One year to the day after the final gavel fell in Rio, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) convened its first substantive session to begin the process of monitoring the implementation of the decisions taken at UNCED. With representatives from the 53 member countries and observers from other nations, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and other international organizations, the CSD spent two weeks at UN Headquarters in New York, touching briefly on progress made and obstacles encountered in the year since Rio, but focussing principally on developing the mechanisms for effective review and monitoring of the implementation of Agenda 21 and the other Rio agreements. Only now that the mechanisms have been established and set into motion, can the review of Agenda 21 implementation actually begin.
During the course of the session, the Commission addressed the following items: adoption of a multi-year thematic programme of work for the Commission; issues relating to the future work of the Commission; exchange of information regarding the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national level; progress in the incorporation of recommendations of UNCED in the activities of international organizations and within the UN system; progress achieved in facilitating and promoting the transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building; and initial financial commitments, financial flows and arrangements to give effect to UNCED decisions.
After initial discussion of these items in Plenary during the first week of the session, the Chair, Amb. Razali Ismail of Malaysia, submitted six draft decisions to the two informal negotiating groups for consideration. Informal Negotiating Group I, chaired by Ghazi Jomaa of Tunisia, was responsible for adoption of a multi-year thematic programme of work for the Commission; issues relating to the future work of the Commission; and exchange of information regarding the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national level. Informal Negotiating Group II, chaired by Arthur Campeau of Canada, was responsible for progress in the incorporation of UNCED recommendations in the activities of international organizations; transfer of environmentally sound technology; and finance. On 23-24 June over 50 ministers gathered to participate in the high-level segment and address a number of issues related to the future work of the Commission and implementation of Agenda 21.
On a sad note, during the first week, Amb. Razali announced the passing of Amb. Hamadi Khouini, the Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the UN and Vice Chair of the CSD. Razali noted that Khouini was a man of great energy, strong spirit and strong faith and that he made many things happen in the United Nations.
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