Summary report, 30 April – 11 May 2007

CSD 15

The fifteenth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-15) took place from 30 April - 11 May 2007, at UN headquarters in New York. CSD-15 was the fourth session to be held since the current multi-year programme of work was adopted at CSD-11 in 2003. This work programme restructured CSD's work on the basis of two-year Implementation Cycles, with each cycle comprised of a Review Year and a Policy Year focused on a thematic cluster of issues. Building on the outcomes of CSD-14 (the Review Year of the second cycle), CSD-15 focused on policies and options to expedite the implementation of commitments in the areas of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change, as contained in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and the Millennium Declaration.

During the first few days of CSD-15, delegates convened for interactive discussions on energy for sustainable developmentindustrial developmentair pollution/atmosphere and climate change, and heard regional perspectives and input from representatives of UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), Major Groups and others. During the latter half of the second week, ministers and senior officials participated in a high-level segment, delivering statements and engaging in discussions with Major Groups, UN agencies and IGOs. A Partnerships Fair, Learning Center and numerous side events were also held throughout the two-week session.

On Thursday, 3 May, delegates began negotiating CSD-15's main outcome document, intended to identify policy decisions on practical measures and options to expedite implementation of commitments on energy for sustainable developmentindustrial developmentair pollution/atmosphere, and climate change. Working from a draft text prepared by CSD-15 Chair Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah (Qatar) following consultations at the intergovernmental preparatory meeting, delegates engaged in negotiations on this text and its subsequent revisions throughout the remainder of the session. Notwithstanding numerous formal and informal meetings, including closed "Friends of the Chair" sessions and extensive discussions, by Friday afternoon as the scheduled close of the meeting approached there remained numerous unresolved issues in the energy for sustainable development and climate change sections of the document.

Chair Al-Attiyah presented a compromise document on Friday evening on a "take it or leave it" basis. After an hour and a half of consultations, delegations reconvened. The Group of 77 and China, the United States, Canada and Mexico approved the Chair's text, but the EU and Switzerland rejected it on the basis that it did not address the challenges in the thematic areas, meet world expectations or add value. The meeting closed at 8:45 pm with no adopted outcome document. The Chair announced that in lieu of a negotiated outcome, a "Chair's Summary" of CSD-15 would be issued the following week

CSD-15 proved to be a sobering reminder that fundamental disagreements exist between states on the nature, scope and ambition of the sustainable development agenda – particularly the issues of energy and climate change – and the role, relevance and value of the CSD itself.


The Commission on Sustainable Development emerged from Agenda 21, the programme of action for sustainable development adopted in June 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the "Earth Summit." Agenda 21 called for the creation of the CSD to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, and examine progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at the local, national, regional and international levels. In 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 47/191, which established the CSD's terms of reference and composition, organization of work, relationship with other UN bodies, Secretariat arrangements, and guidelines for the participation of Major Groups. The CSD held its first substantive session in June 1993 and has since met annually. During its first five years, the CSD systematically reviewed the implementation of all chapters of Agenda 21.

UNGASS-19: In June 1997, five years after UNCED, the 19th Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS-19), also known as "Rio+5," was held to review the implementation of Agenda 21. Negotiations produced a Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. Among the decisions adopted at UNGASS-19 was a five-year CSD work programme, which identified sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/Major Group themes for the next four sessions of the Commission. Overriding issues for each year were poverty, and consumption and production patterns. In 1998, CSD-6 included industry among the issues on its agenda, and adopted a decision on industry and sustainable development.

CSD-9: The ninth session of the CSD took place from 16-28 April 2001, at UN headquarters in New York. The session reviewed the sectoral themes of energy and atmosphere, the economic dimension of transport, and the cross-sectoral themes of information for decision-making and participation, and international cooperation for an enabling environment. The decision on energy contained six sections on general considerations, issues and options, overarching issues, regional and international cooperation, which dealt with diverse matters relating to, inter alia: energy efficiency; renewable energy and advanced fossil fuels; and making markets work for sustainable development and international endeavors. Consensus was not reached on certain issues, including: energy efficiency codes and standards; the phase-out of harmful subsidies in developed countries; reductions in atmospheric pollutants; and references to the development of policies supporting energy for sustainable development.

WSSD: The tenth session of the CSD acted as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which took place from 26 August to 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WSSD adopted two main documents: the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development. The JPOI addresses energy in the context of sustainable development, and calls for action on access to energy services, recognition of the linkage between energy provision and poverty eradication, alternative energy technologies, and diversity of supply. The JPOI addresses climate change as a "global concern," considers industrial development in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable natural resource management, and considers the health impacts of air pollution.

CSD-11: The eleventh session of the CSD took place from 28 April to 9 May 2003 at UN headquarters in New York. The session set out the Commission's multi-year programme of work for the period 2004-2017 and decided on the modalities for reporting, partnerships, and enhancing both UN system coordination and Major Groups' contributions. Delegates also decided to introduce two-year "Implementation Cycles" for the CSD's future sessions, with each cycle focusing on thematic clusters alongside cross-sectoral issues. Each cycle is comprised of a non-negotiating Review Year followed by a Policy Year.

CSD-12: The twelfth session of the CSD was held from 14 to 30 April 2004, at UN headquarters in New York. The first three days served as the preparatory meeting for the International Meeting on the 10-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The following two weeks were devoted to the CSD-12 Review Session. CSD-12 focused on identifying constraints, obstacles, successes and lessons learned with regard to water, sanitation and human settlements.

CSD-13: The thirteenth session of the CSD took place from 11 to 22 April 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. Building on the outcomes of CSD-12 and an intergovernmental preparatory meeting in February/March 2005, CSD-13 focused on policies and options to expedite the implementation of commitments in the areas of water, sanitation and human settlements.

CSD-14: The fourteenth session of the CSD took place from 1-12 May 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. As this was the first year of the second implementation cycle, CSD-14 was tasked to review progress in energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change, together with inter-linked and cross-cutting issues. The first week of CSD-14 featured a series of thematic discussions and meetings to consider reports from the UN Regional Commissions on the status of implementation. One day was dedicated to a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue. During the second week, one day was set aside to discuss SIDS, with a review of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. The second week also included a high-level segment. At the conclusion of CSD-14, delegates adopted the report of the session, including the Chair's non-negotiated summary, which contained an overview of the discussions and events.

IPM: The intergovernmental preparatory meeting (IPM) for CSD-15 took place from 26 February to 2 March 2007, at UN headquarters in New York. Throughout the week, delegates met in plenary to consider policy options for the four themes of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change, as well as inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues. There was also a session on SIDS. These deliberations were reflected in a preliminary draft Chair's negotiating document, which was distributed towards the end of the meeting. The text was revised based on initial feedback from the participants and formed the basis for further discussions and negotiations at CSD-15.


CSD-15 Chair Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar, opened the fifteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development on Monday morning, 30 April 2007. He reviewed the outcome of CSD-14 and of the CSD-15 intergovernmental preparatory meeting, and suggested that CSD-15 focus on areas where it could add value.

José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, expressed hope that CSD-15 would craft thoughtful and focused policy decisions, including on access to modern energy services for eradicating poverty.

