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INTRODUCTION OF THE CHAIR'S REPORT

An informal paper was circulated Wednesday morning containing the outcomes of the previous two-day's discussions. Introducing the paper, Holdgate pointed out that the report is provisional, but provides a basis for further discussion. Part I covered the structure of the report and deals with organizational aspects and will take the form of the Working Group reports submitted to the CSD in 1994. Part II was on the interlinkages of the sectoral issues and highlights several aspects, including approaches to sustainable development, tools, finance issues, transfer of technology, cooperation and capacity-building and coordination with existing conventions. Part III contained the key proposals for action, highlighting proposals that the CSD might address. Part IV contained a summary of the comments on the Secretary-General's reports.

GENERAL COMMENTS: Several delegates said the Chair's paper provided a useful basis for discussion. The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said there are a number of important issues that should be contained in the text, including: national sovereignty over resources; cooperation between governments; the need to implement the relevant chapters of Agenda 21; CSD coordination of the implementation of Agenda 21; transfer of technology on preferential, concessional and grant terms; and the need to implement Chapter 33 of Agenda 21. The EU disagreed with the G-77 and China's proposal for additional items, since it would unnecessarily broaden the agenda.

Japan, supported by the US and Canada, suggested that the paper be restructured to start with the recommendations from the Secretary-General's papers, followed by the discussions of the Group and concluding with the proposals for action. Canada stated that the report should reflect the consensus of the Group, be coherent, people-centered and less technical. France, on behalf of the EU, suggested that paragraph 14 spell out how the recommendations could be addressed at the third session of the CSD.

II. COMMON ELEMENTS AND INTERLINKAGES

In this section, most of the delegates' comments addressed the paragraphs on finance and technology transfer.

Paragraph 9 (financing issues): The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said this paragraph should support all the provisions of Chapter 33 of Agenda 21. There should also be reference to the need for "partnerships" between developed and developing countries and cooperation among multilateral financial institutions, as well as recognition that the financial support is for developing countries. The US wanted to add a new sentence acknowledging that low-cost actions can now be taken at the national level. The EU, supported by New Zealand, stressed that this paragraph should be balanced and address both international financing and national resources. The EU also took note of the G-77's request to reference financial support for developing countries and mentioned the need for South-South-cooperation, to which the Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, responded that Chapter 33 of Agenda 21 is not about South-South cooperation. Malaysia objected as well, adding that this issue is addressed in other fora. This forum is relevant for North-South cooperation. China concurred stating that this agreement dated back to General Assembly resolution 44/228 and was based not just on financial ability but on historical responsibilities as well.

Japan agreed with the G-77 and China that elaborate discussion on financial issues will take place next week, and concurred with France and the US on the need to undertake financial mobilization at the national level. There is need to make reference to private sector financing as it is becoming an increasingly important source of funds. Canada suggested that while they were not opposed to making reference to Chapter 33 and 34, it is necessary that reference to technology should correspond to the sectoral issues.

Paragraph 10 (technology transfer): The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, thought that technology transfer issues should be implemented as they are described in Chapter 34 of Agenda 21. There also needs to be mention of capacity building for the recipients so they can use and develop technology. New Zealand thought that the reference to scientific research is too vague, and that the Group should develop some priorities.

Paragraph 11 (technology transfer): The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that indigenous farmers' technologies must be recognized within intellectual property regimes. The US preferred to say the "consideration" rather than the "protection" of farmers' rights. The EU said that any language here should be based on the Biodiversity Convention. New Zealand thought that the reference to the Mexico City meeting in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity was vague. Australia wanted to add references to monitoring biodiversity, land use, agriculture and forestry and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Paragraph 12 (coordination of existing conventions and related processes): The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the Climate Change Convention should be included. New Zealand and Norway said that there should be reference to coordination among international organizations in this paragraph. Benin said that the role to be played by other bodies in the UN system and their possible contributions to the conventions should be mentioned. Japan had no problem including the Climate Change Convention, but cautioned that it may dilute the emphasis on the biodiversity and desertification conventions. Canada emphasised that the recommendations should draw on the principles of the Convention and not suggest new action. Tunisia referred to paragraphs 33 to 38 of the report of the first CSD and pointed out that it was not within the CSD's mandate to coordinate any of the Conventions or agencies.

