As the sky brightened over the East River in New York on the morning of 4 April, hundreds of exhausted delegates, NGOs, Secretariat staff and interpreters poured out of the UN Headquarters after an all-night final session of PrepCom IV. During the period between PrepCom IV and UNCED, there have been several meetings held around the world where decision-makers have gathered to discuss UNCED issues.
EMINENT PERSONS' MEETING ON FINANCING ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: Former Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and Mr. Gaishi Hiraiwa, Chairman of the Japanese Federation of Economic Organizations hosted this meeting of approximately 30 eminent policy and financial leaders, including former and current heads of state, on 15-17 April in Tokyo. The meeting produced a series of recommendations to the governments of the world on how funding for sustainable development might be increased to finance implementation of Agenda 21.
SECOND MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: The environment and development ministers from 50 developing countries met in Malaysia from 26-29 April. Their final statement, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, includes a large section dedicated to UNCED. They called for negotiations on financial resources to resume in Rio with PC/100/L.41/Rev.1 (the G-77 and China text from PrepCom IV). They also stated that negotiations should continue on the forest principles document, but that a further legally binding instrument "would not be required." They also called for a halt to unreasonable unilateral trade measures, such as bans or restrictions on the trade in forest products from developing countries. The statement was significant in that it sent to developed countries a strong and unified message of the Southern position related to key UNCED issues.
THE IMF AND WORLD BANK DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING: The 43rd meeting of the IMF and World Bank Development Committee took place in Washington, D.C., in late April, under the chairmanship of Mr. Alejandro Foxley, Minister of Finance of Chile. In their final communique, the participants addressed a range of topics including debt, trade, the transfer of resources, economies in transition as well as other UNCED issues. This meeting was significant as it provided a forum for finance ministers to discuss the "interaction between environment and development policies and the preparations for UNCED." They called for a reformed GEF to serve as the leading mechanism for new and additional UNCED funding. As well, they called for a special substantial increase in the form of an "Earth Increment" to the tenth replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA-10) by the end of 1992.
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL FACILITY (GEF) PARTICIPANTS MEETING: The GEF participants met in early May to discuss the future of the GEF and, in particular, changes in GEF principles, governance and funds management. The GEF is being used as the funding mechanism for both the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions. The proposals made at this meeting addressed many of the UNCED participants' concerns with the GEF, such as cost effectiveness; avoidance of the creation of new institutions; transparency, accountability and flexibility; and democratic decision making.
OECD COUNCIL MEETING AT THE MINISTERIAL LEVEL: The OECD Council met on 18 and 19 May. OECD countries pledged to continue giving high priority to cooperation with developing countries. Such cooperation will take the form of the following: macro-economic policies conducive to non-inflationary growth; further liberalized access to OECD markets for developing country products; and substantial additional aid efforts including debt relief and implementation of the ODA target of 0.7 percent. OECD countries also pledged to cooperate on such fundamental issues as environmental protection, population, poverty, education and technology cooperation. The OECD statement addresses a number of the changes in the North-South relationship that must be made to ensure that the goals of sustainable development are met.
EUROPEAN COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT MINISTERS MEETING: The conclusions of the EC Joint Environment and Development Council meeting held on 5 May include: support for the Rio Declaration in its current form; a "package" approach to funding, including a commitment to new and additional resources; commitment to cooperate with developing countries to develop and facilitate access and transfer of environmentally sound technologies on favorable terms, while taking into account intellectual property rights; support for the forest principles document as a basis for a future global convention; support for a global convention on desertification; and reaffirmation of its commitment to the development of internationally agreed principles for safety procedures in a biotechnology convention.
INC FOR A FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change held its fifth and final meeting in New York at the end of April. When the INC failed to reach agreement on a number of contentious issues during the first part of its fifth session in February, the session was reconvened at the end of April. The most contentious issues at that time included: commitment on specific targets and timetables for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and financial resources (whether funds will be provided on a voluntary or assessed basis and how the provision of funds will be linked to the commitments taken by developing countries).
The convention was finally adopted on 9 May, after chairman Jean Ripert of France took it upon himself to draft a compromise text. The convention, which does not include any concrete targets or timetables, encourages nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to "earlier levels" by the end of the decade and to report periodically on their progress. The target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the end of the decade, as advocated by the European Community, has been reduced to a voluntary goal, thus making major concessions to the United States in order to obtain its approval of the draft. The treaty is expected to be opened for signature on 4 or 5 June here in Rio.
INC FOR A FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON BIODIVERSITY: Biodiversity negotiations drew to a close on 22 May in Nairobi. The final draft contains provisions that are intended to ensure effective international action to curb the destruction of biological species, habitats and ecosystems. The most important provisions include: the requirement that countries adopt regulations to conserve their biological resources; the imposition of legal responsibility upon nations for the environmental impacts of their private companies in other countries; funding in the amount of US$200 million to be administered temporarily through the GEF (pending the establishment of a new institutional structure); technology transfer on preferential and concessional terms, where such transfer does not prejudice intellectual property rights or patents; regulation of biotechnology firms; access and ownership of genetic material; and, finally, compensation to developing countries for extraction of their genetic materials.
Several Northern and Southern countries support the substance of the draft. However, to date, France has indicated that it will not sign the convention in protest of the lack of support for global list of biogeographic regions. As well, at this point, it appears likely that neither Japan nor the United States will sign the convention. They argue that many of the substantive provisions unduly restrict their biodiversity and pharmaceutical industries. Many developing countries remain opposed to the use of the GEF as the funding mechanism for the Convention. They argue that a separate fund altogether should be established since biodiversity resources are resources within the sovereign control of the nation of origin, unlike other resources, such as the atmosphere, that is recognized as part of the "global commons". The treaty is expected to be opened for signature on 4 or 5 June in Rio.
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