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Outgoing Chair HENRIQUE CAVALCANTI (Brazil) commented on CSD activities over the past year and on the contribution of the CSD to the construction of peace and sustainability. He suggested that: the CSD Chair be elected at the end of the annual session; the CSD Bureau’s mandate be extended to two years; and the Chair serve as Vice-Chair during the year prior to serving as Chair.

Delegates then elected RUMEN GECHEV (Bulgaria) as CSD-4 Chair. He noted the important role of this session in finalizing the Multi-Year Programme of Work and serving as a bridge to the preparations for the 1997 Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). He noted the high expectations attached to CSD-4 as demonstrated by: continuing interest at a high political level in the work of the CSD; active involvement of civil society, major groups and NGOs; and strong commitment on behalf of UN institutions. He said that delegates will share their views on implementation of Agenda 21 during the high-level segment, but noted a consensus that the CSD and UNGA should not attempt to rewrite Agenda 21.

NITIN DESAI, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD), stressed that this session must mark the beginning of preparations for the special session of UNGA, and must raise expectations about what will come out of this review. The CSD should address its roles and responsibilities in the context of a coordinated follow-up process. The CSD can fill the gaps in the UN system where no single institution has responsibility, such as with fresh water and oceans, and can also inject an economic sectoral perspective into issues often viewed only as management or environmental problems.

Delegates elected Paul de Jongh (Netherlands), Deputy Director General, Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, as a Vice-Chair. The additional bureau members will be elected following completion of regional group consultations. Delegates also adopted the provisional agenda contained in document E/CN.17/1996/1.

Three working groups will consider draft recommendations and conclusions for CSD-4. The first will consider atmosphere, oceans and seas, and small island developing States (SIDS). The second, finance, consumption and production patterns, transfer of technology, trade, poverty and demographics. The third, decision making (Agenda 21 chapters 8, 38, 39 and 40) and national reporting.

JOKE WALLER-HUNTER, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development (DPCSD), presented a brief progress report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF). NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, on behalf of several US NGOs, encouraged recommendations for action at IPF-3 and cautioned against focusing only on the timber trade.

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