Report of main proceedings for 14 June 1993

CSD-1

The first session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development(CSD) was called to order yesterday morning by the Chair,Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia. In his opening remarks Razalispoke of the understanding that environment and development areboth interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Sustainabledevelopment, achieved through partnership, is based on thiscollective understanding and the role of the Commission as amonitoring body depends on support from the public to redirectresources under Agenda 21. This meeting must clearly produceresults in order to signal that commitments given in Rio mustremain strong.

Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment Nitin Desai delivered a message from UNSecretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He said that the challengeis to give practical expression to the pledges made in Rio. Heemphasized the need to address the unsustainability of poverty andthe lack of development. The follow-up to Rio has been incorporatedwithin the current UN restructuring, adding that it needshigh-level positive guidance and financial support from the memberstates.

Amb. Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, Permanent Representative to the UNfrom Brazil, delivered a message from the President of Brazil,Itamar Franco, on the first anniversary of the Rio Conference. Hesaid that this meeting pushes the process forward as it ensures arational balance between development and environmental concerns.The spirit of cooperation, represented by the commitmentsundertaken, must be translated into a new global partnership. Hestressed that the right to development must be ensured.

US Vice President Al Gore then spoke, recalling the Rio Conferenceand the shared understanding by the participants that they werecommitted to a common future. He discounted those who say thathumans are exempt from the laws of ecology, emphasizing the Clintonadministration's commitment to join other governments in theleadership on a new course. He announced the US government's planto establish a National Council on Sustainable Development. Hespoke frankly on the issue of consumption, saying that developedcountry citizens have a responsibility to deal with theirdisproportionate impact on the global environment. While the CSDcan't do everything, it should seek to exert leverage on otherinstitutions. He said that it is a myth that industrializedcountries have a monopoly on ideas and that economic developmentand environmental responsibility are incompatible. He set out twoguiding principles in the pursuit of sustainable development:governments must take national responsibility for change;partnership is needed, both among countries and together with theprivate sector.

OPENING SESSION

The first session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development(CSD) was called to order yesterday morning by the Chair,Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia. In his opening remarks Razalispoke of the understanding that environment and development areboth interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Sustainabledevelopment, achieved through partnership, is based on thiscollective understanding and the role of the Commission as amonitoring body depends on support from the public to redirectresources under Agenda 21. This meeting must clearly produceresults in order to signal that commitments given in Rio mustremain strong.

Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment Nitin Desai delivered a message from UNSecretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He said that the challengeis to give practical expression to the pledges made in Rio. Heemphasized the need to address the unsustainability of poverty andthe lack of development. The follow-up to Rio has been incorporatedwithin the current UN restructuring, adding that it needshigh-level positive guidance and financial support from the memberstates.

Amb. Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, Permanent Representative to the UNfrom Brazil, delivered a message from the President of Brazil,Itamar Franco, on the first anniversary of the Rio Conference. Hesaid that this meeting pushes the process forward as it ensures arational balance between development and environmental concerns.The spirit of cooperation, represented by the commitmentsundertaken, must be translated into a new global partnership. Hestressed that the right to development must be ensured.

US Vice President Al Gore then spoke, recalling the Rio Conferenceand the shared understanding by the participants that they werecommitted to a common future. He discounted those who say thathumans are exempt from the laws of ecology, emphasizing the Clintonadministration's commitment to join other governments in theleadership on a new course. He announced the US government's planto establish a National Council on Sustainable Development. Hespoke frankly on the issue of consumption, saying that developedcountry citizens have a responsibility to deal with theirdisproportionate impact on the global environment. While the CSDcan't do everything, it should seek to exert leverage on otherinstitutions. He said that it is a myth that industrializedcountries have a monopoly on ideas and that economic developmentand environmental responsibility are incompatible. He set out twoguiding principles in the pursuit of sustainable development:governments must take national responsibility for change;partnership is needed, both among countries and together with theprivate sector.

AFTERNOON SESSION

Amb. Razali explained that the organizational session in Februaryput together the agenda for this session. He expressed hope thatthe Commission can adopt the multi-year programme of work early sothat they can then consider the other important items on theagenda, including the guidelines for national reporting,inter-agency coordination, financial resources and mechanisms, andtechnology transfer. He explained that two working groups will becreated and chaired by two of the Vice Chairs.

Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination andSustainable Development, stated that UNCED was a process designedfor negotiating an elaborate agreement at the intergovernmentallevel. The focus now has to shift from policy development toimplementation. There is a need to recognize that the greater partof Agenda 21 is for implementation at the national level. Heexpressed satisfaction that many governments are setting upmechanisms for national coordination of the implementation ofAgenda 21. The effectiveness of the follow-up to Rio will depend onmaintaining a broad basis of involvement and interest. The work ofthe Commission must also ensure that the provisions of the chapterson finance and technology transfer are translated into concretecommitments.

The next speaker was Amb. Bo Kjell‚n, Chair of the INC to elaboratea convention to combat desertification (INCD). He described theresults of the first session, which took place from 24 May - 3 Junein Nairobi. The first week was devoted to sharing technicalinformation and assessments. The second week focussed on the formatand elements of the convention. The areas in which there appearedto be consensus included the need for a bottom-up approach;detailed commitments on scientific research and exchange ofinformation; a fast start to the Convention; and the need to avoidduplication of existing conventions. Differences arose about thetiming of negotiating a series of regional instruments, which allagree should form an integral part of the convention.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS

Amb. Razali explained to delegates that the election of officershad taken place at the organizational session. Razali thenintroduced document E/CN.17/1993/4, "Adoption of the Agenda andOther Organizational Matters" and the Commission quickly adoptedit. At the organizational session, it was agreed that each sessionwould agree on the establishment of working groups, provided thatno more than two meetings would ever take place at the same time.Subsequent consultations resulted in the agreement to establish twoinformal groups. Group I will address agenda items 2, 3 and 4(multi-year programme of work, issues relating to the future workof the Commission and exchange of information regarding theimplementation of Agenda 21 at the national level). Group II willcover agenda items 5, 6 and 7 (progress in the incorporation ofrecommendations of UNCED in the activities of internationalorganizations; progress achieved in facilitating and promoting thetransfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation andcapacity building; and initial financial commitments, financialflows and arrangements). There was no objection to theestablishment of these groups.

MULTI-YEAR THEMATIC PROGRAMME OF WORK

Egypt opened the discussion of Agenda Item 2 by asking a series ofquestions about the document, E/CN.17/1993/5: why was theConvention on Biodiversity or the negotiations on a biotechnologyprotocol not mentioned in the work programme; do related programmesand events include activities organized by specialized agencies;and can the Secretariat provide them with specific targets orimplementation dates listed in Agenda 21? Nitin Desai respondedthat the Biodiversity Convention was not listed because it does nothave a General Assembly resolution calling for a specific linkagewith the CSD, like the Climate Change Convention. He said that UNEPwould have to respond on the biotechnology protocol, the meetingswere only UN conferences, not regularly scheduled meetings of theagencies and that he will try to provide a list of Agenda 21 targetdates.

Most of the delegates who spoke on this agenda item supported theproposed programme of work. Denmark, on behalf of the EC,underlined that Agenda 21 is a dynamic programme that will evolveover time and said it might be useful to develop realistic, easilyunderstandable indicators on the clusters. Norway, on behalf of theNordic countries, suggested an economic sector approach. Chee YokeLing, an NGO representative from Malaysia, urged the importance ofa strategic and efficient CSD. She expressed concern that time andresources were limited and the multi-year plan may be too crowdedan agenda and not be the best use of resources. China stressed theneed to coordinate the work of the CSD with other environment anddevelopment activities.

Hungary and the Russian Federation stressed the need to integrateenvironment in the process of economic reconstruction. Austria saidit would be useful to take into account the Biodiversity Conventionbut warned that the workload of the CSD should be kept manageable.Japan, Canada and the Republic of Korea supported an integratedapproach to sectoral and cross-sectoral issues, specifically theneed to address financial issues within the context of the sectoralissues. Japan also said that genuine intergovernmental dialogue isonly possible if governments provide information on theimplementation of Agenda 21. India urged the need for flexibilityin the programme of work and supported China in that the RioDeclaration provides policy guidance for the work at hand.

The US supported the programme of work but urged flexibility,efficiency and effective deliberations. Malaysia, Indonesia, theRepublic of Korea, the Philippines and France all supported theprogramme of work. Indonesia said that the chapters on poverty andconsumption take place in 1994 and also proposed rearranging thereview of other clusters. Razali responded that in the course ofearlier discussion, delegations have indicated support for thecurrent arrangement and hoped that at the eleventh hour Indonesiawas not suggesting the reordering of clusters.

