AD HOC COMMITTEE OF ASSEMBLY'S SPECIAL SESSION CONCLUDES WORK

27 June 1997
GA/9274

AD HOC COMMITTEE OF ASSEMBLY'S SPECIAL SESSION CONCLUDES WORK

27 June 1997

Press ReleaseGA/9274 ENV/DEV/440

AD HOC COMMITTEE OF ASSEMBLY'S SPECIAL SESSION CONCLUDES WORK

19970627 The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the General Assembly's special session completed its work this afternoon after approving its draft report which contains the programme for further implementation of Agenda 21. The approved text was transmitted to the plenary of the special session for adoption.

The Committee of the Whole had the task of completing the negotiations on the draft final outcomes of the special session which is reviewing implementation of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

At the start of the meeting, the Committee was informed by its Chairman, Mostafa Tolba (Egypt), that the draft final outcome would now be called the "programme for further implementation of Agenda 21".

The adoption of the report concluded five weeks of intense intergovernmental negotiations -- three weeks of negotiations in the fifth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in April, one week of consultations prior to the special session and the entire week of the session and many weeks of informal consultations among regional and other groups.

During this week a number of ministerial contact groups were set up to assist with resolving such areas of contention as finance, forests, and climate change. The group on finance was co-chaired by the Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Jan Pronk, and Jakaya M. Kikwete, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania. The group that discussed forests was co-chaired by the Minister for Housing, Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands, Margreeth de Boer, and the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Zakia Meghji of Tanzania. The State Secretary of the Environment Agency of Japan, Tsuneo Suzuki, and the Secretary of State for Human Resources and the Environment of Argentina, Maria Julia Alsogaray, co-chaired the discussions on climate change.

Also this afternoon, the Committee elected one of its Vice-Chairpersons, Idun Eideheim (Norway), as its Rapporteur to replace Czeslaw Wieckowski (Poland) who had to leave on urgent business. Ms. Eideheim then introduced the draft report of the Committee which reflected changes made to the report of the Commission on Sustainable Development on preparations for the special session. The report was adopted without a vote.

As the Committee took up the statement of commitment contained in the draft text, the representative of Lebanon said his country had certain concerns which were not reflected in the statement. Following that, the statement of commitment was approved, without a vote.

Next, the Committee approved the section on assessment of progress made since the UNCED. On that matter, the representative of the Netherlands said in informal consultations, it had been agreed that a footnote originally included in the draft political declaration would be included in the assessment of progress. Therefore, such a footnote should be included in a corrigendum. The Chairman said that would be done.

Following that, the Committee took up the section on implementation in areas requiring urgent action and approved paragraph 16.

Next, it took up the section on integration of economic, social and environmental objectives and adopted paragraph 18 (c); approved the heading "Enabling International Economic Framework" to precede paragraph 19; and approved paragraph 20. Following that, it approved paragraphs 21(d), 22, 22 (a, b, c, f, g and h) in the same section.

Also approved in that section were paragraphs 22(j), 23, 23 (b, f, f(bis) and h) as well as paragraphs 25, 29 and 30 (a).

Speaking on paragraph 29, the representative of Turkey said she wanted to retain her country's reservation to paragraph 29 and wanted that to be reflected on the record of the meeting. Paragraph 29 refers to an initiative on water. She also made a reservation to paragraph 30 which states that all governments should ratify the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Turkey did not agree with that. She stressed that the Convention did not establish sufficient balance between conflicting interests. Therefore, Turkey could not become a party to it.

The representative of Ethiopia said that his position was the same as that of Turkey.

Next, the Committee approved, as orally amended, paragraph 31, subparagraph 33 (d), paragraph 34 and 34 (b) on forests.

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Following that, it approved subparagraph 40 (f) and (g) as well as paragraph 41 on transport and atmosphere.

Next, it approved paragraphs 49, 50, 51 on radioactive wastes, 52 and 53 on land and sustainable agriculture. Commenting on paragraph 49, the representative of Samoa said in informal consultations, it had been agreed that the word "all" would be underlined in the fifth line of that paragraph. Moreover, a footnote in the paragraph should be explained.

Following that, the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, of the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, Joke Waller-Hunter, explained the footnote which elaborates on the definition of "management" of radioactive wastes.

Next, the Committee approved paragraph 65 on natural disasters.

