SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION ADOPTS POLICY OPTIONS, PRACTICAL MEASURES AIMED AT SPEEDING IMPLEMENTATION OF WATER, SANITATION, HUMAN SETTLEMENT GOALS

22 April 2005
ENV/DEV/848

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION ADOPTS POLICY OPTIONS, PRACTICAL MEASURES AIMED AT SPEEDING IMPLEMENTATION OF WATER, SANITATION, HUMAN SETTLEMENT GOALS

22/04/2005
Press ReleaseENV/DEV/848

Commission on Sustainable Development

Thirteenth Session

17th & 18th Meetings (AM & PM)

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION ADOPTS POLICY OPTIONS, PRACTICAL MEASURES AIMED

AT SPEEDING IMPLEMENTATION OF WATER, SANITATION, HUMAN SETTLEMENT GOALS

Concludes Thirteenth Session

The Commission on Sustainable Development reached agreement early Saturday morning on a set of policy options and practical measures intended to speed implementation of water, sanitation and human settlements goals, ending its high-level segment and session, and opening its next one, which will focus on energy.

Under the terms of the text, which will be submitted to the Economic and Social Council for review in July, the Commission emphasized the need for a substantial increase in resources from all sources if developing countries were to achieve the internationally agreed development targets.

The text recognizes that Governments have the primary role in promoting improved access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and adequate shelter, through improved governance at all levels and appropriate enabling environments and regulatory frameworks, with the active involvement of all stakeholders.

At the same time, efforts by Governments to achieve the agreed goals and targets on water, sanitation and human settlements should be supported by the international community through a conducive international policy environment, including good global governance, a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system, mobilization and transfer of financial resources, debt relief, including debt cancellation, where appropriate, public-public and public-private partnerships, technical cooperation and capacity-building, and technology transfers.

The Chairman’s text for the Commission’s first-ever policy session was initially adopted by consensus at approximately 10 p.m. on Friday.  That action followed the decision to include in the text paragraphs 103 and 104 of the Johannesburg plan of implementation in the preambular paragraphs, as requested by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  Those paragraphs concerned, respectively, the right of peoples of self-determination, and territorial integrity and the principle of equal rights and self-determination.

At the same time, the Chair had decided to delete the following lines from the operative section:  “Eliminating illegal settlements emerged from foreign occupation;” and “Resolving to take further effective measures to remove obstacles to the full realization of the rights of the peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be combated and eliminated”.

Following that adoption, Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, requested a suspension of the meeting, saying that the Group had not understood that the negotiations had resulted in deletion of the line beginning “Resolving to take further effective measures ...”.

At approximately 1 a.m., following a decision by the Chair to restore the line to his text, the Commission adopted it again by consensus.  Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union, then indicated that, while it joined consensus, it did not consider it a precedent.  Australia and Canada disassociated themselves from the consensus on the lines concerning foreign occupation.

Speaking after adoption, the representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that instead of turning political commitments into positive actions to take things forward, the Group’s partners seemed to be heading in an opposite direction, circumscribing and reversing prior summit commitments.

He said that the session had revealed that the developing countries’ partners were refusing to reaffirm previously agreed commitments, particularly those related to financial resources.  He had also seen attempts to turn the Commission into an environmental body, with a reinterpretation and renegotiation of previously agreed language, including through an insistence on having a text that contradicted earlier decisions.  The future of the Commission and the whole concept of international cooperation was built on mutual understanding and recognition of others.  Failure to understand that, and to pursue instead “selfish insular” agendas, would only result in resistance and ultimately a total loss.

The United States representative hailed the session as a success, saying that two years ago the Commission had embraced an ambitious and critical task by deciding collectively to adopt new ways of doing business to better meet the challenges of the implementation era, which would look different from the process of norm setting and would change the way the Commission did business.  Change was very hard.  Yet, priorities had been identified in the water cycle, and actors at all levels had been convinced that water, sanitation and human settlements needed to be dealt with.  Partnerships and new approaches had been announced, and, all in all, the new Commission has set the right course for the energy cycle.

The Commission also approved a package of procedural draft texts tonight for adoption by its parent body, the Economic and Social Council.  It decided that the dates of its next two annual sessions in New York would be, respectively, from 1 to 12 May 2006, and from 26 February to 2 March 2007.  Under a related decision, approved as orally amended, the Commission decided that the current term of its Bureau of one year should continue for the next two sessions.

