Summary report, 11–28 April 1995


Nearly three years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development, thethird session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) has madeprogress in positioning itself as the focal point for the examination of sustainabledevelopment at the international, national and local levels. The revised format of theCommission, which included numerous panel discussions, enabled the participants toenter into a dialogue. The two days dedicated to the sharing of national experiences inimplementing Agenda 21 was a departure from the CSD's previously UN-centeredfocus. The Day of Local Authorities, combined with the NGO and government-sponsored panels and workshops throughout the session, enabled the CSD to examinethe local aspects of implementing Agenda 21. While it remains clear that the journeyto true sustainable development is long and arduous, it was heartening to see thatdespite the decline of official development assistance and the lack of new andadditional financial resources, the journey is clearly underway.

During the course of the session, the Commission, under its new Chair, HenriqueCavalcanti (Brazil), examined the second cluster of issues according to its multi-yearthematic programme of work. Delegates discussed: trade, environment and sustainabledevelopment (Chapter 2); combating poverty (3); changing consumption patterns (4);demographic dynamics and sustainability (5); integrating environment anddevelopment in decision-making (8); major groups (23-32); financial resources andmechanisms (33); transfer of environmentally sound technologies, cooperation andcapacity-building (34); science for sustainable development (35); and information fordecision making (40).

The sectoral cluster for this year included: an integrated approach to the planning andmanagement of land resources (Chapter 10); combating deforestation (11); combatingdesertification and drought (12); sustainable mountain development (13); promotingsustainable agriculture and rural development (14); conservation of biological diversity(15); and environmentally sound management of biotechnology (16). The Commissionalso established an Intergovernmental Panel on Forests to 'pursue consensus andformulation of coordinated proposals for action' with regard to the management,conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. The sessionconcluded with a two-and-a-half-day High-Level Segment, attended by over 50ministers and high-level officials.


Agenda 21 called for creation of a Commission on Sustainable Development to: ensureeffective follow-up of the UN Conference on Environment and Development; enhanceinternational cooperation and rationalize the intergovernmental decision-makingcapacity; and examine progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national,regional and international levels. In 1992, the 47th session of the UN GeneralAssembly set out, in resolution 47/191, the terms of reference for the Commission, itscomposition, guidelines for the participation of NGOs, the organization of work, theCSD's relationship with other UN bodies, and the Secretariat.

1993 SESSION: The CSD held its first substantive session at UNHeadquarters in New York from 14-25 June 1993. Amb. Razali Ismail (Malaysia) waselected the first Chair of the Commission. During the course of the session, theCommission addressed the following items: adoption of a multi-year thematicprogramme of work; the future work of the Commission; exchange of informationregarding the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national level; progress in theincorporation of recommendations of UNCED in the activities of internationalorganizations and within the UN system; progress in facilitating and promoting thetransfer of technology, cooperation and capacity-building; and initial financialcommitments, financial flows and arrangements to give effect to UNCED decisions.On 23-24 June 1993, over 50 ministers participated in the High-Level Segment todiscuss issues related to the future work of the CSD and implementation of Agenda21.

1994 SESSION: The second session of the CSD met in New York from 16-27 May 1994. During the course of the session, the Commission, chaired by KlausT”pfer (Germany), examined the first cluster of issues according to its multi-yearthematic programme of work. Delegates discussed the following cross-sectoral chaptersof Agenda 21: Chapters 2 (trade, environment and sustainable development); 4(consumption patterns); 33 (financial resources and mechanisms); 34 (technologytransfer and cooperation); 37 (capacity-building); 38 (institutions); 39 (legalinstruments); and 23-32 (major groups). On the sectoral side, delegates examined theprogress in implementing the following chapters of Agenda 21: Chapters 6 (health); 7(human settlements); 18 (freshwater resources); 19 (toxic chemicals); 20 (hazardouswastes); 21 (solid wastes); and 22 (radioactive wastes).

The Commission also adopted a decision on intersessional work, which called for theestablishment of a new ad hoc open-ended intersessional working group toexamine the sectoral issues to be addressed by the Commission at its 1995 session(land management, agriculture, desertification, mountains, forests and biodiversity).The session concluded with a High-Level Segment attended by over 40 ministers andhigh-level officials.

The members of the CSD determined that although some progress was made, untilthere is an increase in official development assistance and an improvement in theinternational economic climate, it will be difficult to translate the Rio commitmentsinto action. Likewise, many participants agreed that unless the CSD's format ischanged, it will be impossible to shift from rhetoric and speech-making to dialogueand action.

AD HOC OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUPS: The CSD'sAd Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Sectoral Issues met from 27 February- 3 March 1995, under the chairmanship of Sir Martin Holdgate (UK). Delegatesdiscussed the six reports of the Secretary-General on the following sectoral issues:integrated management of land resources, forests, combating desertification,sustainable mountain development, sustainable agriculture and rural development, andbiological diversity. Among the recommendations was a request for the CSD toconsider establishing an intergovernmental panel on forests to assess work alreadydone and to propose further action. The Working Group also recommended that theCSD promote: the exchange of views by governments on integrated land management;the development of tools for integrated land management; priority to technology-related issues; the signature, ratification and implementation of the Convention onBiological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification; action for thesustainable development of mountain areas; integration of energy-related issues intoefforts for sustainable agriculture and rural development; and future work on theprotection of traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communitiesrelevant to conservation and sustainable use.

The Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Finance met from 6-9 March 1995,under the chairmanship of Dr. Lin See-Yan (Malaysia). The Working Grouprecommended that the CSD should: secure the implementation of all financialrecommendations in Agenda 21, including meeting the accepted target of 0.7% ofGNP for ODA as soon as possible; urge developed countries to take appropriate newmeasures towards a solution to the external debt problem of developing countries;encourage international financial institutions and development agencies to continue toenhance their efforts in support of sustainable development; promote capacity-buildingto enhance the use of economic instruments; prepare a detailed feasibility study on anenvironmental user charge on air transport; encourage interested parties to undertake apilot scheme on internationally tradeable CO2 permits; examine the concrete modalitiesand usefulness of establishing environmentally sound technology rights banks; promotea detailed study of the Matrix approach; provide leadership in encouraginggovernments and organizations to launch specific initiatives to support and enrich itswork in financing sustainable development; encourage the Working Group to involveprivate enterprise, research organizations, IFIs, development agencies and NGOs; andfurther promote the use of debt-for-sustainable development swaps, as appropriate.


Outgoing Chair Klaus T”pfer opened the third session of the CSD on Tuesday, 11April 1995, and highlighted some of the ongoing CSD-related initiatives. He called formore dialogue to ensure that all countries benefit from trade liberalization and thatdebt relief measures are developed to support sustainable development. He added thatthe financial resources needed to implement the Rio commitments are still far fromadequate, and called on developed countries to honor ODA commitments. The CSDmust ensure that the goals of sustainable development are integrated into all sectoralareas and the UN must demonstrate its capacity to secure ecological and socialstability through partnership and shared responsibility.

Henrique Cavalcanti (Brazil) was then elected Chair of the CSD. Cavalcanti proposedthree operational aspects for the new intersessional period: assessment of Agenda 21implementation and commencement of work on sectoral and sustainability indicators;enhanced engagement of the UN system in CSD activities; and establishment of adialogue with the private sector to better define the CSD's role and commitment tosustainable development.

In other opening statements, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination andSustainable Development Nitin Desai said that the success of the CSD depends on thepolitical weight given to it by governments. The Co-Chair of the High-Level AdvisoryBoard on Sustainable Development, Birgitta Dahl, outlined the recommendations fromthe Board's third meeting on: sustainable food security; the links between trade andenvironment policies; value-based education for sustainability; and new partnerships.

The Commission then elected the Bureau: Yordan Uzunov (Bulgaria); Takao Shibata(Japan); Magns Jhannesson (Iceland); and Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha (Uganda).Cavalcanti introduced Agenda Item 2 (adoption of agenda and other organizationalmatters), noting that drafting groups will be established on: (a) finance; poverty;consumption; trade, environment and sustainable development; and demographicdynamics; (b) technology transfer; science; decision making structures; and majorgroups; and (c) sectoral issues and biotechnology.


The Commission began its substantive work by convening two panel discussions. Thefirst panel, on financial resources and mechanisms, featured Prof. Grzedorz Kolodko,the Polish Minister of Finance; Andrew Steer, the World Bank; Vito Tanzi, IMF;Hilary Thompson, National Westminster Bank; and Maximo Kalaw, Green Forum, thePhilippines. The second panel focused on sectoral issues and featured Franz Fischler,European Commissioner for Agriculture; Graham Blight, IFAP; David Harcharick,FAO; John Falloon, Minister of Forestry of New Zealand; and Elizabeth Dowdeswell,UNEP. These panels were followed by a more general debate. There were also threedays of general debates on progress in the implementation of Agenda 21. After thegeneral debates, the Chair and the Secretariat distributed draft decisions on each of theitems, which were then discussed by three drafting groups. Drafting Group A waschaired by Magns Jhannesson, Drafting Group B was chaired by Takao Shibata andDrafting Group C was chaired by Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha.


TRADE, ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Inthe general discussion of Chapter 2, Norway highlighted the need for green buyingpolicies, green liability rules and full access to environmental product information.Brazil noted the importance of trade liberalization in promoting an environmentally-supportive international economic system. The US defended the role of trade policiesin pursuing environmental objectives. Morocco said environmental concerns should notserve as a pretext for hindering developing countries' access to markets. Malaysiastressed improved market access and expressed concern about environmentalconditionalities that restrict trade.

The issues that arose during the negotiations included: the use of trade measures inenvironmental agreements; sustained economic growth; 'integrated' disputesettlement; life-cycle approaches; 'discouraging' unilateral actions outsideinternational trade rules; least trade-restrictive environmental policies; andinternalization of environmental costs.