The Philippines hoped that a close interface between GEF and CSDwill be considered. Uruguay expressed concern that the programme ofwork is too analytical in nature and may lose focus onenvironmental problems. France stated that the programme of workwas excellent but was concerned that the Secretariat may haveproblems getting the documentation out to governments early enoughfor their consideration.

THE FUTURE WORK OF THE COMMISSION

The next item considered by the CSD was agenda item 3, issuesrelating to the future work of the Commission (E/CN.17/1993/L.2).Egypt asked for clarification on paragraph 7 as to theproliferation of reports requested from the Secretary-General on UNimplementation of Agenda 21. There are two previous GeneralAssembly resolutions dealing with sustainable development that askthe Secretary-General to report annually on the implementations ofthese two resolutions (42/186 and 42/187). In response, Desai andRazali stated that L.2 is a Chairman's draft proposal, the resultsof the consultations held by the Ambassador of Tunisia. Tunisiastated that the consolidation of reports must be dealt with in theGeneral Assembly, not the CSD. Mexico brought up some points onparagraph 4 that might limit the creativity of the ministers.Paragraph 4 should be taken out completely and paragraph 3 shouldbe left as is. Razali said that this paragraph would notcircumscribe the horizons for the ministers to undertake anydiscussion they want.

Tony Simpson, an NGO representative from Australia, spoke to anumber of issues concerning enhancement of the capacity of the CSDto deal with its programme of work. A mechanism should beestablished for creating a liaison with NGOs. Working parties,either formally or informally, could be established to assist theSecretariat in doing its work. The idea of issue coordinators couldbe examined to assist in the intersessional work by looking atspecific issues on an ad hoc basis. During the deliberations of theHigh-level Advisory Board, a mechanism for establishing a link withNGOs should be explored. The Czech Republic fully supported L.2,encouraging national CSDs. The wisdom of relevant organizationssuch as UNEP, UNDP, the Bretton Woods institutions, and NGOs andthe private sector should be tapped. A high-level segment musthave a defined role. India proposed a modification of paragraph 4,which would mention the resolution of outstanding differences.Norway joined with Mexico and India in asking for sufficientelbow-room for the ministers. Morocco, supported by Vanuatu, askedthat amendments be made to paragraph 1: all working groups shouldalways have interpretation facilities and that a 6-week rule forsubmission of documents in all languages be included. Austriathought that paragraphs 6-8 spoke of three constitutionallydifferent bodies, and that the CSD would benefit by looking atreports from all of them.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

THE BUREAU: Amb. Razali will hold the first daily meeting ofthe Bureau this morning. Possible items for discussion willbe the plan of work for the Commission this week and the selectionof the Chairs for the two working groups. Razali may alsochoose issue coordinators who would be responsible for holdinginformal consultations in the event that certain matters requirefurther work.

PLENARY: The Commission will meet all day beginning at 10:00am in Conference Room 4 on Agenda item 4, "Exchange of informationregarding the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national level."Discussion will be held on the draft decision prepared by the Chairon guidelines to the Secretariat for organizing informationprovided by governments on issues related to implementation ofAgenda 21. This draft decision was circulated at the end ofyesterday's session. The document was prepared based on submissionsreceived by Razali in response to a letter sent to governments inApril requesting their input on how to organize nationalinformation.

NGO MEETINGS: From 8:30-9:30 the Women's Caucus will meet inConference Room A. From 9:30-10:30, the NGO Strategy Session willconvene in Conference Room B. The Business and Industry Caucus willmeet in Conference Room A from 12:30-1:00. The InstitutionalWorking Group will meet from 1:00-2:00 in Conference Room B. From1:00-2:00, on the second floor of the Church Center, the NGOFinancial Resources Working Group will meet. The Indigenous Caucuswill meet from 1:00-1:30 in Conference Room A. From 1:30-2:15 inConference Room A, the Latin American/Asian Regional Meetings willconvene. CAPE 2000 will hold a Dialogue on Financial Resources andMechanisms for Agenda 21 and the Conventions in Conference Room Bat 2:00. From 3:00-4:00 the Caribbean Regional meeting will takeplace in the 8th floor of the Church Center. From 3:30-4:30 inConference Room A the European Caucus will meet. From 3:30-4:30 inConference Room B the African Caucus will meet. From 6:15-8:00there will be an Earth Council reporting session: "One Year AfterRio: An Overview" in Conference Room 4.

Participants

Negotiating blocs
African Union
Non-state coalitions
Business and Industry
NGOs

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