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Summary report, 24 April – 5 May 2000


The eighth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8) met at UN Headquarters in New York from 24 April to 5 May 2000. Participants addressed the sectoral theme of Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources, and the cross-sectoral themes of Financial Resources, Trade and Investment, and Economic Growth. The session also considered the economic sector, Sustainable Agriculture and Land Management. The conclusions and proposals in the final report of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) were also discussed, as were preparations for Rio+10.

After consideration of procedural items on Monday, 24 April, the CSD turned to the first of four Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues held on 24-25 April. A High-Level Segment followed on Wednesday, 26 April and Thursday, 27 April, with the participation of 47 Ministers and State Secretaries from environment, land, development and foreign affairs ministries. The High-Level Segment was led by CSD-8 Chair Juan Mayr Maldonado (Colombia) and included, for the first time, a number of experts who introduced thematic discussions.

Delegates commenced work in three drafting groups on Monday, 1 May, concluding their work at 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, 6 May. Delegates agreed to adopt 11 decisions, including: preparations for the ten-year review of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), including a recommendation that the event be held in a developing country; an invitation to ECOSOC and the General Assembly (GA) to act on the proposed terms of reference for an international arrangement on forests, as recommended by the IFF; and the adoption of a report from the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy for Sustainable Development (held 6-10 March 2000), which is preparing the energy agenda for CSD-9. Protracted negotiations took place within the drafting groups on, inter alia, the disputed concept of the multifunctional character of agriculture and land, governance, subsidies, environmental and sustainability assessments, and equal access to land and legal security of tenure.


The CSD emerged from Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by UNCED in 1992. Agenda 21 called for the creation of the CSD to: ensure effective follow-up of UNCED; enhance international cooperation and rationalize intergovernmental decision-making capacity; and examine progress in Agenda 21 implementation at the local, national, regional and international levels. In 1992, the 47th session of the GA set out in Resolution 47/191 the terms of reference for the CSD, its composition, guidelines for the participation of NGOs, the organization of work, the CSD's relationship with other UN bodies, and Secretariat arrangements. The CSD held its first substantive session in June 1993 and has met annually since then.

In June 1997, five years after UNCED, the GA held a Special Session (UNGASS) to review implementation of Agenda 21. Negotiations held in a Committee of the Whole, as well as several ministerial groups, produced a Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. Among the decisions adopted at UNGASS was a new five-year CSD work programme, which identifies sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/major group themes for the subsequent four sessions of the CSD. Overriding issues for each year are poverty, and consumption and production patterns.

The sixth session of the CSD met from 20 April to 1 May 1998. Participants considered the economic theme of industry and the sectoral theme of strategic approaches to freshwater management. They also reviewed implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and discussed the cross-sectoral themes of technology transfer, capacity building, education, science and awareness raising. Three drafting groups negotiated seven decisions at CSD-6.

The seventh session of the CSD met from 19-30 April 1999. Participants considered the economic theme of tourism, the sectoral theme of oceans and seas, and the cross-sectoral theme of consumption and production patterns. They also prepared for the GA’s Special Session to review the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. Delegates adopted 12 decisions, which addressed, inter alia, the need to reverse the downward trend in official development assistance (ODA), preparation for CSD-9’s work on energy, and improving the integration of consumption and production policies into the CSD’s work programme.


CSD-8 Chair Juan Mayr opened the eighth session on Monday, 24 April. He urged delegations to use the session as an opportunity for frank, sincere and transparent dialogue, noting the international deadlock on a number of the issues under consideration. He recalled that the election of one Vice-Chair of the CSD-8 Bureau had been postponed in 1999, and reported that African States had agreed to nominate Abderrahmane Merouane (Algeria). Merouane was elected to sit on the CSD-8 Bureau with Chair Mayr, and Vice-Chairs Patrick McDonnell (Ireland), Zvetolyub Basmajiev (Bulgaria) and Choi Seok-young (Republic of Korea).

Nitin Desai, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, described his expectations for the session, including: practical guidelines for the effective integration of economic, ecological and social dimensions of land and agriculture; a move beyond rhetoric on ways to address declining ODA; a new focus on trade and environment; and guidance for ECOSOC and the GA on the follow-up to the IFF.

Chair Mayr outlined the organization of work for CSD-8, noting the establishment of three drafting groups to conduct negotiations throughout the second week of the session: Drafting Group I on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources, and Agriculture, chaired by Patrick McDonnell; Drafting Group II on Financial Resources and Mechanisms, and Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, chaired by Choi Seok-young; and Drafting Group III on preparations for the ten-year review of UNCED and "other matters," chaired by Zvetolyub Basmajiev. Chair Mayr also announced five thematic high-level meetings to take place on Wednesday and Thursday, 26-27 April. No meetings were scheduled for Friday, 28 April.

After addressing procedural matters and listening to reports on intersessional activities, delegates and representatives from major groups participated in a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Monday afternoon and Tuesday, 24-25 April, focusing on sustainable agriculture.


During the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on sustainable agriculture, representatives of business and industry, trade unions, farmers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as representatives of indigenous people and scientists, offered statements on four dialogue themes. The four themes were: choices in agricultural production techniques, consumption patterns and safety regulations – potentials and threats to sustainable agriculture; best practices in land resource management to achieve sustainable food cycles; knowledge for a sustainable food system – identifying and providing for education, training, knowledge sharing and information needs; and globalization, trade liberalization and investment patterns – economic incentives and framework conditions to promote sustainable agriculture.

Sessions commenced with short presentations by each stakeholder group, followed by reactions from two governments, general dialogue and closing recommendations. Mayr emphasized that the dialogue and the recommendations made by representatives would inform the subsequent discussions of the CSD on sustainable agriculture.

CHOICES IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES, CONSUMPTION PATTERNS AND SAFETY REGULATIONS: Farmers’ representatives supported land tenure for farm workers, the establishment of regulatory frameworks for biotechnology and deepening public understanding through multi-stakeholder participation. Trade unions called for recognition of core labor standards, including the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively. They recommended directing further attention to the holistic nature of agriculture and food security, including the social, cultural, health and environmental dimensions of agricultural production. NGOs recommended: increased financial resources for research and development of organic agriculture; increased government support and resources to develop environmental and socioeconomic indicators for sustainable agriculture; and increased clarity on liability issues for farmers using biotechnology.

Industry stressed support for a needs-driven participatory approach to appropriate innovation. Indigenous people’s representatives advocated mechanisms to ensure land tenure, in particular national and international legal mechanisms to protect indigenous people’s land and territory rights. They also supported participation of indigenous people as a distinct major group in the CSD process. NGOs and indigenous people’s representatives recommended placing a moratorium on genetically modified organisms until adequate research on their impact is complete.

On best practices in land resource management: NGOs recommended: adopting an agro-ecology and organic approach to research and development; balancing investments in conventional agricultural research with alternative agricultural techniques; and establishing a multi-stakeholder mechanism to enable ongoing dialogue on land management and land access, as well as on criteria and indicators for best practices. Farmers’ organizations supported creating participatory approaches to identifying and implementing best practices. Indigenous people’s representatives recommended development of national and international mechanisms to achieve secure and equitable land tenure. Industry recommended promotion and support of partnerships among all stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Trade unions promoted policies and measures to stop unsustainable agricultural practices and supported monitoring and reporting efforts by workers, trade unions and employers.

KNOWLEDGE FOR A SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEM: Indigenous people’s representatives underscored the importance of relying on indigenous systems for protecting their knowledge and called on governments to ratify and implement national and international legal mechanisms to protect the right of indigenous people to lands and territories. Trade unions stressed the importance of education as a capacity-building tool and recommended full and effective participation by all stakeholders. Farmers’ organizations advocated traditional knowledge as a fundamental basis for scientific research and recommended partnerships to create new local knowledge systems that enhance production systems. They also promoted greater use of Internet resources. Industry representatives recommended strengthened flows of information and increased agricultural extension services. NGOs recommended open and sustainable intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes, including full participation of indigenous people.

