G7 Ministerial and Other Meetings
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G7 Environment Ministers' Meetings

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14. Sustainable development is the conceptual framework which should underpin all our policies. We reconfirmed the views we had expressed at Hamilton last year on the distinct yet complementary roles of the main international institutions involved in the environment and sustainable development, and in particular the United Nations Commission on sustainable Development (CSD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). These should form the basis of the institutional framework for the environment and sustainable development to emerge from the special session, taking into account the conclusions reached by the MANGARATIBA meeting (Brazil, March 1996) and those of the 4th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), notably its high level session, and the meeting organized by UNEP in New York on May 4, 1996. We will work with other interested countries to help these two institutions support each other in responding to the challenges of effectively implementing the Agenda for the 21st Century.

15. The CSD should, in our view, continue to be the high level global forum at which broad policy directions for sustainable development are set, and long-term strategic goals for sustainable development are identified and agreed upon. It should draw on appropriate UN and other international bodies to carry out its work and should not duplicate the work of the conventions.

16. In the context of the debate on reform of the United Nations system, the CSD needs to work closely with other functional commissions of ECOSOC within the framework of follow-up to the major international conferences (Copenhagen, Cairo, Beijing, and Istanbul shortly), ensuring that the principle of sustainable development underpins their work. ECOSOC has an important role in coordinating the work at these commissions and in ensuring duplication is avoided. The CSD also needs to work with other international and regional organizations, including the international financial institutions, encouraging them to greater weight to sustainable development. Moreover, we consider that the CSD should continue to stimulate the exchange of national experiences between countries, and involving national commissions on sustainable development, NGOs and others. We welcome the national presentations which have been introduced in the last two CSD sessions.

17. We consider that, until now, the CSD has performed this coordinating and stimulating role satisfactory. However, the learning phase of the past four years is now over. We must draw the appropriate lessons and propose the necessary reforms in its working methods, so that there is no weakening of the dynamic created at Rio, and so that the CSD does not lapse into routine. Accordingly, we believe it would be more effective if the CSD were to focus its annual programme of work on a limited number of truly urgent themes, which require political direction and on which it alone could really add some value. We further think that, to play its role to the full, the CSD should be attended by Ministers other than those of environment. Beyond that, all sectors of the economy (non-governmental, private sector and local government) ought to be fully involved. In particular, we encourage the involvement of the private sector.

18. Concerning the role of UNEP, we believe it important that it should be clearly confirmed in its catalytic role as the environmental voice of the United Nations, responsible for acting as a policy forum on environmental issues and bringing the environmental perspective to broader sustainable development fora. It must focus on sound science to underpin its work, monitoring and assessing the state of the world's environment, catalysing regional and global responses to common environmental problems, and promoting the development of international environmental law. This should enable UNEP to be both the conscience and policy leader on environment within the UN system and beyond. We appreciate the efforts of UNEP at the regional level to provide responses to environmental problems, and hope it will continue to strengthen its regional offices.

19. With regards to UNEP's present efforts to restructure its governing bodies, we welcome the clear message from the meeting held in New York on 4th may that reform is urgently needed. It needs to provide representative political influence to UNEP to restore its rightful place within the UN bodies. We will work with the executive director and all countries to achieve a satisfactory solution to this at the governing council in January 1997.

20. We consider, moreover, that the international financial institutions should continue their efforts to make the environment and sustainable development an integral part of their strategies and policies. The World Bank in particular has made significant progress in this direction and we encourage it to make even greater efforts to improve transparency, monitor projects systematically and carry out ex-ante and ex-post assessments of their environmental impact. On that point, we consider it important that our respective representatives within these international and regional financial institutions echo our concerns.

21. We reaffirm our strong support for the GEF, by virtue of its original method of operation and the quality of the projects it funds. We call for the convention on climate change and the convention on biological diversity to agree at their next meetings to designate it as their permanent financial mechanism. Negotiations on the replenishment of its resources are due to begin in early 1997, and we stress the importance of the successful replenishment commensurate with the GEF's role in the issues at stake for the developing countries.

22. Agenda 21 recognises that its implementation will be financed from national public and private funds. As to external finance, we note that private funding and innovative funding mechanisms will represent an increasing important component of the funding of sustainable development in the coming years. However, we reaffirm our commitment to official development aid (ODA), particularly for the less-developed countries. Finally, in looking forward to the special session we intend to build on the helpful agreements reached at Mangaratiba and at the fourth session of the CSD. In particular, we emphasize that the special session should not renegotiate Agenda 21, which we remain fully committed to, that it should concentrate on setting clear priorities for the years ahead, and on the pragmatic implementation of Agenda 21.
The environment and sustainable development must be properly catered for the in the reform of the UN.

23. We recognised the essential contribution and role of "grass roots" efforts - communities, business, individuals and NGOs - in the field of sustainable development and in this regard requested international institutions to work more closely with NGOs from all nations and encourage greater public participation, towards the development of a global approach to "environmental citizenship."

24. We also agreed on the importance of regional efforts for reinforcing and implementing global coordination.

25. We agreed on the importance of compliance with the terms of international environmental agreements and welcomed the US offer to host an international conference on this issue in 1997.

26. We attach great importance to the 1997 special UN General Assembly which is to be successful and be attended at the highest level.

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