World Summit on Sustainable Development: Commission pushes for tangible results and globalisation for the benefit of all
European Commission - IP/02/1133 24/07/2002
Brussels, 24 July 2002
World Summit on Sustainable Development: Commission pushes for tangible results and globalisation for the benefit of all
European Commission President Romano Prodi today urged world leaders to attend the upcoming World Summit in Johannesburg and take decisions on global action for global sustainable development. "It is time to move from words to deeds. This requires leadership and commitment. The EU is determined to face its responsibilities and play a leading role in securing tangible results in Johannesburg. Poverty and environmental degradation are global problems requiring global solutions. Ten years after the Rio Conference, action is overdue. With the Millennium Declaration, the Doha development agenda and the Monterrey Consensus we have taken important steps forward in securing international commitment. We have agreed to improve market access and increase development aid. In Johannesburg developed and developing countries must work hand-in-hand to make globalisation work for everyone by agreeing on objectives and partnerships to make development sustainable and reverse environmental degredation. We will take important initiatives in the areas of water and energy. I call on others to follow our lead." President Prodi will attend the Summit in Johannesburg, which will last from 26 August to 4 September. The European Commission will also be represented by Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström and Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Poul Nielson.
The summit marks the 10th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It comes after several recent landmark events the UN's Millennium Declaration which set ambitious goals on poverty eradication and environment protection; the Doha Development Agenda, launched at a World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in November 2001; and the UN Conference in Monterrey on financing for development in March 2002.
Commissioner Margot Wallström underlined the need to move the sustainable development agenda forward through concrete action: "The Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 was a landmark for sustainable development. The task before world leaders in Johannesburg is not just to reaffirm their political commitment to sustainable development but also to practice what they preach. We need to map out a development path for the world that simultaneously tackles poverty and the unsustainable use of our natural resources "
Commissioner Poul Nielson urged developed countries to reaffirm and honour the commitments agreed both in Doha and Monterrey. "Over the past year, we have agreed a framework for increasing aid and market access. The developed countries must now deliver on these commitments. The EU, as the world's leading trade and aid partner for developing countries, is fully determined to deliver on its commitments. Any hint of appearance on backtracking on announcements made in Doha and Monterrey would create a very poor negotiating climate for Johannesburg".
Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy added: 'In Johannesburg, we must focus on how best to achieve the goal of sustainable development. Launching the WTO Doha Development Agenda was a step on the road. We must make every effort to take further important steps in Johannesburg"
The EU's agenda for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) represents both an important opportunity and a heavy responsibility for world leaders. The challenge is to deliver on the promises of the Rio Earth Summit and on the Millennium Development goals in order to eradicate poverty, improve living standards based on sustainable patterns of production and consumption and to ensure that the benefits of globalisation are shared by all.
Developed and developing countries share joint responsibility for implementing these goals which will require substantially increased efforts, both by countries themselves and by the international community. In two recent major global conferences, the international community adopted the Doha Development Agenda and the Monterrey Consensus as a framework for improving market access, for upgrading multilateral rules to harness globalisation, and for mobilising additional financial resources for development.
The developed countries must now deliver on their commitments and the EU is fully determined to do so. The developing countries must meet their responsibilities by improving internal policies and domestic governance and creating an enabling climate for trade and investment. Growth must be decoupled from environmental degradation and measures must be taken to ensure that the needs of the present generation are satisfied without destroying the capacity of later generations to cater for their own future needs.
What does the EU want from the World Summit?
The EU wants the World Summit to agree on further steps towards the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in areas such as sanitation and energy. The European Union wishes to see the WSSD adopt quantifiable targets, implementation timetables and monitoring mechanisms. One of the means to implement the objectives of the plan of action which should be agreed in Johannesburg could be well-developed partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. The EU also wants the Summit in Johannesburg to send a clear political message on the need to make globalisation more sustainable for all and to agree on measures aimed at promoting this goal.
What is the EU proposing to the WSSD?
The EU supports the proposals of the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that the World Summit should make progress in five key areas water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. The EU is proposing targets and actions in a number of specific areas, in support of the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.
Sustainable consumption and production
The EU is in favour of developing a ten-year work programme to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production. Industrialised countries should take the lead in changing their unsustainable behaviour towards more resource efficient production processes and lifestyles. Product life-cycle approaches, eco-labelling of products and environmental impact assessments are useful tools in that regard. Appropriate means should be made available to help developing countries to move towards the same objective.
Clean water and sanitation
Today 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water and 3 billion people do not have access to safe sanitation. It is estimated that 2.2 million people, mostly children, die each year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. To tackle this gigantic problem the EU wants to contribute to halve the proportion of people without access to clean water and sanitation by 2015. To help deliver this target the European Union has developed a Water Initiative, which, in partnership with countries and regions, can bring together public and private funds, stakeholders and experts to provide long term, sustainable solutions to problems of water management. Meeting the political goal would make a major contribution to improved health and economic development. The EU has already allocated €1.4 billion as of 2002 and is ready to increase this figure for the following years within the context of partners' poverty reduction strategies.