Globalization, trade liberalization and investment patterns: NGOs supported further multi-stakeholder meetings or processes to assess the impacts of trade liberalization measures on sustainable development, based on the sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) indicators adopted by CSD-3. They also recommended reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture and other related agreements, as well as institutional reform of the WTO through cooperation, collaboration and participation. Industry representatives supported: fair and open trade to achieve sound and sustainable agriculture; policies to reduce agricultural trade barriers that work against sustainable development; and a clearer definition of sustainability through science-based indicators and criteria for success, against which progress can be measured. Indigenous people’s representatives emphasized investment in small-scale organic and other ecological systems of agriculture. Farmers’ organizations recommended allocation of better lands for small farmers to practice sustainable agriculture for domestic consumption and food security. Trade unions called for CSD support for international rules that incorporate core labor standards as contained in the relevant instruments of the International Labor Organization.

Chair Mayr produced a summary of the initiatives discussed during the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue, which was forwarded to delegates participating in the High-Level Segment for consideration, and included in the CSD-8 report (E/CN.17/2000/L.1).


The High-Level Segment took place on 26-27 April, and was comprised of expert input, high-level statements, and general dialogue. To open the Segment, UN Deputy Secretary General Louise Fréchette described, inter alia, the continuing human plunder of the global environment and noted that responses are often "too few, too little and too late." The IFF Co-Chairs Ilkka Ristimaki (Finland) and Bagher Asadi (Iran) outlined the IFF process and results, highlighting the consensus reached on proposals for action and the proposed establishment of a UN Forum on Forests (UNFF).

LAND AND AGRICULTURE : Expert Input: Gordon Conway, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, defined sustainable agriculture as that which is resistant to stress and shock, and which combines productivity, stability and equity. Miguel A. Altiere, University of California, Berkeley, outlined the achievements, trends and impacts of modern agriculture.

High-Level Statements: Portugal, on behalf of the EU, called for equal access to land and legal security of tenure. Nigeria, on behalf of the G-77/China, called for measures to cushion the impact of financial volatility on developing countries and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs), and expressed difficulty with the disputed concept of the multifunctional character of agriculture. Argentina, Australia and Uruguay opposed any reference to the concept of the multifunctional character of agriculture. Mexico called for a focus on the Biosafety Protocol and deforestation. Other ideas raised during discussion include: testing of agricultural biological products and technology; the role of urban agriculture in achieving food security; and a consultative forum on SARD.

Dialogue: Interventions during the general dialogue mentioned the need to improve access to land and ESTs, and the need for continued stakeholder engagement.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2002 REVIEW OF PROGRESS SINCE UNCED (RIO+10): High-Level Statements: The G-77/ China suggested that: the CSD act as the preparatory committee for Rio+10; a trust fund be created to facilitate the participation of developing countries; and developing countries decide on the location of Rio+10. The EU called for coherence between Rio+10 and follow-up to other UN conferences, and urged ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by 2002. The UK recommended naming Rio+10 "Poverty, Development and the Environment." The Republic of Korea, Brazil and South Africa asked to be considered as possible hosts for Rio+10. Canada called for a shift away from the practice of negotiating a declaration document.

Dialogue: Other ideas raised include: creation of a trust fund for major group participation; the role of regional bodies; the mobilization of civil society; and measurable targets for eco-efficiency.

FINANCE AND INVESTMENT: Expert Input: Konrad von Moltke, International Institute for Sustainable Development, recommended, inter alia: international discipline for financial markets; ensuring a balance between investor rights and public obligations; and inclusion of investment provisions in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). José Antonio Ocampo, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, recommended, inter alia: international cooperation to meet ODA targets; developing criteria for foreign direct investment (FDI); and directing FDI to clean energy projects.

High-Level Statements: The G-77/China urged donor countries to cancel or substantially reduce debt burdens and to meet their Agenda 21 financial commitments. The EU emphasized: the need to reverse declining ODA and improve its quality through more efficient delivery, improved allocation and better coordination; and implementation of financing pledges for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).

Dialogue: Delegations and stakeholders also mentioned: debt cancellation; "Struggling Against Poverty" as a possible slogan for Rio+10; the need for the active participation of finance ministers; reconciliation of IPR regimes with farmers’ rights; and the changing role of private finance.

TRADE: Expert Input: Via a pre-recorded video message to the CSD, Mike Moore, Director-General of the WTO, suggested that the WTO may contribute to sustainable development through, inter alia, trade agreements with non trade-discriminatory environmental objectives. Martin Khor, Third World Network, recommended overhauling the WTO decision-making system and increasing the CSD’s capacity to act as an alternative forum on trade, development and the environment.

High-Level Statements: The G-77/China called on developed countries to improve market access for developing country exports and to help developing countries benefit from FDI and ODA. The European Commission, for the EU, reiterated its commitment to duty- and quota-free access for essentially all exports from less-developed countries and recommended that MEAs and WTO Agreements have equal status. Norway, with Ecuador, supported the use of sustainability reviews in trade negotiations. The Philippines noted that the burden of economic adjustment has shifted to the most vulnerable populations. Pakistan called for further studies of environmental taxes to ensure optimal results, and for trade on preferential terms. Chile stated that problems of rural poverty cannot be solved while distorted market conditions exist.

Dialogue: Other ideas raised by delegations and stakeholders included: the risks associated with globalization; trust in national processes; a set of guidelines on the relationship between trade and environmental impacts; overcoming the Asian financial crisis; and institutional coordination.


INTEGRATED PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT OF LAND RESOURCES: The draft decision on integrated planning and management of land resources, negotiated in Drafting Group I, addresses the importance of a holistic approach to sustainable development, including integrated watershed management and application of an ecosystem-based approach that takes into account the necessary balance between environmental conservation and rural livelihood. Negotiations were based on the Report of the Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources; and on Agriculture (E/CN.17/2000/17). The Secretary-General’s Reports on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources (E/CN.17/2000/6) and Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources: Conservation of Biological Diversity (E/ CN.17/2000/6/Add.4) provided further background for this discussion.

After a brief meeting of Drafting Group I on Friday, 5 May, the contact group dealing with both land and agriculture, convened to resolve most of the contentious issues in the draft text on land. The contact group convened on numerous occasions to deal with outstanding land and agriculture issues until just after 2:00 a.m. on Saturday. Throughout this period a number of delegations facilitated agreement on outstanding issues in informal-informal negotiations.

Debate over language on good governance, proposed by the EU and opposed by the G-77/China, was resolved during informal-informal negotiations. Delegates agreed to text on transparent, effective, participatory and accountable governance conducive to sustainable development and responsive to the needs of the people.

A reference to protection and enhancement of greenhouse sinks, proposed by Australia, supported by the US and the EU, and opposed by the G-77/China, Brazil and Egypt, was debated by a contact group and changed to "carbon sequestration." New text specifically addressing the removal of land mines was debated and agreed during informal discussions, reflecting language from GA Resolution 1998/ 5326. Disagreement between the EU and the G-77/China persisted during discussions on a section addressing access to land and security of tenure. The EU suggested reference to "equal" access and "legal" tenure in four parts of the decision. The US and Canada supported the EU in opposing G-77/China proposals to link policy adoption in this area to constitutions, culture and traditions. After many rounds of negotiation, the matter was taken up in the contact group. When informal-informal consultations failed to resolve the issue, facilitator Navid Hanif (Pakistan) proposed that the issue appear only once in the text, within language on promoting improved access and tenure.

The G-77/China and the US suggested text: calling on governments and the international community to ensure that the effects of biotechnology on health and the environment are fully explored before being introduced into the market; and on promoting applications of biotechnology that do not pose unacceptable risks, bearing in mind ethical considerations, as appropriate. Additionally, the US proposed compromise text urging governments to sign, ratify and support implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, rather than to ensure its entry into force.

