CHAPTER 40: INFORMATION FOR DECISION MAKING
This chapter of Agenda 21 addresses the issues of collecting and
using information for sustainable development and monitoring the
implementation of Agenda 21. This chapter was completed at PrepCom
IV and no further discussion was needed at the Conference. The two
programme areas in this chapter are: Bridging the data gap; and
Improving information availability.
PART II: AUTHORITATIVE STATEMENT OF FOREST PRINCIPLES
The Forest Principles document, (officially, the "Non-legally
binding authoritative statement of principles for a global
consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable
development of all types of forests) arrived in Rio in a state of
disarray with 73 separate pairs of brackets surrounding text in
more than a dozen individual problem areas. Some observers spoke of
its intractablity and the chances that UNCED would drop this
document or defer discussion of forest principles to another fora.
The greatest problem facing the Chair of the Main Committee, Tommy
Koh, was the selection of the issue coordinator who would lead
negotiations in the contact group. Despite initial hesitation,
PrepCom coordinator Charles Liburd of Guyana, was reappointed.
Negotiations began on Thursday, 4 June and continued until Friday,
12 June at 3:00 am when agreement was finally reached. While many
believed that the negotiations here were more productive than at
PrepCom IV, the debate was still acrimonious. It was only when the
debate reached impasse and the responsibility for negotiations at
the ministerial level was passed to Klaus Tpfer, the German
Federal Minister for the Environment, that success was achieved.
During the first week sub-contact groups were formed to deal with
individual paragraphs, while the contact group dealt with the less
problematic areas. Some participants reported that while consensus
text might emerge from these smaller sub-contact negotiating
groups, the compromise language was often lost when they reported
back to the contact group and discussion was re-opened. When Liburd
reported back to Koh at the last all-night session of the Main
Committee, consensus had not been reached on four paragraphs in the
preamble with a further nine paragraphs bracketed and subject to
Tpfer assumed responsibility for the ministerial level
negotiations on Thursday, 11 June. In a open-ended meeting that
began 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. 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."
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- Paragraph 15(b), which dealt with international trade in sustainably managed forest resources, was deleted.