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WSSD Summit Action Plan Enters Final Phase

FEATURE STORY

Negotiations on Johannesburg Summit Action Plan Enters Final Phase

Johannesburg, 2 September— Agreement has been reached on virtually all of the World Summit on Sustainable Development's Plan of Implementation, with the notable exception of several key provisions on energy.

Among the provisions that were agreed upon in ministerial negotiating session last night, was a commitment to set a goal for reducing by half the proportion of people who lack access to proper sanitation by 2015, efforts to reduce the loss of biodiversity, on good governance, to promote corporate responsibility, and to reaffirm the Rio Principles, including the precautionary principle and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

The remaining unresolved issues involve energy issues, including setting a target for achieving a certain level of renewable energy use and whether countries should establish programmes to improve access to reliable and affordable energy services. There is also an outstanding paragraph concerning health care services.

"The Summit has made some very significant advances," according to South Africa Minister of Environment and Tourism Valli Moosa. "In some areas, it has made seminal advances."

Valli Moosa said the breakthroughs in the negotiations came during three days of round-the-clock ministerial meetings. The idea of ministers, he said, sitting for days dealing with the "nitty-gritty" of the issues involved, was a surprise. "It represents the seriousness of which the WSSD is taken by developing and developed countries."

The high-level negotiations were necessary, he said, because the remaining issues needed to be resolved at the political, not technical levels.

Countries have agreed to establish a voluntary world solidarity fund to eradicate poverty and to promote social and human development that, without duplicating existing UN funds, would encourage the role of the private sector and individual citizens.

Also agreed was a provision that encourages countries to develop a 10-year framework of programmes to accelerate the shift toward sustainable consumption and production pattern, which essentially asks countries to live within the means of the supporting ecosystems. Another provision calls for policies to improve products and services that reduce environmental and health impacts using approaches such as life-cycle analysis.

On Kyoto, countries agreed that States that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol "strongly urge States that have not already done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in a timely manner.

A target of 2010 was set as the target for significantly reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss, with an acknowledgement that additional financial and technical resources would be necessary.

Countries agreed to promote corporate responsibility and accountability and exchange best practices through multi-stakeholder dialogue such as in the Commission on Sustainable Development, the UN body established to pursue implementation of sustainable development.

ENDS

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