Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Follow-up to Rio - the way forward for the global environment

The Commission has adopted a Communication entitled "A Common Platform" which sets out EU policy guidelines for the environment and development in view of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS), due to be held in New York in June 1997. The UN Special Session h...
The Commission has adopted a Communication entitled "A Common Platform" which sets out EU policy guidelines for the environment and development in view of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS), due to be held in New York in June 1997. The UN Special Session has been convened to conduct a five-year review the agreements reached at the 1992 UN conference on the environment and development (the Rio Earth Summit).

The Commission Communication takes stock of the progress made since Rio and sets out a number of areas in which further action is needed to stop the continuing degradation of the global environment. Particular emphasis is placed on the need for more detailed commitments for the protection of forests. The paper also highlights the need for global cooperation and increased assistance to developing countries and encourages the "greening" of private investments as a means of ensuring sustainable development.

The Commission hopes that the UN Special Session will give renewed momentum to the implementation of the "Agenda 21" Action Programme for Sustainable Development endorsed by world leaders at the 1992 Rio Summit. This set out objectives and strategies for the 21st century in areas as diverse as combating poverty, the protection of oceans and the protection of the ozone layer. The 1997 Special Session will review the progress made and identify areas where progress has been slow.

The Session will take account of improved international scientific understanding such as the recent finding that there is a discernible human influence on climate change and the first global assessment of biodiversity. It will also tackle environmental issues which have emerged as global priorities since 1992. These include the long-term effects of the so called "persistent organic pollutants" which disrupt reproductive systems, and the linkages between world trade and the degradation of the environment.

Stressing the importance of this meeting, Mrs. Ritt Bjerregaard, Commissioner responsible for the environment noted: "What we agree in June next year will set the agenda for global action beyond the year 2000. We must approach the Special Session with vision and determination. We must recognize that environmentally sound, sustainable development worldwide depends on a genuine partnership between developed and developing countries. We must celebrate the successes we have had and work together to tackle the formidable problems which still confront us".

Also in the context of the follow-up to Rio (the Rio+5 campaign), the European Commission, DG XI (Environment, nuclear safety and civil protection), recently convened a meeting to evaluate the state of sustainable development in 19 Western European countries (Brussels, 13 November 1996). The meeting, which is the first in a series of nine regional consultations taking place in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America and Latin America, involved the National Councils for Sustainable Development, the Commission's General Consultative Forum on the Environment, as well as representatives of the UN and environmental NGOs.

The results of the Brussels meeting, and other regional consultations, will be reviewed and acted upon at the Rio+5 Forum to be held in Rio de Janeiro from 13 to 19 March 1997. They will also be transmitted to the UN Special Session in June.
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