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TUESDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 1992: 55th PLENARY MEETING

MALAYSIA: Tuesday afternoon opened with a statement by Malaysian Ambassador Razali Ismail. "Even as we extol the accomplishments of UNCED", he said, "we cannot blur over the shortcomings". Razali went on to describe the Convention on Climate Change as disappointingly weak, revealing political timidity and an absence of resolve on the part of industrialized countries. Razali further charged that key issues of financial resources and technology had not been adequately addressed. Moreover, there was neither a clear response to issues of global warming, dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries, consumption patterns in the developed countries nor nuclear-related issues. Since UNCED was hardly forthcoming in addressing the inequalities of the international economic structures, follow-up must examine issues such as the reversal of South-North outflow of resources, improving the South's terms of trade and reduction of the debt burden. Razali also criticized the absence of leadership from the North and noted how differences of views among developed countries had resulted in the lack of clear direction from that group. Razali also addressed implementation of Agenda 21, capacity building, financial resources, restructuring of the GEF, technology transfer, and the Commission on Sustainable Development.

INDONESIA: Ambassador Nugroho Wisnumurti of Indonesia stated that the CSD should not only act as a follow-up for Rio but also provide full coordination for all UN bodies in the implementation of Agenda 21. He expressed disappointment with the lack of progress in the implementation of the 1977 UN Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, which is largely due to inadequate financial resources. At the same time, he is pleased that the UNCED process increased the level of global awareness on this important issue. He also placed emphasis on the problems of small island developing countries.

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the UN, Terence O'Brien, attached importance to such CSD attributes as widespread participation, impartial assessment, transparency, equity and accountability. If the consensus reached at Rio is not to slip away, he said, it is imperative that the full compliment of countries, NGOs and other social groups who contributed to the UNCED process stay fully engaged. With this in mind, New Zealand wants to ensure that clear guidelines are developed for the effective participation of NGOs and other major groups in the work of the CSD. He also said that the perceived "neutrality" of the CSD will be critical to the effective discharge of CSD review functions.

GABON: The Ambassador from Gabon, Denis Dangue Rewaka, stated that the success of Agenda 21 depends on both commitment by governments and the provision of new and additional resources. Before the Earth Summit, Gabon established a policy for the management and conservation of forest resources including: reforestation of an indigenous species; agro-forestry; and the conservation and rational use of natural forest ecosystems. Gabon supports the proposals of the Secretary-General on the CSD and intends to participate actively in the work of the Commission.

THE UKRAINE: Ukrainian Ambassador Victor Batiouk said that Rio cannot be judged solely on financial aspects, but that the success of the conference is proved by the process of general understanding on sustainable development. The Ukraine supports the creation of an institution like a Court of Environmental Justice. Furthermore, he added that the structure of UN bodies that deal with environment and development is outdated. He suggested that the UN Security Council devote one session each year to environmental instability as a threat to peace and security. On the issue of financial resources, the Ukraine supports the conversion of military resources for ecological purposes.

CUBA: The Cuban Ambassador stated that patterns of consumption and production of the opulent societies are the basic cause of environmental degradation. There is a need to break down the strong resistance displayed by developed countries at Rio. The biggest danger now is losing the social pressure and political impetus. Cuba's position on the CSD is reflected in the G-77 position paper. Cuba attached specific importance to broad and equitable representation on the Commission. In the discussions of location of the Commission, it was urged that consideration must be taken of the special needs and considerations of small countries. Cuba also attached importance to convening a conference on sustainable development of small island states.

SINGAPORE: Ambassador Chew Tai Soo from the Republic of Singapore identified three factors essential for the effective implementation of Agenda 21: financial resources, the existence of an appropriate plan of action and strategy for sustainable development at the national level and an effective institutional framework at the international level. Singapore has formulated a "Green Plan" that charts the strategic directions for environment and development policies for the next decade. Singapore believes that the establishment of the CSD will be one of the most important decisions to be made by the General Assembly and endorses the position paper put forward by the G-77. The location of the Secretariat should be guided by the basic principle that it should be accessible to all states, in particular the smaller developing countries.

GUYANA: The next speaker was Ambassador S.R. Insanally of Guyana on behalf of the twelve member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The CARICOM states agree with the structure proposed by the G-77 but put emphasis on the need for gender balance in the Commission; locating it in New York to achieve maximum participation of developing countries; and that during the first two-three years, the Commission should meet at least twice a year. CARICOM has a particular interest in convening a global conference on small island states in Barbados in 1993 and urged full support. CARICOM also believes that the GEF should be restructured to be universal in membership with broader and more equitable representation and more accessible to the needs of small island and low lying states. CARICOM also called for transparency and accountability in its operations.