A new paragraph on transboundary effects of land-use planning, supported by the US and the EU and strongly opposed by Turkey, was rejected. Canada proposed, and many delegates supported, text urging governments to formulate and implement strategies that provide for the rehabilitation of land degraded by mining.

On stakeholder participation, the G-77/China proposed a new paragraph inviting governments to pursue or strengthen the process of decentralization. The EU proposed inclusion of reference to training programmes for farmers and agro-food industries, while the G-77/ China preferred training programmes for land users. The EU and the US requested deletion of specific reference to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). Australia and the G-77/China preferred to name the relevant conferences. The US, supported by the G-77/China, Canada and Australia, supported omission of the 2002 target date for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The EU and Japan preferred to retain the date but it was not included in the final draft.

Final Decision: The decision on integrated planning and management of land resources notes that the main objectives of activities in this area must be pursued in full accordance with Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21.

On prevention and/or mitigation of land degradation, governments and the international community are encouraged to develop policies, programmes, partnerships and strategies to: eradicate poverty; promote conservation of soil, water and vegetation; rehabilitate land degraded by land mines; and strengthen institutional frameworks at all levels.

On access to land and security of tenure, the decision recognizes the existence of different laws and systems while advocating sustainable land tenure and land reform that will include traditional land-owners and users as active participants in land-use planning. Text also encourages the international community and UN agencies and organizations to provide technical and financial support to minimize socioeconomic obstacles to this end.

Critical sectors and issues identified include: biodiversity; forests; drylands; mountain areas; wetlands and coastal zones; natural disasters; rural-urban and land management interactions; and minerals, metals and rehabilitation in the context of sustainable development.

On stakeholder participation, governments are urged to include women, land workers, people living in poverty, indigenous and local communities and young people in rural and urban land-use planning and management.

On international cooperation, including cooperation for capacity building, information sharing and technology transfer, the decision addresses possible actions by governments to: support implementation of other relevant conventions; provide technological assistance; promote research and training; foster information dissemination; build capacity; and take into account the work of other relevant UN bodies.

AGRICULTURE: The CSD’s decision on agriculture focuses on SARD, recognizing the special and important place of agriculture in society for food and fiber production, food security and social and economic development. The decision addresses, inter alia, poverty eradication, priorities for action, access to resources, finance, biotechnology, genetic resources and international cooperation. Deliberations were based on the Secretary-General’s Report on SARD (E/CN.17/ 2000/7, Add.1 and Add.2) and on the Report of the Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources, and on Agriculture (E/CN.17/2000/11).

Negotiations in Drafting Group I were suspended after Chair McDonnell invited Navid Hanif to convene a contact group during the morning session on Thursday, 4 May. The contact group reconvened on numerous occasions to discuss all of the outstanding issues, and completed its work shortly before 2:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.

During discussions on the draft introduction, the G-77/China resisted efforts by the EU to introduce text on food "safety," suggesting that they bordered on setting standards. A reference to the FAO/Netherlands Conference on the multifunctional character of agriculture, "Cultivating our Futures," was deleted from the introduction by the G-77/China. The EU, Japan and the US defended the "unique" role of agriculture in society.

On the priority issue of financing for SARD, the G-77/China emphasized international support. During the final hours of negotiation in the contact group, difficulties in reaching agreement on the balance of domestic and international financing led to suggestions that the finance section be deleted, with groups of countries expressing extreme disappointment. The EU, drawing on accepted language from the drafting group working on finance, proposed text stating that financing for Agenda 21 implementation is expected to be met, in general, from domestic resources.

On the disputed concept of the multifunctional character of agriculture, protracted informal-informal negotiations took place after developing countries and others opposed including any reference to the concept in the document. The US facilitated informal discussions over a 24-hour period on this paragraph. The final draft paragraph makes no explicit reference to multifunctionality.

During discussions in the contact group on biotechnology, developing countries sought to delete reference to the Cartagena Protocol. Some countries described the introduction of text on using "objective, transparent, science-based risk assessment procedures" as an attempt to reinterpret the Protocol, in the absence of an accompanying reference to "risk management." On biotechnology, developing countries argued for a reference to ethically and environmentally acceptable applications. On living modified organisms (LMOs), one country pointed out that the Cartagena Protocol not only addresses the release of LMOs, but also food, feed and processing.

Discussing participation, developing countries proposed the deletion of language on continuation of a multi-stakeholder dialogue on SARD. Agreement was reached after amendments were introduced to clarify that the dialogue would proceed, facilitated by FAO and the CSD Secretariat, within existing resources and would not amount to the creation of a new institution.

Final Decision: The introduction sets out the basis for achieving SARD in international agreements and calls for their full implementation at all levels. It focuses on SARD in accordance with, inter alia: the principles of the Rio Declaration; Chapter 14 of Agenda 21; the Rome Declaration on World Food Security; and the World Food Summit. The introduction also describes the special and important place of agriculture in society.

The priorities for action section addresses the implementation of SARD goals, access to resources, poverty, finance, technology transfer, biotechnology, genetic resources, pest management, desertification, access to land and security of tenure, emergency preparedness, and water resources. The section on priorities for action calls on governments to:

  • elaborate national strategies;
  • reaffirm commitments to achieving food security and to the World Food Summit goal of reducing by one-half the number of undernourished people by 2015;
  • develop policy and legal frameworks;
  • promote natural resource management, while promoting traditional and local knowledge;
  • pursue an ecosystem approach;
  • pay attention to health protection; and
  • take into account small-scale farmers and agricultural workers.

Use of relevant UN agreements and Global Environment Facility (GEF) programmes is encouraged for the promotion of SARD-related initiatives. Governments are encouraged to continue studying the economic, social and environmental aspects of SARD, avoiding unjustifiable trade barriers and taking account of FAO and other discussions. Parties to the FCCC are encouraged to use relevant mechanisms to support SARD initiatives that result, inter alia, in reduced greenhouse gas emissions or carbon sequestration. On poverty eradication, governments and the international community are urged to implement relevant commitments, including those of the Copenhagen Declaration and the Programme of Action of the World Summit on Social Development.

Text on financing for SARD notes that Agenda 21 implementation will be met in general from domestic resources, and urges governments to mobilize domestic and international resources. The section also states the importance of additional financial support for developing countries, and calls for efforts to direct a substantial share of ODA to the agricultural and rural sectors, especially in least-developed countries (LDCs) and net food-importing countries. Text on technology transfer and capacity building encourages governments, relevant international, regional and national bodies and the private sector to support developing country research and efforts on natural resource management. Governments and the international community are encouraged to share natural disaster early-warning systems.

On biotechnology, governments are "encouraged to explore, using transparent science-based risk assessment procedures, as well as risk management procedures, applying the precautionary approach – as articulated in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration and recalled in the Cartagena Protocol to the CBD – the potential of appropriate and safe biotechnology for enhancing food security for all." Governments are urged to ratify the Cartagena Protocol, and to develop legal frameworks for, inter alia, the risk analysis and management of LMOs. Governments and international organizations are encouraged to promote only those applications of biotechnology that do not pose unacceptable risks to public health or the environment, bearing in mind ethical considerations, as appropriate. On genetic resources, governments are urged to finalize the negotiations on the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as soon as possible, and implement other relevant agreements.

On integrated pest management and plant nutrition, the decision states that the implementation of sanitary and phytosanitary measures must be in accordance with WTO Agreements. On desertification and drought, there is a call for programmes developed under the CCD. Text on access to land and security of land tenure recognizes the existence of different national laws and/or systems of land access and tenure, and encourages governments, at appropriate levels, to develop and/or adopt policies and implement laws that guarantee well-defined and enforceable land rights and promote equal access to land and legal security of tenure. The section also addresses early warning systems, natural disasters and environmental monitoring, and water resources.

