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This fifteen-paragraph section contained no outstanding text coming into UNGASS. It identifies changes and actions that have taken place since Rio. Accelerated globalization and interactions among countries in the areas of world trade, foreign direct investment and capital markets has characterized the five years since UNCED. Globalization presents new opportunities and challenges, but only a limited number of developing countries have been able to take advantage of these trends. Income inequality among and within countries has increased.

The state of the global environment has continued to deteriorate, as noted in the UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook report. Some progress has been made in terms of institutional development, international consensus-building, public participation and private sector actions and, as a result, a number of countries have succeeded in curbing pollution and slowing the rate of resource degradation. Population growth rates have been declining globally, largely as a result of expanded basic education and health care. Overall, however, trends are worsening. Increasing levels of pollution threaten to exceed the capacity of the global environment to absorb them, increasing the potential obstacles to economic and social development in developing countries.

Implementation of the commitments in the UNCED and post-UNCED agreements, as well as others adopted before 1992, remains to be carried out and, in many cases, further strengthening of their provisions, as well as the mechanisms for putting them into effect, are required. The establishment, restructuring, funding and replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) were major achievements, but its funding levels have not been sufficient to meet its objectives.

Efforts have been made by governments and international organizations to integrate environmental, economic and social objectives into decision-making by elaborating new or adapting existing policies. The major groups have demonstrated what can be achieved by taking committed action, sharing resources, building consensus and reflecting grassroots concern and involvement.

A number of major UN conferences have advanced international commitment for the achievement of the long-term goals and objectives of sustainable development, and organizations and programmes of the UN system have played an important role in making progress in the implementation of Agenda 21.

Much remains to be done, however, to activate the means of implementation set out in Agenda 21, in particular in the areas of finance and technology transfer, technical assistance and capacity-building. There has been a sizeable expansion of private financial flows to a limited number of developing countries, but the debt situation remains a major constraint to achieving sustainable development. Finally, the technology gap between developed countries and, in particular, the least developed countries has widened.


In the introductory paragraph for this section, delegations agreed that, although progress has been made in some areas, a major new effort will be required to achieve the goals established at UNCED, particularly in areas of cross-sectoral matters where implementation has yet to be achieved.

1. Integration of economic, social and environmental objectives

Text in this section, agreed to during CSD-5, notes that achieving sustainable development is impossible without greater integration at all policy-making and operational levels, including the lowest administrative levels possible. By 2002, the formulation and elaboration of national strategies for sustainable development should be completed, and efforts by developing countries to effectively implement national strategies should be supported. A broad package of policy instruments should be worked out, in light of country-specific conditions, to ensure that integrated approaches are effective and cost-efficient.

The bracketed text resolved at UNGASS included references to economic development, social development and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development and the need for: broad based growth to benefit all, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, transparent and accountable governance and effective participation by civil society. The G-77/China agreed to a US proposal to introduce language from the UN Agenda for Development.

Additional outstanding text proposed by Switzerland and supported by the EU noted that the implementation of policies aiming at sustainable development may enhance the opportunities for job creation — while protecting basic workers’ rights. The G-77/China proposed its deletion. The final text includes a reference to Chapter 29 (strengthening the role of workers and their trade unions), but drops the reference to protecting basic workers’ rights.

Enabling international economic framework: At CSD-5, delegates agreed to text noting that, as a result of globalization, external factors have become critical in determining the success or failure of developing countries in their national efforts at sustainable development. During informal consultations prior to UNGASS, the US and EU sought to establish that the Rio principle on common but differentiated responsibilities refers only to environmental issues. The G-77/China wanted to remove “in regard to environmental issues,” but later agreed to Agenda 21 language. The text therefore notes that issues can be approached effectively only through a constructive dialogue and genuine partnership, “taking into account that in view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities.”

Eradicating poverty: This paragraph contained a number of bracketed subparagraphs after CSD-5. It notes that the eradication of poverty is an overriding theme of sustainable development for the coming years and depends on the full integration of people living in poverty into economic, social and political life. Priority actions include: improving access to sustainable livelihoods; providing universal access to basic social services; progressively developing social protection systems to support those who cannot support themselves; and addressing the disproportionate impact of poverty on women. In addition, interested donors and recipients should work together to allocate increased shares of ODA to poverty eradication. The 20/20 initiative is noted to be an important principle in this regard.

A Bangladesh-proposed paragraph on access to micro-credit for people living in poverty was submitted late at CSD-5. The G-77/China said his Group had not had time to discuss the proposal at UNGASS. The proposal is to be referred to ECOSOC by the General Assembly President Amb. Razali. Text regarding empowering people living in poverty and their organizations was resolved during the informal consultations prior to UNGASS, with the G-77/China’s agreement that they should be involved in “evaluation, formulation and implementation” and that programmes should reflect their priorities.

