Viewing cable 03THEHAGUE2610

03THEHAGUE26102003-10-10 14:49:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy The Hague
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E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: A. STATE 243400 
     ¶B. STATE 272561 
     ¶C. STATE 275504 
This cable contains sensitive information.  Handle 
¶1.  (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Dublin and 
USEU Brussels. 
¶2.  (U) In a trip designed to build relationships on 
sustainable development with the January-June 2004 EU Troika 
(Ireland, The Netherlands, and the European Commission), and 
to explore specific efforts on water, a small U.S. delegation 
-- led by State Department Special Representative for 
Sustainable Development Jonathan Margolis -- made substantial 
inroads with Irish and Dutch interlocutors and identified 
several areas of common ground.  We also identified specific 
opportunities for further discussion and collaboration. 
Conversations in Brussels may have opened the door for 
further communication with the EC, but also identified areas 
of clear disagreement.  These consultations laid significant 
groundwork for future collaborative efforts on water issues, 
and also reinforced U.S. interest in working through a 
reformed UN Commission on Sustainable Development, a message 
that was well-received across the board.  Throughout the 
trip, the U.S. delegation held a number of fruitful 
consultations with private sector and civil society 
¶3.  (U) During the week of September 29, Jonathan Margolis, 
Department's Special Representative for Sustainable 
Development, led a small State/OES-State/EUR delegation to 
Dublin, Brussels, and The Hague.  Margolis delivered a series 
of key messages: 
The U.S.: 
-- is committed to sustainable development and to following 
up on the Doha Development Agenda, Monterrey Consensus, and 
the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development 
-- is eager to push forward with specific implementation 
-- supports working through the UN and other multilateral 
institutions, and agrees fully with the UN's initial focus on 
-- would like UN sustainable development meetings (especially 
the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)) to showcase 
programs and plans for implementation in specific developing 
countries - those for whom water is a developmental priority; 
-- is committed to making the new non-negotiating format of 
the CSD 12 session a success by ensuring strong technical 
expert participation and robust engagement with private 
sector and civil society; 
-- is developing three areas of focus for its efforts on 
  a) point-of-use approaches to safe drinking water, building 
on the Safe Water System public-private partnership launched 
at last year's World Summit on Sustainable Development; 
  b) expanded efforts on innovative financing mechanisms for 
water supply infrastructure, building in particular on the 
success of USAID's revolving fund efforts; 
  c) "expert support teams" (USG or potentially multi-donor) 
that would assist self-selecting developing countries in 
their efforts to develop national water development 
strategies (reftels) 
-- would like to identify opportunities for collaboration and 
partnership with Europe and is looking ahead to a series of 
international meetings including the Water for the Poorest 
meeting (Stavanger, Norway; 4-5 November 2003), Pan-African 
Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water (Addis 
Ababa, Ethiopia; 8-13 December 2003), UNECE sustainable 
development prep meeting (Geneva; 15-16 January 2004), UNEP 
Global Ministerial Environment Forum (Jeju, South Korea; 
29-31 March 2004), and 12th session of the UN Commission on 
Sustainable Development (CSD 12; New York; 14-30 April 2004). 
¶4.  (U) The U.S. delegation's trip opened with a thorough and 
congenial dialogue with several members of Ireland's 
sustainable development team (including Department of the 
Environment, Heritage, and Local Government Assistant 
Secretary Geraldine Tallon and reps from the Department of 
Foreign Affairs and Development).  While the GOI team has 
only recently begun its preparations for CSD 12, they were 
supportive of U.S. ideas, particularly the concept of 
assisting specific developing countries with their national 
water strategies in advance of the CSD meetings.  They 
identified water experts on their side and expressed interest 
in an ongoing dialogue between USG and GOI experts in the 
run-up to CSD 12.  The GOI team also raised the issue of the 
format of the CSD 12 session itself, openly grappling with 
the practical aspects of how one uses a UN setting to 
facilitate implementation. 