The section on international cooperation addresses trade, information, UN and other international activities, and participation. Text on trade recognizes programmes to enhance commodity-based diversification in increasing foreign exchange earnings and employment in developing countries. Governments and international organizations are urged to disseminate information on agricultural practices, technologies and markets. The section also addresses: the activities of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the FAO, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the finalization of negotiations on a legally binding instrument on certain persistent organic pollutants; and research of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

On participation, there is an invitation to the FAO and the CSD Secretariat, in consultation with governments, relevant organizations and major groups, to continue the multi-stakeholder dialogue on SARD, emphasizing work on case studies in preparation for CSD-10 and Rio+10.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS: The decision on Financial Resources and Mechanisms, negotiated by Drafting Group II, highlights major challenges and areas of particular concern, including definitions of governance, trade-distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies, trade liberalization, and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the FCCC. The Report of the Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group on Financial Resources and Mechanisms and on Economic Growth, Trade and Investment (E/CN.17/ 2000/10) served as a basis for negotiation. Negotiations were also conducted in contact group and in informal-informal sessions.

The G-77/China made several proposals relating to the issues of debt and financing for Agenda 21 implementation. Throughout the negotiations, the G-77/China stressed that developed countries should honor Agenda 21 financial commitments. The US suggested that growth in private capital flows and the decline in ODA are trends that are unlikely to be reversed, and this has implications for meeting Agenda 21 commitments. On the issue of debt relief, the G-77/China proposed text urging countries unable to provide debt cancellations because of legal provisions to provide "equivalent relief." The EU noted that a unifying principle for the mobilization of ODA is the eradication of poverty through sustainable development in the framework of the international development targets derived from UN conferences and summits.

Many issues stimulated intense debate among delegates. Extensive deliberations occurred on the issue of governance. The EU preferred using "good" governance, whereas the G-77/China and Cameroon supported "responsive to the needs of the people, based on efficient, participatory, transparent and accountable public service, policy-making processes and administration," which is text from GA Resolution 54/231. After informal consultations, the group accepted text referring to transparent, effective, participatory and accountable governance, conducive to sustainable development and responsive to the needs of the people.

Delegations struggled to reach agreement on text regarding subsidies. The EU, supported by Australia, the Republic of Korea and Norway, suggested referring to "trade-distorting and" environmentally harmful subsidies. The G-77/China, the US, New Zealand and Japan opposed. The phrase was eventually deleted, removing all reference to "the gradual phasing out of trade-distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies."

Similarly, consensus was elusive on text regarding the Kyoto Protocol and the CDM. Australia, Canada, the EU, New Zealand and Norway supported clear reference, while the US stated that it could not accept text in any formulation. The G-77/China emphasized that because the CDM was not yet finalized, they could not agree on any language. The paragraph was deleted.

Extensive debate also ensued on language referring to the creation of an ad hoc intergovernmental panel to undertake an analytical study of the lack of progress in the fulfillment of financial commitments. The final text reflects that no agreement could be reached on convening such a panel.

Final Decision: The introduction to the decision notes that: activities regarding financial resources and mechanisms should be pursued in accordance with Agenda 21; the approach to sustainable development should be holistic; States have common but differentiated responsibilities; and new and additional financing for Agenda 21 implementation will be required. Globalization is identified as a source of opportunities, risks and challenges, contributing to private capital flows. The decline in ODA and recurrence of financial crises are identified as key recent patterns.

The section on priorities for future work addresses:

  • mobilization of both domestic and international financial resources for sustainable development;
  • promotion of international cooperation for sustainable development;
  • strengthening of existing mechanisms and exploration of innovative financial mechanisms;
  • improvement of institutional capacity; and
  • promotion of public/private partnerships.

Text also notes that a comprehensive status meeting will be held in 2002, reflecting outcomes from the 2001 High-Level Event on Financing for Development.

Text on mobilization of domestic financial resources for sustainable development urges governments to:

  • promote the mobilization of domestic financial resources through sound macroeconomic policies, a dynamic private sector, and participatory processes for development;
  • increase cooperation for addressing capital flight and issues related to capital repatriation;
  • integrate environmental considerations into public policies and programmes;
  • continue to design and implement National Sustainable Development Strategies by 2002;
  • implement a range of economic instruments; and
  • provide incentives for sustained private investment.

The section on promotion of international cooperation and mobilization of international finance for sustainable development highlights, inter alia:

  • developed and developing country partnerships to develop, adopt and implement sustainable development strategies;
  • increased allocation of ODA to eradicate poverty;
  • speedy implementation of the enhanced HIPC initiative and fulfillment of donor financing pledges;
  • development of national poverty strategies linking debt relief with poverty eradication;
  • inclusion of new eligible countries in the enhanced HIPC initiative process;
  • liquidity constraints that may require debt treatment, including debt reduction measures for middle-income developing countries;
  • facilitation of market-driven investment;
  • the role of private capital flows in supporting sustainable development; and
  • measures to promote stable and transparent national and international financial systems.

Text on strengthening existing financial mechanisms and the exploration of innovative ones refers to: cooperation between governments and international organizations; the existing financial mechanisms of MEAs; and the role of the GEF. The text states that improvement of institutional capacity and promotion of public/private partnerships will take place through: private sector involvement in financing sustainable development; maximizing effectiveness for comparative advantage; improving dialogue between international organizations as well as between organizations and governments; researching the relationship between FDI and sustainable development; capacity building to mobilize resources; and green budget reforms.

ECONOMIC GROWTH, TRADE AND INVESTMENT: The decision on Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, negotiated by Drafting Group II, addresses promotion of sustainable development through trade and economic growth, strengthening of institutional cooperation, and actions toward making trade and environmental policies mutually supportive. Negotiations were based on the Report of the Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group (E/CN.17/2000/10).

Several issues were also debated extensively in contact group and informal-informal sessions. A contact group was convened to discuss text suggested by the G-77/China on commodity prices and commodity markets. Delegations proposed numerous amendments using language from UNCTAD-X regarding commodity-based diversification and foreign exchange earnings. Delegates deliberated extensively on text proposed by the EU regarding the "equitable" distribution between nations of gains from trade. The US maintained that international trade is inherently inequitable. Consideration of text on the elimination of trade distorting and protectionist policies continued until the closing Plenary. Japan opposed using "trade distorting," while the US preferred reference to "unjustifiable" non-tariff barriers to trade. On the relationship between MEAs and WTO Agreements, the G-77/China, supported by Norway, proposed text referring to the equal status of the CBD and the TRIPs Agreement, while the US preferred language stating that there is no preordained hierarchy between the two. Delegates agreed to language introduced by Canada, noting "that both trade agreements and MEAs are developed and negotiated in pursuit of legitimate multilateral objectives in support of sustainable development."

The G-77/China preferred deletion of the text stating that environmental standards should not be lowered as a means to attract FDI, while the EU noted that similar language was accepted at CSD-4. The issue was deferred to the final Plenary, where delegates agreed to delete the text.

Delegates had difficulty reaching consensus on text regarding environmental impact and sustainability assessments of trade agreements. The G-77/China maintained that language on assessments might be used later as a conditionality on trade. No agreement was reached on Norway-proposed text on the developmental and environmental implications of trade barriers and on financial and technical support for countries undertaking environmental impact and sustainability assessments of trade agreements.

Final Decision: The introduction to the decision notes: that activities regarding economic growth, trade and investment should be pursued in accordance with Agenda 21 and the outcome of UNCTAD-X; trade and investment are important factors in economic growth and sustainable development; the importance of taking into account the different levels of development of countries, and common but differentiated responsibilities; and the challenge for developing countries and countries with economies in transition (EITs) to stimulate domestic investment and attract FDI.

The section on priorities for future work addresses: promoting sustainable development through investment, trade and economic growth; making trade and environmental policies mutually supportive; and strengthening institutional cooperation, capacity building and promoting partnerships.

