Daily report for 5 June 1992



By Saturday afternoon the Main Committee completed its first reviewof the bracketed text in Agenda 21. Chapter 10, on land managementwas easily concluded since the only bracketed text dealt withfinance. In Chapter 12, on desertification, Koh announced that hewould hold consultations on the paragraphs dealing with a futurebinding convention on desertification. Chapter 13 on mountains hadonly two bracketed paragraphs dealing with finance, precluding theneed for further discussion. In Chapter 14 on agriculture, onebracketed paragraph on plant genetic resources remainedunacceptable to the US, who proposed new language. The matter wasreferred to the contact group on biotechnology.

The outstanding issue in Chapter 17 on oceans, straddling andhighly-migratory fish stocks, was deferred to informalconsultations. Koh pleaded with the EC to accept the compromisetext that had been proposed at PrepCom IV. The final chapterdiscussed on Friday was Chapter 19 on toxic chemicals. The USopposed removal of brackets in one paragraph that would providefinancial and technical assistance to countries to help strengthenrisk assessment capabilities.

Saturday morning's session opened with good news as the Committeeadopted compromise text for bracketed paragraphs in Chapters 2(international economy) and 4 (consumption). The compromisebrokered by Canada on paragraph 2.33 eliminates the phrase "torestrain consumption" in developed countries, yet retained the needto "generate resources to support the transition to sustainabledevelopment." In the chapter on consumption patterns, the US agreedto withdraw its objections to a number of paragraphs, subject to aminor amendment. The chapter now, albeit indirectly, addressesunsustainable lifestyles in developed countries, as well as insegments of developing countries.

Discussion then turned to Chapter 20 on hazardous wastes. Tensionbegan to rise as the Committee commenced discussion on paragraph20.20(f) on increasing "funding for cleaner technology transfer todeveloping countries and [economies in transition]..." Members ofthe G-77 expressed concern about including the transitionalcountries in this and other paragraphs of Agenda 21. Koh askedAlgeria to consult with interested delegations on the placement ofa generic paragraph (currently 2.45) that would address theseconcerns. The next contentious bracketed paragraph addresses theenvironmental impacts of military establishments. The US refused toremove the brackets it had inserted around this paragraph atPrepCom IV for "national security" reasons. After a number ofcountries made statements in favor of retaining this paragraph, Kohrequested that Sweden hold informal consultations on this issue.

Chapter 21 on solid waste and sewage-related issues was alsoproblematic. A number of paragraphs setting targets and timetablesremain in brackets pending the outcome of the discussions onfinance and technology transfer. In Chapter 22 on radioactivewaste, one non-finance paragraph remains in brackets: the disposaland storage of radioactive waste near the marine environment(22.5(c)). As the US was unwilling to retain the text as stated,the Netherlands was asked to conduct consultations.

Part III (Chapters 24-32) of Agenda 21 deals with "Strengtheningthe Roles of Major Groups." As a number of paragraphs in all ofthese chapters remained in brackets, Amb. Mazairac, the PrepCom IVcoordinator, recommended that he hold further consultations.

The remaining chapters of Agenda 21 to be discussed (science,education, capacity building and information for decision making)were easily dispensed with. When Koh returned to the paragraph oneconomies in transition that is to be placed in the Preamble toAgenda 21, polarization between members of the G-77 and the EasternEuropean states intensified to a level never before witnessed inthe UNCED process. G-77 members felt that placement of this genericparagraph recognizing the needs of economies in transition mightjeopardize recognition of the needs of developing countries.Although the text of this paragraph had been agreed to by thePrepCom, a number of delegates who had not been present in NewYork, and had not been part of the "gentlemen's agreement" thatresulted, attempted to reopen the entire paragraph for negotiation,thus jeopardizing that careful compromise. Fearing a new divisionbetween Eastern Europe and the developing countries, Koh attemptedto resolve this, assuring that the final text in the preamble wouldproperly address the needs of developing countries.

The afternoon session ended on a positive note. The US reportedthat compromise language had been agreed to on the issue ofstraddling and migratory fish stocks. The text calls for anintergovernmental conference to be convened under UN auspices toconsider means of improving cooperation on fisheries among States.This conference would consider scientific and technical studies bythe FAO, while being fully consistent with the UN Conference on theLaw of the Sea. All in all, delegates emerged from the MainCommittee room expressing guarded optimism about the outcome of theConference.


