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The CSD organizational session was convened on Wednesday morning, 24 February by Nitin Desai, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. The first item of business was the election of the Chair and the other members of the Bureau. Colombia, on behalf of the Group of 77, nominated Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia to be the first Chair of the Commission. Although there had been speculation that the Western European and Others Group would put forward another candidate, this did not happen and with the possibility of a vote avoided, the Commission unanimously elected Razali as Chair.

Razali thanked the delegates for choosing him as the first Chair of the CSD. "After months of discussions and hard work, the Commission comes into existence as arguably the main tangible accomplishment of the Rio Summit, an inter-governmental machinery to monitor the implementation of Rio. We are all aware of expectations internationally. There is a huge reservoir of goodwill and hope, not only from governments but also people and organizations that the Commission should and must succeed in its work. On the heels of these expectations come also close scrutiny and pressure. We would have to demonstrate that each meeting of the Commission builds upon the progress achieved from earlier meetings," he said.

The Commission then elected the other four members of the Bureau who will serve as the Vice-Chairs and the Rapporteur: Rodney Williams, Antigua and Barbuda's Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Industry (and Environment); Tunisia's Ambassador to the UN, Hamadi Khouini; Bedrich Moldan, Director of the Charles University Centre for Environmental Scholarship and formerly of the Czech Ministry of the Environment; and Arthur Campeau, Canada's Ambassador for Environment and Sustainable Development.

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