In the section on promoting sustainable development through trade and economic growth, governments and international organizations are urged to: support efforts of developing countries, particularly LDCs, in building capacity to eradicate poverty, expand productive employment, and improve living standards; and improve market access, provide technical assistance and establish capacity building initiatives in favor of developing countries and EITs with a view to helping them increase export opportunities, promote diversified export-oriented production and enhance their ability to trade, and to implement their commitments enshrined in existing multilateral agreements. The text also: notes commodity exports are the mainstay of many developing country economies; calls on governments and international organizations to improve the functioning of commodity markets; and urges governments to pursue continued trade liberalization through, inter alia, the elimination of unjustifiable and discriminatory trade practices and non-tariff barriers to trade.

The section further highlights:

  • market access conditions for agricultural and industrial products of export interest to developing countries;
  • food security as a priority area for sustainable agricultural development;
  • the equitable distribution of the benefits arising from increased trade liberalization;
  • the promotion of indigenous development of ESTs;
  • implementation of the UNCTAD-X Plan of Action; and
  • the promotion of markets for environmentally-friendly products, ESTs and environmental services.

Text on making trade and environment policies mutually supportive highlights: the complementarities between trade liberalization and environmental protection; certification and labelling schemes; the pursuit of effective environmental measures; consideration of the relationship between MEAs and WTO Agreements; and EST transfer.

On promoting sustainable development through investment, governments are encouraged to promote a stable, predictable, non-discriminatory and transparent investment climate, and to address the potential risks of short-term capital flows. In addition, the decision recommends that governments and international organizations:

  • explore ways to ensure that a larger number of developing countries and EITs benefit from investment;
  • seek to promote use of environmental management systems and transfer of ESTs;
  • encourage companies to take responsibility to promote sustainable development;
  • explore the potential for improving environmental performance along the supply chain; and
  • explore the potential role of voluntary guidelines for making investment more broadly supportive of sustainable development.

On strengthening institutional cooperation, capacity building and promoting partnerships, the text: notes the use of environmental assessments in countries and the work of UNEP and UNCTAD in this regard; stresses that assessments of trade policies should be conducted with a view to promoting sustainable development and should not serve as a disguised barrier to trade; urges the improvement of policy coherence; and encourages public-private sector partnerships and international cooperation for capacity building in trade, environment and development policy formulation.

THE TEN-YEAR REVIEW OF PROGRESS ACHIEVED IN IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OUTCOME OF UNCED (RIO+10): The CSD agreed on recommendations to be brought to the attention of ECOSOC and the GA regarding preparations for the ten-year review of progress achieved in implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio+10). Discussions on the issue were based on the Secretary-General’s Report on preliminary views and suggestions on preparations for Rio+10 (E/CN.17/2000/15), and on the views expressed during the High-Level Segment. Negotiations took place in Drafting Group III.

During the High-Level discussions, it was recommended, inter alia, that Rio+10 should: be at the Head of Government level; be in a developing country; coincide with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol; focus on poverty elimination, resource and energy efficiency; and deliver action programmes on fisheries, food, freshwater and forests.

In the discussions on the text of the decision, a number of contentious issues arose, including, inter alia: defining the Rio+10 agenda; the nature of the relationship between Rio+10 and Agenda 21; and defining which Convention secretariats should be involved in the participatory process.

Final Decision: The CSD decision on Rio+10 (E/CN.17/2000/L.7) stresses that the ten-year review should focus on the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, and other outcomes of UNCED. It emphasizes that Agenda 21 should constitute the framework for reviewing the outcomes of UNCED, and for addressing new challenges and opportunities that have emerged since the conference. The decision stresses that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated, and that the review of progress should result in action-oriented decisions and renewed political commitment for sustainable development.

Noting that the nature of the preparatory process will be determined at the 55th session of the GA, the CSD underlines the importance of early preparations at the local, national and regional levels, and encourages effective contributions from all major groups. It invites governments to undertake national review processes as early as possible, noting that national reports on implementation of Agenda 21 could provide a basis for guiding the preparatory processes. The UN Secretariat is invited to work in close cooperation with a range of organizations, agencies and programmes within and outside the UN, including international and regional financial institutions, in supporting the preparatory activities.

The CSD recommends that the GA at its 55th session: consider organizing the 2002 review as a Summit-level event, preferably in a developing country; decide that CSD-10 be transformed into an open-ended preparatory committee providing for the full and effective participation of all governments; and decide on the agenda, possible main themes, timing and venue of the event, as well as on related procedural matters. It is proposed that the first meeting of CSD-10 be held immediately after CSD-9 and be expanded to commence work as the preparatory committee for the 2002 event. On financing, it is recommended that a trust fund be established with voluntary contributions from national and international donors.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL FORUM ON FORESTS (IFF): ECOSOC established the IFF in resolution 1997/65, with a mandate to report on its work to CSD-8. The IFF met four times between October 1997 and January 2000 to "identify the possible elements of and work towards consensus on international arrangements and mechanisms, for example, a legally-binding instrument."

During the High-Level Segment, IFF Co-Chairs Ilkka Ristimaki and Bagher Asadi outlined the IFF process and results. Many delegations endorsed the report and outcomes of the IFF, particularly the creation of the UNFF. The US announced a voluntary contribution for the transition from the IFF to the UNFF. The draft decision was introduced in Drafting Group III, but there was no discussion on the issue.

Final Decision: In Plenary, Drafting Group III Chair Basmajiev outlined the draft decision on the Report of the IFF (E/CN.17/2000/ L.9), which: welcomes the report of the IFF; invites ECOSOC and the GA to take action on the proposed terms of reference for an international arrangement on forests; and invites the President of ECOSOC to initiate informal consultations on options for placing the proposed UNFF within the UN system.


CSD-8 Chair Mayr convened the penultimate Plenary on Friday, 5 May, at 10:00 a.m. and invited delegates to begin with consideration of the Report of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy and Sustainable Development (E/CN.17/2000/12). Mohammed Salamat (Iran), Co-Chair of the Expert Group, reported on fruitful discussions and dialogue, and informed delegates of plans to hold a second session in February 2001, before the meeting of the CSD Intersessional Working Groups. Co-Chair Irene Freudenschuss Reichl (Austria) encouraged delegations to share information to promote transparency and participation, as well as NGO involvement, in preparing for the upcoming intersessional work on energy. She appealed for voluntary contributions to support developing country participation.

Drafting Group III Chair Basmajiev presented three decisions for adoption: taking note of the Report of the First Session of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (E/CN.17/2000/L.4); taking note of the sub-programme entitled "Sustainable development" of the draft medium-term plan of the UN for the period 2002-2005 (E/ CN.17/2000/L.5); and Matters related to the intersessional work of the Commission (E/CN.17/2000/L.6). All three decisions were adopted.

The Report of the Secretary-General on programmes relating to Education, Public Awareness and Training (E/CN.17/2000/8), presented by the Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, was withdrawn after informal-informal discussions. The review of the ACC subcommittee on water resources (E/CN.17.2000/18) was rejected because of the already extensive agenda for CSD-9. The reports on progress made in providing safe water supply and sanitation for all during the 1990s (E/CN.17/2000/13), and on voluntary initiatives (E/CN.17.2000/17) were noted.

Basmajiev reported on the successful results of deliberations regarding preparations for the ten-year review of the implementation of Agenda 21 (E/CN.17/2000/L.7), and the decision was adopted. The US, opposed by Japan and the G-77/China, dissociated himself from consensus regarding the location of Rio+10 in a developing country, maintaining that his delegation does not support convening any new international conferences within the UN system. Preliminary views and suggestions on the preparations for the ten-year review of UNCED (E/CN.17/2000/15) were adopted. A Report by the Secretary-General on national reporting to the CSD (E/CN.17/2000/16) was also adopted.

