Speaking points of WSSD Special envoy Mr Jan Pronk
08 February 2002

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Last October, the Secretary General appointed me as Special Envoy for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. As I was involved in Rio nearly ten years ago as a Minister for Development Cooperation (currently, I am the Dutch Minister for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment) in 1992, I gladly accepted the Secretary General's offer.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) My Primary task is to call on heads of State and Heads of Government and to invite them to the Johannesburg Summit. On behalf of the Secretary General, I inquire about their political views on the WSSD, about their national coordination prior to the conference, about their expectations from Johannesburg, and about possible commitments they inte4d to make in Johannesburg.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) I report about my findings to the Secretary General, but let me emphasize that the real work is being done here, during the PrepComs, and based on the regional meetings that were held earlier. The Secretary General wants the WSSD to be prepared by you, with the political seal from the capitals.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) The Secretary General has requested me to express the following concerns to my interlocutors:

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) If the Summit is to be called a Summit, Heads of State and Heads of State and Heads of Government must make every effort to participate.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) For the summit to be a global summit, no countries should be absent. As a result, a globally agreeable agenda must be negotiated outcomes.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Although Johannesburg is the follow up to Rio, it is not a conference on environment, but on sustainable development, including economics, social affairs, and the environment. Too few people realize that even today.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Johannesburg will be more than a review of Agenda 21, Although much has been achieved since Rio (Kyoto, treaties on desertification and biodiversity), many areas of Agenda 21 still lag behind in implementation. In Johannesburg, apart from focusing on what went well and what went wrong, will have to decide on those aspects of Rio that have been forgotten.
Simultaneously, there is a need to look forward. There are trends and developments which were not so prominent ten years ago in Rio and which should be included today. The impact of globalization, new technologies in genetics and communication, new violence such as new types of wars and terrorism, was not decisive then as it is now. All these issues need to be addressed if a Sustainable Development is to be relevant.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) The conference will have to be politically relevant in the current situation. The feelings of exclusion, frustration and alienation among many people in the world need to be addressed. There can be no double standards in a global economic and social system for those within and for the ones left outside the system. If our societies are to be kept sustainable, we must issue the political message in Johannesburg that there is a place for everyone within the system.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Rather than issuing a list of recommendations for the future, the Summit must reach concrete decisions, translated into concrete programs. Supported by high level commitment and with a view to time bound implementation.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) The conference has been well prepared so far. Compared to Rio, there are several improvements: the bottom up approach and the active involvement of regions, stakeholders and major groups. I believe this is the only sensible approach to sustainable policies for the long run. However, this approach also leads to a very differentiated agenda, which calls for differentiated implementation modes.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) In order to cope with the need for differentiation, the Bureau has proposed three types of outcomes in Johannesburg:

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) A Political Document with a few innovative and concrete proposals, to be negotiated in Jakarta at PrepCom 4.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) A Global implementation Document which takes Agenda 21 forward, to be negotiated at PrepCom 3 only.
sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) An inventory of regional and bilateral agreements and partnerships to be announced in Johannesburg.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) I believe in this approach, as long as there is sufficient balance between the several dimensions of sustainable development. Economic, social, environmental, political and institutional aspects will have to be addressed. From capitals, I have received several suggestions on these dimensions:



sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Progress has been made since Rio: Climate, biodiversity, desertification,.. However the Secretary General's report on Implementing Agenda 21 indicates that several fields have to be tackled. Interlocutors in capitals have conveyed their concerns in the fields have still to be tackled. Interlocutors in capitals have conveyed their concerns in the fields of water and oceans and expect concrete progress in these sectors in Johannesburg.



sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Capitals have a major interest in new concrete proposals in the fields of drinking water and basic health. Moreover, as Johannesburg is a conference on the perspectives of today's young people, capitals feel that the youth must be involved in the preparations as well.



sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) When it comes to trade, a lot has been achieved in Doha, to the satisfication of many capitals. The WTO process therefore does not necessiate further negotiation within the Johannesburg format.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Several capitals have voiced their interest in sustainable energy programs. I believe action programs for sustainable energy could be developed for Johannesburg.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Sustainable natural resources management in another fields that requires elaboration. The gains from the exploitation of natural resources in some countries must be used for benefit of the inhabitants of those countries.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) There is a clear emphasis on access to technology from several of my interlocutors. In the past, we paid lip service to this promise, but the finance was always lacking. We need agreements on finance for technology access, but also agreements on more lenient regulations, in order to facilitate access to poor countries.



sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) It would be unfortunate recent breakthroughs on global issues could not be paralleled in Monterrey. On climate, we had breakthroughs in Bonn and Marrakech. On trade, we reached agreement in Doha. The current draft for Monterrey, which was agreed here in New York last week, is quite valuable from a conceptual point of view. But let us not forget that it was forget that is was difficult to come to a decision on finance at Rio+5, which has therefore has been considered as failed. If Monterrey is to yield concrete results, we need deliverables. Therefore new aid money will be necessary, not only public, but also private. And what really counts, is the total flow of resources rather than the definitions of assistance. There are more funds available outside of governments than within. The challenge for Monterrey and Johannesburg will be how to link them to the output of the Millennium Development Goals and to Johannesburg.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Public-private partnerships will provide a valuable means of increasing aid flows.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) New approaches to debt could generate more money too: a fresh approach to HIPC-II, together with new types of debt swaps ought to be considered.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) More funds could be made available for trade financing.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Finally, I believe in linking finance to sustainability goals, human needs and public goods, instead of focussing on the input of money before defining the goals. Deriving finance from individual Millennium Development Goals could constitute a valuable approach whereby all interested stakeholders commit themselves to funding specific MDG's. Some institutions have started costing and programming the MDG's. The three types of outcomes expected of Johannesburg should lead to various forms of funding of the MDG's. Not all types of announcements in Johannesburg need to internationally agreed, but stakeholders could commit themselves on their own terms. After that, the commitments and announcements made in Johannesburg should be monitored, with a view to cover the white spots in the MDG’s which have not found sufficient funding.



sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) ‘Governance’ is another point that capitals raise. But more than governance as a concept, we need capacity building for governance. Supporting governments in their capacity building would constitute a step forward.

sqb_t.gif (55 bytes) Linking the MDG’s to the outcome of Johannesburg, to commitments and to a monitoring system ought to be feasible. The three pronged approach to the outcomes of Johannesburg could prove very valuable in this regard. Just as not everything needs to be included in the outcome of Johannesburg, not everything needs to be negotiated or implemented at a global level. Consultative Groups on sectors and sub-sectors could be created, representing countries, multilateral institutions, private companies, NGO’s among others, who are united by their joint commitment towards goal to be announced at Johannesburg. The advantage of Consultative Groups is that only those who agree will participate. This approach would lead to more effectiveness, more flexibility, more resources, and no vetoes, as the UN would be a partner on equal terms with the other participants. (The river blindness initiative in Africa and the CGIAR provide successful examples of results oriented consultative groups). Moreover, this approach could provide for regional, differentiated and therefore less politically motivated implementation.

Finally, I would like to make the following plea: give those ideas a chance. Do not discard them too soon with the argument that they are not good enough, or that not all parties will agree. Not everything needs to be agreed upon by all participants at the WSSD. Whatever is not agreeable to all, could be announced as partnership in the third type of outcomes, with the agreement to work towards reaching specific goals. The notion of a global partnership doesn’t need to be adhered to by all countries, but at least, working towards that partnership could be started at Johannesburg. I believe a global partnership ought to grow towards a global coalition, as the current times necessitate coalition FOR civilization, FOR humankind and FOR sustainable development, in order to complement recent coalition against certain phenomena. We need to combat alienation, frustration, and exclusion, to give a signal to all people that there is a place for them within the system, that the system does not reject them. If that willingness is present on the road to Johannesburg, heads of state would definitely attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and they will subscribe to a positive and concrete outcome.