ENB:05:57 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

DRAFTING GROUP I

PROTECTION OF THE ATMOSPHERE: Delegates considered the Secretary- General’s report (E/CN.17/1996/22 and Add.1) as well as the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Sectoral Issues (E/CN.17/1996/6). In the general debate on Chapter 9 of Agenda 21, the EU emphasized: international agreements; the precautionary approach; and policy instruments, including reduced subsidies. The US emphasized: monitoring, especially of POPs; the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC); urban air pollution; the Montreal Protocol; and transboundary air pollution. CANADA recognized the CSD’s role in identifying critical areas, but emphasized that it does not have a direct role in implementing international agreements. The PHILIPPINES encouraged technology transfer for the mitigation of climate change.

SAUDI ARABIA expressed concern about selective interpretation of the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), noting uncertainty over natural climate cycles. COLOMBIA highlighted urban air pollution and reducing transportation demands. VENEZUELA stated that: the CSD should not duplicate the work of other fora; the report neglects some air pollution sources; and there is a need for more information on climate change. SWITZERLAND noted cost-effective measures to mitigate climate change. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), highlighted the importance of the FCCC and its Berlin Mandate to SIDS. BANGLADESH underlined the responsibilities of Annex I and non- Annex I countries under the FCCC. The INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF SCIENTIFIC UNIONS called for support for the Climate Agenda.

Some of the key issues that arose during the negotiation of the Chair’s draft decision included: transfer of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs); reference to consumer patterns, especially of developed countries; duplication of international legal instruments; and using language from the report on atmosphere of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Sectoral Issues. The most difficult debate centered on reference to the Second Assessment Report of the IPCC and whether to denote specific findings. SAUDI ARABIA requested that “socio-economic assessment” should be part of the scientific basis for response. At one point, SAUDI ARABIA, supported by COLOMBIA and VENEZUELA, proposed developing a simplified alternative text, rather than continuing to negotiate the Chair’s draft. Several delegations objected.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1996/L.21) stresses several points including: the close interrelationship between protection of oceans and the protection of the atmosphere; Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration (common but differentiated responsibilities) and paragraph 4.3 of Agenda 21 (poverty and environmental degradation); reduction of local, especially urban, emissions; sound scientific and socio-economic bases for decision- making; and the Second Assessment Report adopted by the IPCC in December 1995. The decision characterizes the IPCC report as the “most comprehensive” assessment of climate change issues to date, and notes its conclusion that the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate. It also contains a footnote stating that this conclusion must be considered within the caveats and uncertainties contained in the report.

PROTECTION OF THE OCEANS AND ALL KINDS OF SEAS: In their review of Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, delegates considered the Secretary-General’s report on oceans and all kinds of seas (E/CN.17/1996/3 and Add.1), the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Sectoral Issues (E/CN.17/1996/6) and other related reports. In the general debate on Chapter 17, INDIA emphasized the need for multilateral assistance, and more data on the high seas. BRAZIL stressed the impact of sewage on coasts. PAPUA NEW GUINEA, chair of the South Pacific Forum, expressed concern that the report of the Ad Hoc intersessional group tried to renegotiate some fisheries agreements. The EU advocated: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); the Washington Global Plan of Action (GPA) for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities; and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). The US called for reduced bycatch and regular review of progress. The EUROPEAN COMMISSION emphasized cooperation with regional fisheries management organizations. COLOMBIA highlighted strategies for integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and pollution from transborder toxic waste shipping. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said the Washington GPA poses challenges for coastal activities in developing countries. THAILAND emphasized the difficulty in reducing bycatch, asking States to refrain from unilateral trade action. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION requested future presentations on regional cooperation for coastal management.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1996/L.23) reaffirms the common aim of promoting sustainable development, conservation and management of the coastal and marine environment. It highlights: integrating environmental, social and economic factors; special requirements of developing countries; scientific evidence and the precautionary approach; financial resources, ESTs, capacity building and resource ownership and management; and information exchange. The decision welcomes: intergovernmental instruments on living marine resources and ocean pollution; the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and its Framework for Action; development of regionally-harmonized environmental regulations under the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) conclusions on offshore oil and gas activities; and partnerships between governments and the private sector. It highlights: integrated coastal area management, especially in urban areas; management of waste water, POPs and radioactive contaminants; and information systems capacity for developing countries and SIDS, including the GOOS.

IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL FISHERY INSTRUMENTS: Debate on implementation of international fishery agreements began with closed meetings of a contact group on Annex II of the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group. Observers stressed that there was basic agreement over fundamental issues, including: the international agreements on sustainable fisheries are significant and welcome; there has not yet been time to fully implement many of these recent agreements; and all nations should implement these agreements as quickly as possible. There was substantial disagreement over the role of the CSD vis-�-vis these agreements. Some delegates and NGOs favored an aggressive role for the CSD in emphasizing individual clauses, particularly regarding bycatch and discards, reduction of overcapacity and reflagging of fishing vessels.

A second contact group further debated the decision. In addition to the results of the earlier contact group, a group of coastal states proposed a less-detailed text and the US proposed text that attempted to reconcile the other proposals.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1996/L.22) calls for: urgent corrective action to rebuild depleted fish stocks; preventing overfishing and reducing fishing capacity; applying the precautionary approach; minimizing waste and discards; supporting regional and subregional fisheries management organizations; and avoiding adverse impacts on artisanal fisheries. It welcomes the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as recent legal and voluntary instruments and resolutions pertaining to living marine resources. It notes that the FAO Code of Conduct links trade in fishery products to obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement to avoid: obstacles to this trade; environmental degradation; and negative social impacts. It also invites the FAO to prepare a report on progress toward improved sustainability, and invites the World Food Summit to consider fisheries issues.

INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GLOBAL PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT FROM LAND-BASED ACTIVITIES: Delegates used the Ad Hoc Working Group’s report as a basis for discussions. The final decision (E/CN.17/1996/L.19) regarding institutional arrangements for the implementation of the GPA from the Washington Conference recommends that ECOSOC, in its 1996 substantive session, recommend to the UNGA a draft resolution that endorses the Washington GPA and stresses the need for States to implement it in cooperation with relevant UN bodies, donor organizations, and NGOs and other major groups. It calls for establishment of a clearing- house mechanism, with a pilot project on sewage to be developed with the World Health Organization, and for the clearing-house to consider the following additional categories: POPs; heavy metals; radioactive substances; nutrients and sediment mobilization; oils and litter; and physical alterations.

REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES: Delegates based their discussion of this issue on the Secretary-General’s report (E/CN.17/1996/20 and Add. 1-6). In the general debate, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, on behalf of AOSIS, noted that some SIDS appear to be achieving economic progress, but they remain vulnerable to natural disasters. PAPUA NEW GUINEA said that macroeconomic stability is required for sustainable development. The MARSHALL ISLANDS said that the removal of nuclear waste will demand additional resources. The EU highlighted: an upcoming assessment of the Lom� Convention; the FCCC; and fisheries management. CUBA stressed coordination of UN institutions. BARBADOS called for alternative energy sources and disaster management planning. MALTA outlined investments in human resources and communication infrastructure. The SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME noted progress on climate change, waste management, energy resources and biodiversity conservation.

Some of the key issues that arose during negotiation included references to: the role of the UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) as coordinator of the Programme of Action; support from the international community to improve air and maritime transport for SIDS; SIDS’ dependence on imported petroleum goods; “expected” effects of global climate change and sea-level rise; human influence on climate; and the adverse impacts of declining ODA on sustainable development and the role of the private sector.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1996/L.17) notes that the CSD’s recommendations are complementary to those of the Programme of Action. It highlights: concern at declining levels of ODA; mobilizing domestic resources and the private sector for sustainable development; a vulnerability index; globalization and trade liberalization; and the role of the DPCSD. It also makes recommendations on: climate change and sea level rise; natural and environmental disasters; coastal and marine resources; energy resources; tourism; and transport and communications.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND COORDINATION: A final decision on international cooperation and coordination on general marine and coastal issues, under section F of Chapter 17 (E/CN.17/1996/L.20), recommends that ECOSOC approve that there should be a periodic overall review by the CSD of all aspects of the marine environment and related issues, and the Secretary-General should be invited to review the working of the Administrative Committee on Coordination’s (ACC) Subcommittee on Oceans and Coastal Areas to address the need for improved coordination.

[Return to start of article]