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SUMMARY OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: 8-25 APRIL 1997

The fifth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-5) convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 8-25 April 1997 to complete preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) that is to review implementation of Agenda 21 in June. The fifth session began with a High-Level Segment and a review of reports from its Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group and the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. At the end of the first week, a series of dialogues with the major groups began in parallel meetings to negotiations on the text to be adopted by UNGASS. Negotiations took center stage during the final week, with two Drafting Groups and numerous informal groups meeting late into the night. CSD-5 Chair Mostafa Tolba (Egypt) and Vice-Chair Monika Linn-Locher (Switzerland) also conducted consultations on a draft political statement for the signature of Heads of State and Government expected to attend the Special Session.

Delegates continued to identify the emerging priority issues that they considered at the CSD’s Intersessional Working Group: freshwater, energy/atmosphere and forests as sectoral foci, and poverty eradication and changing consumption and production patterns as cross-sectoral foci. The voluminous amendments to the text generated some concern that the three weeks of negotiating time at CSD-5 would be too short. Nevertheless, delegates rose to Chair Tolba’s challenge not to leave the UN before reaching agreement on almost everything and adopted a text with fewer brackets than some thought possible. Critical debates on whether to move forward with a forests convention, how to balance financial resource language, and the as-yet-unnegotiated political statement of Heads of State and Government were left pending for consideration at UNGASS.