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MAIN COMMITTEE

On Tuesday night, the extended bureau met until 3:30 am to negotiate the unresolved paragraphs on finance in the Programme of Action. The agreed language, which appears throughout the text, reads: "The implementation of the Programme of Action will require the provision of effective means, including adequate, predictable, new and additional financial resources in accordance with Chapter 33 of Agenda 21." There is also reference to the "optimal use of existing resources and mechanisms" in the text.

On Wednesday evening, the Main Committee convened in formal session to adopt its report, as contained in A/CONF.167/L.6 and addenda 1-16, which contain the Preamble and the 15 chapters of the Programme of Action. The rapporteur, Takao Shibata, made several oral amendments to the draft report, which will be reflected in the final text. Brazil, supported by Colombia, made a statement for the record on the need for compensation for the use of knowledge in traditional and customary practices of local communities and indigenous people. The Main Committee then approved the Programme of Action and agreed to transmit the text to the Plenary for adoption.

Joy Hyvarinen, on behalf of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said that the NGOs had hoped that the developed countries would breathe new life into the Rio process at this Conference, but this was not the case. Although the Conference provided recognition of the urgent situation in SIDS and UNCED language was maintained, NGOs had hoped for greater movement towards the creation of new and innovative financing and economic mechanisms. Dr. Jeremy Leggett of Greenpeace International criticized the developed countries for not addressing climate change, especially two related crises -- the effect on the global insurance industry and coral bleaching. Both of these crises have a negative impact on SIDS. He said that the international community has missed another opportunity to wake up and there may not be many more to come.

In her closing remarks, the Chair, Amb. Penelope Wensley, thanked all the participants and commented on the harmony and partnership between developed and developing countries that has made this Programme of Action possible. Despite the criticisms, she said that they had achieved something here that is worthy of pride -- the first concrete step by the international community to fulfill one of the commitments of UNCED. This is not rhetoric, she added. It is a Programme of Action that clearly and comprehensively defines the actions required to put SIDS on a sustainable footing. The meeting concluded with expressions of thanks by Guinea Bissau, Greece (on behalf of the EU), Algeria (on behalf of the G-77), China, Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of AOSIS), New Zealand (on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand), Romania (on behalf of himself, since he was the only one present from his region), the US, Iceland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), and Barbados.

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