In the subparagraph on the disproportionate impact of poverty on women, delegates debated whether full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action should be “consistent with the report of the Fourth World Conference on Women” (FWCW). During the week prior to UNGASS, the EU and Canada called for full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and deleting “consistent with the report of the Fourth World Conference on Women.” The G-77/China supported the reference to the FWCW report to accommodate those countries who recorded reservations in the report. Syria, supported by Canada, proposed that a footnote accompany all references to UN Conference outcomes, stating that all references to platforms or programmes for action in the UNGASS report should be considered in a manner consistent with their reports. This was agreed.

Changing consumption and production patterns: A number of portions remained bracketed in this section after CSD-5. The agreed text notes that, consistent with Agenda 21, the development and further elaboration of national policies and strategies, particularly in industrialized countries, are needed to encourage changes in unsustainable consumption and production patterns. Actions should focus on:

Brazil and India opposed text noting that to some extent unsustainable patterns are also emerging in higher income groups in some developing countries. Delegates agreed to replace it with language based on Chapter Four of Agenda 21 (4.8 (a) (b) and (c); 4.9) and to insert a footnote referencing the report of a workshop on sustainable consumption and production to CSD-5. At the informal consultations preceding UNGASS, a reference to environmental and social audits was replaced with text on appropriate, voluntary publication of assessments. An EU-proposed initiative on energy and material efficiency targets of achieving a tenfold improvement in productivity in the long term and a possible factor-four increase in the next two or three decades was agreed to after the EU specified that the targets were intended for industrialized countries. On eco-efficiency, the G- 77/China agreed to US language on the need for developed countries to pay special attention to avoiding negative impacts on export and market access opportunities for developing countries.

Making trade and environment mutually supportive: Various sections in this text remained in brackets following CSD-5. The agreed text addresses the need to establish favorable macroeconomic conditions to enable all countries to benefit from globalization, and greater responsiveness to sustainable development objectives at the UN, WTO and Bretton Woods institutions. It calls for timely and full implementation of the results of the Uruguay Round, promotion of the universality of the WTO, analysis of the environmental effects of international goods transport, and institutional cooperation between UNCTAD, WTO, and UNEP.

At UNGASS, brackets were removed from text introduced by the EU and the US in a subparagraph on the multilateral trading system. This US text was replaced with language noting that decisions on further liberalization of trade should take into account effects on sustainable development. A paragraph proposed by Australia calling for effective dialogue with major groups (including NGOs), particularly in the WTO, UNCTAD and UNEP, is to be referred to ECOSOC by GA President Amb. Razali. An EU-sponsored call for the WTO, UNEP and UNCTAD to consider ways to make trade and environment mutually supportive was accepted.

Population: This paragraph on the relationship between economic growth, poverty, employment, environment and sustainable development calls for recognition of the critical linkages between demographic trends and other factors. After a prolonged debate about the formula to reference the outcome of the International Conference on Population and Development it was agreed to insert a standard footnote on UN Conferences (see above).

Health: This paragraph, which was agreed to during the informal consultations prior to UNGASS, states that an overriding goal for the future is to implement the “Health for All” strategy to enable all people to achieve a higher level of health and well- being, and to improve their economic productivity and social potential. Actions such as provision of safe drinking water, and accelerated research and vaccine development, are suggested. Delegates removed brackets from language regarding the effects of lead poisoning, noting that it is important to accelerate the process of eliminating unsafe uses of lead, including the use of lead in gasoline worldwide, in the light of country-specific conditions and with enhanced international support and assistance to developing countries through the timely provision of technical and financial assistance and the promotion of endogenous capacity-building. The G-77/China agreed to remove brackets from a call for strategies to make parents, families and communities aware of the adverse environmental health impacts of tobacco.

Sustainable human settlements: This paragraph, which was resolved at CSD-5, notes that global urbanization is a cross-sectoral phenomenon that has an impact on all aspects of sustainable development. Urgent action is needed to implement the commitments made at the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) consistent with its report, and in Agenda 21. New and additional financial resources are necessary to achieve the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development. Global targets could be established by the CSD to promote Local Agenda 21 campaigns and to deal with obstacles to Local Agenda 21 initiatives.

2. Sectors and issues

The opening paragraph to this section was agreed to at CSD-5. It notes that the need for integration is important in all sectors, including the areas of energy and transport, agriculture and water use, and marine resources. The recommendations made in each sector take into account the need for international cooperation in support of national efforts.

