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The Ad Hoc Open-Ended Intersessional Working Group met from 24 February - 7 March 1997 at UN Headquarters in New York. The Working Group focused on the format and substantive contents of the document to be considered at UNGASS. The main output was a draft “Proposed Outcome of the Special Session” prepared by Co-Chairs Derek Osborn (UK) and Amb. Celso Amorim (Brazil) after feedback from delegates on a first draft. The re-draft incorporated delegates’ comments during the second week and provided a basis for consultations in the lead-up to CSD-5.

Most delegates highlighted freshwater, energy and transport, forests and oceans as issues of new or priority concern. Delegates noted the importance of the cross-sectoral issues of poverty and changing consumption and production patterns. The structure of the Co-Chairs’ “Proposed Outcome” dominated many statements during discussion of the initial draft. An informal group, chaired by Antonio Mello (Brazil), discussed the structure of the draft document. Many agreed that the identification of the document’s substance would facilitate further consideration of its structure. The Co-Chairs used the group’s generally-agreed structure to guide their revised draft, with the understanding that no commitments to the headings had been made. The Co- Chairs’ draft indicates that the “Statement of Commitment” could serve as a preamble or declaration. This section was not discussed extensively. Some delegates suggested that it would benefit from high-level input at CSD-5.

Priorities identified during discussion on “Integration of Economic, Social and Environmental Objectives” included: governance; linking energy and transport issues; agriculture and water use; and linking marine resources with food supply and the impact on fishing communities. Numerous delegations suggested that poverty eradication be an over-arching policy. Delegates also called for urgent action on “Changing Consumption and Production Patterns” and introduced proposals on the emerging patterns in higher income developing countries and internalizing costs in natural resource pricing. On “Making Trade, Environment and Sustainable Development Mutually Supporting,” delegates discussed macroeconomic conditions required to reconcile economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainability by addressing globalization, trade liberalization and system-wide cooperation between the UN, WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions.

Delegates identified a number of priority “Sectors and Issues.” Many proposed that the CSD play a key role in consideration of freshwater issues and delegates discussed the merits of an intergovernmental process. A key coordinating role for the CSD on oceans was proposed. Delegates also discussed the problem of over-capacity of fishing fleets. A possible international convention on forests was also discussed and there was some support for a high-level working group at CSD-5 on this issue. Many agreed that energy and transport issues should be among the priorities. A number of delegations expressed hope that UNGASS would help propel negotiations on the Berlin Mandate under the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). On “Chemicals and Wastes,” a major concern was the need to control transboundary movements of hazardous wastes. On “Land and Sustainable Agriculture,” several delegates stressed food security. Delegations reaffirmed commitment to the Barbados Programme of Action for SIDS with a possible review in 1999.

Discussion on “Means of Implementation” addressed key concerns on “Financial Resources and Mechanisms,” including a balance between ODA and private sector investment, foreign direct investment (FDI), innovative financing mechanisms and subsidies. Many developing countries noted that the transfer of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) is not taking place, and there were calls for renewed commitment on capacity-building.

Recommendations on “International Institutional Arrangements” addressed the need for continuing improvements in the coordination of international organizations within and beyond the UN. On the “Role of Relevant Organizations and Institutions of the UN System,” delegates invited UN organizations and programmes to place more emphasis on country-level activity. On the “Future Role and Programme of Work of the CSD,” while delegates reaffirmed its centrality, some sought to delimit its role and limit the agenda. On the “CSD’s Methods of Work,” there were proposals to strengthen the high-level segment and follow-up implementation. Participation of sectoral and finance ministers was also proposed. The key role of major groups was acknowledged and participation by NGOs at UNGASS discussed.

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