TOWARD SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE AMERICAS
June 1996 draft for upcoming Sustainable Development Summit (Bolivia,
December 1996) archived on AmericasNet (http://americas.fiu.edu)
TOWARD SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE AMERICAS
June 1996 Draft Presented by the Bolivian Government to the Organization of
American States (OAS) in preparation for the December 1996 Hemispheric
1. The elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas are committed
to pursue sustainable development, and concur that economic and social
prosperity, as well as human progress, can best be attained by empowering
our citizens and providing them with access to a productive and healthy
environment, which will enable them to satisfy their needs and aspirations.
2. We believe that some of our current patterns of resource extraction,
production, and consumption have responded primarily to short term goals.
This has led to the destructive and wasteful exploitation of our natural
wealth, with the poor bearing a disproportionately high cost of
environmental degradation. To reverse this situation, we are committed to
ensure that our policies, investments, and institutional reforms reflect our
concern with both our most pressing needs, but also with the dimension of
sustainability that addresses inter generational equity.
3. We recognize that the increasing depletion of our natural resource base
and the deterioration of the human and natural environment call for
immediate and measurable actions. Therefore, we are committed to adopt
concrete and practical steps to forge partnerships that will strengthen our
capacity to manage, monitor and evaluate our decisions and actions regarding
our human, natural, financial, and institutional resources.
4. We believe that the globalization of our economies has rendered isolated
initiatives insufficient. Today's economic conditions require coordinated
efforts to reverse those processes that are jeopardizing the well being of
present and future generations. Such efforts will complement national and
local interventions in the same direction.
5. We acknowledge that without improving the conditions of human existence
it will not be possible to protect the integrity of the natural systems that
sustain us. Attempting to protect our ecosystems while ignoring human needs
is a political, moral and practical impossibility. At the same time, the
benefits of prosperity cannot be reached through policies that ignore the
realities of human interaction with and dependence upon nature. Nor can we
address human needs without dynamic and healthy economies. These
considerations underlie our agenda for action.
6. We agree that sustainability involves first and foremost, a set of
principles and practices encompassing the human, social, economic and
environmental dimensions of development. Because these principles and
practices are all inclusive in terms of human progress, they must be pursued
simultaneously and in a coherent manner.
7. We recognize that economic growth is central to the satisfaction of human
needs, which are not the same for all nations or for all groups within a
nation undergoing different stages of socioeconomic development. We also
acknowledge that these differences are partly explained by social, economic
and environmental disparities; by differences in production and consumption
patterns, and by disparities in the forms of accessing, allocating, and
using resources prevailing in the region.
8. We concur that the goals and objectives of sustainable development must
be accompanied by efforts to secure the conditions that enhance growth and
capital accumulation in its several forms, namely, human, natural,
financial, physical and institutional. Progress toward sustainability
requires that we maintain a careful balance among all forms of resources.
9. Cognizant of our differences regarding resources endowments in its
various forms, we are committed to adopt sustainable development as the
organizing principle of our policy framework, and to pursue technological,
financial and other forms of cooperation accordingly.
10. We reiterate our firm adherence to the principles enshrined in the
charter of the Organization of American States and the United Nations,
including those concerning the sovereign equality of states, non
intervention, self determination, human rights and the peaceful resolution
11. We affirm our commitment to the principles and agreements of the 1992
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro,
which provide guidance for advancing toward sustainable development.
12. We believe that this Summit represents a unique occasion to agree on a
shared vision of sustainable development, a vision grounded on a series of
challenges and opportunities facing our Hemisphere at this particular
juncture. Following are our most pressing challenges:
* Increasing environmental degradation.
* Unprecedented high levels of relative and absolute poverty in the
* Major changes in population trends and growth, as well as in patterns
of migration and urbanization.
* Recent decline in real wealth creation.
