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WORKING GROUP II

Working Group II met in an informal session to discuss the Chair's draft texts on: Protecting and Promoting Human Health; Sustainable Human Settlements Development; and Toxic Chemicals.

HEALTH: Paragraph 6 was not resolved. India noted that it is incorrect to say that high population growth causes a lack of health care when the reverse is true. India also requested the two main ideas in this paragraph -- poverty and population growth -- be split into separate paragraphs. Greece, on behalf of the EU, disagreed since the text was already too long. After further discussion, the Chair requested that interested delegates work out a compromise.

Algeria requested that paragraph 8 acknowledge that consumption patterns "in developed countries" are the concern. India requested reference to pollution caused by domestic animals. India, Norway, Algeria and China requested that paragraph 10 on the needs of vulnerable groups be redrafted. Norway requested that women's health be addressed in its own paragraph. Belgium, Canada, China, Norway and India requested re-drafting paragraph 11, which lists health priorities to receive particular attention.

Paragraphs 12 and 15 will likely be deleted, since they repeat the priorities listed in paragraph 11. Columbia and India thought that the special report on community participation in the health sector (paragraph 17) was unnecessary. Canada suggested using success stories in national reports (paragraph 18).

Colombia suggested that paragraph 19 should ask governments, particularly from developed countries, to mobilize adequate financial resources. India requested that reference to indigenous systems of medicine be included in the text and Norway requested more importance be given to reproductive and women's health matters.

The final point of discussion was on transfer of technology. Many developing countries requested specific text on transfer of pharmaceutical technology and medicines. Others argued that finance and technology transfer were being addressed in Working Group I and should not be addressed here.

HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Ecuador, the Netherlands, the UK, Sri Lanka, Canada and China suggested changes to paragraph 3, questioning if the right issues (land management, urban transportation, access to shelter and solid waste management) had been singled out for prioritization. They also noted that consideration should be given to the recommendations from Habitat II.

In paragraph 5, on refugees and migration, Algeria wanted reference to refugees in Africa. Canada, supported by China, suggested the text should reflect that urban growth is primarily from within cities and not due to rural migration. India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ecuador disagreed, believing that rural migration is an important cause of urbanization. The EU suggested the final text reflect both.

Sri Lanka and India requested wording in paragraph 8 calling for the strengthening of the United Nations Center on Human Settlements (Habitat). In paragraph 14, the issues of transfer of technology and finance were raised by developing countries. Others suggested that since these issues were being addressed in Working Group I, they should not be addressed here.

Paragraph 15, which contains 16 recommendations, was thought to be too long and repetitive. There were several organizational suggestions in addition to noting areas that were repetitive or incorrectly positioned within the text. Antigua and Barbuda requested that 15(8) draw attention to the Programme of Action adopted at the recent UN Global Conference on Small Island Developing States. Delegates also requested clarification of the term "brown agenda."

In 15(10), many countries were concerned about asking the Secretary-General to prepare an international report on local authorities. China raised the issue of sovereignty and suggested that any reports of the local level should be prepared by national governments. In 15(12) India raised the rural versus urban debate, suggesting that this paragraph be expanded. Finland requested that a separate paragraph deal with transportation. The UK, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands called for more emphasis on the forthcoming Habitat II Conference.

TOXIC CHEMICALS: Delegates found the Chair's draft text on toxic chemicals generally acceptable. In paragraph 4, on the International Conference on Chemical Safety, Algeria wanted to delete reference to the 114 governments that attended the meeting. Denmark disagreed since listing the number of governments and international organizations gives dimension to the Conference.

Canada proposed a new paragraph 8 bis on long-range transportation of air pollution to the Arctic and other regions. Germany did not think this was appropriate in a decision on toxic chemicals and Canada withdrew the proposal. Antigua and Barbuda proposed a new paragraph 10 bis: "The Commission took note of the relevant provision of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which among other things called for appropriate assistance to enable SIDS to control the risk to human health and the environment of their peoples." In paragraph 11, Egypt proposed that the CSD receive reports on the successful use of economic instruments to strengthen chemical management. The US proposed a paragraph 11 bis that takes note of the severe health impacts of human exposure to lead.

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