Following an invitation for general comments from the floor, Pakistan, for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), called for the full implementation of commitments made at recent summits and the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, emphasizing that progress in the environmental field should be matched by progress in other areas. He indicated continuing obstacles, including lack of financial, human and technical resources in developing countries.

Sudan, on behalf of the African Group, said special consideration should be given to the most vulnerable countries, and noted the importance of inter-ministerial processes and partnerships such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The Caribbean Community highlighted its members' vulnerability to natural disasters and described the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, the first regional disaster insurance facility in the world.

Germany, for the European Union (EU), proposed monitoring implementation, introducing time-bound targets, initiating an international agreement on energy efficiency, and reviewing energy in the CSD's sessions in 2010/2011 and 2014/2015. He also highlighted the impact of climate change on security.

The US said the international environmental governance system has been prolific in negotiating multilateral environmental agreements, and recommended turning the many pages of text into action on the ground. Switzerland said the CSD has not lived up to expectations, and needs to add value to, not just repeat, what has been done in the past.

In addition to general comments, delegates heard reports on relevant intersessional meetings held since CSD-14 including:

Delegates also addressed various organizational matters, formally electing Vice-Chair-designate Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado (Brazil) from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to the Bureau. The other Bureau members, Frances Lisson (Australia), Alain Edouard Traore (Burkina Faso) and Jiří Hlaváček (Czech Republic), were elected in 2006. Delegates also approved the CSD-15 provisional agenda (E/CN.17/2007/1) and organization of work. The following summary reports on the discussions and negotiations at CSD-15 and is organized around the meeting's agenda.


Delegates devoted the majority of their time at CSD-15 to the thematic issues for CSD's 2006-2007 implementation cycle – energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change. These issues, considered under a single agenda item, were addressed in numerous official meetings, including a plenary session on regional perspectives held on 30 April, and several interactive discussions held from 1 to 2 May on each of the four themes. The thematic issues along with the CSD's cross-cutting issues were also discussed at the high-level segment, which took place from 9-11 May. Numerous other events held alongside the formal CSD meetings – including the Partnerships Fair, Learning Center and side events – also focused on these issues. In addition, delegates devoted considerable time to negotiating CSD-15's proposed outcome document, intended to identify policy decisions on practical measures and options to expedite implementation of commitments on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change.

REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES: On Monday, 30 April, delegates considered regional perspectives on the thematic issues. Representatives of UN agencies, regional commissions and other intergovernmental organizations addressed the issues, and engaged in discussions with delegations.

On energy for sustainable development and industrial development, discussions focused on: balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability; institutional and policy frameworks; promoting a pro-poor energy policy; nuclear energy; market penetration of renewables; value of hydroelectricity in Africa given water shortages; regional cooperation in achieving energy security; South-South cooperation; strengthening financial intermediaries for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under the Kyoto Protocol; liberalizing energy markets; corporate social responsibility; mobilizing public and private finance; technology transfer; multi-stakeholder dialogue involving banks, investors, governments, and intergovernmental organizations to identify responsibilities, timelines and risk; and enhancing investment in oil and gas exploration and production activities using cleaner technologies.

On air pollution/atmosphere and climate change, key issues included: regional mitigation and adaptation strategies; mainstreaming climate change in poverty reduction strategies; including indigenous and local communities in national multi-stakeholder processes; carbon markets; sustainable transport initiatives; regional knowledge centers; using the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution as a model for other regions; analyzing subregional impacts; and providing post-disaster assistance.

On cross-cutting issues, discussion focused on: cooperation among UN agencies; value of regional meetings in developing a collective approach; and cooperation in harmonizing and integrating policies.

A summary of these discussions is available at:

INTERACTIVE DISCUSSIONS WITH MAJOR GROUPS: On Monday, 30 April, Vice-Chair Alain Edouard Traore chaired an interactive discussion with Major Groups on the thematic issues. In the discussion, Women emphasized the need to mainstream gender issues into energy decision-making. Children and Youth called for time-bound measurable targets for energy efficiency, energy savings, energy access and renewables. Indigenous Peoples noted the need for robust policy and regulatory frameworks, corporate accountability, participatory decision-making and respect for human rights. NGOs highlighted the importance of time-bound targets for energy efficiency and renewables, relevant funding and a review mechanism. Local Authorities noted the need to create incentives for renewables and energy efficiency, development of alternative fuels, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets and support for public transit. Workers and Trade Unions stressed the importance of democratic governance, decent work standards, sustainable production systems and "green jobs." Business and Industry underscored the significance of open markets, trade liberalization, intellectual property rights protection and partnerships. The Scientific and Technological Community noted the need to consider safe and secure nuclear energy systems, and assist industrial development in developing countries with capacity building and clean technology transfer. Farmers called for cost-competitive sustainable energy technologies, access to the necessary capital and risk-minimization measures. Several countries underscored the importance of contributions from Major Groups, and expressed support for specific suggestions.

A summary of these discussions is available at:

COMMENTS AND DISCUSSION ON POLICY OPTIONS AND POSSIBLE ACTIONS IN THE CHAIR'S DRAFT NEGOTIATING DOCUMENT: On Tuesday, 1 May, delegates met in parallel sessions to discuss policy options and possible actions contained in the Chair's draft negotiating document. Discussions were structured around each of the four thematic issues, and focused on priority actions, cross-cutting issues and specific initiatives. On Wednesday, 2 May, delegates considered inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues, and continued discussion on energy for sustainable development and climate change.

Energy for Sustainable Development: This session was facilitated by Vice-Chair Frances Lisson. In their interventions, delegates and Major Groups focused on a wide range of issues, including increasing renewables and reducing their cost; carbon capture and storage; research and technology cooperation; access to energy for the poor, those in rural and remote areas, and women; cooperation with the private sector and international financial institutions; transfer of clean technologies to developing countries; and inclusion of a SIDS section in the Chair's document. Delegates also discussed the potential and merits and limitations of biofuels, solar energy, liquid natural gas, fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The G-77/China highlighted the need to increase access to energy, improve energy efficiency and enhance international and regional cooperation. The EU noted the need for CSD-15 outcomes to include: time-bound targets on energy efficiency, renewables and access to energy; a review arrangement; follow-up at CSD's 2010/11 and 2014/15 sessions; and a compilation of national and regional goals and commitments. The US supported follow-up in 2010 and 2014. Canada favored a balanced market-based approach, and Australia said that the CSD should act as a focal point for the discussion of partnerships.

Industrial Development: This session was facilitated by Vice-Chair Jiří Hlaváček. In their interventions, delegates and Major Groups focused on a wide range of issues, including: pro-poor and sustainable economic growth; cleaner production schemes; investment funds to promote clean development; industrial integration in the NEPAD region; technology transfer on favorable terms; "the reduce, reuse and recycle" principle; indigenous peoples' entrepreneurship; impacts of industrial development on agriculture; capacity building and technology transfer; corporate social responsibility; the role of the market in cleaner production and innovation; and national growth indexes to account for social and environmental factors.

