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AMBIO. 1992 Feb; 21(1):112-5.The UN can set standards and provide a framework for collaborative projects, but sustainable development will require the full participation of many sectors of society, both public and private. This review of sustainable development considers the role of UN-sponsored special conferences in the past 20 years, identifies a conceptual tool for assessing options, and suggests a global action plan that radically restructures the UN, based on popular sovereignty. The concern is for the protection of popular rights and welfare that could be ignored by powerful governments and powerful transnational corporations beyond government control; responsibility for the environment, natural resources, technologies, and other global issues cannot be overlooked. The concept is to develop an "international public sector for the management of interdependence" which can correct, as necessary the "international market process and ensure equitable distribution of resources." The Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972 marked the beginning of special conferences dealing with sustainable development. The UN General Assembly in 1974 adopted a mandate and programs for increasing the pace of economic and social development. In 1980 and 1990 further UN development strategies were adopted. The most recent strategy incorporated much from the Brundtland Commission Report but did not urge the change in attitudes and orientation of political and economic institutions. The Assembly of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) adopted strategies for conservation and development in 1990. Nongovernmental organizations have united to cooperate in the global effort to achieve sustainable development. However, there are 5.4 billion people and an increase of 2 billion expected in 20 years. Bureaucratic rivalry and the inherent weakness of the UN has lead to splintering of objectives and irrelevant decision making. After concept development, which is a noteworthy effort, there must be negotiation with government delegates and policy planners and decision makers. The priorities are to shift from economic development to social development, to shift from maximum use of inappropriate technologies to resource efficient and saving technologies, and integration of population with national environmental strategies.
Development. 1993; (1):6-7.The Executive Summary of the meeting of UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), held in 1991, highlights development priorities, population movements, sovereignty, special groups such as women and children, and long term solutions for a balanced pattern of development. The North South Roundtable was organized as part of the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of UNHCR. The theme was movements of people and challenges for policy makers. The roundtable group was comprised of 35 people from a variety of international, national, educational, and special interest organizations. There was a review of 1) mass movements (problems and prospects), 2) emergencies and displacements (solutions), and 3) global opportunities and international migration and the achievement of a more balanced world economy. The development priorities in the 20th century are coping with the growing inequality between living standards of the northern industrialized countries and the southern developing countries. This disequilibrium creates a pressure for migration, which is made worse by the displacements resulting from war and civil unrest. The 1990s, as a decade of displacement, will reflect increasingly greater mass movements of people. The possibility for peace-keeping and peace-making efforts is greater as a result of the end of the Cold War. New international policies should promote voluntary repatriation and integration, encourage prevention and preparedness for emergencies, deal with less visible human emergencies, reach all displaced people, and encourage a more coherent approach to migration. National governments must "acquiesce" to international organizations which are involved in humanitarian efforts. Effective expenditure can help dependents repatriate. Women and children, as special groups which comprise 75-80% of refugees and displaced persons, should be given special attention. A consensus was reached on human development as a primary focus. The World Summit for Children and the International Development Strategy for the Fourth Development Decade agreed on specific goals. Foreign aid should be directed to removing the gaps that exist in welfare and living standards. Migration needs to be discussed globally. The role of UNHCR in stimulating dialogue was identified. Better coordination of international action is needed. Nongovernmental organizations must be engaged in cooperative effort.