multiplicity of messages".
53. It was recognised at the Rio Earth Summit that
all sectors of society needed to be involved if sustainable development
was to become reality. At that Summit, NGOs organised their own
conference in parallel. However they, and others outside government,
have the opportunity to be more involved in the Johannesburg Summit
and make a direct contribution to preparations for WSSD. The Summit's
agenda is being developed in a 'bottom-up' process essentially
formulated from meetings which took place in each of the five
UN regions throughout the latter half of 2001. This approach is
in response to the widespread feeling that one of the weaknesses
of the 1997 UN General Assembly Special Session of Rio+5 was the
fact that it was prepared from the top down.
54. There have also been a series of preparatory
meetings in sub-regions, meetings centred around specific issues
and regional round tables of 'eminent people' to engage civil
society. The results of all these regional meetings were reflected
in the Secretary General's report, 'Implementing Agenda 21',
which was published in December 2001. This report contains ten
themes for action which DEFRA believes are closely in line with
UK and EU priorities. These themes are set out in Table 1 which
compares UK and international priorities for the Summit. UK priorities
are also considered in paras 68-73 .
Table 1: Comparison of UK and International priorities
for the WSSD agenda
||UN Secretary General
|Conservation of the
natural resource base
patterns of consumption
Managing ecosystems and
|SD Initiatives for Africa
|Water (Fresh)||Y and oceans
|Access to Energy||Y
Good governance &
|SD of small island developing states
* Integrated with environment
** Resource Productivity-including the development and application
of scientific and technical knowledge
SD: Sustainable Development
UK: DEFRA memo para 4d
EU: Presidency Conclusions, Barcelona, European Council, 15-16
March 2002, p28 para 7
United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE): Agreed at
UNECE meeting in Geneva, 24-25 September 2001
UN Secretary General: Report on Implementing Agenda 21, 28 January
PrepCom II: Chairman's summary, 11 February 2002
55. The tenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development
(known as CSD10) is acting as the Preparatory Committee for the
Summit. CSD 10 has set up four preparatory meetings known as PrepComs.
Annex I sets out the schedule of PrepComs and other key international
meetings leading up to the WSSD.
56. The second preparatory meeting (PrepCom II) in New York in
January 2002 gathered views on the implementation of Agenda 21,
barriers to action and measures to overcome failings. The various
inputs from stakeholders were synthesised by the Chair (Indonesia)
and will form the starting point for negotiations at PrepCom III
(New York, 25 March-5 April) which will address the plan of action.
This will then be followed by a Ministerial Preparatory meeting
in Indonesia from 27 May-7 June, which will prepare the political
declaration for further consideration by Heads of Government at
Johannesburg. Mr Prescott described this as the crucial moment
in the process.
57. No new conventions are expected to be agreed at WSSD. However,
DEFRA told us that a three-pronged outcome was envisaged:
- a short overarching political text suitable for signature
by Heads of Government/State;
- a more detailed text focusing on action by governmentsin
essence a "Johannesburg Programme of Action"; and
- a third tier comprising a wide range of partnership initiatives
involving groups of willing governments with business, NGOs and
other stakeholders focused on implementation and with sufficient
substance and credibility to be a WSSD outcome.
58. During the PrepCom meetings these have become characterised
as Type 1 and Type 2 outcomes, Type 1 outcomes being the more
traditional outputs of international summits such as a political
declaration and Type 2 outcomes, practical, specific partnership
initiatives which would benefit both North and South. A number
of proposals for these partnership initiatives were presented
at PrepCom II and included: a global initiative to promote investment
in the development of mass public transport systems and regional
partnerships to provide assistance to replace traditional biomass
fuels and coal with affordable clean fuels.
Mrs Beckett told us that the UK had taken a lead in advocating
and instigating discussion on these Type 2 outcomes.
59. We very much welcome the involvement of a wide range of
stakeholders in the preparations for the Summit. We also accept
that this involvement brings many more competing bids for the
WSSD's emerging agenda.
60. We acknowledge that the Government has developed focused
UK priorities which mesh relatively well with the emerging EU
and UN priorities. It is crucial that the UK also continues to
work towards ensuring that the WSSD agenda which is agreed at
PrepCom IV is clear and sharply defined. Otherwise, there is a
real danger that the Summit will merely present an opportunity
for many nations to engage in an bewildering array of discussions
relating to economics, development or the environment in isolation
rather than exploring the interface between them.