The G-77/China emphasized the imperative of economic growth for developing countries, listed the factors constraining industrialization and submitted policy options. On clean technology, the EU called for increased research and measures to stimulate demand. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) highlighted the importance of the Mauritius Strategy. The US warned against reopening concluded debates and urged participants to reaffirm their commitments to previous agreements. Australia underscored the CSD's role in sharing national experiences, and Canada stressed the importance of corporate social responsibility.

Air Pollution/Atmosphere: This session, facilitated by Vice-Chair Traore, considered both indoor and outdoor air pollution. On outdoor air pollution interventions focused on: controlling illegal trade in polluting substances; strengthening the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol; creating markets and financial incentives for clean technologies; supporting the agricultural community in developing biofuels; adopting time-bound and measurable targets on air pollution; and locating efforts in the context of economic growth and poverty reduction.

On indoor pollution, interventions focused on gender aspects, capacity building, technology transfer, financing, and the impacts of poor air quality on human health in the workplace. Many delegates highlighted the need to transform home cooking fuels from traditional biomass to cleaner options, support the goal of halving the number of people without access to modern cooking fuels, ensure improved cooking technologies are widely available by 2015, and promote behavioral changes at the household level.

The G-77/China stressed the adverse effects of air pollution and proposed a range of policy options, including increased technology transfer and exploring synergies among multilateral agreements. AOSIS called for new and additional financial resources to implement the Mauritius Strategy. The EU supported the establishment of voluntary guidelines for the aviation and maritime sectors.

Climate Change: This session, facilitated by Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado, commenced with a presentation by Bagher Asadi, Chair of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). Asadi noted that the work of the SBI and CSD are distinct but complementary, and expressed hope that the CSD's political impetus would have a positive impact on the SBI.

In their interventions delegates and Major Groups focused on a wide range of issues, including: negotiations on post-2012 commitments under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol; role of the CSD and the Chair's draft negotiating document; adaptation and mitigation; CDM projects; and national policies and measures. Some participants also highlighted the need for gender mainstreaming in climate change policies and programmes, support for the sciences, government funding for research, international cooperation, equitable geographical distribution of CDM projects, and time-bound targets on mitigation, adaptation and education.

The G-77/China highlighted, inter alia, the lack of fulfillment of Kyoto Protocol commitments and inadequate adaptation funding. He also stressed the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the need to evaluate and streamline Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding. AOSIS, called for, inter alia, financing for adaptation, adapting the CDM to suit SIDS' limited capacities, funding early warning systems, and researching the adverse impacts of carbon capture and storage on marine resources.

The EU highlighted the urgent need for a post-2012 agreement. Australia, Canada and the US emphasized the primacy of UNFCCC processes in dealing with climate change.

Inter-linkages and Cross-cutting Issues: This session was facilitated by CSD-15 Vice-Chair Hlaváček. In their interventions delegates and Major Groups focused on a wide range of issues including: gender equality; translating commitments into action on financial resource mobilization and technology transfer; good governance; supportive policy environments; sustainable production, consumption and lifestyles; challenges facing SIDS; vulnerability of mountain ecosystems; review of multilateral funding mechanisms; technology and knowledge to assist adaptation to climate change; inclusion of sustainable development education in school curricula; nuclear energy; and energy subsidies.

The G-77/China highlighted the gap between the intent and implementation of multilateral agreements, and expressed concern over the lack of progress in the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-Building. In order to enhance financial resource mobilization, he proposed simplifying reporting procedures under multilateral funding mechanisms. He also suggested reviewing the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and other intellectual property laws so as to enable increased technology transfer. AOSIS called for a SIDS information-sharing network and insurance to cover climate change related natural disasters. He also urged delegates to support the inclusion of text on the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.

The EU said that financial mechanisms increase investment in clean energy technologies and called for an enabling environment for public-private partnerships. The US identified the Marrakesh Process as a model for the CSD's work, characterizing it as a pragmatic programme incorporating dialogue, case studies and voluntary guidelines.

A summary of these discussions is available at: and


CSD-15's high-level segment began on Wednesday, 9 May, concluding on Friday, 11 May. The segment, which was attended by 98 ministers of environment, finance, economy, development and energy and other high-level officials, involved a number of interactive discussions. Several sessions focused on the issue of "Turning commitments into action: working together in partnership," with keynote speakers, dozens of ministers and government officials, as well as UN agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and Major Groups, all participating in the discussions. Official statements highlighted a wide range of relevant issues, including: regional partnerships; cross-sectoral approaches; developed countries taking the lead based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities; research and development in clean technology and biofuels; special needs of SIDS and the implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan and the Mauritius Strategy; integrating gender into all areas of energy policy; the proposition that oil super-profits be redistributed to compensate losses incurred by non-oil producing countries; the imperative of reliable and affordable energy supply to development; and the importance of financial mechanisms and the carbon market. Speakers raised further issues, including: the role of science in energy innovation; increasing public awareness programmes, education and capacity development initiatives; technology transfer; new and additional finance; and a review of the balance between rewarding innovators and facilitating access to clean technology.

In addition to official statements, there were roundtables on the thematic issues, and ministerial dialogues with UN agencies and Major Groups. A more detailed summary of the roundtables is available at: and the ministerial dialogues at

ROUNDTABLE ON ENERGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT: This roundtable, moderated by Chair Al-Attiyah, was held on Wednesday, 9 May. Panel presentations were followed by discussion. Daniel Yergin, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, welcomed the application of biology and biotechnology to energy. Noting that energy efficiency is the priority, Valli Moosa, Eskom, called on the UN to implement an energy saving programme in its buildings. Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish, OPEC Fund for International Development, called for an appropriate mix of energy sources.

The discussions focused on several issues including: increased use of natural gas; energy efficiency win-win opportunities; modern energy services to eradicate poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); carbon fixing; agriculture for fuel production; "resuscitation" of the Doha round of trade talks for developing countries; harmonizing energy labeling with trade partners; technology to reduce the ill effects of fossil fuel on the environment; negative aspects of nuclear power; and viewing women as a resource for the implementation of energy efficiency schemes.

ROUNDTABLE ON AIR POLLUTION/ATMOSPHERE AND CLIMATE CHANGE: This Roundtable, moderated by Martin Bursik, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic, was held on Wednesday, 9 May. Panel presentations were followed by discussion.

John Holdren, Harvard University, focused on adaptation strategies and the possible role of the UN in addressing specific climate change issues, including studies and action plans. Laurent Corbier, International Chamber of Commerce, commented on the role of business, the importance of synergistically addressing the areas of technology, funding policies and collaborators. Abdalla El-Badri, OPEC, stressed that, with growing demand, fossil fuels will command a lion's share of energy in future decades. He highlighted the need for new technologies, carbon capture and storage, and a shift from biomass to cleaner energy. Halldor Thorgeirsson, UNFCCC, emphasized the upcoming Bali climate conference, and highlighted the need to use the next two years to prepare for the post-2012 negotiations, build frameworks and market-based mechanisms, provide technological solutions and focus on adaptation.

In the ensuing discussion, observations were offered by several ministers and representatives of Major Groups. The main messages expressed included: failure in Bali "is not an option"; there is a need to price carbon; access to affordable energy will play a critical role in poverty alleviation; adaptation is important; and greater understanding is needed of countries' vulnerabilities to climate change.

MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE WITH UN AGENCIES: On Thursday, 9 May, Chair Al-Attiyah initiated an interactive discussion with UN agencies. UN-Habitat called for strengthening local authorities. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted that new technologies such as biofuels raise questions about possible negative consequences. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said lessons learned in Latin America and Asia should be more effectively shared with Africa. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) noted that US$1 billion is targeted for climate change and US$200 million has been mobilized for adaptation. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) described new approaches to transboundary pollution management. The World Bank noted recent positive developments such as calls by industry for regulatory frameworks for GHG emissions and rapid growth of carbon markets. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reviewed the development of a new energy-access development facility. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) highlighted the need to diversify the energy mix, and described efforts with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the climate-biodiversity link. The OPEC Fund for International Development emphasized the need to develop clean fossil fuel technology.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said that adaptation and mitigation must involve combating land degradation. The UNFCCC urged the private sector in developing countries to engage with the CDM. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for further research on the ramifications of using agriculture to produce biofuel. The World Health Organization (WHO) called for global action to minimize the health effects of burning biomass. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) outlined the energy efficiency efforts made by the aviation industry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) welcomed the opportunity to shape sustainable energy policy. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) called on delegates to send a strong message on access to energy. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) underscored the importance of energy efficiency. Calling on delegates to view environmental issues through the prism of trade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) urged delegates to turn commitments into action.

MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE WITH MAJOR GROUPS: This interactive discussion, moderated by Chair Al-Attiyah, was held on Thursday, 10 May. The Scientific and Technological Community urged countries to explore the options for energy innovation across the entire energy portfolio. On climate change laws, Business and Industry expressed a preference for regulation over uncertainty. Workers and Trade Unions emphasized the opportunity for "green jobs" in the renewable energy sector, and the need for "safe work, decent work and sustainable work." Local Authorities explained that leadership is being taken at the local level to fill the "responsibility void." NGOs described the response to climate change as a "moral imperative" and rejected carbon-based and nuclear energy sources as long-term options. Indigenous Peoples cautioned against ignoring the Earth's message to move away from unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and highlighted the potential liabilities arising from "dumping carbon" into the atmosphere. Children and Youth emphasized that "fossil fuels and nuclear energy are not sustainable," expressed disappointment with the Chair's text, urged micro-financing for young entrepreneurs, and called for holistic education. Women promoted gender mainstreaming, in particular for taking into account women's concerns in energy policies, poverty reduction strategies and decision-making processes.


On Wednesday afternoon, 2 May, Chair Al-Attiyah distributed the Chair's Revised Draft Negotiating Document. The draft was intended to identify policy options and possible actions to expedite implementation of commitments on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change. The sixteen-page text was intended to build on discussions and recommendations from CSD-14, the IPM and the interactive dialogues that had taken place during the first two days of CSD-15. The draft contained a preamble and sections on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere, climate change and inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues.

After spending Wednesday afternoon considering the text and consulting informally in regional groupings, delegations began formal discussions on Thursday in parallel sessions of two ad hoc working groups. Ad hoc Working Group 1 dealt with energy for sustainable development and air pollution/ atmosphere, while Ad hoc Working Group 2 dealt with industrial development, climate change and inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues.

While many delegates welcomed the text as a useful starting point for negotiations, and noted that it was better structured than the earlier draft, a considerable number sought to insert further details, or to elaborate on various issues in the text. In particular, the G-77/China and the EU proposed additional text, while the US, Australia, Canada and a number of other developed countries preferred to keep the text concise. Negotiations on this text, and on the numerous amendments proposed, continued throughout CSD-15's second week, with a number of revised versions of the text, and the different sections within it, being produced. On Friday evening, 11 May, since negotiations could not produce agreed text in the energy for sustainable development and climate change sections, Chair Al-Attiyah circulated a compromise text on a "take it or leave it" basis. The EU and Switzerland rejected this text, and CSD-15 concluded with no negotiated outcome document. A Chair's Summary will be issued during the week following the meeting. This section outlines the negotiations, including the key areas of disagreement, in the thematic areas.

PREAMBLE: Negotiations on the preamble were facilitated by Vice-Chair Hlaváček. Discussion on the preambular section revolved around a number of recurrent issues. On the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the US objected to highlighting only this principle. On recognizing the special needs of Africa, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and SIDS, the G-77/China proposed additional paragraphs on the needs of countries emerging from conflict, the difficulties faced by people under foreign occupation, and the importance of new and additional resources. The US proposed text noting the significant progress made on the ground during this implementation cycle in such areas as reducing indoor air pollution and leaded gasoline. Norway, with Switzerland, suggested recognizing the recent IPCC report and the implications for sustainable development. The EU called attention to the increases in development assistance resources from countries that have set targets for achieving 0.7% of GNP for ODA. The US, with Australia, proposed deleting reference to "targets" as some countries have increased resources for developing countries without using targets. The G-77/China reserved the right to return to several issues on which it had yet to formulate its position. Given the difficulties in making progress in the negotiations, delegates did not return to the preambular section.

ENERGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Negotiations on the section of the outcome document dealing with energy for sustainable development were facilitated by Vice-Chair Lisson. Broad agreement was reached on the proposition that energy is crucial for sustainable development, poverty eradication and achieving the MDGs. Access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services, particularly in developing countries, was highlighted. Negotiated language emphasized accelerated access to sustainable energy services to the poor, and for the eradication of poverty.

Delegates addressed and agreed broadly on various aspects of energy, including on the need to: improve energy efficiency and strive for cleaner technologies in the area of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, such as hydro power, geothermal, wind, solar and bioenergy; diversify energy sources; phase out harmful subsidies; and promote investment to provide energy services.

Broad understanding was found on a set of actions that deal with elements of access to energy, energy efficiency, and the enhancement of international and regional cooperation. Delegates reached consensus on the EU proposal to follow-up the issue of energy for sustainable development at the CSD sessions in 2010/11 and 2014/15.

Much negotiating time was taken up by the discussion on the respective roles of fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy. Saudi Arabia, with support from Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation, advocated language on the continuing "dominant" role of fossil fuels in the future. With other oil and gas producing countries, they stressed the complementarity between fossil fuels and renewables, and proposed recommending the increased development and use of advanced fossil fuel technologies. This approach was supported by the G-77/China, although AOSIS favored a significant increase in renewables and cautioned against reliance on fossil fuels. The latter also supported a global renewable energy trust fund for SIDS, while Kuwait said a voluntary fund should embrace both renewables and fossil fuels. However, no language was agreed on specific funds.

Delegates managed to arrive at mutually acceptable language, which refers to the fact that fossil fuels "will continue to play an important role" in the future, while undertaking every effort to diversify the energy mix.

Protracted negotiations ensued on the EU proposal that CSD-15 should decide on time-bound targets for a significant increase in the share of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and access. This was supported by AOSIS, Malaysia and others, but strongly opposed by Azerbaijan, Japan, the Russian Federation, the US, among others. Although the initial objections by the G-77/China were tempered, on the understanding that the "role" of such voluntary targets would only be "recognized," negotiations were inconclusive. An attempt by the Chair to refer to targets in his compromise text, using language close to G-77/China thinking, was rejected by the EU.