The Commission recommended for adoption to its parent body, the Economic and Social Council, a draft resolution on support to the Bureau in preparing for future sessions, including the provision of financial support consisting of travel and daily subsistences to Bureau members from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, through designated extrabudgetary contributions to the Trust Fund to Support the Work of the Commission.

It similarly recommended for adoption a draft resolution that would have the Council recommend that the General Assembly decide that support to participants from developing countries, with priority to the least developed countries, as well as from countries with economies in transition, might also be provided from the Trust Fund for travel from funds designated for that purpose.

The Chairman then opened the fourteenth session and proceeded to the adoption of a new Bureau, by acclamation, as follows:  Aleksi Aleksishvili, Minister of Economic Development of Georgia, as the new Chairman; and Javad Amin-Mansour (Iran), Adrian Alfredo Fernandez Bremauntz, President of the National Institute for Ecology of Mexico, and Yvo de Boer (Netherlands) were elected as Vice-Chairmen.

In its final day of debate, some 40 speakers, many of them from African States, urged that national strategies and initiatives in developing countries be accompanied by actions from developed countries and international organizations, and be based on nationally owned needs assessment exercises.  Several African ministers stressed that, despite a host of constraints, developing countries had demonstrated considerable commitment to achieving sustainable development targets -– a commitment that should be matched by the provision of necessary resources.

Special situations were highlighted, such as Angola’s emergence from 30 years of conflict.  Its speaker urged recognition of that fact through supportive cohesive actions by international development partners.  The enormous challenges facing the country could not be tackled by domestic resource mobilization alone.  International support for the consolidation of peace in Angola involved an intensified partnership in support of technology transfers and the productivity, diversity and competitiveness of the economy through a combination of financial and technological support for the country’s rehabilitation. 

The Vice-President of Policy, Planning and Research at the African Development Bank, Chanel Boucher, said that it was recognition of the scope of the needs of African nations that the Bank developed a rural water supply and sanitation initiative, which hinged on the willingness of all partners to work within a single framework.  For the countries, that meant putting water and sanitation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the national development plans and national budgets.  For the donor community, that required putting in practice alignment of priorities, harmonization of practice and managing for results.

Describing the initiative ambitious, he said it called for a mobilization of $14.2 billion over an 11-year period in rural Africa for water and sanitation.  That might seem like a huge investment, but the cost of not tackling the issue of water supply and sanitation in terms of associated diseases was estimated at $20 billion per year.  Recognizing that not all African countries had the capacities to immediately implement the initiative, the activities were sequenced for implementation over the 11 years, and countries were grouped according to their readiness for investment intervention.

Also addressing the segment this morning, Sunita Narain, winner of the Stockholm Water Prize for 2005, said that the Prize -- awarded since 1991 by the Stockholm Water Foundation to an individual or organization for outstanding water-related activities -- made water everybody’s business, and it argued that unless communities were involved in water management, and unless people were central to the water agenda, that agenda would not succeed.

Also speaking this morning were:  Achim Steiner, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN); and Zephirin Diabre, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Other speakers in the high-level segment today were the representatives of: Switzerland; Austria; Tuvalu (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States); Cape Verde; Benin; United Republic of Tanzania; Mauritania; Burundi; Peru; Algeria; Guatemala; Kazakhstan; Malaysia; Gabon; India; Republic of Congo; Colombia; Uganda; Slovenia; Sri Lanka; Spain; Turkey; Botswana; Cuba; Jordan; Thailand; Ethiopia; Canada; Tajikistan; Iran; Belize (on behalf of the member States of the Caribbean Community); and Nigeria.  The Permanent Observer of Palestine also spoke.

Background

The Commission on Sustainable Development met today to conclude its session.  It was expected to begin by wrapping up its high-level segment this morning on turning political commitments into action.  This afternoon, it was expected to take action on a number of draft resolutions and an outcome text. 

Statements

SUNITA NARAIN, winner of the Stockholm Water Prize for 2005, said that the prize recognized the fact that the issue of water today required a different paradigm of management.  The prize had also made water everybody’s business, and it argued that unless communities were involved in water management, and unless people were central to the water agenda, that agenda would not succeed.