Basmajiev then introduced the draft decision on the IFF (E/CN.17/ 2000/L.9), that he had negotiated informally. The Secretariat outlined provisions and issues regarding funding and staffing issues contained in the annex of the IFF Report (E/CN.17/2000/14). The draft decision on the IFF was adopted. Canada highlighted the IFF as one of the best examples of what the CSD can do when it is focused on an issue. The G-77/China, along with Brazil, Cuba, the EU, Honduras, Morocco, the Russian Federation, Sudan, and the US, congratulated IFF Co-Chairs Asadi and Ristimaki for their work.

In his closing remarks, CSD-8 Chair Mayr outlined his vision for the CSD and the Rio+10 process. He said the new millennium raises new challenges for governments, the private sector and civil society that need to be analyzed from the perspective of sustainable development. He called for a transparent framework for decision-making to contribute to greater confidence in a revitalized consultation process in the wake of the Seattle meeting of the WTO. He also called for: access for the greatest possible number of participants, including major groups, at the UN Millennium Assembly; the extension of an informal format for ministerial meetings at the CSD to the High-Level Segment, in order to facilitate effective dialogue with multi-sectoral participation; a role for the CSD in defining solutions to problems negotiated in other bodies, with an emphasis on dialogue rather than negotiation; and an active and preparatory process leading up to Rio+10.

In their tributes to the CSD-8 Chair: Argentina thanked Mayr for the way in which he had directed the meeting; the G-77/China, supported by Brazil, said he would always be part and parcel of the CSD process; Japan, supported by Canada, underlined the Chair’s views on vitalizing the High-Level Segment at the CSD and creating a closer link between the ministerial discussions and the work of drafting groups; Cuba called for a more change at the CSD; the EU thanked the Chair for his contribution to the arrangements for ministerial participation; and the US paid tribute to the Chair’s dynamism, in particular during the first week of the session, and noted the importance of his call for an emphasis on dialogue rather than negotiations.

Chair Mayr announced plans for Drafting Groups I and II to reconvene in order to complete their work and adjourned the Plenary just after 12:00 p.m.


CSD-8 Vice-Chair Choi Seok-young called the closing Plenary to order at 3:15 a.m. on Saturday, 6 May. He introduced the informal papers containing the negotiated outcomes on the Agenda 21 sectoral theme of Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources, and on the economic sector of Agriculture. Drafting Group I Chair McDonnell stated that, after initial negotiations in the group, intensive negotiations had been concluded in a contact group facilitated by Navid Hanif, and consensus had been reached on all outstanding paragraphs. McDonnell reported that the papers on land and agriculture had been adopted by the Drafting Group and thanked the facilitator, the Secretariat and delegations. The decisions on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources and on Agriculture were then adopted. The Plenary also noted the relevant documents: the Report of the Secretary-General on integrated planning and management of land resources (E/CN.17/2000/6 and E/CN.17/2000/6/Add.1, Add.2, Add.3 and Add.4); the Report of the Intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources; and on Agriculture (E/CN.17/2000/11); the Report of the Secretary-General on Sustainable Agriculture (E/CN.17/2000/5 and E/CN.17/2000/5/ Add.1); and the Report of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (E/CN.17/ 2000/3 and E/CN.17/2000/3/Add.1, Add.2, Add.3 and Add.4).

Drafting Group II Chair Seok-young introduced the informal papers containing the negotiated outcomes on the sectoral themes of Financial Resources and Mechanisms, Economic Growth, Trade and Investment. Seok-young reported on the negotiations that led to the production of two papers, one on Financial Resources and Mechanisms and another dealing with Economic Growth, Trade and Investment. He reported that both papers contained bracketed text.

Seok-young then invited recommendations on a bracketed reference to the "gradual phasing out" of trade-distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies. He suggested that the brackets be removed. Japan said he could agree to the removal of brackets if the words "trade-distorting" were also removed. The G-77/China, supported by the US, preferred to replace "gradual phasing out" with a reference to the "reduction" of trade-distorting and environmental harmful subsidies. New Zealand favored the "elimination" of subsidies or the removal of the entire phrase. Delegations supported a recommendation from the Chair that the entire phrase be deleted.

Regarding the enhanced HIPC initiative, Seok-young explained that no consensus had been reached in Drafting Group II on a reference to cancellation "and equivalent relief" of bilateral official debt to qualifying countries. Japan stated his full commitment to implementing the initiative, announcing additional measures worth up to US$200 million. He agreed to the deletion of the words "and equivalent relief." He asked that the report of CSD-8 record that the term "relief" be recognized as equivalent to cancellation. The G-77/China said the resulting text on the enhanced HIPC initiative was one of the major outcomes of CSD-8. The paper on Financial Resources and Mechanisms was adopted, as amended.

Seok-young turned to the paper on Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, noting that three paragraphs remained in brackets. He proposed removing brackets from text urging governments and international organizations to enhance understanding of the economic and social implications of trade measures for environmental trade purposes, including the effects of environmental requirements on the exports of developing countries. The US, supported by Australia and New Zealand, said that to avoid a new round of negotiations, the sentence should be deleted. The G-77/China agreed, the text was deleted, and the paragraph was adopted as amended.

In a section on promoting sustainable development through investment, Seok-young proposed removing brackets from text that: stressed the need to promote sustained economic growth and sustainable development, in particular in developing countries; emphasized that the use of unjustifiable and discriminatory trade practices and non-tariff barriers to trade is harmful to developing countries; and noted that it would be inappropriate to relax environmental laws, regulations, standards or their enforcement in order to encourage FDI or to promote exports. The text was deleted, and the paragraph was adopted as amended.

The Chair proposed deleting bracketed references to research on the possible trade implications and applications of the Rio principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle. The US noted that most of this paragraph was bracketed, that he could not agree to any of the references, and called for deletion of all the text. The paper on Economic Growth, Trade and Investment was adopted, as amended.

Seok-young moved on to Agenda Item 9, the provisional agenda for CSD-9 (E/CN.17/2000/L.8). The agenda includes the sectoral themes of energy and atmosphere, the cross-sectoral themes of information for decision-making and international cooperation for an enabling environment, and the economic sector of transport. The G-77/China called for streamlining the number of themes to be addressed by the CSD. Delegates approved the provisional agenda and then adopted the report of CSD-8 (E/CN.17/2000/L.1) and noted a number of background documents. In closing statements, Seok-young noted the amount of effort over the past two weeks to make CSD-8 successful, and thanked the Secretariat. Statements of appreciation were made by Brazil, the G-77/China, the EU, and the US. CSD-8 adjourned at 4:30 a.m.


Following adjournment of CSD-8, Choi Seok-young declared open the first meeting of CSD-9 to elect the Bureau. He announced that Bedrich Moldan (Czech Republic) had been nominated by the Eastern European Group as Chair of CSD-9. Moldan was elected by acclamation and, after the prompting of the delegate of Sudan, Seok-young turned the podium over to Moldan, who expressed his appreciation and noted his long-term involvement with the CSD process. He announced that David Stuart (Australia), Alison Drayton (Guyana) and Matia Kiwanuka (Uganda) had been nominated to serve as Vice-Chairs. He explained that the Asian Group had not yet nominated a candidate for the Bureau. Delegates elected the Vice-Chairs by acclamation, and the meeting was adjourned at 4:40 a.m.


As delegates gathered in New York, there was good reason for both heightened expectations and a sense of trepidation. On the one hand, there was an expectation that the charismatic Chair, Colombia’s Juan Mayr, fresh from leading the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to a successful conclusion, would work the same magic at the CSD. On the other, a sense of trepidation clung to the proceedings, given the meeting’s ambitious agenda.

Post-Seattle, it is hard to imagine a potentially more acrimonious agenda for CSD-8 delegates than the cross-sectoral theme of finance, trade and investment, and the sectoral theme of sustainable agriculture and land management. Add to this heady mix the commencement of debate on Preparations for Earth Summit 2002, and it is not surprising that delegates found themselves still disputing text at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, 15 hours after the session was scheduled to adjourn.

