United Nations

A/52/280


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

14 August 1997

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/52/280
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-second session
Item 100 (g) of the provisional agenda*

     * A/52/150 and Corr.1.


           ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:  SPECIAL SESSION
           FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE
                          IMPLEMENTATION OF AGENDA 21

                       Outcome of the nineteenth special
                        session of the General Assembly

                        Report of the Secretary-General

                                  Background


1.   By its resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989, the General Assembly
decided to convene a United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development.

2.   The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was
held at Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992.  The Conference
resulted in the adoption of the Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development, 1/ Agenda 21 2/ and the Non-legally Binding Authoritative
Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management,
Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests. 3/ 
These documents were subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly in
its resolution 47/190 of 22 December 1992.  By the same resolution,
the Assembly decided to convene, not later than 1997, a special
session for the purpose of an overall review and appraisal of the
implementation of Agenda 21.

3.   In its resolutions 50/113 of 20 December 1995 and 51/181 of
16 December 1996, the General Assembly decided that the special
session should be at the highest possible level of participation and
the determined organizational modalities for the preparations for the
special session, including the role of the Commission on Sustainable
Development, as well as of other relevant organizations and bodies of
the United Nations system.  The Assembly recognized the important role
played by major groups, including non-governmental organizations, in
the implementation of the recommendations of the Conference, and
highlighted the need for their active involvement in the preparations
for the special session, as well as the need to ensure appropriate
arrangements for their contribution during the special session.

4.   In its resolution 51/181, the General Assembly also decided to
include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-second session the item
entitled "Special session for the purpose of an overall review and
appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21", and requested the
Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at that session a report
on the special session.


                          Work of the special session

5.   The nineteenth special session of the General Assembly was held at
United Nations Headquarters from 23 to 28 June 1997.  The session was
attended by 55 heads of State or Government or similar level
officials, 178 ministers of various rank, and executive heads and
high-level officials of a large number of the international
organizations and institutions, both from within and outside the
United Nations system, as well as representatives of numerous
non-governmental organizations accredited to the United Nations.

6.   At the nineteenth special session, a number of new features were
introduced in the work of the United Nations.  These include:

     (a) It was the first session of the General Assembly that was
organized for the purpose of a five-year review of progress achieved
since a major global conference was held under the auspices of the
United Nations.  Experience gained during the preparations for and the
proceeding of the special session would need to be carefully examined
and taken into account in the preparations for other forthcoming
special sessions of the Assembly that will carry out reviews of
progress achieved in the implementation of the outcomes of other
recent global conferences;

     (b) The nineteenth special session was the first "summit"-level
global meeting held on United Nations premises when a high-level
debate in plenary meetings was held in parallel with negotiations on
the text of the draft final document that were taking place in the Ad
hoc Committee of the Whole of the Nineteenth Special Session
established for that purpose;

     (c) Furthermore, it was the first session of the General Assembly
that provided an opportunity for the active involvement of
non-governmental organizations, which were invited to address the
Assembly and to make an important contribution both during the
preparatory work carried out by the Commission on Sustainable
Development and during the deliberations in the special session
itself;

     (d) The session involved a large number of participants from
Governments, international organizations, non-governmental
organizations and the media.  It also included a large number of
side-events, presentations and exhibitions.  In a way, the scope of
the meeting was more of a major global conference than a session of
the Assembly.  It showed a number of logistical limitations related to
holding such events on United Nations premises, whose physical
capacities were almost exceeded during the work of the special
session.


