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CLOSING SESSION

At the closing plenary meeting, Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, addressed the Committee and congratulated the delegates on the work done so far. He stressed that this Conference is an important expression of the sense of global responsibility heralded by UNCED. SIDS are small and isolated and need international support. This Conference is a test case and must distribute practical responsibility within the international community. A lot remains to be done in Barbados, but it is possible.

The Chair then introduced draft decision documents A/CONF.167/PC/L.12, 13 and 14 on the rules of procedure of the conference, the high-level segment, and the organization and programme of work, respectively, which were all adopted. The Chair then introduced A/CONF.167/PC/L.11, a draft decision on the participation of associate members of regional commissions in the Conference and its preparatory process, which was also adopted. Next the Chair introduced A/CONF.167/PC/L.16 on the draft Programme of Action and A/CONF.167/PC/L.17 on the report of donor activities. With some clarification by the Commission of the European Union regarding its funding to SIDS, the two decisions were adopted. Decision A/CONF.167/PC/L.15 on the proposal for the Barbados Declaration was introduced and adopted. Finally, the PrepCom adopted its report (A/CONF.167/PC/L.9).

After all the reports were adopted, Gracie Fong of the Women and Fisheries Network in Fiji made a statement on behalf of all NGOs present at the PrepCom. With all delegates listening attentively she spoke in stark terms of the realities faced by island peoples: the effects of sea level rise; pollution; radioactive contamination; lack of training or education; exploitation of resources and knowledge through commercialization of products; high unemployment; and a sense that SIDS and their people are expendable.

At the conclusion of the speech, she apologized for the erroneous statement made earlier in the week suggesting that Canada, Australia and Germany had opposed reference in Chapter III to a total ban on exports and shipments of hazardous waste, including those designated for recycling, from OECD to non-OECD countries. She clarified that those countries had opposed such a ban at the first meeting of the parties of the Basel Convention in November 1992 and then went on to name Japan, the Netherlands and the UK as the only other known countries to oppose a total ban. The NGO statement also forced Canada, Australia and Germany to clarify their positions for the record.

The Chair then brought the PrepCom to a close with a summary of the work completed and noted that there would be important work to be done between now and Barbados as well as in Barbados itself. She noted that as the first concrete follow-up to UNCED this Conference represented uncharted territory and that they had a joint responsibility to mark the path for others.

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