Research and Reports

Global Accords for Sustainable Development

GSSD Reports

Global Accords for Sustainable Development:
Enabling Technologies and Links to Finance and Legal Institutions



September 5-6, 1996 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Wong Auditorium, Jack C. Tang Center
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA


This initiative is co-sponsored by a wide range of institutions-international organizations, non-profit institutions, research foundations, business groups, and centers of excellence in science and technology.

The co-sponsors contribute to the design and conduct of the Symposium, and share in the burden of expenses. Because they represent a wide range of perspectives, so critical to the post-Rio Review, this diversity of views is a central feature of this initiative.

In addition, a diverse group of collaborators have helped in the design of this initiative, and each in its own way has facilitated the overall effort by contributing "in kind."

Co-Sponsored by

Secretariat of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development 

United Nations Development Program

Global Environment Facility


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Baker & McKenzie Foundation

MISTRA Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research

United Nations Population Fund

Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)

In Collaboration with

Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Climate Change

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

United States Council for International Business

The Earth Council

United Nations Environment Program

World Resources Institute

United Nations University

Conference Abstract

As we enter the 21st century, the international community is becoming increasingly engaged in the design of its own fate and the management of its own future. The diverse perspectives shaping the post-Rio priorities are an inherent part of this process.

The purpose of this Symposium is to contribute to the Five-Year Post-Rio Review, by

     (a) evaluating performance on Agenda 21, the Conventions, and institutional innovations, and
     (b) identifying critical priorities and strategies for action beyond 1997.

At issue is the challenge of managing the links between security, sustainability, and survival-for all countries at all levels of development and for the global system as a whole.
The questions before us, in the two days of the Symposium, are these:

What has been accomplished to date?

What are the innovations in technological, institutional, financial, and legal terms?

What are the crucial next steps?

What can be done to manage critical obstacles?

And how can that be done?

The focus of the Symposium is on advances in enabling technologies, linkages to new financial arrangements and instruments, and innovative institutional and legal approaches. Among the most crucial enabling technologies are

     (a) emergent communication and information technologies to facilitate sustainability at all levels of development;
     (b) effective interventions for meeting energy requirements; and
     (c) innovations related to "built environments" for the management of large-scale urban settlements.

All of these are contingent on access to finance and on the robustness of institutional and legal foundations.

Symposium Agenda

Thursday, September 5, 1996

The opening session provides the overall context for the Symposium as well as the contours within which to derive its conclusions.

Accordingly, the post-Rio challenges are introduced in relation to key technological imperatives, global strategic realities, market conditions, and emergence of new scientific knowledge.

Contributions to the Post-Rio Review 
Nazli Choucri
Symposium Chairman and Associate Director, Technology and Development Program MIT

Welcoming Remarks
Maurice F. Strong
Senior Advisor to the President, the World Bank
Chairman, Earth Council

The Challenges of Innovation and Adjustment
Charles M. Vest

Keynote Address: Public-Private Collaboration Since Rio
Jonathan Lash
President, World Resources Institute
Co-chair, President's Council on Sustainable Development

Perspectives from Business and Industry
Abraham Katz
United States Council for International Business

Perspectives from the Scientific Community
Mario Molina
Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Sciences


The cornerstones of the Rio Accords are reviewed in this session to serve as a basic foundation for the assessments of the Symposium. These cornerstones include Agenda 21, the Conventions, and the new institutional innovations that have been put in place in order to implement various directives emerging from UNCED.

The question in this session is

What has been accomplished at Rio?

Chair: Philip S. Khoury
Dean, School of Humanities and Social Science, MIT
Professor of History, MIT

Keynote Address: Agenda 21 and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development

Razali Ismail
Permanent Representative of Malaysia
Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations

Ian Johnson
Assistant Chief Executive Officer
Global Environment Facility
Rio Accords and Institutional Innovation

Thomas B. Johansson
Director, Energy and Atmosphere Program, SEED/BPPS
United Nations Development Programme 
Energy and Sustainable Human Development

Rudolf Dolzer
Professor of Law, University of Bonn
The World Trade Organization and the Environment

Jeremy Eppel
Counsellor to the Director for Environment, Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 
Industrial Countries' Views of Sustainable Development


Speaker: Maurice F. Strong
Senior Advisor to the President, the World Bank
Chairman, Earth Council

Financing Sustainability Strategies


Continuing along the theme of innovations at the global level, this session focuses on ongoing institutional developments-both governmental and non-governmental-and highlights the range of novelty as well as the extent of participation from both the state system and the civil society worldwide. The questions addressed in this session include:

What are the new and ongoing institutional innovations?

What is the present "state of play"?

What are some of the key unresolved issues?

Precisely why does all this matter?

Chair: Cornelia Quennet-Thielen
Ministerialratin, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection, and Nuclear Safety, Germany

Keynote Address: The Global Conventions & Key Regional Initiatives

Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Under-Secretary-General, the United Nations
Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme

Omar E. El-Arini
Chief Officer, Secretariat of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol
Experience with the First Global Fund for Environmental Management

Goran A. Persson
Managing Director, Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA), Stockholm, Sweden
Strategic Priorities in International Research Endeavors

Peter Fox-Penner
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, United States Department of Energy 
Progress & Promise: The Clinton Administration's Efforts in Fostering Sustainable Development

David H. Marks
Crafts Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT
The Evolving Importance of Industrial Voluntary Proactive Organizations


Central to the UNCED innovations and the post-Rio process is the role of technological advances in conjunction with new avenues for technology cooperation worldwide. Both the promise and the practice of new technological strategies feature prominently in Agenda 21, the Conventions, and in attendant institutional, legal, and financial arrangements. In all of these contexts, "technology" is conventionally viewed largely in terms of mechanical and operational features (i.e., "hard technology"). Equally if not more important are the organizational and managerial dimensions of technology interventions, the enabling conditions, and the factors facilitating implementation of new strategies (namely "soft technology"). This session focuses on three forms of transitions to sustainability, while acknowledging the role and salience of "hardware." These pertain to (1) information and communication; (2) energy and economic performance; and (3) management of large-scale human settlements.

