Daily report for 4 June 1992



Plenary resumed working its way through its lengthy speakers list.The most notable speech of the morning, delivered by SegoleneRoyal, French Minister for the Environment, set out France'scommitments as follows: signing of both the Climate Change andBiodiversity Conventions; support for future forests anddesertification conventions; acknowledgement of the specialresponsibilities of developed countries; commitment to meet the UNODA target of 0.7% of GNP by 2000; contribution of approximatelyUS$125 million to the GEF; a role for NGOs in the SustainableDevelopment Commission; and support for the Rio Declaration.

The Fourth Meeting of the Plenary opened yesterday afternoon withthe election of the nine Vice-Presidents from the Asian States asthe first item on the agenda. Due to the inability of the AsianGroup to reach agreement earlier in the week on their ninenominees, a secret ballot was supposed to be held. This would havebeen the first vote to have ever been taken within the UNCEDprocess. Pakistan, on behalf of the G-77, announced that bothPakistan and Japan had withdrawn themselves from the list ofnominees, therefore, obviating the necessity for an election.

"General debate" resumed with Thorbj"rn Berntsen, NorwegianEnvironment Minister, who called on GATT to address the connectionbetween trade and environment. He also called for the improvementof international standards for dealing with nuclear waste as wellas replacement of the most dangerous nuclear plants withenvironmentally sound alternatives. He also mentioned that theparticipation of NGOs in the UNCED process "points the way towardsa closer working relationship between the independent sector andGovernments all over the world." Other interesting points from theafternoon's session include UNDP Administrator William H. Draper'scommitment to the establishment of an international sustainabledevelopment center in Brazil, and, the pledge of UNDP's assistancefor capacity building.


As the Main Committee worked through the first eight chapters ofAgenda 21, it became increasingly clear that the challenge ofremoving the remaining brackets would not be easy. The meetingstarted on a procedural note, including an announcement thatCharles Liburd of Guyana would be the coordinator for the contactgroup on forest principles. Committee Chair Tommy Koh then set outguidelines to facilitate the work of the Committee, including aprohibition on reopening unbracketed text. After a long proceduraldiscussion, during which a number of delegations requestedexceptions to this rule, Koh proposed that unbracketed text beopened only in the following cases: 1) where the Secretariat hasinadvertently left out brackets; 2) where a paragraph contains afootnote requesting reexamination; and 3) where certain delegationsreserved the right to reexamine the text in Rio and the request hadbeen acceded to at PrepCom IV. Koh requested that delegationssubmit a list of the latter by 6:00 pm yesterday so that he couldcompile and present the list to the Main Committee forconsideration today.

The Main Committee then took up the bracketed text of Chapter 1 ofAgenda 21 -- the Preamble. It was agreed that the bracketed text inparagraph 1.4, and all subsequent Agenda 21 chapters that deal withfinance or technology, are to be referred to the appropriatecontact group for discussion.

Chapter 2,"International Cooperation to Accelerate SustainableDevelopment in Developing Countries and Related Domestic Policies,"was more complicated. Koh had to send a group of countries out ofthe room to negotiate bracketed text in paragraph 2.1, whichestablishes a global partnership for environment and development.The US then requested to reopen paragraph 2.2 for discussion. Thisparagraph, which deals with the need for economic policies to besupportive of sustainable development, was not in brackets. Theexisting text states that the development process "will not gathermomentum" if the external economic environment is not conducive todomestic economic growth. The US proposal, in effect, shifted theresponsibility from the global economic environment to domesticeconomic policies of developing countries. The proposal was notwell received. Not only did members of the G-77 argue with the USon matters of substance (i.e., this proposal changes the characterof the paragraph) but on matters of procedure as well (should thisparagraph be reopened at all). Koh postponed further discussionuntil he receives a complete list of all unbracketed paragraphsthat delegations wanted to reopen.

The next paragraph under discussion was 2.24, which deals withexternal indebtedness. At PrepCom IV, the US had bracketed asentence that reads: "In this context, additional financialresources in favour of developing countries are essential." The USsuggested deleting the text or rewriting it as follows: "Theavailability of additional external resources will increase asforeign entities are convinced that such resources will generate apositive result." G-77 members protested while Canada and the UKtried to propose compromise language. Finally, Chile proposed textthat was acceptable to both the US and the G-77: "Additionalfinancial resources in favour of developed countries and theefficient utilization of such resources is essential."

The bracketed text in paragraph 2.33, which includes the need torestrain consumption in developed countries, was no easier. Whenthe US commented that reducing consumption in developed countriesreduces income for developing countries, Koh responded, "Why don'tyou let the G-77 look after the interests of the developingcountries?" Koh adjourned the morning's session asking thatinterested parties meet to discuss the paragraph.

When the meeting reconvened, Koh quickly moved to Chapter 3,"Combatting Poverty." Since there were only three paragraphs withbrackets and all dealt with finance, it appeared at first that thischapter would be easily dispensed with. The US, however, reservedits position on paragraph 3.5, which includes the phrase "peopleunder occupation."

In Chapter 4, "Changing Consumption Patterns," the US commentedthat there were several instances where brackets were inadvertentlyomitted. Koh postponed discussion on these paragraphs but that didnot stop the US from proposing new text and opening a long andheated debate on paragraphs 4.3 and 4.5, which deal with the linksbetween poverty, environmental stress and the need to changeconsumption patterns. What evolved was a substantive debate betweenthe US, supported by Japan, and the rest of the developing anddeveloped countries. Finally, Koh said, "This is no longer thePrepCom" and we should only be lifting brackets and making sometextual changes. "We are long past the point of making substantivechanges." Koh asked Australia, the coordinator for this issue atPrepCom IV, to convene a small group of interested delegations towork out a compromise. Koh also asked the US to "refrain in thefuture from submitting entirely new texts."

