Daily report for 14 February 1996

3rd Session of the Habitat II Preparatory Committee

Delegates continued to work in three Subgroups and several informal groups on the "last" day of negotiations for the PrepCom.


SECTION F. (Implementation and follow-up): In a general statement, the G-77/China noted that their proposals on section F agree with the EU in several ways, but differ on the future role of UNCHS. The G-77/China said the reticence of other governments regarding UNCHS may stem from an inadequate understanding of the organization or because it largely benefits developing countries. On 158 (introduction), delegates debated references to government and international community commitments, responsibility for monitoring and assessment, and "all stakeholders." Delegates accepted the original text as amended. Delegates bracketed the G-77/China's proposal to rename and strengthen the mandate of the UN Commission on Human Settlements (the Commission).

In 159 (tracking progress on the Global Plan of Action), the group considered the roles for all actors in follow-up, including the different responsibilities of national governments and the international community, and the review activities of the UNCHS and other UN agencies. The G-77/China said the EU proposal for 159 and 160 would undermine and practically abolish the Commission and UNCHS. He noted that the EU proposal calls upon the Commission to "monitor" implementation and little else. The G-77/China objected to an EU proposal for a drafting group, stating that the "full house" should know the level of disagreement. The group adjourned early to allow consultations.

In the afternoon, delegates debated at length the order and content of the paragraphs. The EU proposed combining its proposals for 159, 160 and 160bis to form a single paragraph (158bis). The G-77/China characterized this as a step back and said it would reopen their paragraphs bracketed earlier. Delegates agreed to re-order the paragraphs and add the heading "implementation at national level" to the EU proposal. Delegates discussed the EU proposal that gives governments the primary responsibility for implementing the Global Plan of Action and lists groups to be enabled. The G-77/China requested additions to the list and Australia suggested "indigenous" peoples. Morocco proposed a reference to developing country assistance for implementation. The G-77/China disassociated itself from, and later opposed, the Moroccan proposal. Morocco said there was no common G-77/China position on his proposal and called for a suspension of the meeting. Upon resuming, the group adopted the paragraph with the G-77/China and Australian amendments.

Returning to 159 (tracking progress), the G-77/China proposed language noting that effective implementation of the outcome of Habitat II will take into account the integration of human settlements with broader environmental, social and economic development considerations, and the main actors will be the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the ECOSOC, the Commission, UNCHS and all other policy making and implementing organs in the UN system, which was accepted. He proposed following with a paragraph on UNCHS and the role of the Commission. The EU accepted the proposed language, but proposed following with their proposal covering many UN organs. Delegates agreed to references on the UNGA, but debated the timing for review. The EU and the US stated that a special session of the UNGA for the purpose of an overall review and appraisal of Agenda 21 represented an existing obligation and was the appropriate forum for the review. The G-77/China proposed, in addition to the Agenda 21 review, an additional UNGA agenda item solely for the purpose of reviewing the follow-up of Habitat II. Delegates bracketed G-77/China-proposed text regarding a special UNGA review session in 2006 and calling on the UNGA to convene high-level meetings to promote international dialogue on Habitat's goals. Delegates also debated the content of an ECOSOC reference. The G-77/China proposed text calling for ECOSOC review. The EU and US supported such a review, but questioned the appropriateness of including the reference in the Habitat Agenda.

At the meeting's end, the Chair proposed bracketing all outstanding text. The US supported the NGO statements in paragraphs 161, 162, and 163 to ensure their inclusion in documentation for Istanbul.


The Subgroup approved text for outstanding paragraphs 59bis (community based production of housing), 64 (infrastructure at the community level), and 65 (Government action to safeguard health and provide infrastructure). They also approved text drafted Tuesday evening for paragraphs 109-113.

SECTION C. (Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world) (paragraphs 100-128): In 115 (strengthen urban economies), the US proposed action by governments "in consultation with all relevant stakeholders." Norway proposed adding "including women." The EU proposed removing "relevant" instead and delegates agreed. In 115(a) (training in information systems), delegates called for education and job training (US). Delegates revised 115(c) (private sector participation) to call for review of the relevant regulatory framework to attract private investment (US), and added US-proposed subparagraphs calling for crime prevention and sound financial practices. Libya proposed calling for promotion of necessary legislative issues.