She said dirty water killed more babies than other diseases in many parts of the world, and drought killed both people and economies.  The current Commission session was about turning political commitments into action.  She argued that water was on top of the agenda for politicians.  In every election in her part of the world, that issue drove the electorate, which was seeking water to drink and water to irrigate their crops.  Why then did the problem not get solved?  The world needed a different approach to the management of water systems, and once new approaches were found, policies must be turned into practices.

In different parts of India, different people had found different solutions, she said.  Ecologically sustainable solutions were needed for the diverse ecosystems that existed in countries.  It was not about the amount of water, but about the relationship with water that was the endowment.  People in India harvested rain across different regions of the country through tanks, ponds and step wells; they harvested the rain by catching water where it fell, when it fell.  Every settlement required an institution capable of managing its water resources.  It was clear that the water agenda was about deepening democracy and involving communities in the management of their water resources.  Countries in the South had the unenviable challenge today of leapfrogging what the West had done; they had to, among other things, turn sewage into safe water.  Investment in the water and sanitation sectors would also have to increase, she stressed.

THOMAS ZELTNER, Secretary of State and Director of the Swiss Office for Health of Switzerland, said it would only be possible to live up to the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation if all actors in the sector –- national governments and local authorities, donors, civil society, public operators and private sector –- joined forces.  He fully agreed with the World Bank that the key question was not about public or private, but about efficient and effective management of water and sanitation systems, while ensuring social equity.  He was pleased that the World Bank had indicated repeatedly its openness to support public provisions of water services, as well as public-private partnerships.  Those partnerships were a concrete example for the “type 2 partnerships” promoted at Johannesburg in 2002 and a viable option to tackle the challenges.  They contributed significantly to improving performance by providing managerial know-how, capacity and additional investments in urban and rural areas.

He noted that high hopes had been placed on private sector participation, but some of the early projects had faced considerable technical and social challenges, or had failed entirely.  In several cases, the projects had been confronted by massive public resistance.  All too often, the reasons were inadequate framework conditions, excessively high prices for the poor, unclear definition of the partners’ roles, lack of participation and commitment of local stakeholders, and insufficient transparency of arrangements.  In short, lack of good governance.  To ensure that public-private partnership arrangements were successfully developed and implemented, consistent policy principles and guidelines to improve water governance were required.  Key aspects to be addressed included poor people’s access to services, as well as participation, transparency, accountability, sound financing mechanisms, and water resources protection.  Switzerland had developed such principles and guidelines, which he invited all participants in the session to review. 

WOLFGANG STALZER, Director General of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria, aligning his statement with that of Luxembourg on behalf of the European Union, said it was important to remember that political signals did have impact, as proven by his country’s experience.  In that light, the Commission was the motor for global sustainable development.  He described Austria’s experience in turning Commission commitments into action.

Serious follow-up, he said, kept sustainable development going and created confidence, credibility, consistency and coherence.  In particular, the Millennium Review Summit offered an opportunity to strengthen the entire agenda of sustainable development.  It was a welcome opportunity and one that was not to be missed.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA (Tuvalu), Vice-Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the Mauritius Strategy reaffirmed the importance of an integrated approach to the management of water, sanitation and human settlements.  The Alliance recognized that any efforts by small island States to address actions and policies under those sectors must take their special situations and vulnerability into account.  The nexus of water and sanitation issues for small islands was very much related to their resilience building requirements.

He stressed the concerns of such States regarding global climate change and sea-level rise, as they had a serious impact on water management.  The harmful effects of global change on island environments required an immediate, urgent application of science and technology to provide coping strategies related to rising sea level and the increased frequency of droughts and floods.  There was a direct linkage between the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on water, sanitation and human settlements, as foreseen in the development targets set by various summits.  The Alliance called on the Commission to carefully consider those issues.

ACHIM STEINER, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), said that in terms of water, “we are reaching our limits”.  Some rivers no longer reached the sea, and groundwater levels were falling dramatically in many parts of the world.  The capacity of the life-support systems to provide us with the water resources vital to life and the economies of countries was being seriously undermined.  The IUCN was encouraged by many of the positive developments under way to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  Increasing official development assistance (ODA) levels, creative financing mechanisms, and governance innovations were all steps in the right direction.  But, more investments in ecosystems were needed to maintain the goods and services they provided.  Those were not just essential to ensure sustainable water supplies, they were vital to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

He said that environmental flows offered a set of tools to rationalize the allocation of water, to protect downstream users and ecosystems, and to ensure the long-term prosperity of river basins.  Water governance could be improved at all levels, from local community involvement to national level planning, to transnational basin-wide cooperation through legal review and stakeholder participation.  Valuation of multiple water use and ecosystem benefits provided decision-makers with additional information, which improved development decisions.  Furthermore, that was the basis for development of innovative payment schemes for environmental services, which helped to maintain some of the vital ecological services of freshwater basin ecosystems.

