ENB:05:42 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

DRAFTING GROUP C

REVIEW OF SECTORAL ISSUES ' OVERALL CONSIDERATIONS: During the negotiations of the Chair's draft text, the US denied the implication of financial commitments in the language of Agenda 21 after China accused governments of failing to honor Rio commitments. China defended the repetition of demands for additional financial resources and action on EST transfers, saying 'there are repetitions, and there are repetitions.'

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.2) calls for: respect for national sovereignty as well as a comprehensive approach to implementation; international support for developing countries' efforts to mobilize resources at the national level; attention to the importance of financial commitments made at Rio; and the sharing of scientific knowledge and EST transfer on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed. States that have not already ratified and implemented the Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change, and Combating Desertification are urged to do so.

INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT OF LAND RESOURCES: In the discussion of Chapter 10, the US, the EU and Japan resisted attempts by the G-77/China to introduce new language linking implementation of the chapter to predictable means and additional flows of financial resources and EST transfers. China resisted an EU attempt to reformulate the poverty/environment linkage. No agreement was reached in the operative section on proposed references to the resolution of land- and water-use conflicts between and/or within cities and their surrounding areas.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.3) calls for: action on soil and water contamination; a people-oriented approach involving all stakeholders; and dissemination of information and use of assessment techniques including indicators. It notes the uneven pace of implementation of Chapter 10 of Agenda 21 and urges Government action on national and/or local land use planning systems to achieve objectives within the time-frame. Special attention is to be given to stable land-use systems in endangered ecosystems and integrated planning and development where intensified settlement and agricultural production exist. The Secretary-General is requested to strengthen interagency support.

COMBATING DEFORESTATION: The discussion on Chapter 11 and the Forest Principles began within the context of the panel on sectoral issues and the subsequent general debate. A number of countries expressed their support for the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests proposed by the CSD Ad Hoc Working Group on Sectoral Issues. Canada said the proposed Panel should operate in an open and inclusive manner and coordinate initiatives on priority issues. Malaysia said that the terms of reference for the Panel should include: assessment of actions taken; enhancement of all types of forests; identification of cross-sectoral factors; and promotion of open and free trade in forest products. Brazil said the Panel should consider: broadening scientific knowledge; understanding factors affecting trade in forest products; and the feasibility of developing an agreed set of criteria and indicators. Australia encouraged the Panel to focus on indicators, labeling, institutional roles and analysis of the underlying causes of deforestation. Mexico said the Panel should develop criteria and indicators, encourage participation of relevant UN bodies and submit a preliminary report in 1996. The US said that the Panel should be guided by the FAO Ministers' statement.

During the negotiation of the draft decision on forests and the annex that sets out the terms of reference for the Forest Panel, a number of issues were raised including the relationship between the issue of certification and labeling of forest products, and the sustainable management of forests. A number of countries were concerned that the programme of work was not prioritized and that the panel will not have time to consider all of the issues in a comprehensive manner. Developed countries expressed concern that some of the proposed topics are under consideration in other fora, such as the Biodiversity Convention, the FAO and the ITTO. One such issue, which has proved controversial in other fora, is compensation for the commercial use of traditional knowledge. The US and others felt that this topic could detract the attention of the Panel away from the core issue of sustainable forest management. Other issues of concern included whether the Panel should examine the need for a legally-binding instrument, the feasibility of developing internationally-agreed criteria and indicators, and trade in forest products.

With regard to the panel composition, organization of work and secretariat support, the US and Canada stressed that intergovernmental organizations and major groups should participate fully as observers in the Panel and its subsidiary bodies. While most agreed that the DPCSD should provide secretariat support for the Panel, there was some question about the relationship with other UN agencies dealing with forests, the hiring of new staff and the source of funds for the Panel's budget.