Freshwater: This text was agreed during CSD-5, although Turkey and Ethiopia reserved their positions with respect to a reference to “customary uses of water.” The text notes that, in view of growing demands, water will become a major limiting factor in socio-economic development unless early action is taken. It identifies an urgent need to, inter alia:

Oceans and seas: This text was agreed at CSD-5. It notes that there is a need to continue to improve decision-making in this area at the national, regional and global levels. It identifies an urgent need for:

  • governments to consider the positive and negative impact of subsidies and to consider appropriate action; <M>and
  • governments to take actions to improve the quality and quantity of scientific data as a basis for effective decisions.
Forests: Three of the four paragraphs in this section were agreed to at CSD-5, with the critical paragraph outlining follow-up action to the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) remaining entirely in brackets. Text agreed to prior to UNGASS notes that the IPF’s proposals for action represent significant progress and consensus on a wide range of forest issues. To maintain momentum there is an urgent need for, inter alia: countries and international organizations to implement the Panel’s proposals; countries to develop national forest programmes; further clarification of all issues arising from the IPF process, in particular international cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer, and trade and environment in relation to forest products and services; and international organizations to undertake further collaboration in the informal, high- level Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests.

The unresolved paragraph on follow-up contained a number of options, including calls for the establishment of an ad hoc, open-ended intergovernmental forum on forests, which would consider the need for or build the necessary consensus for a legally- binding instrument, or an inter-governmental negotiating committee (INC) on a legally- binding instrument on all types of forests.

Countries began negotiations on forests by outlining their support for the various options for follow-up. The EU, Canada, Russia, Romania, Costa Rica on behalf of Central America, and Papua New Guinea supported the immediate establishment of an INC, noting that while the two-year IPF process had been very useful in clarifying key issues, a clear political signal on forests and binding commitments on action were now needed. The G-77/China, the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand opposed the establishment of an INC at this stage, noting that the need for a convention had not yet been established. Instead, they called for an intergovernmental forum on forests to help implement IPF proposals for action, and to continue discussions on issues left pending by the IPF, such as trade and environment in relation to forest products, technology transfer and finance, as well as new and emerging issues. The forum could also examine the need for an INC, without prejudging the outcome, and could report to the CSD by 1999 (the US preferred the year 2000).

The final consensus decision, arrived at after protracted debate, calls for the establishment of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests under the aegis of the CSD, to facilitate implementation of IPF recommendations, review and monitor progress on sustainable forest management, and consider matters left pending by the IPF. The Forum will also “identify possible elements of and work towards a consensus for international arrangements and mechanisms, for example, a legally-binding instrument” and will report to the CSD in 1999. Based on that report, and a decision by the CSD in the year 2000, the Forum will “engage in further action on establishing an intergovernmental negotiation process on new arrangements and mechanisms or a legally binding instrument on all types of forests.”

Debate on this text prior to its adoption centered around the G-77/China’s insistence, supported by India, Brazil, Colombia, the US and New Zealand, on reformulating the last sentence to read “will engage in further action on new arrangements and mechanisms or establishing an intergovernmental negotiation process on a legally binding instrument . . . ” instead of the compromise formulation, supported by the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) group. The G-77/China argued that placing the words “an intergovernmental negotiation process” before “new arrangements and mechanisms” seemed to suggest the inevitability of starting negotiations on a legally binding document. Agreement on this was achieved when the G-77/China withdrew their proposal after an explanation from the Chair, supported by Denmark, that many negotiation processes are not linked to legally binding commitments. Agreement also hinged on crucial trade-offs whereby the EU agreed to language calling for the Forum to “work towards consensus for international arrangements and mechanisms, for example, a legally binding document,” instead of “including a legally binding document.” The EU also agreed to postpone the decision on follow-up until CSD-8 (the year 2000) rather than 1999.

It was agreed that the Forum should convene as soon as possible, and would be supported by voluntary extra-budgetary contributions from governments and international organizations.

On the last outstanding issue, delegates decided to remove reference to “traditional forest- related knowledge” (TFRK) as an IPF issue requiring further clarification. Instead, a reference to TFRK was included in the opening paragraph, which highlighted the importance of forests for indigenous people and other forest-dependent people.

Energy: Most of the paragraphs on energy were agreed or agreed ad referendum as a result of informal consultations <W0>prior to UNGASS. The agreed text covers a number of issues, including: increased need for energy services in developing countries; the need for equity and adequate energy supplies; international cooperation for promoting energy conservation and improvement; and promoting research efforts on renewable energy.

During debate at UNGASS, Saudi Arabia proposed deletion of subparagraphs on energy discussions to be held at CSD-9, cost internalization and coordination on energy issues at the UN, which had been agreed ad referendum. Nigeria, supported by Libya, wanted to delete details of preparations for CSD-9. Canada, the US, Australia, Japan, Norway and the EU resisted the call to re-open negotiations on agreed text. These issues were considered again in subsequent sessions. Saudi Arabia said that he and 22 other countries wished to delete all but the first two sentences of the paragraph.

