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Interagency Task Force (IATF) on Bolivia Summit Follow-up

Report of the April 4, 2000 Meeting


Regional Consultative Meeting on Sustainable Development – 

Mr. Lowell Flanders, Assistant Director, Division for Sustainable Development of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) briefed the Task Force on the outcomes of the Regional Consultative Meeting on Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean held at ECLAC’s headquarters from 19 to 21 January 2000 in Santiago, Chile. The objectives of the meeting were: 1) to exchange national experiences in formulating and implementing national sustainable development strategies; 2) to analyze means in which regional and sub-regional cooperation in sustainable development has been promoted; and 3) to strengthen CSD-regional links including the Bolivia Summit follow-up and to explore regional priorities for the Earth Summit +10 review of 2002. About fifty-four participants attended the meeting, representing governments from the region at the senior policy-making level, regional and sub-regional IGOs, financial institutions, key UN regional entities and selected NGOs active in the region. The outcome of the meeting was presented at the 12th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of the Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean in Barbados in March 2000. The report will also be made available to participants at the 8th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in New York in April 2000. Mr. Flanders stated that although major advances have taken place in the implementation of national sustainable development strategies there are several challenges: weak long-term political commitment at the highest national levels; confusion on the real meaning and scope of sustainable development (only environment or integrated approach that incorporates economic, social and environmental concerns); and complexity of coordinating activities and priorities of international institutions with national needs. The next step is to conduct a regional assessment of the implementation of Agenda 21 in the region to be presented at Rio+10 summit. A publication with a summary of national sustainable development strategies will be coming soon. Mr. Flanders (as well as several of the participants) expressed concern about the lack of coordination of the several high level and technical meetings taken place in the next two years in relationship to Rio+10, Bolivia+5, and UN CIDS.

Twelfth Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of the Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean – UNEP/ROLAC

Mr. Ricardo Sanchez Sosa, Director, ROLAC/UNEP, briefed the ITC on the recently held forum of ministers of Environment of LAC (Barbados, March 2-7, 2000). The meeting was attended by 69 government representatives from 24 countries of the region (21 at ministerial or deputy ministerial level), and 5 representatives from 3 observer countries. Other participants included 30 representatives of 21 international, regional and sub-regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and two special guests. Mr. Rawle Eastmond, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy was elected president of the meeting. The major output of the meeting was the approval of the Barbados Declaration, which will guide the environmental agenda in the region in the 21st century. The group concluded that the region will face three major environmental issues: natural disasters, preservation of tropical forests and urban environment. Some of the major points of the declaration include:

In addition to the declaration, the group approved 21 decisions ranging from means of implementing the regional action plan adopted at the 11th meeting of ministers in Peru (March 1998), to adoption of disaster prevention, mitigation and assistance planning as a priority for the region, request to the Conference of the Parties to Multilateral Environmental Agreements to support regional coordinating mechanism, support to develop and establish a Caribbean Climate Change Center, and promote an integrated management approach to the Caribbean area.

Report of the Forty-First Annual Meeting of the IDB Board of Governors – IDB

Mr. Gil Nolet, lawyer with the Environmental Division of the Inter-American Development Bank, reported from the recently held annual meeting of the IDB Board of Governors, held in New Orleans, March 27-29, 2000. The Bank presented a new institutional strategy to the Board of Governors addressing four areas: (1) social sector reform; (2) higher growth rates, with heightened competitiveness and environmental sustainability; (3) improved governance, understood as encompassing modernization and reform of the branches of government; and (4) renewed support for regional and global integration initiatives. This new strategy needs to be approved by the Bank’s Executive Directors. There were several technical workshops during the days preceding the annual meeting on: natural hazards (which presented an action plan for vulnerability reduction); climate change (which established a framework for action, not only for energy but also adaptation projects); rural development; and private sector and environment. Specifically to facilitate the development of small and mid-size firms, the Bank will make accessible grants from MIF, largely financed by the governments of Spain, Japan and USA. Mr. Nolet also mentioned that the Bank has created a new lending facility with easier and faster approval procedures for projects in the education, health and trade sectors for up to US$5,000,000.