¶5.  (U) USDEL met with officials from DG-Development, 
DG-Environment, DG-Relex, and DG-Research, each of whom 
claimed competence over various aspects of EU sustainable 
development policy.  DG-Environment Director for Global and 
International Affairs Claus Sorensen welcomed moving from 
rhetoric about sustainable development to implementation, 
noting the "uselessness" of trying to re-negotiate 
Johannesburg at the UNECE Environment for Europe Ministerial 
(Kiev, May 2003).  However, Sorensen also stressed that while 
the UN should support implementation of such projects, it 
could not abandon its global policymaking role and must 
maintain a monitoring function over all efforts, in order to 
ensure a continuing commitment by all countries.  He agreed 
that the U.S.-advocated country-specific approach could help 
avoid "consensus quagmire that plagues the UN" and allow the 
UN to better move forward on implementation.  Although 
DG-Development Chef de Cabinet Friedrich Hamburger was 
receptive to Margolis' proposals in pri 
nciple, in a number of occasions, instead of opening doors to 
U.S.-EU cooperation, he cited limitations that would hamper 
working together.    Hamburger said he agreed it would be 
useful for U.S. and EU water experts to work together on 
identifying water projects; however, he did not respond to 
our suggestions on working through multilateral institutions 
nor to our request for points of contact for follow-up. 
Hamburger also noted that while the U.S. was willing to 
choose its focus countries, "Europe could not abandon the 
poorer countries and must maintain cooperation with all 
countries in need."  At each of our meetings, EC 
interlocutors instinctively called for a renewed role for 
multilateral policy guidance and UN monitoring of WSSD 
¶6.  (U) Our EC interlocutors showed interest in USDEL's 
suggestion that we explore the possibility of resuming a 
U.S.-EU high-level dialogue on sustainable development. 
DG-Environment's Sorensen noted that for such a dialogue to 
be productive we would have to identify only those specific 
areas where both sides agreed progress was possible.  He said 
the EU would have to consult within the Commission to 
identify those areas before proceeding.  After our meeting, 
Sorensen's staff informed us that although previous such 
dialogues had been led by DG Catherine Day, she would not 
participate in any future dialogue and would delegate such 
responsibility to Sorenson. 
¶7.  (SBU) Our engagement with Dutch interlocutors was 
decidedly positive.  Ton Boon von Ochssee, newly appointed 
Ambassador for Sustainable Development in the Dutch Foreign 
Ministry, convened a lively meeting with 10 members of the 
Dutch interagency sustainable development task force.  As 
with the Irish, the Dutch are in the early stages of their 
preparations for CSD; nonetheless, they listened receptively 
to USG ideas, offering probing questions and useful 
suggestions.  They also described a recent GON effort to 
mainstream public-private partnerships within their domestic 
and international sustainable development activities and 
expressed interest in learning more about USAID's Global 
Development Alliance.  The Dutch are particularly interested 
in water projects in Africa and in promoting donor 
coordination on such efforts.  We collectively identified the 
upcoming meetings in Norway ("Water for the Poorest," to be 
convened 4-5 November in Stavanger, Norway, by the 
International Water Academy) and Addis ("Pan- 
African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water," 
to be convened 8-13 December by the African Ministerial 
Council on Water (AMCOW), the UN, and the African Development 
Bank) as opportunities to coordinate among donors.  The Dutch 
suggested that we plan to stay on an extra day at each 
meeting to advance the planning and dialogue for cooperation 
on water projects - a suggestion we endorsed.  In a direct 
communication, Ambassador von Ochssee offered to help us get 
our positive message across in Europe, especially with those 
member states that may be less inclined to hear it. 