In the final COW, delegates accepted a paragraph on CSD-9 noting that preparations should use an open-ended intergovernmental group of experts, to be held in conjunction with the intersessionals for CSD-8 and CSD-9. Brackets were also removed from a reference to “appropriate national action” in a paragraph on reducing the impacts of fossil fuels. In a paragraph on technology transfer, the EU and US agreed to consider a compromise formulation after prolonged discussion on the inclusion of “time bound” commitments for the transfer of relevant technology to developing countries. Agreed text reads: “evolving commitments for the transfer of relevant technology, including time bound commitments, as appropriate, to developing countries and economies in transition.” A paragraph calling for gradual promotion of cost internalization, minimizing impact on developing countries and encouraging the reduction of subsidies was included. Coordination on energy issues within the UN system, including a coordinating role for ECOSOC, is also mentioned.

Transport: This paragraph contained some brackets following CSD-5, including an EU-proposed initiative to prepare, at the international level, a tax on aviation fuel. The text notes that current patterns of transportation with their dominant patterns of energy use are not sustainable, and present trends may compound the environmental problems the world is facing. It notes a need for: the promotion of integrated transport policies; the integration of land use and urban, peri-urban and rural transport planning; the adoption and promotion, as appropriate, of measures to mitigate the negative impact of transportation on the environment; and partnerships for strengthening transport infrastructures and developing innovative mass transport schemes.

Delegates agreed at UNGASS to: accelerate the phase-out of leaded gasoline as soon as possible; promote voluntary guidelines for environmentally friendly transport; and reduce vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, as soon as possible. The EU altered its proposal for an aviation fuel tax to call for the continuation of studies on the use of economic instruments, “such as an aviation fuel tax,” which was bracketed by Argentina.

During a Friday afternoon meeting of the COW, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Venezuela, Iran and Morocco called for the deletion of the entire paragraph. The US, Norway and Switzerland opposed deleting the paragraph. The EU expressed disappointment at these proposals but declined to withdraw the reference. Osborn noted that similar language was agreed at CSD-4. Delegates agreed to retain the paragraph without the reference to aviation fuel tax. At the end of the session, the EU delivered a statement to be included in the minutes, noting its assumption that the aviation fuel tax is part of the economic instruments mentioned in the text.

Atmosphere: At CSD-5, delegates agreed to a paragraph noting that political will and effort are required to ensure that the global climate is not further damaged. It also notes that while some first steps have been taken, insufficient progress has been made by many developed countries in meeting their aim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. It also notes the importance of adopting a protocol or other legal instrument later this year at the third Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC COP-3) in Kyoto.

A ministerial group on climate change was held on Thursday, 26 June, chaired by ministers from Argentina and Japan. Delegations who had made proposals in the text explained their positions. Brazil and Switzerland noted that the public would measure the success of UNGASS by its statement on climate change. Japan proposed using language from the Denver G-8 Summit: At COP-3, the industrialized countries should commit to meaningful, realistic and equitable targets that will result in reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. The agreement must ensure transparency and accountability, and flexibility in the manner in which Participants’ meet their targets. The EU proposed text calling for: an agreement on a legally-binding commitment for the developed world at FCCC COP-3 for a significant reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases below the 1990 level by the years 2005 and 2010, as well as mandatory and recommended policies and measures, including harmonized ones. Delegates proposing text met in a contact group to produce a combined text.

The combined text noted that at COP-3 the developed countries should seek legally- binding, meaningful, realistic and equitable targets that will result in significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions within specified timeframes such as 2005, 2010 and 2020. Japan objected to “significant” and Australia disapproved of “legally-binding.” The Co-Chairs reported the result back to the COW and delegates agreed to reconvene the ministerial group.

On Friday, 27 June, the Co-Chairs reported to the COW that the ministerial group had held further discussions, but no consensus could be reached. Tolba said that without consensus the paragraph would have to be deleted and delegates would have to be satisfied with the existing text on climate change.

Norway, Brazil, AOSIS, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago and the EU expressed strong regret that the UNGASS could not agree on recommendations and requested an additional session. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela were skeptical about resolving the issues in the time remaining. The Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and Australia agreed to try again, but cautioned that the group must be open-ended, noting that the use of a small group had led to problems before. The US also noted that difficulties arose because some positions were “stepped on” during discussions. An open-ended group, chaired by Derek Osborn, was convened for a final attempt to reach consensus, after which Osborn reported on the results. He had polled participants in the meeting for their positions and drafted a new paragraph.

Further consultations resulted in the following agreed text: at UNGASS, the international community confirmed its recognition of the problem of climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the next century. The leaders of many countries underlined the importance of this in their addresses to the Assembly and outlined the responses they have in hand, both in their own countries and internationally.

The ultimate goal that all countries share is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This requires efficient and cost-effective policies and measures that will be sufficient to result in a significant reduction in emissions. At this meeting, countries reviewed the state of the preparations for COP-3 and all agreed that it is vital that there should be a satisfactory result.

The positions of many countries for these negotiations are still evolving and it was agreed that it would not be appropriate to seek to predetermine the results, although useful interactions on evolving positions took place.

There is already widespread but not universal agreement that it will be necessary to consider legally-binding, meaningful, realistic and equitable targets for Annex I countries that will result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within specified time frames, such as 2005, 2010 and 2020. In addition to establishing targets, there is also widespread agreement that it will be necessary to consider ways and means for achieving them and to take into account the economic, adverse environmental and other effects of such response measures on all countries, particularly developing countries.

Toxic chemicals: Agreement was reached on this paragraph at CSD-5. It notes that environmentally sound management of chemicals should continue to be an important issue well beyond 2000. Particular attention should be given to cooperation in the development and transfer of technology for safe substitutes and in the development of capacity for the production of such substitutes. UNEP’s 19th Governing Council’s decision on sound management of chemicals should be implemented in accordance with the agreed timetables for negotiations on the prior informed consent (PIC) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) conventions. The difference between the roles and behavior of inorganic and organic chemicals is noted.

Hazardous wastes: This paragraph was also agreed at CSD-5. It takes note of the important initiatives aimed at promoting the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes under the Basel Convention and calls for their further development. Land contaminated by the disposal of hazardous wastes needs to be identified and remedial actions put in place, and integrated management solutions are also required to minimize urban and industrial waste generation and to promote recycling and reuse.

Radioactive wastes: Two of three paragraphs on this issue remained bracketed following CSD-5, with the Russian Federation reserving its position on the entire section. Agreed text at UNGASS notes that radioactive wastes can have very serious environmental and human health impacts over long periods of time. Following a G- 77/China proposal, the text notes that storage, transportation, transboundary movement and disposal of radioactive wastes should be guided by all principles (rather than only principle 2) of the Rio Declaration. It also calls on States not to promote or allow the storage or disposal of radioactive wastes near the marine environment, and for international efforts to prohibit the export of radioactive wastes to those countries that do not have appropriate treatment and storage sites. Following a G-77 proposal, it notes the need to conduct, “as appropriate, health studies around sites affected by nuclear activities with a view to identifying where health treatment may be needed.” Following a Russian proposal, references to “nuclear waste” in the text are replaced with “radioactive wastes” and text reading “it is best for radioactive wastes to be disposed of” is replaced by “radioactive wastes should be disposed of” in the territory of the State in which they are produced.

Land and sustainable agriculture: The two paragraphs on this issue were largely agreed to at CSD-5, and during informal consultations prior to UNGASS. Final agreement was obtained when a reference to “indigenous people[s]” as replaced by “indigenous people(s)” in text noting the need for involvement of all interested parties in sustainable management of land and soil resources. The agreed text notes that land degradation threatens the livelihoods of millions, and calls on States to combat or reverse the worldwide trend of soil erosion, using an ecosystem approach. It also notes the need for poverty eradication through, inter alia, capacity building to reinforce local food systems, and improving food security. It calls on States to continue or increase investment in agricultural research, and to fully implement the WTO decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least- Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries. Finally, the text calls on governments to implement the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action on food security, adopted at the World Food Summit in 1996.

Desertification and drought: Delegates to CSD-5 agreed to urge governments to conclude and implement the Convention to Combat Desertifcation (CCD) as soon as possible and to support and participate in the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention in September 1997. Text regarding the Global Mechanism and technology transfer remained bracketed for consideration during UNGASS. Informal consultations and negotiations took place throughout the week.

On Friday, 27 June, Derek Osborn, Chair of the informal group on sectoral issues, reported a “stand-off” on the issue of desertification. The G-77/China proposed stating that the international community, in particular developed countries, should provide new and additional financial resources to the Global Mechanism. The G-77/China expressed strong concern that despite their cooperative spirit on other UNGASS issues, developed countries have not been forthcoming on this issue.

Many developed countries preferred to “support the Global Mechanism that would indeed have the capacity to promote actions leading to the mobilization and channeling of substantial resources.” The US and the EU pointed out that at CSD-5 there was a formulation that did not prejudice the outcome of discussion on the global mechanism under the CCD. Co-Chair Osborn proposed that the text reflect the position of both groups. The G-77/China insisted that developed countries commit themselves or register their unwillingness and clarify what they are prepared to do at this stage. Tolba reminded the G-77/China spokesperson that he was requesting that the text reflect agreement where there was none. Following considerable discussion, delegates agreed to text reflecting both positions. A reference to the transfer of technology on mutually agreed terms was also removed from brackets.