III. KEY PROPOSALS FOR ACTION

A few editorial amendments were made to the eight proposals for action. There were, however, a few proposals that generated substantive debate, including those related to technology transfer, forests, SARD and biodiversity.

The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, did not think that NGOs should be listed as equal partners with governments and UN agencies in developing tools for integrated land management. He proposed a new formulation that calls for appropriate contributions from NGOs. France maintained that the work of the OECD should be mentioned since it provides valuable lessons. Tunisia, on behalf of the G-77 and China, preferred the development of internationally agreed indicators, which are global in nature, rather than criteria. The US questioned why criteria and indicators on forests should be developed, when a recent FAO meeting concluded that it was impossible to develop global criteria. In any case the upcoming conference of Ministers in Rome, might be the appropriate forum to address this issue. China proposed that activities be undertaken "in an open and transparent manner, with the full and effective participation of developing countries," reflecting their specific conditions and needs.

There was debate on the need for an open-ended intergovernmental panel to address the issue of forests, under the aegis of the CSD. Following negotiations within a contact group, it was decided that such a panel be established. The CSD will determine its terms of reference and the modalities for its establishment.

The proposals by the Committee on New and Renewable Energy for Development also attracted debate. The US wanted to delete this reference entirely, while France, on behalf of the EU, had reservations due to the implied possibility of creating new institutions. He amended it so that action on energy is facilitated by relevant organizations and donor agencies, rather than establishing a network of centers of excellence. Subsequently, the US withdrew its objection.

The G-77 and China made a new proposal to encourage the Biodiversity Convention to immediately determine the ways and means to economically evaluate the knowledge of farmers and indigenous people and give adequate protection and compensation to farmers rights in the context of intellectual property rights. Australia and Japan reserved their positions on compensation to farmers, since farmers' rights differ from intellectual property rights. The US said that this topic is not appropriate for this forum and should be deleted. France, on behalf of the EU, said that intellectual property rights are governed by WIPO and the CSD may not be able to give directives to Parties to a convention.

Malaysia expressed surprise at hearing the strenuous objections to the basic rights of farmers. She pointed out that this issue is already on the agenda of the Biodiversity Convention COP and the recommendation is only asking the CSD to encourage the COP to carry out its work in this direction. Language on compensation and protection of indigenous knowledge and farmers rights is also contained in the Convention to Combat Desertification and was discussed at the biodiversity meeting in Mexico City.

India, supported the Philippines and Malaysia, noting that compensation for knowledge is now generally accepted. Hence, information on technologies developed by farmers should be fairly compensated and there should be a mechanism to address this.

Denmark agreed with France and drew attention to the Medium Term Programme of work adopted by the first COP to the Biodiversity Convention in the Bahamas, in which it adopted as the agenda for 1996 the knowledge, innovation and practices of local communities. He suggested that this be used as the compromise language. No agreement could be reached so the Chair adjourned the meeting and promised to craft a compromise proposal over night.

IV. RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE PROPOSALS CONTAINED IN THE SECRETARY GENERAL'S REPORTS

After protracted debate, delegates agreed to merge paragraphs 14 and 15 to include five ideas: (1) the Group had noted the detailed proposals for action in the Secretary-General's reports; (2) the Group welcomed many of the proposals but had reservations on some; (3) equal emphasis should be placed on action aimed at implementation at both the national and international levels; (4) there is need to further define the priorities of the different recommendations; and (5) the CSD and other appropriate implementing agencies should give further consideration to the detailed proposals as a basis for action.

Chapter 10 — The Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources: This chapter covers issues related to national and subregional programmes on land use and management. The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, added reference to "the management of land and its resources" in paragraph 16. India wanted to include reference to the report on the Panel on Science and Technology for Development in the same paragraph.

