Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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 A Reporting Service for Environment and Development Negotiations

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Vol. 05 No. 120
Friday, 05 March 1999



Delegates at the ISWG on Oceans and Seas and the Sustainable Development of SIDS met in the morning to complete their consideration of elements for a draft CSD decision on oceans and seas and to comment on the Co-Chairs’ summary of discussion on oceans and seas. Delegates gave general comments on the draft Co-Chairs’ proposals on CSD’s contribution to the Special Session on SIDS in the morning and conducted a paragraph-by- paragraph read-through in informal consultations in the afternoon.


AREAS OF CONCERN: Marine Science and Climate Change: The RIO GROUP proposed changing the section title to “marine science and linkages” and adding subparagraphs on El Niño. OCHA/IDNDR supported giving special attention to El Niño and emphasizing the need for disaster reduction based on extensive monitoring. The US proposed that the section encompass the importance of marine science to ocean management in general.

Other Marine Pollution: The US and the IMO proposed noting the need to minimize the transfer of alien species in ballast water. On addressing environmental aspects of oil and gas operations at the regional level, the IMO added international and the RIO GROUP national and sub-regional action, particularly within the framework of the Regional Seas Programme. The OFFICE FOR COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS (OCHA) supported Canada’s proposal for oil tanker design requirements to include double hull and compartments, to minimize oil spills. TURKEY proposed language on environmental health issues arising from marine accidents.

Coral Reefs and Protected Areas: The REPUBLIC OF KOREA, the US and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION supported Australia’s proposal for a more general reference to marine protected areas (MPAs). The RIO GROUP proposed separate sections for coral reefs and MPAs and deleting the call for the CBD’s development of a global representative system of MPAs to take into account IUCN categories and multiple use principles.

INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION AND COOPERATION: The G-77/CHINA, supported by EGYPT, SUDAN and LIBYA, said the Co-Chairs' draft did not capture the Group’s position. The EU proposed text noting the special case for international coordination of oceans and inviting the UN Secretary-General to make better use of the CSD Secretariat and suggest initiatives to the GA on coordination. AUSTRALIA called for elaboration of delegations' proposals for improved coordination in the Co-Chairs' draft or as an annex. ICELAND recalled a proposal that the ACC Sub- Committee on Oceans and Coastal Areas (ACC-OCA) involve a representative group of governments in its deliberations. Supported by CANADA, the US and NORWAY, NEW ZEALAND proposed a paragraph detailing options for improved coordination, including a UN conference on ocean affairs, a high-level symposium and an annual open-ended working group of the GA. CANADA, supported by NORWAY, noted agreement on the need to improve coordination using existing institutions and resources, within the GA's mandate. He supported a proposed GA working group and a high- level symposium with UNCLOS.

The US said improved intergovernmental coordination should be achieved within existing resources and institutions, building on the GA's existing mandate. He supported recommending an open- ended working group to the GA, noting concerns about NGO involvement. The RIO GROUP, supported by EGYPT, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and LIBYA, proposed a new introductory paragraph recommending that the CSD forward proposals to the GA for further analysis. JAPAN supported EGYPT's objection to giving the impression that existing international mechanisms, specifically UNCLOS, are not working. On the ACC-OCA recommendations, EGYPT questioned a proposal to involve a representative group from governments and cautioned against the CSD contradicting GA rules. She said the CSD cannot call for a broadened GA mandate.

EGYPT cautioned that a precedent for NGO involvement at the GA level would apply across the board, including at the Security Council. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION supported EGYPT and LIBYA on a cautious approach to participation of all actors in GA deliberations. SUDAN, supported by LIBYA, reiterated its proposal to entitle the document "possible" elements. JAPAN, supported by CHINA, suggested identifying problems with existing international arrangements. The MARSHALL ISLANDS called for a forum with open-ended, in-depth review of oceans affairs with participation by SIDS and other bodies. CHINA supported making maximum use of existing mechanisms. On participation of "all actors," he suggested using the 19th Special Session of the GA as a reference point. The INTERNATIONAL SEABED AUTHORITY said the ISWG report should reflect how the CSD could contribute to the decision-making process at the GA.


The G-77/CHINA, the EU, the US and the RIO GROUP expressed general satisfaction with the text and said they would submit comments in writing. CHILE requested adding a reference to a meeting on desertification and the El Niño phenomenon to take place in Chile in October 1999.


GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE TEXT: The EU said more emphasis was needed on national and regional actions and suggested including a reference to the outcomes of the Donor-SIDS meeting. The US and AUSTRALIA noted the omission of some priorities for action identified in the Secretary-General’s report. NEW ZEALAND underscored the importance of reflecting SIDS’ views, expressed concern with limited time for Special Session preparations, and suggested emphasizing international cooperation to assist SIDS in implementing conventions.


John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) chaired informal consultations on the draft Co-Chairs’ proposal on CSD’s contribution to the Special Session on SIDS in the afternoon.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: On SIDS as “a special case for sustainable development,” several delegations requested that agreed CSD language be used. On efforts by SIDS at the national and regional levels to meet the POA’s priorities and objectives, the need for enhanced domestic efforts was noted. A delegation indicated that the draft already reflected circumstances on the ground. One delegate suggested that effective international financial support to SIDS should be “supplemental” to domestic efforts and proposed “use” instead of “transfer” of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs).

