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EMERGING PRIORITIES

Delegates commented on Co-Chair Osborn’s summary of priority areas emerging from Monday and Tuesday’s debate. The summary identifies potential recommendations for UNGASS in the areas of: freshwater; oceans; atmosphere; energy; forests; and major groups.

On freshwater, the US expressed hesitation regarding action at the international level, as drinking water and sanitation issues are best addressed at more localized levels. CANADA supported the examination of freshwater issues and the Global Water Partnership. MEXICO and KAZAKHSTAN noted linkages between freshwater and other issues. AUSTRALIA supported a key role for the CSD on freshwater issues, noting the need to involve all stakeholders and use the best available science.

On oceans, the US supported the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action but did not support the establishment of global or regional-level targets. CANADA supported the elimination of excess fishing capacity and endorsed global targets but said the precautionary approach should be used. JAPAN said regional organizations should establish any measurable targets and the CSD should not consider fisheries. AUSTRALIA suggested that over-capacity of fishing fleets is perhaps the most critical oceans issue.

On atmosphere, CANADA said the gathering of world leaders at UNGASS could propel climate change discussions forward. SWITZERLAND and SWEDEN concurred. SWITZERLAND called for quantified objectives. The US said UNGASS should not identify a range of targets for reducing CO2 emissions. The EU, supported by AUSTRALIA, suggested dropping atmosphere issues from the CSD and UNGASS.

On energy, the US said the CSD should focus on efficiency, environmentally sound transportation systems and less polluting fuels. SWITZERLAND and the US said UNGASS should recommend that energy pricing reflect social and environmental costs and call for increased investment in renewable energy. The US said UNGASS should not set targets for such investment. AUSTRIA supported proposals that the CSD adopt a comprehensive approach to energy, including transport, urban issues and redirecting subsidies and, with SWITZERLAND, supported CSD prioritization of transport. The NGO ENERGY CAUCUS called for a 20% reduction of carbon emissions by 2005 and for the internalization of all fuel consumption costs. EGYPT suggested that energy subsidies be considered with finance issues. The NGO TRANSPORTATION CAUCUS called for examination of land-use planning, car-free areas and internalization of transportation costs.

On forests, COLOMBIA said a high-level CSD working group should continue to facilitate intergovernmental dialogue. CANADA suggested that UNGASS reach a conclusion regarding the launch of a forest convention. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said forest issues should be addressed in a framework separate from the Convention to Combat Desertification. JAPAN said the IFP outcome should be respected.

The US said NGO access should be broadened to the UNGA. He agreed that UNGASS should recommend action for expanding major group participation at the national level.

Delegates made interventions on a number of other issues. On hazardous wastes, COLOMBIA called for more effective interventions in illegal transboundary movements. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA noted the lack of public awareness about the increasing number of accidents and stressed the need to address the handling, transport and disposal of radioactive wastes, including on a regional basis. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA and DEMOCRATIC PEOPLES’ REPUBLIC OF KOREA each expressed concern regarding the other’s pollution and hazardous waste-related activities.

The US emphasized effective education and public awareness strategies. GREECE announced plans to host a conference on environment, society and education with UNESCO. AUSTRIA called for focused work with the media in the run-up to UNGASS to spread the consensus arrived at by the CSD and to publicize the impact of sustainability on real lives.

GERMANY recommended sustainable tourism and soil protection for the CSD’s work programme. COLOMBIA called for progress on a biosafety protocol and integrated management of chemicals. SWITZERLAND said sustainable mountain development is linked with other items emerging for consideration such as freshwater and forests. CANADA said the CSD should broaden its examination of fragile ecosystems to include the Arctic and MALAYSIA added Antarctica.

The NGO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES CAUCUS stressed the health-related needs of indigenous peoples. The LORETO COMMUNITY called for a ban on the sale and transfer of land-mines and for non-violent conflict resolution training. The CITIZENS’ NETWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT called for: a formalized dialogue regarding corporate accountability; greater national government commitment to encourage local Agenda 21s; community-based indicators of sustainable development; and restructured economies with less emphasis on the military.

IRAN reiterated that the CSD should avoid prejudging the conclusions of work being conducted in the COPs of environmental conventions. EGYPT said the UNGA could invite COPs to consider its views as representative of the community of nations. SWEDEN drew a distinction between decisions on existing processes including the FCCC and decisions on developing processes on water and forests, and called on the CSD to find ways to explore the related issues of freshwater, land use, sustainable agriculture, desertification, drought and urbanization.

EGYPT insisted on setting specific targets because continued generalities would provide no yardstick to measure future progress. The US stated that priorities should be defined at the national and local levels and, with AUSTRALIA, opposed setting targets.

NORWAY stressed that poverty and consumption should be used as the context in which other issues are discussed in the CSD. He recommended that the CSD focus on issues where follow-up processes are lacking. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION noted that many issues can be resolved at regional, sub-regional and bilateral levels. The EU and ASSOCIATED COUNTRIES called for wider participation in the CSD by ministers and all stakeholders, notably local authorities and the private sector, along with partnerships with Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO.

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