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PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

OEA/Ser.G   CE/GCI-41/95
1 December 1995
Original: Spanish

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

PERMANENT MISSION OF URUGUAY TO THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

234/95

Washington, D.C., November 20, 1995

Ambassador Harriet C. Babbitt
Permanent Representative of the United States
to the OAS and Chair of the Special Committee on
Inter-American Summits Management
Washington, D.C.

Excellency:

I am pleased to acknowledge receipt of and to reply to your request for a progress report on the work of the Committee on the Environment regarding follow-up on the commitments made by our presidents and heads of state at the Summit of the Americas, which were reflected in a Declaration of Principles and the accompanying Plan of Action.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

/s/ Ambassador Fernando González Guyer
Alternate Representative of Uruguay to the OAS
Chair of the Committee on the Environment


INTRODUCTION

The agenda of the Committee on the Environment covers topics that are intrinsically related to the contents of the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas, held in Miami in December 1994.

In the field of the environment and sustainable development, the Summit assigned the OAS a specific function in the "Partnership for Pollution Prevention."

While the General Assembly, at its twenty-fifth regular session instructed the Committee to work on initiative IV.23 of the Summit, "Partnership for Pollution Prevention," that mandate was not exclusive. The Committee's work involves all the initiatives in Chapter IV, "Guaranteeing Sustainable Development and Conserving our Natural Environment for Future Generations." In this regard, the Permanent Council has a specific General Assembly mandate, AG/RES. 1358 (XXV-O/95), to evaluate and update the Inter-American Program of Action for Environmental Protection with a view to presenting the Summit Conference on Sustainable Development with an overall view of the activities incumbent on the OAS. The resolution also assigns implementation of that mandate to the Committee on the Environment (operative paragraph 5), which is engaged in complying with the mandate.

SPECIFIC INITIATIVES

1. IV.23 "Partnership for Pollution Prevention"

With respect to this topic, the Chair of the Committee attended the intergovernmental meeting of experts on the Partnership for Pollution Prevention, which, pursuant to the Plan of Action, was held under OAS cosponsorship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 6-8, 1995.

The General Assembly, at its twenty-fourth regular session in June 1994, decided that the Organization should hold a meeting of experts in the area of environmentally sound technologies for small and medium-sized enterprises. Accordingly, the Committee on the Environment set up a working group for that topic, and the meeting was held in Ottawa, Canada, on November 14-16, 1995.

In the Plan of Action, the Summit recognized that:

"Microenterprises and small businesses account for a large percentage of the employment of the poor, particularly women, and contribute a considerable percentage of the gross domestic product of our countries," and urged the governments to "increase efforts to enable enterprises to obtain information on appropriate technologies (especially those that are environmentally sound) ... that will permit them to be more competitive in the global economy." Initiative 19, "Encouraging Microenterprises and Small Businesses."

Moreover, Initiative 23, "Partnership for Pollution Prevention," defines the goal of "continuing to pursue technological, financial and other forms of cooperation; and facilitating information exchange, including on environmentally sound technologies."

The Meeting of Experts in Ottawa reviewed the present situation and main complex tasks facing the Hemisphere involving the need to have environmentally sound technologies for small and medium-sized enterprises (PME) and the availability of such technologies, and drew up recommendations and proposals for a possible OAS action program in this field.

Two basic contributions were made at the Meeting of Experts: first, a background document reviewing the present situation and the main challenges confronting the Hemisphere, and stressing the pertinent work of other international forums, and second, a number of case studies on four transectoral issues, namely, access to information, creation of capacity, financial and cooperative arrangements, and traditional technologies.

The meeting was attended by experts from 28 OAS member countries, and close to 100 observers.

2. I.3 Invigorating Society/Community Participation

At its twenty-fifth session, in June 1995, the General Assembly decided that a seminar should be held on public participation in making decisions on sustainable development. That seminar would deal with the topic of the democratic process in drafting policies on sustainable development, which is directly related to the general topic of Chapter I, "Preserving and Strengthening the Community of Democracies in the Americas." Accordingly, this is another instance in which the Committee on the Environment is endeavoring to achieve the goals of the Summit.

The promotion and strengthening of public participation is a recurring concern in the Miami Summit Plan of Action, which devotes Initiative 3 to "Invigorating Society/Community Participation."

This concern is explicitly stated in Initiative 23, "Partnership for Pollution Prevention," in which the governments undertake to:

"Support democratic governmental mechanisms to engage public participation, particularly from members of indigenous and other affected communities, in the consideration of policies regarding the environmental impact of development projects and the design and enforcement of environmental laws."

The planned Seminar would accordingly constitute support not only for the follow-up of the Summit of the Americas, but also for the preparations for the Summit Conference in Bolivia in 1996.

The Seminar will be held before the next General Assembly session, and its draft agenda is being studied by this Committee.


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