This brief analysis seeks to review the expectations and outcomes of CSD-8 by examining two questions: Did CSD-8 make the most of its potential as a forum for dialogue on cross-sectoral sustainability issues? Or were delegates – many of whom came from New York missions during the second week – simply unable to divorce themselves from the tendency to reiterate entrenched positions?


Unlike most ECOSOC commissions, the CSD has had the potential to succeed as a forum for dialogue on cross-sectoral issues between government delegates and representatives from major groups. However, for its potential to be fully realized, the CSD needs to build on its pioneering endeavors to engage civil society and to encourage "frank, sincere and transparent" dialogue. It is this feature of the CSD that distinguishes it, and that gives it the potential to develop innovative responses to the increasingly visible challenges associated with sustainable development.

Verdicts on the extent to which CSD-8 lived up to its potential are varied. While there was certainly rich input during the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue sessions – including, for the first time, concise and provocative expert recommendations, as well as considered comments from youth representatives, and a passionate demonstration of sustainably-farmed Kenyan corn cobs – there is the concern that most of these recommendations fell on deaf ears. Some delegates felt that the Chair may have been at fault in failing to use the format of the dialogue to its full advantage. Noting that in past years the dialogue resulted in recommendations based on stakeholder consensus achieved under the Chair’s guidance, various commentators suggested that this year’s dialogue had not achieved a strong common focus. An alternative view contends that the aim of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue is not to contribute to the consensus, but rather to reflect the different points of view of all the sectors. The gap appears to lie in the absence of a mechanism for integrating input into actual documents and proposals. This gap is compounded by the fact that some delegates involved in negotiating the draft decisions were not even present in the dialogue sessions. As a possible solution, Chair Mayr has suggested earlier and formal opportunities for stakeholder input during the intersessional meetings of the CSD. However, this in itself may not be enough.

The CSD is currently suffering from a loss of credibility, marked by an inability to truly advance sustainable development at the international level. Even among the seasoned delegates, there is evidence of increasing cynicism. As one negotiator put it, during a stalemate in negotiations: "I’m tempted simply to agree because I cannot take this [process] seriously. However, I have friends who believe in this process, so I must consult." Or as a US representative expressed it, during extended debates on text regarding the role of the private sector and the GEF: "We have to ask ourselves… So what?" There is little dispute that there is a need to improve this process, without which the CSD will continue to fail to achieve its potential.


During the High-Level Segment, one minister, on her first official visit to the UN, wondered aloud whether her statement had in fact been heard by delegates, comparing the atmosphere in the Conference Room to that of a train station. This background banter reflects one of the understood realities of the CSD: that the High-Level Segment serves as a policy trade-show in which policy-makers gather together for bilateral discussions, while taking only a passing interest in the prepared statements being read by their colleagues. Such a gathering of policy-makers offers the opportunity for constructive output, particularly if the high-level delegates can be persuaded to leave behind their political baggage, and engage in frank exchanges and clarifications during the formal and informal sessions.

While Mayr was able to add a level of substance to the High-Level Segment through the inclusion of a number of experts who initiated thematic discussions, he was unable to persuade most high-level delegates to cross the gap from using the CSD as a platform for presenting entrenched positions to a new train of thought that many see as being necessary to address the challenges of globalization and sustainable development.

The reliance on old, familiar positions was further evidenced during the negotiations, where the bones of contention were predictable and well-rehearsed, focusing on such issues as: good governance; the relationship between multilateral environmental agreements and the WTO; the removal of subsidies in developed countries; references to common but differentiated responsibilities and the precautionary principle; and the inclusion of reference to "legal" security of tenure and "equal access" to land to all people. These debates involved strong political agendas, and the aim of consolidating politically contentious issues that are being addressed in other forums.

Not surprisingly, some of the most protracted negotiations related to text on concepts that could be used as a cloak for protectionism. This was evidenced most visibly in the discussions on the use of environmental impact assessments for trade, and on the multifunctional character of agriculture, described by a South African Minister in the High-Level discussions as "a Technicolor cloak" that needs to be "deconstructed as the neo-colonialism which it is in effect and fact." The nature of such deliberations during CSD-8 lends credence to the concern that the CSD remains little more than a form of proto-negotiation. While this might not be surprising, it is questionable whether such debate could ever result in the CSD achieving the level of leadership necessary for advancing sustainable development.


Looking back, there remains some cause for satisfaction with the outcome of CSD-8. The negotiations on preparations for Rio+10 were conducted in high spirit, and resulted in a decision with which most seemed to be pleased. Although agreement could not be reached on several of the core issues on trade and agriculture, a number of delegates expressed satisfaction with the incremental progress made in some of the compromise text. And, in the closing words of the Canadian delegate, the decision on forests "is one of the most significant in CSD history" and a good example of what the CSD is capable of achieving. The CSD does has the potential to serve as an international forum for transparent dialogue and to promote greater policy coordination, both of which are essential along the path to sustainable development. But CSD-8 was incapable of achieving these goals, having tripped over its own acrimonious agenda.

As CSD delegates and major groups begin looking ahead to 2002 and preparing for Rio+10, the lessons from CSD-8 must not be forgotten. Divisions have already emerged on the location of this next Earth Summit, issues for consideration and the proposed outcome. Even Chair Mayr got caught up in the fray as he attempted to shape the Rio+10 agenda. Anticipation may be high, but some have expressed words of caution. As the US delegate put it, there is concern that Rio+10 may end up as "a conference celebrating a conference;" or, in the words of Time magazine in its Earth Day 2000 Special Edition, nothing more than "a global gabfest and photo-op." CSD-8 (and other recent global conferences) have made it clear that to be successful, the next Earth Summit cannot saddle itself with too ambitious an agenda, reiterate entrenched positions or fail to find a way to integrate contributions from major stakeholders into the integovernmental negotiating process. Eight years ago, all eyes were on Rio as the Earth Summit ignited flames of passion on all sides of the sustainable development debate. It’s not too late to re-ignite those flames and realize the potential of the Earth Summit, Agenda 21 and the CSD.


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN RURAL ENVIRONMENT: PROSPECTS FOR SUSTAINABLE LAND USE AND MANAGEMENT: This conference will be held in Menemen, Turkey, from 8-11 May 2000. The conference will bring together socioeconomic experts, scientific researchers and government policy makers, with a view to discussing the future and sustainable development of Mediterranean rural areas. For more information, contact: Prof. Peter Bullock, Conference Organizing Committee, Cranfield University, tel: +44 (0)1525 863000; fax: +44 (0)1525 863001; e-mail:; Internet:

ISTANBUL +5 FIRST PREPARATORY MEETING: The Commission on Human Settlements will meet in Nairobi, Kenya, from 8-12 May 2000. The Commission will be acting as the preparatory committee for a three-day special session in June 2001 to review and appraise the implementation of the outcome of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). For more information, contact: Ms. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Coordinator, Istanbul +5, tel: +254 (2) 623831; fax: +254 (2) 624262; e-mail:; Internet: http://

FIFTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE MINING INDUSTRY: This conference, to be held in Santiago, Chile from 9-13 May 2000, aims to review the most recent scientific and technological advances on energy savings and less contaminating processes for mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. For more information, contact: Dr. Mario A. Sanchez, Depto. Ingenieria Metalurgica, Facultad de Ingenieria, Universidad de Concepcion, Edmundo Larenas 270, Casilla 53-C, Concepcion, Chile; tel: +56-41-204241; fax: +56-41-243418; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL KYMBO CONFERENCE ON KYOTO MECHANISMS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: This conference will be held from 11-12 May 2000, in Lisbon, Portugal. For more information, contact: Fatima Camelo; tel: +351-22-208 06 70; e-mail:; Internet: kymbo.htm

PLANETWORK CONFERENCE ON GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: This conference, which will be held from 12-14 May 2000, in San Francisco, USA, will explore ways that information technology – including the Internet – can help create a sustainable future. For more information, contact: PlaNetwork, 1230 Market Street, Suite 517, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA; tel: +1-415-436-0123; e-mail:; Internet:

