to the World Summit on Sustainable Development: a common challenge
1. In 1992
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio
de Janeiro adopted the Rio Declaration, in which environmental protection
and social and economic development are designated as essential for
ensuring sustainable development. A programme of action, Agenda 21, was
laid down in order to achieve this development.
2. Ten years
later, the state of our planet is just as alarming and the results of the
measures taken in Rio are disappointing. Deforestation and greenhouse gas
emissions are increasing, access to water is still not secured to the
majority, and the exhaustion of resources continues. The situation is
scarcely better with regard to development: cases of inequality and utter
destitution are on the increase. In addition, environmental problems and
sustainable development are still nowhere near the top of our governments
policy action programmes.
3. The World
Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4
September 2002 reaffirmed the central role of sustainable development,
stressing the need for global action to combat poverty and the depletion
of natural resources and for active protection of the environment.
4. It is
therefore a welcome fact that the summit succeeded in closely linking
together, as a dual objective, the fight against environmental degradation
and the eradication of poverty.
Parliamentary Assembly notes with satisfaction that the summit concluded
with the adoption of the anticipated texts, a political declaration and a
definite programme of action setting out the priorities and the requisite
measures for implementing Agenda 21.
additional benefit of the summit was to unite governments, NGOs and
enterprises in an extensive programme of voluntary partnerships, with the
aim of furthering sustainable development at local, national and
international level. Here it is important to emphasise the soundness of
these partnerships, provided that they are not formed to the disadvantage
of the most deprived and vulnerable populations.
regard to the negative assessment made of the follow-up to the Rio
Conference, it can be asserted that the Johannesburg results go beyond
those obtained in Rio, in that the governments at Johannesburg decided on
a number of undertakings and tangible objectives for action to achieve the
8. In this
respect, the Assembly emphasises and especially welcomes those of the
objectives which seek the significant reduction of the number of persons
in a state of extreme poverty and of those without access to water and
Conversely, it regrets that the summit did not fix any objective for
promoting forms of renewable energy and that, apart from fishing, the
decisions in the field of biodiversity and natural resources were rather
Regarding the Kyoto Protocol, it is regrettable that a small but
significant number of Council of Europe member states have still not taken
the step of ratifying this instrument, thereby obstructing its entry into
11. In other
respects, it must also be acknowledged that the Johannesburg Summit made
no advance towards the institutional reform needed for new world
governance, which would involve a review of the role of the World Trade
Organisation and the World Bank in sustainable development, and could also
entail the creation of new worldwide environmental organisations. The
Assembly is in fact convinced that sustainable development is to be
achieved by introducing new patterns of production and consumption, which
require rethinking the international economic order.
the political decisions reached at Johannesburg are concerned, it is
essential to realise that they will remain inoperative unless they are
coupled with the tangible implementation of the action plan, which is the
collective responsibility of all players involved.
the national parliaments and multilateral interparliamentary bodies like
the Council of Europes Parliamentary Assembly have a duty to make their
contribution, both through their legislative action and through the
pressure which they can bring to bear on the governments, or again as
elected representatives of civil society.
Assembly proclaims its commitment to the Johannesburg process and welcomes
the contacts established between the parliamentarians who attended the
summit, and particularly the initiative taken in conjunction with the
European Parliament to hold an interparliamentary round table. This made
it possible to identify the contribution which might be made to the
process and to formulate proposals.
Assembly is convinced in particular that it would be worthwhile to attach
greater importance to the role of parliamentarians in the future
negotiations, and in this kind of summit generally. Like most of the
parliamentarians who were present in Johannesburg, it feels that their
contribution to the World Summit on Sustainable Development preparatory
process was not adequately taken into account and that this situation must
change in the future. It therefore insists that the new agreements be
subject to increased parliamentary control and that parliamentarians be
associated more in the implementation of the decisions taken.
16. For its
part, it welcomes the proposal, made by its representatives and those of
the European Parliament attending in Johannesburg, to look into the
possibility of an arrangement to monitor the undertakings made by the
countries in the framework of certain environmental agreements, notably
the Kyoto Protocol and other commitments, in particular concerning the
eradication of extreme poverty.
17. In the
light of the foregoing, the Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the
Committee of Ministers:
account of the decisions reached at the Johannesburg Summit and ensure
that the Council of Europe intergovernmental work programme contributes
to its fulfilment, particularly as regards social cohesion and
pinpoint the reasons why the Council of Europe Conventions on Civil
Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the
Environment (ETS No. 150, Lugano, 1993) and on the Protection of the
Environment through Criminal Law (ETS No. 172, Strasbourg, 1998) are not
yet in force, and consider possible actions which might induce member
states to ratify these two instruments;
ensure that the next pan-European Conference of Environment Ministers,
to be held in Kyiv from 21 to 23 May 2003 and which the Council of
Europe is helping to prepare, will also be placed in the context of
implementing the Johannesburg programme of action and will fully
appreciate the contribution which the Council of Europe can make in this
the governments of the member states to profit from the framework of
co-operation offered by the Council of Europe for the partnerships
established after Johannesburg, in particular by taking advantage of the
project opportunities offered by the Council of Europe Development Bank.
Assembly debate on 30 January 2003 (7th Sitting) (see Doc. 9659,
report of the Committee on the Environment,
Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, rapporteur: Mr Meale).
adopted by the Assembly on 30
January 2003 (7th Sitting).