25 April 1997

Press Release


Briefing the Commission on Sustainable Development this morning, its Chairman, Mostafa Tolba (Egypt), said the Commission would meet again at 3:30 p.m. today to adopt whatever was available of the draft final document to be transmitted to the forthcoming General Assembly special session, which will review implementation of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

During its three-week session, which began on 8 April and is scheduled to end today, the Commission is functioning as a preparatory and negotiating body for the Assembly's special session. Negotiations have focused on the reports of the Commission's Ad Hoc Open-ended Intersessional Working Group and Open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, as well as on such matters as the proposed review of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in 1999 and the Commission's future work programme.

Reporting on the Commission's work, the Chairman said progress achieved in its two drafting groups had been very encouraging. A tremendous effort had been made by all concerned and he hoped that would continue until 1 p.m. today. Negotiations would continue in the special session's Committee of the Whole. He noted that the Commission had two weeks to negotiate a document for the review of Agenda 21, while the negotiations on that programme of action adopted by UNCED had taken two years.

The two drafting groups would continue their meetings today, in addition to many other consultations being conducted, he said. Yesterday, they had held lengthy meetings until midnight. In spite of that, the current session of the Commission would end with much of the text remaining in brackets. He hoped that Drafting Group I, which was dealing with sectoral issues, such as freshwater resources, energy, oceans, transport, atmosphere, toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes, including radioactive wastes, would be able to resolve a number of pending issues. That group is chaired by Derek Osborn (United Kingdom), one of the co-chairmen of the Commission's Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group.

Sustainable Development Commission - 2 - Press Release ENV/DEV419 11th Meeting (AM) 25 April 1997

Drafting Group II, which is discussing issues such as financial resources and mechanisms, transfer of environmentally sound technologies and capacity-building, had some items which had not been discussed yet, he said. That group is chaired by Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim (Brazil), the other co-chairman of the Commission's Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group.

Mr. Tolba also told the Commission that the draft political declaration which had been presented by him and Commission Vice-Chairperson, Monica Linn- Locher (Switzerland), was now called a policy statement. That document had been sent to the chairmen of the regional groups. He stressed that it should not be seen as a substitute to the negotiated document. He noted that the document should be short and address policy issues, adding that it should not be an empty document. In the last few days, he had received several amendments to the text and he would meet in informal consultations with chairmen of regional groups today to discuss them.

The Commission is scheduled to meet at 3:30 p.m. today to take action on draft texts and conclude the current session.

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