Objections were also raised by Australia, Canada, Japan, the US and other developed countries to the EU idea of a review mechanism or arrangement for energy for sustainable development, and no agreement was reached on the issue.

Pakistan, Algeria, Chile and Argentina and some other delegations spoke in favor, and the EU and AOSIS opposed, the inclusion of nuclear power in the energy mix. As a result, no language was agreed on nuclear energy.

AIR POLLUTION/ATMOSPHERE: Negotiations on the section of the outcome document dealing with air pollution/atmosphere were facilitated by Vice-Chair Traore. In the course of negotiations, delegates reached broad agreement on the need for an integrated approach in order to tackle the problem of air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, and its environmental, economic and social consequences, and integrating mitigation into national development planning. Indoor air pollution from traditional biomass cooking was singled out as a significant poverty-related issue, impacting on the health of women and children in developing countries.

Broad understanding was found on a number of concrete actions, such as information dissemination, replication of best practices, acceleration of the transition from biomass to cleaner energy, and to cleaner fuels and vehicles. Consensus was found on supporting, "as appropriate," international monitoring programmes, initiatives and partnerships, as well as the sharing, "on a voluntary basis," of regional and subregional experiences that address transboundary air pollution. Language was approved inviting donors to continue to provide financial resources during the next replenishment of the Multilateral Fund under the Montreal Protocol. Donors are invited to support developing countries in cases of significant amounts of naturally occurring air pollution, particularly dust, sandstorms, smoke from forest fires and volcanic ash. 

More negotiating time was required to draft other paragraphs. This concerned the establishment of country and regional air quality standards and norms, where the EU proposed to introduce WHO global air quality guidelines. Countries like India argued that air pollution standards should not be universal. The issue was resolved by referring to "taking into account WHO guidelines as appropriate."

Exporting and importing countries debated text on the export of second-hand and polluting technology, including vehicles, and its relation to local emissions standards, with the G-77/China suggesting the proviso of "meeting norms of the importing countries." A shorter text was developed on improved inspection for all vehicles.

The US, with Australia, opposed reference to "enforce international control" over the illegal trade and shipment of ozone-depleting substances. As a result, a general reference "to address" the issue was drafted. The EU suggestion on "eliminating" gas flaring and venting was opposed by many countries as non-viable, and was replaced with "reducing" emissions. A suggestion from the G-77/China was accepted to add "non-market incentives" to solely market incentives, to improve fuels and vehicle efficiency.

The G-77/China's suggested language on "promotion of synergies" between multilateral environmental agreements was replaced with "enhanced cooperation and, as appropriate, combined efforts."

The main contentious paragraph concerned pollution from aviation and maritime sources. Delegates disagreed on whether relevant measures should be taken "through" the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the ICAO alone, as the US and the G-77/China suggested, or through "other relevant international frameworks" as well, as the EU insisted. The EU also supported the establishment of voluntary guidelines for the aviation and maritime sectors.

The broader EU language was strongly opposed by the US, the Russian Federation and several other countries. Efforts to resolve the issue continued until the very end of the session, but delegates failed to reach agreement.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Negotiations on the section of the outcome document dealing with climate change were facilitated by Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado. Broad agreement was reached on the need to highlight the importance of climate challenge, defer to the UNFCCC process, and prioritize SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs. A number of areas of disagreement, however, arose during the negotiations, including over references in the text to post-2012 commitments under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, findings of the IPCC, technical and financial assistance to developing countries, use of market-based mechanisms and carbon capture and storage technology.

On post-2012 commitments under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, the EU, supported by Switzerland, stressed the importance of sending a message to COP 13 and COP/MOP 3 on reaching a post-2012 agreement. The EU introduced language reflecting its concerns, including on launching negotiations on a post-2012 agreement at COP 13 and COP/MOP 3, and completing them by 2009. The G-77/China cautioned against allowing the reference to post-2012 action to overshadow the discussions, and Australia, Canada, Japan and the US emphasized the primacy of UNFCCC processes in dealing with climate change. After extensive debate, the EU eventually agreed to drop its suggested reference.

On the IPCC's findings, the EU and Switzerland suggested strongly-worded references to the reality and urgency of climate change and the latest IPCC findings. Switzerland also supported language indicating that climate change is caused by human activities. The US, supported by Australia, Canada and Japan, favored a concise statement on scientific findings. Australia suggested taking text directly from the IPCC's Report, including the term "very likely" in relation to the anthropogenic nature of climate change. The EU eventually accepted a general reference to recent IPCC findings.

Disagreement also centered around references to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the chapeau and elsewhere in the text, with the G-77/China favoring such references, and the EU, Australia, Switzerland, the US and other developed countries proposing references to all the UNFCCC principles, not just the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This debate was also linked to the discussion on the "global nature" of the problem and its solution. Canada said the text did not reflect the global nature of the problem. The EU, supported by Canada and the US, introduced text to reflect that all countries need to take action to address climate change.

Similar disagreement arose on the G-77/China's suggested references to technical and financial assistance in the text. While the G-77/China favored placing references to financial and technical assistance for developing countries in specific paragraphs, as for instance on adaptation needs, developed countries queried the value of such repeated references given the global reference to such assistance elsewhere in the text, as well as commitments under the UNFCCC to provide assistance. The specific language used in referring to "technical and financial assistance" also generated debate. While the G-77/China favored language indicating a need to "increase the financial and technical support," and provide "new and additional sources of funding," many developed countries suggested alternative language indicating that developed countries "continue to support" developing countries.

Palau opposed and the G-77/China reserved comment on carbon capture and storage technology. Japan introduced text requiring consideration of environmental impacts. The EU sought a reference to environmental safety, as well as the development of such technology within the "necessary technical, economic and regulatory framework." Agreement emerged among the developed countries on a reference to "environmentally sound" technology.

Another area of contention was the EU-suggested paragraph on creating stable incentives to enhance the use of market-based mechanisms, including the carbon market. The G-77/China, Canada, Japan and the US opposed this paragraph, as they did not favor singling out the carbon market over other policies and measures. The EU eventually agreed to delete this paragraph.

The final unresolved issues centered on references to technical and financial assistance to developing countries, and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT: Negotiations on the section of the outcome document dealing with industrial development were facilitated by Vice-Chair Hlaváček. One recurrent area of disagreement related to whether to emphasize "development" or "sustainable" development. In the introductory paragraphs Switzerland proposed text on "sustainable" economic growth and industrial development "within the natural resource base." The G-77/China noted the need to reflect the importance of industrial development to poverty alleviation, and suggested deleting the reference to the role of sustainable use of natural resources in reducing costs, increasing competitiveness and employment, and reducing environmental degradation, and asked to separate the industrial development and the natural resource management concerns

There were further disagreements over references to Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration on states' sovereign rights to exploit their own resources. The G-77/China highlighted the rights of each country to decide their own industrial development, environmental protection and environmental management strategies. Australia, Switzerland and the US highlighted instead the responsibility of states to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction and control do not cause damage to the environment of other states or to areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

On specific reference to national policy frameworks, the EU proposed adding the phrase "building on the principle of sustainability and good governance," and the G-77/China questioned the existence of such a principle. The G-77/China also opposed any conditionality being placed on national policymaking. On innovative environmental management systems such as life-cycle analysis, eco-design and green procurement, the G-77/China expressed concern over eco-labeling and its restrictions on trade. On certification, the G-77/China proposed its deletion from the list of trade-related capacity building, and using the term "technical knowledge" in place of "intellectual property."

