Vail, Colorado, USA
6-8 June 2001

I. Introduction

1. At its Millennium Session in 2001, the United Nations General Assembly agreed to undertake a ten-year review of progress in the implementation of the outcomes of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Rio Earth Summit. This review will take place at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in 2002 – the Johannesburg Summit. However, an important challenge is to ensure that the outcome of the Summit is not limited to a review but leads to new visions, commitments, partnerships and plans for practical implementation to make sustainable development real at all levels.

2. As a unique and major feature of the preparations for the Summit, it was agreed that the main issues for the Summit would arise from participatory national and regional assessments and discussions drawing from all segments of society and regions of the world.

3. The global inter-governmental process, which will involve three preparatory meetings to be held in the first half of 2002, will benefit from Regional Inter-governmental Preparatory meetings ("prepcoms") to be held in all regions in the second half of 2001. In order to support this process and to take advantage of the views of experts, the United Nations is convening independent Regional Roundtables of eminent persons and leaders of civil society in the five regions of the world.

4. The Europe and North America Eminent Persons Regional Roundtable was held in Vail, Colorado in the United States of America from 6 to 8 June 2001. This report attempts to capture the key concerns expressed and proposals for action made by the participants. The participants attended in their personal capacities and provided their perspectives on major accomplishments and major lessons learned since Rio in 1992, on the major constraints to sustainable development, on new challenges and opportunities for the future, and on strengthening the institutional frameworks for sustainable development, both within Europe and North America and globally.

5. The report is intended to help in the preparatory process leading up to the Summit with new ideas, based on the participants’ practical experience and interest in sustainable development, to develop a platform which outlines key policy issues, priorities and follow up actions for the region as well as at the global level.

6. This report will be forwarded to all of the regional and sub-regional prepcoms. It will also be made available to the global preparatory meetings. Furthermore, the Roundtable report will be posted on the Johannesburg Summit web site.

7. The Europe and North America Roundtable was organised by the Secretariat of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in collaboration with the Denver-based Center for Resource Management. The Roundtable was co-chaired by Sir Crispin Tickell, Mr. Ray Anderson, and Dr. Larry Papay. A full list of participants is attached as an Annex to this report.

8. Special gratitude goes to the local community of Vail, which organised special events for the Roundtable participants showing what the actions their community has taken to achieve sustainable development, demonstrating the necessary link of local to regional and global action. They also showed appreciated kindness and generosity in opening up their homes for the participants.

9. At the opening of the Roundtable, introductory statements were made by Mr. Dick Lamm, former Governor of Colorado, Mr. Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations; Mr. Terry Minger, President of the Center for Resource Management, and by Sir Crispin Tickell and Mr Ray Anderson, two of the Co-chairmen. Texts of introductory statements will be published separately in the proceedings of the Roundtable, along with the written contributions provided by participants.

II. Conclusions and proposals for action


10. The present generation may be among the last that could correct the current course of world development before it reaches a point of no return, due to depletion of the natural resource base and degradation of the environment. It has the knowledge and technological ability to achieve this. What it still lacks is political will and a individual commitment for action and broad public awareness of the consequences of inaction. There is a need for a new level of commitment, responsibility and partnerships. There is also a need for new ethics that are based on the recognition that growth is limited by the health and carrying capacity of the natural environment and that we have to respect the rights of forthcoming generations. There is a need to bring up and educate our children in ways that increase their deeper knowledge of natural processes , their connectedness with the natural world and their capacity for positive action.

11. The ways in which the industrial countries have developed in the past are not sustainable in the future, either for themselves or for others. Taking forward the switch to sustainability, this region must take special responsibility for assisting the poorer countries in the world by directly addressing their pressing environmental, social and economic problems. A new degree of global solidarity and partnership in the world - a world that is increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent - will be key to the health and quality of life and the sustainable future of all citizens of our planet. Quality of life in one part of the world should not be at the expense of quality of life in other parts.

12. This region currently uses an unfair amount of the world’s resources, which is already beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth. It also has a special responsibility in helping to eradicate poverty globally.


13. There has been a substantial change in public awareness of environmental issues. Such issues as ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, the destruction of tropical forests and the impact of human activity on the Arctic and small islands have now entered the popular vocabulary. The problems of growth of mega-cities are also widely understood.