The final decision notes that: trade and environmental policies should be mutuallysupportive in promoting sustainable development; the needs of developing countriesshould be taken into account; and there is a need for capacity-building in developingcountries and countries with economies in transition. It also notes: issues related to thelinks between trade, environment and sustainable development; cooperation to promotean international economic system that will lead to economic growth and sustainabledevelopment and address environmental degradation; the Uruguay Round Agreements;the work of the WTO's Committee on Trade and the Environment; access to markets;transfer of environmentally sound technology (EST); finance for small firms;environmental regulations and standards; the need to analyze impacts of product-specific policies; consumer preference for 'environmentally friendly' products;progress achieved through relevant international organizations; preparation of a paperreviewing research on trade, environment and sustainable development links; studieson the relation between environmental protection, job creation and development;avoiding adverse effects of product specific policies; eco-labeling and recycling;technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition;assessment of the environmental effects of trade policies; coordination betweenenvironment and trade policies; implementation of trade and development principles inaccordance with Agenda 21; and the importance of transparency, openness and publicparticipation in work on trade and the environment.

COMBATING POVERTY: In the negotiations of the Chair's draftdecision on Chapter 3, the G-77/China tended to replace references to poverty'reduction' with poverty 'eradication.' Other points of discussion includedreferences to: the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and theDeclaration on the Right to Development; private sector accountability; and 'womenas the majority of people living in poverty.'

The final decision notes: the complexity of the link between sustainable developmentand poverty eradication; the importance of economic growth in combating poverty; theneed for an integrated approach to poverty eradication; the need for programmesfocusing on women, children and youth; relevant international instruments anddeclarations; and the rights of people living in poverty. The Commission also notes:the need for a favorable international economic environment, including financial andtechnical assistance flows, better terms of trade and access to markets, debt relief, andtransfer of EST; public accountability of private business; implementation of agreedcommitments; cooperation and synergy between the CSD and other commissionsconcerned with poverty eradication; and links between programmes aimed at povertyeradication and sustainable development.

CHANGING PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION PATTERNS: In thegeneral discussion of Chapter 4, the EU noted that developed countries have a specialresponsibility to reduce unsustainable production and consumption patterns. Australia,Bulgaria and Algeria highlighted the CSD's role in consumption issues. ConsumersInternational Environment said that projected energy increases highlight theresponsibility of developed countries to address consumption and production patterns.

In the negotiations of the Chair's draft decision, references to the gaps between andthe responsibilities of developed and developing countries, the life-cycle approach,procurement policies in developing countries, ecological tax reform, and eco-labelinggenerated discussion.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.12) notes that: unsustainable patterns ofconsumption and production are the major cause of environmental deterioration; thereare common but differentiated responsibilities in this field; and developed countrieshave agreed to take the lead by promoting change in their own countries. It also notes:the results of the Oslo Roundtable; the imbalances between developed and developingcountries; measures to reduce production and consumption; the need for long-termstudies; internalization of environmental costs through the polluter-pays principle andthe introduction of economic measures; natural resource accounting; internationalcooperation for setting product standards; and the exchange of experience on all levels.The Commission's future work programme will include: identifying policyimplications of projected trends in consumption and production patterns; assessing theimpact of changes in developed countries on developing countries; evaluating theeffectiveness of policy measures intended to change production and consumptionpatterns; eliciting time-bound commitments from countries; and revising guidelines forconsumer protection.

DEMOGRAPHIC DYNAMICS AND SUSTAINABILITY: There waslittle general discussion of Chapter 5, and in the negotiations most of the discussionfocused on language rather than substance. References to health, educationtechnology, empowering women, populations at risk, and cooperation between theCSD and the Commission on Population and Development were added.

The final decision also notes: the need to study the links between poverty, health,education, technology, patterns of production and consumption, development and theenvironment; the ICPD Programme of Action and the additional resources necessary toimplement it; the integration of population issues into sustainable developmentplanning; populations at risk from environmental degradation; the links betweendevelopment, environmental protection and the empowerment of women; and NGOcontributions.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS: The consideration onChapter 33 began with a panel discussion, and there was also a report on theintersessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Finance. Many countries expressedconcern about declining ODA levels. Colombia said that the question of external debtshould be seen as an opportunity to free resources for sustainable development.Norway called for green tax reform and increased use of economic instruments, andnoted that although private investment flows are at a high level they are unequal in aregional sense. Ecuador expressed concern about the detrimental impact of financingon the environment and the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

The G-77/China said that the debate should focus on: increasing ODA; a solution tothe debt problem; and direct foreign investment. Malaysia called for an increase inODA levels, innovative financial mechanisms, and assessment of the effectiveness ofthe policy instruments in the Matrix. Algeria said that: new and additional financialresources must be mobilized; the debt problem must be resolved; and the issue ofeconomic issues should be left to governments. Brazil said that private capital flowsare essential, but should not replace ODA. The Philippines recommended studying thefeasibility of adopting economic instruments and urged developed countries toencourage private sector investment in developing countries.

In the negotiations, topics that generated discussion included: the decline of ODA inabsolute terms; the 0.7% ODA target; reform measures in recipient countries;international safety nets to address negative effects of private capital outflow fordeveloping countries; debt-for-equity swaps; GEF replenishment; efforts to directnational action; environmental taxes; economic instruments; application of innovativemechanisms; intellectual property rights; sustainable development indicators; a usercharge on air transport; and EST rights banks.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.11) calls for: increased ODA for developingcountries and more effective use of ODA; private capital flows and investment; debt-relief measures; expanding the mandate of international financial institutions to includesustainability; development of sustainable development indicators; mobilization ofdomestic financial resources; economic instruments that take national conditions intoaccount; and support from governments and international organizations forstrengthening national capacities in the use of economic instruments. The decision alsonotes: the Intersessional Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Finance'sconsideration of innovative measures; internationally tradeable CO2 permits; theconsideration of national needs and IPRs in ESTs and biotechnology transferfinancing; further study of the Matrix approach; the principle of common butdifferentiated responsibilities; and the use of national experience as case studies.


INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN DECISION-MAKING: In the general debate on Chapter 8, it was noted that the Secretary-General's report (E/CN.17/1995/19) reflects attempts to develop methodologies forsustainable development strategies, reviews the work on integrated environmental andeconomic accounting, and examines the link between international agreements andnational law. The World Bank called for more attention to the information systemsthat countries will need as national and local initiatives proliferate. Canada noted theimportance of national commissions for sustainable development, participatorystrategies and enhanced economic methodological work. In the negotiationson the Chair's draft decision, Belarus proposed an international conference onsustainable development and countries with economies in transition.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.9) recommends: the establishment of nationalmechanisms to develop integrated, participatory strategies for sustainable development;the participation of governments in the work of the IACSD; development ofmethodological approaches to integration; the development of government initiativeson environmental and economic accounting for sustainable development; andcontinuation of the work of UNSTAT and others on integrated economic andenvironmental accounting.

MAJOR GROUPS: In the general debate on the role of major groups, Indiaand Malaysia called for the participation of NGOs in the work of the CSD andfunding to enhance the contribution of major groups. The US welcomedgovernments' commitment to the participatory approach to Agenda 21implementation, and noted the importance of voluntary support for major groups andNGOs. The EU said that national implementation must be supported byinclusive dialogue, involving NGOs and major groups on national delegations to theCSD. The International NGO Steering Committee for the CSD urged governments tosupport the regularization of NGO participation, currently under ECOSOC review.

Some of the key issues that arose during the negotiation of the Chair's draft decisionincluded: convening a one-day programme on major groups for the 1996 session of theCSD; encouraging major group representation on CSD delegations; encouragingrepresentation in national coordinating mechanisms; establishing linkages betweenmajor groups; providing funding for major groups in developing countries; and theimportance of the ECOSOC NGO review.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.10) recommends that: national coordinationmechanisms should be broadly representative; major group organizations shouldchoose their own representatives; participation of major groups should be enhanced,especially at the international and regional levels and at CSD-relevant meetings; androster status should be continued through the completion of the ECOSOC review.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, COOPERATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING: In the general debate on Chapter 34, the Secretariat identified threepriorities: EST transfer; access to and dissemination of information; and financialarrangements. The emerging trends in ESTs include a shift from end-of-pipe to cleanerproduction technologies and a gradual shift from environmental regulation to the useof economic and voluntary instruments. The Republic of Korea said that the workshopon ESTs, held in Seoul in November 1994, highlighted the need for a consultativemechanism to be established to enhance cooperation and the exchange of information.

During the drafting group sessions, the key areas of disagreement were: whether ESTsshould be transferred on concessional or preferential terms; the role of the privatesector; whether the commercial sector should be the only one to benefit from ESTcenters; whether steps should encourage new and additional financial resources ormerely the flow of financial resources; and the enabling conditions needed for ESTs.

In the final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.6), the work programme addresses: access toand dissemination of information on ESTs, including workshops or expert panels andcase studies on experiences in the implementation of transfer operations; institutionaldevelopment and capacity-building for managing technological change, includingcooperation in the development of basic criteria, joint ventures and the development ofenvironmental performance indicators; and financial and partnership arrangements,including the provision and mobilization of resource flows, enhancement of North-South and South-South cooperation through joint research, and assessment of thepotential impact and benefits of technology transfer.

SCIENCE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: In the general debateon Chapter 35, Gisbert Glaser (UNESCO) identified four strategic priority areas:science, education and capacity-building in developing countries; the strategicimportance of better international cooperation in scientific research; improvedcommunication between scientists and policy-makers; and links between researchinstitutions and the economic sector.

Some of the key issues that arose during the negotiation of the Chair's draft decisionincluded: the importance of indigenous peoples' knowledge; cooperation between theParties to the various environmental conventions; additional funding; enhancing thecapabilities of decision makers to use existing scientific information; and the GlobalEnvironment Observing Systems.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.7) calls on governments and other bodies to: shareinformation concerning scientific capacities and know-how through case studies;enhance the scientific capacities of developing countries; promote the networking ofnational and international centers of excellence; enhance the participation ofdeveloping countries in international research programmes on global environmentalissues; improve communication between science, industry, policy makers and majorgroups to enhance the application of science; and stimulate the donor community toconsider targeted financial support for scientific capacity-building.