In 116 (alleviate adverse impacts of structural and economic transition), delegates added subparagraphs calling for: integrated functioning of housing markets; and review of the impact of structural adjustment on social development by paying attention to gender-sensitive assessments (EU). The Women's Caucus called for "training and employment of local residents, especially women," but the EU suggested it would be better placed in 114 (opportunities for small businesses), which will be negotiated in Istanbul.

In 117 (population in rural settlements), delegates added text noting that "rural settlements need to be valued and supported" (US), and that the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas increases migration and results in a loss of human capacity in rural communities (Holy See). In 118 (rural populations and food security), delegates noted the contribution of rural populations to the sustainable use of biological resources.

In 119 (sustainable development of rural settlements), delegates added the goal of reducing rural-to-urban migration. In 119(a) (participation of communities), delegates called for participation of all stakeholders to ensure integrated consideration of the environmental, social and economic objectives of rural development efforts (US). In 119(c) (incentives for investment), delegates also called for infrastructure and services for investment (FAO). Delegates added two subparagraphs calling for a sustainable agricultural system (FAO) and promotion of education and training in rural areas (Holy See).

In 120 (new technologies), delegates called for promotion of appropriate traditional practices as well as new technologies (US) and for involvement of the private sector. In 120(b) (research on use of technologies), delegates called for action in cooperation with farmers' organizations, "women's groups and other stakeholders" (US). In 121(a) (procedures for full participation), delegates added a call for education and training programmes. The EU suggested that actions in 121(c) (implement regional and rural development plans) and 121(d) (establish system for resource allocation) be consistent with sustainable development, which was bracketed. Norway noted that a reference in 121(d) to allocation based on "economic potential" might exclude women, and the reference was deleted.

Delegates added a new 101(d)bis, calling for countries, in particular developing countries, to cooperate in exchanging knowledge in phasing out lead gasoline, including the use of biomass ethanol. New drafts of 38 (globalization of the economy) and 38bis (new communications technology) were circulated, but the G-77/China requested time to consider the text. The group continued negotiations during an evening session.


SECTION C. (Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world) (paragraphs 76-99): Reformulations of 98 (integrated approach to provision of environmental services) and 98bis (promotion of healthy environment to support sustainable human settlements) were placed in brackets. A G-77/China-proposed 98bis (water) was also bracketed.

In the bracketed chapeau 99 (transboundary pollution and movement of hazardous technology), the G-77/China proposed a reformulation, stating that technologies hazardous to the environment represent a serious threat to the viability of human settlements and health. The US said it was a delicate paragraph. Delegates agreed on language from the Rio declaration calling on Governments to "cooperate in developing" "bilateral and multilateral" (US) legal mechanisms. The EU and US deleted reference to parent company decisions which lead to adverse effects and the EU inserted a sentence on preventive measures in cases of clear risk of major environmental accidents with transboundary effects.

Mexico introduced 99bis (prevention of transboundary pollution), on cooperating to develop mechanisms for assessing the impact of proposed activities likely to have a significant adverse impact including evaluation of comments from potentially affected countries, prior and timely notification, exchange of information, consultation, and mitigation of potential adverse effects, taking into account existing international agreements "and instruments" (Canada/US). The G-77/China proposed "projects and activities" likely to have a "gravely hazardous" impact. All options were bracketed.

Brackets were placed around a Canadian-proposed new section 92bis (population and sustainable development) which was referred from another subgroup.


RIGHT TO HOUSING: The informal group considering text related to a "right to housing" continued its examination of the four related paragraphs (13, 24, 25 and 44). Delegates pulled elements relating to adequate shelter from 25 and added them to 44. Delegates agreed on language defining adequate shelter, but bracketed all references related to a "right to housing" in each of the paragraphs. Alternative language was proposed for the "right to housing" reference in 44, calling for actions to promote, protect and ensure progressive realization of adequate shelter for all, but some delegates preferred treating all references as a package. The "right to housing" references will be sent to Istanbul in brackets.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: While "significant progress" has been made at the informal group convened to look at paragraphs 146-150, text related to sustainable development and financial resources, some concern has been expressed by delegates and NGOs about the group's reported adoption of a "market based" approach. With two-thirds of the group's workload completed advances have been made on funding and the "enabling economic environment," one of the Conference's key concepts, which envisages the public sector promoting regulation to mobilize, facilitate and guide the efforts of the non-governmental and private sectors. Chair Amb. Richard Butler believes the group has established greater clarity in the issues and a sharper focus on what must be settled in Istanbul.


WORKING GROUP II: The full Working Group is expected to meet today to consider work done by the three subgroups and related informal groups.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions