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The institutions chapter of Agenda 21 addresses the needs for intergovernmental and inter-UN agency coordination as well as overall implementation of Agenda 21. The entire focus of the Institutions contact group at UNCED (chaired by Egyptian Amb. Nabil el-Arabi) was on the mandate and operations of the Sustainable Development Commission. At PrepCom IV, there was overall agreement regarding the choice of the Commission as the body to oversee implementation of the outcomes of UNCED. The outstanding issues deferred to UNCED included: the reporting structure of the Commission; whether it should be a high-level body; membership; need for distinction between the role of governments and NGOs; and the language on submission to the Commission of national reports on the implementation of Agenda 21.

UNCED negotiations proceeded smoothly, with final agreement easily reached on these outstanding points. The high-level Commission will report directly to ECOSOC, which will in turn, organize a periodic review of the its work, as well as of system-wide activities to integrate environment and development. Since the Commission will be a subsidiary body of ECOSOC, its membership will be limited to not more than 52 members who will be elected with due regard to equitable geographical distribution. Weaker language was adopted regarding two of the Commission's more important functions: consideration of national reports or periodic communications; and information regarding the progress made in the implementation of environmental conventions. The Institutions chapter does not contain programme areas per se. However, it does identify, under the "Institutional Structure" section, the roles to be undertaken by UN bodies.

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