Report of main proceedings for 24 April 1996


Delegates to the fourth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-4)considered reports regarding implementation of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS)programme of action (POA) and resumed their discussion of financial, oceans andatmosphere issues during two Plenary meetings. The Drafting Group considering financialissues met during the afternoon.


Joke Waller-Hunter, DPCSD, presented the Secretary-General’s report on progress in theimplementation of the SIDS POA (E/CN.17/1996/20) and addenda 1-7. She emphasizedthe importance of regional and sub-regional cooperation and the need for considerablefinancial and technological support. The report on sustainable tourism(E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.3) notes adverse impacts on local social systems and fragileecosystems. SIDS are recommended to adopt uniform incentives to attract foreign capital.The report on current donor activities in support of SIDS is contained in(E/CN.17/1996/21). The report regarding the development of communications(E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.6) notes a relationship between telecommunication density andGDP per capita and recommends restructuring and liberalization of market access wheremonopolies exist.

The report regarding management of natural and environmental disasters in SIDS(E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.1) recommends: integrating disaster reduction into planning andenvironmental management; regional cooperation; and improved early-warning capacities.The report on sustainable development of air transport (E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.5)recommends: responding to new ICAO standards for safe air transport; creating regionalmaster plans; and sponsoring energy-efficient and low-cost air transport studies. The reporton maritime transport in SIDS (E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.4) recommends: investing in ships,infrastructure and safety; acceding to international instruments; and developing regionalfreight conferences and harmonizing maritime legislation.

The report on sustainable development of energy resources (E/CN.17/1996/20/Add.2)notes trends of energy production and consumption in SIDS. Among renewable resources,solar power is growing in some States, but growth is limited by a lack of finances.

The Vice-Chair of the 22-23 April High-Level panel on SIDS introduced the report. SIDSwere encouraged to adopt an outward orientation and to create an enabling environment forinvestment. Participants noted that the new multilateral trade framework offers SIDS newtrading opportunities, as well as the risk of increased marginalization.

UNDP, which was requested at the Barbados Conference to assist SIDS in preparing atechnical assistance program, reported progress on: technical cooperation on African andCaribbean SIDS; a dialogue with regional institutions in the South Pacific; SIDSNET; anda directory of experts and institutions. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, on behalf of AOSIS,noted omissions in the CSD-4 review of the Barbados process. While some small islandsappear to be achieving economic progress, this should be balanced against theirvulnerability as demonstrated by natural disasters. PAPUA NEW GUINEA, chair of theSouth Pacific Forum, said the Barbados POA recognized the unique role of SIDS asguardians of over half of the world’s ocean environment. Macroeconomic stability isrequired for sustainable development.

The MARSHALL ISLANDS said there has been little implementation after Barbados andthe international community has yet to rally to help SIDS. The reports to CSD-4 brush overissues of vital concern to small islands, in contravention of instructions. The removal of allnuclear waste left over from tests will demand resources beyond those locally available.SAMOA said the Barbados POA remains a critical blueprint for sustainable developmentand CSD-4 is an opportunity to revitalize the agenda. INDIA noted national activities andstressed SIDS’ need for professional knowledge as well as for the recognition of theirtraditional knowledge.

The EU highlighted an upcoming assessment of the Lom Convention, commitments underthe UNFCCC, and support for fishery management. JAPAN cooperates with the SouthPacific Forum to promote island industries and will strengthen relations with theCaribbean region. The BAHAMAS called for management assistance with fisheries, coralreefs and national parks. CUBA highlighted technical cooperation and resources, as wellas adequate coordination of UN institutions. PAKISTAN noted the importance of regionalorganizations and said that bilateral assistance cannot supplant UN agencies. JAMAICAsaid the survival of SIDS is at stake, but the POA has received little attention. The USnoted its recent actions on SIDS, and supported a mechanism for consultation within thePacific region. NEW ZEALAND noted that SIDS are strained to participate in relevantinternational negotiations. AUSTRALIA expressed concern that international momentum onSIDS has slowed.

CANADA called for: a single forum for SIDS issues; innovative financial resources;national priority setting; and market access for SIDS. BARBADOS outlined national plansfor ICZM. She called for alternative energy sources and disaster management planning.MEXICO outlined regional SIDS initiatives in the Caribbean. The REPUBLIC OF KOREAcalled for financial resources and technology transfer. BRAZIL highlighted: falling ODA;South-South cooperation in energy development; and technical support from UNCTAD.MALTA called for regional cooperation among SIDS, and outlined national investments inhuman resources and communication infrastructure. The SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONALENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME outlined progress in implementing the POA on: climatechange; waste management; energy resources; and biodiversity conservation.

ARGENTINA highlighted South-South cooperation in the Caribbean area and offeredsupport. FIJI called for equal ODA funding for all SIDS and for seed money from theWorld Bank for implementing the POA.

