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The discussion on major groups focused on Chapters 23-32 of Agenda 21 that address the following major groups: women, children and youth, NGOs, local authorities, trade unions and workers, business and industry, scientific and technological community, and farmers. The major concern was the level of accessibility and recognition that NGOs should enjoy. During the UNCED negotiations, NGOs enjoyed unprecedented access to meetings, documents and delegates. Now, the CSD is trying to identify the role of major groups in the CSD process. The original draft text called for ways in which major groups could submit information on their activities to the CSD so that they could become part of the CSD's monitoring process on Agenda 21 implementation. The text also addressed the issue of access of major groups to the CSD's work throughout the year.

On May 20, Working Group I had a short discussion on the draft text, and most delegates expressed satisfaction with it. Egypt proposed language calling for case studies on the involvement of major groups in different sectors. The EU, the US and Australia wanted to ensure that the reporting requirement on the participation of major groups in national level implementation of Agenda 21 mentioned was within the context of national reports and not mandatory. China objected to the reference to "local support institutions," which called on international organizations to involve major groups in decision-making processes.

The final text (E/CN.17/1994/L.11): encourages governments and international organizations, as well as major groups, to take concrete steps to enhance the involvement of major groups in efforts and programmes to realize the goals of Agenda 21 and invites them to submit reports on this to the CSD; requests the Secretary-General to include relevant information received from major groups in the CSD documentation; and recommends that access of major groups, including NGOs, to the CSD's work throughout the year be clarified and enhanced and urges ECOSOC to continue to grant Roster status to those NGOs that were accredited to UNCED and confirm their interest in being accredited to the CSD. [Return to start of article]