INFORMATION FOR DECISION-MAKING: In the general debate onChapter 40, Sweden said that the Working Group on the Advancement ofEnvironmental Statistics has agreed on a first list of environmental indicators. In orderto coordinate the activities in the development of sustainability indicators, it isimportant that the CSD work closely with the UN Statistical Division. Australiaadvocated an inclusive and consultative approach to the development of indicators thatreflect national conditions.

Some of the key issues that arose during the negotiation of the Chair's draft decisionincluded: bilateral and multilateral channels to facilitate access to sustainabledevelopment information; the feasibility study on access to information for SIDS; thedevelopment of indicators of sustainable development (ISDs); coordination betweenUNSTAT and other institutions in the development of ISDs; and the linkages betweenthe different dimensions of sustainable development.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.8) recommends: that developed countries usebilateral and multilateral channels to facilitate access by developing countries andcountries with economies in transition to sustainable development information; thestrengthening of Earthwatch as an international partnership to ensure adequate flow ofenvironmental information; cooperation between UNDP, UNEP, DPCSD and others infurther defining Development Watch; the development of a common system of accessto the databases of UN bodies; studies on the development of ISDs; and theimplementation of the work programme, which focuses on the training and capacity-building, as well as development, testing and evaluation of ISDs.

INFORMATION PROVIDED BY GOVERNMENTS ANDORGANIZATIONS: In the general debate, the Secretariat noted thatgovernments' positive responses to the new guidelines have been reflected inimproved national reporting.

The final decision refers to: the work of the Secretariat in simplifying and streamliningreporting guidelines for the 1996 session; the need for relevant organizations anddonors to provide assistance to developing countries for the preparation of nationalsustainable development strategies; national action plans and reports to the CSD; andthe role of the Secretariat in providing draft guidelines for obtaining information onthe implementation of Agenda 21 for the 1997 Special Session of the GeneralAssembly.


REVIEW OF SECTORAL ISSUES ' OVERALL CONSIDERATIONS:During the negotiations of the Chair's draft text, the US denied the implicationof financial commitments in the language of Agenda 21 after China accusedgovernments of failing to honor Rio commitments. China defended the repetition ofdemands for additional financial resources and action on EST transfers, saying 'thereare repetitions, and there are repetitions.'

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.2) calls for: respect for national sovereignty aswell as a comprehensive approach to implementation; international support fordeveloping countries' efforts to mobilize resources at the national level; attention tothe importance of financial commitments made at Rio; and the sharing of scientificknowledge and EST transfer on concessional and preferential terms, as mutuallyagreed. States that have not already ratified and implemented the Conventions onBiological Diversity, Climate Change, and Combating Desertification are urged to doso.

INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE PLANNING AND MANAGEMENTOF LAND RESOURCES: In the discussion of Chapter 10, the US, the EU andJapan resisted attempts by the G-77/China to introduce new language linkingimplementation of the chapter to predictable means and additional flows of financialresources and EST transfers. China resisted an EU attempt to reformulate thepoverty/environment linkage. No agreement was reached in theoperative section on proposed references to the resolution of land- and water-useconflicts between and/or within cities and their surrounding areas.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.3) calls for: action on soil and watercontamination; a people-oriented approach involving all stakeholders; anddissemination of information and use of assessment techniques including indicators. Itnotes the uneven pace of implementation of Chapter 10 of Agenda 21 and urgesGovernment action on national and/or local land use planning systems to achieveobjectives within the time-frame. Special attention is to be given to stable land-usesystems in endangered ecosystems and integrated planning and development whereintensified settlement and agricultural production exist. The Secretary-General isrequested to strengthen interagency support.

COMBATING DEFORESTATION: The discussion on Chapter 11 and theForest Principles began within the context of the panel on sectoral issues and thesubsequent general debate. A number of countries expressed their support for theIntergovernmental Panel on Forests proposed by the CSD Ad Hoc WorkingGroup on Sectoral Issues. Canada said the proposed Panel should operate in an openand inclusive manner and coordinate initiatives on priority issues. Malaysia said thatthe terms of reference for the Panel should include: assessment of actions taken;enhancement of all types of forests; identification of cross-sectoral factors; andpromotion of open and free trade in forest products. Brazil said the Panel shouldconsider: broadening scientific knowledge; understanding factors affecting trade inforest products; and the feasibility of developing an agreed set of criteria andindicators. Australia encouraged the Panel to focus on indicators, labeling, institutionalroles and analysis of the underlying causes of deforestation. Mexico said the Panelshould develop criteria and indicators, encourage participation of relevant UN bodiesand submit a preliminary report in 1996. The US said that the Panel should be guidedby the FAO Ministers' statement.

During the negotiation of the draft decision on forests and the annex that sets out theterms of reference for the Forest Panel, a number of issues were raised including therelationship between the issue of certification and labeling of forest products, and thesustainable management of forests. A number of countries were concerned that theprogramme of work was not prioritized and that the panel will not have time toconsider all of the issues in a comprehensive manner. Developed countries expressedconcern that some of the proposed topics are under consideration in other fora, such asthe Biodiversity Convention, the FAO and the ITTO. One such issue, which hasproved controversial in other fora, is compensation for the commercial use oftraditional knowledge. The US and others felt that this topic could detract the attentionof the Panel away from the core issue of sustainable forest management. Other issuesof concern included whether the Panel should examine the need for a legally-bindinginstrument, the feasibility of developing internationally-agreed criteria and indicators,and trade in forest products.

With regard to the panel composition, organization of work and secretariat support, theUS and Canada stressed that intergovernmental organizations and major groups shouldparticipate fully as observers in the Panel and its subsidiary bodies. While most agreedthat the DPCSD should provide secretariat support for the Panel, there was somequestion about the relationship with other UN agencies dealing with forests, the hiringof new staff and the source of funds for the Panel's budget.

The majority of the text was negotiated in a small informal-informal group that met allafternoon and through most of the night on Tuesday, 25 April. The final decisionwelcomes progress that has been made with regard to the level of awareness,adaptation of policies, strategies and action plans on forests, including the numerousgovernment-sponsored meetings. The Commission also welcomed the Rome Statementon Forestry, as adopted by the Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forests (16-17March 1995). The Commission urges full implementation of the Forest Principles andChapter 11 of Agenda 21 and, in order to pursue consensus and formulation ofcoordinated proposals for action, establishes an open-ended Ad HocIntergovernmental Panel on Forests.

The mandate, modalities and terms of reference for the Panel are contained in AnnexI to this decision. The objective of the Panel is to promote multi-disciplinary action atthe international level consistent with the UNCED Statement of Forest Principles. Themain categories of issues to be considered by the Panel are:

  • Implementation of UNCED decisions related to forests at the national and international levels, including an examination of sectoral and cross- sectoral linkages. This item includes: identifying the underlying causes of deforestation and difficulties in implementing sustainable forest management; considering ways and means for the effective protection and use of traditional forest-related knowledge, innovations and practices, consistent with the terms of the Biodiversity Convention; and monitoring actions to support afforestation, reforestation and restoration of forest systems.
  • International cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer, including exploring ways of improving the efficiency and coordination of bilateral and multilateral assistance.
  • Scientific research, forest assessment and development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.
  • Trade and environment related to forest products and services, including the development of methodologies to advance the full valuation of forest goods and services with a view to promoting full cost internalization.
  • A review of international organizations and multilateral institutions and instruments, including appropriate legal mechanisms, to develop a clearer view on the work being carried out under existing instruments and the institutional linkages and the identification of any gaps, areas requiring enhancement and areas of duplication. The Panel will also consider and advise on the need for other instruments or arrangements to further implement the Forest Principles, including appropriate legal arrangements and mechanisms covering all types of forests.

The Panel will be composed of representatives from governments (including theEuropean Community) and IGOs, NGOs and other groups can participate as observers,on an open-ended and fully participatory basis. The Panel will submit a progress reportto the fourth session of the CSD in 1996 and its final conclusions, recommendationsand proposals for action will be submitted to the fifth session in 1997. At its firstsession, the Panel will resolve issues on the modalities of work, including the electionof officers. Secretariat support will be provided by the DPCSD, possibly coordinatedby a temporary direct hire, with the secondment of relevant personnel from the UNsystem and other organizations. Funding will come from voluntary extra-budgetarycontributions, secondments from international organizations, and in-kind contributions,including the hosting of meetings.

COMBATING DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT: The discussionon Chapter 12 began within the context of the panel on sectoral issues and thesubsequent general debate. Bo Kjell‚n, Chair of the INC for the Convention toCombat Desertification, noted that the Convention now has 103 signatures. TheConvention rests on four pillars: the bottom-up approach; improved coordinationbetween donors and governments of affected countries; the integrated approach; andstrengthened scientific efforts. He asked the CSD for continued political support.

During the negotiation of the draft decision, the US wanted to stress theimplementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification. Sweden, supported byAustralia and Algeria, proposed a new paragraph that underlines the four pillars of theConvention. The EU felt that the paragraph on improving scientific knowledge shouldemphasize the great wealth of existing data and information on desertification. The USdid not want to develop a monitoring system, since this would go beyond theprovisions of the Convention and create a new institution.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.4) welcomes the conclusion of the Convention toCombat Desertification and urges all governments to recognize the urgent need forearly signature, ratification and entry into force. The decision also: recognizes the fourpillars of the Convention; urges governments to take an integrated approach tocombating desertification; and urges governments to enhance awareness of theConvention, including the observance of International Day for CombatingDesertification (17 June). The decision also notes the importance of information-sharing and preserving the knowledge of farmers and indigenous and local peopleconcerning dryland management.

SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT: During the negotiationof this draft decision on Chapter 13, the US did not want to link implementation andfacilitation of the Chapter to the provision of new and additional financial resourcesand transfer of ESTs. The US also objected to a proposed international conference onmountains. A compromise reference to combating poverty was the outcome of adisagreement over the terms 'reduction' and 'eradication.' The latter was preferredby the G-77/China.