FOREST PRINCIPLES: The contact group on Forest Principlesmet both Friday and Saturday. Delegates reported a more productivemood than at PrepCom IV, although negotiations have been halting.Work on bracketed text in the preamble section has been postponed.While most problems are being addressed in the contact group, threesub-contact groups have been formed. Delegates report thatsub-contact group agreements have been lost because the Chair hasallowed debate to resume on compromise text. The remaining pointsyet to be resolved include: reference to a future legal instrument;sovereignty over resources; funding; historical responsibility andcompensation; access to genetic resources; trade in forestproducts; and, the roots of the forests crisis in both debt andpoverty.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Finance discussions resumed on Fridaywhen the G-77 presented its response to the Chair's non-paper. TheG-77 requested that the developed countries comment on a series ofissues including: credible assurances for new and additionalfunding; commitments to reach 0.7% of GNP for ODA by the year 2000;a pledging conference to be called at the next UNGA; and amonitoring mechanism for financial flows. On Saturday afternoon theChair, Rubens Ricupero, issued a new draft of the finance chapter,which took into account the week's discussions. It differs from theoriginal Chair's text in that it identifies economic growth, socialdevelopment and poverty eradication as priorities; states that thecost of inaction will outweigh the financial costs of Agenda 21;and notes that global and local environmental issues areinterrelated. In the "Activities" section it calls for countriesthat have committed to such targets to reach ODA levels of 0.7% GNP"as early as possible" (but not necessarily by the year 2000) andthat other donor countries will agree to make "their best effortsto increase their levels of ODA". The GEF language remainsbasically unchanged from last Thursday. In the "Means ofimplementation" section it calls the Secretariat figure of $125billion for implementation of Agenda 21 an "estimate" and statesthat actual costs will depend on the strategies and programmesimplemented. It states that financial commitments for Agenda 21should be made by developed countries at UNGA-48 and that financialreview and monitoring will be dealt with in the chapter oninstitutions.

ATMOSPHERE: The Contact Group on Atmosphere has met threetimes to discuss the whole chapter, which was bracketed at the endof PrepCom IV. The Saudi Arabian delegation, with support fromother members of the Arab group, suggested that the chapter bedeleted. Other countries argued for its retention, although somesuggested that it could be shortened and might focus on agreed textfrom existing legal instruments, such as climate change, ozone andtransboundary air pollution agreements. This latter suggestion wasacceptable to the Saudis. It was agreed that the Chair wouldredraft the chapter and the G-77 prepare the chapeau to address theSaudis' concerns.

On Saturday, an informal group met to review the Chair's new paperand the G-77's new chapeau. The chapeau states that "no state canbe expected to take measures under the chapter that exceedprovisions in the Climate Change Convention" and that since"economic and social development and poverty eradication areoverriding priorities, measures taken under this chapter should becost-effective and economically feasible". The general reaction ofdeveloped countries was that the chapeau provides a good basis, butthat further consultations will be required to refine the text. Inparticular, developed countries do not feel that the Conventionshould restrict the scope of the chapter, and that countries shouldnot be precluded from taking measures that exceed the legalinstrument. The only contentious point in the first programme areaof the draft text dealt with the reference to critical levels ofgreenhouse gases.

INSTITUTIONS: The Institutions contact group met Saturday tocontinue its review of the 5 June Chair's non-paper. The key pointsof the compromise text are: the Sustainable Development Commissionto report directly to ECOSOC, with ECOSOC, in turn, presenting itsreport to the General Assembly; deference to UNGA-47 for resolutionon the modalities of the Commission's work; less stringent languageon the periodic submission by Governments of Agenda 21implementation reports; and soft language on the role of theCommission in considering the progress on the implementation ofagreements that could be made available by the relevant Conferenceof Parties. The following concerns were noted: (1) whether theCommission would report "through" or "to" ECOSOC; (2) whether theCommission should be a high-level body or not; and (3) G-77 concernwith national reporting.