ZAMBIA: The Permanent Representative from Zambia expressed a number of concerns including: preferential technical transfer to developing countries; education and training; trade policies that generate incentives for environmentally sound technologies; incentives to promote private sector investment; and the importance of not undermining sovereignty as, for example, in the trade in tropical timber.

TANZANIA: Tanzanian Ambassador Anthony B. Nyakyi stressed the importance of implementing Agenda 21 in its entirety. However, it appears as if the square brackets placed around the means of implementation during the preparatory process were not yet removed by the Conference. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities agreed at the Conference has not been translated by States into a concrete resolve to play their part. Regarding the modalities for the establishment of the CSD, Tanzania believes that membership should take account of the great importance attached to its mandate and the unprecedented interest its work has aroused in the UN. There is also an obligation to ensure a realistic gender balance on the Commission. Furthermore, the CSD should encourage the participation of NGO's, including industry, the business and scientific communities, according to the rules and procedures adopted during the UNCED process.

UGANDA: Ambassador Perezi K. Kamunanwire stated that the concept of sustainable development can only start from the application of sustainable agricultural productivity. Human resource capabilities necessary for implementation of sustainable development programmes must be one of the top priorities. If the goals of Agenda 21 are to be met, the GEF must be restructured to meet both the requirement of Agenda 21 and the format of representation. Financial resources for Agenda 21 should be released from: (1) cancellation of all official bilateral debt; (2) cancellation of all commercial debts procured under arrangements of import-export guarantees; and (3) with the support of the donor countries, cancellation of all debt owed to multilateral financial institutions.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Mikhail Kokeyev stated that the results of Rio are viewed with different degrees of optimism from different countries. While the text of the Rio Declaration has not been polished due to lack of time, work may be continued to complete it for the 50th anniversary of the UN. The Commission on Sustainable Development, once established, may want to take a decision to put the work of the Environmental Center for Urgent Assistance on a permanent basis. Russia has demonstrated its readiness to bolster the concept and practices of sustainable development by publishing a "National Report on the condition of the environment of the Russian Federation in 1991" and the development of relevant laws.

ISRAEL: Ambassador Israel Eliashiv stated that Israel is especially sensitive to the fragility of the environment and development because Israel's rebirth is a continuous ecological drama. There are few examples in the literatures of national movements of such compassion for a suffering landscape. As part of the international effort to protect the environment, a group of over 100 Israeli companies are engaged in extensive research to develop sophisticated and innovative export-oriented technologies, including: noise-reduction from jet planes, anti-pollution measures against chemical gases and biological pollutants and converting crop spraying into benign materials. Israel is also engaged in research and development of arid zones and the conversion of the desert into a productive environment.

WEDNESDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 1992: 56th PLENARY MEETING

MONGOLIA: The Permanent Representative from Mongolia supported the views of the Secretary-General on the formation of the CSD, as they lay down a sound basis for constructive deliberations and early action. The membership of the Commission should be at a high level and be determined on the basis of equitable geographic distribution. To ensure that all views are taken into account, non-member states should participate as observers and NGOs and private institutions should contribute to the work of the Commission as envisaged in Agenda 21. The CSD will provide a crucial forum for ongoing North-South dialogue on these issues and will be the most effective mechanism to assure sustainable development. He echoed the statements of many developing countries on the need for new and additional financial resources and the restructuring of the GEF.

DJIBOUTI: The representative from Djibouti stated that the struggle against environmental degradation is a struggle for survival in Africa. Djibouti welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the CSD and feels strongly that the momentum of Rio ought to be retained. At the center of the Commission is the need for new and additional financial resources. Without commitment to resources, the implementation of Agenda 21 will be seriously compromised. The question is not whether we can afford to do it but whether we can afford not to do it.

MYANMAR: The representative from Myanmar, Kyaw Tint Swe, put a special emphasis on the CSD. It should be a functional commission of ECOSOC with a limited size to ensure efficiency, but large enough to have equitable geographic representation. The Commission's functions should be well-defined, including monitoring progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and activities related to the integration of environment and development; commitments of financial resources and technology transfer; interactive relations with the international financial institutions and the efficient coordination of the agencies and organs of the UN system for implementation. Other areas of importance include: establishment of the INC for desertification; programmes at the national level to alleviate poverty and employ sustainable agriculture practices; and sustainable management of forests.