13. To confront these challenges, we are committed to pursue economic growth
with social equity and environmental protection. To these end, we will make
the best possible use of our endowments, namely, the relative abundance and
biodiversity of our natural resources some of which have global importance
as well as our cultural, ethnic and spiritual wealth. The opportunity to
advance toward this goal is being enhanced by the following trends:
* The growing participation of the private sector in attaining objectives
linked to growth, developments and sustainability.
* The prevalence of a solid macroeconomic framework.
* The increasing participation of the civil society in policy dialogue.
14. As Governments and Heads of State, we believe that it is part of our
role and our duty as well as an important challenge to consult with and
engage our citizens in policy identification and implementation, to discuss
available options with them, and to ensure that sufficient information is
made available so that they can make choices that will facilitate
development that is truly sustainable.
15. As Heads of State and Government of the Americas, we firmly believe that
the following set of principles should guide our plan of action toward
Our Ultimate Objective: The Human Being. We believe that our peoples, and
their creative intelligence, constitute a key source of hemispheric wealth.
Therefore, our actions should be aimed at strengthening our human resources.
Sustainability as the Organizing Principle of Policy Making. An integrated
vision encompassing social, economic and environmental perspectives requires
that we adopt sustainable development as the guiding force of our policy
making, that we develop strong awareness of its principles and practices,
and that we use them effectively.
The Global Nature of Sustainable Development. As our economies grow more
interdependent, sustainable development has become a universal priority and
must be pursued by all nations in the hemisphere. Similarly, the goals of
sustainable development can only be achieved by simultaneously pursuing the
human, social and cultural economic and environmental dimensions of
Our Diversity, Our Identity. Sustainablility does not imply that each and
every country in the Hemisphere is at the same level of development nor does
it require that we, as sovereign nations, adopt a uniform approach to reach
that goal. While we require a consistent global framework, we must
acknowledge that solutions will differ in timing and approaches, given the
fact that our nations will have to respond to different needs.
The Non exclusionary Nature of Sustainability. Sustainability requires that
the benefits of development reach all nations in the Hemisphere, and all
segments of the population within each nation. Our efforts should be
specifically aimed at those groups that have been traditionally excluded
from the benefits of economic growth, that is, the poor, including women and
children, indigenous peoples, and minority communities.
A Step Forward in an Evolutionary Process. The agreements reached at this
Summit do not represent an end in themselves. Rather, they build upon
previous instances of hemispheric cooperation, advancing toward regional
III. ELEMENTS OF A STRATEGY
16. In accordance with the principles enunciated above, and given the
socio-economic realities of our nations, we agree to adopt a consistent and
harmonious strategy towards our goals and objectives concerning sustainable
development. The basic elements of such a strategy will set in motion
priority actions that respond to short and medium-term goals. This strategy
will also create an enabling context to pursue all options available to each
nations and the Hemisphere as a whole; it will also be instrumental in
consolidating a fundamental process of cooperation to attain our long-term
development objectives. This strategy requires that we gear our efforts to
strengthening our human resources, institutions and legal framework, to
protect our natural resources, and to use our physical and financial
resources (public and private) in an efficient way as follows:
A) HUMAN RESOURCES
Poverty Alleviation. Our ability to progressively eradicate poverty will
determine the extent to which sustainable development will be achieved in
Addressing Human Needs. Providing access to quality health, education and
housing to those who need them will enhance the potential of our population
to contribute actively to sustainable development.
Health and Environment. Governments have the responsibility to prevent
illness and loss of human and natural life resulting from environmental
deterioration. Environmental standards and regulations, as well as economic
incentives when applicable, will contribute to guarantee the right of our
peoples to live and work in a healthy environment.
Strengthening our Cultural and Indigenous Values. The preservation and
enhancement of our cultural patrimony, including the values and practices of
our indigenous populations, is a key component of sustainable development.
