FORESTS: The Forest Principles document was finalized Friday
morning at 3:00 am and was scheduled to be sent to the Plenary
Friday night at 11:00 pm. In a open-ended ministerial level meeting
that began Thursday night at 10:00 pm, 18 countries, represented by
no less than 11 ministers, finally agreed after modifications to an
eight-paragraph package proposed by Klaus Tpfer, the German
Federal Minister for the Environment. This agreement includes the
following points (italicized text reflects new language):
- Paragraph (a) of the preamble was modified to read as follows: "The subject of forests is related to the entire range of environmental and development issues and opportunities including the right to socio-economic development on a sustainable basis."
- Paragraph (d) of the preamble that dealt with a possible future legal instrument for forests was replaced with language that commits the governments to a prompt implementation of the principles and that they decide to keep them "under assessment for their adequacy with regard to further international cooperation on forest issues."
- In paragraph (f) of the preamble, the phrase "are of value to the global environment" was replaced by "and are of value to local communities and to the environment as a whole."
- Preamble paragraph (g) was replaced with the sentence, "Forests are essential to economic development and the maintenance of all forms of life." This replaces a complicated set of competing formulations including some phrases surrounded by three sets of brackets.
- Paragraph 17 (carbon sinks) was deleted and elements placed into paragraph 2(b) that deals with the needs and uses of forests. The terms "photosynthesis" and "carbon fixation" were replaced with "carbon sinks and reservoirs".
- Paragraph 8(d) was re-written to read "Sustainable forest management and use should be carried out in accordance with national development policies and priorities and on the basis of environmentally sound national guidelines. In the formulation of such guidelines, account should be taken, as appropriate and if applicable, of relevant agreed methodologies and criteria."
- Paragraph 8(g), that addresses the sharing of biotechnology (from the North) in exchange for access to biodiversity (from the South), was reformulated to allow access to biological resources in trade for the sharing of technology and profits from biotechnology "on mutually agreed terms."
- Paragraph 8(h), dealing with environmental impact statements was amended to read "and where such actions are subject to a decision of a competent national authority."
- Paragraph 12 (transfer of technology) was adopted, as suggested in Tpfer's "package", to include the phrase, "access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and corresponding know-how on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed, in accordance with the relevant provisions of Agenda 21, should be promoted, facilitated and financed, as appropriate."
- The "trade policies" paragraph was amended with the phrase, "adequate policies, aimed at management, conservation and sustainable development of forests, including where appropriate incentives, should be encouraged."
The only other outstanding issue was paragraph 11.14(e) from the
Agenda 21 chapter on combatting deforestation that addresses the
principles and the possibility of future international agreements
on forests. This was amended to read as follows: governments would
"consider the need for and the feasibility of all kinds of
appropriate internationally agreed arrangements to promote
international cooperation on forest management, conservation and
sustainable development of all types of forests including
afforestation, reforestation, and rehabilitation."
- Paragraph 15(b), which dealt with international trade in sustainably managed forest resources, was deleted.
FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Final negotiations on financial
resources appeared to be drawing to a successful close as of late
Friday afternoon. In his progress report to the General Committee
(members of the Bureaus of both the Plenary and the Main Committee)
at noon Friday, Amb. Rubens Ric�pero announced that consensus had
been reached on several paragraphs:
- In paragraph 10, the sentence that deals with the provision of new and additional resources, and includes the word "including", was broken into two parts. The first sentence now only deals with the fact that the implementation of Agenda 21 requires new and additional resources. The second sentence now deals with the terms on which these resources will be provided.
Jan Pronk, Minister of Development Cooperation from the
Netherlands, has been assigned responsibility for conducting
bilateral consultations on paragraph 15, which deals with targets
and timetables for ODA. As of late Friday afternoon, consultations
were still underway.
- In paragraph 16(a)(iii), on the GEF, the problem pertained to the word "conditionality." The compromise now reads, "Ensure access to and disbursement of the funds under mutually agreed criteria without introducing new forms of conditionality."
As of Friday afternoon, Ambassador Ric�pero was still holding
consultations on paragraph 16(a)(i), that deals with IDA and the
"Earth Increment". The present round of IDA replenishment, IDA-10,
is underway and will conclude in December 1992. Current textual
options call for IDA-10 to be maintained at IDA-9 levels, corrected
in real terms, plus an increase of approximately US$5 billion in
the form of the Earth Increment. Some governments are concerned
that if UNCED commits to levels for the IDA-10 replenishment it
will limit or foreclose options within the ongoing negotiations in
other fora. Others believe that it is unrealistic to set funding
levels before reviewing the projects that IDA-10 would fund.
Delegates within the negotiations believed that compromise language
would be found before the 11:00 pm deadline.
Finally, paragraph 16(e), which deals with debt relief, is now
under review. Particularly problematic, for some developed
countries, is the phrase "further measures and eligible countries
should be kept under review." Some countries feel that this might
expand the list of countries available for special debt relief
consideration beyond the list of the poorest heavily indebted
countries under an expanded definition of the Trinidad agreement of
December 1991. By late Friday afternoon, text was being circulated
privately among governments. This text was reported to replace this
phrase with: "debt problems of the poorest and low and middle
income countries will be kept under review." Negotiators were
confident that this would be resolved in time for the 11:00 pm
ATMOSPHERE: Informal consultations continued at the
ministerial level to resolve the one outstanding issue in the
Atmosphere chapter, the phrase "safe and" wherever the reference to
energy systems occurs in the chapter. The Saudis continue to press
for the retention of the phrase, despite the opposition of many
countries who maintain that the phrase connotes an anti-nuclear
bias. In an effort to broker compromise, Amb. Bo Kjelln, chair of
the Atmosphere contact group that met over the last two weeks,
presented a generic solution whereby the reference to "safe and"
would be deleted from the chapter and a reference would be inserted
in the chapeau to Agenda 21 to state that wherever technology is
referred to in the document, it should be assumed that such
reference implies environmentally safe and sound technology.
Besides the Chair's proposal, the only other viable solution would
be to delete, against the Saudis' will, the reference to "safe
and". However, in so doing, the Saudis would retain the right to
make formal reservations to the section. In yesterday's ministerial
consultations, it appeared that the Saudis would not accept the
so-called "chapeau" solution, thus presenting the group with the
latter option. By 6:00 pm it appeared that this issue would have to
be resolved in Plenary.
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