PHILIPPINES: Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs Tomas R. Padilla stressed a number of points agreed upon in Rio, including: the right to development and the human face of development; the categorical imperative of international cooperation; financing of Agenda 21; transfer of technology and institutional coordination. However, all programs and projects described in Agenda 21 will come to naught without adequate funding. In addition to restructuring the GEF, developing countries must be relieved of their debt burden and must be granted higher levels of ODA.

GUATEMALA: On behalf of Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and El Salvador, the Permanent Representative of Guatemala stated that the CSD must ensure equitable geographic representation, including direct participation of Central American states. He said that it is essential to formulate adequate economic policies for developing countries while respecting their cultural orientations. He mentioned a number of ways in which the Central American states have worked together, including a Central American convention on biodiversity and an agreement halting transboundary movement of hazardous waste. He stressed the need to strengthen capacity-building in developing countries; to ensure free access to markets by the elimination of protectionist measures; and to facilitate close cooperation between developing countries.

TOGO: Ambassador Biova-Soumi Pennanech mentioned that Rio created new channels of communication between the private and public sector and heightened public awareness. He urged the donor community to release the necessary resources to serve the common interest. He highlighted the scope and seriousness of drought and desertification and stressed the urgency of elaborating a convention within 18 months. He further stated that the CSD has a substantial role to play in UNCED follow-up and restated many of the positions already elaborated by other members of the G-77.

AUSTRALIA: Mr. Richard Butler, AM stated that Australia intends to continue assisting developing countries to build human, institutional and technological capacities for implementation for the UNCED outcomes. The Australian ODA programme already places a strong emphasis on poverty alleviation, training and population issues as well as implementation of sustainable land and marine resource use. Australia is also committed to the provision of new and additional financial resources for developing countries to be provided through the GEF and through bilateral, regional and global cooperation programs. He attached great importance to the submission of reports by national governments on their plans for sustainable development and any difficulties they encounter in implementing such plans.

MALTA: The representative from Malta said that his country supports a number of elements in the Secretary-General's report including: involvement of NGOs, business and industry to ensure that needs of the global community are considered and convening a special session of the General Assembly to take place no later than 1997 to review progress. He emphasized that UNCED follow-up requires many other decisions on related conferences.

HUNGARY: In his statement, Ambassador Andre Erdos stressed the tragic environmental legacy of the former regimes of the post-Communist countries, including the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Barrage System on the Danube River. Due to the severeness of the ecological danger that the completion of the project would pose, the Hungarian government was left with no option but to terminate the 1977 treaty between Czechoslovakia and Hungary that set the joint terms for the project's construction. He criticized Czechoslovakia for continuing with the implementation of this project. On other matters, he said that an institutionalized form of communication between government and society should be established, including full access to information and a systematic and legalized role for the NGOs.

SRI LANKA: The representative from Sri Lanka said that cooperation among states to promote an effective economic system cannot be over-estimated. He stressed: the need to complete the Uruguay Round of GATT; the need for new and additional resources; effective financial mechanisms to facilitate the flow of resources; the importance of restructuring the GEF; the need to include women in the implementation of sustainable development; support for the establishment of the CSD; the establishment of an INC for a framework convention to combat desertification; and the conference on sustainable development of small island developing countries in June 1993.

SENEGAL: The representative from Senegal emphasized the importance of combatting desertification. He also insisted that developed countries prove their political will by fulfilling their financial commitments enunciated in Chapter 33 of Agenda 21. Furthermore, the GEF should be restructured to be more democratic and transparent.

SWITZERLAND: Philippe Roch, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment, Forests and Countryside, expressed great interest in the Commission on Sustainable Development. He said that there should be broad and universal participation of UN members and specialized agencies; observers should be able to fully participate and NGOs should also be involved to ensure their active participation in the Commission. He announced the formal offer of the Swiss Government to host the CSD in Geneva and offered to make the infra-structure available to ensure that developing countries could participate in the Commission. The Swiss Government will also make available necessary resources for travel and submit a more detailed proposal on this matter to the G-77 next week.

Finally, just as the General Assembly was about to adjourn for the day, Czechoslovakia requested the floor to respond to Hungary's allegations over the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project. Ambassador Eduard Kukan explained that the project was jointly decided by Czechoslovakia and Hungary and that one of the main motives of the project has always been flood protection. In May, 1989, without any consultation with Czechoslovakia, Hungary suspended all work on the Hungarian half of the project, ignoring all damage claims by Czechoslovakia for breach of contract. He explained that the environmental impacts of the project were evaluated by several expert commissions and measures were taken to mitigate the environmental impacts of the dam. At this stage, it is technically impossible to restore the original productive part of the territory. He closed by expressing the desire of his government to resolve the issue through meaningful negotiations.

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