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Nearly two years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development opened in Rio de Janeiro, the second session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) determined that although some progress has been made, until there is an increase in official development assistance and an improvement in the international economic climate, it will continue to be difficult to translate the Rio commitments into action. Likewise, many participants who attended the two-week meeting in New York agreed that unless the CSD's format is changed it will be impossible to shift from rhetoric and speech-making to dialogue and action. The Commission is supposed to enhance international cooperation for the integration of environment and development issues in decision-making and examine the progress of Agenda 21 implementation.

During the course of the session, the Commission, under its new Chair, Klaus T”pfer, Germany's Minister for the Environment, examined the first cluster of issues according to its multi-year thematic programme of work. Delegates discussed the following cross-sectoral chapters of Agenda 21: Chapters 2 (accelerating sustainable development); 4 (consumption patterns); 33 (financial resources and mechanisms); 34 (technology cooperation and transfer); 37 (capacity building); 38 (institutions); 39 (legal instruments; and 23-32 (roles of major groups). By the conclusion of the session, the Commission adopted seven decisions on: information provided by governments and organizations; decision-making structures; transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building; major groups; trade, environment and sustainable development; changing consumption and production patterns; and finance.

On the sectoral side, delegates examined the progress in implementing the following chapters of Agenda 21: Chapters 6 (health); 7 (human settlements); 18 (freshwater resources); 19 (toxic chemicals); 20 (hazardous wastes); 21 (solid wastes and sewage); and 22 (radioactive wastes). By the conclusion of the session, the Commission adopted six decisions on: protecting and promoting human health; human settlements; toxic chemicals; hazardous wastes; freshwater; and radioactive wastes. The Commission also adopted a decision on intersessional work, which calls for the establishment of a new ad hoc open-ended intersessional working group to examine the sectoral issues that will be addressed by the Commission at its 1995 session (lands, desertification, forests and biodiversity).The session concluded with a two and a half day High-Level Segment, attended by over 40 ministers and high-level officials.

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