MARIA MADALENA BRITO NEVES, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries of Cape Verde, said her delegation hoped this Commission on Sustainable Development session would provide new impetus for the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.  As a small island, Cape Verde was pleased with plans to devote one day in the coming Millennium Review Summit to consider issues of concern to such countries.  The success of her Government’s national development plans, since its independence in 1975, had always focused on drinking water supply as a priority in national policy.  Cape Verde’s national development strategy attached great importance to programmes for water, sanitation and human habitats.

She said the water supply of urban centres was provided by seawater desalinated with the help of various companies.  In rural areas, water was supplied by groundwater, and management of rainwater catchments was part of the water management agenda.  At an institutional level, there was a ministerial body that defined environmental policy at a national level.  Important work was being done in her country to try to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  However, more resources were urgently needed and her delegation supported all initiatives to reduce or cancel national debt.  Technical and financial partnerships were also crucial to overcome the challenge of providing water, sanitation and decent housing.  Cape Verde would continue to work with its bilateral and multilateral partners to achieve development targets.

JULES CODJO ASSOGBAN, Minister of Environment, Housing and Urbanism of Benin, said that, in Benin, despite the country’s great needs, the current use of surface and aquifer water played a minor role when it came to drinking water supply and crop irrigation.  That was why the Government had made the development of an integrated water management policy a major concern.  Benin would need considerably more than 1,000 new water outlets by 2015 to meet the Millennium Development Goals, but it now only had somewhere between 500 and 600.  Regarding sanitation, the Government had established a sanitation police and an environmental police, which were chiefly involved in raising awareness and providing support in the usage of certain latrines.  Still, however, the country faced problems with regard to drinking domestic wastewater, particularly in urban centres, where diseases such as typhoid fever were rife.

He said that informal settlements and inadequate implementation of land and property rights, especially in rural areas, remained a critical problem.  In the context of public-private partnerships, the Government had launched a pilot programme to build social housing projects in rural areas, to improve general housing in those areas and to build affordable housing.  Sustainable water management, sanitation and human settlements required a coordinated approach.  Significant levels of financial resources must be mobilized, and institutional and human capacity must be reinforced.  Wealthy countries should respect their ODA commitments, including the 0.15 per cent target devoted to the least developed countries.  In addition, the public debt of developing countries should be forgiven, to enable those States to fully devote their national resources to national poverty-reduction strategies.

ARCARDO NTAGAZWA, Minister of State, Vice-President’s Office (Environment) of the United Republic of Tanzania, said his country’s national development agenda had prioritized the issues related to water, sanitation and human settlements in its efforts to achieve internationally agreed-upon development targets.  He stressed that political will was the single most important factor in turning commitment into action.  The international community must seriously consider why political will was not more readily available.  His Government needed additional support to enable it to more adequately address the water, sanitation and human settlement problems in his country.  He called for debt cancellation for developing countries to increase financial resources for development projects.  Integrated water resource management was critical in those efforts.

SIDI MOHAMED OULD TALEB AMAR, Minister for Rural Development of Mauritania, said that a major programme for water resources infrastructure had been carried out.  Several new wells had been built and were equipped with pumps.  That was aimed at increasing drinking water coverage.  The Government’s priority in that connection was to ensure universal access to drinking water, for which it had engaged in a multi-sector partnership.  The service targets it had set for itself, to be attained by 2010, had sought to increase the number of water networks in both urban and rural areas.  A new water code, adopted at the end of 2004, had confirmed the territorial management of water, and sought to protect the environment and ensure that access to drinking water was a universal right.

He said his country was fully committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which was reflected in a new project aimed at ensuring long-term water supply through the provision of 400 new distribution networks and 1,200 new water outlets, to raise the level of universal access to water to 55 per cent.  In Africa, through the united efforts of governments and the international community and development partners, new initiatives, such as through the African Development Bank and the “Wash Road Map” had also been launched.  At the same time, there must be an emphasis on capacity for follow-up and evaluation of all new programmes.

SERAPHINE WAKANA, Minister for Development Planning and Reconstruction of Burundi, said the overwhelming challenges facing the least developed countries made it very difficult to tackle issues related to water, sanitation and human settlements.  Investments in water were very low and needed to be renewed.  Her Government urged donors to invest in developing countries to improve economic growth, especially in countries that were coping with damaging effects of war.  Jobs were critical for ensuring growth both in the private and public sector.  Capacity-building was crucial for the poorest countries that were victims of war and natural disasters.  Support should be provided to them to help them develop.  There was an urgent need to provide new impetus to countries facing difficulties in meeting the challenge of poverty eradication.

AMMAR HIJAZI, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, said that Palestine shared the concerns of most developing nations with regard to water, sanitation and human settlements.  It also confronted problems unique to its situation as a country “shackled by the chains of foreign occupation”.  The Middle East region was known for a scarcity of water and water disputes.  Although that shortage was caused by nature and not man-made, it was compounded by a lack of cooperation and sometimes the hegemony of one party’s rights and access over all others.  Due to the hegemony of Israel over the water resources in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory, Palestinians were only allocated 120 million cubic metres of freshwater out of the 850 million cubic metres from water aquifers that the West Bank produced.

Consequently, he said, the current domestic water supply for Palestinian households amounted to only between 57 and 67 litres per day, which was significantly lower than the World Health Organization (WHO)’s minimum for domestic water consumption.  And, due to the destruction of water networks and the continued siege of Palestinian villages and cities, Palestinian households now paid 12 per cent more of their household income on water, calling into question their very ability to access freshwater.  After all, the first requirement of accessibility was affordability, and that requirement was not met.  In its review of the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2004, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Territory reported that, because of continued Israeli military assaults on Palestinian cities and villages, “the erosion of water and sanitation infrastructure ... risks contamination of ground and surface water through salinity, nitrates” and other contaminants.

In Nablus, there had been an alarming increase in bacteriological contamination of piped water, he said.  Equally devastating had been the increasing chloride level in 90 per cent of the water in the Gaza Strip, owing, at least in part, to the restriction of movement imposed on the Palestinian maintenance crews.  When it came to contamination, there was no greater source of environmental devastation than in the illegal Israeli settlements and the approximately 200 Israeli factories that those hosted.  Those factories produced toxins such as lead, zinc, aluminium, cadmium and other, which devastated the land, agriculture and underground water in the areas.  Also contributing to the water crisis in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory was Israel’s construction of the wall in the West Bank.  During its first phase of construction, Israel confiscated 200 cisterns and 36 groundwater wells, and threatened at least 14 others that lay in the wall’s so-called “buffer zone”.

JORGE VILLACORTA, Vice-Minister for Sanitation and Construction of Peru, noting that the Andean region was marked with water shortages caused by drought, said water management was critical for his country’s development.  Droughts were a major concern and programmes, including improved irrigation systems, were necessary to prevent the inefficient use of water.  Water and sanitation issues were closely linked to health and living standards.  Inadequate access to water led to social conflict and health problems.

He said his Government was shouldering its role to more efficiently address water management and sanitation problems.  Taking note of the existing divide between the public and private sectors, he said Peru was supporting strategic public and private partnerships and was taking account of successful models in other countries.  In light of the shortage of financial and technological resources, new efforts were needed to mobilize resources.  Developed countries must reaffirm commitments they made to devote 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to ODA.  Innovative financial mechanisms were needed to free resources and to step up investments in developing countries, particularly in water, sanitation, and human settlement initiatives to help them meet Millennium Development Goals.

MOSTAPHA KARIM RAHIEL, Secretary General of the Ministry of Water of Algeria, said his country had been subjected to desertification and drought for  25 years.  That had prompted the public authorities to define a new water policy, which had two main objectives:  guaranteeing water supply for the population and production sector; and increasing the size and number of areas supplied with water.  The policy sought to maximize the development of surface and groundwater, desalinated and treated wastewater, thereby making it possible to increase the availability of water to cover 95 per cent of the country’s needs by 2030.  There were also investment programmes under way, as well as plans to build 12 desalination plants by 2010.  That would make it possible to produce 45 million cubic metres of water and guarantee a water supply for coastal towns.