CONSTRAINTS: It was proposed that “higher volatility” of economic growth, rather than “low” economic growth, and “an economic base which prevents economies of scale” rather than a “narrow resource base,” be noted as constraints.

MAJOR CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES: Capacity-Building: One delegate proposed that resources be mobilized for SIDS demonstrating a commitment to sustainable development. Delegates proposed deleting “context-sensitive gender balance” in education programmes.

Finance: Some opposed references to new and additional financial commitments. One delegate opposed text stating that market access difficulties and lack of capacity impede SIDS’ involvement in international trade. One delegate suggested noting that resources “need to be further” mobilized, rather than “are being” mobilized, at the national level. Inclusion of the Donor-SIDS conference outcomes was requested.

Information Management: Reference to a possible clearinghouse mechanism for information exchange was requested.

Globalization and Trade Liberalization: A delegation proposed shifting the emphasis from SIDS’ limited capacity to face threats and adapt to changes in trade rules and globalization to enabling SIDS to take advantage of globalization’s opportunities. Another suggested including a reference to “additional” threats posed by globalization. Delegates proposed deleting references on: reducing trade barriers and enhancing SIDS’ access to export markets; SIDS’ export diversification; and costs related to SIDS’ transition to global trading rules.

Technology Transfer: A delegation proposed changing the section title to “Science and Technology” to better reflect the POA. Another delegation said the title should remain unchanged considering that a section on “technology transfer” was included in the POA under cross-sectoral issues. Proposals were made to describe the role of the international community in EST transfer as “important” rather than “vital.” A proposal was made to include a reference to climate change when addressing innovative adaptation technologies for SIDS.

National Development Strategies: A delegation proposed emphasizing the development of indicators at the regional level to assist SIDS. A proposal was made to develop strategies “for both SIDS and donors” to improve implementation of donor- assisted programmes.

Vulnerability Index: One delegation opposed a “composite” vulnerability index. Another delegation proposed assigning “appropriate” instead of “necessary” resources to support SIDS’ work on a vulnerability index.

SECTORAL ISSUES: Climate Change: Separate sections were proposed for climate change and natural disasters.

Energy: One delegate proposed deleting a call for international support to provide renewable energy sources and adding national government responsibility for creating an enabling environment for private sector investment.

Freshwater Resources: Planning and integrated management of freshwater resources were emphasized.

Oceans and Marine Resources: One delegate opposed negotiating fishing agreements to obtain increased access fees and greater supervision of distant-water fleets. One delegate preferred that coastal zone management take place in areas of “sovereignty or jurisdiction of SIDS” instead of exclusive economic zones.

Tourism: It was proposed that the importance of regional marketing, private sector participation and creation of enabling environments be underscored. Several delegates recommended deleting text on the linkage between sustainable tourism and energy.

The Role of the UN System: Regarding UN actions for effective implementation of the POA, one delegation preferred stressing the need to make more effective use of “existing” resources “from all sources” rather than the need to mobilize new resources. It was also suggested to note ongoing efforts within the UN system to create development assistance frameworks. Text was proposed stating that UN agencies should be more proactive in seeking SIDS’ views on sustainable development issues to ensure that national differences and local sensitivities are considered.


Observers reported resistance to a consolidated text from the Rio Group at an informal lunchtime meeting on drafting arrangements for proposed improvements in international coordination of oceans issues. However, delegations agreed to the preparation of two documents. A non-paper identifying common elements in proposals from the ISWG will be produced for CSD-7 in addition to the Co-Chairs' elements for a draft CSD decision on oceans and seas.


ENERGY BRIEFING: The Secretariat will brief delegates on preparations for the CSD’s consideration of energy at CSD-9 at 10:00 am in Conference Room 4.

REVISED CO-CHAIRS’ TEXTS: Revised Co-Chairs’ drafts of the summary of discussion on oceans and seas, elements for a draft CSD decision on oceans and seas, and proposals for CSD’s contribution to the Special Session on SIDS are expected to be circulated in the morning and considered in the afternoon.

CLOSING PLENARY: It is expected that delegates will consider and adopt the report of the ISWG and hear concluding remarks in a closing Plenary in the afternoon.

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © ([email protected]) is written and edited by Paola Bettelli ([email protected]), Peter Doran ([email protected]), Laura Ivers ([email protected]) and Kira Schmidt. ([email protected]). The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. ([email protected]) and the Managing Editor is Langston James "Kimo" Goree ([email protected]). The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the United States (through USAID) and the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape. General Support for the Bulletin during 1999 is provided by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the German Federal Ministry of Environment (BMU) and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation (BMZ), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Community (DG-XI), the Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs of Austria, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Norway, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Environment of Finland, the Government of Sweden, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Ministry for the Environment in Iceland. The Bulletin can be contacted by e-mail at ([email protected]) and at tel: +1-212-644-0204; fax: +1-212-644-0206. IISD can be contacted by e-mail at ([email protected]) and at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada. The opinions expressed in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD and other funders. Excerpts from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications only and only with appropriate academic citation. For permission to use this material in commercial publications, contact the Managing Editor. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists and can be found on the Linkages WWW server at The satellite image was taken above New York City(c)1999 The Living Earth, Inc. For information on the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, send e-mail to ([email protected]).

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