In addition, the paragraphs 66, 67, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75 and 76 on financial resources and mechanisms were also approved.

Paragraphs 78 and 79 on transfer of environmentally sound technologies were also approved.

Next, the Committee approved paragraphs 99, 100 on education and awareness. Paragraphs 102, 103, 104, 105 and 107 on information and tools to measure progress were approved. Paragraph 106 was deleted.

In addition, the Committee approved an amended annex to the proposed outcome of the special session and recommended it to the Assembly.

The meeting then proceeded with the introduction of the discussions on climate change by Derek Osborn (United Kingdom).

A revised paragraph 42 on atmosphere was approved by the Committee.

Tsuneo Suzuki, State Secretary of the Environment Agency of Japan, said he wanted to thank the Chairman and Mr. Osborn for working towards a consensus on that paragraph. Japan wanted to clarify its position on the text and put it on record. It understood that developed and developing countries had expressed their commitment to implement what was in the text. As the host country of the third Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention, Japan appreciated those commitments. Today was a historical day for the protection of the earth's environment and Japan wanted to make further efforts in that direction.

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The representative of Saudi Arabia said he wanted to thank Mr. Osborn as he had been able to meet everyone's concerns. Saudi Arabia did care about potential climate change for as a country it too would be affected. However, it was afraid that it could become the victim of efforts by countries in annex 1 to the Convention to reduce their greenhouse gases. "We all need to work for a win-win situation, we are ready to cooperate but are not willing to be losers", he said. Oil was more than 80 per cent of Saudi Arabia's profits from exports and it did not want to be victim of any measures under the protocol or any other legal instrument.

The representative of Norway said he wanted to thank Japan and Mr. Osborn.

Margreeth de Boer, Minister of Housing, Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands, said she wanted to express her warm thanks to Japan as it had been the initial chair of the climate process. She also thanked Mr. Osborn and the representative of Saudi Arabia for their constructive approach to the issue.

The representative of Samoa thanked Japan for its leadership on the issue. He also thanked Mr. Osborn and said the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) welcomed the text.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation wanted to congratulate the Chairman and Mr. Osborn for the agreement on the text. The formulations in the text did not in any way prejudge the results of the third Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention in Kyoto or the negotiating position of countries there.

The representative of the United States said his delegation wanted to thank Argentina and Japan for their leadership in the group on climate change. He also thanked Mr. Osborn. The text which had been approved spelt out the stakes involved in resolving the issues concerned and the work that remained to be done between now and Kyoto.

The representative of Australia said the adoption of the text was truly an achievement and he thanked all those who had contributed to it.

The meeting was suspended at around 9:10 p.m. for distribution of the outstanding parts of the report.

When the meeting reconvened at 9:40 p.m., the Committee approved addendum 4 of its report on one of the most contentious paragraphs in the programme -- paragraph 17 -- which states that the concept of sustained economic growth is essential to the economic and social development of all countries, in particular developing countries. The last sentence of that

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paragraph was also revised to show an acceptance of the concepts of "democracy, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, transparent and accountable governance in all sectors of society ... are also an essential part of the necessary foundations for the realization of social and people centred sustainable development".

The Committee then approved addendum 7 which deletes subparagraph 21 (a bis) that refers to access of the poor to micro-credit.

The revised version of addendum 16* on forests, with all the amendments was then approved by the Committee.

The Committee then approved addendum 18 which revises paragraph 40 (e) which initially had bracketed text on an initiative relating to a tax on aviation fuel and the need for the continuation of studies on the use of economic instruments for the mitigation of the negative impact of aviation in the context of sustainable development.

The representative of Canada asked about the status of addendum 17 containing revised text on energy.

Mr. Osborn who chaired those negotiations, said the text on energy had been amended orally in discussions in the morning. He then read the oral amendments -- relating to preparations for a meeting of an intergovernmental group of experts on energy and sustainable development.

The representative of Canada called for the text to be approved immediately so that it could not be stopped in any way.

The Committee then approved addendum 18.

Ms. de Boer, Minister of Housing, Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she wanted the meeting to note that aviation fuel tax was part of the economic instruments referred to in the text.

The representative of China asked for clarification on the status of addendum 10 -- on paragraph 22 which contains revised text on changing consumption and production patterns. He noted that negotiations had continued on that subsection while the text was approved by the Committee earlier in the evening.

