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SUMMARY OF THE AD HOC OPEN-ENDED INTERSESSIONAL WORKING GROUP OF THE UN COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:: 24 FEBRUARY-7 MARCH 1997

The Ad Hoc Open-Ended Intersessional Working Group of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) met from 24 February to 7 March 1997 at UN Headquarters in New York. The Working Group focused on the format and substantive contents of the document to be considered at the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) to review the implementation of Agenda 21, which will be held from 23-27 June 1997. During the first week, delegates engaged in a general debate on sectoral and cross-sectoral issues, strengthening the role of major groups, emerging priorities, institutional issues and format of the outcome of the Special Session. During the second week of the Working Group they responded to a Co-Chairs’ draft "Proposed Outcome of the Special Session." Delegates received a revised version of the Co-Chairs’ draft on Friday, 7 March, to bring back to their capitals for further review prior to the fifth session of the CSD in April 1997.

Most delegates highlighted freshwater, energy and transport, forests and oceans as sectors of new or priority concern. Delegates noted the importance of the cross-sectoral issues of poverty and changing consumption and production patterns, although, as Co-Chair Derek Osborn (UK) said in his closing remarks, more creativity is needed on the first, and new initiatives and resources must be brought to bear. Osborn also noted that renewed efforts by both developed and developing countries are needed on the means of implementation. UN institutional issues, including the strengthening of UNEP, were discussed. Many participants agreed that the Intersessional Working Group’s output provides a sound basis from which to develop a substantive product, but some hard thinking will be necessary in the next month as delegates contemplate the ideas that were tabled in New York, and especially as they consider the one section of the text that was largely left unaddressed: the political statement that heads of State and government will send to the world at the Special Session in June.