B) INSTITUTIONS AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Accountability. Sustainable development can best be attained in societies
that have accountable and free institutions, where all segments of civil
society have access to relevant information and fully participate in
Stewardship. Human life and prosperity depend on the health of our natural
systems air, water, forests, soils--and their biodiversity. Both people and
institutions have a responsibility for stewardship, protecting natural
resources so that they will continue to sustain life and prosperity in the
Democracy and Transparency. A representative and truly participatory
democracy guarantees respect for human rights and the rule of law; it
safeguards cultural values, ethnic diversity, pluralism and spiritual
values; it respects the rights of minorities, and secures peace within and
among nations. Democracy and sustainable development are mutually
reinforcing when political institutions are transparent, when the rules are
clear to all, and when civil society has broad opportunities to participate
in the endeavors of development.
Regulatory Framework. Provided that appropriate national policies and
regulatory frameworks are in place, free trade and increased economic
integration should offer improved opportunities to enhance the working
conditions of the peoples by improving economic efficiency and by better
protecting our environment.
Policies and Incentives for Investment. Government policies must encourage
investment to strengthen our human assets, to preserve and increase our
natural resources, and to enhance efficiency and productivity. In this
respect, freer domestic and international trade can contribute to foster and
consolidate rapidly growing private investment, a key determinant of the
pace and direction of development.
C) NATURAL RESOURCES
Organizational Arrangements. The adequate management of our natural
resources and environmental matters requires that we rely on appropriate
organizational arrangements at the international, national and local levels.
Policy Instruments. Making progress toward sustainability requires that we
develop a series of policy instruments to improve the management of our
natural resources. We should carry out economic valuation of both our
natural resources, and of the impact that the development has upon them.
Participatory Management. To enable both citizens and institutions to
fulfill their mission regarding stewardship it is our responsibility as
governments to create vehicles for participation in decision-making and
management of natural resources.
Roles and Participation. As governments, it is our responsibility to create
vehicles for participation, as well as policy and legal instruments, to
enable both citizens and institutions to fulfill their mission regarding
Knowledge and Research. Better choices regarding the use of our natural
resources require that we develop the necessary knowledge and information
regarding their nature, status, and potential, and that we make it available
to all those who need them.
D) PHYSICAL AND FINANCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Spending and Investment. Fiscal and public investment policies should be
guided by a globally integrated perspective coupled with a strong commitment
to the sound management of public resources.
Infrastructure. Human-made resources, including roads, dams, settlements,
and other public works, are the framework of development. Our decisions
about how, where and when to build them should be determined by our
commitment to the well-being of future generations.
IV. PLAN OF ACTION
17. As Heads of State and Government of the Americas, we expect that this
Summit will represent a step forward in a process that started several
decades ago, and which has crystallized in the various declarations,
treaties, and conventions that bind us together. We agree that the 1994
Summit of the Americas in Miami was an important landmark, as it sets the
road map for subsequent political and institutional instances of
cooperation. In this sense, we are convinced that our efforts in this field
will not conclude with the Santa Cruz Summit.
18. The priority areas for action contained in the agenda that follows put
our people in their interaction with nature, at the center stage of
sustainable development. Some represent just the fist steps in the long
process toward sustainability, while others are intended to further define
or intensify previous efforts.
19. Conscious that our growing commitment must be universal, transcendental
and evolutionary, we consider that the following priorities will lead to
initiatives or concrete actions which should be viable, easily
implementable, measurable as well as politically and socially acceptable at
this point in time. They offer opportunities for establishing partnerships
among the nations of the Americas so that together we can respond to the
needs and aspirations of our peoples. They focus on improving and
strengthening our human resources, our institutions, our natural resources
and our fiscal and financial infrastructure.
A) IMPROVING OUR HUMAN RESOURCES BY EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES
20. As we expressed in the Miami Summit, it is politically intolerable and
morally unacceptable that some segments of our populations are marginalized
and do not share fully the benefits of economic growth. Increasing
opportunities to improve peoples quality of life and health, to broaden
their knowledge, and to pursue their drive to innovation and creativity are
important ingredients of development that is sustainable.