John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), Chairman of the negotiations on cross sectoral issues, said the representative of China was correct. The text in addendum 10 was still under negotiation when it was adopted earlier. The revised text had only been cleared an hour ago -- after it was adopted. It

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therefore had to be orally amended and the new version re-approved by the Committee.

The Chairman, Mr. Tolba (Egypt), agreed with that procedure. The Committee then approved addendum 22 containing revised text of paragraph 55 on desertification and drought, including reference to the capacity of the global mechanism to promote actions leading to the mobilization and channelling of substantial resources for advancing the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification. The paragraph also states that the international community, particularly the developed countries, should provide new and additional resources towards the same ends.

Also approved by the Committee was addendum 2/Corr. 1 on Part B of the programme -- assessment of progress made since UNCED -- which contains a footnote that states that when the term Governments is used it will be deemed to include the European Community, within its areas of competence.

The meeting was again suspended at 10:15 p.m. while the remaining parts of the report were being translated.

Resuming again at 11:15, the Committee adopted the last part of the report -- the outcome of the informal consultations on cross-sectoral issues revisions of the most contentious paragraphs -- 17, 98, 18 (b), 21 (a), 21 (e), 22.

The representative of the United States asked for time to look at the text on paragraph 22.

Mr. Ashe, Chairman of the negotiations on cross-sectoral issues, orally amended paragraph 22. The last sentence in the paragraph was replaced by three sentences.

In response to a question by the representative of the United States on the correctness of part of the text which had been taken from Agenda 21, Ken Ruffing of the Secretariat then read the text of paragraph 22.

The Committee then approved the new text added to paragraph 22, and then the entire paragraph.

The representative of Australia, referring to the section on trade and environment, said he wanted to register his regret that the review of progress made by the international community in the five years since Rio could not find agreement on an expression to reflect the important role played by major groups in the area of trade and the environment. Stressing the sustained efforts of major groups, he said it was a shame that the document did not contain an appropriate reference to that. His delegation would work with

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their partners in the upcoming session of the Economic and Social Council to correct the omission.

The Committee approved paragraph 23 (f) bis on cooperation and coordination between the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other relevant bodies to replace a former paragraph.

The representative of Indonesia expressed some concerns about that paragraph.

The representative of Norway, referring to paragraph 77 (bis) which calls for expert group meetings on finance, said it should be forwarded to the Economic and Social Council for further consideration. He regretted that the proposal, which was meant to be a constructive one to move forward the work on finance had not been accepted.

Another paragraph -- 101 -- also proposed by Norway was deleted. The Committee approved a revised paragraph 120 on international financial institutions.

Following a query by Iran on paragraph 21, the footnote in the text was orally amended.

India asked if paragraph 98 had been approved.

The Chairman said it had.

The representative of India, referring to paragraph 98 on access to information, public participation and the right of complaint as hallmarks of environmental democracy, said although the paragraph, as revised, was placed in the section on international legal instruments, it incorporated provisions relating to national norms. The representative of Colombia associated himself with the point made India.

Addenda 9, 14, 27, 33, 20 were approved, as orally amended.

Next, the Committee approved the deletion of paragraph 23 (f bis) and paragraph 77 (bis) (document A/S-19/AC.1/L.1/Add.33).

Following that, it approved a draft resolution on programme for further implementation of Agenda 21 (document A/S-19/AC.1/L.2). By the resolution the Committee recommended to the Assembly that it adopt the programme for further implementation of Agenda 21 annexed to the draft.

The meeting ended just after midnight.

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Summary of Draft Report

The draft report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole is contained in document A/S-19/AC.1/L.1 and Addenda 1 to 32. Document A/S-19/AC.1/L.1 recommends to the General Assembly's special session the adoption of the Committee's report.

The first addendum contains Part A of the programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21 -- the six-paragraph statement of commitment. Addendum 2 recommends that the Assembly adopt Part B -- assessment of progress made since UNCED, including an amendment to paragraph 6.

Addenda 3 to 32 contain amendments on Part C of the report -- implementation in areas requiring urgent action. In the third addenda, the Ad hoc Committee recommends that the Assembly adopt an amendment to paragraph 16 on reactivating and intensifying international cooperation.

In the fourth addendum the Committee recognizes that sustained economic growth is essential to the economic and social development of all countries, in particular developing countries.

