Curtain raiser


The fourth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), meeting from18 April - 3 May 1996 at UN Headquarters in New York, is scheduled to consider thework of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and the CSD’s Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Groups on sectoral issues (oceans and atmosphere) and finance andproduction and consumption patterns. Delegates will also discuss: cross-sectoral issuesnot dealt with by the ad hoc working groups (technology transfer, education,capacity building, trade, poverty, population, decision-making, major groups and nationalreporting); implementation of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Programme ofAction; and national experiences on coastal zone management and sustainabledevelopment strategies. A High-Level Segment will take place from 1-3 May.


Agenda 21 called for creation of the CSD to: ensure effective follow-up of the UNConference on Environment and Development (UNCED); enhance internationalcooperation and rationalize the intergovernmental decision-making capacity; and examineprogress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national, regional and internationallevels. In 1992, the 47th session of the UN General Assembly set out, in resolution47/191, the terms of reference for the Commission, its composition, guidelines for theparticipation of NGOs, the organization of work, the CSD’s relationship with other UNbodies and Secretariat arrangements.


The CSD held its first substantive session at UN Headquarters in New York from 14-25June 1993. Amb. Razali Ismail (Malaysia) was elected the first Chair of the CSD.Delegates to the first session addressed the following: adoption of a multi-year thematicprogramme of work; the future work of the Commission; exchange of information on theimplementation of Agenda 21 at the national level; progress in the incorporation ofrecommendations of UNCED in the activities of international organizations and withinthe UN system; progress in promoting the transfer of technology, cooperation andcapacity-building; and initial financial commitments, financial flows and arrangements togive effect to UNCED decisions.


The second session of the CSD met in New York from 16-27 May 1994. TheCommission, chaired by Klaus Tpfer (Germany), discussed the following cross-sectoralchapters of Agenda 21: trade, environment and sustainable development; consumptionpatterns (4); major groups (23-32); financial resources and mechanisms (33); transfer ofenvironmentally sound technologies, cooperation and capacity-building (34); institutions(38); and legal instruments (39). On the sectoral side, delegates examined progress inimplementing the following chapters of Agenda 21: health (Chapter 6); humansettlements (7); freshwater resources (18); toxic chemicals (19); hazardous wastes (20);solid wastes (21); and radioactive wastes (22).

The Commission called for the establishment of an ad hoc open-endedintersessional working group to examine the sectoral issues to be addressed by the CSD atits 1995 session. Delegates noted that, until there is an increase in ODA and animprovement in the international economic climate, it will be difficult to translate the Riocommitments into action. Many participants also agreed that unless the CSD’s format ischanged, it will be impossible to shift from rhetoric and speech-making to dialogue andaction.


The CSD held its third session from 11-28 April 1995 in New York. The revised formatof the Commission, which included numerous panel discussions, enabled the participantsto enter into a dialogue. The two days dedicated to the sharing of national experiences inimplementing Agenda 21 were a departure from the CSD’s previously UN-centeredfocus. The Day of Local Authorities, combined with the NGO and government-sponsoredpanels and workshops throughout the session, enabled the CSD to examine the localaspects of implementing Agenda 21.

The Commission, chaired by Henrique Cavalcanti (Brazil), examined the second clusterof issues according to its multi-year thematic programme of work, including therecommendations of the 27 February - 9 March 1995 Ad Hoc Working Groups onSectoral Issues, chaired by Sir Martin Holdgate (UK), and Finance, chaired by Dr. LinSee-Yan (Malaysia). Delegates discussed: trade, environment and sustainabledevelopment (Chapter 2); combating poverty (3); consumption patterns (4); demographicdynamics and sustainability (5); integrating environment and development in decision-making (8); major groups (23-32); financial resources and mechanisms (33); transfer ofenvironmentally sound technologies, cooperation and capacity-building (34); science forsustainable development (35); and information for decision-making (40).

The sectoral cluster for 1995 included: an integrated approach to the planning andmanagement of land resources (Chapter 10); combating deforestation (11); combatingdesertification and drought (12); sustainable mountain development (13); promotingsustainable agriculture and rural development (14); conservation of biological diversity(15); and environmentally sound management of biotechnology (16). The Commissionalso established the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.


The CSD’s Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Sectoral Issues met from 26February - 2 March 1996 in New York, chaired by Svante Bodin (Sweden). Delegatesdiscussed reports from the Secretary-General on Chapters 17 (oceans) and 9 (atmosphere)of Agenda 21 and considered a UNEP draft proposal regarding implementation of theGlobal Programme of Action (GPA) for the protection of the marine environment fromland-based activities, drafted at the November 1995 Washington Conference. Delegateswere unable to complete consideration of the Chair’s Report, which highlights thefollowing issues: integrated coastal area management; marine environmental protection,including persistent organic pollutants; living marine resources; critical uncertainties; andinternational coordination. Regarding the atmosphere, the Report highlights: improvingthe scientific basis for decision making; promoting sustainable development;stratospheric ozone depletion; and transboundary air pollution.

The Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Finance and Production andConsumption Patterns met from 4-8 March 1996 in New York, chaired by Dr. Lin See-Yan (Malaysia). Delegates discussed reports from the Secretary-General on Chapters 4(changing consumption and production patterns) and 33 (financial resources andmechanisms) of Agenda 21. The Chair’s Report, which was discussed but is not anegotiated text, highlights the following on changing consumption and productionpatterns: interlinkages with finance; policy implications of trends; impacts on developingcountries; evaluating policy measures; progress in implementing voluntary national goals;and revision of the UN guidelines for consumer protection. Relevant to financialresources and mechanisms, the Report highlights: mobilizing external resources;mobilizing national resources; feasibility of innovative mechanisms; transfer ofenvironmentally sound technology; and a matrix of policy options and financialinstruments.


THE CSD INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON FORESTS (IPF): The IPFheld its second session from 11-22 March, 1996 in Geneva. Delegates conducted theirfirst substantive discussions of six programme elements: underlying causes ofdeforestation and forest degradation; fragile ecosystems affected by desertification andthe impact of air pollution on forests; needs and requirements of countries with low forestcover; international cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer;assessment of the multiple benefits of all types of forests; and methodologies for propervaluation of the multiple benefits of forests. Delegates also completed initialconsideration of national forest and land use plans, traditional forest-related knowledge,criteria and indicators, trade and environment and international organizations andmultilateral institutions. During the final two days of the meeting, delegates consideredthe Co-Chairs’ summaries. They designated these transitional in nature to signify that thesummaries did not represent negotiated text. Delegates agreed to begin negotiations atIPF-3 on items that had received substantive consideration at this session, althoughanother substantive discussion is scheduled on the programme element on financialassistance and technology transfer. Further information can be found at the followinginternet addresses:;; and

EXPERT MEETING ON THE ASSESSMENT OF TECHNOLOGY NEEDS FORSUSTAINABILITY: This meeting was hosted from 5-7 February 1996, inScheveningen/The Hague, by the Netherlands and Switzerland. The meeting wasconvened to contribute to the ongoing discussions on technology transfer and capacitybuilding, in particular in the framework of the CSD and the OECD/IEA ClimateTechnology Initiative. Roughly 40 experts from national governments, internationalorganizations, industry and research institutes participated in the meeting, whichproduced conclusions and recommendations regarding National Needs Assessments(NNAs) for technological capacity building. The conclusions have been elaborated into a“Guidance Document on NNAs regarding Environmentally Sound Technologies,” whichaims to provide guidance on the use of NNAs to countries or organizations planning toinitiate or strengthen their capacity building efforts. For a full report contact: Ms. PetraLoeff, Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, PO Box 30945, 2500GX, The Hague, The Netherlands. Tel: +31-70-3391291; Fax: +31-70-3394080

WORKSHOP ON METHODOLOGIES FOR INDICATORS OF SUSTAINABLEDEVELOPMENT: The Environmental Agency of Japan sponsored this workshop on5-8 February 1996, in Glen Cove, NY, to discuss methodologies for indicators ofsustainable development. This was the third in a series of meetings organized bygovernments and NGOs to further the indicator work of the CSD. Attendees includeddelegates from 29 national governments, UN organizations and other NGOs. SixWorking Groups reviewed various subsets of the methodology sheets and prepareddetailed recommendations for the DPCSD. The workshop recommended that the CSDinvite national governments, on a voluntary basis, to test and further develop theindicators in the context of sustainable development and provide feedback about theirexperience. For more information contact: Mr. Toshiro Hirase, Environment Agency ofJapan; Tel: +81-3-3580-1704; Fax: +81-3-3581-5951; e-mail:[email protected]

AFRICAN REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON TECHNOLOGY NEEDS ASSESSMENTIN SUPPORT OF THE TRANSFER OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUNDTECHNOLOGIES AND INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY COOPERATION:The African Regional Centre for Technology (ARCT), the DPCSD and the UN EconomicCommission for Africa (ECA) co-organized this workshop, which was held in Dakar,Senegal, from 17-19 January 1996. The workshop was attended by 31 experts from 15African countries and 6 representatives from international organizations. The discussionaddressed areas such as: the linkages between technology needs assessment andtechnology assessment; specific cases in Africa where technology needs assessment waspart of technology transfer or acquisition activities/arrangements; application oftechnology needs assessment; experiences in developing methodologies for technology needs assessment, in support of the transfer of ESTs, that have proven to be useful underthe conditions and needs of countries in the African region; and experiences of public and private sector managers regarding the usefulness of technology needs assessment. Formore information contact: Mr. Dirk Pilari, DPCSD. Tel: +212-963-6757; Fax: +212-963-1267; e-mail: [email protected]


PLENARY: Outgoing CSD Chair Henrique Cavalcanti (Brazil) will open thefourth session of the CSD this morning and introduce the election of officers to the newBureau. The Commission will proceed to: adopt the agenda and programme of work,contained in E/CN.17/1996/1; consider a progress report of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests; and discuss progress in the implementation of Agenda 21, focusing on the cross-sectoral components and critical elements ofsustainability.

PANEL: At 5:00 pm, a panel discussion on education and sustainabledevelopment will meet, organized by UNESCO.

Further information