14. In some cases, governments, cities, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, corporations, universities and other institutions have begun the process of understanding sustainable development, and devising programmes to put it into effect. At the local level, the issues defined at Rio are also becoming better known and understood, particularly through Local Agenda 21. But by any measurement, the results have been patchy and need much greater support, particularly from governments as well as from stakeholder groups and through individual action, since the overall situation is still worsening.

15. There have been some new encouraging international agreements, including the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. But the overall implementation of the agreements reached at Rio, particularly on climate change and biodiversity, has been disappointing so far, and is widely recognised as such.


16. Participants decided to focus their discussion on five key themes.


17. The model for development followed by industrial economies, which was created during the industrial revolution, is clearly outdated as the world moves towards a service and knowledge based society. Current models still rely on a form of economic growth that gives most value to financial and manufactured capital at the expense of human and natural resources. A new development model is needed, which provides for the integration of economic, social and ecological considerations, and for the growth of human well-being with decreased pressure on world resources.

18. Governments will continue to influence markets through legislation, fiscal and monetary regulation, and other incentives and disincentives. These tools, along with insurance and liability, need to be refashioned to place market forces within a framework of public interest and sustainability.

19. Corporate sustainability and ecological sustainability sometimes seem to contradict each other. However, they need not be mutually exclusive. They can be reconciled when government and corporate policies consider long as well as short term objectives. The contradiction between the "culture of quantitative growth" and the "culture of natural limits" can also be resolved. This requires changes in understanding and attitudes. Indeed natural limits and scarcities are often the best drivers for innovation, even if it means no more than the different use of old tools.

20. Experience shows that the voice of enlightened consumers of goods and services along with the voice of shareholders and employees can have an increasing impact on corporate behaviour towards greater sustainability.

21. The new structure needs updated methods of measurements and accountability, based on criteria and indicators of sustainability, so that governments, corporations and individual consumers can base decisions on a proper assessment of their full economic, social and environmental costs.

Specific challenges for Europe and North America

22. The transition of former centrally-planned economies to market-based economies and democratic institutions, along with the forthcoming expansion of the European Union, could provide opportunities to apply new ways of how to move towards more sustainable societies.

23. The region should also provide an example of how new partnerships, both between countries, and between governments and other stakeholders, could facilitate the transition to sustainable development.

24. Governments at all levels in Europe and North America should pioneer the use of economic instruments and policies supportive to sustainable development. The region should become a laboratory of how to make sustainable development happen.

25. The region also has a special challenge to increase financial and technological support to countries in transition and developing countries.

Proposals For Action

Implementation of the following proposals could assist in moving towards the new development model described above:


26. Patterns of consumption currently prevailing in the industrialised world are not sustainable. There is a need to move from a "standard of living" approach to a "quality of life" approach. This calls for a convergence of self-interest and a sense of collective responsibility. Media and advertising could play a significant role in promoting change in consumption patterns and consumer choice, especially among young people.

Proposals for Action


27. The planet is running out of its ability to support present eco-systems. The depreciation costs of natural capital and waste generation are currently included neither in commercial nor in national accounts. These need to be reflected to ensure that private and public decision makers are made aware of the medium to long term consequences of treating natural resources as a free good and of not limiting waste and pollution.

28. Natural resources, such as minerals, land, fresh water, forests and the resources of the oceans and seas, are being used and exploited at an unprecedented rate. The long-term impacts of removing or degrading parts of a natural system are still, to a large degree, unknown, but they still need to be taken seriously. We are only now beginning to understand the threshold and trigger reactions of natural systems to certain human activities. In this context, the strict demarcation between renewable and non-renewable resources is a false concept.

29. The degradation and depletion of fresh water resources is in need of urgent attention. Complex and politically sensitive concerns surround issues of equitable access to water resources and transboundary water catchment areas. Disputes over access to and use of fresh water risk provoking conflict in some regions of the world.

30. The resources of the oceans and seas are feeling the increasing impacts of human activities. The conduct of fishing fleets in the high seas, in particular the harvesting of young fish, new species and indiscriminate catches, will have irreversible consequences. There has already been a total collapse of fish stocks in some areas of the world’s oceans. Marine mammals are also threatened by pollution.

31. The degradation of land resources - in particular the topsoil – will cause critical economic, social and environmental effects. Desertification, soil erosion, salinisation, deforestation, and unsustainable agriculture affect food production, livelihoods, carbon storage and sequestration, community displacement and ecological collapse.

Proposals for Action


32. The industrial countries, in particular those in Europe and North America, are primarily responsible for the anthropogenic aspects of climate change. Therefore the region has particular responsibility to lead the way and give the example in taking remedial action. One key area where this shift has to take place is in energy and power production and use, including consideration of energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy technologies. There are several examples of local authorities, cities and corporations that have already taken concrete action to reduce emissions.

33. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change states that drastic reductions in carbon emissions are necessary by 2050. A series of changes in society will be necessary to transform the supply and use of energy and raw materials. Early action is urgent.

Proposals For Action


34. Open and democratic systems and respect for human rights are essential to progress. However, current institutions are not necessarily adequate to meet the challenge of sustainable development as they mostly respond to crisis and short-term political needs rather than long-term threats. New system of governance should fully engage stakeholders from civil society and the private sector. Partnerships of different stakeholder are a critical tool to achieve sustainable solutions at all levels. Institutions that promote sustainable development should be strengthened at all levels

Proposals for Action

III Challenges for Johannesburg

35. Ambitious and focused goals need to be set early in the preparatory process so that the Summit can achieve tangible results.

36. The Summit needs to make sustainable development understandable and meaningful to the public.

37. The voice of global civil society, which has emerged strongly since Rio, needs to be heard, both at the Summit and during its preparatory process. The Summit should become an event for the entire world community.

38. Governments cannot achieve sustainable development separately from other groups. Civil society, business, local authorities, trade unions, indigenous people and other stakeholders should come to the Johannesburg Summit, not as guests but as genuine partners and agents of change.

39. In an increasingly globalised world, new partnerships are critical between governments, NGOs, trade unions and the private sector, the role of states and their institutions will become less and less relevant. Adequate engagement of stakeholders will lead to the most constructive results.

40. A major development since Rio has been the greater technological connectedness among people, brought about by recent developments in communication technologies, in particular the use of the worldwide web. This should improve links between agendas (on health, environment and poverty).

41. It is in the long-term interest of industrial countries to increase their financial and technological support for sustainable development worldwide, and to fulfil the commitments they made at Rio.

42. The United Nations should consider developing a worldwide marketing plan to mobilise citizens’ support for global change and to promote awareness of the Johannesburg Summit.

IV Follow up to the Roundtable

43. Participants in the Roundtable expressed their strong commitment to facilitate progress within their own constituencies towards the goals of sustainable development and the success of the Johannesburg Summit. They agreed to stay in touch with each other in the lead up to the Johannesburg Summit. A meeting of the Chairmen of all five Roundtables should also be considered to consolidate the views expressed by participants at each meeting, and thus contribute further to the Summit process.

