The General Assembly began its examination of Agenda Item 79, "Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development," on Monday, 2 November, with a statement by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The challenge after Rio, stated the Secretary-General, is to maintain the momentum of commitment to sustainable development, to transform it into policies and practice, and to give it effective and coordinated institutional support. Boutros-Ghali highlighted the need for reform and restructuring within the UN system as a whole, and within the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in particular. He expressed hope that the proposed Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) would bolster ECOSOC's efforts to promote coherence and coordination. He went on to elaborate three clusters of economic, social and environmental functions for the UN Headquarters in New York: (1) coordination and substantive support for ECOSOC and the CSD; (2) data collection, methodology, policy analysis and the articulation of development perspectives; and (3) technical cooperation. He also stressed that it is time to breathe new life into the regional commissions and improve UN performance in the field, including the establishment of a "Regional Coordinator" position in each country to coordinate all UN programmes.
As far as the Commission on Sustainable Development is concerned, Boutros-Ghali made a number of concrete suggestions on its function and structure. The Commission must be organized so as to attract maximum ministerial attendance. It should define and refine the strategies and policies needed to foster sustainable development; and it will monitor and promote financial flows. He also mentioned the need to work with non-governmental constituencies. Finally, he announced the formation of an Inter-Agency Commission on Sustainable Development, to be set up by the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) to coordinate cooperation among all agencies and programmes in the UN system.
The next speaker was Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi who served as the Rapporteur-General during the Earth Summit. In his review of the documents adopted in Rio, he said that the Rio Declaration served to build upon the principles contained in the Stockholm Declaration and to prepare the ground for an Earth Charter that might be adopted on the occasion of the UN's 50th anniversary. For Agenda 21 to be effective, it must be translated into effective action. Therefore, the real challenge of Rio lies before us. We have a special responsibility to finish the job begun at Rio. Priorities should be given to mobilize new and additional resources and the proposal for a pledging conference. He closed by presenting the report of the Conference to the General Assembly.
BRAZIL: The Brazilian Minister of External Relations, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, spoke next on behalf of the host country. In his speech, Cardoso stressed the importance of putting Agenda 21 into effect in its entirety, at the local, national, regional and universal levels. To this end, he pointed out the need for new and additional financial resources, transfer of technology, and the creation of the Commission on Sustainable Development. However, he said, the establishment of the Commission should not lead to the elimination of other bodies in the UN system that have their own specific and complementary mandates. In closing, he announced that Brazil has made the offer to host an international research centre on sustainable development and that the first measures for its establishment have already been taken.
UNITED KINGDOM: David MacLean, the British Minister of State for Environment and Countryside presented a statement on behalf of the European Community. "Unless we proceed rapidly to the implementation of the progress we made in Rio, the hours we spent on negotiation will all be for naught." He went on to state the progress made within the EC towards implementation of the commitments made in Rio. At the European Council in Lisbon after the Earth Summit, the EC members committed to an eight-point plan, including: stabilizing CO2 emissions at the 1990 level by the year 2000; ratification of the Climate Change Convention by the end of 1993; early ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity; preparation of national biodiversity strategies; an international review process for the statement on forest principles by the CSD; and EC support for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a convention on combatting desertification and drought.
On the CSD, the EC supports a Commission with the following features: highly qualified and competent Secretariat; open to new ideas and able to provide for the effective and enhanced participation of NGOs and other relevant organizations; and organized to avoid sterile and repetitive debates that have too frequently characterized ECOSOC bodies. Finally, the EC suggests that the proposed High Level Advisory Body be merged with the existing Committee for Development Planning.
On the issue of finance, MacLean reiterated that the EC will strengthen assistance to developing countries in the area of sustainable development and increase funding for Agenda 21. The EC is also committed to IDA replenishment to promote sustainable development and will continue to give consideration to an Earth Increment to the 10th IDA replenishment.
PAKISTAN: The next speaker was Akram Zaki, the Pakistani Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs who spoke on behalf of the Group of 77. While Zaki said that the members of the G-77 have accepted the commitments flowing from the Rio Summit, they regret that the commitment by the developed countries has not been at a similar level as they are preoccupied with immediate political, economic and social problems. He stressed that the G-77 is firmly of the view that the provision of adequate new and additional financing is an essential condition for the implementation of Agenda 21 as it is obvious that the financing requirements far exceed resources that can be mobilized by developing countries.
On the Commission on Sustainable Development, Zaki announced that the G-77 has circulated a document on the structure and tasks of the Commission, in particular that the Commission regularly review and monitor activities on finance and ensure an effective link between the ability and maximization of new additional financial resources. He also drew attention to the establishment of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to formulate a Convention to Combat Desertification and the proposal that a Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States be held in June 1993. He closed by stressing the importance of removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to exports from developing countries to industrialized countries, the need for debt relief and the need to speedily conclude the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
UNITED STATES: William Reilly, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, stated that the 47th session of the UN General Assembly is the first major test of the obligations of Rio. The US looks forward to substantial progress on: desertification; high seas fisheries; sustainable development of small island states; and the creation of the CSD. Reilly stressed that the machinery for the implementation of Agenda 21 must be part of the overall UN reform. The US believes that the Commission should review the following: the progress of nations in implementing Agenda 21 and dealing with other related issues, such as poverty; subsidies for unsustainable development; and the sustainability of major development projects of the World Bank and regional development banks. The Commission must ensure that NGOs are involved in an appropriate way as valuable partners. On finance, Reilly said that in 1993, ODA will grow to US$11 billion (an increase of four percent). In addition, US funding for UNEP, UNDP and the Montreal Protocol Fund will also increase, in conjunction with an increase in total US contributions to multilateral development banks.
GERMANY: The final speech of the morning was delivered by Klaus Tpfer, the German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, who stressed that there is a need for a strengthened, internationally coordinated environmental and development competence and that UNEP and UNDP must be geared towards these new challenges. The Commission on Sustainable Development should act as a coordinating link between all members of the UN family, national governments and NGOs. Tpfer announced that Germany's priorities include: