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CSD Vice-Chair, Paul de Jongh (Netherlands), convened the first meeting of the Intersessional Working Group and stressed the importance of continuity in the Commission’s work. The Working Group elected Co-Chairs Derek Osborn (UK) and Amb. Celso Amorim (Brazil). Amb. Amorim said the goal of the Intersessional meeting is to negotiate a detailed 10-15 page outline document for CSD-5 in April, to be accompanied by a 2-3 page draft preamble or declaration. Co-Chair Osborn said there has been some loss of momentum since UNCED and the international community must rediscover the spirit of Rio.

Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, asked delegations to recognize that this is the first Special Session of the General Assembly to undertake a five-year review of a major UN process. Preparations are being made for UNGASS participation at the highest level. He suggested that the process be as innovative as UNCED. He said some Working Group resolutions could be dealt with at CSD-5 while the political purpose of the Special Session is to secure real high-level political commitment on implementation, financing for sustainable development, technology transfer and capacity-building. He stressed the need to integrate economics into the CSD’s work and to increase the Commission’s leverage with financing bodies.

Delegates to the CSD Intersessional Working Group engaged in a general debate during the first week of the session. Issues on the agenda included: assessment of the implementation of sectoral and cross-sectoral issues; strengthening the role of major groups; emerging priorities; and institutional issues and format of the outcome of the Special Session. The Co-Chairs distributed a series of questions and comments mid-week and urged delegates to identify how to respond to the problems they had identified, rather than simply noting the problems. A Co-Chairs’ draft on the "Proposed Outcome of the Special Session," based on the first week’s discussion, was distributed on Monday, 3 March. Discussions during the second week responded to this draft and identified elements that delegates supported, believed were omitted or preferred to amend or delete. An informal group, chaired by Antonio Mello (Brazil), met on Wednesday, 5 March to discuss the structure of the document.

A revised Co-Chairs’ draft was distributed Friday afternoon, 7 March. This re-draft incorporated delegates’ comments during the second week and will provide a basis for consultations as participants prepare for the fifth session of the CSD, which will commence on 8 April 1997. The following report uses the structure of the Co-Chairs’ revised draft and summarizes the Working Group’s discussion on the issues contained therein.