The Main Committee held its first session yesterday afternoon. The meeting was devoted primarily to organizational matters. Chairman Tommy Koh opened the meeting by establishing a number of procedural rules to help expedite the work of the Committee and urging delegates to focus solely on issues where agreement has not been reached (bracketed text). Koh then requested that the Committee establish eight contact groups to deal with finance, technology, atmosphere; forest principles; biodiversity and biotechnology; freshwater; legal instruments; and institutions. Other bracketed text and pending issues that do not fall in these groups will be dealt with by the Main Committee. Koh added that these groups are open to any and all interested delegations and not more than two contact groups would meet at same time as the Main Committee and the Plenary. Most delegates, including Tunisia, supported the establishment of the eight contact groups.
After the Committee approved the formation of these contact groups, Koh asked the Committee to approve the following Chairs: Finance: Amb. Rubens Ricupero of Brazil; Technology: Minister Hans Alders of the Netherlands; Atmosphere: Amb. Bo Kjelln of Sweden; Biodiversity and Biotechnology: Amb. Vincente Sanchez of Chile; Freshwater: Amb. Bukar Shaib of Nigeria; Legal instruments: Amb. Nabil el-Arabi of Egypt; and Institutions: Amb. Ismail Razali of Malaysia. No Chair has been appointed for the contact group on forest principles as Koh is still holding consultations. An announcement is expected today. Koh was scheduled to meet with his extended Bureau (the Vice Chairs and the heads of regional groups) last night to finalize a schedule of contact group meetings. He said that he was sorry if he appears as a "neurotic East Asian" preoccupied with work, but unfortunately "his karma has fated him to work" and, therefore, he was compelled to ask the delegates to work on Saturday as well as during the evenings. The afternoon meeting concluded with statements from Jean Ripert, the Chairman of the INC for a Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Vincente Sanchez, the Chairman of the INC for a Framework Convention on Biodiversity, who reported on the Conventions that will be opened for signature this week.
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