Talks continue in Bali to prepare for World Summit on Sustainable Development
Negotiators meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in a final round of preparations for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development continued talks today in an effort to iron out differences over a number of unresolved matters.
According to UN officials present at the session, several crucial issues require special attention, including trade and finance, natural disasters, energy, promoting sustainable development in Africa, oceans, good governance, and a proposed world solidarity fund for poverty.
Briefing reporters on the talks, Lowell Flanders of the UN Division on Sustainable Development said negotiators had formed three formal working groups as well as numerous other "contact" groups to tackle various points of contention.
Asked what would happen if the text is not agreed upon by the end of the two-week preparatory session in Bali, Mr. Flanders said unresolved issues "would be kicked up to the ministerial level" for settlement. If that still failed to produce an accord, the contentious questions would be taken up when the Summit convenes this August in Johannesburg. "We are trying to make every effort to clear the text," he said.
Meanwhile, a UN High-Level Advisory Panel on Sustainable Development today heard a report from one of its members - Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands - on freshwater resources. He said water should be put "at the top of the agenda in Johannesburg," pointing out that while world population had tripled in the twentieth century, the use of renewable water resources had grown sixfold. He asserted that no single intervention had had a greater overall impact on development and public health than the provision of safe drinking water and proper sanitation.
Also today in Bali, participants in a "multi-stakeholder dialogue" concluded three days of discussions among government delegates and representatives of civil society groups - advocates for women, youth, indigenous peoples, local authorities, trade unions, scientists and farmers - on key sustainable development issues. Representatives of the major groups called for a binding UN convention on corporate accountability.
The Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development, Emil Salim of Indonesia, stressed the need to close the gap between ideals and realities, while voicing hope that the contributions of the major groups would be taken into account as the preparation process for the Summit continued.