Chair: Joel Moses
Provost and D.C. Jackson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

Keynote Address: Eliminating Barriers to Technology Access and to Diffusion of New Advances

Anders Wijkman
Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations
Director, Division of Policy and Programme Support, United Nations Development Programme

Nazli Choucri
Associate Director, Technology and Development Program, MIT 
Cyberspace for Global Sustainability

R.K. Pachauri
Director, Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi, India
Energy and Sustainability: Developing Countries

Elisabeth M. Drake
Associate Director, MIT Energy Laboratory
Energy and Sustainability: Industrialized Countries

Fred Moavenzadeh
Director, Technology and Development Program, MIT
New Strategies for Managing Large-Scale Settlements

Friday, September 6, 1996


Clearly little can be achieved along the lines developed at UNCED without the active involvement of the business community-in conjunction with access to appropriate financial resources. It is thus essential to reduce (if not eliminate) obstacles to deploying effective participation of the private sector in the course of strategic global transitions toward sustainability worldwide. If the international community has gleaned one important "lesson" from the post-Rio period, it is that the proverbial "business as usual" can be counterproductive, fraught with mechanisms for undermining trajectories toward sustainability. This session focuses on key departures from "business as usual" in terms of major initiatives in the private sector, drawing primarily upon market mechanisms. The recurrent theme throughout this session is that of the shaping of enabling market conditions buttressed by supportive public interventions.

Chair: Wallace R. Baker
Senior Partner
Baker & McKenzie, Chicago

Keynote Address: Management Challenges in the 21st Century: Implications for Sustainability

Glen L. Urban
Dean, Sloan School of Management, MIT 

J. Hugh Faulkner P.C. 
Executive Chairman, Sustainable Project Management Action to Mobilize Investments via Public-Private Partnerships

Norio Yamamoto
Managing Director and Secretary General, Global Infrastructure Fund (GIF) Research Foundation, Japan Meeting the Demand for Global Infrastructure Requirements

Heinrich Siegmann
Chief Political Analyst and Head of Economic Research Emerging Markets, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) 
How Financial Signals Reflect Political and Economic Conditions and Crises

Michael J. Walsh
Senior Vice President, Centre Financial Products Limited
Financing Market Mechanisms for Sustainability


All of the interventions, innovations, and new directions embedded in the post-Rio "portfolio" are contingent upon the provision of appropriate legal and contractual conditions. They are also contingent on the design of legal frameworks that are effective and consistent with the visions in Agenda 21 as well as responsive to the critical clauses in the formal accords (most notably, for example, those of the Framework Convention for Climate Change). The focus of this session is on removing barriers to this set of enabling conditions and facilitating emergent and responsible institutional strategies. To be viable, such strategies must not only be commercially robust, but they also need to accommodate, if not represent, both the ethos and the practice of emergent global accords.

Chair: Christiana Figueres
Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas


David P. Hackett
Partner, Baker & McKenzie, Chicago
New Trends in Multilateral Lending

Khalid Saeed
Professor of Infrastructure Planning and Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand
Managing Emergent Development/Environment Contentions

Norine Kennedy
Director, Environmental Affairs, United States Council for International Business
Enabling Business Conditions for Implementing the Conventions

Sethuramiah N.M. Rao
Chief, Technical and Evaluation Division, United Nations Population Fund
Financial Requirements for Managing Demographic Challenges

Session 8: Reinforcing Practical Moves Towards Sustainability

Practical moves to date have been noteworthy in terms of focus and diversity. The central task of this session is to answer the questions of:

What can be done better?

How can this be done?

Drawing on the deliberations and assessments of the past two days, the last session of the Symposium serves not simply as a summary but, more importantly, as a delineation of critical next steps. At this point the focus is on specific and practical modes of action, the bases of which are already in place. A final question addressed here is how to strengthen institutional foundations for improving knowledge diffusion as well as experiences from applied strategies toward sustainability.

Chair: Kenneth Prewitt
President, Social Science Research Council


Lowell Flanders
Assistant Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, United Nations
Strengthening Access to Enabling Technologies

Jiang Zhenghua
Concurrent Professor of University of Beijing, Jiaotong University, Fudan University Deputy Minister of the State Family Planning Commission of China
Responding to New Insights on Critical Socio-economic Demographic Shifts

Braden R. Allenby
Director for Energy and Environmental Systems, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Research Vice President, Technology and Environment, Lucent Technologies
Achieving Sustainability: Industrial Ecology Research Requirements

John T. Preston
President and Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Energy Technologies Corporation
Practical Moves Toward Sustainability

Session 9: Discussion of Symposium Issues


George Lauer
Senior Consultant, ARCO (Environmental Protection)

Mary Jane Von Allman
Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Texaco, Inc.

Carl B. Schultz
Senior Environmental Counsel, AMP Incorporated

Brian Flannery
Section Head, Exxon Research & Engineering Company

Anne Condon
Director, International Programs, General Electric Company