Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
  • Date submitted: 28 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
  • Name: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Access (7 hits),

Full Submission

ECLAC?s Submission to the compilation document to serve as basis for the preparation of the zero draft of the outcome document of Rio+20

These inputs are based on ECLAC?s decades? long work on development in the Latin American and Caribbean Region, including its more recent efforts to promote a sustainable and inclusive development path, as reflected in the document submitted to its 33rd Period of Sessions, Time for Equality. The inputs also reflect the results of ECLACled interagency efforts to i) assess progress and gaps in the implementation of sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean 20 years on from the Earth Summit, the final results of which will be launched prior to UNCSD; and ii) assess the advances in the region towards the Seventh Millennium Development Goal (environmental sustainability).

1. The principles that define and enable sustainable development have been consolidated in the Rio Declaration of 1992. The Declaration should be reaffirmed in the Rio+20 outcome document. Rio+20 must take the next step and establish concrete mechanisms that will enable the international community to overcome the barriers to the implementation of those principles, that were reaffirmed through the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and translated into action plans through Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOA, among other instruments.

2. ECLAC identifies five factors as the main barriers to implementation:

(i) failures in making the social and economic costs of environmental degradation visible and in establishing mechanisms for their internalization (as per Principle 16 of the Rio Declaration);

(ii) insufficient mainstreaming of sustainable development as a driving force in public policies and failures in coordinating and ensuring coherence between policy areas, nationally and internationally;

(iii) insufficient channels for public participation in decision making and for the effectiveness of Access to justice and to information;

(iv) difficulties in spurring endogenous technologic development in key productive sectors, in addition to the existence of barriers in Access to technology

(v) difficulties in financing.

3. The recent assessment of the implementation of sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean suggests that a significant gap lies in the lack of visibility of the social and economic costs of environmental degradation. This impedes the undertaking of accurate social cost-benefit analysis. Traditional statistics and indicators for measuring wealth and economic performance do not reflect the negative externalities of economic activities, while environmental statistics are still not sufficiently developed.

The GDP does not take environmental degradation or the depletion of natural resources into account. At the micro level, traditional project assessment methodologies do not take into account the effects of pollution over the life cycle of the project. The scarce visibility of the economic and social costs of environmental degradation results in these costs not being internalized in economic decisions (including public and private investment decisions and policy), one major factor in the lack of coherence in public action, discussed below. Instruments and practices are in place worldwide which, adopted on a wider scale, would enable the effective implementation of Principle 16 of the Rio Declaration.

4. Rio+20 is an opportunity for countries to agree on schedules and timelines for:

? Developing and mainstreaming the use of indicators of economic performance and accounting methods that take account of the environment and of the cost of environmental degradation, such as systems of integrated economic and environmental accounting. Kindly note that in paragraph 10 of the Conclusions of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting countries affirm the need for commitment on ?better ways of measuring countries? wealth that adequately reflect the three pillars of sustainable development?;

? Eliminating direct and indirect subsidies for activities that generate significant environmental or health costs, implementing transition schemes that protect the poor and other groups in vulnerable situations, and implementing fiscal and industrial policies to stimulate sustainable development;

? Implementing fiscal or economic instruments to reduce environmental and health costs and to foster environmentally friendly consumer and producer preferences;

? Incorporating environmental and health considerations into methodologies for analyzing public and private investment options, including the investments supported by global and regional financial development institutions;

? Mainstreaming the use of Strategic Environmental Assessment for public investment and policy.

5. A second gap in implementation is the persistence of difficulties in coordinating and ensuring coherence between policy areas at all levels (from the international to the local). The environment is affected both by policies directed specifically at environmental goals (?explicit environmental policies?) and by policies, including public investment decisions, aiming at other policy goals, such as economic growth (?implicit environmental policies and incentives?). Often, the effects of the latter are contradictory to the goals of the former. While substantial investments have been made worldwide in environmental institutions, measures, legislation and capacity building, subsidies and other incentives are still given to activities, products and processes that are notoriously harmful to the environment and to human health, wellbeing and livelihoods. The effectiveness of explicit environmental policies in conducting changes in the patterns of development towards sustainability is thus thwarted.

