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Asia-Pacific region prepares for UN World Summit on Sustainable Development

Asia-Pacific region prepares for UN World Summit on Sustainable Development

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations entities dealing with the environment and socio-economic issues in Asia and the Pacific have begun regional preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2002.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and ADB said in a statement today that they would pool resources in organizing a series of subregional and regional consultative meetings with governments and civil society organizations.

The Summit will come a decade after the historic UN Conference on Environment and Development - known as the "Earth Summit" - in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which adopted Agenda 21 - the blueprint for sustainable development - and spawned the conventions on climate change, biological diversity and desertification.

Recent analyses by the three organizations all show that, despite modest progress in some areas of resource management, the environment of the Asia-Pacific region has declined seriously over the past decade, driven by increasing population and consumption patterns and continued use of polluting and wasteful technologies.

The preparatory process will aim to assess the gains made and lessons learnt since the Rio Summit and identify the human and physical resources needed to reverse the decline in region's natural ecosystems. It will propose policy initiatives that integrate poverty reduction, social development, governance and environmental improvement goals -- now recognized as a critical factor for achieving sustainable development.

The first of the Global Preparatory Committee meetings - also known as "PrepComs" - was held last month at UN Headquarters. Two more are scheduled in New York early next year, leading to the final preparatory meeting for the Summit, to be held in Indonesia from 27 May to 7 June 2002.