By Saturday afternoon the Main Committee completed its first review of the bracketed text in Agenda 21. Chapter 10, on land management was easily concluded since the only bracketed text dealt with finance. In Chapter 12, on desertification, Koh announced that he would hold consultations on the paragraphs dealing with a future binding convention on desertification. Chapter 13 on mountains had only two bracketed paragraphs dealing with finance, precluding the need for further discussion. In Chapter 14 on agriculture, one bracketed paragraph on plant genetic resources remained unacceptable to the US, who proposed new language. The matter was referred to the contact group on biotechnology.
The outstanding issue in Chapter 17 on oceans, straddling and highly-migratory fish stocks, was deferred to informal consultations. Koh pleaded with the EC to accept the compromise text that had been proposed at PrepCom IV. The final chapter discussed on Friday was Chapter 19 on toxic chemicals. The US opposed removal of brackets in one paragraph that would provide financial and technical assistance to countries to help strengthen risk assessment capabilities.
Saturday morning's session opened with good news as the Committee adopted compromise text for bracketed paragraphs in Chapters 2 (international economy) and 4 (consumption). The compromise brokered by Canada on paragraph 2.33 eliminates the phrase "to restrain consumption" in developed countries, yet retained the need to "generate resources to support the transition to sustainable development." In the chapter on consumption patterns, the US agreed to withdraw its objections to a number of paragraphs, subject to a minor amendment. The chapter now, albeit indirectly, addresses unsustainable lifestyles in developed countries, as well as in segments of developing countries.
Discussion then turned to Chapter 20 on hazardous wastes. Tension began to rise as the Committee commenced discussion on paragraph 20.20(f) on increasing "funding for cleaner technology transfer to developing countries and [economies in transition]..." Members of the G-77 expressed concern about including the transitional countries in this and other paragraphs of Agenda 21. Koh asked Algeria to consult with interested delegations on the placement of a generic paragraph (currently 2.45) that would address these concerns. The next contentious bracketed paragraph addresses the environmental impacts of military establishments. The US refused to remove the brackets it had inserted around this paragraph at PrepCom IV for "national security" reasons. After a number of countries made statements in favor of retaining this paragraph, Koh requested that Sweden hold informal consultations on this issue.
Chapter 21 on solid waste and sewage-related issues was also problematic. A number of paragraphs setting targets and timetables remain in brackets pending the outcome of the discussions on finance and technology transfer. In Chapter 22 on radioactive waste, one non-finance paragraph remains in brackets: the disposal and 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 "Strengthening the Roles of Major Groups." As a number of paragraphs in all of these chapters remained in brackets, Amb. Mazairac, the PrepCom IV coordinator, 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 on economies in transition that is to be placed in the Preamble to Agenda 21, polarization between members of the G-77 and the Eastern European states intensified to a level never before witnessed in the UNCED process. G-77 members felt that placement of this generic paragraph recognizing the needs of economies in transition might jeopardize recognition of the needs of developing countries. Although the text of this paragraph had been agreed to by the PrepCom, a number of delegates who had not been present in New York, and had not been part of the "gentlemen's agreement" that resulted, attempted to reopen the entire paragraph for negotiation, thus jeopardizing that careful compromise. Fearing a new division between Eastern Europe and the developing countries, Koh attempted to resolve this, assuring that the final text in the preamble would properly address the needs of developing countries.
The afternoon session ended on a positive note. The US reported that compromise language had been agreed to on the issue of straddling and migratory fish stocks. The text calls for an intergovernmental conference to be convened under UN auspices to consider means of improving cooperation on fisheries among States. This conference would consider scientific and technical studies by the FAO, while being fully consistent with the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. All in all, delegates emerged from the Main Committee room expressing guarded optimism about the outcome of the Conference.
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