Report of main proceedings for 26 April 1996

CSD-4

Delegates to the fourth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-4)met in Plenary to hear reports on national sustainable development strategies and NGOpresentations regarding the sectoral issues. The Drafting Groups considering finance andthe sectoral issues met during the afternoon. Delegates agreed not to meet on Monday, 29April, in observance of an Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, as supported by GA Resolution50/206.

PLENARY

Yoncho Pelovsky, Deputy Minister of the Environment, noted that Bulgaria faces seriousproblems with industrial pollution and that the energy generation sector is a primarypolluter, due to the high content of sulphur in Bulgarian coal. He reported on Bulgaria’s useof charges and fees to punish polluters and to collect money to finance projects, and notednational strategies regarding the conservation of biodiversity and wetlands, a watertreatment programme, a Black Sea programme, and a programme to phase out leadedgasoline.

Jonathan Lash, Co-Chair, US President’s Council for Sustainable Development, describedthe Council’s final report, which includes: a vision statement on sustainability; changes indecision making needed to achieve sustainable development; ten long-term goals; a set ofquantitative indicators; and a range of recommendations. The recommendations address:increasing cost-effectiveness of environmental management; creating a flexible regulatorymanagement system; expanding market-driven pollution control programmes; changing taxpolicies to discourage environmentally damaging production and consumption decisions;and eliminating government subsidies.

Jukka Sarjala, Director General, National Board of Education, described Finland’s effortsto integrate environmental considerations into sectoral policies, such as the development ofpartnerships with industry and local Agenda 21s. He also highlighted the work of theFinnish National Commission on Sustainable Development to coordinate measures andinclude all stakeholders. Iri Sarjala, a student at Puolalanmaki Upper Secondary School,reported on a school-wide Agenda 21 and conducting eco-audits.

Ernesto Guhl-Nanneti, Colombian Vice-Minister for the Environment, noted elements ofColombia’s integrated environmental programme, including the consolidation ofinstitutional capacity and international cooperation programmes. Environmental educationis pursued through television, radio, publications and projects developed by NGOs.Environmental policy is adapted to the regions, and popular participation is an importantcomponent. National difficulties include insufficient human and financial resources.Difficulties at the international level include the lack of political will, the problem ofmaking national agendas compatible with international agendas, and the need fortechnology transfer.

Margarita Pars Fernndez, Program Evaluation Director, Secretaria de Medio Ambiente,Recursos Naturales y Pesca, said the Mexican strategy involves political and institutionalreforms, innovations for decentralized public policy, and development of better conditionsfor social participation. Steps to restrain deterioration trends include: the protection ofresources combined with sustainable and more diversified use; the use of resources thatfavors equity with a view to overcoming poverty; and the development of pluralistic,participatory environmental management, and new negotiating methods for conflictresolution.

Yoshihiro Natori, Special Advisor to Director General, Global Environment Department,Environment Agency, Japan, discussed Japan’s basic environment law and plan, andefforts related to sustainable development indicators, sustainable production andconsumption patterns and strengthening the role of major groups. Policy instruments includeemission controls, environmental impact assessments and economic instruments. Japan hascreated a “Green Purchasing Network” of enterprises, local governments and consumergroups to help promote and exchange information on products. A “Partnership Plaza” willbe established in July to serve as a focal point to facilitate the exchange of experiencesbetween NGOs, private enterprises and local administrations.

Delegates then completed consideration of the review of sectoral clusters. FRIENDS OFTHE EARTH suggested that the CSD set targets and timetables related to transportationissues, including an immediate 100% tax on air transport fuel. The UNA OF SWEDEN(Stockholm), on behalf of European Youth, noted youth concern regarding investments inunsustainable transport systems. She also called for a Common European Youth Platform tofacilitate youth participation in implementing Agenda 21. The COORDINATING BOARDOF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS highlighted the negative effects of fossil fuel productionand supported application of the Polluter Pays Principle. The PERMANENT SOUTHPACIFIC COMMITTEE noted regional activities including the South Pacific Network forthe Marine Environment, pilot studies on marine biodiversity, a plan of action to protectmarine mammals, and a monitoring project on El Nio.

DRAFTING GROUP I

Drafting Group I, considering oceans and atmosphere issues, met briefly for the first timeFriday morning. Svante Bodin, Chair of the informal contact group to Drafting Group Ipresented a progress report and he tabled a consolidated paper on Implementation ofInternational Fishery Instruments.