21. The following priorities have been identified as vehicles for enhancing
our human assets so that we can attain greater social justice for all our
22. Health problems cause unwarranted human suffering, undermine human
potential, and are a major drain for our economies. In this field we have
identified the following priorities:
Targeting Vulnerable Groups. Increase access to health care and other health
services for vulnerable groups such as women and children.
Nutrition. Improve food supplies and distribution channels to ensure better
nutrition for the poorest segments of our population.
Environmental Health. Prevent illness and loss of life originated in
hazardous and degraded environments.
More Effective and Accessible Health Services. Improve access to primary
health services to all people.
2) Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation
23. Experience shows that investing in peoples education and
training--especially womens--not only contributes to poverty reduction but
also keeps population growth under control. In this field we have identified
the following priorities:
Cultural Diversity and Traditional Knowledge. Reach universal literacy and
carry out other efforts in the field of early education with curricula and
materials that are mindful of, and inspired by peoples diverse cultural
values, traditions and believes.
Education on Sustainable Development Issues and Approaches. Design and
disseminate curricula that teaches principles, values and practices
concerning sustainable development.
Skill Development and Retraining. Improve peoples skills and knowledge for
productive employment, and enhance their opportunities to express their
creativity and ingenuity, in accordance with recent shifts in our economies
and technological development.
3) Increase Opportunities for Self-Employment through Micro-enterprises
24. Given the fact that nearly one in three jobs in Latin America and the
Caribbean are created by micro-enterprises and small businesses, it is
imperative that we strengthen this sector by increasing and facilitating
access to financial resources and services, by improving training, and by
disseminating technologies that contribute to ecoefficiency and
Finance and Financial Services. Create incentives for banks to enter the
field of micro-finance, and to design and develop lending procedures apt to
the needs of micro-entrepreneurs.
Regulations. Level the playing field for micro-entrepreneurial activity by
correcting the tax system, by simplifying licensing requirements, and by
changing those policies concerning labor, pricing and spending that
discriminate against micro-entrepreneurs.
Ecoefficiency and Competitiveness. Set in place policies and regulations
that foster the adoption of environmentally-sound technologies so that waste
is reduced while efficiency and competitiveness are improved.
B) PROTECTING AND MANAGING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES
25. Most economies of our Hemisphere are largely dependent on the use of
natural resources Therefore, the extent to which we can improve the
well-being of our population, and strengthen our human, financial, and
institutional assets, will be determined by how we manage our natural
Furthering the agreements that we reached at the Hemispheric Summit of the
Americas in Miami, UNCED, and other international conventions and fora such
as Agenda 21, The Framework Convention Climate Change, GATT-WTO, we have
identified energy, water, and forests, as priority areas to focus actions
regarding environmental degradation and resource waste.
26. Pricing policies and subsidies, regulations, marketing structures, and
access to information on energy conservation and technologies are all
factors that have and will determine investment and consumption patterns
resulting in various degrees of efficiency. Therefore, actions are required
to address the following priorities:
An adequate supply of energy or industrial and domestic uses is an important
social goal of development. Nonetheless, current patterns in the use of
energy are the primary cause of pollution, environmental degradation and
Transparency in Energy Pricing. Assess of the social and private costs of
current subsidies, as well as and their economic, social and environmental
effects, as a first step leading to a dialogue regarding the allocation of
large sums of financial resources in ways that contribute to sustainable
Policies for Energy Efficiency Generation and Conservation. Develop
guidelines for energy policies that can trigger far-reaching benefit in
efficiency and conservation so as to reduce pollution, improve
competitiveness, and benefit larger sectors of the population. Issues
include regulatory frameworks and legislation on market structures; fiscal
and monetary policies; infrastructure development, and the promotion of
sustainable and renewable energy sources.
Information Production and Dissemination. Develop mechanisms to produce and
disseminate information on a wide array of experiences and lessons learned
regarding institutional, economic and technical instruments that will permit
the appropriate use of the various sources or conventional and alternatives
of energy throughout the Hemisphere.
27. Despite extensive efforts by countries in the Americas to improve water
use and management, demand continues to rise while contamination has
seriously degraded the quality of fresh water spreading disease and causing
unaccounted economic losses.
