MPs and the Kyoto Protocol
MPs present in Ouagadougou decided to include on the agenda of the 107th IPU Conference, which will take place in Marrakech from 17 to 23 March 2002, at the invitation of the Parliament of Morocco, an item entitled : Ten years after Rio: global degradation of the environment and parliamentary support for the Kyoto Protocol.
With the successful conclusion of the resumed 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn last July, the momentum is quickly building for parliaments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This may very well turn out to be one of the main achievements of next year's World Summit on Sustainable Development, which will mark the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Conference.
At the COP6, governments were able to come to an agreement about the technical rules of application of the Kyoto Protocol, which sets a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 5.2 percent. Generally, the agreement covers three key areas: carbon sinks (now allowed, but only up to a certain limit for each country), emissions trading (there is now a workable system to adopt the rules governing it), and the Clean Development Mechanism (rules were set to allow developed countries to invest in climate-friendly projects in developing countries and receive credit for the emissions avoided by these projects). All of this comes with appropriate financial provisions and a compliance regime to provide enough incentives for countries to play by the new rules.
For the Protocol to enter into force, it will have to be ratified by at least 55 parties to the Convention, including industrialized countries representing at least 55 per cent of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions from this group. So far, only 36 countries have ratified it, and of these, only one is from the industrialized group. Aware of this, the IPU Council, meeting at the 105th Havana Conference, urged parliaments to hold debates on climate change and to organize an information campaign to help mobilize public support for the Kyoto Protocol. Now that the main roadblocks to ratification have been removed in Bonn, it is to be hoped that a round of parliamentary debates will get under way, thus demonstrating once again how the IPU and the UN can support each other in the pursuit of an important policy objective.
The fourth of its kind after the parliamentary round tables in Dakar (1998), Recife (1999) and Bonn (2000), the round table held in Geneva (4-5 October 2001) with the support of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, brought together MPs from 25 countries on the fringe of the Conference of Parties to the Convention. At the meeting, delegates described the situation with regard to desertification in their respective countries. Following presentations on desertification control in the countries concerned and on support for it in countries which are not directly concerned but which are anxious to combat this planet-wide phenomenon, the discussions focused on the text of the MPs' declaration which was presented a few days later to the Conference of Parties. Essentially, this text calls for the creation, within the Global Environment Facility (GEF), of an additional funding window for the implementation of the Convention.
Parliaments invited to debate development financing
Preparations for next year's International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico (18-22 March) have reached a crucial juncture with the release in September of the first draft outcome document for the event. The paper may still be a long way from representing the political agreement of governments as to how to finance development more effectively and more equitably in the era of globalization. That agreement may not materialize until the day of the conference itself. However, it is a very good synthesis of the discussions held by member states so far, and will undoubtedly constitute a solid platform for high-level political negotiations in the months leading up to the UN conference.
The draft outcome paper brings together many old and new ideas that touch on virtually every aspect of development financing. Some, expressed in the form of pledges for action or further consideration, respond to the wishes expressed by parliaments through a number of IPU resolutions or declarations. The paper dwells on trade as a key source of revenue for developing countries, advocates the abolition of unfair subsidies and other export barriers, especially in agriculture and textiles, and calls for a closer relationship between the WTO and the UN as well as for a more inclusive decision-making process at the WTO.
Consistent with IPU positions, the draft paper also calls for the deepening of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative for debt reduction, the untying of Official Development Assistance (ODA), a more focused role for the IMF, fairer governance of the World Bank, the incorporation of gender in all aspects of development financing (including in the budget process), more accessible credit for small enterprises, and further consideration of a global tax regime on control short-term capital flows - to mention just a few items. In addition, the paper presents many new proposals yet to be debated by the IPU and its member parliaments. These include: the possible creation, under the aegis of the UN, of a new world economic body to secure consistency of action among existing international organizations; a possible new International Tax Organization; increased powers for the ILO to make its international labour standards enforceable; and various fund-raising approaches to finance Global Public Goods such as increased partnerships between private and public sectors.
The IPU has been following the preparatory process for the International Conference virtually from the very beginning, and a major parliamentary contribution was made with the Jakarta resolution of October 2000 (Financing for Development and a New Paradigm of Economic and Social Development Designed to Eradicate Poverty). As decided by the IPU Council at the Ouagadougou Conference, the IPU will directly contribute to the UN event with a parliamentary declaration.
The release of the proposed outcome document provides yet another opportunity for parliaments to contribute to the development financing issue. Following recent discussions between the IPU and the UN, all parliaments are invited to debate the document and provide their input to the preparatory process for the International Conference. Indeed, a broad debate would provide further evidence of how the IPU can complement the work of the UN and, more important, help democratize the global decision-making process.