The US agreed to remove the only non-finance bracketed text inChapter 5, "Demographic Dynamics and Sustainability," anddiscussion quickly moved to Chapter 6, "Protecting and PromotingHuman Health." Four paragraphs contained brackets around the phrase"people under occupation". Koh said that since this phrase occursin a total of ten paragraphs in Agenda 21 and in the RioDeclaration, it should be dealt with in a generic manner. Koh saidhe would undertake consultations with interested delegations tofind a solution acceptable to all.

The Committee quickly progressed through Chapters 7 (PromotingSustainable Human Settlement Development) and 8 (IntegratingEnvironment and Development in Decision-Making), before adjourningfor the day.


Discussion on where to begin the negotiations on financialresources began yesterday afternoon. The Chair, Amb. RubensRicupero of Brazil, presented a draft paper for consideration. Thepaper contains the following points: special efforts must be madeto meet the full incremental costs for developing countries;economic conditions for free trade are essential; developedcountries should "reaffirm" commitments to reach 0.7 percent of GNPfor ODA (with no mention of a target date); mechanisms and sourcesof funds should include multilateral development banks and suchfunds as the IDA replenishment; multilateral institutions forcapacity building and technical cooperation; strengthening ofbilateral assistance programmes; debt relief; private funding andprivate investment; innovative financing; a transparent andaccountable GEF; funding for incremental costs of Agenda 21activities; and, review and monitoring of Agenda 21 financing.

The initial reaction of certain Northern delegates to the paper hasbeen quite favorable. They welcomed it as an encouragingdevelopment in light of the protracted debate over which textshould serve as the basis of discussions, and expressed hope thatother countries would agree. It is believed that if the document isaccepted by the G-77 (who met Thursday afternoon to formulate itsposition), several days of negotiations could easily be saved.Whereas a return to the G-77 text (L.41/Rev.1) could prevent asuccessful resolution of the financial resources issues.


The legal instruments contact group met for the first time Thursdayafternoon. Discussion was carried out at a fairly general levelwith regard to such issues as implementation, dispute resolutionand environmental crimes. The high level of generality ofdiscussion proved to be a source of frustration to many delegateswho came prepared to negotiate, given the limited time available.This frustration was exacerbated by the large size of the meetingroom, which was not conducive to contact group negotiations.


The contact group met last night to commence discussions on theInstitutions chapter of Agenda 21. The Chair, Ambassador IsmailRazali, had prepared a non-paper that addressed the role, functionsand reporting structure of the Sustainable Development Commissionas well as the role of the General Assembly in determining thespecific modalities of the Commission. The Chair's non-paperproposes two intergovernmental functions for the Commission: (1)the consideration of information provided for by governments (ie,implementation activities, problems regarding financial resourcesand technology, as well as other environment and developmentissues); and (2) the progress on implementation of environmentalconventions. The non-paper is also noteworthy in its mention of theneed for active involvement by NGOs. It also sets a target date of1993 for its establishment. There appears to be an emergingconsensus around this proposal. The contact group meets later thisweek and will, most likely, move quickly to adopt a decision.


The Framework Convention on Climate Change was opened for signaturein a ceremony yesterday morning, chaired by President Collor ofBrazil. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali spoke, sayingthat although this convention falls short of the hopes of manynegotiators, it does include important commitments that should bestrengthened as more scientific data comes available. Collor, underthe blaze of the TV lights, was the first to sign the Convention.At 1:00 pm, Belgium, followed by Norway, Liechtenstein, Australia,Iceland, Finland, Israel and New Zealand were scheduled inhalf-hour intervals to sign the Convention.

Talks were still carrying on privately on the separate"Like-Minded-Countries" declaration that would set CO2 emissions at1990 levels by the year 2000. At a European Free Trade Associationand EC meeting held yesterday morning to discuss the declaration,little support was expressed.


Sources close to the finance issue suggest that the much talkedabout tenth replenishment to the IDA is expected to bring that fundup to US$18 billion (from the current US$16.5 billion). Someobservers suggest that the Earth Increment to the tenthreplenishment may well be in the amount of US$5 billion to whichthe World Bank would add US$1.5 billion. As well, it is likely thatthe World Bank will make an equal contribution to the GEF.


MAIN COMMITTEE: When the Main Committee reconvenes thisafternoon, it will take up Chapter 10 of Agenda 21, "Integratedapproach to the planning and management of land resources" andcontinue to work its way sequentially through Agenda 21. Koh maydistribute a list of unbracketed paragraphs that delegations haverequested to reopen for discussion. If this list is discussed bythe Committee, the debate could get heated. Koh does not want toset precedent by unnecessarily opening unbracketed text.

FINANCE: The finance contact group will resume discussionstoday at 3:00 pm. The most critical development to watch for willbe the G-77 reaction to the Brazilian Chair's non-paper. The G-77'sopening remarks will be particularly important as it will revealthe group's degree of political readiness to move towardscompromise.

LEGAL INSTRUMENTS: While the contact group on legalinstruments is not scheduled to meet today, the Chair, Nabilel-Arabi, has planned to prepare a non-paper summarizing delegatescomments made on Thursday. This paper will be made available todelegates at 12:00 pm today.

BIODIVERSITY CONVENTION: A ceremony to mark the opening forsignature of the Convention on Biological Diversity will take placetoday at 3:00 pm in Conference Room 2. The Convention will remainopen for signature at RioCentro through 14 June and thereafter atUN Headquarters in New York from 15 June 1992 until 4 June 1993.The US is not expected to sign the Convention, but may call oncountries to reopen the Convention for further negotiation afterUNCED.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions