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Sustainable Development and Canada at the G7 Summit

Pierre Marc Johnson and John Kirton

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Tokyo 1993 and the Canadian Contribution

The 1993 Tokyo Summit saw a further diminution in the attention to environmental and development issues. There was an advance in the integration of economic and environmental considerations and an acceptance of sustainable development as a goal. But the environment was dealt with in only one of the economic declaration's 16 paragraphs, and the developing countries in only three.[15] Moreover, the leaders themselves spent little time discussing environmental issues.

The opening section of the Tokyo Declaration included "reconciling global growth and environmental objectives" as a priority challenge (para. 1). The section on employment and growth noted the contribution which "developing international cooperation on the environment" could make and the "opportunities for job creation offered by environmental policies" (para. 5). Moreover, in the section on nuclear safety in postcommunist countries, the leaders, inspired by their Japanese host, noted their "concern" over the ocean dumping of radioactive wastes by Russia" (para. 11). And all three of the paragraphs on developing countries specified the goals of sustainable development or recognized the importance of "taking environmental aspects into account" in the international development process (para. 12-14).

Paragraph 8, on the environment, noted the continuing "high priority" for this subject, and the importance of the new United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), ratification of the climate change and biodiversity conventions, and negotiation of a desertification convention. The G7 further promised to "publish national action plans by the end of this year," to use an improved Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to meet the "incremental costs" of implementing the conventions signed at Rio, and to encourage the multilateral development banks to focus on sustainable development, improve environmental appraisal of projects, and make these appraisals publicly available. Finally, the leaders welcomed work on forestry and on environmental and energy technologies, and looked "forward to a successful outcome of the United Nations conference on straddling and highly migratory fish stocks."

Apart from an introductory promise to support the developing countries, reference to this subject was confined to the three paragraphs dedicated to this topic. Here the heads highlighted the economic and social problems of Africa, and the importance of selfhelp, good governance, sound and open economic policies, and integration into the world economy. They pledged a comprehensive, differentiated approach, to "make all efforts to enhance development assistance," and to focus on the poorest through an extension or renewal of the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) and the Paris Club's review of early reductions in the stock of debt. They further promised to work for the success of the Cairo Conference on Population and Development, and noted the importance of the link between rapid population growth and sustainable development.

Canada's sustainable development interventions at Tokyo concentrated on overfishing on the Atlantic Ocean and a new concern with the effects of driftnet fishing on salmon off British Columbia, within the larger global context of sustainable development.[16] In bilateral meetings with British and French leaders, Prime Minister Kim Campbell pressed countries such as Italy and other European countries to ratify the CanadaEuropean Commission agreement on fisheries conservation. At the Summit table, where these coastal matters are traditionally regarded as parochial issues to be traded off for others' pet national concerns in a "Christmastree"like communiqué, Prime Minister Campbell stressed their importance to the broader process of, and shared interest in, sustainable development. It was she who pressed for, and succeed in, having added after the Thursday plenary session of the Summit, the declaration sentence endorsing the UN conference on migratory fish stocks.

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