Memorandum from the UN Environment and
Development-UK Committee (UNED-UK)
UK PREPARATIONS FOR THE WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE
Report on an Ongoing UK Multi-Stakeholder Process,
for the Environmental Audit Committee's Inquiry into UK Preparations
for the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable DevelopmentAn
Overview of Stakeholder Involvement
Agenda 21, the main outcome of the 1992 Rio
Earth Summit, is based on the principle that governments alone
cannot deliver on sustainable development, and need to work in
close alliance with key "stakeholder groups"women,
youth, indigenous people, farmers, business and industry, workers
and trade unions, the scientific and technology communities, local
authorities, and NGOs. Such alliances have become known as "multi-stakeholder
In preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD), the UN has suggested that all Nations conduct
a national reviews or "National Progressions", in order
to define what has been achieved so far, the barriers to progress,
and ways towards a more sustainable way of life. This process
aims to include all members of Civil Society, with a particular
focus on the aforementioned stakeholder groups, thus ensuring
that the priorities, opinions, and experience of all will be,
as far as possible, reflected in the agenda at the Johannesburg
In addition, UN member states have agreed to
a series of regional and global consultations between themselves,
where Civil Society groups were encouraged to become directly
involved with the preparation process, and spread the message
as widely as possible amongst individual citizens.
2. UNED-UK COMMITTEETHE
Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future (formerly
UNED Forum) was almost certainly the first organisation in the
UK to argue that if the WSSD was to be a success, then Civil Society
must be fully involved in both national and international preparations.
UNED-UK Committee (the UK arm of Stakeholder Forum) facilitates
a multi-stakeholder process, aimed at creating a neutral space
within which the different sectors of UK Civil Society can communicate,
build consensus and channel their ideas and experiences about
sustainable development into the WSSD process.
During broad consultation with UK Civil Society,
it was agreed that if people in the UK were to become involved
we needed to address not just global issues "out there",
but also issues of local and national interest. Moreover, progress
on these would enable the UK to provide the most effective boost
to Johannesburg's prospects of successleadership by domestic
Five thematic areas were initially identified
and multi-stakeholder dialogue groups set up to address them.
These areas have recently expanded to seven:
1. Biodiversity & Natural Resources Conservation.
2. Education for Sustainable Development.
3. Energy & Climate Change.
4. Population & Sustainability.
5. Sustainable Cities & Communities.
6. Sustainable Production & Consumption.
7. UK in the Wider World.
It is essential that the UK be seen to lead
by example through its domestic policies. If UK citizens are to
embrace sustainable development, not only must the process be
made directly relevant to them, but also it is essential that
they are fully involved in the development and implementation
of sustainable development policies.
2.1 WORKING WITH
OTHERS UNED-UK COMMITTEE
Inform as many stakeholders as possible
of the opportunities and challenges of the WSSD.
Facilitate the creation of ongoing
working groups to develop the framework within which debate can
take place, expand, and be politically effective.
Identify key social, economic, and
environmental issues where real progress is vital in the UK and
Develop a UK-wide consensus of actions
that government, major groups, the business community, and individuals
can take in these areas, which will both promote sustainability
in the UK and enable the UK to lead by example at the WSSD.
2.2 KEY COMPONENTS
To facilitate independent review
process within local government, professional bodies, business
and industry, trade unions, the youth and women's movements, the
faith communities, and other key sectors of civil society.
To take full account of the realities
of devolution and work with Civil Society and the devolved administrations
in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in promoting separate
but parallel dialogues on sustainable development.
To persuade, through an effective
communications plan, opinions formers and the media to buy into
the national review process promoted by Government and the United
To focus the debate on the seven
areas, outlined above, which are of genuine importance to the
UNED-UK, although not directly involved in an
international awareness raising campaign around the WSSD, is working
with a range of organisations, including the Department of Environment,
Farming and Rural Affairs, to raise awareness domestically. This
programme aims to raise the profile of and interest in the WSSD,
and advance the understanding of sustainable development throughout
the UK. The programme will be extended to actively engage the
media. UNED-UK has a large outreach capacity, provided by its
broad and growing stakeholder network, which will give any awareness
raising campaign a magnifying effect, thereby extending well beyond
UNED-UK's direct stakeholder base.
UNED-UK has held three national conferences
on the subject since March 2001, and now actively engages over
350 different representatives in the dialogue groups. The NGO
sector, including the environment and development NGOs, is well
represented, as are women's organisations, local government, and
the scientific community. The business community has been represented
to a lesser extent, and the most under-represented stakeholders
are farmers and indigenous peoples. We have reached a broad range
of organisations and institutions with these events, and thousands
more with our general activities. It is hoped that future collaboration
with DEFRA, the Business Action for Sustainable Development, and
the Prime Minister's business initiatives will further draw industry
into the debate.
4. FUTURE STRATEGIES
Working with Government, it is essential that
UNED-UK further develops the multi-stakeholder process in order
to engage, inform, and involve a greater number of stakeholders.
Government are inevitably our key partners, and we are grateful
for the support that DEFRA have given us so far. Such a pattern
has been all too rare in other countries.
It may now be possible to build on this unique
pattern of cooperation in the final run up period to the Johannesburg
Summit, and hope that such a development would greatly contribute
to the effectiveness of the UK's contribution. Given sufficient
levels of resources, UNED-UK and others could achieve so much
more, and assist government in their move to include Civil Society
in the full spirit of Agenda 21.
We are now working to refine the reports of
our groups into manageable and useful inputs into a National Civil
Society Report, which we expect to publish by early summer. If
this attracts sufficient support at the national level, we hope
that it will have a long-term influence on public perceptions,
on government policy and on the Johannesburg process itself.
If the WSSD is to be a success, this process
of stakeholder involvement must continue far beyond September
2002, to ensure that recommendations and future policies are practical
and easily implemented. Progress towards and implementation of
sustainable development in the UK will only be achieved if Civil
Society is fully supportive of any initiative, and included in
the decision making process. This brings the argument for a really
effective, well co-ordinated and adequately resource national
multi-stakeholder process a full circle.