|Implementing Agenda 21: NGO Experiences from around the World (NGLS)|
Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
The Special Session of the General Assembly for the five-year review of Agenda 21 provides an extraordinary opportunity for all those involved in its implementation to step back and take stock of what has gone right (and why), what has gone wrong (and why), and where we go from here.
To carry out this evaluation, governments will have before them evidence of many kinds and from many sources. As this evidence is examined, it will he important to keep in mind a few broad and fundamental questions. Since 1992, is the world community closer to meeting human needs? Is the quality of life improving for the world's population? Are we reducing risks to the quality of life and enhancing our capacity to meet needs? Are we broadening options for the future?
The answers may not he that easy to come by because, among other things, the yardsticks for measuring progress are not yet available in many instances. The exercise currently underway, aimed at developing, agreeing to, testing and adopting sustainable development indicators, is an important means to address this. Even when these indicators are in use, however, they will need to be complemented by first-hand insight into the progress of the post-Rio process.
In this light, the contributions in this hook are invaluable NGOs have a long and rich history of involvement with the UN, ever since the first years of the Organization when they were instrumental in getting the women's issue on the international policy agenda. The Earth Summit was a fuming point. ushering in a new chapter of quantitatively as well as qualitatively increased NGO involvement.
NGOs now speak from a number of perspectives: as local practitioners in the implementation process, as watchdogs who can he counted on to sound the alarm when national or international authorities fail to meet commitments, and as advocates who push for sustainable development policies and programmes at all levels
We are fortunate, in this hook, to hear NGOs' views from these diverse perspectives. NGO reflection on and lessons learned from their multidimensional experiences are essential to carrying out the demanding and critical task at hand that of accurately assessing the effectiveness of existing policies and practices in meeting the goals of Agenda 21 so that, with new insights and renewed commitment, we can chart a more effective sustainable development course for a better future.