On the issue of increased resources for basic infrastructure, the G-77/China suggested "scaling up resource flows" and the US proposed the phrase "promoting resources." The Chair offered "mobilizing" resources instead. Australia, supported by the EU and the US, and opposed by the G-77/China, suggested creating an "enabling environment that facilitates foreign direct investment." On technology cooperation, the EU and Japan suggested deleting a reference to "sharing of intellectual property and know how," while Botswana called for "equitable sharing."

On capacity building, the EU proposed, opposed by G-77/China, emphasizing education and skills development "on a non-discriminatory basis."

On sustainable patterns of production and consumption "in all countries," the G-77/China objected to the reference to "all countries" and proposed emphasizing the special needs of developing countries. Delegates found compromise language referring to "all countries with developed countries taking the lead."

INTER-LINKAGES AND CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES: Negotiations on the section of the Chair's text dealing with inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues was facilitated by Vice-Chair Hlaváček. This section focused on actions to be taken so as to promote coordinated efforts across the four thematic areas. There was general agreement on the need for inter-linked and cross-cutting issues to be dealt with by regional and subregional partnerships, incorporating lessons-sharing and best practices. A number of disagreements arose during the negotiations including disputes over text on technology transfer, capacity building, education and the TRIPS Agreement. On the introductory paragraph, the EU's suggestion to add "lifestyle changes" and Norway and Canada's emphasis on the role of women was supported by many, with the G-77/China reserving its position.

On paragraphs relating to actions to be taken, a number of issues were contentious. On reference to the 0.7% ODA target, the G-77/China favored, and the US opposed, its inclusion. The G-77/China, opposed by the US, suggested enhancing financial and technical assistance to include "peoples under foreign occupation." On education, the G-77/China included text on the goal of universal primary education. On production and consumption, the US proposed deleting language calling on developed countries to take the lead, and the EU called for the more efficient use of natural resources. The EU, Canada, Switzerland and the US, opposed by the G-77/China, requested deleting the paragraph referring to a review of the TRIPS Agreement on the ground that the CSD does not have the competence.


The closing plenary convened at 5:45 pm on Friday evening, 11 May. Chair Al-Attiyah noted that notwithstanding numerous negotiating meetings, including until the early hours of Friday morning, and extensive discussions between Bureau members and regional groups and key delegations, numerous issues remained unresolved, in particular in the energy for sustainable development and climate change sections of the document. He then presented a Chair's compromise text on a "take it or leave it" basis, cautioning delegations that they could not "change a word," and that if they rejected the text, the only outcome from the session would be a Chair's Summary of the discussions. He left shortly thereafter and handed the reins to Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado.

The Chair's compromise text spanned twenty-one pages, and had 34 paragraphs most with several sub-paragraphs. The text contains five sections, one on each of the thematic issues, and one on inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues.

The energy section of the compromise text identified fossil fuels, which "will continue to play an important role in the energy supply in the decades to come." It referred to targets on increasing access to energy, energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy, but in the context of recognizing the roles of voluntary targets, and making greater use of them, "as appropriate." There was no mention of time-bound targets. The Chair also omitted any reference to a review mechanism or arrangement. Nuclear power did not appear as part of the energy mix.

The industrial development section emphasized the central role industrial development (understood in the context of sustainable development, the Rio Declaration, and the JPOI) plays in poverty alleviation and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals. It also called for, as appropriate: national policy frameworks for industrial development and diversification, private sector investment and enhanced domestic environmental governance; and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production by all countries with developed countries taking the lead.   

The air pollution/atmosphere section contained a paragraph on promoting the establishment of country and regional air quality standards and norms, "taking into account" WHO guidelines, as appropriate. The Chair refrained from including a controversial paragraph on measures to address aviation and maritime pollution through the IMO and ICAO, or other relevant international frameworks.

The climate change section characterized climate change as a "global sustainable development challenge" and called for urgent attention and further action by the international community, in accordance with the UNFCCC. It also identified social and economic development and poverty eradication as the overriding priorities for developing countries. It urged states to take actions to, inter alia: meet commitments and obligations under the UNFCCC in accordance with all UNFCCC principles; continue to support developing countries including through technical and financial assistance; and recognize and support efforts taken by developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues section called for: an integrated approach to the four thematic issues; addressing the three pillars of sustainable development in a balanced way; increasing access to finance for developing countries to implement the JPOI, including increased ODA; simplifying the rules and reporting procedures for multilateral funding mechanisms; and mainstreaming gender issues.

Delegates reconvened at 8:05 pm after regional consultations on the Chair's compromise text. The EU rejected the text as it neither addresses the identified challenges nor meets international expectations. Noting that the relevance of the Commission is at stake, he stressed the need to improve the CSD decision-making process. He also urged the Commission to ensure more ambitious results in the future. Switzerland rejected the text as it did not add value, and weakens previous language. The G-77/China accepted the text, but noted that the procedure followed must not set a precedent for future sessions. She added that negotiations should be structured to allow large groups sufficient time to consult. While the US and Canada accepted the text, they underscored that a negotiated decision text is not the only measure of success, with the US stressing implementation on the ground as the real measure, and Canada highlighting the value of partnerships, side events, the learning center and intersectoral dialogue on thematic issues. Mexico endorsed the text, but stressed the need to do more.

Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado concluded the Commission's consideration of the thematic issues, noting that since the Commission will not be able to adopt a decision text, a Chair's summary will be available in a week. Representatives of Major Groups then delivered closing statements, with NGOs characterizing CSD-15 as a "lost opportunity" and "two years of wasted hot air."

At Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado's invitation, delegates adopted the programme of work for 2008-2009 for the Division for Sustainable Development of the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (E/CN.17/2007/10). The work programme sets out various priorities and outputs, including servicing of intergovernmental and expert bodies, producing publications and technical cooperation. In addition, they adopted three short decisions. These set the agenda for CSD-16 (E/CN.17/2007/L.3), the dates of CSD-16, CSD-17, as amended, and its intergovernmental preparatory meeting (E/CN.17/2007/L.2), and the outline of the CSD-15 draft report (E/CN.17/2007/L.1). CSD-16 will be held from 5-16 May 2008, CSD-17 will be held from 4-15 May 2009, and its intergovernmental preparatory meeting from 23-27 February 2009.

Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado, on behalf of the Chair, thanked the Vice-Chairs, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs José Antonio Ocampo, and the Secretariat, and declared CSD-15 closed at 8:55 pm.