In the afternoon, the Group considered a draft decision regarding the implementation of theProgramme of Action (POA) for the sustainable development of SIDS. TRINIDAD ANDTOBAGO, on behalf of AOSIS and the G77/CHINA, endorsed the draft with a fewtechnical adjustments. He added a line to the paragraph on a vulnerability index stating thatthe CSD welcomes the offer by Malta to host the center for the computation of the index.To the paragraph on protection of coastal and marine resources, which recognizes relevantinternational agreements, he added a reference to decision 2/10 of the Second Conferenceof the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Many other delegations, includingthe EU, US, SAMOA, AUSTRALIA, and SAUDI ARABIA, generally supported the draft.

The EU proposed a series of amendments, including: adding a reference to regionalapproaches to implementing the POA to the paragraph on strategy and policy coordination;deleting the paragraph referring to DPCSD’s role as coordinator of the POA; addinglanguage referring to the private sector’s role in sustainable energy and tourismdevelopment; reformulating text on disaster reduction urging SIDS to explore mechanismsfor regional cooperation between SIDS, and calling upon the international community tosupport SIDS’ efforts in this area; and deleting paragraphs calling for support from theinternational community to improve air and maritime transport for SIDS. JAPAN supportedDPCSD as coordinator.

SAUDI ARABIA said a paragraph noting conclusions from the second assessment report ofthe IPCC carries some incomplete facts and he proposed its deletion. He also deleted areference to SIDS’ dependence on imported petroleum goods “largely for transport and thegeneration of electricity.” He asked for clarification regarding regulation of air transportand suggested deleting the reference. The CHAIR cautioned that a proposed deletion of anacknowledgment of the DPCSD’s role in coordinating the Barbados POA may takecredibility away from the UN.

Delegates also debated text referring to the “expected” effects of global climate change andsea-level rise, including increased tropical storms and inundation. AUSTRALIA proposed“possible” effects, while SAUDI ARABIA proposed “potential” effects. The EU, US, andICELAND supported “expected.” UNEP quoted from the IPCC assessment report onclimate change that “knowledge is currently insufficient regarding tropical storms” andsuggested “possible.” The CHAIR bracketed “possible.”

SAUDI ARABIA proposed deletion of two paragraphs referring to human influence onclimate, encouraging the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate to draft a legalinstrument on reduction limitation objectives, and calling upon the international communityto support the efforts of SIDS to adapt to sea-level rise. The US, JAPAN, ICELAND andSAMOA “strongly” supported retaining these paragraphs.

Drafting Group II (financial issues) reconvened in the afternoon. In the first revision of thedraft decision on combating poverty (Chapter 2), the US asked to retain references to“sustainably” and “substantially” (proposed by the G-77/CHINA) reducing overallpoverty. The EU amended a reference to conform with a CSD description of economicgrowth as a fundamental element of sustainable development. The draft decision wasagreed.

The first revision of the draft decision on demographic dynamics and sustainability(Chapter 5) was agreed without further amendment.

In the first revision of the draft decision on trade, environment and sustainabledevelopment (Chapter 2), the G-77/CHINA deleted a sub-paragraph recognizing the role oftrade in achieving the objectives of MEAs and a reference to measures ensuring the mutualsupportiveness of trade and environment policies. New G-77/CHINA amendments call onUN bodies to enhance coordination on trade and environment policies, include capacitybuilding among positive measures, and add the WTO to the list of International FinancialInstitutions invited to examine the effects of trade measures in MEAs. The EUROPEANCOMMUNITY preferred to amend the sub-paragraph on trade measures and MEAs.SWITZERLAND suggested that a NORWEGIAN proposal could serve as a compromisetext, stressing the need for flexibility in the use of environmental policy tools, and thepossibility for trade measures to achieve legitimate environmental objectives whilesafeguarding an open, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system.

The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY also wanted to keep language calling on governments andthe WTO to examine the mutual supportiveness of trade and environmental policies. Headded a reference to Principle 11 of the Rio Declaration. The US cautioned against theCSD providing substantive guidance to the WTO on work already under way. He agreedwith a proposal by SAUDI ARABIA to delete a sub-paragraph stressing that positivemeasures are preferable to trade restriction to secure compliance with MEAs.AUSTRALIA supported continued inter-agency cooperation on trade and the environment,and added a reference to the OECD. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the decision were agreed.

Informal-informals were to examine outstanding issues on trade (Revision 2) and thepreliminary draft decision submitted by the Chair on changing production and consumption(Chapter 4).

Drafting Group II (financial issues) reconvened in the afternoon. In the first revision of thedraft decision on combating poverty (Chapter 2), the US asked to retain references to“sustainably” and “substantially” (proposed by the G-77/CHINA) reducing overallpoverty. The EU amended a reference to conform with a CSD description of economicgrowth as a fundamental element of sustainable development. The draft decision wasagreed.