Biodiversity: This paragraph, with twelve subparagraphs, was agreed to at CSD- 5. It notes the urgent need to, inter alia:

  • take decisive action to conserve and maintain genes, species and ecosystems;
  • ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity and implement it fully and effectively together with the decisions of the Conference of the Parties;
  • undertake concrete actions for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from use of genetic resources;
  • respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles;
  • complete rapidly the biosafety protocol, on the understanding that the UNEP International Technical Guidelines for Safety in Biotechnology; and
  • stress the importance of the establishment of a clearinghouse mechanism by the Parties.
Sustainable tourism: The four paragraphs in this section were agreed to at CSD- 5. They note the need to consider further the importance of tourism in the context of Agenda 21. Of particular concern is the degradation of biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mountains, coastal areas and wetlands. The text calls on the CSD to develop an action-oriented international programme of work on sustainable tourism. Finally, it notes that international cooperation is needed to facilitate tourism development in developing countries.

Small island developing States: The two paragraphs in this section were agreed to at CSD-5. They note the international community’s reaffirmation of its commitment to the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The text also notes that the CSD adopted a decision on the modalities for the full review of the Programme of Action, including the holding of a two-day special session of the General Assembly immediately preceding the fifty-fourth session of the Assembly. Efforts to implement the Programme of Action need to be supplemented by effective financial support from the international community, and the SIDS information network and technical assistance programme should be operationalized.

Natural disasters: This two paragraph section, which was agreed to at CSD-5, states that natural disasters have disproportionate consequences for developing countries, in particular SIDS, and that there is a special need to provide developing countries with assistance in:

  • strengthening mechanisms and policies designed to reduce the effects of natural disasters, improve preparedness and integrate natural disaster considerations in development planning;
  • improving access to relevant technology and training in hazard and risk assessment and early warning systems; and
  • providing and facilitating support in the context of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
Major technological and other disasters with an adverse impact on the environment: The paragraph in this section remained bracketed following CSD-5, with disagreement centering on the terminology to be used in the title and introductory sentence. Agreed text in the title reads “major technological and other disasters with an adverse impact on the environment” rather than “human-made disasters” or “technological and man-made disasters.” The paragraph notes that such disasters can become a substantial obstacle to achieving sustainable development in many countries, and calls on the international community to intensify cooperation in the prevention and reduction of such disasters, and in disaster relief and post-disaster rehabilitation.


This section contained a number of brackets going into negotiations at UNGASS. It affirms that financial resources and mechanisms play a key role in the implementation of Agenda 21.

Financial resources and mechanisms: These paragraphs:

  • call for the urgent fulfillment of all financial commitments of Agenda 21, particularly those contained in Chapter 33, and the provisions on new and additional resources;
  • underline the complementary and catalytic role of ODA in promoting economic growth;
  • recognize that private capital flows are a major tool of economic growth in a growing number of developing countries;
  • call for the enhancement of UN activities through a substantial increase in funding;
  • call on the UN Secretariat, the World Bank and IMF to collaborate with UNCTAD to consider the interrelationship between indebtedness and sustainable development;
  • reaffirm that, in general, financing for Agenda 21 will come from countries’ own public and private sectors;
  • call for full consideration of specific conditions and different levels of development in the event of subsidy reductions; and
  • call for collection and sharing of information on the use of economic instruments.
At the informal consultations preceding UNGASS, the EU and US resisted a G-77/China attempt to re-open agreed paragraphs, which note that financial resources for the implementation of Agenda 21 will come from countries’ own resources. The US refused to negotiate on bracketed text on terms of trade and competitiveness of developing countries and deferred such discussion to trade fora. The G-77/China opposed linking ODA to country-driven policy reform efforts. Norway, New Zealand, the US and Japan supported a proposal for an intergovernmental process on finance to consider, inter alia, policy responses to recommendations from the Expert Group Meeting on Financial Issues in Agenda 21. The G-77/China wanted to delete the paragraph. The proposal is to be referred to ECOSOC by General Assembly President Amb. Razali. In a paragraph on research on phasing out subsidies that have market distorting and socially and environmentally damaging impacts, the G-77/China agreed to the removal of a reference to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and its replacement with language noting that subsidy reductions should take full account of different levels of development, specifically those of developing countries.

Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies: This section reaffirms that the availability of scientific and technological information and access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) are essential requirements for sustainable development. All but two of the ten paragraphs arrived at the Special Session free of brackets.

