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Collaborative frameworks

The strengthening of governance institutions at all levels is critical to achieving agreed goals. At the global level, these include the United Nations organizations and Bretton Woods institutions, which implement new or step up ongoing reform efforts. Fresh impetus also boosts existing multilateral environmental agreements, while existing protocols, such as those on climate and biosafety, are ratified.

Complementing this drive are efforts at regional level to increase intra- and inter-regional cooperation mechanisms and make them more efficient. These efforts are stimulated by a series of regional meetings, drawing together nation states and regional and subregional entities. The most conspicuous of these is held in Africa by the newly formed African Union, which results in the Africa Millennium Charter for Sustainable Development.

Of course, the efforts at both regional and global levels require action at the national level. Furthermore, intentions expressed at the higher levels need to be translated into meaningful goals and actions to be implemented at national and sub-national levels. This requires nations to place greater faith in - and assign more authority to - ministries focusing on social and environmental policies.

'It is understood that significant changes in social and economic systems will be needed to achieve the targets that have been set, and that these changes will take time.'

It is understood that significant changes in social and economic systems will be needed to achieve the targets that have been set and that these changes will take time. Action is required at many different levels. Certain areas stand out in which nations must cooperate with one another and with global institutions. Among them are global environmental issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, biodiversity loss and the long-range transport of persistent organic pollutants. Perhaps more important because they lie at the root of these environmental concerns are economic issues like trade and foreign debt. Technology development and transfer (particularly in the areas of ICTs, biotechnology and energy use) and the maintenance of intellectual property rights are also on the joint agenda. Other issues that demand attention are migration, security and sharing common resources from, for example, the oceans, the polar regions and space.