Key Issues and Challenges

Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme
Seventh Special Session
Cartagena, Colombia, 13 - 15 February 2002

UNEP/GCSS.VII/3 24 December 2001
Advance Unedited Copy


Discussion paper presented by the Executive Director

The full document may be downloaded from the UNEP web site at


W. Partnership with civil society and the private sector

123. There should be a global accord to fully integrate the efforts of civil society and the private sector in the overall efforts of the international community to achieve the goals of environmental protection and sustainable development. A strategic guidelines developed in pursuance of Governing Council decision 21/19 (Engagement of Civil Society) and the Global Compact (established by the United Nations Secretary General) with the private sector provide strategic directions. Civil society plays a critically important role in addressing environmental issues. The role, capabilities and involvement of civil society organizations has seen a substantial increase since the Earth Summit, which warrants the need to further enhance their engagement in environmental matters. The Millennium Declaration provides additional compelling reasons for new forms of co-operation with civil society. The WSSD must not only enhance but should give a new content and response to the future role of major groups as envisaged in Agenda 21. UNEP should continue strengthening its partnership with civil society and the private sector.

X. Environmental dimension of dialogue among civilizations

124. The Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 56/6 of 9 November 2001, provides a strategic guidance to promote a common understanding of environmental challenges facing the civilizations that make-up today's world. During the twenty-first session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in February 2001, a panel was set up to explore how a dialogue among civilizations can be promoted from an environment perspective. The recent UNEP publication "Earth and Faith: a book of reflection and action", which is a result of collaboration with the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment is a major contribution in support of the dialogue. Furthermore the International Seminar on the Environment, Religion and Culture held in Iran this year in collaboration with UNEP enhanced the Inter-faith dialogue from the environment perspective. Without an understanding and tolerance for the different cultural and spiritual dimensions peace will never be achieved. The ecological crisis facing humanity is deeply rooted in a complex web of economic, social, and cultural factors as well as belief systems, societal attitudes and perception. The emergence of the new environmental ethic for the twenty-first century should be based on a code of conduct and a code of moral duty for all human beings. These issues should be central to the discussions at the WSSD.

Y. Ethical and spiritual values

125. Due attention should be given to the need for the integration of ethical and spiritual values considerations into sustainable development policies. Concrete measures to harness the full potential of a new economy to make meaningful contributions in areas of information technology, biology, and biotechnology should take into account their ethical, spiritual and social implications. Respect for ethical and spiritual values, reflected in cultural diversity, human rights and protection of indigenous knowledge, should be exercised in pursuit of sustainable development. It has a particular importance in a rapidly globalizing world, and will deserve to be placed in a critical assessment of the progress made since the Earth Summit. UNEP's work should also bear those issues in mind.


International Environment Forum - Updated 1 January 2010