The majority of the text was negotiated in a small informal-informal group that met all afternoon and through most of the night on Tuesday, 25 April. The final decision welcomes progress that has been made with regard to the level of awareness, adaptation of policies, strategies and action plans on forests, including the numerous government-sponsored meetings. The Commission also welcomed the Rome Statement on Forestry, as adopted by the Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forests (16-17 March 1995). The Commission urges full implementation of the Forest Principles and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and, in order to pursue consensus and formulation of coordinated proposals for action, establishes an open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.

The mandate, modalities and terms of reference for the Panel are contained in Annex I to this decision. The objective of the Panel is to promote multi-disciplinary action at the international level consistent with the UNCED Statement of Forest Principles. The main categories of issues to be considered by the Panel are:

The Panel will be composed of representatives from governments (including the European Community) and IGOs, NGOs and other groups can participate as observers, on an open-ended and fully participatory basis. The Panel will submit a progress report to the fourth session of the CSD in 1996 and its final conclusions, recommendations and proposals for action will be submitted to the fifth session in 1997. At its first session, the Panel will resolve issues on the modalities of work, including the election of officers. Secretariat support will be provided by the DPCSD, possibly coordinated by a temporary direct hire, with the secondment of relevant personnel from the UN system and other organizations. Funding will come from voluntary extra-budgetary contributions, secondments from international organizations, and in-kind contributions, including the hosting of meetings.

COMBATING DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT: The discussion on Chapter 12 began within the context of the panel on sectoral issues and the subsequent general debate. Bo Kjell‚n, Chair of the INC for the Convention to Combat Desertification, noted that the Convention now has 103 signatures. The Convention rests on four pillars: the bottom-up approach; improved coordination between donors and governments of affected countries; the integrated approach; and strengthened scientific efforts. He asked the CSD for continued political support.

During the negotiation of the draft decision, the US wanted to stress the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification. Sweden, supported by Australia and Algeria, proposed a new paragraph that underlines the four pillars of the Convention. The EU felt that the paragraph on improving scientific knowledge should emphasize the great wealth of existing data and information on desertification. The US did not want to develop a monitoring system, since this would go beyond the provisions of the Convention and create a new institution.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.4) welcomes the conclusion of the Convention to Combat Desertification and urges all governments to recognize the urgent need for early signature, ratification and entry into force. The decision also: recognizes the four pillars of the Convention; urges governments to take an integrated approach to combating desertification; and urges governments to enhance awareness of the Convention, including the observance of International Day for Combating Desertification (17 June). The decision also notes the importance of information- sharing and preserving the knowledge of farmers and indigenous and local people concerning dryland management.

SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT: During the negotiation of this draft decision on Chapter 13, the US did not want to link implementation and facilitation of the Chapter to the provision of new and additional financial resources and transfer of ESTs. The US also objected to a proposed international conference on mountains. A compromise reference to combating poverty was the outcome of a disagreement over the terms 'reduction' and 'eradication.' The latter was preferred by the G-77/China.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.5) recommends: recognition of the need for strengthening existing institutional mechanisms and the knowledge base; and implementation of national and/or local mountain development programmes, as outlined in Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, including monitoring of the impact on mountain communities and ecosystems of, inter alia, production and land-use systems, tourism, transportation and energy production and use. A new look at resource and service flows is advocated, along with the integration of the 'mountain agenda' into other chapters of Agenda 21 and global conventions. The decision also calls for action on combating poverty, mountain economy diversification, protection of the environment and food security of local communities, information networks, and the creation of new livelihood opportunities.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (SARD): After the initial discussion of the draft decision on Chapter 14, an informal- informal was convened among the Cairns Group with the G-77/China, US, EU and Japan agreeing on language welcoming the Final Act of the Uruguay Round. Stronger language was deleted regarding the environmentally damaging agricultural practices and agricultural markets distorted by many agricultural and trade policies.

The final decision recommends: further action to balance the need to increase food production, food security and combat poverty and the need to protect resources; more attention to small farmers in marginal lands and traditional agriculture; and increased understanding of the relations between farmers, the environment, households and community. The full implementation of the Uruguay Round is viewed as an important contribution to an undistorted sectoral and economy-wide policy framework for sustainable development. The impact of trade liberalization is to be monitored. Agricultural research should focus on developing location specific technologies. Governments are encouraged to integrate action on energy into action on SARD. The Commission urges national and international action to support the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources, and calls for information exchange under the auspices of the FAO as SARD Task Manager.

