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MINISTERIAL CONSULTATIONS

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 T”pfer, the German Federal Minister for the Environment. This agreement includes the following points (italicized text reflects new language):

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."

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:

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.

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 Plenary.

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 Kjell‚n, 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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