Delegates then resumed their discussion of financial resources and mechanisms, andoceans and atmosphere.

IRAN noted that developed countries should implement Agenda 21, provide additionalresources and ESTs and improve efforts under the UNFCCC. FRIENDS OF THE EARTHhighlighted opportunities to improve social justice and equity, and discussed the concept ofeco-space. The INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FREE TRADE UNIONSemphasized the workplace and partnerships with workers. The EU recognized thatdeveloped countries should continue to lead in changing consumption and productionpatterns. The G-77/CHINA, and many individual developing countries, voiced concernover declining ODA and noted that intergovernmental cooperation cannot be replaced bythe private sector. He supported an ECOSOC agenda item on innovative financialmechanisms.

The INTERNATIONAL OCEAN INSTITUTE said the International Seabed Authorityshould play a role in the UNCED process and recommended regional centers for marine sciences and technology. SWEDEN highlighted energy and transport, calling for demand-side solutions. CHINA outlined six components of its 1992 Marine Environmental Law.ICELAND stated that the CSD should be an overview mechanism for Agenda 21, but notinterpret international agreements.

Regarding oceans, the UK highlighted: a forum for global priorities; UN coordination; andeffective scientific advice. Regarding atmosphere, he emphasized: the FCCC; transport;and removing subsidies. MALAYSIA outlined national actions on oceans. He called foradequate financial resources, FAO assistance and transfer of fishing technology.


The Drafting Group considering financial issues, chaired by Daudi NgelautwaMwakawago (Tanzania), convened in the afternoon. In the draft decision on combatingpoverty (Chapter 3), the EU called for poverty eradication “as a matter of urgency” andadded a reference to country-specific target dates to “substantially” reduce inequality. TheG-77/CHINA said strategies should “be geared towards sustainably reducing poverty inthe shortest possible time,” with a target date specified by each country for the eradicationof absolute poverty. They added a paragraph calling for mechanisms for eradicatingmarginality among the poorest. The US introduced language on “meeting the basic needs ofall” and amended references to poverty eradication. India cautioned against over-emphasizing the rural poor.

In the draft decision on demographic dynamics and sustainability (Chapter 5), the G-77/CHINA deleted “in particular in support of gender issues” in the sentenceacknowledging the importance of actions taken by governments in support of populationpolicies and programmes. The EU added a paragraph suggesting that ECOSOC examine thedivision of labour between the Commission on Population and Development and the CSD.

In the draft decision on trade, environment and sustainable development (Chapter 2), the G-77/CHINA said trade measures in MEAs should not deter the search for other approaches.On eco-labelling, they suggested that the CSD invite UN bodies and the WTO to continueelaborating international standards. The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY said there should bea clear recognition that trade provisions in MEAs can play a role in tackling globalenvironmental challenges. They added a subparagraph stressing that there is no evidencethat environmental policy has a detrimental impact on competitiveness. The US alsosupported the role of trade measures in achieving the objectives of MEAs, and cautionedagainst CSD-4 interference in related deliberations at UNCTAD and UNEP. He reservedjudgement on the merits of UNCTAD’s BIOTRADE initiative. JAPAN suggested that theCSD invite UN agencies to examine trade liberalization. MEXICO bracketed the paragraphon MEAs.

In the draft decision on transfer of ESTs, cooperation and capacity-building (Chapter 34),the G-77/CHINA added a paragraph confirming the necessity of access to and transfer ofESTs, on favorable terms, as mutually agreed, taking into account the need to protectintellectual property rights and the need of developing countries to implement Agenda 21.

In the paragraph calling for countries to adopt an appropriate mix of policy measures, theEU added language calling for the adoption of “environmental legislation that would befavorable for successful penetration of ESTs in the market.” CANADA suggested that the“private sector,” rather than “business and industry,” should be urged to further implementthe Programme of Work. INDIA expressed concern that several suggestions enhanced therole of the private sector and diluted the role of the public sector, and proposed referenceto publicly funded intermediaries and a catalogue of proven technologies.


The Informal Contact Group on Oceans met again on Wednesday to discuss Annex II of thereport of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Sectoral Issues. Some believed that the splitbetween groups of countries that appeared in the negotiations on the Straddling StocksAgreement reappeared (a division between coastal countries and those that fish on the highseas). A few countries suggested that paragraph 32 of Annex II (which references recentagreements, including the FAO Code of Conduct, the Flagging Agreement and theStraddling Stocks Agreement) provided a good basis to continue negotiations. Othersdesired to shorten Annex II and focus it on ratification of the new agreements. The Chairwill conduct informal consultations, and the group will meet again Thursday.


PLENARY: The Plenary will meet during the morning and afternoon in ConferenceRoom 1 to hear national reports on experiences in coastal area management.

DRAFTING GROUPS: Drafting Group III is expected to meet during the morningin Conference Room 2. Drafting Group II is expected to meet during the afternoon.

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