Poor management structures and pricing, as well as lack of stakeholder
commitment to water mange and conservation, are important factors
contributing to growing scarcity. Particularly troublesome are the projected
demands of drinking water by urban populations, and potential conflicts
among sectors, regions and countries that share water sources. Action will
be needed in the following priority areas:
Management and Use. Establish mechanisms (laws, rights to access, management
structures, decision-making processes) to manage water resources in ways
that meet the various needs, including human health and safety, economic
development, and wildlife conservation.
Access and Availability. Find ways to address pollution problems and meet
the challenge of supplying safe drinking water to rapidly growing urban
Stakeholder Participation. Develop legal and administrative instruments that
enable direct involvement of water users and governments at all levels in
water planning, development, and management.
Transboundary Water Conflicts. Support the establishment of early warning
systems to anticipate water conflicts, and establish codes for management
and dispute resolution on transboundary waterways.
Economic Valuation of Water Resources. Support the use of techniques to
estimate the value of water resources, and the health, productivity and
biodiversity of water sources: impacts of pollution and over exploitation.
Introduce instruments to manage water demand through pricing and incentives
3) Forests, Forestry and Biodiversity
28. Forests are the home and source of livelihood of millions of culturally
diverse populations in the regions as well as of economic growth and foreign
revenue for many countries. Forests in the Americas contain some of the
richest biodiversity in the planet, play an important role in climatic
stabilization, and are significant source of oxygen for the planet .
Nonetheless, deforestation in the region is taking place at alarming rates,
resulting in the destruction of the resource base of diverse ethnic groups,
loss of biodiversity, and large economic loss. Factors contributing to this
situation include lack of clarity concerning property rights, poor valuation
of this resource and insufficient understanding on how to manage forests in
As agreed at UNCED 1992, we believe that decisions on how to use forest
resources is rightly a matter for national governments. Each country has the
right and responsibility to set its own resource management priorities in
accordance with its own development goals.
The following are priorities to increase cooperation on sustainable forest
Property of Forest Resources. Reconcile property of forest resources with
the actual use of resources.
Define Viable Approaches to Sustainable Forest Management. Develop mechanism
to share information on sustainable forest management, and establish
institutional arrangements, market opportunities, intersectorial policies,
forest management methods and technology, forest concessions, and trade
standards affecting forest products.
Financial Mechanisms for Sustainable Forestry. Develop policy guidelines and
cooperation mechanisms to finance sustainable forest management and increase
forest revenues. This includes better utilization of timber and non-timber
products, and assigning value to non-timber benefits and services such as
watershed protection, contributions to a life supporting atmosphere, and
Economic Valuation of Forest Resources. Support the use of valuation
techniques for both resource accounting and sustainable forest management
decisions, including the incorporation of environmental cost-benefit
Protection of Biodiversity. Improve the national systems of parks and
reserves and develop policy and institutional instruments to understand and
address the destructive effects of social and economic activities upon
C) REFORMING OUR INSTITUTIONS AND LEGAL FRAMEWORKS
29. The pursuit of sustainable development requires institutions and legal
frameworks that are transparent and simultaneously address economic
progress, equity and environmental management.
Many of our institutions, laws and regulations have been developed with a
sectorial orientation. which has resulted in inconsistencies, overlaps and
gaps that stand in the way to sustainable development. Therefore, it will be
necessary to address the following priorities:
1) Public Participation and Governance
30. Democratic institutions have made impressive strides in recent years. As
Heads of State and Government, we recognize democratic governance as one of
the pillars of sustainable development. Nevertheless, in many countries the
practice of democratic citizenship continues to be limited to the periodic
act of voting.
Effective mechanisms for engagement with government will provide citizens
with opportunities to assume ownership over public issues and develop the
skills and experience for constructive dialogue with governments.
Strengthen Representative Institutions for Citizen Participation. Build
parliaments and local governments as effective channel for policy dialog and
oversight, for instance, by improving parliamentary research services and
technical support to legislation.
