United Nations System-Wide
Earthwatch Working Party 6
Geneva, 13-14 March 2000

(New York, 24-25 January 2000)

7 March 2000
Agenda Item 9

The Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development, at its 15th meeting in New York on 24-25 January 2000, decided on a number of actions of relevance to Earthwatch, including decisions taken to respond to Earthwatch initiatives. The following extracts from the meeting report highlight the decisions taken.

"C. Preparations for the ten year review of UNCED

"8. ...the Committee agreed that the UN system should provide strong leadership in formulating relevant policy proposals and stimulating interest, both at a political, as well as general public levels. In this context the Committee particularly stressed the importance of early and timely contributions from the UN system to the preparatory process. Specific elements of such a proactive approach could include:

- expediting the preparations of the second critical trends report and related modeling work so that their results are made public at an early stage of the preparatory process with a view of raising awareness of the consequences of current unsustainable tendencies in the world development....
"10. The Committee stressed that the goals of the 2002 review need to be clearly established. The Committee felt that, while Agenda 21 will remain to be a vital and the most comprehensive international programme in the field of sustainable development, the 2002 review should not be seen as limited to the review of the state of implementation of its specific provisions. It would be essential to ensure that preparations also critically assess the impact of the new developments taking place in the World and the new challenges faced by the international community and the ways of addressing such challenges. The latter include such developments as globalization with brings freer flows of investments and trade and the on-going communications and information revolution; trends towards the decentralization of governance; growing magnitude of the impact of natural disasters; greater risks and opportunities related to technological advances, including those connected to public health, etc. Such an approach will help to raise the political importance of the preparations for 2002 for national policy-makers and, at the same time, raise its relevance in the eyes of the general public. Another critical challenge would be to identify priorities for immediate action, as well as possible gaps in the current international work in the field of sustainable development.

"11. The Committee also agreed that a number of ongoing processes will make an important contribution to 2002 process. These include the outcomes of CSD's Intergovernmental Forum on Forests; the outcomes of CSD9 on the issue of energy and sustainable development; the results of the ongoing work on indicators of sustainable development; UNEP's GEO-III; the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the IPCC; and the outcomes of the financing for development process, among others."

"2. 54th session of the General Assembly

Second report on Measures taken in the United Nations system to accelerate progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 to be submitted to 2000 session of ECOSOC and 55th GA.

"28. The Committee agreed on the following outline of the report:

"Part I. Work underway in the UN system to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 adopted by the 1997 special session of the UNGA.

"e) Recent developments in other inter-agency processes.
- Interagency cooperation in the area of El Nino
- Work under Global Observation Systems, etc.

"4. Other reports on sustainable development issues requested for the 55th UN General Assembly preparation of which would require collaboration in the UN system

"Report of the Secretary-General on Enhancing complementarities among international instruments related to environment and sustainable development

"30. It was agreed that the lead in the preparation of this report, as was the case in 1998-1999 will be taken by UNEP. It was also agreed that UNEP will undertake timely and broader consultations in preparation of the report which in addition to the Secretariats of the Rio Conventions, DESA UNU and UNDP should involve other parts of the UN system which are interested in the subject matter and may have a contribution to make.

"F. Preparations for the ninth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development

"Cross-sectoral themes: Information for Decision-making and Participation, and International Cooperation for an Enabling Environment

"Sub-item B: ACC/IACSD/XV/2000/CRP.7/Add.1 Task Manager Functions for Chapter 40, Information for and Participation in decision-making for Sustainable Development

"43. The Committee took note of the recommendations of the Earth Watch Working party on Task Manager Functions for Chapter 40 as contained in CRP.7/Add.1 and the supplemental information provided verbally by the representatives of DSD and UNEP as joint Task Managers for Chapter 40. The Committee welcomed the steps being taken through the Earth Watch working party to involve all interested agencies in preparations for the review of Chapter 40 in 2001. It also welcomed the suggestion to explore the possibility of organizing with an interested host government a meeting of an intergovernmental group of experts to consider overall progress on the issues outlined in Chapter 40.

"44. On the issue of participation, it was agreed that the documentation will focus on the role of major groups and the importance information plays in the fulfillment of this role in sustainable development.

"I. Other matters

A. Follow-up to issues dealt with at its previous IACSD meetings:

(ii) Common core data sets:
"57. The Committee took note of an oral report from UNEP focused on specific needs in this area including, the need to (1) agree on institutional responsibilities, (2) developing and maintaining better links between data producers and data users, (3) improving links between traditional statistics and geo-referenced data sets, (4) building enhanced capacity in developing countries for use of non-traditional data sets, (5) internet sharing of data to ensure better quality control, (6) building support to fund and maintain data collection, and (7) improve rapid delivery of real time data for better decision-making support.

"58. While the coordination of data and information was felt to be extremely important for the entire UN system, the Committee wanted to be clear about the role it could best play in this regard, particularly in relation to the functions already being performed by the ACC Sub-Committee on Statistical Activities. The Committee therefore requested UNEP to prepare a report in matrix form on the scope of the common core data sets problem and where the system stands with respect to the global observing systems, standards and norm setting and information dissemination. The Committee would return to this issue upon receipt of the requested report."

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