World Summit on Sustainable Development - Ministry staff perspective 4 September 2002
WSSD agreement on a plan of implementation
With agreement on paragraphs relating to health and human rights, the text is now completed for adoption at today's closing plenary. Despite criticism from some international NGOs, the Plan does represent a new statement of global responses to overlapping problems in the areas of environment, social and economic policy. The result is a document that becomes a statement of purpose and commitment, it contains a limited number of specific targets.
Important gains from New Zealand's perspective are agreement on:
- "where appropriate", "phasing out" subsidies in the energy sector that inhibit sustainable development [a new objective not included in the Doha mandate];
- the elimination of subsidies in the fisheries sector that contribute inter alia to overcapacity [a new objective that is not included in the Doha mandate, which requires the clarification and improvement of WTO disciplines in this area];
- encouragement to "reform... [other] subsidies that have considerable negative effect on the environment and are incompatible with sustainable development" [another new objective not included in the Doha round];
- a sanitation target to go with the Millennium Development Goal on water - both to halve the proportion of people without access by 2015;
- new goals to maintain or restore fish stocks with the aim of achieving these for depleted stocks on an urgent basis and where possible not later than 2015;
- a commitment to enhance access to energy, develop cleaner and more efficient energy technologies, and to "substantially increase" "with a sense of urgency" the global share of renewable energy (this final wording replaced the earlier proposed target of 2010);
- a new ten year work programme on sustainable patterns of production and consumption, to hasten the delinking of economic growth from environmental degradation and;
- clear acceptance of the special needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in aiming for sustainable development (especially assistance with energy, water, waste, and fisheries management, and dengue fever and diabetes);
The Summit has brought:
- a new level of focus and debate on policy coherence needed to address poverty eradication, environmental degradation, and social challenges;
- an integration of pre existing agendas (Doha, Monterrey, the Millennium Development Goals and the multilateral environment agreements) and;
- a greater emphasis on the need for a public/private approach to partnerships for development.
New Zealand objectives, especially those relating to energy, oceans, SIDS, poverty eradication, sustainable patterns of production and consumption, and trade liberalisation have been met.
Government-civil stakeholder relationships have been reinforced through the composition and role of the New Zealand delegation.
Next steps will centre on the response of multilateral agencies to the agreements reached in Johannesburg. The UN's Commission on Sustainable Development is charged with monitoring implementation of outcomes. But clearly it will be necessary for other agencies to consider their roles, especially major UN agencies such as the UN Environment Programme and the FAO, the WTO, and the International Financial Institutions.
Brett & Graeme still (a)live in J'burg
4 September 2002
(PS The closing Plenary adopted the Plan of Implementation at about 9:00pm: the agenda had the event scheduled for 3:00 pm! The Political Declaration, after some further debate and amendments to the text (for example, on indigenous people(s) interests), was then adopted.
These and related documents will be on the Summit website asap.)
Last updated: 17 September 2007