Following the adjournment of CSD-15, Vice-Chair Figueiredo Machado declared open the first meeting of CSD-16 in order to elect its Chair and Bureau. Francis Nhema, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe, was elected as CSD-16 Chair by a narrow margin on a secret ballot. There were 50 CSD members present and voting, of which 26 voted in favor of Nhema and 21 voted against, with three abstentions. The EU, at whose request the secret ballot was held, expressed concern at his election, noting that this election will have negative impact on the Commission's work and credibility. Canada, on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, also expressed concern, stressing that the government of Zimbabwe, given its lack of "good governance" and respect for the "rule of law" is not in a position to provide the Commission with the leadership it requires at this stage.

The Commission also elected as Vice-Chairs Javed Amin-Mansour (Iran) from the Asian Group, Juan Mario Dary (Guatemala) from the Latin America and Caribbean Group, and Daniel Carmon (Israel) from the Western European and Others Group. A Vice-Chair from the Eastern and Central European Group will be nominated at a later date. The meeting adjourned at 9:55 pm.


As the Commission on Sustainable Development's fifteenth session rumbled to a dramatic and disappointing end on Friday night, delegates were hard put to evaluate the outcome. The EU's rejection of the Chair's compromise text left the CSD process in confusion, with some delegates asking difficult questions. Was the effort over the last two years to hammer out policies and expedite commitments in four critical areas of sustainable development wasted? Is the CSD's failure to reach a negotiated outcome a testament to its increasing irrelevance? Or does the richness of the discussions do more to underscore the fundamental importance of the issues than a negotiated outcome ever could?

This brief analysis will attempt to examine CSD-15's outcomes against this background, and consider what the future may hold for the CSD process.


What led to the stalemate in the session's closing moments? As seen by the EU, setting robust time-bound targets for renewable energy, energy efficiency and access to energy is at the heart of combating climate change and achieving sustainable development. Others were quick to point out the fundamental importance of energy security for all countries, rich and poor, with the almost tripling of oil prices from 2003 to 2006, and the inexorable momentum and salience of the climate change debate. As the EU stressed, energy for sustainable development has no institutional home within the UN system, hence the stakes were raised for CSD-15, placing age-old political and ideological affiliations under pressure.

The energy debate stretched the G-77/China's negotiating capacity, which underwent fissures across the whole energy spectrum: oil producing countries stressed the dominance of fossil fuels and the need for carbon sequestration and storage technologies; Egypt, India, Pakistan, Chile, South Africa, Argentina, Algeria and others supported nuclear energy; AOSIS opposed fossil fuels, nuclear, and carbon sequestration and storage, and pushed for renewable energy strategies; and biofuels sparked lengthy internal debate between Cuba and Brazil. AOSIS embraced the EU position on targets for renewables, but notably did not break rank with the G-77/China position. As has been the case since the inception of climate change negotiations, OPEC and AOSIS were on the two ends of the spectrum. In the final analysis, perhaps the G-77/China's political agenda remains strong, since they need to speak as one voice in negotiations that "really matter" such as trade, but their ideological differences are broad, as demonstrated in the context of sustainable development governance.

Some observed that new "energy affiliations" were emerging with Azerbaijan, Russia and Saudi Arabia forming an alliance, with the US and other joining, in opposition to the EU's proposed targets. Russia provided another fault line, with its claim for "energy superpower" status and calls for open energy markets, which left the EU naturally apprehensive. On the EU's proposed review mechanism on energy for sustainable development, some delegates feared that it would be a first step to establishing an accountability arrangement outside the UN system. The EU's ambitious posture was conspicuously led by Germany, which used its overlapping Presidencies of the EU and G8 to exert influence on EU and global politics. This has fed new suspicions of the EU imposing its own green agenda on the world.

On climate change, the EU sought to send a strong political message to the negotiators headed to the upcoming climate change conference in Bali on the urgency of launching negotiations for the next commitment period. Their position is driven by the need to buoy the EU emissions trading scheme and the price of carbon by bringing certainty to the market. Needless to say, the non-parties to the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the G-77/China, were less than pleased with this agenda. The EU's discomfort, among others, in accepting the G-77/China's suggested language on technical and financial assistance, added to the G-77/China's mistrust of its development partners. After protracted negotiations the EU backed away reluctantly from its ambitious stance on climate change, but in the end, this may well have been another straw on the camel's back. The EU would like the CSD to be more than a "talk shop." On climate change, an issue which has truly captured the public discourse, the EU wanted more than feeble references to the UNFCCC, a treaty with near-universal participation. If all the CSD could agree on was to defer to the UNFCCC, what is the added value of the CSD?

In negotiations on air pollution/atmosphere and industrial development, both trade and regulatory issues drew center stage as the US wanted to remove reference to WTO compliance for vehicles and technologies trade, and on the proper fora (in this case, IMO and ICAO) for the mitigation of aviation and maritime sources of air pollution. The EU's proposed aviation carbon tax to help fund anti-poverty programmes to meet its Millennium Development Goals targets would potentially distort competitiveness, and here lies the sticking point, with the potential for a trade dispute between the EU and the US shaping up. This is a worrying indicator for the contentious issues facing CSD-16 with regard to trade barriers and agriculture.


By UN standards, CSD-15 clearly fell short of expectations. But what is the measure of success? Some delegations, such as the US, have long preferred the opportunities the CSD provides through learning, establishing partnerships and exchanging success stories. The often overlooked CSD-sanctioned non-negotiated outcomes deserve commendation. But the jury is still out on the success of the "Matrix" (largely forgotten), a "work in progress" learning tool made up of partnership case studies compiled by the Secretariat. Beyond information sharing little is known about the measurable outcomes that partnerships have produced. However, the optimists still believe that the dialogue occurring in the hallways and side events on key sustainable development issues does legitimize the CSD as a serious learning forum. Yet the validity of the CSD in its present form has been questioned. Perhaps the political salience of energy and climate change issues and events outside of UN halls are overtaking the fossilized CSD process. 


The quick demise of the Chair's last-minute "take it or leave" text was significant. As one observer noted, moving forward to the third cycle on agriculture, Africa and other land-related issues is like "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." The fractious outcomes of CSD-13 did not bode well for the second cycle, and CSD-15's failure to produce a negotiated outcome has been a blow to the legitimacy and thus the future of the process. Could stronger leadership have surmounted the impasse at CSD-15? As seen in the past, a strong proactive Chair can drive the process forward, but cannot surmount deep substantive divisions. In retrospect, the CSD Bureau could have exercised tighter control over drafting and offered compromise language. This view was shared by a number of participants, who complained about the slow issuing of updated printed versions of the draft texts, as opposed to the conference screen versions, which showed one page at a time. In addition, the Vice-Chairs could have inspired debate during the interactive discussions, which were largely repetitions of opening statements. They could have organized small drafting groups earlier in the process, although this was hindered by the lack of consensus within the G-77/China. This lack of transparency both over text and informal consultations appeared out of the norm for the CSD process. Besides fueling suspicion and hindering confidence building among Major Groups, the tempo of the negotiating process was slowed as revised text was only given to group coordinators.