The final decision (E/CN.17/1995/L.5) recommends: recognition of the need forstrengthening existing institutional mechanisms and the knowledge base; andimplementation of national and/or local mountain development programmes, asoutlined in Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, including monitoring of the impact on mountaincommunities and ecosystems of, inter alia, production and land-use systems,tourism, transportation and energy production and use. A new look at resource andservice flows is advocated, along with the integration of the 'mountain agenda' intoother chapters of Agenda 21 and global conventions. The decision also calls for actionon combating poverty, mountain economy diversification, protection of theenvironment and food security of local communities, information networks, and thecreation of new livelihood opportunities.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (SARD): After the initial discussion of the draft decision on Chapter 14, an informal-informal was convened among the Cairns Group with the G-77/China, US, EU andJapan agreeing on language welcoming the Final Act of the Uruguay Round. Strongerlanguage was deleted regarding the environmentally damaging agricultural practicesand agricultural markets distorted by many agricultural and trade policies.

The final decision recommends: further action to balance the need to increase foodproduction, food security and combat poverty and the need to protect resources; moreattention to small farmers in marginal lands and traditional agriculture; and increasedunderstanding of the relations between farmers, the environment, households andcommunity. The full implementation of the Uruguay Round is viewed as an importantcontribution to an undistorted sectoral and economy-wide policy framework forsustainable development. The impact of trade liberalization is to be monitored.Agricultural research should focus on developing location specific technologies.Governments are encouraged to integrate action on energy into action on SARD. TheCommission urges national and international action to support the conservation andsustainable use of animal genetic resources, and calls for information exchange underthe auspices of the FAO as SARD Task Manager.

CONSERVATION OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: At the start ofnegotiations on Chapter 15, the US argued that some of the original draft language re-opened controversial issues already agreed in the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD).

In the final decision, the Commission stresses the principal role of the CBD.References to financial resources and technology transfers are reaffirmed within thecommitments made in the CBD. There was some debate on the Commission'scompetence to refer to the replenishment of GEF funding and the introduction of anew paragraph in the operational section referring to the COP's inclusion in itsmedium-term programme of consideration of local knowledge and practices. Thedecision also calls for: ratification and implementation of the CBD by governmentswho have not already done so; international support for capacity-building, includingtechnology transfer and measures to promote private sector access to jointdevelopment of technology; coordination of relevant global and regional agreements;integrated action plans and sectoral strategies (for example, forests, agriculture, marineresources, rural development and land use); fair and equitable sharing of benefitsarising from biological resources; effective implementation of the CBD; informationdissemination, noting the COP establishment of a clearing-house mechanism;development of economic assessment mechanisms to weigh costs and benefits; andprotection of local knowledge and practices.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MANAGEMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY:In the discussion on Chapter 16, the EU sought greater emphasis on ethicalconsiderations with particular reference to genetic engineering involving humanmaterial. Both the US and the EU qualified references to the Commission'smonitoring role to avoid any usurpation of the COP's work on a biosafety protocol.The US also resisted stronger language on an international regulatory framework asformulated by the EU. There was a prolonged debate in which the US also resisted thedirect references to the precautionary principle with regard to biosafety. The US saidsuch references would prejudge mechanisms set up to examine the issue. The G-77/China, notably Malaysia, stressed the risks involved, while the US sought toemphasize the immediate importance of biotechnology.

The final decision calls for: action to enhance the contributions of the private sector,financial, academic and research institutions, NGOs and other major groups; casestudies on 'best practice' in safe applications; establishment of biotechnologyassociations, particularly in developing countries to facilitate safe commercialization;and mobilization of public and private finance. Countries and IOs are invited to:prioritize the identification of problems and solutions associated with environmentallysound use and management of biotechnology; promote a balanced understanding ofbiotechnology within a sustainable development context; establish national databases;encourage ethical responsibility; reinforce safety measures; and enhance EST transfers.The COP is invited to keep the Commission informed about its work on a biosafetyprotocol.

PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DECISIONS ON THESECTORAL ISSUES ADOPTED BY THE SECOND SESSION OF THE CSD:The Secretariat's report (E/CN.17/1995/22) described action taken at theinternational level to follow-up on the CSD's consideration of health, humansettlements, freshwater, toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes and radioactive wastes. TheUS referred to the International Coral Reef Initiative and the initiative to phase outlead, and requested the CSD to recommend that governments develop action plans tophase out lead in gasoline and other products. Mexico also noted that the CSD shouldsupport lead-free gasoline initiatives.

In the negotiation of the draft decision, the EU said that the text failed to reflect theentire agenda of the second session of the CSD and insisted that the title be changedto reflect the implementation of sectoral issues only. Belarus proposed the addition ofnew paragraphs on sharing national experiences, an international conference topromote sustainable development in countries with economies in transition, and areview of regional initiatives.

The final decision notes the WHO-UNDP inter-regional initiative that has incorporatedhealth-environment concerns in the preparation of national sustainable developmentplans, as well as regional initiatives in this area. In the area of human settlements, theCommission notes two initiatives: the Urban Management Programme and theSustainable Cities Programme. The Commission also notes: the comprehensiveassessment of freshwater resources; progress in establishing the Inter- OrganizationProgramme for the Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals; the first meeting of theIntersessional Group of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety; the progressin the implementation of the voluntary Prior Informed Consent procedure; the effortsto develop action plans to achieve a phase-out in the use of lead in gasoline; the workof the International Coral Reef Initiative; and the IAEA's General Conference, whichinitiated the preparation of a convention on the safe management of radioactive wastes.


On Tuesday, 18 April 1995, delegates listened to five presentations of nationalstrategies for sustainable development and experiences in Agenda 21 follow-up.

Bolivia: Alejandro Mercado, Under-Secretary of Development Strategy,presented Bolivia's progress report on implementing Agenda 21. Bolivia'sapproach to sustainable development includes commitments to: economic growth,incorporating environmental costs; rational use of natural resources; social equity andparticipation; recognition of cultural diversity; and governability incorporatingdecision-making capacity and democratization. Unsustainable forestry practices haveresulted from an inadequate institutional model for timber resource exploitation.Among actions to be taken is a new forest law that comprehensively addresses forestecology. Bolivia is establishing a national system of protected areas, promotingconservation of wildlife and germplasm, and managing water basins.

India: N.R. Krishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests,described Agenda 21 implementation in India. A Planning Commission and NationalDevelopment and Environmental Councils have been established. India's environmentis taxed by heavy industrial and commercial demands, with 50% of the country'senergy needs being met through coal and fuel wood, although alternative energysources are being promoted. India has shifted from forest-based development toregeneration, conservation and sustainable harvesting. NGO involvement has also beenkey to India's sustainable agriculture practices. Some of India's rural developmentprogrammes address wage employment, water treatment, community health, ruralyouth training and integrated rural development. India has over 50 environmental laws,including provisions for eco-labeling, and numerous fiscal incentives to promotesustainable development, such as 100% deductions for pollution abatement equipment.

Poland: Professor Maciej Nowicki, Adviser to the Minister of EnvironmentalProtection, presented Poland's progress report on Agenda 21 implementation.Poland's fundamental environmental and economic issues include restoration ofindustrially damaged regions, preservation of pristine areas, and protection fromunsustainable development.

Czeslaw Wieckowski, Director of the Department of Ecological Policy, outlinednational strategies for environmental conservation with the participation of civilsociety. Poland will have to spend more than US$1 billion annually to achieve itssustainability goals.

Professor Nowicki said that energy consumption, after a 1990-91 decrease, hasstabilized. Waste discharges have been reduced and protected areas have increased by150%. Problems remain in the promotion of sustainable agriculture and the increase intransport use. In the long term, Western-style consumption will be the main obstacle tosustainability in Poland.

Uganda: Mr. Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha, Director of EnvironmentProtection, presented Uganda's National Environment Action Plan (NEAP), whichprovides a framework to integrate environmental concerns into national developmentplans. The NEAP provides a legal framework for: creation of rights and obligations;environmental impact assessments; protection of fragile ecosystems; and theestablishment of the National Environment Management Authority.

Action plans are being prepared for water, wetlands, forests, wildlife, biodiversity,agriculture, mining, climate change, population, drought and desertification. Raisingawareness of environmental issues remains a priority, and the government requires theinclusion of environmental education in school curricula. Uganda will produce anational 'State of the Environment' report every two years, and district environmentalprofiles are being prepared. Uganda is also cooperating with Tanzania and Kenya tosolve the problem of water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria. While the process offormulating the action plans has progressed well, implementation remains a problem.

United Kingdom: John Stevens, Assistant Secretary, EnvironmentalProtection Division, Department of the Environment, reported on the UK's Strategyfor Sustainable Development, which looks at both economic development andenvironmental protection toward the year 2012. The strategy examines: the principlesof sustainable development; the state of the environment; the impact on theenvironment of different sectors of the economy; and different types of policyresponses. The Strategy identifies new indicators for sustainable development andestablishes a task force with representatives from all ministries. Three new bodies havebeen established to implement the strategy: the Government's Panel on SustainableDevelopment, the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, and 'Going forGreen,' a public awareness campaign.


On Wednesday, 19 April 1995, the CSD heard national presentations on integratedland management and rural development and agriculture.

Australia: Geoff Gorrie, First Assistant Secretary, Land Resources Division,Department of Primary Industries and Energy, described Australia's LandcareProgramme ' a community and government partnership. Planning approaches aredeveloped according to local needs and with the involvement of interest groups. Theconcept of Landcare originated with farming communities in the mid-1980's andfocuses on soil conservation. Landcare groups have provided a mechanism for localcommunities to identify and address the causes of soil, water and vegetationmanagement problems as well as socio-economic issues.

Achievements of the first three years of the Decade for Landcare include: increasedcommunity awareness; the formation of 2,200 Landcare groups; increasing corporatesupport; and research and development on sustainable management of naturalresources. Outstanding objectives are: encouraging sustainable practices on a voluntarybasis; placing emphasis on implementation on the ground; and integration ofproduction and conservation objectives.

