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Coded Checklist of Earth Summit Issues

Comments on Document Processing Procedure

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Prepared as a statement (see others) on the occasion of the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) for the International Facilitating Committee for the Independent Sectors in the UNCED process (Geneva). Portions of the text were published in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1994-5, vol 2) and in the online version of its commentaries (to which links below are made) shaping the global network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral issues. [IFCD54A]


The initial objective was to devise a means of comparative processing of sectoral declarations in order to clarify the positions of agreement and disagreement amongst sectors on the range of Earth Summit issues. To this end a range of declarations relevant to the UNCED process were collected (see Figure 7). On inspection it was decided that they did not readily lend themselves to a detailed comparative analysis. There were two principal reasons. Firstly, the documents were of a variety of forms which would have complicated any attempt at comparison -- a number were not in fact "declarations". Secondly, the time and resources finally available did not permit any detailed review.

In the light of the work on strategic dilemmas described in Document D, the objective was redefined to glean from the documents the nature of the range of Earth Summit issues to which the responsible bodies were responding.

The intent was to explore the match between the strategic dilemmas of Document D and the specific issues emerging from the various source documents. Initially the Brundtland Report was scanned to obtain a broad range of issues and to cluster them in terms of the 6 major dimensions of Figure 1 (Document D). The range of issues was then extended by incorporating the broader problems registered in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1991) since these had been derived directly from documents of international organizations and ordered into hierarchies and networks, thus clarifying a number of terminological issues. This facilitated nesting of issues in terms of broader and narrower concepts.

The revised checklist was then matched against the chapter headings of Agenda 21 and against the issues recognized in individual declarations. The documents processed are described in the following document (Figure 7).

To facilitate the match sought with Figure 1 (Document D), the identified issues were coded according to the dimensions of Figure 1. Some remarks on the coding problem are given in a following document (Figure 8). The results are presented in two documents:

The coding and final form of these tables were achieved as the result of a number of iterations.

It must be remembered that the purpose of this exercise was to identify the issues and not to determine which bodies had recognized, implicitly or explicitly, which issues. For this reason the indication of source was made according to the following guidelines:

It is important to recognize that no issue indicates the complete range of sources citing it.

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