The first revision of the draft decision on demographic dynamics and sustainability(Chapter 5) was agreed without further amendment.

In the first revision of the draft decision on trade, environment and sustainabledevelopment (Chapter 2), the G-77/CHINA deleted a sub-paragraph recognizing the role oftrade in achieving the objectives of MEAs and a reference to measures ensuring the mutualsupportiveness of trade and environment policies. New G-77/CHINA amendments call onUN bodies to enhance coordination on trade and environment policies, include capacitybuilding among positive measures, and add the WTO to the list of International FinancialInstitutions invited to examine the effects of trade measures in MEAs. The EUROPEANCOMMUNITY preferred to amend the sub-paragraph on trade measures and MEAs.SWITZERLAND suggested that a NORWEGIAN proposal could serve as a compromisetext, stressing the need for flexibility in the use of environmental policy tools, and thepossibility for trade measures to achieve legitimate environmental objectives whilesafeguarding an open, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system.

The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY also wanted to keep language calling on governments andthe WTO to examine the mutual supportiveness of trade and environmental policies. Headded a reference to Principle 11 of the Rio Declaration. The US cautioned against theCSD providing substantive guidance to the WTO on work already under way. He agreedwith a proposal by SAUDI ARABIA to delete a sub-paragraph stressing that positivemeasures are preferable to trade restriction to secure compliance with MEAs.AUSTRALIA supported continued inter-agency cooperation on trade and the environment,and added a reference to the OECD. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the decision were agreed.

Informal-informals were to examine outstanding issues on trade (Revision 2) and thepreliminary draft decision submitted by the Chair on changing production and consumption(Chapter 4).

DRAFTING GROUP II

Drafting Group II (financial issues) reconvened in the afternoon. In the first revision of thedraft decision on combating poverty (Chapter 2), the US asked to retain references to“sustainably” and “substantially” (proposed by the G-77/CHINA) reducing overallpoverty. The EU amended a reference to conform with a CSD description of economicgrowth as a fundamental element of sustainable development. The draft decision wasagreed.

The first revision of the draft decision on demographic dynamics and sustainability(Chapter 5) was agreed without further amendment.

In the first revision of the draft decision on trade, environment and sustainabledevelopment (Chapter 2), the G-77/CHINA deleted a sub-paragraph recognizing the role oftrade in achieving the objectives of MEAs and a reference to measures ensuring the mutualsupportiveness of trade and environment policies. New G-77/CHINA amendments call onUN bodies to enhance coordination on trade and environment policies, include capacitybuilding among positive measures, and add the WTO to the list of International FinancialInstitutions invited to examine the effects of trade measures in MEAs. The EUROPEANCOMMUNITY preferred to amend the sub-paragraph on trade measures and MEAs.SWITZERLAND suggested that a NORWEGIAN proposal could serve as a compromisetext, stressing the need for flexibility in the use of environmental policy tools, and thepossibility for trade measures to achieve legitimate environmental objectives whilesafeguarding an open, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system.

The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY also wanted to keep language calling on governments andthe WTO to examine the mutual supportiveness of trade and environmental policies. Headded a reference to Principle 11 of the Rio Declaration. The US cautioned against theCSD providing substantive guidance to the WTO on work already under way. He agreedwith a proposal by SAUDI ARABIA to delete a sub-paragraph stressing that positivemeasures are preferable to trade restriction to secure compliance with MEAs.AUSTRALIA supported continued inter-agency cooperation on trade and the environment,and added a reference to the OECD. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the decision were agreed.

Informal-informals were to examine outstanding issues on trade (Revision 2) and thepreliminary draft decision submitted by the Chair on changing production and consumption(Chapter 4).

IN THE CORRIDORS

As of Friday, the contact group on oceans still had not resolved conflicts over Annex II(sustainable fisheries) of the Chair’s report on the Ad Hoc Group on Sectoral Issues.Some observers stressed that there was basic agreement over fundamental issues: the raftof international agreements on sustainable fisheries is significant and welcomed by all;most have been concluded recently and there has not yet been time to fully implement them;and all nations should implement agreements as quickly as possible. Substantialdisagreement exists over the role of the CSD vis--vis these agreements, with somedelegates and NGOs favoring an aggressive role for the CSD in emphasizing individualclauses, particularly regarding bycatch and discards, reduction of overcapacity, andreflagging of fishing vessels. The Chair of the contact group will consolidate delegates’comments into a draft for discussion.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

DRAFTING GROUPS: The Drafting Groups will meet throughout the day inConference Rooms 1 and 2 to finalize all draft decisions.

Further information

Participants

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