Chile: Dr. Manuel Lladser Prado, Expert from INTEC (Technology Instituteof Chile), gave a presentation on the influence of environmental measures on Chileanvegetable and fruit exports. Prado noted that the primary problems for developingcountries include lack of technical know-how, excessive regulation, and restrictivetrade practices and barriers. He highlighted some of Chile's environmental problems,including landfills, litter, depletion of the ozone layer, marine pollution, andexhaustion of non-renewable resources. He referred to the recently establishedEnvironmental Commission and the first Eco Fair, which was held in early 1995. In1994, Chile enacted a framework environmental law. Prado described the state of fruitand vegetable production in Chile and the extensive work being undertaken to promoteclean packaging, including the use of environmentally-friendly materials, eco-labelingand recycling.

Hungary: Mrs. Gabriella Mohacsy-Toth, Ministerial Senior Adviser,Hungarian Ministry for Agriculture, presented an historical overview of agriculture inHungary. Since 1989, political, social and economic changes have included atransformation of the land tenure regime and production patterns, transition to amarket economy, and harmonization with EU regulations. A partial compensationprocess has been implemented for confiscated lands. New concepts in environmentallysound land use policies have been introduced, including: soil information systems;agrarian regional development, including provision for backward regions; a programmeto reduce pesticides risk; legislation on land ownership and soil conservation; andfinancial facilities, including State funds for wildlife, forests and land protection.Outstanding problems include: fragmentation of land units; inappropriate financialprovisions; and low regional level activity due to the historical dominance of centralplanning mechanisms.

Indonesia: Minister of Agriculture, Syarifudin Baharsjhah, presentedIndonesia's experience with sustainable agriculture and rural development. The goalsof Indonesia's first 25-year plan were self-sufficiency in rice, the alleviation ofpoverty and prosperity and well-being for all. The plan, which began in 1969, focusedon agriculture and rice self-sufficiency and was implemented in stages to improvenutrition, living standards and economic growth. Despite widespread problems withpests and disease, Indonesia became self-sufficient in rice.

By 1986, pesticides were being uniformly and frequently applied, irrespective of realneed and local conditions. Over-fertilization had killed natural predators, resulting inan explosion of crop pests. The Government prioritized the Integrated PestManagement (IPM) programme, which: restricted pesticide use; demanded that thechoice of pesticides take account of the predator population; and banned many typesof pesticides. Indonesia has once again achieved self-sufficiency in rice, and pesticideuse has decreased 60%. New programmes have been implemented to enable smallfarmers to achieve self-reliance, take advantage of opportunities, obtain credit andaccumulate savings.

Morocco: Korachi Taleb Bensouda, Inspector-General in Charge of theEnvironment, Ministry for Agriculture, reported on land management and sustainabledevelopment in Morocco. Only 12% of Morocco is suitable for agriculture. The ruralpopulation is ageing and declining in number. The Moroccan land managementprogramme focuses on: food security; improving agricultural production; protectionand conservation of natural resources; and better integration of agriculture into theeconomy. Morocco also has a number of national plans for managing irrigation andwater use, reforestation, electrification, and preventing soil erosion and landdegradation. The government is also trying to promote public awareness of sectoral-based projects and methods for sustainable agriculture and rural development. Twelvemillion hectares of land are subject to erosion. Morocco is applying reforestation andother techniques to prevent further erosion. Popular participation is fundamental to thesuccess of such programmes.


On Tuesday evening, 18 April 1995, the CSD focused its attention on localimplementation of Agenda 21. Mark Hildebrand, UN Centre for Human Settlements(Habitat), introduced the Day of Local Authorities and noted that preparations began atthe second session of the CSD. The moderator, Jeb Brugmann, Secretary-General,International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, said between 1000 and 1200local authorities are implementing Local Agenda 21s in 26 countries. Mayor Luis B.Guerrero-Figueroa, Cajamarca, Peru, highlighted the need for a decentralized,participatory and democratic model for local decision-making to implement LocalAgenda 21. Expansion of local leadership has improved democracy, urban-ruralcommunication, conservation and recovery of natural resources. William Pearce, Headof Strategic Planning Division, Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth,Canada, said his formerly polluted municipality won an environmental achievementaward in 1994. Using a consensus approach, a task force was set up to conductconsultations with local residents and organizations. He recommended sustainabledevelopment indicators that are measurable, credible and valid.

Derek Bateman, Chair, UK Local Agenda 21 Steering Group, said that 60% of thecouncils throughout the UK have committed to developing plans. The key elementsare: managing and improving environmental performance; integrating sustainabledevelopment into policies; awareness-raising and education; partnerships; measuring,monitoring and reporting; and indicators. Local Agenda 21 should be a focus for UNinitiatives.

Mr. T.P. Magere, Deputy Principal Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister,Tanzania, described the project for a Sustainable Dar es Salaam to improve thestandard of living. Solid waste management, urban renewal, air quality, liquid waste,the integration of the informal sector into the urban economy and the coastal economywere identified as priority areas. Communities choose their own priority areas and thegovernment provides the infrastructure. Economic structural adjustment programmestake account of social services necessary for economic recovery.

Masami Shibuya, Vice Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, introduced Agenda21 Kanagawa, a social action programme based on cooperation between localgovernments, citizens, NGOs and the corporate sector. Agenda 21 Kanagawa has fourgoals: environmentally-friendly lifestyles; a society that respects the environment; asymbiotic social system; and international cooperation on the environment. Theprefecture has had problems with pollution and population growth, and is planning aworld Conference on Sustainable Cities.


The High-Level Segment opened on Wednesday afternoon, 26 April 1995, with over50 ministers and high-level officials in attendance. CSD Chair Henrique Cavalcantinoted the topics for consideration: financial resources and mechanisms, transfer ofenvironmentally sound technology and capacity-building; consumption and productionpatterns; sustainable agriculture, rural development and food security; forests; andmajor groups. He also requested guidance on the CSD work programme for 1995-96.

Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment, reviewed the role and impact of the CSD in catalyzing cross-sectoralpolicy actions. He also noted the impact of the CSD on the work of the UNsystem. Funding, regional and global-level implementation, and cooperationwith external entities must be addressed.

The following is a summary of the general discussion.

DENMARK: Poul Nielson, Minister for Development, described how the WorldSummit on Social Development (WSSD) affirmed commitments made in Rio.Denmark advocates: statistical benchmarks to monitor Summit progress; dynamictargets; independent financial resources for the UN system; and follow-up by anindependent commission.

PHILIPPINES: Cielito F. Habito, Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning,said the Philippines has entered into debt-for-nature swaps with WWF andSwitzerland, and will be sponsoring: an Experts Meeting on Persistent OrganicPollutants, a meeting of sustainable development councils in Asia, and a conference onpopulation, environment and peace.

FRANCE: Michel Barnier, Minister of the Environment, on behalf of theEU, said the EU devoted nearly US$30 billion to ODA in 1993. The UN objective of0.7% of GNP for ODA remains a valid commitment. Such assistance should beincreasingly concentrated on the poorest countries, particularly in Africa.

INDONESIA: Djamaludin Suryohadikusumo, Minister for Forestry,recommended: criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; furtherdialogue on trade in forest products and voluntary certification schemes; strengthenedinternational cooperation and mobilization of financial resources; and implementationof existing forestry-related instruments.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Danilov Danilyan, Minister for EnvironmentalProtection and Natural Resources, welcomed progress on forests and noted a Belarusproposal for a conference on sustainable development for countries with economies intransition.

NETHERLANDS: Jan Pronk, Minister of Development Cooperation, saidpoverty eradication should be financed by domestic resource mobilization. Privatecapital flows are impressive, but are volatile and unevenly distributed. New financialmechanisms are needed.

MOROCCO: Dr. Noureddi Benomar Alami, Minister of the Environment,noted Morocco's recent efforts to: establish an Environment Ministry, a committee tocombat desertification, and an environmental information system; implement thepolluter-pays principle; and prepare water resources and forest plans.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Zoong Wie Kim, Minister ofEnvironment, said his country has been using a Volume-Based Waste Collection FeeSystem to change consumption patterns and reduce waste. The Republic of Korea hasoffered to host an international workshop on this issue in September.

AUSTRALIA: John Faulkner, Minister for the Environment, Sport andTerritories, welcomed proposals to streamline national reporting, and noted that theCSD's work on agriculture and rural development provides an opportunity to examineagricultural trade reform's contribution to sustainable development.

URUGUAY: Juan Chiruchi, Minister of Housing and Environment, notedUruguay's advisory technical commission on the environment with the participation ofgovernment authorities and civil society. Uruguay is encouraging municipal authorities,local and regional governments to develop local Agenda 21s.

SRI LANKA: Mrs. S. Athulathmudali, Minister of Transport, Environmentand Women's Affairs, noted recent initiatives such as: the Clean Air 2000 ActionPlan; an Energy Conservation Fund; a forestry master plan; a coastal zonemanagement strategy; and a phase-out of ozone depleting substances by 2004.


UNITED KINGDOM: John Gummer, Minister of the Environment, stressedthe need to express CSD decisions in a vocabulary that is clear to the public. He notedthe UK's leading role in promoting debt relief and offered to host an internationalworkshop on oceans.

UNITED STATES: USAID Administrator Brian Atwood said environmentalprotection and international development are under political attack in the US. USAIDwill increase support for: forest conservation and the development of indicators;environmentally sustainable agriculture; lead abatement; and marine conservation.

SPAIN: Jos‚ Borrell, Minister for Public Works, Transport and theEnvironment, urged increased support for: the Oslo Conference conclusions;environmental management tools and economic instruments; internalization ofenvironmental costs; increased cooperation in the Mediterranean; and a world charteron tourism.

SWEDEN: Margareta Winberg, Minister of Agriculture, stressed the needfor a commitment to long-term food security. Sweden supports a biosafety protocoland the forest panel. She said that gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainabledevelopment.

GABON: Martin Fidele Magnaga, Minister of the Environment, said theGEF should fund reforestation and forest management activities. He proposed theestablishment of a working group on technology transfer, under the auspices ofUNIDO and UNEP, to develop a legally-binding code of conduct.