                        Outcome of the special session

7.   The special session resulted in the adoption of General Assembly
resolution S-19/2 of 28 June 1997, the annex to which contains the
programme for further implementation of Agenda 21.  The programme
includes:

     (a) A statement of commitment to Agenda 21 and to the goals of
sustainable development, which call for integration of economic,
social and environmental policies and actions at all levels, and to
global partnership aimed at achieving sustainable development
worldwide and meeting equitably the needs of present and future
generations;

     (b) Assessment of progress made since the Conference in all main
areas of Agenda 21 and other outcomes and commitments made at the
Conference;

     (c) A broad range of decisions and recommendations aimed at
fostering progress in various sectoral and cross-sectoral areas of
Agenda 21 and, in particular, in its means of implementation.  The
Assembly also identified actions needed in a number of relatively new
areas for international cooperation, such as sustainable
transportation and sustainable tourism;

     (d) Decisions aimed at strengthening global and regional
institutional arrangements for achieving sustainable development;

     (e) Recommendations on the future methods of work of the
Commission on Sustainable Development and the programme of work for
the Commission for the period 1998-2002.


           Follow-up work at the substantive session of 1997 of the
                          Economic and Social Council

8.   Acting on the decisions and the recommendations of the General
Assembly at its nineteenth special session, as contained in the
programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21, the Economic
and Social Council at its substantive session of 1997 (Geneva, 30
June-26 July 1997) adopted two relevant resolutions.

9.   In its resolution 1997/63 of 25 July 1997, entitled "Programme of
Work of the Commission on Sustainable Development for the period 1998-
2002 and future methods of work of the Commission", the Council, inter
alia:

     (a) Approved the programme of work of the Commission on
Sustainable Development for the period 1998-2002, and the provisional
agenda for the sixth session of the Commission;

     (b) Invited the Commission to adjust its future methods in
accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 132 and 133 of the
programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21;

     (c) Changed the pattern of elections of the Commission's bureau
(specific modalities for the transitional period from the current
arrangements to the new ones are expected to be decided by the Council
at its resumed substantive session of 1997).

10.  By its resolution 1997/65 of 25 July 1997, the Council
established, under the aegis of the Commission, the Intergovernmental
Forum on Forests, which will report to the Commission at its eighth
session, in the year 2000.  The Council also decided that the Forum
would hold its first organizational session in New York from 1 to 3
October 1997.  At the organizational session, the Forum would decide
on the programme and modalities of its work and recommend to the
Council the number, venue and the duration of its substantive sessions
to be held during the period 1998-2000.

11.  In carrying out its functions related to the implementation of
General Assembly resolution 50/227 of 24 May 1996, the Council has
reviewed the work of the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of
Energy and on Energy for Development and of the Committee on Natural
Resources, inter alia with a view of making the work of these bodies
"more compatible with and supportive of the programme of work of the
Commission", the need for which was underscored by the Assembly in
paragraph 135 of the programme for the further implementation of
Agenda 21.  The Chairman's summary of the Council's deliberations on
this matter is contained in the annex to Council decision 1997/310 of
25 July 1997.  Further consideration of this issue will continue at
the Council's resumed substantive session of 1997.  The General
Assembly is reminded that the Secretary-General's proposals on
possible reform of these two bodies are contained in paragraph 135 of
his report dated 14 July 1997 (A/51/950).


                 Follow-up action by the United Nations system

12.  In the programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21, the
General Assembly underscored that the achievement of sustainable
development required continued support from international
institutions.  The Assembly felt that the institutional framework
outlined in chapter 38 of Agenda 21 and determined by the Assembly in
its resolution 47/191 and other relevant resolutions, including the
specific functions and roles of various organs, organizations and
programmes within and outside the United Nations system, would
continue to be fully relevant in the period after the special session. 
The Assembly also stressed that, in the light of the ongoing
discussions on reform within the United Nations, international
institutional arrangements in the area of sustainable development were
intended to contribute to the goal of strengthening the entire United
Nations system.  In that context, the Assembly stressed the particular
importance of strengthening institutions for sustainable development.

13.  Furthermore, the General Assembly underlined that it was necessary
to strengthen the Administrative Committee on Coordination
Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development and its system of
task managers, with a view to further enhancing system-wide
intersectoral cooperation and coordination for the implementation of
Agenda 21 and for the promotion of coordinated follow-up to the major
United Nations conferences in the area of sustainable development.  As
outlined in his report dated 14 July 1997 (A/51/950), the Secretary-
General fully supports this concern of the Assembly.

