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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2003

Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Ambassador Sichan Siv, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
October 20, 2003

Madam Chairman,

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the international community called on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to reshape itself by placing more emphasis on actions that enable implementation at all levels.

This past May, the Commission responded by adopting a series of path breaking reforms. They are a necessary step towards making the United Nations more responsive and relevant to the needs of all, especially developing countries.

At the CSD’s 11th session, members agreed to limit the number of negotiations and to focus on how the international community – governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector – can work together to achieve our ambitious and critical objectives.

We also agreed at CSD 11 to focus each 2-year cycle on a set of priorities. The thematic cluster for 2004-2005 – water, sanitation, and human settlements – will give us a key opportunity to build on not only the WSSD, but also the World Water Forum in Kyoto this past March.

Finally, we agreed to several innovations to facilitate action and capacity building. This includes a Learning Center where experts from around the world will give and receive training during the CSD meeting. We also agreed to build on CSD-11’s successful Partnerships Fair concept and provide a forum for representatives of sustainable development partnerships to exchange experiences, enhance their ongoing partnerships, and forge new ones.

These reforms represent a new and promising way of doing business at the United Nations. Next April’s CSD 12 Review Session will be a crucial test of whether the UN can convene international experts to truly focus on how we solve some of today’s most critical problems – not through norm-setting, but rather through real actions on the ground.

We cannot afford to waste this opportunity. The design of the meeting should make it clear that this CSD 12 is a session not just for diplomats, but for technical experts from a wide range of government agencies. And that it is not just a session for government representatives, but for implementation actors from all sectors of society. And that it is not merely a session to hear speeches in a plenary hall, but it is a dynamic session to exchange experiences and ideas – and indeed foster action. The documents we have seen thus far seem to focus on the old way of doing business. We urge the CSD 12 Bureau and Secretariat to set their sights high as they prepare for next year’s meeting.

CSD 12 is a tremendous opportunity to make substantial progress on water, sanitation, and human settlements. As is true so often in these settings, format will determine substance. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the coming weeks and months to ensure that CSD 12 is a success.

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

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