6. Rio+20 is an opportunity to issue mandates for negotiating the adoption of the following mechanisms to ensure coordination and coherence in policy-making:

? Agreed and measurable sustainable development goals and targets. The experience with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) shows that a set of agreed goals which have the full support of governments worldwide, that are well understood by the public in general, that are widely publicized and periodically reported on, can have significant power in directing public action and thus ensuring coherence in policy making. The experience with the MDGs also shows the difficulties in measuring advances towards the agreed goals when there are gaps in statistical capacity or when targets are designed without full consideration to their measurability. Hence the need for a well studied framework, the development of which should actively engage civil society, academia and national statistics institutes from developing countries. The latter are critical in identifying the feasibility of adopting indicators for each of the agreed targets and for assessing the gaps in statistical capacity in developing countries in order to ensure adequate international assistance, when necessary. The proposal set forth by Colombia and Guatemala provides a good starting point for this process. ECLAC believes the following issues should be considered: combating poverty with equality, eradicating hunger through food security, universal Access to clean energy, improving energy intensity or energy efficiency, universal Access to water and sanitation services, management of water resources, atmospheric pollution in urban centers, slums, elimination of direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuels and to activities associated to irreversible environmental destruction, financing for sustainable development and technology transfer.

? Implementing changes in international governance in order to gain coherence at the international level (between organizations focusing on different issues and among international agreements) as well as to enable the negotiation of new international agreements where necessary. One possibility for enhancing coordination and coherence at the international level is to revise the role and functioning of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), establishing sustainability as a guiding concept for its decisions. Countries could assess the establishment of ECOSOC as the development equivalent of the Security Council, placing decisions on issues such as the economic, financial, food and climatic crises. Additionally, in the revision of the institutional framework for sustainable development, due attention must be given to the importance of regional specificities, to the opportunities that exist for international cooperation among countries that are close both geographically and in terms of levels of development, and therefore to the key role that will be played Regional Commissions. Better alignment is needed between the development of normative of the United Nations and the international economic institutions, including the Bretton Woods institutions.

? Rio+20 should ensure the reinforcement of the development pillar of the United Nations Organization and its role as a core component of the Organization?s activities, budget and mandates.

7. A third barrier in implementation lies in insufficient mechanisms to enable informed, participatory, decision making processes. In addition to improving the availability and Access to information, as discussed above, Rio+20 could produce a mandate to negotiate international agreements (at the global or regional level) to promote the enactment of legislation pertaining to Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and its implementation, to be possibly, but not necessarily, based on the Aarhus Convention.

8. Finally, but not less importantly, Access to technology, in the context of persistent difficulties of spurring endogenous technological development, and financing have been major barriers to implementation even when there has been political will and the institutional infrastructure and legislation have been in place. At the Regional Preparatory Meeting, countries agreed on the need for commitments on the following:

? ?effective Access to and transfer of safe and appropriate technologies, without conditionalities and on preferential terms for developing countries?;

? ?the promotion of a global intellectual property rights regime that facilitates the transfer of such technologies, in keeping with the commitments undertaken by each country?; and

? ?new, additional, stable and predictable financing for supporting implementation of the sustainable development objectives in developing countries.?

9. In regard to financing, the outcome document should state clearly that the commitments of 0.7% of GNI for ODA must be fulfilled, and that resources dedicated to finding solutions for global public goods such as climate security are separate and additional to the former.

10. Additionally, Rio+20 is an opportunity to initiate negotiations on a global tax on international financial transactions, to increase resources available for development financing and with the co-benefit of reducing very short term volatility. The Plurinational State of Bolivia has presented a proposal to this effect, which will be contained in the report of the Regional Preparatory Meeting.
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