Expanding Avenues for Citizen Participation. Review laws and regulation
seeking to gear public agencies and decision making processes in ways that
are increasingly friendly to citizen participation, and by expanding avenues
of communication between public actors and citizens. Such avenues may
include right to know legislation, citizen ombudsman, public hearings or
citizen advisory boards.
Rules of the Road for Citizen Organizations. Set in place the appropriate
legislation, for civil governance, as well as physical incentives for
financing and procurement mechanisms that will foster the spread of
responsible, capable, and trustworthy citizen organizations.
2) Making Legislation Consistent with Sustainability
31. Most of our nations already have pieces of practical economic and social
legislation that are consistent with the principles and practices of
sustainable development. It is a priority to consolidate and improve such
regulatory framework as follows:
Free Trade and Economic Integration. Develop legal mechanisms to encourage
regional and subregional cooperation.
Incentives for Sustainable and Long-term Investment. Develop legal
instruments to promote public and private investment that is consistent with
Property Rights. Develop legislation and mechanisms to help clarify property
rights which are often confusing and inconsistent. Furthermore, property
registration is a generalized chaos throughout the Hemisphere. This
constitutes a serious obstacle to confidence building and participatory
3) Environmental and Natural Resource Legislation
32. Most of our laws and regulations governing environmental management have
been developed to respond to specific problems or from a specific sectorial
perspective. Therefore, they frequently lack frameworks that reflects
integrative and global nature of sustainable development. This has resulted
in legal inconsistencies and gaps, which translate into a lack of clarity on
rights and responsibilities regarding environmental and natural resource
Consistent Laws and Regulations. Correct legal and regulatory contradictions
and inconsistencies in ways that provide clear definition of environmental
rights and responsibilities for both institutions and social actors.
Harmonize laws and regulations within and among nations when appropriate.
Address Legal and Regulatory Gaps. Set in place the legal and regulatory
instruments to enable an integral management of natural resources and the
4) Valuing the Environment and Natural Resources
33. Because a substantial portion of a nations GNP depends upon its natural
resources, economic evaluation of both impacts of development and urban
pollution on those resources offer important insights into their patterns of
use. While polluter pays principle is conceptually acceptable, pricing
pollution has proven to be difficult. Placing monetary values on both
resources and impacts, is an important tool for improved policy analysis.
There are three priorities for hemispheric concerning valuation of resources
Improved Valuation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems. Support the use of
the growing body of accepted valuation techniques to estimate the values of
existing resources (either for direct use and consumption, or, in the case
of tourism and recreation, indirect or non-consumptive use) in order to
better manage and price these increasingly scarce resources.
Estimate the Health and Productivity Impacts of Urban Air and Water
Pollution. Use valuation techniques to estimate the health and productivity
benefits of alternative options of pollution control in order to select and
prioritize cost-effective investments and policies.
New Analytical Approaches to Measure the Rate and Direction of Environmental
and Climate Change. Introduce the use of indicators of environmental change,
and resource accounting , to assess damage and to implement policies to stop
and reverse environmental deterioration.
D) INVESTING IN THE PRESENT TO PROTECT THE FUTURE
34. Man-made resources in the form of financial strength and physical
infrastructure play a key role in defining development patterns.
Fiscal policies and incentives that send the wrong messages to investors and
fail to adequately assess probable outcomes and potential risks over the
long term have also contributed to increase poverty.
We consider that the following are the priorities to ensure that we expand
our financial and physical resources in ways that do not undermine progress:
Spending. Exercise fiscal discipline and pursue monetary policies that
reflect the purchasing power of currencies.
Investment. Set in place the instruments that will ensure that future and
social costs and benefits of investments will be properly weighted against
those of the present.
Infrastructure. Ensure that decisions about how, where, and when to build
infrastructure are informed by an analysis of impacts and costs to local
populations and the environment.
Last Updated: Friday, June 21, 1996