Nineteenth Session

Rome, 13-16 April 2005

Follow-up to Agenda 21 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)

1. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) (Johannesburg, 2002) agreed on urgent action to implement Agenda 21, the Programme for the Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPoI) with time-bound targets. It further endorsed the role of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to accelerate action at all levels in the implementation of Agenda 21 and the JPoI and to promote partnership involving governments and relevant stakeholders.

2. Aware of the high expectations and the momentum generated by the WSSD, the Eleventh Session of the CSD (CSD-11) focused on reforming its organizational structure and work programme, agreeing to function on the basis of a two-year biennial “implementation cycle”, which includes a review year and a policy year. The review year will evaluate progress made in implementing sustainable development goals, as well as identify and address constraints, starting at the national level and progressing through the subregional, regional and global levels. The policy year will focus on measures, including negotiations, to be taken to speed up implementation and action.

3. The thematic focus for the CSD work programme has been agreed as follows:

2004-2005: water, sanitation and human settlements;
2006-2007: energy, climate change, atmosphere, and industrial development;
2008-2009: agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification, and Africa;
2010-2011: transport, chemicals, waste management, mining, and sustainable production and consumption patterns;
2012-2013: forest, biodiversity, biotechnology, mountains and tourism;
2014-2015: oceans and seas, marine resources, small island developing states, and disaster management and vulnerability;
2016-2017: this year will consist of a comprehensive appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21 and the JPoI.

4. CSD-11 also decided to enhance the role of regional and subregional institutions and inputs; to share best experience and practices outside the intergovernmental process (i.e. partnership fairs and learning centres); to promote greater collaboration between the UN systems and other institutions; and to strengthen the involvement of major groups and partnership initiatives between governments, major groups and other stakeholders. There was a consensus that partnership initiatives are complementary and do not substitute multilateral or governmental commitment to implementing the Agenda 21 and WSSD commitments.

5. CSD-12 (New York, April 2004) was the first review session of the biennial implementation cycle and provided the global community with an in-depth examination of the thematic cluster of water, sanitation and human settlements. The specific goals and targets reviewed at CSD-12 included reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water (1.6 billion people) and basic sanitation (2 billion people) by 2015 and improving the living conditions of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. The discussion centred on the challenges of access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

6. There was limited discussion on water use and management in agriculture. However, the Commission and participants were informed of the planned FAO and the Government of the Netherlands International Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems (The Hague, 31 January-5 February 2005) whose primary objective is to help governments identify management practices and to support sustainable water use at the river-basin level and the harmonization of food production and ecosystem management.

7. CSD-13 (New York, April 2005) will function as a “policy” session on water, sanitation and human settlements. FAO’s major contribution will be reporting on the outcome of the International Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems and promoting commitment among countries to its follow-up. This International Conference will also provide direct inputs to policy discussions aimed at expediting implementation in this area.

8. FAO has a number of ongoing normative and operational activities as well as newly established Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action that contribute to implementation of Agenda 21 and the WSSD commitments. Some of the key ones are highlighted below. FAO assists member countries towards attaining the goals of the World Food Summit (WFS), the Millennium Development Goals and the WSSD goal to reduce by half the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015. FAO proposed the Anti-Hunger Programme (AHP) that advocates a twin-track approach, combining improved production for small farmers and immediate help for the hungry and it was used as a major input to the WSSD and the Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity (WEHAB) framework for agriculture. With the momentum gained at WSSD, FAO is spearheading the International Alliance Against Hunger, a voluntary association of institutions, organizations and national alliances which coordinate their actions to ensure the attainment of World Food Summit targets by 2015. A side event to discuss the strategy was organized at the Thirtieth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in September 2004.

9. FAO is working towards meeting the WSSD target of reducing overfishing by 2015 by promoting improved fisheries policy and management practices through the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, its guidelines (including on the precautionary and ecosystem approaches to fisheries) and its four International Plans of Action (on fishing capacity, illegal fishing, seabirds, and sharks,) as well as the Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries. Areas of concentration include: improvement of fishery statistics; reduction of fishing capacity and subsidies; systems of fishing rights; elimination of illegal fishing; institutional development in artisanal fisheries; improved management-oriented research; improved global monitoring of fish stocks; improved selectivity and reduction of discards in trawl fisheries, and improved identification of species endangered by international trade and market-based instruments.

10. FAO is facilitating and contributing to WSSD Partnership Initiatives in several key areas of its comparative advantage. The Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative (SARD Initiative) is focused on accelerating progress in implementing SARD by supporting the documentation, monitoring, and replication of good practices for SARD, developing a resource facility of existing knowledge, approaches, and technologies, and promoting capacity-building, community exchanges, training of trainers, and small grants. As part of this initiative, major groups of civil society organizations are leading efforts to promote SARD in a range of priority areas, including support to a pilot sustainable development facility to strengthen monitoring and sustainability in impacts of ongoing FAO projects.

11. The Education for Rural People (ERP) partnership initiative, led by FAO in collaboration with UNESCO, is promoting policies and programmes to increase access to relevant and adequate basic education services in rural areas which directly and positively contribute to improve productivity, food security and livelihoods of rural people. The initiatives is successfully building collaboration between partners from the agriculture, rural development and education sectors which have traditionally worked in isolation. More than 170 partners joined up to date. There is increased interest in ERP at international and national levels. In Kosovo, for example, a medium-term strategy for education for rural people was developed with FAO technical support. Similar field projects are under formulation in Colombia, Mozambique and Senegal. The European Commission is supporting NGO networks from three European, three African and thee Latin American countries together with FAO and UNESCO.

12. The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) involving an interagency arrangement of 14 international organizations, led by FAO, has in the past two years strengthened its efforts to enhance collaboration and coordination on forest issues and specifically to assist countries in their endeavours to implement sustainable forest management. Its members collaborate on economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable development, with emphasis on the contribution of the forest sector to poverty alleviation, food security, access to energy and water, and conservation of biological diversity.

13. As host of the Interim Secretariat of the International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (the Mountain Partnership), FAO supported the development of collaborative activities by members of the Partnership in a variety of thematic and regional initiatives. FAO assisted countries in developing institutional capacity for sustainable mountain development as follow-up to the International Year of Mountains (2002). This was aimed at transforming national committees established for the observance of the Year into long-term national multistakeholder bodies. FAO has also responded to a number of country requests for field projects related to watershed management and sustainable mountain development.

14. The WSSD welcomed the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and pledged its support to the implementation of its vision. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) –prepared by FAO in collaboration with the NEPAD Secretariat and endorsed by African Ministers of Agriculture in 2003– is an important step towards achieving NEPAD’s goal of fostering broad-based agricultural-led economic growth in African countries by focusing on agricultural productivity and competitiveness. It aims to do this by investing between 2002 and 2015 in four key pillars, chiefly: (a) sustainable land management and reliable water control; (b) improvement of rural infrastructure; (c) enhancement of food supplies and reduction of hunger, and (d) agricultural research and technology. FAO also prepared a compendium document for CAADP on investment programmes in the fishery, forestry and livestock sectors that was endorsed by the African Regional Conference and the NEPAD Secretariat in March 2004.

15. Attainment of the WSSD commitments is a high priority in FAO. To this end, the Secretariat will continue to work vigorously in partnership with international institutions and member countries.