This section:

  • calls for the urgent fulfillment of all the UNCED commitments concerning concrete measures for the transfer of ESTs to developing countries with a regular review as part of the CSD multi-year programme;
  • states the importance of identifying barriers and restrictions to the transfer of publicly and privately owned ESTs;
  • affirms governments’ role in providing research and development to promote and contribute to the development of institutional and human capacities;
  • calls for the creation of an enabling environment to help stimulate private sector investment and transfers of ESTs and public-private partnerships; and
  • identifies the need to further explore and enhance the use of information technology and communications.
At the informal consultations preceding UNGASS, delegations debated two sets of bracketed references to “commitments” and “objectives” on ESTs — one in relation to Chapter 34 of Agenda 21 and one in relation to Agenda 21 as a whole. The G-77/China agreed to replace the bracketed text with language from the UN Agenda for Development. They also agreed to replace the second pair of brackets with a call for a regular review of provisions in Chapter 34 of Agenda 21.

Capacity-building: The three paragraphs on this issue were agreed to at CSD-5. The text states that renewed commitment and support from the international community is essential to support national efforts for capacity-building in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. UNDP, through its Capacity 21 programme, should give priority to building capacity for the elaboration of sustainable development strategies based on participatory approaches. In addition, attention should be given to the needs of women and indigenous people, to the role of the private sector and to South- South cooperation in capacity-building.

Science: This text was agreed to during CSD-5. It states that public and private investment in science, education and training, and research and development should be increased significantly. Scientific cooperation and improved access to scientific information related to the environment and sustainable development are proposed, as is collaboration to promote innovations in information and communication technologies for the purpose of reducing adverse environmental impacts.

Education and awareness: These two paragraphs were agreed to at CSD-5. The text notes the fundamental prerequisite of an adequately financed and effective educational system at all levels, and states that priority should be given to ensuring women’s and girls’ full and equal access to all levels of education and training. Education for a sustainable future should engage a wide spectrum of institutions and sectors. Finally, cooperation between universities and other academic centers, especially between developed and developing countries, is necessary.

International legal instruments and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: All three paragraphs in the section were bracketed at the beginning of UNGASS. One paragraph, the only one considered at CSD-5, called for the codification of international law on sustainable development. Another on implementation and compliance with treaties on sustainable development contained a number of bracketed proposals. The third paragraph, proposed by Norway, called for the development of international law regarding liability and compensation.

On the codification of international law, delegations agreed on a reformulation based on proposals by the EU, Mexico and the G-77/China. The text notes that it is necessary to continue the progressive development and, as appropriate, codification of international law related to sustainable development.

On implementation and compliance, the G-77/China proposed a reformulation noting, inter alia, that implementation of commitments under international treaties and other instruments in the field of environment hinge on secure, sustained and predictable financial support, sufficient institutional capacity, human resources and adequate access to technology. China, Saudi Arabia and Colombia noted that implementation and financing must be linked because financial support is essential for successful environmental protection.

The US expressed difficulty with linking implementation with financial support when making a general statement about international treaties, which implies financial support is necessary in all cases. The EU proposed that implementation “can be promoted by” instead of “hinge on” financial support. Norway appealed to the G-77/China to view this paragraph as pertaining to strengthening instruments, rather than technology transfer. Switzerland questioned whether repeated references to financial obligations lessened their impact. China said that pressing for compliance obligations without making good on financial commitments is “tragic.”

The reformulated paragraph states that implementation of commitments made under international treaties in the field of environment remains a priority. Implementation can be promoted by secure, sustained and predictable financial support, sufficient institutional capacity, human resources and adequate access to technology cooperation on implementation between States on mutually agreed terms may reduce potential sources of conflict.

Canada underscored the importance of science-based decision making. Switzerland, the US, Canada, the EU and Norway proposed language noting the importance of improving reporting and data collection systems and developing compliance regimes. The final text reads that it is also important to further improve reporting and data-collection systems and to further develop appropriate compliance mechanisms and procedures, on a mutually agreed basis, to help and encourage States to fulfill all their obligations, including means of implementation under multilateral environmental agreements. The bracketed paragraph on liability and compensation was deleted.

Information and tools to measure progress: All six paragraphs on this issue contained bracketed sections, since delegates did not have time to consider them during CSD-5. Agreed text on the first paragraph notes the urgent need for the further development of cost-effective tools to collect and disseminate information for decision- makers at all levels. A Canadian proposal for collection of “gender disaggregated data,” initially opposed by the G-77/China, is retained in the final text, preceded by the words “as appropriate.” A US reference to information that makes the unremunerated work of women visible is also retained, as is a Peruvian reference to support for national and international scientific and technological data centers, with electronic communication links between them.

The second paragraph of this text, originally a Japanese proposal calling for the need to enhance global awareness of environmental issues through use of high-tech info- communications infrastructure, contains reformulations proposed by the G-77/China, which emphasize the need for a supportive environment to be established to enhance national capabilities for information collection, processing and dissemination, especially in developing countries. It notes the importance of international cooperation in this regard.

