The machinery of government remains compartmentalised; to meet the target of sustainable development, integration across economic affairs, housing, transport, agriculture, forestry and the environment is a minimum requirement.
Three months after the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio, the President of the Philippines was the first to create a Council for Sustainable Development. Various governmental and nongovernmental entities took part in designing the Council's 21-member structure, which includes 7 representatives of civil society identified by the government as its "counterpart". The Council's objectives are to ensure progress toward the goals set forth in the National Agenda 21, the commitments agreed upon in UNCED, and other sustainable development issues in the Philippines. The Commission will also monitor the principles set forth in these processes to see that they are included in the country's development plans. Since then dozens of countries have created Councils on Sustainable Development in the wake of the Earth Summit.
Few countries have a national agenda that gives natural resource management its due, and many leaders look ahead only as far as the next election. In the post-UNCED era, nations will need agendas that create a solid frame of reference, set policies in phase, and eliminate contradictions among sectoral, national and international objectives. Governments should commit the funds needed to bring the necessary human, technical and scientific resources to bear on this process. For starters, national government should officially invite NGOs to take part in defining a national position for international conferences on issues like population and housing. These opportunities for dialogue should not be left until the last moment, since the visions and insights of all relevant actors cannot be woven together in hurried discussions.