Joint Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean in Climate Change – IBRD/LCSES

Mr. Walter Vergara, a Principal Specialist, Latin America and Caribbean Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Vice-Presidency of the World Bank (LCSES) presented a summary of activities under implementation by the World Bank in the area of climate change. Mr. Vergara explained that the World Bank is presently assisting member states in three areas: capacity building, mitigation and adaptation. With regards to capacity building, the Bank is funding small grants to assist countries with their national strategies to address the responsibilities established under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), primarily in relationship to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Three projects are on-going in Latin America in Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia and one more is under preparation in Brazil. The Institutional Development Fund (IDF) provides funding to strengthen existing institutions. In the area of climate change, the IDF is funding climate change and CDM offices in Colombia and Mexico. In the area of mitigation of greenhouse gases, the government of Mexico with World Bank assistance is finalizing the preparation of project to capture CH4 emissions from land fields to be used as an energy resource for the transport sector. Finally, the World Bank, GEF and OAS are implementing a project for Caribbean countries to begin the process of adaptation to impacts of climate change: Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change (CPACC). The project, which began in 1997, has one of the highest performance ratings in the Caribbean portfolio and it is an excellent example of collaboration among two of the members organizations of this task force. The World Bank is now discussing with the OAS and the project’s partners in the Caribbean region about plans for follow-up projects. One of the first steps will be the establishment of the Caribbean Climate Change Center, which was endorsed by the Meeting of the Ministers of Environment (Decision 6).

Santa Cruz + 5 preparations – OAS

Richard Meganck, Chairman of the Task Force and Director of the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment of the OAS, presented a report on the status of preparations for the Santa Cruz + 5 Meeting. The OAS has a mandate to organize this meeting, which will be held in Bolivia in 2001. As part of these preparations, the OAS will be updating the Report of the Secretary General on Bolivia Summit Implementation, which was originally published by the OAS in 1998. All agencies and organizations that are involved in follow-up to the Santa Cruz summit are requested to update the technical annexes to this report before the end of this year (2000). An official request will be sent to the heads of these agencies in the next few weeks. The updated publication and the results of the Santa Cruz + 5 meeting will serve as important inputs to the subsequent Rio + 10 meeting.

Inter-Agency Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR) – OAS

Stephen Bender, Principal Specialist from the USDE/OAS, reported that the newly formed Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR) has held two meetings since its formation in 1999. In the first meeting, three working groups were created: preparedness and response (chaired by PAHO), financing disaster reduction (IDB) and vulnerability assessment and indexing (OAS). Each of these working groups is preparing a report on its focus area for presentation to the IACNDR for use in preparing for the OAS General Assembly in June. A short list of high-priority issues will be extracted from these working group reports for possible consideration at the General Assembly as a resolution on natural disaster reduction. The reports will also list the themes that are still under discussion. Although the current work focuses on reports before the 2000 OAS General Assembly, the committee's work will continue afterwards. The next meeting of the IACNDR will be held in late April or early May.

Working Group reports

  1. Ricardo Sánchez Sosa announced that UNEP is increasing its support to national cleaner production centers in the region. UNEP is currently holding discussions with Argentina and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) regarding the organization of a cleaner production meeting, to be held in that country. Currently centers exist in Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Chile. Discussions are underway about the development of new centers in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
  2. Paulo Cezar Pinto, Acting Coordinator Basic Sanitation Program, Health and Environment Division, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) presented the activities of the Group. He made the following comments:
  1. Gil Nolet announced that two documents - on the challenge of financing biodiversity and on the pros and cons of environmental funds - developed the working group on Environmental Financing are due out by the end of April. This concludes the work of this working group. The representative of the U.S. noted that the topic of innovative financing of sustainable development was discussed at a recent Inter-American Committee in Sustainable Development (CIDS) meeting and that a meeting on this topic will be held later this year. The UN/DESA representative added that the UN Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD) 8 will focus on environmental financing and that one of the current focus areas for the UN system is "Financing for development."
  2. Stephen Bender reported on the Mainstreaming of Disaster Reduction in Development (MDRD) working group. This working group is primarily a technical forum, focusing on "mainstreaming disaster reduction." The IACNDR, in contrast, is primarily a policy group. As lead for this working group, the OAS collaborated with the US/NOAA Coastal Services Center to host a 3-day workshop on vulnerability Assessment techniques, applications and gaps, in March 2000. The results of this workshop, and of this working group, will support the policy discussions within the IACNDR. A World Bank-hosted workshop on policies and criteria for supporting international disaster reconstruction is programmed for later this calendar quarter. The question was raised if there is any potential overlap between the vulnerability assessment work undertaken by this working group and the ongoing OAS/World Bank work on climate change. The need and opportunity for such a link is clear and will be explored at the technical level.
  3. Claudio Volonte, Environmental Specialist, USDE/OAS, read a report from Mark Lambrides, coordinator of the Renewable Energy Working Group. Senior government officials and many of the member agencies of the IATF are active in this working group. The Hemispheric Energy Initiative (HEI), the launching of which was announced at the last Inter-Agency Task Force meeting (December 1999), is progressing. The HEI is a consultative process initiated by the Ministers of Energy in the hemisphere. The next meeting of the Renewable Energy Working Group will take place in Ottawa, Canada, in the second half of May. The representative from UN/DESA recommended that this working group coordinate with the CSD task force on energy, which is currently planning for an important meeting on renewables to be held in 2001.
  4. Other Issues

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