FIFTH MEETING OF THE CBD CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP-5): COP-5 of the CBD will meet in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15-26 May 2000. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat, World Trade Centre Building, 292 Saint-Jacques Street, Suite 300, Montréal, Québec, Canada H2Y 1N9; tel: +1 (514) 288-2220; fax: +1 (514) 288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY – NEW CHALLENGES FOR AGRICULTURE AND IMPLICATIONS FOR LAND USE: This conference will be held from 18-20 May 2000, at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Its main objective is to bring together economists and scientists working in the area of sustainable energy and land use modeling, to discuss the implications for agriculture of a transition toward a society that relies on sustainable energy. For more information, contact: Will Bodde, Congress Office, Wageningen University, Costerweg 50, 6701 BH Wageningen, the Netherlands; fax: +31-317-485309; e-mail:; Internet: http://

UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL SIXTH SPECIAL SESSION: The Sixth Special Session of the United Nations Environment Programme's Governing Council will convene from 29-31 May 2000, in Malmö, Sweden. The meeting will consider major challenges to environmental policies in the new century, the future role of UNEP in the UN system, and preparations for the Earth Summit in 2002. The 21st regular session of UNEP's Governing Council is scheduled for 5-9 February 2001, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information contact: Beverly Miller, UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya; tel: +254-2-62-3411; fax: +254-2-62-3748; e-mail:

BEIJING +5: The GA Special Session on gender equality, development and peace for the 21st century will be held from 5-9 June 2000, at UN Headquarters in New York. It will be preceded by interessional informal meetings to finalize work on the outcome document, currently scheduled for 8, 9, 11 and 15-16 and 24-30 May 2000, at UN Headquarters. The Special Session will review and assess the progress achieved in the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, adopted in 1985, and the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. It will also consider future actions and initiatives for the year 2000 and beyond. For more information, contact: UN Division for the Advancement of Women, 2 UN Plaza, DC 2-12th Floor, New York, NY 10017 USA; fax +1 (212) 963-3463; e-mail:; Internet: followup/beijing+5.htm.

12TH SESSION OF THE FCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES: SB-12 will be held in Bonn, Germany, from 12-16 June 2000. It will be preceded by one week of informal meetings, including workshops. For more information contact: the FCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; Internet:

ECOEFFICIENCY 2000 – TOWARD SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH: This conference will be held in Malmö, Sweden, from 19-21 June 2000. EcoEfficiency 2000 will present strategies for attaining sustainable economic growth on the societal, company and product level, and will explore how profit can be increased and environmental impact reduced by applying the EcoEfficiency concept to infrastructure, corporate strategy, product development, and use of materials and energy. For more information, contact: Anette Blomstrand or Petra Kvist, Conference and Congress Planning, BokningsBolaget, Torstenssonsgatan 3, 114 56 Stockholm, Sweden; tel: +46-8-660-8595; fax: +46-8-663-1745; e-mail:; Internet: ecoefficiency2000/index.html.

FIFTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HEALTH, SAFETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION: This meeting is being organized by UNEP’s Production and Consumption Unit and will be held in Stavanger, Norway, from 26-28 June 2000. For more information, contact: Fritz Balkau, UNEP TIE-P&C, Paris, France; tel: +33-1-44-37-14-50; fax: +33-3-44-37-14-74; e-mail:; Internet:

WORLD RENEWABLE ENERGIES CONGRESS: This meeting will be held from 1-7 July 2000, in Brighton, England. Hosted by the World Renewable Energy Network, it is being co-sponsored by several organizations, including UNESCO, UNDP and the European Economic Commission. For more information, contact: A. Sayigh, 147 Hilmanton, Lower Earley, Reading RG6 4HN, UK; tel: +44-1189-611-364; fax: +44-1189-611-365; e-mail:; Internet:

COPENHAGEN +5: The Special Session of the GA on the Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives will be held from 26-30 June 2000, in Geneva. For more information, contact: Gloria Kan, Chief, Intergovernmental Policy Branch, Division for Social Policy Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, Room DC2-1362, NY, NY 10017 USA; tel: +1-(212) 963-5873; fax: +1(212) 963-3062; e-mail:; Internet: socdev/geneva2000/

URBAN 21 – GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON THE URBAN FUTURE: This conference will be held from 4-6 July 2000, in Berlin, Germany. It is one of the key elements of the Global Initiative on Sustainable Development, sponsored by Brazil, Germany, Singapore and South Africa. For more information, contact: Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning, Am Michaelshof 8, D-53177 Bonn, Germany; fax: +49-1888-401-2315; e-mail:; Internet:

SHAPING THE SUSTAINABLE MILLENNIUM, COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES: This meeting will be held from 5-7 July 2000, in Brisbane, Australia. Themes to be discussed include: sustainable communities in the built environment; industrial and construction ecology; green design and architecture; and information, communication and education. For more information, contact: Jodie Doolan, Conference Secretariat, Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, 2 George Street, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia; tel: +61-7-3864-1764; e-mail:; Internet: http://

CONGRESS OF THE 29TH INTERNATIONAL GEOGRAPHICAL UNION COMMISSION ON CLIMATOLOGY: This conference will be held from 9-13 August 2000, in Seoul, South Korea. The theme of the conference is "Climate Change and its Impacts." For more information, contact: Hyoun-Young Lee, Department of Geography, Konkuk University, 93-1, Mojin-dong, Kwangjin-gu, Seoul, 143-701, South Korea; tel: 822-446-6756; fax: 822-446-8194; e-mail:

SEMINARS ON ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: The Latin American Energy Organization and the German Government are among the sponsors of a number of sub-regional seminars on Energy and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: Approaches to Energy Policy. The seminars will take place as follows: Central America, from 13-20 August 2000, in a location to be announced; Andean Community, from 10-17 September 2000, in Ecuador; Mercosur with Chile and Bolivia, from 1-8 October 2000, at UN-ECLAR, Santiago, Chile. For more information, contact: Francisco Figueruera; e-mail:

SECOND EUROPEAN SYMPOSIUM ON AEROBIOLOGY: This symposium will be held from 4-9 September 2000, in Vienna, Austria. Topics to be covered include: image analysis in aerobiology, multimedia information techniques and new analysis and sampling techniques. For more information, contact: Organizing Secretariat SciCon, Pharma Science – Consulting G.m.b.H., Fesstgasse 16/1/R2, A-1160 Wien, Austria; tel: +43-1-405-30-70; fax: +43-1-405-30-91; e-mail:

OECD MILESTONE CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT AND STRATEGIES: This conference will be held in October 2000, in Vienna, Austria. It will mark the culmination of the OECD project on Environmentally Sustainable Transport and serve as a forum to consider how OECD Member Countries can implement the necessary changes in their transport systems in order to achieve more sustainable development patterns. For more information, contact: Peter Wiederkehr, OECD, OECD Environment Directorate, 2, rue Andre Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16, France; tel: +33-1-45-24-78-92; e-mail:; Internet: est/curract/vienna2000/viennaindex.htm.

SIXTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: COP-6 will be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, from 13-24 November 2000. For more information, contact: the UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; Internet:

FOURTH SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION: COP-4 is tentatively scheduled to meet from 25 September - 6 October 2000, in Adelaide, Australia. For more information contact the CCD Secretariat, P.O. Box 260129, D-53153 Bonn, Germany; tel: +49-228-815-2800; fax: +49-228-815-2899; e-mail:; Internet:

SEVENTH INTERNATIONAL ENERGY FORUM: The Government of Saudi Arabia will host the Seventh International Energy Forum, from 17-19 November 2000, in Riyadh. For information, contact: Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia or the Saudi Arabian Mission to the UN, 405 Lexington Avenue, 56th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017, USA; tel: +1-212-697-4830; fax: +1-212-983-4895; e-mail:

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