Also recommended for adoption by the special session, in addendum 5 is paragraph 18 (c), as amended, in the subsection on integration of economic, social and environmental objectives. The sixth addendum recommends adoption of the heading of paragraph 19 (enabling international economic environment) and paragraph 20, as amended, on fostering such an environment.

By addendum six on enabling international economic framework, the Committee says that environmental issues that bear on the international economic environment can be approached effectively only through a constructive dialogue and genuine partnership.

By the seventh addenda, which deals with subparagraph 21 (bis) on poverty eradication, the Committee deleted that paragraph.

The eight addenda recommends the adoption of subparagraph 21 (d), as revised -- one of seven subparagraphs on eradicating poverty.

By the ninth addendum the Committee addresses the impact of poverty on women.

The tenth addendum recommends the adoption of paragraph 22 in the subsection on changing consumption and production patterns, as amended, and the amendments to subparagraphs 22 d, b, c, f (on promoting international and national programmes for energy and material efficiency), g and h. The

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eleventh addendum recommends the adoption of paragraph 22 (j) on promoting measures favouring eco-efficiency, as revised.

Addendum 11 focuses on the need for promoting measures favouring eco- efficiency to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns.

Addendum 12 deals with the question of making trade and environment mutually supportive.

Addendum 13 recommends the amendments to subparagraph 23 (b), (f), (f(bis) and (h). Among other things, it calls for cooperation and coordination between UNCTAD and other relevant bodies on environment and sustainable development issues.

Addendum 14 dealt with the question of population. It stresses the need for recognizing the critical linkages between demographic trends and sustainable development.

Addendum 15 recommends the adoption of paragraph 25 on health, as well as paragraphs 29 and 30 (a) on fresh-water resources and oceans and seas.

Under the section on sectors and issues, addendum 16 recommends the adoption on paragraphs 31, 33 (d), 34 and 34 (b) on forests, as revised.

Addendum 17 recommends the adoption of paragraphs 35, 39 (a), (d),(f), (g) and (h) on energy. It calls for movement towards sustainable patterns of production, distribution and use of energy.

Addendum 18 recommends the adoption of paragraph 40 (e) on transport. It talks about continuing studies on the use of economic instruments for the mitigation of the negative environmental impact of aviation in the context of sustainable development.

Addendum 19 recommends the adoption of paragraphs 40 (f) on phasing out of leaded gasoline, 40 (g) on promoting voluntary guidelines for environmentally-friendly transport and paragraph 41 on returning greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.

Addendum 20 contains paragraph 42 on the subject of climate change. It stresses that there is already widespread but not universal agreement among countries that it will be necessary to consider legally binding, meaningful, realistic and equitable targets for annex 1 countries that will result in significant reduction of greenhouse gases within specified timeframes, such as 2005, 2010 and 2020.

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Addendum 21 recommends paragraphs 49 and 52 on radioactive wastes. It also recommends paragraphs 52 and 53 on land and sustainable agriculture. It states that the storage, transportation, transboundary movement and disposal of radioactive wastes should be guided by all the principles of the Rio Declaration and by Agenda 21.

Addendum 22 recommends the adoption of paragraph 55 on desertification and drought.

Addendum 23 recommends the adoption of the section on "major technological and other disasters with an adverse impact on the environment".

On the section of the document on means of implementation, addendum 24 recommends, as revised, paragraphs 66, 67, 69, 70, 73, 74 and 75 on financial resources and mechanisms, for adoption.

Addendum 25 recommends the adoption of paragraph 76, also on financial resources and mechanisms. That paragraph focuses on the use of economic instruments.

Also in the section on means of implementation, addendum 26 recommends, as revised, the adoption of paragraphs 78 and 79 on transfer of environmentally sound technologies.

Addendum 27, on the section on international legal instruments, recommends paragraphs 99 and 100 for adoption. It emphasizes the necessity of continuing the progressive development and codification of international law related to sustainable development.

Addenda 28 recommends paragraphs 102 and 103 on information and tools to measure progress.

Addenda 29 and 30 recommend adoption of two other paragraphs on information and tools (104 and 105 respectively).

The final addendum, 32, recommends the adoption of the annex of the report -- the multi-year programme of work for the Commission on Sustainable Development (1998 to 2002).

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For information media. Not an official record.