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GENERAL DISCUSSION ON PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AGENDA 21

Mrs. Joke Waller-Hunter, Director, Division for Sustainable Development of the DPCSD presented an overview of the Report of the Secretary-General. She noted that some 85 countries have established Sustainable Development Councils and that approximately 75% of the reports included NGO input. Some national reports recommend the development of indicators that are universally acceptable and consequently the UN has prepared a background paper on sustainable development indicators for this meeting.

GROUP OF 77: Amb. Ramtane Lamamra (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the G-77 and China, expressed concern that the Spirit of Rio is fading. The new and additional funding that was promised to support implementation of Agenda 21 has not materialized. Consumption patterns should be included as a permanent item in the CSD's agenda. The G-77 proposed that an intersessional open-ended working group consider the themes of the CSD's 1995 work programme: forests, biodiversity, desertification, and lands.

EUROPEAN UNION: Greece outlined challenges for this session of the CSD: set clear priorities for action; review and assess progress achieved in other international forums; and address trade and the environment. The EU is addressing the issue of unsustainable consumption patterns with a wide range of measures, including information, education, training and the development of environmentally sound options for consumers and enterprises.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The representative suggested that the first task of the CSD is to underlie certain basic orientations that should guide international discussions on trade and the environment. The pollutor pays principle should be taken into account.

BRAZIL: The representative noted that there has not been much political will on the part of developed countries towards improving cooperation in the critical areas of financial resources and transfer of technology since Rio. Brazil supported the G-77's call for a new open-ended ad hoc intersessional working group.

CHINA: The representative reviewed the ten-point strategy and other steps his nation has taken to implement the UNCED agreements. He stressed the relationship between environment and economics and commented that the international economic order, especially with regard to debt and trade, should be examined. He was disappointed with the action on the part of some developed countries with regard to funding, technology transfer and other assistance.

EGYPT: Mostafa Tolba asked what the true impact of the Commission was on other bodies. Are the Commission's advice and requests taken seriously? He suggested that the gaps and difficulties in implementation be identified in an executive summary in national reports, in reports on UN actions and in a report on the achievements of Agenda 21.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA: In addressing the issue of trade and the environment during this meeting, the representative noted that policies should be mutually supportive, as stipulated in Agenda 21, and least trade restrictive. Financing, exchange of information and consumption patterns should also receive considerable attention.

UNITED STATES: Amb. William Milam discussed three areas of importance: monitoring national and international efforts; sustainable production and consumption; and trade and sustainable development. To monitor efforts we should find ways to encourage reporting, including the development of more simplified reporting procedures and the development of key indicators of sustainable development.

THIRD WORLD NETWORK: Martin Khor suggested that the reduction of aid may be offset through more efficient use of available funds, but other economic issues, such as the debt crisis and commodity pricing, must be addressed. He also stated his concern about the ambiguity of the current status of NGOs. He expressed his hope that their status would be clarified so that they continue to bring the input of local communities into the CSD.

COLOMBIA: Dr. Alfredo Rey commented on the issues of trade, consumption patterns and financing. On trade, he expressed his hope that the WTO would lead to expanded markets, clear rules and a more democratic negotiation process. On the issue of consumption patterns, he urged that transnational corporations also make appropriate commitments. He lamented the lack of resolve by countries for fulfilling financial commitments.

HUNGARY: The representative noted that the recent political, economic and social changes in Central and Eastern Europe have created the conditions necessary for the substantial changes in the socio-economic path of development. The newly established Hungarian Commission on Sustainable Development is addressing these issues.

MALAYSIA: The representative noted that there is much work to be completed by the CSD to cross-sectoralize Agenda 21. More diverse and fairer trade is preferable to more aid. Malaysia called on the CSD to simplify the national reporting procedure, suggesting the development of one report to cover a series of meetings.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Amb. Bedrich Moldan identified a need for indicators for environmental aspects of unsustainability, including: sinks (measures of burden on the global system); resources (how governments deal with managed ecosystems); impact of human activities on life supporting systems; and the impact of environmental factors on humans as receptors.

ALLIANCE OF NORTHERN PEOPLE ON THE ENVIRONMENT: Simone Bilderbeek recommended that the CSD coordinate the policies on sustainable consumption between its members and UN agencies. She also called for a working programme to identify how much "environmental space" is occupied by consumers in each country.

SWEDEN: The Chairman of the INCD, Amb. Bo Kjell‚n, updated delegates on the negotiations for the Convention to Combat Desertification. He urged the CSD to: provide general support; show political support through the High-Level Segment; and provide political support for a balanced compromise at the final session in Paris in June.

REGIONAL ECONOMIC COMMISSIONS: Alfredo Gasdaz of ECLAC said the Regional Economic Commissions have provided assistance to countries in Agenda 21 implementation in: promotion of inter-regional and regional cooperation; studies on international trade and sustainable development; development of environmental management plans; and promotion of access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies.

INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS: Lucien Royer spoke about the need for eco-audits in the workplace. He noted that auditing is not new for trade unions, especially as it relates to occupational health and safety, but eco-auditing needs support for success.

IUCN: Director-General David McDowell cited three lessons from Rio: sustainable development will only come if a true commitment is made at the national and local level; actions to bring about sustainable development cannot be the responsibility of governments alone; and intergovernmental organizations can play a supporting role.

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