Documents of the October 13th to 15th, 1999 Meeting of the
INTER-AMERICAN COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Organizacion of American States, Washington D.C.
Interaction and Coordination Between the OAS and
the United Nations
in the Area of Sustainable Development
This document contains basic information on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, the UN Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development, and the OAS Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development, as background for the consideration of the CIDS agenda item on interaction and coordination between CIDS and bodies of the UN system.
Commission on Sustainable Development
In 1992, more than 100 heads of state met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Earth Summit was convened to address urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic development. The assembled leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity; endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles; and adopted Agenda 21, a 300-page plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED; to monitor and report on implementation of the Earth Summit agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. The CSD is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with 53 members. It was agreed that a five-year review of Earth Summit progress would be made in 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in special session.
Earth Summit + 5: The Special Session of the General Assembly held in June 1997 adopted a comprehensive document entitled Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, prepared by the Commission on Sustainable Development. It also adopted the programme of work of the Commission for 1998-2002.
The Commission on Sustainable Development consistently generates a high level of public interest. Over 50 ministers attend the CSD each year and more than one thousand non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are accredited to participate in the Commission's work. The Commission ensures the high visibility of sustainable development issues within the UN system and helps to improve the UN's coordination of environment and development activities. The CSD also encourages governments and international organizations to host workshops and conferences on different environmental and cross-sectoral issues. The results of these expert-level meetings enhance the work of CSD and help the Commission to work better with national governments and various non-governmental partners in promoting sustainable development worldwide.
Mandate of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established as a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council by Council decision 1993/207. Its functions are set out in General Assembly resolution 47/191 of 22 December 1992. The Commission is composed of 53 members elected for terms of office of three years, meets annually for a period of two to three weeks and receives substantive and technical services from the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. The Commission reports to the Economic and Social Council and, through it, to the Second Committee of the General Assembly.
The Commission on Sustainable Development is an inter-governmental body whose members are elected by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from amongst the Member States of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Thirteen members are elected from Africa; eleven from Asia; ten from Latin America and the Caribbean; six from Eastern Europe; and thirteen from Western Europe and other. One-third of the members are elected annually and outgoing members are eligible for re-election. Other States, United Nations organizations, accredited inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations can attend sessions of the CSD as observers. The present Chairman of the CSD is Mr. Rumen Gechev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development of Bulgaria.
In very broad terms, the role of the Commission is threefold:
United Nations Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development
Inter-agency coordination in the area of sustainable development is undertaken through the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD). The role of IACSD is to identify major policy issues relating to the follow-up to UNCED by the United Nations system and to advise the ACC on ways and means of addressing them so as to ensure effective system-wide cooperation and coordination in the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other UNCED outcomes and their follow-up.
IACSD was established in October 1993 by the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) --the highest inter-agency body of the United Nations, chaired by the Secretary-General, and consisting of the heads of organizations of the United Nations system. IACSD meets twice a year and reports to the ACC. The ACC Sub-Committee on Oceans and Costal Areas and the ACC Sub-Committee on Water Resources report to the IACSD.
Meetings of IACSD are open to all interested programmes, agencies and organizations of the United Nations system that are members or participants of ACC. Representation is at the level of senior officials.
Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development
The Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS) was established by AG/RES. 1440 (XXVI-O/96) as a subsidiary body of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) for formulating the policy of the OAS in the area of sustainable development. On the matter of collaboration and coordination with other institutions the following is included in its document "Functions and Structure of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development":
4. . . . and to suggest the establishment and monitoring of effective collaboration and coordination mechanisms among the OAS, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and other bodies, agencies and entities of the United Nations system, along with such bodies, agencies and entities of the inter-American system as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and other regional and subregional organizations, institutions and programs of the Hemisphere.
OAS/UN Collaboration in the Area of Sustainable Development
The Organization of American States has a long history of fruitful collaboration with the United Nations. Rooted in explicit mandates and resolutions by their respective governing bodies, as well as in official declarations of Heads of States and Governments of the Americas, both institutions have developed adequate mechanisms to collaborate and coordinate activities to support national, regional, and hemispheric efforts in areas and issues of common interest. Currently, joint cooperation programs and activities are being implemented according to the terms set forth in the General Agreement on Cooperation between the Secretariat of the United Nations and the General Secretariat of the OAS, signed in New York on April 17, 1995.
UN and OAS collaboration covers a vast array of subject areas, including drug abuse control, human rights, women and development, telecommunications, democracy, social development and education, and sustainable development and environment. In the subject area of sustainable development and environment, the GS/OAS, through the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE), maintains close ties of cooperation with the UN system, particularly with its Environment Programme (UNEP). Acting as UNEPs executing agency in the Americas, USDE has implemented and continues to execute several technical cooperation projects on water resources management and sustainable development. Since 1990 approximately US$17 million in external funds have been or are being implemented by USDE through cooperation agreements signed with with UNEP. Funds for these projects have been primarily provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The Interagency Task Force on Bolivia Summit Follow-up (IATF) is a key mechanism for collaboration between the OAS and institutions of the UN and the Inter-American systems at a technical level. It seeks to improve coordination among technical assistance organizations and international financing institutions in implementing the initiatives contained in the Plan of Action of the Bolivia Summit. The IATF meets about four times a year, and its working groups meet much more frequently. Summaries of the IATF meetings are presented in the USDE quarterly or semester reports. As part of the collaboration between the OAS and the UN systems, the Director of USDE, who chairs the IATF, has presented written and oral summaries on the IATF to the meetings of the UN Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (at its 12th and 13th sessions). Also, the OAS, ECLAC, and IBD are formal co-sponsors of the January 2000 Regional Consultative Meeting on Sustainable Development for the Latin America and Caribbean Regions.[Sustainable Dev/tracker.htm][Sustainable Dev/tracker.htm]