ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING IRRATIONAL AND WASTEFUL
USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ECODEVELOPMENT
417. In considering agenda item 13 at its 71st and 72nd meetings, on 18 and 19 May 1977, the Governing Council had before it the report of the Executive Director on the Intergovernmental Expert Group on Environment and Development and on Environmental Impact Arising From Uses of Natural Resources (UNEP/GC/102), prepared in response to Governing Council decision 79 (IV) and including as annexes the working paper prepared by the secretariat for the Group (UNEP/IG.4/3) and its report (UNEP/IG.4/4).
418. Delegations were generally agreed that environment and development was among the most important items on the agenda of the Council, since it had a direct bearing on the attainment of the ultimate objective of environmentally sound development, namely, to increase the well-being of people on a sustainable basis through rational use of resources and respect for environmental factors. They also generally recognized the inter relatedness and complementarity of environmental and developmental objectives and endorsed the view of the Expert Group that sound environmental principles should be built into development planning at all levels of decision-making. The working paper prepared by the secretariat was felt to be useful, and one delegation said that it should be given wider circulation.
419. Most delegations stressed the importance of international co-operation for the promotion of environmentally sound development, through the widespread dissemination of relevant national experiences and technological improvements, which promoted the use of natural resources in environmentally sound ways. One delegation stated in that connexion that all people should have access to the benefits of science and technology and to the raw materials they required for their economic and social development. Another delegation said that the phenomenon known as consumerism was incompatible with the satisfaction of basic human needs.
420. Some delegations said that the gap between developed and developing countries should be progressively bridged if world peace and international security were to be preserved, and that more equitable international relations within the framework of the new international economic order should be established to help accelerate the progress of developing countries. A few speakers stated that the arms race and military expenditures absorbed substantial resources which could be much better employed in helping developing countries. It was observed in that connexion that banning environmental warfare was a step in the right direction. One delegation stated that there were two basic categories of environmental problems. In developed countries, the pursuit of profit entailed reckless exploitation of natural resources and endangered the welfare and health of people in those countries and elsewhere; although their scientific and technical sophistication enabled them to take the measures required to prevent and eliminate environmental pollution, that was not being done. In the developing countries, environmental problems were mainly the direct or indirect result of imperialist, social-imperialist, colonialist and neo-colonialist rule, plunder and exploitation; as the Stockholm Declaration rightly pointed out, 34/ in those countries most of the environmental problems were caused by under-development, and they must therefore direct their efforts to development.
421. Several delegations stressed that UNEP should ensure that environmental considerations be included in the international development strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade. One delegation expressed the hope that the Executive Director would be able to report to the Governing Council at its sixth session on the practical actions taken by other members of the United Nations system, as a result of the continuing emphasis by UNEP on the need to include environmental considerations at all stages of the development process, and sought assurance that, in promoting practical activities, the role of UNEP would be limited to ensuring that United Nations organizations with relevant experience or expertise took operational responsibility for the work to be performed; the programme document should show which agencies were responsible for different activities within a programme area, and the extent to which they were co-operating with UNEP.
422. Many delegations stated that the political and conceptual aspects of the issues discussed had to a large extent been satisfactorily defined, especially in the Founex report, the Stockholm and Cocoyoc Declarations, the reports under consideration and the Declaration and Plan of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, and that the task of UNEP should be therefore primarily to promote, as suggested by the Executive Director, practical solutions to those issues.
423. Most delegations agreed with the Expert Group that, given the wide differences existing between countries, particularly in respect of development levels and objectives and social and economic structures, it was not possible to formulate universally applicable criteria for defining irrationality and wastefulness in the use of natural resources and that it would be more fruitful to consider broad principles and guidelines which would be useful in the management of natural resources. Some delegations also referred favourably to some of the broad objectives suggested by the Expert Group, to which criteria and guidelines should be directed and which should be borne in mind by UNEP and other members of the United Nations system in their research and activities relating to natural resources.
424. Some delegations took the view that proper use of natural resources was but one component of environmentally sound development and that, in the further elaboration of that concept, other aspects, such as nutrition, health care, housing and public participation, should be taken into account, so that appropriate criteria might be developed to assist Governments and international organizations in planning for sound. development. One of those delegations also said that, if the imperatives of development and environment were to be adequately reconciled, UNEP should concentrate more manpower and financial resources on environmental assessment, especially Earthwatch, environmental education, training and technical assistance and environmental management, including environmental law. Another delegation noted with concern the sharp reduction in the Fund allocation for environment and development.
425. Another delegation felt that the close interrelationship between environment policies, on the one hand, and social structures and economic development levels, on the other, was not sufficiently reflected in the treatment of the various questions dealt with in the report. That delegation and others took the view that, given the need for solutions properly adapted to the various conditions prevailing in different countries, international organizations should concentrate on the formulation of methodologies to deal with environment and development problems, which could be used by all countries to shape their policies in accordance with their individual needs. One delegation, in pointing out that further work was needed on that subject, referred to the ECE seminar on the ecological aspects of economic development, which had shown that ecological requirements could not be accurately formulated in quantitative or even qualitative terms.
426. Several delegations referred to the usefulness of case studies, pilot and demonstration projects and seminars dealing with specific aspects of environment and development problems at the regional and subregional level, and offered the use of their national facilities and experience to help UNEP promote such studies and projects. One delegation pointed out in that connexion that seminars should be followed up through national education and training programmes. Another delegation welcomed the first issue of Mazingira; that publication would further the objectives of UNEP in the area of environment and development. A few
delegations also pointed out that popular participation was essential to environmentally sound development.
427. Several speakers stressed the need for practical action in the areas of soil,
water and energy, and expressed the hope that the pilot projects proposed by the Executive Director in those areas would be the test of the practicability and usefulness of the concept and techniques involved.
