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United Nations System-Wide
  Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
Division for Sustainable Development (DSD)

WEBSITE URL:http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/

See check list in annex.


Data Collection, Observation, Monitoring

As Secretariat to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), DSD receives from countries, on a voluntary basis, reports on national implementation of Agenda 21. The information contained in these reports is provided to the CSD in hard copy and made available to all interested users electronically, through UN DESA's Web Site. The sources are designated focal points within national governments. Focal points are encouraged to collect and coordinate information from all relevant Ministries and Departments, from local authorities and from all other Major Groups. The data gathered is textual, with some indicators not already collected by the United Nations (e.g., in the area of waste). The data collection is carried out by the Division for Sustainable Development, under the mandate of the CSD. 

Methodologies, Quality Control, Harmonization
On behalf of the CSD, and of direct relevance to Agenda 21, Chapter 40.A, Bridging the data gap, the Division has prepared a multi-year programme of work on indicators of sustainable development, that has included, to date, managing UN system-wide cooperation for both the development of a provisional list of indicators and a set of methodology sheets for their use. In addition, country testing on a voluntary bases, has been initiated, and efforts are underway to develop further methodologies specifically for linking and modelling the indicators. The target date for completion of the country testing and adoption of a final list of indicators is by the year 2000. 

Under Chapter 4 of Agenda 21, and in the context of the fourth element of the International work programme on Changing Consumption and Production Patterns, "Eliciting Voluntary Commitments from Countries to make Measurable Progress", a project was launched with the aim to establish a core-set of indicators on consumption and production patterns. After the identification of this set, it will subsequently be tested upon feasibility and operationalization. Evidently, the results of the project will be an input in the ongoing Work Programme on Indicators for Sustainable Development of the CSD in the context of the implementation of Chapter 40 of Agenda 21. 

A Modelling Forum for Sustainable Development was set up under the first element of the International Work programme on Changing Consumption and production Patterns. Most models used to date for the assessment of global issues deal with selected individual themes, or focus on a limited set of socio-economic or ecological factors. For a number of important issues (like production and consumption patterns), no appropriate models are yet available. 

The aim of the modelling forum is to meet the objective of coming to a more integrated assessment in the context of Agenda 21, through the use of a modelling framework which allows for establishing interlinkages among various existing models. The former model will thereby take full account of: (I) the linkages between environmental issues and socio-economic development, and (ii) a variety of scales in space and time that are involved, ranging from long-term global to short-term regional. 

In parallel to the process of linking up existing models, a start is now being made to develop new, relatively simple models for developing countries. These efforts, involving model development by developing countries themselves, are intended to be combined with training and technical assistance. 

Assessment and Analysis
The Division for Sustainable Development of UN DESA is the Task Manager for reporting on progress in implementation of Chapter 40 of Agenda 21: Information for Decision-making, in collaboration with UNEP. It also monitors information activities pertinent to other chapters of Agenda 21. In addition, it provides an annual assessment and overview of the national reports to the CSD. For the fifth session of the CSD and the 1997 Special Session of the UN General Assembly to review the first five years of progress in implementing Agenda 21, a comprehensive global assessment was completed as well. 

Programme of Work of the Commission on Sustainable Development on Indicators of Sustainable Development web site at: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/isd.htm
includes recent work on methodology sheets and country testing. Revised indicator set prepared for Commission on Sustainable Development in 2001.

Indicators of Sustainable Development Framework and Methodologies
United Nations, New York, August 1996 - 428 p. includes methodologies for some 130 indicators organized in the Driving Force - State - Response Framework.


Expert Systems/Decision-support systems

Early Warning Mechanisms

Reports/Information dissemination

Under the heading of Chap. 40.B, 'Improving availability of information', the Division is engaged in activities under para.40.22, Production of information usable for decision-making; 40.24, Development of documentation about information; and 40.25, Establishment and strengthening of electronic networking capabilities. Those activities are carried out in particular in relation to the documentations prepared in connection with the proceedings of the CSD, The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development and other bodies dealing with natural resources. 

Database: Under the third element of the International Work Programme on Changing Consumption and Production Patterns, "Evaluating the effectiveness of Policy Measures intended to change Consumption and Production Patterns", a database on "Innovative policy instruments for Changing Consumption and Production Patterns" will be developed by the DSD in cooperation with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Once in place, the database will be made available (a) on the World Wide Web, (b) by e-mail, and (c) in an offline disk version, so that the information can be made available world wide. Users will be found among policy makers at the local, national and international level; the research community; business and industry; international organizations; and NGO's. Promotion of the use of information will be carried out through various means, including the CSD-update or other news bulletins, as well as web-sites launched by IISD, UN DESA, and other organizations. Coordination with other organizations will be sought where appropriate and necessary; for example in order to establish web-links. 

Network Development and Support: Information on progress with regard to the implementation of the International Work Programme on Changing Consumption and Production Patterns is disseminated and shared with an active network of policy makers, international organizations, business and industry, the research community and NGOs. 