NORWAY: Thorbj'rn Berntsen, Minister of Environment, highlighted keyrecommendations from the Oslo Roundtable and called for progress reports on theimplementation of Chapter 4 of Agenda 21 by the 1997 CSD session.

JAPAN: Sohei Miyashita, Minister in Charge of Global EnvironmentalIssues, highlighted: Japan's Basic Environmental Plan; the development ofsustainability indicators; the promotion of Local Agenda 21s; and plans to host theWorld Conference on Local Initiatives for Sustainable Cities.

HUNGARY: Katalin Szili, Secretary of State, Ministry of the Environment,said Hungary has done its best to harmonize an integrated environmental policy, buteconomic transition, recession and agricultural privatization are creating difficulties.

DENMARK: Svend Auken, Minister for the Environment and Energy, saidthat while there have been important results since Rio, the momentum has been lost.Further progress is necessary before the 1997 review, especially on finance and ODA,trade and the environment, and international legislation.

SWITZERLAND: Federal Councillor Ruth Dreifuss highlighted severalcommitments: financial support for the forest panel; cooperation with the Dutchworkshop on the technology transfer needs of developing countries; a seminar onbiodiversity and biotechnology; and support for UNEP.

TURKEY: Riza Ak‡ali, Minister of Environment, highlighted: the recentnational environmental action plan; the Programme for Environmental Managementand Protection of the Black Sea; formulation of an Agenda 21 for Central Asia and theBalkan Republics; and establishment of a regional environmental center.

BRAZIL: Gustavo Krause, Minister of Environment, Water Resources andthe Amazon, welcomed the establishment of the forest panel, which will help assessthe need for new international agreements, arrangements or mechanisms.

ARGENTINA: Maria Julia Alsogaray, Minister of the Environment, saidArgentina is setting up a national council for sustainable development. She called forthe removal of subsidies and protectionist policies.

GERMANY: Erhard Jauck, Deputy Minister for the Environment, NatureConservation and Nuclear Safety, urged the CSD to: focus on the linkages betweenAgenda 21 chapters; streamline reporting requirements; and ensure expedient work bythe forest panel. Germany will host a workshop on indicators.

THE NETHERLANDS: Jozias J. Van Aartsen, Minister of Agriculture,Nature Management and Fisheries, said that agriculture and nature management havebeen discussed as if they are unrelated and that attention to Chapter 10 has beeninadequate.

COSTA RICA: Dr. Ren‚ Castro, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy andMines, reported success in combating deforestation, and promoting energyconservation, eco-tourism and citizen involvement. He highlighted the CentralAmerican Alliance for Sustainable Development and a regional biodiversity agreement.

MEXICO: Julia Carabias, Minister for the Environment, Natural Resourcesand Fisheries, noted the recently established Advisory Council for SustainableDevelopment. She stressed the need for grassroots involvement and rural development.

CANADA: Sheila Copps, Minister of Environment, said that the CSD mustbe taken out of the UN basement and onto the streets. She stressed the importance ofthe participation of major groups and the work of the forest panel. She proposedholding the fifth session of the CSD away from UN Headquarters.

THE NETHERLANDS: Margaretha De Boer, Minister of Housing, SpatialPlanning and the Environment, said that the Netherlands will introduce an energy taxin 1996, host a workshop on the relationship between government and industry andhost a meeting on national needs assessment studies.

BURKINA FASO: Anatole Tiendrebeogo, Minister of Environment andTourism, said that the CSD must focus on the mobilization of resources forimplementation. He urged countries to ratify the Desertification Convention andachieve the target of 0.7% GDP for ODA, while periodically reviewing this rate.

UNEP: Executive-Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell said the post-UNCEDcontext requires a strengthened role for UNEP to raise the world's consciousnessabout actions harmful to the environment. UNEP's role is to bring the environmentalperspective to the CSD's work.

GERMANY: Dr. Klaus T”pfer, Minister for Regional Planning, Buildingand Urban Development, noted that the IMF, the G-7 finance ministers and the CSDare meeting at the same time without interaction. Sustainability must be integrated inthe economic and financial framework.

EGYPT: Mostafa Tolba proposed: setting a date for developingsustainability indicators and selecting innovative financial mechanisms; country-specific studies of production and consumption patterns; and establishing a task forceto develop a methodology for reviewing implementation of Agenda 21.

BULGARIA: Jordan Uzunov, Deputy Minister of Environment, said thatBulgaria has established a high-level council to integrate environmental concerns insocial and economic activity and polluter-pays legislation. He noted the 1995conference in Sophia to promote Rio goals in Central and Eastern Europe.

COLOMBIA: Ernesto Guhl, Vice-Minister for the Environment, noted thatColombia's new constitution includes the principle of sustainable development. Hewelcomed the creation of the forest panel, but expressed concern about establishing alegally-binding instrument.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Marius Enthoven, Director-General forEnvironment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection, described agricultural policy reformin the EU. The forest panel should concentrate on: criteria and indicators; timbercertification; and examining the need for a Forest Convention.


ITALY: Paolo Baratta, Minister of the Environment, said that Italy is themost energy efficient of the OECD countries. He proposed that sustainable urbandevelopment be included in next year's agenda. He noted that UNEP and the WTOshould cooperate to find a balance between free trade and environmental regulations.

GHANA: Christina Amoako-Nuama, Minister for Environment, Science andTechnology, noted that Ghana has: established environmental committees to integrateenvironmental concerns into development initiatives; launched a new Forest andWildlife Policy; and established a National Biodiversity Committee.

BARBADOS: Richard Cheltenham, Minister for Tourism, InternationalTransport and the Environment, said that in preparation for next year's review ofChapter 17 of Agenda 21, the CSD should carry out an initial review of the stepstaken to implement the Barbados Programme of Action.

POLAND: Dr. Andrzej Szujecki, Deputy Minister for EnvironmentalProtection, Natural Resources and Forestry, described Poland's experiences withdeforestation and recent afforestation efforts, including the opening of the first forestgene bank and the establishment of forest reserves and parks. He praised the new CSDformat.

FINLAND: Sirkka Hautoj„rvi, Secretary-General of the Ministry of theEnvironment, noted that Finland is prepared to organize a meeting on criteria andindicators for sustainable forest management. UNEP should study the environmentalimpacts of trade policies, internalization of environmental costs, and theimplementation of the polluter-pays principle.

INDIA: Shri N.R. Krishnan, Ministry of Environment and Forests, called ondeveloped countries to lead the way in changing production and consumption patterns.He called for international financial institutions to reorient their policies toward thefurther implementation of Agenda 21 and mechanisms for EST transfer.

CHINA: Amb. Wang Xuexian noted that environmental factors have led tothe erection of trade barriers against developing countries, aggravating their povertyand hampering economic development. While intellectual property rights areimportant, they should not hamper the transfer of ESTs.

VENEZUELA: Luis Castro Morales, Vice Minister of the Environment andRenewable Natural Resources, noted that Venezuela made a recent decision not toexport logs and is promoting tree planting for commercial purposes. Venezuela isremoving the lead from gasoline for export and domestic use.

MALAYSIA: Dr. Othman Yeop Abdullah, Secretary-General of the Ministryof Primary Industries, said that Malaysia has new forestry legislation and is developinga comprehensive national forestry action plan and is establishing a national committeeon sustainable forest management.

CHILE: Alejandro Gutierrez, Vice Minister of Agriculture, said Chile hasdeveloped new legislation on the creation and management of national parks and anational plan to combat desertification. He highlighted the creation of the ValdiviaGroup in March 1995, which brings together temperate forest countries of the southernhemisphere.

BELGIUM: Amb. Alex Reyn suggested that the CSD achieve more politicalvisibility to publicize sustainable development. He noted the dependency of sustainabledevelopment on socio-cultural factors. An instrument for internalizing environmentaland social costs must be developed.

BANGLADESH: Amb. Reaz Rahman called for: measures to minimizenegative effects on LCDs and food importing countries; measures to overcomenegative effects of market reforms; a biosafety protocol; EST transfer; alleviation ofdebt; improved access to markets; and the establishment of EST centers.

BELARUS: Amb. Alexander Sychou noted the particular problems facingcountries with economies in transition, highlighting post-Chernobyl problems. Heproposed convening an international conference on sustainable development forcountries with economies in transition.

PAKISTAN: Omar Kureishi, Member, Pakistan Environmental ProtectionCouncil, noted the establishment of Pakistan's National Conservation Strategy (NCS).He stressed the broad-based participatory mode of developing and implementing theNCS. The major obstacle to effective implementation of the NCS is the lack offinancial resources.

UKRAINE: The delegate said that the CSD needs greater integrationbetween the sectoral and cross-sectoral issues, rational reports and indicators forsustainable development. He hoped trade liberalization will increase financial resourcesfor sustainable development.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Bedrich Moldan announced a new initiative toorganize a workshop on education for sustainable development, which will take placein Prague later this year. The main outcome will be a set of recommendations to thefourth session of the CSD.

ECUADOR: Carlos Luzuriaga called for international support for theprotection of ecosystems and a strategy for the sustainable use of wood, genetic andmarine resources. He stressed the need for a Southern representative on the ForestPanel and the need to take sovereignty into account in these issues.

CUBA: Amb. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla noted Cuba's National Environmentand Development Programme, and emphasized that lack of political will and resourcesare the biggest obstacles to the implementation of Agenda 21. Cuba will host the ninthMeeting of Environment Ministers form Latin America and the Carribean.

AUSTRIA: The delegate said that the CSD must use clear language to makethe process accessible to the public and raise public awareness. He also noted that anenvironmental framework for trade is still needed. Austria will host the nextConference of Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer,to mark the Convention's 10th anniversary.

ITTO: Dr. B. C. Y. Freezailah, Executive Director, noted the ITTO's workon criteria and indicators and the guidelines for the sustainable management of forests.He called on States to accelerate ratification of the new ITTA. He welcomed theForest Panel and said ITTO will cooperate fully.


During the course of the High-Level Segment two panel discussions were held onemployment and sustainable development as well as on the media and sustainabledevelopment.

