Report of main proceedings for 23 April 1996


Delegates to the fourth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-4)discussed transport, atmosphere and oceans issues. In addition, a Drafting Group beganconsidering draft decisions on cross-sectoral issues during an afternoon meeting.


Delegates participated in a panel on transportation, following a presentation of the Reportof the Ad Hoc Group on Sectoral Issues. Svante Bodin (Sweden) summarized theReport of the Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group on Sectoral Issues(E/CN.17/1996/6) on chapters 9 (atmosphere) and 17(oceans) of Agenda 21. Consensuswas reached on a number of recommendations, but further discussion will be required onfisheries, global governance and institutional follow-up.

Edward Saliah, Minister for Transport and Communications (Ghana), highlighted recentimprovements to Ghana’s energy and transportation policies, particularly those expandingprivate sector participation, encouraging competitiveness and promoting environmentally-friendly measures. Ghana also concentrates on solar technology pilot projects, land-useplanning, railway policy, road-user charges and non-motorized transportation. Hedescribed efforts to open the telecommunications market to private sector participation.

B.W. Ang, National University (Singapore), emphasized the vehicle quota and road pricingsystems used in Singapore. The vehicle quota system sets a fixed number for sevencategories of vehicles. Potential vehicle owners must successfully bid for a certificate ofentitlement prior to purchase. The road pricing system designates restricted zones onwhich, during certain time periods each day, cars must have a special license.

Douglas Durante, Executive Director of Clean Fuels Development Coalition (USA),described the utility of biomass-derived fuels such as ethanol and methanol, as gasolineadditives for reducing airborne pollutants. He underlined the difficulty of replacingpetroleum as a motor vehicle fuel, pointing out that, in the US, ethanol has captured only1.5-2% of the market, even with subsidies.

Paolo Scolari, Vice President, Environment and Industrial Policies, FIAT (Italy),discussed trends and technology related to reductions in car fuel consumption andemissions. He suggested that countries with expanding levels of motorization should usestrict legislation from the beginning and stated that direct injection diesel and gasolineengines can significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Antonio Dias Leite, Professor of Economics and former Minister of Energy and Mines ofBrazil, highlighted the “contradictions” of sustainable energy development in Brazil. Hestated that air quality is very good in most of Brazil, pointing out that it is not yet cost-effective to invest in expensive air pollution mitigation technologies.

David McDonald, Director of Partnership Africa/Canada, described a recent conferenceheld in Vancouver on sustainable transportation, highlighting nine principles: access;equity; individual and community responsibility; health and safety; education and publicparticipation; integrated planning; land and resource use; pollution prevention; andeconomic well-being.


Adam Vai Delaney (Papua New Guinea) chaired a discussion on Item 6 (oceans andatmosphere) in the afternoon. Amb. Bo Kjellen (Sweden), Chair of the InternationalNegotiating Committee on Desertification (INCD), reported on progress within theframework of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. In October, 115 countries hadsigned; there are now 29 ratifications. The Convention will enter into force before the endof the year followed by a first Conference of the Parties (COP) in the second half of 1997.Two sessions of INCD have considered COP preparations and elaboration of theConvention.

On the atmosphere, the EU emphasized: international agreements; the precautionaryapproach; and policy instruments, including reduced subsidies. Regarding oceans, headvocated: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); the Washington GPA;SIDS; and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). The US called for reducedbycatch and regular review of progress. Regarding the atmosphere, he emphasized:monitoring, especially of POPs; the FCCC; urban air pollution; the Montreal Protocol; andtransboundary air pollution. The EUROPEAN COMMISSION emphasized legalinstruments and cooperation with regional fisheries management organizations. CANADArecognized the CSD’s role in identifying critical areas, but emphasized that it does not havea direct role in implementation of international agreements. He highlighted the ArcticEnvironmental Protection Strategy.

INDIA said developing countries require multilateral assistance, and adequate emphasisshould be given to data on the high seas. MOROCCO described recommendations from theMarakkesh Symposium on electrification. BRAZIL stressed the impact of sewage oncoasts. PAPUA NEW GUINEA, chair of the South Pacific Forum, expressed concern thatthe report of the Ad Hoc intersessional group tried to reopen and renegotiate somefisheries issues. IRAN said the report did not reflect the views of all participants in thedeliberations. The PHILIPPINES recommended that the CSD encourage technologytransfer to contribute to the mitigation of climate change.

SAUDI ARABIA expressed concern about selective interpretation of the IPCC, noting thatthere is still uncertainty over natural climate cycles. COLOMBIA highlighted strategies forintegrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and pollution from transborder toxic wasteshipping. Regarding atmosphere, he highlighted urban air pollution and reducedtransportation demand, requiring technology transfer and financial support. VENEZUELAstated that: the CSD should not duplicate other fora; the report neglects some air pollutionsources; and there is a need for more information on climate change.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said the Washington GPA poses particular challenges forcoastal activities in developing countries. SWITZERLAND noted that cost effectivemeasures to mitigate climate change were available. AUSTRALIA noted difficulties withthe report in the sections on fisheries and institutions. NEW ZEALAND urged all states tosign and ratify the UN Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (FishStocks Agreement). He cautioned against revisiting issues.