Chapter 11 — Forests: Taking into account the delicate nature of this issue, France proposed establishing a small contact group to work on this section. This proposal was supported by all delegates and the contact group, including delegates from France (EU), Brazil, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, the Russian Federation and China, met on Thursday afternoon. The Group's proposals were to be based on the comments made on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, all delegates agreed that the basis for any further work on forests should be Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and the Statement of Forest Principles. Canada was pleased to see recommendations for a two-year work programme, which should also stipulate the functions of the intergovernmental working group. Rather than have technical assessments, the proposed programme could deal with pooling together the existing initiatives. Brazil, on behalf of the G-77 and China, proposed the addition of "unfavorable terms of trade" to the factors that have adverse influence on forests. Brazil also proposed that instead of an inter-governmental working group on forests, a "panel on forests, under the aegis of the CSD," was a better option. The Group also wanted the tasks of the proposed panel drawn from the Statement of Forest Principles and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, rather than those proposed in the Chair's paper.

On Thursday, when the discussion continued, the Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, added that: there should be a reiteration of national sovereignty over resources; tropical forests are covered by the ITTA; and the terms of reference of the panel should be drawn from Chapter 11 of Agenda 21.

France, on behalf of the EU, said that some of the words, such as the establishment of a "panel" on forests, are ambiguous. The US preferred the establishment of a CSD ad hoc working group rather than a panel, modeled after the IPCC. The working group should be intergovernmental, open-ended, transparent and participatory, facilitated by the DPCSD, and draw on the expertise of relevant UN agencies, NGOs and others. The US, supported by New Zealand, added that if this Working Group does not come up with specific guidelines, it leaves itself open to action taken by the FAO ministerial meeting in mid-March.

Papua New Guinea expressed skepticism with regard to the establishment of an intergovernmental working group. Such intergovernmental panels emerge and then rapidly evolve into a "closed house scenario" where small countries are often marginalized. He added that a number of these working groups exist and since their mandates have not been exhausted, Papua New Guinea is not convinced that another "talk shop" is needed. There are no real experts in sustainable forest management because this is a new concept. Traditional land owners are often the true experts.

China warned against plunging into new exercises without giving the Forest Principles and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 a chance. He reiterated the need to be guided by some of the basic principles that emanated from UNCED, including an integrated approach towards environmental protection and economic development, with a proper balance between the management and sustainable development of forestry resources.

Canada reminded delegates that the work undertaken by the Intergovernmental Working Group on Forests, convened by Canada and Malaysia, is based on Chapter 11 and the Forest Principles and already involves 32 countries, five IGOs and 11 NGOs. In paragraph 21, Canada suggested that the working group or panel should draw upon the coordinating role of the DPCSD, assisted by the IACSD as well as other specialized agencies within their competence, including FAO, UNEP, ITTO, the World Bank and UNDP.

Australia and New Zealand wondered if the G-77 saw a difference in what either a panel or a working group could accomplish. Australia and Japan supported Canada in the need to recognize previous work in the forest debate. Australia also proposed that the CSD recommend that the COP for the Biodiversity Convention should consider adding forest biodiversity to its medium-term work plan. New Zealand questioned this proposal because the medium-term work programme is already overloaded. New Zealand did not agree with the G-77 and China's proposal to delete the list of the main elements of the activities of the proposed working group.

Chapter 12 — Desertification and Drought: The Chair's three-paragraph draft: emphasized the need for an early ratification of the Convention; recognized land degradation in the humid regions and drylands; proposed that desertification programmes be carried out in line with the Convention; and called upon the CSD to give political support to the Convention, assist in awareness raising, and urge early ratification and effective implementation, especially in Africa.

Burkina Faso, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the text should call for support of the Resolution on Urgent Action for Africa and promote actions in other regions. Benin said that the phrase "although desertification by definition occurs in the drylands only" should be deleted because the definition of desertification in Agenda 21 and the Convention says that desertification occurs in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. This paragraph should also mention that desertification has a direct impact on the loss of biodiversity.

The G-77 and China felt that in order to implement the Convention, the CSD should take a certain number of steps, including: observing 17 June, which is the international day for desertification; promoting awareness of parliaments and decision makers on the implementation of the Convention; encouraging workshops, seminars and other meetings; closely following and monitoring the preparation for the first COP; and contributing towards the mobilization of the necessary financial resources for the Convention.

Burkina Faso, on behalf of the G-77 and China, Uganda and Benin pointed out that the Secretary-General's paper acknowledges the interface between desertification and land degradation and biodiversity, climate change and water. Both documents also underscore the need for international cooperation and partnerships. These issues should be reflected in the report to the CSD. Uruguay and the Philippines welcomed the reference to land degradation in the humid regions and Uruguay amended the text to include land degradation in "humid and sub-humid regions," to extend the definition beyond that of the Convention.