DSD has compiled a comprehensive, structured electronic record of CSD proceedings, and posted it to the UN Internet Web and Gopher servers; CSD documents are also transmitted to the APC and the Togethernet networks. Through this facility CSD information is disseminated to a potential audience of 20 million users worldwide, including in particular the major group components. CSD documents are also disseminated in paper form to government officials in capitals and in missions, to IGOs, and to United Nations depository libraries open to the general public worldwide. The documents of CSD and other bodies relevant to sustainable development are sent to major commercial information vendors for coverage in their bibliographic databases, including citations, abstracts and reproduction in microfiche for full text document delivery. This channel is particularly directed to the research and academic sector. 

DSD has its own site on the World Wide Web which gives direct access to documentation and other information relevant to the CSD [http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/] and it has a Web Site specifically for information related to CSD V and the Special Session of the General Assembly in 1997 [http://www.un.org/esa/earthsummit]. Finally, as Task manager for Chapter 40 of Agenda 21, DSD has established a UN System-wide Web Site on Sustainable Development [http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21]. 

Users: The purposes of dissemination include support to decision-making, facilitating participation in policy formulation, feedback, and general information. Electronic conferences on the APC network are used to establish a dialogue with NGOs and other major groups on the development of policy positions. 

Coordination of information dissemination: As noted, DSD, as Task Manager for Chapter 40 of Agenda 21, has developed a UN System-wide Web Site on Sustainable Development.

Under 40.24, 'Development of documentation about information', DSD is disseminating CSD Update, a newsletter on the CSD process, to over a thousand recipients in governments and the major groups. 

To promote use of the information these various activities are reported via various paper and electronic newsletters and bulletins. 

Information for decision-makers: Under 40.22, Production of information usable for decision making, the Division has developed guidelines for the submission of information from member states, and is developing an information system to analyze and disseminate information for CSD to enhance its usefulness for decision-making, while reducing the burden of preparation by governments and other actors. This includes consolidating information in country profiles, making information accessible electronically, and coordinating a UN-System wide exercise on streamlining of national reports related to sustainable development. 

Network Development and Support
Under 40.25, 'Establishment and strengthening of electronic networking capabilities', the UN has developed an interface to permit access to the United Nations Optical Disk System (an electronic archive of United Nations parliamentary documents) via the Internet. The project enhances ease of retrieval of United Nations information for country missions to the UN and up to four offices in capitals. 


Internet Access

A web front end to a gopher site containing UN documents. Calendar of general meetings. 

The Division for Sustainable Development also maintains the UN system-wide 
Sustainable Development home page: http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21  with country pages compiling information on each country's efforts to implement Agenda 21. Earthsummit+5 web page. Research centre. News desk. Search facility. 

Responsible Office/Person (for inquiries or follow-up):
Mr Lowell Flanders 
Assistant Director 
Human Development, Institutions and Technology Branch 
Division for Sustainable Development 
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 
2 UN Plaza - Room DC2-2242 
New York, NY 10017, USA 
Tel: +1 212 963-8792 
Fax: +1 212 963-1267 

Date of preparation: Updated 12 February 1998 and 16 January 2001 

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Check list - mark (X) areas of major or minor focus. 

ORGANIZATION:Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
[Division for Sustainable Development (DSD)]

Chapter 2. Sustainable Development    
2A. Trade
2B. Trade and environment 
2C. Financial resources
2D. Economic policies
Chapter 3. Poverty
Chapter 4. Consumption patterns    
4A. Unsustainable production/consumption
4B. National policies/strategies
Chapter 5. Demography    
5A. Demography & sustainable development
5B. Integrated national policies
5C. Local population programs
Chapter 8. Environment and development    
8A. Policy, planning, management
8B. Legal/reg. framework
8C. Economic instruments
8D. Integrated env/econ accounting
Chapter 9. Atmosphere    
9A. Address uncertainties
9B. Sust energy, transport, industry, resources
9C. Ozone depletion
9D. Atmospheric pollution
Chapter 10. Integrated management of land resources    
Chapter 11. Forests    
11A. Multiple roles
11B. Conservation/rehabilitation
11C. Utilization/full valuation
11D. Assessment, observation  
Chapter 18. Freshwater    
18A. Integrated water resource mgt
18B. Water resource assessment
18C. Protection of water
18D. Drinking water supply/sanitation
18E. Urban water
18F. Rural water
18G. Climate change water impact
Chapter 24. Women
Chapter 25. Children/youth    
25A. Youth
25B. Children
Chapter 26. Indigenous peoples
Chapter 27. NGOs
Chapter 28. Local authorities
Chapter 29. Workers/trade unions
Chapter 30. Business and industry    
30A. Cleaner production
30B. Responsible entrepreneurship
Chapter 31. Scientific/technology community    
31A. Communication, cooperation
31B. Codes of practice, guidelines
Chapter 32. Farmers
Chapter 33. Finance
Chapter 34. Technology transfer
Chapter 39. International legal instruments
Chapter 40. Information    
40A. Bridging the data gap
40B. Improving availability
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UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination, Geneva