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PROGRESS IN THE INCORPORATION OF UNCED RECOMMENDATIONS WITHIN THE UN SYSTEM

The Secretariat distributed four documents on this agenda item: E/CN/17/1993/8, "Progress in the incorporation of UNCED recommendations in the activities of international organizations," prepared on the basis of inputs received from agencies and programmes of the UN system, covers major areas of activities related to the implementation of Agenda 21, as well as new initiatives and processes launched within the UN system to implement the results of UNCED and incorporate sustainable development principles at all programme levels. E/CN.17/1993/9, "Improving coordination of programmes related to development data in the UN system," outlines current and prospective UN activities relevant to the recommendations of Chapter 40 of Agenda 21. The first section describes the nature of a possible "Development Watch" and the second section describes UNSTAT's proposals for integrated accounting and indicators of sustainable development. E/CN.17/1993/13 contains information provided by the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD on the implementation of Agenda 21 and E/CN.17/1993/14 contains information provided by UNEP on the implementation of Agenda 21.

During the discussion in Plenary, more than 22 UN agencies and related organizations gave presentations. A number of agencies mentioned the need for greater coordination and cooperation within the UN system, as well as with NGOs and the private sector. Many reported they are currently reviewing activities in relation to Agenda 21.

UNCTAD is working on linkages between commodity policy, environment and development. UNICEF said that follow-up to the World Summit for Children is encouraging. UNEP has placed its priorities in three areas: capacity building and partnerships with other UN agencies, IGOs NGOs and the private sector; catalyzing responses to environmental problems by bringing governments together; and sensing the environment. The World Bank's actions on Agenda 21 include: IDA replenishment; US$2.2 billion to 20 countries for environmental concerns; ensuring that lending is environmentally and socially benign; and partnerships with other organizations and NGOs. UNDP described its new Sustainable Development Network and Capacity 21.

UNFPA is developing an analytical framework to guide linkages between population, environment and development. WHO is developing a new strategy on health and the environment. UNESCO is promoting: education for sustainable development; ecosystem management; and support for training and capacity building. UNU is establishing a water resources center in Ontario and a center on governance in Barcelona. GATT said its priority is a successful outcome to the Uruguay Round. UNIFEM called for gender balance in institutions implementing Agenda 21. ILO is collaborating on the programme on chemical safety, completing a convention on the prevention of industrial accidents and has developed its own Agenda 21. The IMO is focussing on degradation of the marine environment from offshore oil and gas platforms and waste from ships. UNIDO is assisting in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol and other conventions. IAEA is focussing on capacity building and IFAD is adjusting its lending portfolio in response to Agenda 21. IMF is introducing poverty alleviation concerns into adjustment programmes. UN Drug Control Programme emphasized the relationship between the drug trade and the environment. The World Food Programme is increasing assistance for disaster mitigation. OECD is focussing on sharing experiences of OECD members in specific policy areas, peer reviews, and data indicators.

When Governments had the opportunity to comment, France, supported by Nigeria and India, suggested that agencies make statements during the substantive discussions on issues that fall within their mandates, rather than in the middle of an interminable discussion of agency activities. The US said the priority is to implement a system-wide sustainable development strategy, including restructuring and reallocation of resources. The EC said that future CSD sessions should allow more dialogue with the agencies. The Nordics suggested that inter-agency coordination would be enhanced if countries took a consistent position in governing bodies. Egypt said the IACSD should address the allocation of tasks and determine why there is overlap. China stressed increased coordination and cooperation on the basis of comparative advantage. Brazil stressed the crucial importance of liberalization of trade in the achievement of sustainable development. The NGO Task Force on Legal and Institutional Matters said that the leading bodies of relevant treaties, organizations and the GEF should work together to ensure the implementation of Agenda 21. She stressed the need for Secretariat and intergovernmental coordination; agency reports should follow a format with respect to specific information regarding Agenda 21; and a framework should be established for NGO participation in intersessional consultations.

In the negotiations on E/CN.17/1993/L.6 that followed in Information Negotiating Group I (due to the difficult negotiations on finance and technology transfer, the Chair decided to move consideration of this item from Group II to Group I), a lengthy debate ensued on paragraph 1. This paragraph notes initial measures taken to implement Agenda 21 within the UN system, including the establishment of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD). Some countries were concerned about ensuring that the IACSD was effective and determining how the CSD could monitor its activities. A number of delegates said that the CSD should also look at measures taken to implement the Forest Principles, the Rio Declaration and the conventions. The final paragraph takes these matters into consideration and also requests the Secretary-General to continue to inform the CSD on measures taken to ensure the effective functioning of the IACSD.

In paragraph 3, on the need for further measures to incorporate the principles of sustainable development in the UN system, Uruguay, Austria and the Netherlands favored a flexible system that would not include the creation of a new body. The US cautioned against initiating a new reform study process. France said complementarity should be stressed and overlap avoided. The final paragraph reads: "The Commission recognized the need for further enhancing inter-agency coordination in the UN system to ensure more cost-efficient, effective and result-oriented follow-up to the Conference, to avoid duplication and to ensure more efficient use of resources in the implementation of Agenda 21."

Paragraph 4, on harmonization of governing body policies, invites ECOSOC and, through it, the General Assembly, to take into consideration the implementation of Agenda 21 in the context of the ongoing process of restructuring in the economic, social and related fields. As proposed by the Nordics, paragraph 5 calls on countries to maintain consistent positions in various governing bodies to achieve greater harmonization of policy direction. Paragraph 6 addresses the lack of funding to meet the new mandates stemming from Agenda 21 and asks UN programmes to provide information regarding their financial needs and priorities that are relevant to UNCED follow-up. Paragraph 7 mentions the importance of enhanced cooperation between the UN system, NGOs and major groups.

Paragraph 8 requests all international organizations, including international financial institutions, to report on their UNCED follow-up activities and ensure that the reports: assess the progress achieved in implementation of relevant chapters of Agenda 21; identify gaps and opportunities for cooperation, including cooperation with NGOs and major groups; compare and assess the relevance, strength and usefulness of various programmes and activities; clarify organizational responsibilities within the UN system; and assess the progress made in reducing unnecessary duplication of efforts. The remaining paragraphs address improvement in the coordination of programmes related to development data; discontinuing the reporting requested by the General Assembly in resolutions 42/186 and 42/187, to avoid duplication of work; and incorporation of UNCED recommendations into programmes and processes within the UN system based on the multi-year thematic programme of work.

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