CONSERVATION OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: At the start of negotiations on Chapter 15, the US argued that some of the original draft language re- opened controversial issues already agreed in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

In the final decision, the Commission stresses the principal role of the CBD. References to financial resources and technology transfers are reaffirmed within the commitments made in the CBD. There was some debate on the Commission's competence to refer to the replenishment of GEF funding and the introduction of a new paragraph in the operational section referring to the COP's inclusion in its medium-term programme of consideration of local knowledge and practices. The decision also calls for: ratification and implementation of the CBD by governments who have not already done so; international support for capacity-building, including technology transfer and measures to promote private sector access to joint development of technology; coordination of relevant global and regional agreements; integrated action plans and sectoral strategies (for example, forests, agriculture, marine resources, rural development and land use); fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from biological resources; effective implementation of the CBD; information dissemination, noting the COP establishment of a clearing-house mechanism; development of economic assessment mechanisms to weigh costs and benefits; and protection of local knowledge and practices.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY: In the discussion on Chapter 16, the EU sought greater emphasis on ethical considerations with particular reference to genetic engineering involving human material. Both the US and the EU qualified references to the Commission's monitoring role to avoid any usurpation of the COP's work on a biosafety protocol. The US also resisted stronger language on an international regulatory framework as formulated by the EU. There was a prolonged debate in which the US also resisted the direct references to the precautionary principle with regard to biosafety. The US said such references would prejudge mechanisms set up to examine the issue. The G- 77/China, notably Malaysia, stressed the risks involved, while the US sought to emphasize the immediate importance of biotechnology.

The final decision calls for: action to enhance the contributions of the private sector, financial, academic and research institutions, NGOs and other major groups; case studies on 'best practice' in safe applications; establishment of biotechnology associations, particularly in developing countries to facilitate safe commercialization; and mobilization of public and private finance. Countries and IOs are invited to: prioritize the identification of problems and solutions associated with environmentally sound use and management of biotechnology; promote a balanced understanding of biotechnology within a sustainable development context; establish national databases; encourage ethical responsibility; reinforce safety measures; and enhance EST transfers. The COP is invited to keep the Commission informed about its work on a biosafety protocol.

PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DECISIONS ON THE SECTORAL ISSUES ADOPTED BY THE SECOND SESSION OF THE CSD: The Secretariat's report (E/CN.17/1995/22) described action taken at the international level to follow-up on the CSD's consideration of health, human settlements, freshwater, toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes and radioactive wastes. The US referred to the International Coral Reef Initiative and the initiative to phase out lead, and requested the CSD to recommend that governments develop action plans to phase out lead in gasoline and other products. Mexico also noted that the CSD should support lead-free gasoline initiatives.

In the negotiation of the draft decision, the EU said that the text failed to reflect the entire agenda of the second session of the CSD and insisted that the title be changed to reflect the implementation of sectoral issues only. Belarus proposed the addition of new paragraphs on sharing national experiences, an international conference to promote sustainable development in countries with economies in transition, and a review of regional initiatives.

The final decision notes the WHO-UNDP inter-regional initiative that has incorporated health-environment concerns in the preparation of national sustainable development plans, as well as regional initiatives in this area. In the area of human settlements, the Commission notes two initiatives: the Urban Management Programme and the Sustainable Cities Programme. The Commission also notes: the comprehensive assessment of freshwater resources; progress in establishing the Inter- Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals; the first meeting of the Intersessional Group of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety; the progress in the implementation of the voluntary Prior Informed Consent procedure; the efforts to develop action plans to achieve a phase-out in the use of lead in gasoline; the work of the International Coral Reef Initiative; and the IAEA's General Conference, which initiated the preparation of a convention on the safe management of radioactive wastes.

[Return to start of article]