2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development

Europe and North America Roundtable - participant list

Name Country Background
Co-Chairman Sir Crispin Tickell UK Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury; Trustee of the Natural History Museum; Chairman of the Climate Institute of Washington DC; President of the Earth Centre, South Yorkshire; Director of Green College Centre for Environment Policy and Understanding; author; former diplomat (including posts as Ambassador to Mexico and the UN), Warden of Green College, Oxford, President of Royal Geographical Society, Chairman of International Institute of Sustainable Development; Chairman of the UK Government's Advisory Committee on the Darwin Initiative, President of National Society for Clean Air and Convenor of the Government Panel on Sustainable Development
Co-chairman - Day 1: Mr. Ray C. Anderson USA CEO, Interface Inc. (floor covering manufacturers); leading a worldwide effort to pioneer the processes of sustainable development in his industry; former co-Chairman of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development
Co-chairman - Days 2 & 3: Mr. Larry Papay USA Sector Vice President and General Manager for Integrated Solutions Sector, Science Applications International Corporation (dealing with integrating technology in energy, environment and information areas); former Senior VP and General Manager of Bechtel Technology and Consulting; former VP Southern California Edison power company
Mr. Charles Alexander USA International Editor, Time Magazine; previously served as TIME's science editor and before that business editor. Over the past eleven years he has also been at the forefront of TIME's award-winning coverage of environmental issues
Ms. Cindy Burton Canada Former President & CEO of, Inc.; one of Atlantic Canada's Top 50 CEO's in 1999 and 2000, and one of Canada's 40 Under 40 for 2000; currently active as a consultant and speaker, working with Atlantic Canadian companies to develop sustainable employment and growth for the region.
Ms. Severn Cullis-Suzuki Canada Biology student at Yale; spoke at Earth Parliament & the Plenary Session of the Earth Summit (then aged 12); Member, Earth Charter Committee; founded Environmental Children's Organisation; TV host and presenter; received Global 500 Award in 1991; has written many articles on environmental issues and published a book
Mr. Ward Dossche Belgium Policies & Procedures Manager, at BELGACOM (Belgian telecoms company); formerly chairman and executive director of the Belgian Greenpeace-office, 9 years of holding the Belgian seat in the board of the European Environmental Bureau; and founder, chair and treasurer of Seas At Risk (the largest European marine environment federation of NGO's)
Mr. John Evans UK General Secretary of the Paris-based Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD (which represents 56 national trade union centres, thus some 70 million organised workers)
Prof. Dr. Rumen Gechev Bulgaria Professor of Economics and International Business at the International University and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria; formerly a Fulbright Scholar and Guest Professor at a number of US and Western European universities. He was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Bulgaria and Chairman of the Fourth Session of the United Nations' Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD4).
Dr. William Glanville Canada Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); heads IISD's research activities and supervises strategic planning; previously worked for 28 years in the field of post-secondary education
Dr. Andrzej Kassenberg Poland President of the Institute for Sustainable Development, Warsaw; member of: Environmental Advisory Committee to President of European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Advisory Board to President of Energy Regulatory Agency, Regional Steering Committee of 'Leadership for Environment and Development Europe', and Board of Directors, Centre for Environmental Studies in Budapest, Hungary
Prof. István Láng Hungary Vice-President of National Council for Sustainable Development; member of Hungarian Academy of Sciences; former Member of Brundtland Commission
Ms. Hunter Lovins USA Rocky Mountains Institute; consultant to governments and the private sector; has written various books and papers and taught at several universities; serves on a number Boards (government, private sector and public interest groups); shared 1999 Lindbergh Award, 1993 Nissan Award and 1982 Mitchell Prize (with colleague Amory Lovins)
Ms. Alicja K. Malecka USA Senior international finance executive with expertise in emerging capital markets business development; former Executive Vice President of Management Committee of the Pioneer Group Inc.; advisor to Polish Minister of Finance; former Senior VP with Deutsche Bank Capital Corp and VP and Regional Director with Chemical Bank
Prof. Dr Neils Meyer Denmark Professor of Physics and emeritus professor at the Technical University of Denmark; Member of the executive committee of the Danish Council for Sustainable Energy; former Chairman of the Danish Council for Renewable Energy and President of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences
Prof. Bedrich Moldan Czech Republic Professor of Environmental Sciences at Charles University and Director of the Charles University Environment Centre in Prague; former Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic and a Member of the Czech Parliament; former Chairman of the United Nations' Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD9)
Mr. Yannis Paleocrassas Greece Chairman, Spectrum Financial Services SA and AMBIO Ltd; former Minister in Greece for National Economy, Finance and Environment and EU Commissioner for the Environment and Fisheries; visiting Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford University; Member of the Steering Committee of LEAD Europe
Dr. Olga Ponizova Russia Executive Director, "ECO-Accord" Centre for Environment and Development; author of over 80 publications on environment economics, environment and sustainable development policy, public participation in environment decision-making, environment education and public awareness; "Green Leader of the 1998 Year" (National contest for best personal contribution to environment protection)
Dr. Ivan Rynda Czech Republic Vice-Chairman, Society for Sustainable Living; Deputy Director, Centre for Environmental Scholarship, Charles University; member of various National councils and committees; former member of Prague City Council
Mr. Gordon Shepherd International - Switzerland Head of international unit in WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature); former Chief Press Officer, at the UK Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and Senior Spokes Person, UK Prime Minister's Press Office
Mr. Roy Spence USA Co-Founder and President of GSD&M Advertising (a nationally acclaimed US agency that employs over 700 people and bills over a billion dollars a year)
Ms. Margaret Sweeney Ireland Member and former Chairman of An Taisce (Ireland's leading environmental organisation); former President of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) (a federation of 150+ environmental organisations); advisory member of EEB's Executive Committee
Ms. Kaarin Taipale Finland Special advisor to the City of Helsinki, Chair of International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI)'s Executive Committee
Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier Canada President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (Canada); maintains seat on international ICC executive council; Vice-President of national Inuit organisation, Inuit Tapirisat of Canada
Mrs Christine von Weizsäcker Germany Biologist, author, researcher and activist. For thirty years, she has contributed scientific and policy analysis to the public debate on environment, technology assessment and sustainable production and consumption patterns
Mr. Ian Williams UK International journalist for numerous respected newspapers; former President of UN Correspondents Association; author of "The Alms Trade" (a study of the role of charities and NGOs) and "The UN For Beginners".