The European Union wants the Summit to decide on actions to increase the global share of renewable energy sources to at least 15% of primary energy supply by 2010 to improve energy efficiency and to enhance the use of cleaner, more efficient fossil fuel technologies. Around 2 billion people in the world do not have access to modern energy services. The provision of affordable, sustainable energy services will have a major impact on poverty, health, economic and social development; access to sustainable energy services is thus a pre-condition for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The World Summit should adopt an action plan to achieve this goal. The EU is preparing an "Energy for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development" Initiative to develop partnerships with interested developing countries in an open dialogue, to identify their energy needs and ways to meet these needs. EU development co-operation programmes combined with the involvement of financial institutions, the private sector and civil society should contribute to achieving the MDGs. The EU has already allocated around €700 million per year through Member State and Commission development co-operation programmes to energy. This figure could increase in future years based on requests from developing countries for 2003. The EU is ready to increase this figure for the following years within the context of their developing country partners' poverty reduction strategies.
The European Union wants to combat the spread of communicable diseases and increase investment in health care. The EU will increase the volume of development assistance targeting improved health over the next five years and has already up to €120 million available for this purpose for 2002. Within the Doha Development Agenda, World Trade Organisation (WTO) members should resolve differences on compulsory licenses and work for pharmaceutical products to be made available to the developing world at the lowest possible prices. The EU invites the international community to join partnerships for research on new generations of products. It will continue to actively participate in the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Natural resources and biodiversity
At present 25% of mammal species and 11% of bird species are at significant risk of extinction. The Union is determined to halt and reverse the current loss of natural resources and biodiversity by 2015 and to manage natural resources in a sustainable and integrated manner. This global objective should lead to incentives for local communities, in particular in developing countries, to benefit from the conservation and sustainable use of their rich variety of natural resources. The EU is in the process of reforming its fisheries policy, with the aim of reducing fleets and total catch, and calls on other countries to do the same in order to restore stocks to sustainable levels at the latest by 2015.
Globalisation, finance, trade and aid
The European Union will continue to promote a positive agenda for globalisation, finance and trade. Important steps to ensure that globalisation benefit all have recently been taken through the Doha Development Agenda and the Monterrey Consensus. The achievements of these conferences should not be put into question in Johannesburg but ways and means to build upon them should be identified. As an example in Johannesburg, the EU is putting forward a number of positive and supportive measures on trade and investment, outside the scope of Doha Development Agenda and the Monterrey Consensus, which specifically would contribute to sustainable development in developing countries. These measures include the creation of conditions to promote investment flows to developing countries, corporate responsibility and accountability and promotion of investments in support of sustainable development through export credits and investment guarantee schemes.
As a first significant step towards reaching the objective of giving 0,7% of countries Gross National Income as Official Development Assistance (ODA), the EU and its Member States have pledged to bring the Union average from 0.31% to 0.39% by 2006. This will result in additional ODA of about €22 billion between 2002 and 2006 and a further annual €9 billion Euro as of 2006.
The EU has initiated steps to make available this increased funding announced at the International Conference for Financing for Development in Monterrey and hopes that other donors will equally make good on their pledges. Recipient and donor countries, as well as international institutions, also have to make a common effort to make ODA more efficient and effective. The EU will intensify its efforts in that regard.
Global public goods
The European Union is ready to explore ways with all partners, on top of opening markets and increasing the level and effectiveness of ODA, of generating new public and innovative sources of finance for development purposes. A further discussion and exploration of the issue of global public goods will be crucial in this context. It is in that spirit that the EU is supporting the idea of creating an intergovernmental process to further discuss the matter at the global level.
A global public good can be defined as a good which has universal benefits, covers more than a group of countries, and is beneficial for;
Examples of global common goods are communicable disease control, persistant pollution control, the ozone layer and the Earth's climate system, biodiversity and genetic resources and peace and security.
The EU will also pursue efforts to restore debt sustainability in the context of the enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, so that poor countries can pursue growth and development unconstrained by unsustainable debt dynamics. The EU also recognise that some non-HIPC low income countries face extraordinary circumstances and that there might be the need on a case by case basis, to provide additional assistance.
The EU supports the development of an effective institutional framework for sustainable development at international, regional and national levels. At international level, it is necessary to:
Implementation of national strategies and the development of more effective institutional frameworks for sustainable development at regional and sub-regional level are also important priorities for the EU, as is access to information (implementation of the Rio Principle 10).
Further details on the EU initiatives mentioned in this note are available from