This draft declaration was issued at the PAN African Pan African Conference of Civil Society Organizations : Consolidating the Regional Agenda Towards WSSD and Beyond, held at Cote-d'Ivoire, Abidjan, on 17-19 July 2002

The policy platform presents policy work in progress for purposes of information sharing and provoking further contributions. These are not official positions of civil society, although they are positions taken by groups in civil society after debate and discussion. They may, after further discussion, become part of a South African civil society position.



At its core, Johannesburg is about the relationship between human society and the natural environment. Yet the model of development that has brought us so much has also exacted a heavy toll on the planet and its resources. It may not be sustainable even for those who have already benefited, let alone for the vast majority of our fellow human beings, many of whom live in conditions of unbearable deprivation and squalor and naturally aspire to share the benefits that we enjoy. Mr. Kofi Annan, 2002


We, African Civil Society Organisations/NGOs meeting in Abidjan, Cote-d’Ivoire from 17-19 July 2002 to discuss and consolidate a regional agenda towards the World Summit on Sustainable Development, reaffirm our demands for and commitments to Sustainable Development with the aim of:

  • Consolidating the CSOs thematic input into the Summit itself based on the issues identified by the CSOs; and
  • Adopt a strategy for CSOs engagement and participation in the Summit.

The Rio Summit provided a vision for sustainable development. The Summit provides a holistic view of sustainable development which requires intra and intergenerational equity, including a balance between the following three pillars: social, environmental and economic. These principles were expected to inform processes leading to the formulation, implementation, monitoring and assessment of national policy and development programmes. In addition, the principles were due to inspire resource mobilisation and redistribution to ensure equality and equity, while taking account of environmental and cultural diversity including those of the non-dominant cultures.

Ten years after Rio, not much has been achieved despite the promises made by the international community. Poverty has deepened among a majority of the world population and has adversely impacted differently women and men, as well as youth and children. The situation is worse in the African continent. The economies of African countries are declining as a result of unequal power relations in international trade and investment regimes, high illiteracy, HIV/AIDS prevalence and deteriorating health status, environmental deterioration, increased debt burden, declining ODA finance, wars and conflicts and feminised poverty. There is increased exploitation of the natural resource base of the continent, including mining and minerals, forests and marine resources.


A society:

  • that ensures the fundamental needs of its people
  • in which people have better/improved livelihoods and poverty is reduced to a minimal level
  • characterised by equality and equity, where people of both genders are assured equal rights and opportunities
  • in which there is unity in diversity
  • in which development is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable
  • that is people-centred and does not compromise the well-being of future generations
  • that is inclusive and guarantees adequate participation in decision-making processes
  • with good governance that ensures peace, stability and security of its people
  • that is participatory and accommodates the interests of all stakeholders
  • that fosters partnership between leaders and their people, between our countries and external counterparts
  • in which African integration and unity is realized.

Our hope and expectation is that WSSD will advance towards the achievement of the above vision.


The last ten years witnessed the insufficient commitment on the part of international community and African governments to the ideals of Rio. Development partners have not provided adequate financial and technological support for Africa’s developmental priorities. Multilateral financial institutions have imposed prescriptive policies such as SAPs which have undermined the capacity of the peoples of Africa to lift themselves out of poverty and food insecurity. African governments made insufficient efforts to fulfil the promises made in Rio. African government and CSOs participated in Rio relatively ill-prepared.


We acknowledge that for the WSSD to achieve our vision stated above, it should address the following key issues: Poverty, Gender equality and equity, Sustainable agriculture and food security, HRD (health, education, etc.), Finance for Development, Coherence in policy and Multilateral Environmental Agreements, Development governance, Trade, Science and Technology, NEPAD, Information society, African Union, HIV/AIDS, Natural Resource Management & Environment, Globalisation, Water and sanitation, Energy, Human settlement, Peace, security and stability, Governance, Industrialization, Natural disasters and climate change, Unipolar world, Multilateralism, Regionalism and Labour standards.

With regard to some of the above issues:

4.1 We note that the numerous bracketed issues on chapter 8 send signals on the possible unwillingness on the part of development partners to support efforts to address the development challenges of Africa. We acknowledge the efforts made by the South African government to address our outstanding issues from Bali and to achieve consensus on the way forward.

We, at this meeting have made some suggestions for dealing with the remaining brackets in chapter VIII of the draft implementation plan for the WSSD.

4.2 We acknowledge that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and protection of natural resource base are priorities for sustainable development in Africa. High HIV/AIDS prevalence imperils the capacity of Africa’s human and social capital to achieve sustainable development.

4.3 We deplore that the multilateral trading system and SAPs imposed by IFIs do not favour sustainable development for Africa. Barriers to trade such as high tariffication, various norms and standards and other protectionist behaviour, are highest in areas where Africa, and LDCs in particular, have comparative advantages such as textile and agriculture. Better access to markets for primary and value-added products can leverage the allocation of economic resources to development priorities. Further trade liberalization should contribute to sustainable development.

4.4 We recognise that while globalisation brings new opportunities and challenges for sustainable development in Africa, the uneven distribution of benefits and costs further marginalizes the continent in the world economy.

4.5 We note that high external debt and debt servicing, combined with the declining trend of ODA and private investment seriously undermine development efforts.

4.6 While we reaffirm our engagement with NEPAD despite our insufficient involvement in its formulation, we urge African leaders to partner with African civil society organisations in all processes for its conception, implementation and monitoring.

4.7 We reaffirm that sustainable development requires active participation of women and men at all levels of decision-making, implementation and monitoring.

4.8 We acknowledge that peace is a pre-requisite for sustainable development.

4.9 Active participation of women and men at all levels of decision-making, implementation and monitoring is a key criteria for achieving sustainable development. .

To comment or suggest changes contact [email protected]. Civil society organizations can also forward proposed policy positions and declarations to the same address.