PANEL DISCUSSION ON EMPLOYMENT AND SUSTAINABLEDEVELOPMENT: The moderator, Naresh Singh of the International Institutefor Sustainable Development, noted that poverty, employment and social integrationare central to sustainable development. Poul Nielson, Denmark's Minister forDevelopment Cooperation, called for policies on worker health and safety, workingconditions, and education and training. He also noted that green taxes may contributeto employment and environmental protection, but that political action is needed.

Igor Khalevinski, Russian Deputy Minister of Labor, noted the factors that poseproblems in addressing unemployment. He referred to recent initiatives to: attractinvestment from Russian business; promote social sustainable development; and shiftattention from economic to social programmes. Marius Enthoven, Director-General forEnvironment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection, European Commission, suggested:integrating economic growth and environmental protection; stimulating the greenindustry; focusing on environmental performance rather than productivity; reviewingunsustainable subsidies and the tax system.

Dick Martin, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canada Labor Congress, noted the possibleresults if all 1.5 million ICFTU workplaces implemented a local Agenda 21. Hesuggested environmental audits and promoting workers' environmental rights. ClementMillin, Texaco, recommended: the adoption of key business principles to promotesustainable development and economic growth; promotion of market economies topromote investment; and the building of education infrastructure capacity.

In the discussion that followed, Paula DiPerna (Cousteau Society) noted the public'sfear of job loss. Nielson responded that education is the key to change. Nielsonreferred to the jobs that were generated from the newly established SO2 exhaust-cleaning industry. Simone Bilderbeek (Netherlands Committee for the IUCN)highlighted the concept of job-sharing to ensure equitable resource-sharing. Martinresponded that some people are working too hard, while some do not have enoughwork. Richard Tapper (WWF) noted that a sustainable economy is more likely tosupport higher employment because it increases efficiency in resource use. CarolLubin (International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centres) asked aboutwomen's under-employment. Martin said that women are usually at the bottom of theeconomic scale and the victims of environmental neglect.

PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE MEDIA AND SUSTAINABLEDEVELOPMENT: UNCED Secretary-General Maurice Strong saidsustainable development cannot be presented as a generic term. The relationshipbetween particular events and themes must be explained. Political interest depends onmedia interest. David Lascelles, Natural Resources Editor, Financial Times, saidsustainable development must be explained in terms of its application to policy andbusiness decision-making. Sustainable development is not yet an imperative, politicallyor legally. The CSD should avoid presenting the concept on an ethical basis. BarbaraPyle, Vice President for Environment Programmes, CNN/Turner Broadcasting, said themedia needs more knowledge and policy makers need to be more accessible. Scientificuncertainty is a significant barrier. Censorship, high level interference and traininginadequacies also create coverage problems. She suggested that the CSD: develop astake in the issues; adopt a bold charismatic spokesperson; find local models ofsustainable development; and highlight immediate issues.

Michael Keats, IPS World Desk Editor said that media coverage of development issuesis confined to the occasional disaster story or global conference. Most stories havesustainable development dimensions, although many governments often prevent accessto key information. Blair Palese, Chief Press Officer, GreenpeaceInternational, said that CSD discussions must not be carried out in a vacuum. Realproblems, people and issues must be highlighted. Problems in media coverage includethe lack of linkage with other issues and the lack of coverage of available solutions.The Internet, the World Wide Web, interactive video and CDROM are usefulcommunication tools. Ingebrigt Sten Jensens, JBR Rehlamebyra, described messagesthat could be used to market sustainable development: consumption levels in thedeveloped world are unsustainable; political leaders do not communicate theimportance of reducing consumption for fear of losing political support; the people ofthe rich world do not long for more garbage; and a society based on sustainableconsumption is not a society based on unbearable hardship but on a better life.

In the discussion that followed, the UN Correspondents Association said theUN puts its news through a 'blanding' machine. Algeria noted the lack of mediacoverage of desertification and drought. Friends of the Earth (UK) cited theimportance of presenting sustainable development within a wider agenda. Swedensaid television promotes unsustainable lifestyles.


The closing plenary convened Friday afternoon, 28 April 1995.

CHAIR'S SUMMARY OF THE HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT: In hissummary of the High-Level Segment, the Chair noted that over 50 ministersparticipated, including representatives of the ministries of: the environment, finance,planning, development cooperation, forestry, agriculture, labor and infrastructure.High-Level meeting participants described a number of encouraging initiatives,including action taken to phase out lead in gasoline. In this respect, the Commissionhas encouraged the exchange of national experiences, particularly among developingcountries, in the use of environmentally sustainable technologies such as the use ofethanol and biomass as sources of energy.

One of the continuing areas of concern remains financial support for national efforts indeveloping countries and countries with economies in transition. The setting up of anIntergovernmental Panel on Forests was unanimously supported. This decision wasregarded as a real achievement, demonstrating the level of credibility attained by theCSD in fulfilling one of the main decisions reached at UNCED. Participants alsohighlighted the importance of documenting efforts and progress made at the nationallevel in implementing Agenda 21. Fifty-three States and two organizations submittednational reports to the Secretariat. The presentation of national experiences during thissession was also considered a valuable complement to the written reports and deservesfollow-up at future sessions. The related work on indicators forms an importantelement in the reporting process. The participants also expressed their appreciation forthe continued participation of major groups in the Commission's work. Many notedthe crucial role of women, as well as youth and indigenous people and localcommunities in decision making.

Following the pattern of the previous intersessional period, two ad hoc open-ended intersessional working groups will be set up to address the sectoral itemsprogrammed for 1996, namely atmosphere, oceans and related technology issues, andthe cross-sectoral issues of financial resources and mechanisms and changingproduction and consumption patterns. A special effort will be made at the Bureau levelto prepare for the 1997 review.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA FOR THE FOURTH SESSION: Delegates then adopted the provisional agenda for the fourth session of the CSD(E/CN.17/1995/L.13). The provisional agenda includes: election of officers; adoptionof the agenda and organization of work; cross-sectoral issues, with particular referenceto Agenda 21, Chapters 2-5 (trade, environment and sustainable development,combating poverty, changing consumption patterns and demographic dynamics);financial resources and mechanisms; education, science and the transfer ofenvironmentally sound technology, with particular reference to Agenda 21, Chapters34 (technology), 36 (education) and 37 (capacity-building); review of sectoral clusters,including Chapters 9 (atmosphere) and 17 (oceans and all kinds of seas), the progressreport on the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, and the progress report on theimplementation of the CSD's decisions at its second and third sessions; progress inthe implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development ofSmall Island Developing States; and the high-level meeting.

ACTION ON DRAFT DECISIONS: The Commission then adopted all ofthe draft decisions that had been negotiated by the drafting groups.

Drafting Group A:

  • E/CN.17/1995/L.11' Financial Resources and Mechanisms
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.12 ' Changing Production and Consumption Patterns
  • Trade, Environment and Sustainable Development (unedited text)
  • Combating Poverty (unedited text)
  • Demographic Dynamics and Sustainability (unedited text).

Drafting Group B:

  • E/CN.17/1995/L.6 ' Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies, Cooperation and Capacity-Building
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.7 ' Science for Sustainable Development
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.8 ' Information for Decision Making
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.9 ' Integrating Environment and Development in Decision Making
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.10 ' Major Groups
  • Information provided by governments and organizations (unedited text).

Drafting Group C:

  • E/CN.17/1995/L.2 ' Overall Considerations
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.3 ' Integrated Approach to the Planning and Management of Land Resources
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.4 ' Managing Fragile Ecosystems ' Combating Desertification and Drought
  • E/CN.17/1995/L.5 ' Sustainable Mountain Development
  • Combating Deforestation (unedited text)
  • Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (unedited text)
  • Conservation of Biological Diversity (unedited text)
  • Environmentally Sound Management of Biotechnology ' (unedited text)
  • Progress in the Implementation of Decisions on the Sectoral Issues Adopted by the Second Session of the CSD (unedited text).

Gabon said that it could not accept the decision on forests since the document has notbeen translated into French. France agreed that it will only give its final approval tothese texts when the French versions can be verified. Morocco added that this hasbeen a problem in the CSD before and each year delegates are told that the problemwill be rectified. Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai assured delegates that thesituation would be reviewed. With regard to the decision on financial resources, theUS noted that it has not affirmed or reaffirmed a commitment to the UN target of0.7% of GNP for ODA. With regard to the financial implications of the Forest Panel,the additional resources needed in 1996-97 should come from savings and otheradjustments in the budget.

AD HOC OPEN-ENDED INTERSESSIONAL WORKING GROUPS:The Chair then proposed establishing two intersessional working groups toprepare for the fourth session of the CSD. The group on sectoral issues will deal withprotection of the atmosphere (Chapter 9) and protection of the oceans, all kinds of seasand coastal areas (Chapter 17). The other group will address financial resources andchanging consumption patterns. Both groups will discuss transfer of technology,cooperation and capacity-building. The Bureau will consult with members of theCommission on the agenda and organizational modalities.

Morocco asked about the dates for the working groups and insisted that the scheduletake into account other sustainable development meetings. Desai responded that thedates will be set in consultation with the Bureau.

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON ITS THIRDSESSION: The rapporteur, Yordan Uzunov (Bulgaria) then introduced the reportof the Commission on its third session, as contained in E/CN.17/1995/L.1 and addenda1-4. After adoption of the report and closing statements by the US, Canada, France (onbehalf of the EU), the Philippines (on behalf of the G-77 and China), Papua NewGuinea, Nitin Desai and the Chair, Henrique Cavalcanti, the third session of theCommission on Sustainable Development came to a close.


Nearly three years after the Earth Summit, and after three meetings of the Commissionon Sustainable Development, it is worth stepping back and evaluating just whatprogress has been made since Rio and how effective the CSD has been in fulfilling itsmandate to monitor implementation of the UNCED decisions.

EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AGENDA 21: TheEarth Summit may have been such a historic and pivotal turning point, that itestablished a benchmark that may be unrealistic for the international community tomatch. Some suggest that expecting anything dramatic after only three yearsmay be too much to hope for. What is becoming increasingly clear is the immensedifficulties faced by governments in meeting their Rio commitments, especially inlight of the political and economic conditions that have changed dramatically for somany governments since 1992.

