UN begins latest preparatory session for key forum on sustainable development

“If we think ahead and act now, we can change from business as usual to a new way of conducting political business, so that everyone – including future generations – can benefit,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Nitin Desai as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development opened its third session this morning at UN Headquarters in New York.The Committee, which is slated to meet until 5 April, is expected to agree on the text of a document reviewing the implementation of Agenda 21, the fundamental principles of sustainable development adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.Mr. Desai, who will serve as Secretary-General of the Summit, told the Committee that one of the lessons from the just-concluded Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development was that the agreement between governments had been finalized before the meeting itself, which meant the focus was on the speeches and actions of the high-level participants instead of continuing negotiations.The challenge before the Committee, therefore, was to produce such a text so that the Summit did not become a forum to renegotiate Agenda 21, but rather one to agree on an implementable programme of action, he stressed.Much political energy was also focused on mustering resources to further the Millennium Goals at the Monterrey Conference, Mr. Desai said, and now it was important to link those targets with the goals of separate programmes, such as those on desertification and water. Partnerships were meant to leverage additional resources and change the quality of implementation.The final preparatory session is scheduled for 27 May to 7 June in Bali, Indonesia, before the Summit is held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September.

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