14.  The General Assembly also stressed that in order to facilitate the
national implementation of Agenda 21, all organizations and programmes
of the United Nations system, within their respective areas of
expertise and mandates, should strengthen, individually and jointly,
the support for national efforts to implement Agenda 21 and make their
efforts and actions consistent with national plans, policies and
priorities of member States.  The Assembly also underscored that
coordination of United Nations activities at the field level should be
further enhanced through the resident coordinator system in full
consultation with national Governments.

15.  Shortly after the closure of the nineteenth special session of the
General Assembly, on 9 July 1997, the Inter-Agency Committee on
Sustainable Development met informally in Geneva, during the Council's
substantive session of 1997.  This meeting was intended to serve as a
"brainstorming" session to assess the results of the special session
and to prepare for an in-depth discussion of ways and means for
ensuring an effective and collaborative response to its outcomes by
the United Nations system during the tenth meeting of the Inter-Agency
Committee (to be held at Geneva on 17 and 18 September 1997).

16.  The participants in the informal meeting of the Inter-Agency
Committee agreed that the main challenge for the Committee and its
task managers in the period after the special session would be to
ensure a stronger focus in inter-agency collaboration on practical
implementation, particularly at the country level.  It was felt that
that, inter alia, would improve linkages between the results of policy
discussions and agreements reached at the international level with
national sustainable development activities.  In particular, it was
agreed that it would be essential to make the best use of the
experience and knowledge available in the United Nations system,
including that of the task managers, with delivery capacities of the
United Nations Development Programme at the national level.  It was
also agreed that it would be particularly important to develop further
common approaches that would guide future system-wide work in all key
areas of sustainable development.

17.  Member States will be informed of the specific decisions taken and
actions initiated by the Inter-Agency Committee in the context of a
report of the Administrative Committee on Coordination.


                Measures within the United Nations Secretariat

18.  The ongoing consolidation of the three Secretariat departments in
the economic and social fields into one consolidated Department for
Economic and Social Affairs will, inter alia, lead to integration of
the Secretariat's functions related to the provision of substantive
support to intergovernmental processes and their normative setting
activities, relevant analytical work and the provision of policy
advisory services to Governments, at their request.

19.  Accordingly, it is expected that the new functions of the Division
for Sustainable Development will enhance the capacity of the
Secretariat to support action at all levels to implement Agenda 21,
and to ensure greater coherence in the Secretariat's work in the area
of sustainable development in general.  This will include stronger
support to regional, national and local activities, as well as further
enhancing the dialogue and inter-action with the major groups and
other actors involved in the implementation of Agenda 21.

20.  In the programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21, the
General Assembly invited the Secretary-General to review the
functioning of the High-Level Advisory Board on Sustainable
Development and present proposals on ways to promote more direct
interaction between the Board and the Commission, with a view to
ensuring that the Board contributed to the deliberations on specific
themes considered by the Commission in accordance with its programme
of work.

21.  As it was outlined in his report dated 14 July 1997 (A/51/950),
the Secretary-General feels, however, that with the initiation by the
Commission on Sustainable Development of promising new arrangements
for consultation with and participation in its work by various actors
from the civil society, the functions of the Board could now be
effectively performed through those processes, and the Board could be
discontinued.


                                Future reviews

22.  In the programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21, the
General Assembly decided that the next comprehensive review of
progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21 by the General
Assembly would take place in the year 2002.  The Secretary-General
will present his suggestions on the modalities of this review to the
General Assembly at its 55th session, in the year 2000.


                                     Notes

     1/ Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992 (A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1
(Vol. I and Vol. I/Corr.1, Vol. II, Vol. III and Vol. III/Corr.1))
(United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and Corrigenda),
Vol. I:  Resolutions Adopted by the Conference, resolution 1, annex I.

     2/ Ibid., annex II.

     3/ Ibid., annex III.



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