The third paragraph notes the importance of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) as a tool for sustainable development. It includes an EU and US reference to Principle 17 of the Rio Declaration, as well as a G-77/China proposal calling for EIAs to be undertaken for “activities likely to have significant adverse impacts on the environment.” A Norwegian proposal noting the importance of EIAs where environmental values may be at stake, as well as the need to undertake EIAs for national or international investment programmes, was deleted.

A fourth paragraph notes that the CSD’s work on indicators for sustainable development should result in a “practicable and agreed set of indicators”(EU), “suited to country specific conditions” (G-77/China), “to be used on a voluntary basis by the year 2000” (EU). A fifth paragraph referring to the importance of indicators for the greening of national budgets was deleted. The last paragraph in this section notes that national reports on implementation of Agenda 21 have proved valuable to the sharing of information, and calls for their continuation.

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS: The text on international institutional arrangements was completely agreed to at CSD-5, with one exception: a paragraph regarding replenishment by the donor community of the International Development Association (IDA) and the GEF. The opening paragraph states that the institutional framework outlined in Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 and determined by General Assembly resolution 47/191 and other relevant resolutions, including the specific functions and roles of various organs, organizations and programmes within and outside the UN system, will continue to be fully relevant in the period after UNGASS.

1. Greater coherence in various intergovernmental organizations and processes

A need for better policy coordination at the intergovernmental level is acknowledged, and a strengthened role for ECOSOC in coordinating the activities of the UN system in the economic, social and related field is recommended. This section calls for:

  • cooperation between the conferences of the parties to conventions related to sustainable development;
  • effective and efficient support arrangements for the convention secretariats;
  • strengthening the ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development and its system of task managers; and
  • CSD promotion of increased regional implementation of Agenda 21 in cooperation with relevant regional and subregional organizations.
2. Role of relevant organizations and institutions of the UN system

This section states that all organizations and programmes of the UN system should, within their mandates, strengthen support for national efforts to implement Agenda 21. The role of UNEP, as the principal UN body in the field of environment, should be further enhanced. A revitalized UNEP should be supported by adequate, stable and predictable funding. UNDP and UNCTAD should also continue to play a role in Agenda 21 implementation.

With regard to the bracketed text on IDA and GEF replenishment, delegates at UNGASS agreed that implementation of the commitment of the international financial institutions to sustainable development should continue to be strengthened. The text also notes that the World Bank has a significant role to play, bearing in mind its expertise and the overall volume of resources that it commands.

3. Future role and programme of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development

This section states that the CSD, within its mandate, will continue to provide a central forum for reviewing progress and for urging further implementation of Agenda 21. The CSD has a role to play in assessing the challenges of globalization as they relate to sustainable development, and should focus on issues that are crucial to achieving the goals of sustainable development. The CSD should carry out its work in such a manner as to avoid unnecessary duplication and repetition of work undertaken by other relevant forums. Finally, it is recommended that the CSD adopt the multi-year programme of work for the period 1998-2002 contained in the annex (see below).

4. Methods of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development

The CSD is called on to, inter alia:

  • make concerted efforts to attract greater involvement in its work of ministers and high-level national policy makers responsible for specific economic and social sectors;
  • continue to provide a forum for the exchange of national experiences and best practices in the area of sustainable development;
  • provide a forum for the exchange of experiences on regional and subregional initiatives and regional collaboration for sustainable development;
  • establish closer interaction with international financial, development and trade institutions;
  • strengthen its interaction with representatives of major groups; and
  • organize the implementation of its next multi-year programme of work in the most effective and productive way.
In addition, the Secretary-General is invited to review the functioning of the High-Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development. The work of the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy and on Energy for Development and the Committee on Natural Resources should be more compatible with and supportive of the CSD’s programme of work. Finally, the next comprehensive review of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21 by the General Assembly will take place in the year 2002.


The CSD work programme identifies the sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/major group themes for the next four sessions of the Commission. During UNGASS, delegates agreed that overriding issues for each year would be poverty, and consumption and production patterns. They also decided that the sectoral theme for the 1998 session would be “strategic approaches to freshwater management.” Additional themes and sectors for 1998 are transfer of technology, capacity-building, education, science, awareness-raising and industry. The outstanding chapters of the SIDS Programme of Action will also be reviewed. In 1999, the CSD will consider: oceans and seas; consumption and production patterns; and tourism. In 2000, it will consider: integrated planning and management of land resources; financial resources, trade and investment and economic growth and agriculture. There will also be a “Day of Indigenous People.” Delegates at UNGASS decided that atmosphere, energy and transport will be the sectoral themes in 2001, and added international cooperation for an enabling environment, information for decision-making and participation as other cross- sectoral themes. The 2002 session will consist of a comprehensive review.

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