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Volume 27 Number 37 - Thursday, 31 May 2012
UNCSD INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS
Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Delegates to the third round of UNCSD informal consultations continued negotiating in two Working Groups and a number of breakout groups throughout the day and during night sessions.

WORKING GROUP I

V. FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION AND FOLLOW UP: Chemicals and Waste: Delegates debated proposals to delete the entire section or individual paragraphs. The G-77/CHINA suggested a reference to financial assistance for building capacity for chemical management. MEXICO proposed references to resource mobilization. The EU introduced 2030 targets on global management of waste as a resource and significant reduction of landfilling. On measures to prevent the dumping and unsound management of hazardous wastes, SWITZERLAND, opposed by CANADA, suggested reference to waste management standards and entry into force of the Ban Amendment.

Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP): Delegates discussed text related to the adoption of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on SCP, among other issues, with the G-77/CHINA proposing deleting all text except the paragraph on the 10YFP. The EU proposed additional text suggesting reaching an absolute decoupling of economic growth from natural resource use, and significantly improving global resource efficiency. The US suggested reference to a body that would operationalize the 10YFP, such as UNEP or the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Mining: CANADA, with the US, proposed “recognizing the importance of strong and effective legal and regulatory frameworks.” The G-77/CHINA, supported by AZERBAIJAN, requested deletion of text on the mining industry being “managed, regulated and taxed properly,” and on improving revenue and contract transparency. On preventing conflict minerals from entering legitimate supply chains, CANADA suggested exploring new ways of accomplishing this with industry and other stakeholders.

Education: The US, opposed by the EU and SWITZERLAND, bracketed “equal” in text affirming full and equal access by all people to quality education. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA requested special consideration of people in rural areas, and the G-77/CHINA of indigenous peoples, local communities and ethnic minorities. The G-77/CHINA proposed emphasizing higher education in developing countries. The US supported technical, entrepreneurship and business skills training.

Promoting Green Jobs: The G-77/CHINA, opposed by the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, requested deletion of several references to “green jobs,” and consolidation of multiple paragraphs. The HOLY SEE proposed that jobs created be “decent.” The US, opposed by the EU, SWITZERLAND and the HOLY SEE, requested deletion of paragraphs on social protection, indicating this is addressed by the International Labor Organization. The US also requested deletion of a paragraph on international migratory labor, and the EU suggested alternative text based on an UNGA resolution, while the G-77/CHINA reserved on this.

Oceans: The EU introduced: language indicating that UNCLOS provides the overall legal framework for ocean activities; a 2020 target related to the protection of marine ecosystems; and language on integrated coastal and ocean management. TURKEY proposed a number of amendments reflecting its reservation regarding UNCLOS.

On the possible development of an UNCLOS agreement on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), MEXICO supported its early conclusion by 2016, while the G-77/CHINA reserved. SOUTH AFRICA, also on behalf of Maldives, Brazil, Nauru, Micronesia, India, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Ecuador, Monaco, Argentina, Philippines, Fiji, Barbados and Uruguay, suggested initiating, as soon as possible, the negotiations on an implementing agreement to UNCLOS that would address the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ. The EU added reference to the negotiations’ conclusion by 2016, and AUSTRALIA suggested providing relevant recommendations to the 68th session of UNGA. JAPAN requested retaining the original text on the work of the UNGA Working Group on BBNJ, but deleting reference to possible development of an agreement. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION cautioned against pre-judging the outcome of the Working Group.

The G-77/CHINA proposed deleting text on the impact of pollution on marine ecosystems. The EU, supported by AUSTRALIA, called for retaining it, adding a 2025 target for the reduction of marine litter. AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND requested consideration of threats posed to marine ecosystems by invasive species.

On ocean fertilization, delegates debated reference to the precautionary principle, approach or approaches. JAPAN, supported by NEW ZEALAND and the EU, suggested reference to the work of the London Convention and Protocol in addition to the CBD.

The G-77/CHINA, opposed by the US, ICELAND and MONACO, requested deleting specific reference to an “international observing network” for ocean acidification. On restoring depleted fish stocks, ICELAND requested that this be qualified by “where possible,” whereas AUSTRALIA suggested that this be done “within the shortest biologically practical period.”

The G-77/CHINA suggested additional text on fisheries subsidies, to welcome efforts eliminating or reducing existing subsidies contributing to over-capacity and overfishing, and NEW ZEALAND added that this should be accomplished by 2015. JAPAN requested deleting text pointing to agreement not to introduce or extend subsidies that contribute to overfishing and over-capacity.

Informal Consultations: AUSTRALIA said consultations on transport reached agreement on paragraphs regarding sustainable transport and development of sustainable transport systems, and introduced elements of a Mexican proposal on non-motorized mobility in the section on cities. Co-Chair Ashe said informal consultations will be facilitated as follows: agriculture and food security (US); desertification (Australia); chemicals and waste (Mexico); oceans (Australia); education (EU); mining (Canada); water (Iceland); climate change (Barbados); disaster risk reduction (Japan); gender (Norway); and SIDS and other regions (Monaco).

Major Groups: CHILDREN AND YOUTH said all jobs can and must be green and contribute to sustainable development. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES said their needs should be incorporated into the mining text. WOMEN said text on e-waste should incorporate the precautionary and polluter pays principles and industry contributions should fund clean-up. The NGO Major Group Ocean Cluster highlighted concluding a new UNCLOS agreement for the conservation and management of BBNJ and adopting a timeframe for the elimination of harmful fishing subsidies by 2015, among others. FARMERS stressed food sovereignty, rural women and artisanal fisheries. WORKERS and TRADE UNIONS supported just transition strategies.

