22 December 2004
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002 brought together thousands of delegates to agree the priorities and commitments of an international agenda for action on sustainable development: the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. This plain language guide aims to give the reader a quick way in to the complex and dense Johannesburg Plan of Implementation to promote a greater understanding of the agreement and practical action on its commitments. It is an invaluable resource book for those working in community groups; business; local government; central government departments; regional institutions and the international community.
Published by Commonwealth Secretariat / Earthscan
Janet R Strachan, Georgina Ayre, Jan McHarry and Rosalie Callway
January 2005, Price £17.99, ISBN 1-85383-928-0 (pbk), xxvi + 254 pages
Foreword by Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Don McKinnon
The Commonwealth is an exceptional association, whose strength lies in the diversity of its membership, and its ability to network and exchange best practices, based on similar political, legal, administrative and education systems, and a shared working language. The nation states that make up its membership account for almost a third of the world's population, and encompass many faiths, races, languages and cultures. Commonwealth countries are spread over every continent and ocean. They range from some of the largest in the world to small- and micro- states; from the poorest to some of the wealthiest; and from natural resource-based economies to highly industrialised and knowledge-based ones. The Commonwealth's principles and the equal participation and voice of its member states, have much to offer the international community as it works towards implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development's outcomes.
We all want the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be a landmark in the way we implement sustainable development policies, not a footnote in the history of false hopes the last decades have seen. Its success will be measured by the real change it generates in the lives of people throughout the world. For this to happen, sustainable development must become a day-to-day reality for everyone—one of clean air and water, affordable shelter, access to health services, thriving ecosystems, peace and stability, the opportunity to develop fully as individuals and communities, equitable and democratic participation, the rule of law, and most of all freedom from the terrible shadow of disease, famine and poverty.
The poorest people in the world may know very little about the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. What they know is that their lives will only be improved by decisive action. This is why all stakeholders - governments, civil society and the business sector - have a responsibility to live up to the commitments made at the Summit.
One of the great assets of the Commonwealth in the pursuit of sustainable development is this diversity, and the equal participation of its member states within the framework of shared fundamental principles. The Commonwealth is also a network of local governments, business, professional and civil society organisations that will be an asset in implementing the outcomes from WSSD. A deep commitment is needed to long-term partnerships, based on equity, and collaboration that shows a spirit of generosity in their approach.
The Commonwealth has played an active role in three key international negotiations that have set the development agenda for the next decade by addressing critical concerns on trade, finance and sustainable development: the WTO Doha Ministerial Meeting (December 2001); the Financing for Development Summit in Monterrey (March 2002); and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (September 2002). Together with the Millennium Development Goals - which have mobilised governments, international institutions and civil society to reduce poverty with renewed vigour and commitment - these processes must be brought more closely together to ensure that practical steps are taken, in a true spirit of international collaboration, to create prosperity and equity for all, and reverse the continuing loss of environmental resources and quality that underpin the social, cultural, spiritual and economic foundations of our societies.
In February 2003, Commonwealth Environment Ministers considered the key challenges that they as policy makers face in implementing the Johannesburg agreements. They sought greater dialogue on, and engagement with, partnerships for sustainable development that were announced in conjunction with WSSD. In particular, they saw the need for on-going efforts to promote awareness and understanding of the outcomes from WSSD amongst groups in society, business and government, in order to promote their full engagement in such partnerships. Commonwealth Heads of Government, at their meeting in Abuja in December 2003, welcomed the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and pledged to work towards the full and effective implementation of Agenda 21, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
This guide is a Commonwealth contribution towards these objectives. We are pleased to have developed the initiative in close collaboration with Stakeholder Forum, and hope that it will be widely used to promote understanding and engagement in the WSSD process at all levels.