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Outgoing Chair Henrique Cavalcanti (Brazil) opened the fourth session of the CSD on Thursday, 18 April 1996, and commented on the CSD’s 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; that the CSD Bureau’s mandate be extended to two years; and that 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.

Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development Nitin Desai stressed that this session must mark the beginning of preparations for the Special Session and must raise expectations about what will come out of this review. 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.

Joke Waller-Hunter, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, presented a brief progress report on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF). The National Wildlife Federation, on behalf of several US NGOs, encouraged recommendations for action at IPF-3 and cautioned against only focusing on the timber trade.

Delegates then elected Paul de Jongh (Netherlands), Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago (Tanzania), Adam Vai Delaney (Papua New Guinea) and Enrique Provencio (Mexico) to the Bureau. Three drafting groups were formed to consider the draft recommendations and conclusions for CSD-4. Drafting Group I considered atmosphere, oceans and seas, and small island developing States (SIDS). Drafting Group II considered finance, consumption and production patterns, transfer of technology, trade, poverty and demographics. Drafting Group III considered decision-making (Agenda 21 Chapters 8, 38, 39 and 40) and national reporting.

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