WORKING GROUP II

II. RENEWING POLITICAL COMMITMENT: Engaging Major Groups and Other Stakeholders: A large number of amendments were submitted by the EU, G-77/CHINA and SWITZERLAND to paragraphs on the participation of the private sector and corporate responsibility, while the US and CANADA voiced preference for the original CST language. The EU proposed aligning business practices with the UN Global Compact, and the G-77/CHINA, opposed by the US, asked for deletion of “applying standards” of corporate responsibility and “accountability.”

NORWAY proposed developing a transparent global system on corporate responsibility, to which MEXICO added “taking into account the needs of developing countries.” The EU suggested that the Secretary-General launch a process to develop a global framework to promote best practices for integrating sustainability reporting building on existing frameworks.

On the contribution of the scientific and technological community, the G-77/CHINA offered language on closing the technological gap between developed and developing countries. The US, opposed by the G-77/CHINA, added “legally acquired” in relation to sharing of knowledge and information.

Delegates agreed on text stressing the importance of participation by young people and workers and trade unions. On acknowledging the central role of the UN, the G-77/CHINA suggested referencing international financial institutions and the importance of cooperation among them, while the US and EU said this should be “within their respective mandates.” The EU, opposed by the US, G-77/CHINA and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, proposed requesting that the Secretary-General strengthen the capacity of the UN to develop and manage partnerships.

III. GREEN ECONOMY IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY ERADICATION: The G-77/CHINA, opposed by the REPUBLIC OF KOREA and SWITZERLAND, called for changing the title to “Framing the Context of the Green Economy Challenges and Opportunities as well as Other Visions, Models and Approaches to Sustainable Development.”

In text affirming that implementation of a green economy should be guided by Rio principles, the G-77/CHINA preferred references to equity and the principle of CBDR. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA and SWITZERLAND preferred CST text.

The G-77/CHINA suggested respecting national sovereignty over natural resources. The EU added a sub-paragraph on respecting human rights, while the G-77/CHINA added sub-paragraphs on promoting SCP, avoiding increasing the financial burden on developing countries and avoiding the “financialization” of natural resources.

On paragraphs regarding implementation of green economy as a common undertaking, lowering environmental impacts, integrating social and environmental costs into decision-making and partnerships, the US, the EU, CANADA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA said they could go along with current text with minor adjustments. The G-77/CHINA preferred a full quotation of Rio Principle 2 on sovereign rights of states to exploit their own resources.

The G-77/CHINA added a paragraph recognizing that strong and urgent action on SCP patterns is fundamental and, in text recognizing the power of communications technology, called for technical cooperation and transfer of technology.

In text inviting business and industry to take green economy approaches, the G-77/CHINA said this should be in accordance with national legislation. NORWAY, AUSTRALIA and SWITZERLAND supported referencing the UN Global Compact principles of corporate social responsibility. The EU preferred inclusion of the UN Global Compact in a different manner as well as acknowledging the importance of microenterprises.

The G-77/CHINA, opposed by JAPAN, suggested reaffirming the objective to promote technology transfer to developing countries “on favorable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms.” The G-77/CHINA proposed financial support for developing countries to collect data, in relation to text on gathering information and data. The EU said “national efforts by” developing countries “should be supported.”

The EU reserved the right to introduce text, due to the large number of amendments that were made to the CST. NORWAY noted that the entire section failed to reference the full participation of men and women in a green economy.

IV. INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (IFSD): Most delegations indicated their acceptance of the original text on strengthening the three dimensions of sustainable development. Delegates agreed on four subparagraphs in this subsection, including on participation of developing countries in various governing structures and mechanisms. Language was reopened in the process of discussion, however. The G-77/CHINA asked for replacing “monitoring” in relation to progress in sustainable development by “follow-up” in several paragraphs, but the EU preferred “monitoring.” On public participation, the G-77/CHINA and the US asked for deletion of an EU amendment on granting civil society representatives “enhanced consultative status.” The G-77/CHINA bracketed an EU proposal for “a mechanism of periodic review” of sustainable development commitments, suggesting instead language on reviewing progress on commitments to provide financial resources and technology transfer.

The Working Group held an initial discussion on ECOSOC, with Mexico suggesting specific language to define more focused functions for ECOSOC on sustainable development issues. Delegates also discussed the possible functions of a high-level political forum, which could possibly replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

Informal splinter groups reported back on paragraphs.

Major Groups: CHILDREN AND YOUTH urged delegates to compromise more, BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY focused on the role of the private sector, and NGOs called for a rights-based approach, including for a healthy environment.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Signs of fatigue were visible in negotiations, with some participants displaying impatience with the number of amendments introduced at this late stage of negotiations, prompting one Chair to call for a break in order to “cool down.” Although some delegations respected the Co-Chair’s admonitions to restrict their “amendment itch,” other delegations seemed invigorated for new battles. While Co-Chair Ashe opted to delegate all sub-sections to smaller groups, Co-Chair Kim openly vented his frustration, commenting on “the mess” some paragraphs were now in. “You are expected to turn text from a tiger to a lion, but you changed it to a bird.” Some noted that delegates became more engaged during the evening discussion of the possible functions of a high level political forum, which some thought was a positive sign of movement on a delicate issue.

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This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org> is written and edited by Anna Schulz, Elsa Tsioumani, Andrey Vavilov, Ph.D., Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., and Peter Wood, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Dan Birchall. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). General Support for the Bulletin during 2012 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute – GISPRI), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Belgium Walloon Region, the Province of Québec, and the International Organization of the Francophone (OIF and IEPF). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022, USA. The ENB team at the Third Round of ‘Informal-Informal’ Negotiations on the zero draft of outcome document of the UNCSD can be contacted by e-mail at <peterw@iisd.org>.

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