INSTRUMENTS: The Instruments contact group met on Thursdayto remove most of the brackets, with the exception of paragraph39.3(d), which calls for the promotion of agreements, instrumentsand international standards for the protection of the environmentthat take into account the different situations and capabilities ofcountries to "avoid the possible use of unilaterally setenvironmental standards as barriers to trade". Informalconsultations are continuing on this issue. One important revisionin the text changes the title in Programme Area D from "Disputeprevention and settlement," to "Dispute avoidance and settlement",with the latter representing weaker language.

BIODIVERSITY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: The Biodiversity contactgroup met Friday to attempt to remove square brackets around twoimportant paragraphs in the Objectives section. Paragraph 15.4(d)refers to appropriate measures for the fair and equitable sharingof benefits derived from research and development of biological andgenetic resources. Paragraph 15.4(j) refers to the "rights ofcountries of origin of genetic resources to benefit frombiotechnological development and commercial utilization of productsderived from such resources." The US remains opposed to theseparagraphs. Unfortunately, countries attempted to reopensubstantive negotiations on these matters. Due to protractednegotiations, the group was unable to commence discussions onbiotechnology.

FRESHWATER: The contact group on freshwater resources metfor the first time on Friday night to address the introduction tothe Agenda 21 chapter, which had not been negotiated at PrepCom IV.After a lengthy discussion, the group agreed that an introductionwas necessary and that they would ask the Chair, Amb. Bukar Shaib,to draft a new introductory paragraph.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: The contact group on technologytransfer made some progress in its meeting on Friday morning. Thegroup agreed to postpone discussion of Saudi Arabia's proposal toinsert the words "safe and" before any mention of technology. Theparagraph on the terms of transfer, which had been the mostcontroversial at PrepCom IV, was, as expected, the cause of muchdiscussion in the contact group. The US proposed replacing thebracketed text with text on technology transfer from theBiodiversity Convention. This was particularly ironic for tworeasons: (1) the US had proposed text from a Convention that it hasrefused to sign; and (2) the G-77 later announced that it waswilling to remove the brackets and accept the existing text,something it had not been willing to do at PrepCom IV. The USannounced that it would have to consult with Washington before itcould go any further.


MAIN COMMITTEE: Although the Main Committee will not meettoday, most of the contact groups will meet and numerous informalconsultations will be held. Tommy Koh will hold consultations on anumber of outstanding issues: the status of the Rio Declaration;the proposed convention on desertification; a generic solution tothe presence of the phrase "people under occupation" in Agenda 21;how to deal with the 150+ paragraphs in Agenda 21 that deal withfinance; and the dispute between the countries with economies intransition and the G-77.

FRESHWATER: Amb. Bukar Shaib, the Chair of the contactgroup, is expected to distribute text for the introductoryparagraph today. Participants are hopeful that the text willaddress concerns of all regional and interest groups and that itcan be accepted with minimal amendments.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: When the contact group resumes workthis afternoon, it is expected to continue negotiating theremaining bracketed paragraphs. It is expected that the US willreturn to the meeting with a response to the G-77's proposal toaccept the existing text on terms of transfer of technology.Whether or not the US's response will be accepted by the G-77remains to be seen.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Negotiations should begin immediatelythis afternoon on the Chair's draft text. The financial resourceschapter could be completed today. The Contact Group may still havedozens of paragraphs from other "Means of Implementation" sectionsto address.

FORESTS PRINCIPLES: More sub-contact groups and the contactgroup will meet starting this morning. If progress is not madesoon, this contact group will face late-night sessions.

INSTRUMENTS: The Instruments contact group will meet thismorning to resolve the outstanding bracketed text on environmentalstandards as barriers to trade.

INSTITUTIONS: The Institutions contact group will meettonight to resolve the outstanding concerns surrounding the Chair'scompromise text. The most contentious issue will be the question ofnational reporting. Watch for the G-77 and the US to continue tooppose this provision.

ATMOSPHERE: The Atmosphere contact group resumes its work onMonday to take up discussions on the second and most contentiousProgramme Area B "Promoting sustainable development". It was thisprogramme area, that led the Arab Group at PrepCom IV to call forthe entire chapter to be bracketed.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
Arab Group
Group of 77 and China