PORTUGAL identified the following priorities: ICZM; living marine resources; straddlingand highly migratory fish stocks; the GOOS; and institutional relations. THAILANDhighlighted living marine resources, including endangered species and an action plan forrestoration, as well as sewage treatment capacity. He emphasized the difficulty in reducingbycatch, asking States to refrain from unilateral trade action. He outlined a commitment tothe FCCC, including mass transit and demand side energy efficiency.


The Drafting Group considering issues including decision-making and national reportingmet during the afternoon. On the draft text regarding integrating environment anddevelopment in decision-making (Chapter 8 of Agenda 21), the G-77/CHINA changed theparagraph calling for governments to continue efforts to establish mechanisms and developstrategies for sustainable development to: recognize that the responsibility for change lieswith national governments and encourage efforts to establish national mechanisms anddevelop participatory strategies for economic growth and sustainable development. TheUS said that “economic growth in the context of sustainable development” would beacceptable.

The US proposed that efforts to “strengthen” technical cooperation in the area ofmethodological development should be undertaken “within available resources.”

<$TSpInterLn=1401;EfWeight=4>On the draft decision on information for decision-making(Chapter 40 of Agenda 21), the G-77/CHINA requested the ECOSOC working group oninformatics to give particular attention to facilitating access by UN member states toenvironmental databases throughout the UN system. The EU said a working group alreadyhas this mandate and suggested acknowledging the group’s achievements. The Secretariatnoted that the WWW Home Page would differ by integrating information on sustainabledevelopment throughout the UN system, rather than focus on DPCSD activities. The USproposed noting that work be completed “within existing resources.” The G-77/China alsorequested a reference to “national” indicators to clarify that they are not international.

In the draft decision on major groups (Chapters 23 and 32 of Agenda 21), the EU proposedthat ECOSOC be invited to ensure the continuation of the Rio arrangements regardingparticipation of major groups to the 1997 CSD; and that the GA be invited to ensureappropriate arrangements for the contribution of major groups to the Special Session of1997 and its follow-up. The US requested clarification of the Rio arrangements.

Australia and the US deleted the specification that governments support, “through financialand other resources,” the initiatives of major groups to make contributions to the 1997review. The US specified that the contributions would be to the “preparations for” the1997 review.

The G-77/CHINA deleted the sub-paragraph urging governments to include major grouprepresentatives in their national delegations. In the same sub-paragraph, the US deleted thereference to major group representatives in delegations to the Special Session.

The G-77/CHINA added paragraphs recommending that ECOSOC place NGOs accreditedto the Commission by Council decision 1993/2.20 on the Roster, and encouraging majorgroups to strengthen their support to the developing countries by raising funds to financeactivities related to sustainable development, including required technology. Canada addedtwo sub-paragraphs, supporting the recommendations agreed to at CSD-2 confirmingECOSOC Roster status of all CSD NGOs, and inviting major group participation duringthe preparations for and at CSD-5 and in the 1997 Special Session. The US objected.

On national mechanisms and international cooperation for capacity-building in developingcountries, the G-77/CHINA proposed noting the need to keep capacity building as one ofthe central objectives in the promotion of development projects, in accordance with theirnational priorities. She suggested language calling on governments and internationalorganizations to enhance their efforts on financial mobilization and technology transfer inorder to assist developing countries.

On the draft decision on international institutional arrangements (Chapter 38 of Agenda21), the EU proposed an additional paragraph noting that the CSD welcomes the proposedreview by ECOSOC of the regional commissions with a view to strengthening their activeparticipation on the implementation of major UN conference decisions. He also called formainstreaming all policies to the goals of sustainable development.


NGOs have been busy following up a Resolution from last year’s meeting of the GeneralAssembly (December), which considered plans for the 1997 special session to review andappraise implementation of Agenda 21. The Resolution recognized “the important roleplayed by major groups, including NGOs, at the UNCED and in the implementation of itsrecommendations,” but stopped short of setting a precedent by specifying modalities forNGO participation in next year’s meeting. Some fear that the financial climate at the UNand the accompanying “short termism” may raise obstacles. However the sense ofownership that civil society has established around Agenda 21 is expected to keep thedoors open, possibly at informal meetings. Additional procedural issues NGOs have beenfollowing include the denial of visas to some individuals hoping to attend CSD-4.


PLENARY: The Plenary will meet during the morning and afternoon in ConferenceRoom 1 to discuss implementation of the SIDS Programme of Action.

DRAFTING GROUP II: The Drafting Group considering financial issues isexpected to meet in Conference Room 2 during the morning and afternoon.

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