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INFORMAL NEGOTIATING GROUP I

The first item on the agenda was adoption of L.4 on the multi-year thematic programme of work. Then debate began on L.3, "Guidelines to the Secretariat for organizing information provided by governments." The first three paragraphs, dealing with periodic communications or national reports on the implementation of Agenda 21, voluntarily provided by governments, were accepted. A lengthy debate ensued on paragraph 4, which deals with a "standardized format" and "guidelines." Some delegations, including Iceland, felt that the Secretariat's work should be free of complications and that the process of reporting should be expeditious for governments. Denmark and Germany favored a standardized format to be used by the Secretariat and governments. India suggested using the format of Agenda 21. The Chair said that he would issue a new formulation on Saturday. On paragraph 5, India suggested that 9 months lead time for requesting reports from governments was too long. The US proposed asking governments to identify a contact point to facilitate Secretariat communication with governments on reports.

Changes in paragraph 6, the guidelines to the Secretariat in the preparation of reports, included Denmark's addition of a reference to major groups in 6(b), a debate over the US proposal to delete the mention of non-sustainable lifestyles in 6(d); Iceland's addition of a reference to "combatting poverty and attention to demographic sustainability" in 6(d); and Norway's suggestion to reference assessment of needs and priorities in 6(j). Denmark and Singapore said that there should be a sub-paragraph on the environmental impact of trade policies. Interested parties were asked to consult on this matter. Finally, 6(m) was amended to read, "Other relevant environment and development issues, in particular those affecting youth, women and other major groups."

The Chair, Ghazi Jomaa, then returned to L.2, "Issues relating to the future work of the Commission." Paragraph 3 was deleted due to problems with the phrase "pre-sessional consultations," which could constrain the Bureau. The last sentence of paragraph 6, regarding the issuance of a document by the high-level meeting, was left in brackets for the ministers to consider.

Discussion continued Saturday morning on document L.3/Rev.1. Brazil, supported by the US and India, wanted to ensure that the focus of paragraph 7 was "to facilitate the task of the Secretariat" whereas Australia, supported by Denmark, said that the reporting guidelines should facilitate the tasks of both the governments and the Secretariat. The Chair said he would reformulate the paragraph to address these concerns.

Paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 address the issues of Secretariat reports for future sessions of the CSD. A lengthy discussion ensued during which questions were raised about the number of reports they were asking the Secretariat to prepare and the guidelines or restrictions being proposed. Egypt suggested that the Secretariat prepare only one report, whereas the EC said it was essential to have an overview report and thematic reports relating to the programme of work. India proposed a compromise that reflected concerns about the analytical and substantive nature of the reports as well as the need for separate reports. A number of countries also proposed amendments to the guidelines.

Paragraph 11 was deleted. Iceland mentioned that paragraph 12 was not clear since it addressed both the sharing of experiences and the development of indicators. The Chair assured the group that the Secretariat would understand it. There was little discussion on the final two paragraphs. The Chair then asked the group if they could accept the reformulation of a few paragraphs discussed the previous day, as presented in L.4/Rev.2. Paragraph 5 on the submission of national reports was approved with an amendment that governments are encouraged to notify, "if possible," the Secretary-General on a point of contact. Paragraph 7(d) was amended to read "Measures taken, including indicators, and progress achieved to reach sustainable production and consumption patterns and lifestyles, to combat poverty, and to limit the demographic impact on the life-supporting capacity of the planet." A new paragraph 7(h) on trade was proposed on the basis of consultations held the previous day. Several delegates wanted time to review this paragraph.

The Chair then moved to document L.2 on issues relating to the future work of the Commission. Egypt, on behalf of Australia, Iceland and the US, proposed paragraph 9 bis, requested the Secretariat to prepare analytical summaries of reports from UN agencies that are highly technical or specialized in nature. There was some confusion on the implications of this paragraph. Several amendments were suggested and the Chair said that he would present a reformulation on Monday.

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