Given these leadership and process issues, coupled with the complex nature of negotiations and the widely divergent expectations at CSD-15, the lack of consensus is no surprise. What is surprising is the fact that the EU was steadfast in pursuit of its ambitious agenda. In the end their ambition derailed the outcome document. They wanted more, much more, than the CSD could deliver, or was perhaps even designed to deliver. If there is a moment for introspection it is this. If ever the CSD needed visionary leadership it is this. Yet, the divisiveness around the African Group's candidacy of Zimbabwe for Chair of CSD-16, and the lack of faith openly expressed by the EU, Australia, Canada and others in the new Chair does not bode well for the future of the process.

What does the future hold for the Commission? Is the CSD still relevant? If it is relevant, what is its area of comparative advantage? Hard thinking is lurking in the background. At a side event, six former CSD Chairs recommended reviewing the future and role of the CSD in order to strengthen sustainable development governance within the UN system, and establishing a stocktaking process of the first and second cycles. Perhaps what is clear is that establishing a common discourse and clear policy path for the implementation of substantive measures on sustainable development is still a distant goal, but as one CSD veteran bemoaned, "CSD is relevant because it is a place where we try to get to grips with sustainable development, even if we are failing." In addition to locating current environmental challenges such as climate change squarely within the context of sustainable development, thereby allowing developing countries the space to explore the environmental co-benefits of enlightened development, the CSD can help construct a confidence-building architecture that will then facilitate negotiations in treaty bodies. Perhaps the lesson learned from CSD-15 will manage expectations for the future, but the question remains whether this realism will result in substantive versus symbolic change to the CSD process.


WORLD CONGRESS ON ADVANCING SUSTAINABLE HYDROPOWER: The World Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower will take place in Antalya, Turkey, from 29-31 May 2007. It will focus on three main areas: water and energy optimization: looking at hydropower's role in maximizing the benefits and services of multipurpose infrastructures, with an emphasis on both existing schemes and new developments; renewable innovation: reviewing the latest developments in terms of technologies, prototypes, applications and linkages throughout the renewables portfolio, including the latest developments in hydropower technology; and sustainability and certification: evaluating recent policy and directives, discussing corporate responsibility and assessing linkages with finance, regulation, business and industry. For more information, contact: IHA Central Office; tel: +44-20-8288-1918; fax: +44-20-8770-1744; e-mail:; internet:

SIXTH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN MINISTERS' CONFERENCE ON WATER: The sixth ordinary session of the African Ministers' Conference on Water will take place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, from 29-31 May 2007. The session includes a number of events, namely the: AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee Meeting; AMCOW Executive Committee Meeting; and the sixth AMCOW Ordinary Session. Additional events scheduled for the session include the Water and Media Training and Consultations, and the Pan-Africa Civil Society Organisation Consultations. For more information, contact: AMCOW Secretariat; tel: +234-9234-2891; fax: +234-9234-2895; e-mail: internet:

27TH MEETING OF THE OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP OF THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL: OEWG-27 will take place from 4-7 June 2007, in Nairobi, Kenya. It will be preceded by a two-day dialogue on key challenges to be faced by the Montreal Protocol on 2-3 June and will be followed by the 38th meeting of the Implementation Committee on 8-9 June. For more information, contact: Ozone Secretariat; tel: +254-20-762-3850/51; fax: +254-20-762-4691/92/93; e-mail:; internet:

THIRD INTERNATIONAL GREEN ENERGY CONFERENCE: This conference will take place from 18-20 June 2007, in Västerås, Sweden, and will seek to provide a multi-disciplinary setting to exchange the latest technical information, research and developments. For more information, contact: Secretariat of IGEC III; tel: +46-21-10-13-67; fax: +46-21-10-13-70;; internet:

IPCC-TGICA REGIONAL MEETING: This meeting, sponsored by the IPCC's Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA), the Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training (START), and the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of South Pacific (PACE/USP), will take place from 20-22 June 2007, in Nadi, Fiji. It will explore innovative research approaches for addressing the multi-scale and multi-disciplinary challenges associated with climate change impacts, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation. For more information, contact: IPCC Secretariat; tel: +41-22-730-8208; fax: +41-22-730-8025; e-mail:; internet:

THIRD INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION: The Third International Meeting on Sustainable Consumption and Production will take place in Stockholm, Sweden, from 26-29 June 2007. It falls under the Marrakech process and is organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the UN Environment Programme. For more information, contact: Alejandro Carpio, UN DESA; tel: +1-212-963-4606; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; internet:

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL (ECOSOC) 2007 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION: The ECOSOC 2007 Substantial Session will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2-27 July 2007. It will be organized as follows: high-level segment (2-5 July 2007); dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the regional commissions (6 July 2007); coordination segment (6-10 July 2007); operational activities segment (10-13 July 2007); humanitarian affairs segment 16-18 July 2007); general segment (19-26 July 2007); and conclusion of the work of the Council (27 July 2007). For more information, contact: ECOSOC Secretariat; tel: +1-212- 963-1811; fax: +1-212-963-1712; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN DRYLANDS:  This workshop is scheduled to be held from 2-8 July 2007, in Beijing, China. For more information, contact the Chinese Academy of Forestry; tel: +86-10-62-88-9-090; fax: +86-10-62-88-42-29; e-mail:; internet:

UNFCCC DIALOGUE AND KYOTO PROTOCOL AWG 4: The fourth workshop under the "Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention" and the fourth session of the AWG, will take place from 27-31 August 2007, in Vienna, Austria. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

EIGHTH SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UN CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATON: UNCCD COP 8 will be held from 3-14 September 2007, in Madrid, Spain. The Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention and the Committee on Science and Technology will also meet concurrently. For more information, contact: UNCCD Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-2800; fax: +49-228-815-2898; e-mail:; internet:

NINETEENTH MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL: MOP-19 will take place from 17-21 September 2007, in Montreal, Canada, marking the Protocol's 20th anniversary. It will be preceded by the 39th meeting of the Implementation Committee from 12-14 September 2007. For more information, contact: Ozone Secretariat; tel: +254-20-762-3850/51; fax: +254-20-762-4691/92/93; e-mail:; internet:

6TH MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE: The 6th Ministerial Conference on Environment for Europe will take place in Belgrade, Serbia, from 10-12 October 2007. The process provides a common platform for cooperation on improving the environment and for working towards the convergence of environmental policies through the region. The conference will consider: evaluation and implementation of commitments; capacity building and partnerships; and the way forward. For more information, contact: Secretariat; tel: +381-11-31-31-355; e-mail:; internet:

27TH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE: IPCC-27 will take place from 12-16 November 2007, in Valencia, Spain, and will focus on the adoption of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). For more information, contact: Rudie Bourgeois, IPCC Secretariat; tel: +41-22-730-8208; fax: +41-22-730-8025; e-mail:; internet:

THIRTEENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UNFCCC AND THIRD MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: The thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and third Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will take place in Bali, Indonesia, from 3-14 December 2007. These meetings will coincide with the 27th meetings of the UNFCCC's subsidiary bodies and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments from Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol. There is also expected to be a UNFCCC Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperative Action on Climate Change and various other events. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The sixteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development will be held at UN headquarters in New York from 5-20 May 2008. The review session will focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. For more information, contact: DESA Secretariat: tel: +1-212-963-8102; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; internet: 

Further information