¶8. (U) In a separate meeting, Gerard Wolters, 
Inspector-General in the Dutch Environment Ministry and 
Co-Chair of the International Network of Environmental 
Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) - responded positively to 
USDEL's suggestion that INECE explore bringing their 
enforcement and compliance training modules, particularly on 
water-related issues, to the CSD process.  Comment: While 
agreeing with much of the USG's approach to sustainable 
development, the Dutch were frank in highlighting which 
elements of the U.S. agenda might receive pushback from other 
EU member states.  Specifically, they encouraged us to 
articulate what policy role on water - if any - we envision 
the UN playing.  We provided an example on water pricing in 
which the UN might promote opportunities for specific 
countries to discuss their individual approaches to pricing 
options, rather than on a global policy.  End Comment. 
¶9.  (U) In both Dublin and Brussels, the U.S. delegation held 
a series of positive dialogues with private sector and civil 
society representatives.  At an NGO roundtable in Dublin, for 
example, NGO reps were quite receptive to U.S. messages on 
the need for an implementation focus, particularly within the 
UN sustainable development context.  NGO reps in Brussels 
expressed surprise and satisfaction with U.S. commitment to 
pursue sustainable development within the UN context.  The 
American Chamber of Commerce in Brussels was also positive 
about the U.S. delegation's message and offered a frank and 
eye-opening assessment of their difficulties operating in 
Europe as American companies.  They complained, however, that 
the European Commission had shut out U.S. companies from 
consultations and discussions on corporate social 
responsibility.  They also voiced some concerns regarding 
what they saw as increased European cynicism towards U.S. 
initiatives on sustainable development.  Notably, NGOs and 
private sector repre 
sentatives in both countries made only passive references to 
climate change policy.  Comment: In many ways, these 
dialogues were more positive and pragmatic than those with 
U.S. stakeholders.  This seemed to be partly because the 
groups were more frustrated with the perceived failures of 
their own governments and the EU and were therefore less 
inclined to snipe at U.S. government policies.  End Comment. 
¶10.  (SBU) After several years of a difficult and often 
heated trans-Atlantic dialogue on sustainability issues, the 
meetings in Dublin and The Hague were a breath of fresh air. 
Ireland and the Netherlands appear to be among the most 
forward-leaning and pragmatic EU member states.  Their 
cordial reception of the U.S. delegation and seeming 
willingness to explore areas of common interest left the U.S. 
delegation optimistic.  With both countries slated to hold 
the EU Presidency next year, improved U.S.-EU cooperation 
could yield great dividends for the sustainability agenda, 
particularly on water, sanitation, and human settlements. 
¶11. (SBU) While EC representatives indicated a willingness to 
look into areas in which the U.S. and EU could collaborate, 
they also identified clear areas of policy disagreement. 
Although such collaboration may not be immediate, the greater 
degree of open-mindedness of some interlocutors (particularly 
DG-Environment's Sorenson) suggests that such cooperation is 
still a possibility. 
¶12.  (SBU) Initial reactions from interlocutors - 
particularly those in Dublin and The Hague - suggest that 
this series of meetings has played an important role in 
shaping European expectations for CSD 12.  Both the Irish and 
Dutch governments appear to have robust sustainable 
development teams, but are at an early stage of their 
planning for CSD and are receptive to others' visions for 
what the key outcomes of the meeting might be.  Both see the 
November meeting in Norway and December meeting in Ethiopia 
as key opportunities. 
End Comments. 
¶13.  (SBU) USDEL and interlocutors identified several key 
next steps in the coming weeks/months: 
-- The 4-5 November "Water for the Poorest" meeting in 
Stavanger, Norway, and 8-13 December "Pan-African 
Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water" in Addis 
Ababa, Ethiopia will both be key opportunities for further 
planning and donor coordination. 
-- EU, GOI and GON interlocutors responded positively to the 
suggestion of digital videoconferences (DVCs) in the near 
future to continue the dialogue. 
-- In the meantime, both GOI and GON agreed to working-level 
dialogues with USG water experts. 
-- A small Dutch sustainable development team might be 
traveling to Washington in the next month or two; USDEL 
invited the visitors to join an interagency CSD working group 
-- The Dutch indicated they might be able to find $4 million 
to support the West African Water Initiative.