Peru and India stressed the need to acknowledge that urgent measures are needed in other regions affected by desertification and that these references should be reflected in the text. France, on behalf of the EU, said that emphasis should be given to both the signing and ratification of the Convention, as well as the concepts of participation and partnerships on which it is based. In response, the Philippines stated that the G-77 and China believe that the COP to the Convention should play its appropriate role, but the CSD plays a vital catalytic role.

Chapter 13 — Sustainable Mountain Development: The draft noted: the social, economic and cultural aspects of human development in mountain areas; the emphasis on action at the local, national and subregional levels; the need to reduce poverty; the need for mountain development programmes with a participatory approach; the need for regional inter-governmental consultations and exchange of experiences; a world conference is unnecessary; and the CSD's role in encouraging subregional agreements, such as the Alpine Convention.

Peru, on behalf of the G-77 and China, stressed the importance of collaboration between international bodies, NGOs and governments in implementing Chapter 13. Regional action is also important, but it requires the support of the international community as well as the participation of local and indigenous communities and NGOs. He stressed that the proposed international meeting would facilitate the exchange of objectives, results and experiences derived from the on-going regional consultations. The EU suggested that regional instruments may be premature, but favored initiatives to formulate subregional agreements on mountains. Switzerland concurred with the G-77 and China, but stated that the role of the academia should also be noted. He preferred the use of the term "regional" to "subregional" instruments. Switzerland would be interested in a world conference, but not at Summit (Heads of State) level.

France, on behalf of the EU, preferred action to be taken at the local and regional levels, and did not support an international meeting. Consequently, the CSD should support the efforts of coordination for the preparation and negotiation of subregional and international initiatives.

Chapter 14 — Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development: The Chair's paper stated that: SARD should have a balanced approach, which addresses food security and protection of resources, while addressing multiple objectives; SARD requires monitoring the social and environmental impacts of trade liberalization; and SARD also requires agri-environmental indicators to measure progress, attitude change, and the availability of energy for agricultural and agro-industrial productivity.

Argentina, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that mention should be made of the outcome of the Uruguay Round. The work of competent economic and environmental organizations, such as the WTO, UNCTAD and UNEP, should be noted. Uganda, supported by Malaysia, added that the social, environmental and economic impacts of trade should be monitored and evaluated.

The EC concurred with Argentina's proposals and supported developing criteria, not just indicators, to monitor the status of, and progress in, the transition to SARD. Malaysia, supported by China, objected to this proposal unless there was clarification whether the criteria were national or international, and as long as they applied to both developed and developing countries. Japan said it is premature to address the Uruguay Round before implementation of its agreements.

Malaysia objected to the mention of the WTO, arguing that a trade body cannot make recommendations on environmental matters. The EC noted that the WTO has a Committee on Trade and Environment, in which the CSD participates, hence it would be strange for the CSD not to recognize it.

Chapter 15 — Biodiversity: The Working Group supported the Chair's proposals, and made few amendments. The paper acknowledged: the value of the Secretary-General's report in making progress; the cross-sectoral nature of the biological diversity and link with the other issues under discussion; and the Convention as the principal mechanism for biodiversity conservation. Proposals to the CSD include: urging the ratification of the Convnetion; encourage the Convention to take a lead in exploring coordination of existing related global and regional agreements and cooperation mechanisms; and to integrate the Convention agreements into their national and related sectoral plans.

India, on behalf of the G-77 and China, proposed additional text: to promote fair and equitable sharing of benefits accrued from the profits of biodiversity. France, on behalf of the EU, emphasized that the Secretary-General's report provided a sound basis for the use and access to genetic resources. He said the report from the COP should also be noted by the CSD. He argued that coordination should go beyond national plans to cover "sustainable development, particularly in the sectors of forestry, agriculture, marine living resources, rural development and land use."

Peru said the proposal should: (1) recognize the important role of biodiversity in food security, agriculture and combating poverty; and (2) mention the need to protect the traditional knowledge of local and indigenous communities. Malaysia concurred, and, supported by the Philippines, suggested that the text also reflect that the COP had already drawn up plans to discuss biosafety.

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