428. One delegation proposed that the following practical aspects of the relationship between environment and development, among others, be explored: the ratio between damage caused by environmental degradation and expenditures for environmental protection; the ratio between environmental protection investments and total development investments; the impact of environmental protection measures on capital accumulation and the productive capacity of individual economies; the extent to which environmental protection expenditures might be considered as investments in the future; and the extent to which, and conditions of international assistance under which, polluting industries could be tolerated in developing countries.
429. Some delegations stressed that not only physical planning, but also social and economic planning, constituted appropriate frameworks for the integration of environmental considerations into development strategies, not only at the national level, but also in the context of regional co-operation, and reported on relevant national experiences.
430. Several delegations stressed the urgent need for the development of environmentally sound and, particularly, energy-saving, technologies. One delegation noted that environmental considerations were already incorporated in various energy programmes conducted by other United Nations agencies and IAEA, and suggested that UNEP consider how best it could use its experience and competence to formulate a specific work programme on the environmental impact of energy production and use.
431. Some delegations pointed out that environment and development issues appeared particularly clearly in connexion with problems of desertification, industrial location and human settlements. They stressed the importance, in the latter areas especially, of recycling technologies as well as non-waste and low-waste technologies, and suggested that UNEP might co-operate with ECE and the Council e
for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), which had substantial experience in those fields.
432. One delegation stated that a good example of irrational and wasteful use of natural resources was the utilization of protein in livestock-raising, where large amounts of protein of high biological value, animal as well as of plant origin, were used to produce animal protein, the yield being remarkably lower than the input; it called attention in that connexion to the question of whales, an important source of animal protein which was threatened with destruction.
433. Some delegations referred to the "polluter rays" principle, which, despite its inadequacies, was in their view still a useful instrument of environmental policy, when combined with others. One delegation said that the principle was one of the most important instruments for achieving rational and non-wasteful use of natural resources.
434. Some delegations noted with interest the observation made in the report of the expert group on the role of transnational corporations and international trade in the use of natural resources. One delegation said that UNEP should ensure that the importance of the rational and non-wasteful use of natural resources be taken into account in the preparation of the code of conduct for transnational corporations. It also suggested the need to study inadequacies in international trade and the possibility of changing existing trade patterns in order to ensure the compatibility of a given country's imports and exports with the rational and non-wasteful use of its natural resources. Another delegation stressed that in
international monopolies were often the root cause of the waste of natural resources in developing countries. It recalled in that connexion that the meeting of non-aligned countries held in August 1976 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, had concluded that exploitation, colonialism, neocolonialism, apartheid and racial discrimination also entailed waste of natural resources.
435. Some delegations welcomed the progress made by UNEP in the further elaboration of the concept of ecodevelopment, and supported the suggestion by the expert group that the concept should be further developed and refined through empirical studies and practical experiments. The activities of the Executive Director to promote one pilot project on ecodevelopment in each of the three developing continents were also commended. One delegation pointed out that the concept of ecodevelopment was germane to the integrated rural development programme in its country, while another speaker expressed satisfaction with the pilot project on ecodevelopment the South Pacific region.
436. Two delegations stated that the question of shared natural resources should not fall within the purview of UNEP: one took the view that relevant work could be carried out by the Committee on Natural Resources and UNDP, while the other felt that the question pertained more properly to the area of bilateral co-operation.
437. The representative of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA)stressed the important role played by his organization in the promotion of regional co-operation for the rational use of natural resources* The proposal by the Soviet Union to convene an All-European Conference on Environmental Protection would further strengthen that co-operation. CNEA had long-standing experience and involvement, through various projects and studies, in the question of environmentally sound development and had collaborated in that area with many other international organizations, including UNEP and ECE; it stood ready to place its experience at the disposal of the international community.
438. One speaker recalled the measures taken in his country to promote environmentally sound development, stressed that such measures were of benefit to all ethnic and religious groups there, and said his Government-was ready to share its long-standing experience with other States in the area through regional co-operation programmes. Another representative said that her Government had the most serious reservations on the statement made by the previous speaker, whose country continued to violate United Nations resolutions and, by its aggressive policies and occupation by force of Arab territories, threatened world peace and the establishment of a new international ecological order. Another delegation pointed out that Arab peoples enjoyed full civil, political and human rights in their countries, whereas there was concrete international evidence regarding the deprivation of human rights and untenable living conditions of the Palestinian people living under Zionist oppression and discrimination, a situation which also caused the continued deterioration of the Palestinian environment.
439. At the conclusion of the debate, the Executive Director said he was gratified by the emphasis placed by many delegations on the need for translating into practical action the conceptual work which had been accomplished so far on the question of environment and development. He also hoped to include in the Level One report on environment and development, to be submitted to the Governing Council at its sixth session, information on the actions taken by United Nations agencies to introduce environmental considerations into their policies and programmes bearing on development planning. He also appealed to Governments to provide UNEP with information on their national experiences in the environment and development field, for-inclusion in the Level One report, and raised with the Council the possibility n of consolidating in the programme document, which was considered by Sessional
Committee I, the work carried out in the area of environment and development.
Action by the Governing Council
44o. At its 74th meeting, on 24 May 1977, the Governing Council considered a draft decision on environment and development, including irrational and wasteful uses of natural resources and ecodevelopment, submitted by the delegations of Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Federal Republic of, Kenya, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
441. The representative of Finland said that the draft decision did not refer specifically to the importance of including environmental considerations in the international development strategy for the third United Nations development decade; however, his delegation, as a sponsor, interpreted the draft as covering the contribution of UNEP to the preparation of that strategy.
442. The draft decision was adopted by consensus (decision 100 (V)). 35/