The key United Nations forum bringing countries together to consider ways to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic growth, social development and environmental protection - is set to open its 2003 session next week at UN Headquarters in New York.
The eleventh session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development will kick off Monday morning and is scheduled to run through 9 May. Marking its first formal meeting since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, the Commission aims to focus on its own future work in translating into reality the commitments made at that landmark conference.
The 53-member Commission was established in 1993 by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to monitor progress in the implementation of "Agenda 21" - a blueprint for sustainable development agreed upon at the 1992 UN Conference for Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The WSSD decided that the Commission should continue to be the UN's high-level organ on sustainable development, and the Johannesburg Implementation Plan contains provisions on how that mandate might be carried forward.
During the Commission's session, overall discussions will aim to provide sound political direction for the way forward - mapping out "who does what, when and how" - to realize the targets and goals agreed at Johannesburg. The WSSD outcome covered such issues as poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, protecting and managing natural resources, health, and the special needs of small island developing States and Africa.
The session's first three days will be devoted to a high-level segment, which will feature ministerial statements and include interactive ministerial round tables broadly highlighting priority actions and commitments to implement WSSD outcomes. The session will also include regional implementation forums, a multi-stakeholder dialogue, with presentations by major groups on the future Commission work programme, and an interactive discussion of the major groups' proposals.
The Commission will also address the preparation for the 10-year review of the Programme of Action adopted at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States held in 1994 in Barbados.