The last three years have been marked by unfulfilled promises on many fronts. Incertain areas, such as finance, there have actually been retreats from the Rio'commitments' and the systematic unraveling of Agenda 21 language. Governmentsseem unable and unwilling to alter the very policies that are driving unsustainabledevelopment and that brought governments to Rio in the first place. Since thesepolicies are not being changed, environmental degradation is actually increasing. Thisraises the question of how far the environment will be allowed to deteriorate beforegovernments will actually take concrete action, assuming such action is feasible at all,given the limits imposed on State action by globalization processes.

This year, as in previous years, the CSD noted that although some progress has beenmade, until there is an increase in official development assistance and an improvementin the international economic climate, it will be difficult to translate the Riocommitments into action in many developing countries and countries with economiesin transition. ODA levels have declined and the target of 0.7% of GNP for ODAremains a pipedream and a diversion from substantive discussion. While governmentshave argued that sustainable development can be funded by innovative economicinstruments, debt reduction and swaps, and private investment, there has been moretalk than action on this front. Likewise, while governments have been more willing todiscuss changing production and consumption patterns and the relationship betweentrade and the environment, there is little concrete action to report. These issuesconstitute the key indicators of sustained political will.

Forests is another issue that has been the subject of more talk than action. While thedialogue on the sustainable management and conservation of the world's forests hasmade important strides over the past three years, there is little action to report.Nevertheless, the numerous intergovernmental initiatives on forests that have been heldover the past two years have established a degree of trust between developed anddeveloping countries that has laid the groundwork for the establishment of theIntergovernmental Panel on Forests. However, many complain that the establishmentof this Panel may be too late. It will still be another two years before the Panel reportsits finding to the CSD and this could provide governments with another excuse forinaction. Some sceptics will claim this is no accident. Likewise, the Panel is not aguaranteed solution to managing the world's forests. Some fear that politicallydivisive issues such as finance, technology transfer and farmers' rights could sidetrackthe work of the Panel. Others are worried that trade in forest products will dominatethe discussion. The top priorities of the Panel should be to examine the underlyingcauses of deforestation and how to address them and to complete an independentreview of all forest-related institutions and instruments to determine what is missingand where there is overlap. Although governments have given strong support to thePanel, it will be up to the Panel members themselves to prioritize the mandate andproduce concrete results.

Despite the setbacks, there has been some, albeit limited, progress during the last threeyears. The Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted in June 1994. TheConvention's four pillars represent important breakthroughs: the bottom-up approach;improved coordination between donors, governments and affected countries; theintegrated approach; and strengthened scientific efforts. The Conference on Straddlingand Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and other work on the management of the world'sliving marine resources are making progress. The distressing reports of the dwindlingstate of the world's fish resources, the political dimensions and very real conflicts,have prompted more immediate governmental responses and important media attentionthan in other sectors. The International Coral Reef Initiative and the commitmentsmade by countries in the Western Hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas todevelop action plans to achieve a phase-out of the use of lead in gasoline are alsopositive developments.

Finally, as this session of the CSD clearly demonstrated, there is much progress on theimplementation of Agenda 21 at the national and local levels. Indeed, some initiativesaround local Agenda 21s are even serving as channels for the spectrum of UNConferences such as the Fourth World Conference on Women. Many countries haveestablished national councils for sustainable development. Agenda 21 is alive and wellat the national and local levels. This was reflected by the the formal meetings on thepresentations of national strategies for sustainable development and nationalexperiences in integrated land management and sustainable agriculture, as well as inthe numerous parallel workshops hosted by governments, local authorities and NGOs.It is interesting to note that while a few governments highlighted their need forfinancial support to implement some of their programmes, the usual rhetoric thatdeveloping countries cannot implement Agenda 21 without new and additionalfinancial resources was absent.

EVALUATION OF THE WORK OF THE CSD: There is no question thatthe CSD has established itself as an essential part of the process for reviewingimplementation of Agenda 21. Some have suggested that relative to other UN bodies,the CSD is a step above in terms of its 'lively, frank and substantive debate' andmulti-media approach. In fact, this year the CSD made considerable progress byrevising its format to encourage greater discussion and dialogue, rather than thetraditional UN-style 'general debate.' In addition, unlike past years where the CSDappeared to be an intergovernmental forum for the review of UNCED implementationby UN agencies, this year the CSD dedicated two full days to the exchange of nationaland local experiences in the implementation of Agenda 21. Members of the Secretariatalso expressed hope that in the future, there will be more representatives of majorgroups on government delegations to further enhance this exchange of experiences.Moreover, there was virtual agreement on the need to raise public awareness about thework of the CSD. Many felt that the CSD should be liberated from the hallowed hallsof the UN and a broader discussion about the issues should be expressed in terms thatare accessible to the general public.

The CSD has also proven to be a true catalyst for policy action in numerous areas.Among other things, the CSD has: motivated numerous government-sponsoredmeetings and workshops related to the implementation of Agenda 21; fosteredcoordination on sustainable development within the UN system; helped to defuse muchof the resistance to national reporting that was evident in Rio; and galvanized NGOand major group activities and action aimed at sustainable development at theinternational, national and local levels.

But despite these gains, many who have followed the CSD from its inception stillbelieve there is considerable room for improvement. The fact that the CSD, in its thirdyear, is still undergoing a very difficult birth, reflects the general reticence on the partof governments to get down to the business of implementation and action. The CSDshould be a walking, talking child, but it is barely crawling. How long will it take theCSD to learn how to walk? But then, even Albert Einstein did not even start talkinguntil the age of four!!

One of the central problems with the CSD is that despite its mission to bring togethergovernments, UN agencies, NGOs and other interested parties for a meaningfuldialogue, many suggest that real dialogue is still missing. While the panel discussionswere aimed at encouraging dialogue, the presentations were often lengthy ordisjointed, leaving little time for a comprehensive discussion. Once again, the High-Level Segment was more of a forum for speech-making rather than dialogue. Althoughthere were representatives from development, agriculture, forest and other ministries inattendance, the majority were still from environment ministries. Few ministerscommented on each other's statements and the vast majority relied on previouslyprepared speeches. The most passionate and pointed statements, however, were fromthose ministers who spoke 'off the cuff,' such as Denmark's Svend Auken,Canada's Sheila Copps, the UK's John Gummer and the Netherlands' Jan Pronk. Itis refreshening to note that Conference Room 1 was silent during these statements,whereas at most other times the background conversations often drowned out thespeaker.

The CSD has also given insufficient attention to the key linkages between environmentand development issues. Like UNCED before it, the CSD has not been able to 'de-sectoralize' environment and development. The chapters of Agenda 21 and the multi-year thematic programme of work serve to maintain the divisions between sectors andhave not been able to facilitate substantive discussion on the linkages betweendifferent issues, such as the relationship between agriculture, deforestation,desertification, poverty, trade policies and debt. Likewise, the broad clusters in theprogramme of work have prevented any real substantive discussion on the issues.

Although, the CSD is taxed with a number of problems, this does not mean that NGOsor governments are prepared to abandon the process, despite a few rumblings in thecorridors. The challenge ahead is for those governments who are truly committed tothe process to mobilize and invest the time and energy needed to rekindle the politicalmomentum that is in danger of being lost. The CSD must find ways to spotlight andreward those who blaze the trail.


ECOSOC: At its meeting in Geneva from 26 June - 28 July 1995, theEconomic and Social Council will review the report of the CSD. ECOSOC will alsohave to review the programme budget implications for the establishment of theIntergovernmental Panel on Forests and the dates for the first meeting of the Panel.One of the major challenges before ECOSOC this year is the discussion on thecomprehensive and coordinated follow-up to the recent international conferences,including UNCED, the International Conference on Population and Development, theWorld Summit for Social Development, the Fourth World Conference on Women andHabitat II.

CSD AD HOC INTERSESSIONAL WORKING GROUPS:The CSD agreed to continue the work of the ad hoc open-endedintersessional working groups. The working group on sectoral issues will addressatmosphere, oceans, all kinds of seas and coastal areas. The finance working groupwill address financial resources and mechanisms, and changing consumption patterns.Both groups will discuss transfer of technology, cooperation and capacity building.Look for an announcement on the dates and agendas of these two working groups,which are likely to meet early in 1996.

CSD INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON FORESTS: The budgetaryand staff implications of the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forestsby the third session of the CSD will be discussed at the ECOSOC meeting in Genevathis summer. Look for an announcement about the dates and location of the firstmeeting of the Panel.

GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED INTERSESSIONAL ACTIVITIES:During the coming months, individual governments and internationalorganizations will be hosting meetings and workshops to contribute to the work of theCSD at its fourth session. During the CSD meeting, the following governmentsannounced plans to hold such intersessional meetings:

  • The Czech Republic will organize a workshop on education for sustainable development in Prague later this year;
  • Israel and Japan will co-sponsor a symposium on water management in Israel from 15-19 May 1995;
  • The Philippines and Canada will co-host a workshop on persistent organic pollutants in Vancouver, Canada, from 4-8 June 1995;
  • The Philippines and the Earth Council will co-host a meeting of National Councils for Sustainable Development in Asia, which will take place in Manila from 18-19 June 1995;
  • The Netherlands will host a workshop on biotechnology for cleaner production from 8-9 June 1995;
  • The UK will host an international workshop on oceans this winter;
  • The Republic of Korea will host an international workshop on changing consumption patterns and waste reduction;
  • The Netherlands will host an international workshop on the relationship between government and industry;
  • Germany will host a workshop organized by SCOPE, in cooperation with UNEP, to further promote the development of indicators for sustainable development;
  • Bulgaria will host a conference in Sophia to promote Rio goals in Central and Eastern Europe;
  • Belarus proposed convening an international conference on sustainable development and countries with economies in transition.
  • Japan will host the World Conference of Local Initiatives for Sustainable Cities in Yokohama in November;
  • Finland proposed organizing a meeting on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.

Further information