He said that that potential would be strengthened by the reuse of treated wastewater.  Another plan was under way to help communities.  Presently, 79 per cent of the population was supplied with drinking water, and 75 per cent had guaranteed sanitation services, so Algeria had already attained the Johannesburg goals.  The country attached great importance to all areas of water management, and recognized the value of partnerships at all levels, as well as all regional cooperation initiatives.  Its water policy had introduced important institutional changes to improve water and sanitation services.  There was a new water code for the use and management of water, and an integrated, modern and sustainable development of water resources was under way.  The economy of water was crucial, as water, sanitation and human settlements were the basis of sustainable development, as many speakers had indicated.  Apart from financial support, he urged greater technical support and training.

JORGE SKINNER-KLEE (Guatemala) said his country had made considerable progress in fulfilling the sustainable development agenda, making the environmental agenda an intrinsic part of development.  A national plan called Guate Verde (Green Guatemala) addressed environmental education and training; basic social services that were environmentally sustainable and incorporated eco-efficient use of energy; housing designed to improve environmental management in urban and rural areas; and rural projects that included sustainable development practices, chiefly in the areas of forestry, and genetic and hydro-biological resources.

As a result of Guate Verde, the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources had laid down legislation for the integral use and rational management of basins and water systems, springs and other sources of water; the maintenance and equilibrium of the water system, promoting immediate reforestation of lake basins of rivers and springs; and for the regulation of hydrographic basins, coastal areas, and oceans.  Better management of water resources was fundamental for:  eliminating poverty and hunger; health; industrial development; and environmental protection.  To promote better national and local management of water resources, local authorities should be made responsible for providing drinking water through transparent legal and fiscal frameworks that promoted private sector participation in improving water supply services.

YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said that because the problems of sustainable development were closely interrelated, an integrated approach to their solution was the only way to go.  For his country, which was affected by man-made and natural disasters, the solution of problems related to water, sanitation and human settlements was a priority.  The graveness of the situation around the Aral Sea meant that concrete steps must be taken at the international level to address the problem.  Together with other Central Asian States, Kazakhstan called for an international partnership to develop measures to provide assistance to the countries of the region.  The adoption of a special General Assembly resolution on the problems of the Aral Sea could become a framework for such a partnership.

He said his delegation supported the establishment of cooperation on the management of transboundary watercourses.  The existing conventions on the protection of international watercourses and lakes could become a basis for such cooperation.  Kazakhstan had made the relevant proposals within the framework of the International Fund to Save the Aral Sea and at other international conferences.

RADZI RAHMAN (Malaysia), aligning his statement with that of Jamaica on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries, said that there was no one-size-fits all approach to progress in water, sanitation and human settlements.  However, developing countries all had the common constraint of a lack of resources and technical capacity.  Developed countries must continue their efforts to meet their pledged ODA targets.  International partnership, which had lagged behind the need, must continue to be intensified.  Highly indebted countries must also be freed from their debt burden.

Malaysia, he said, was strongly committed to meeting its agreed-upon goals.  It had achieved, for example, 100 per cent coverage in the provision of piped water in urban areas and 87 per cent access to safe drinking water in rural areas.  It would now embark on programmes ensuring the availability of high quality drinking water throughout the whole country.  It was also committed to Integrated Water Resources Management and had achieved almost 100 per cent coverage in provision of sanitation services.  In housing, there were comprehensive programmes for construction and for moving squatters into premises with basic services.

CHANEL ROUCHER, Vice-President, Policy, Planning and Research, African Development Bank, said that in recognition of the scope of the needs, the Bank, in close consultation with regional member countries, developed the rural water supply and sanitation initiative.  It hinged on the willingness of all partners to work within a single framework.  For the countries, that implied putting water and sanitation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the national development plans, as well as in national budgets.  For the donor community, that required putting in practice alignment of priorities, harmonization of practice and managing for results.  The initiative relied on the collective accountability of African ministers of water through the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and operated within the global thrust of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Describing the initiative ambitious, he said it called for a mobilization of $14.2 billion over an 11-year period in rural Africa for water and sanitation.  That might seem like a huge investment, but the cost of not tackling the issue of water supply and sanitation in terms of associated diseases was estimated at $20 billion per year.  Simple mathematics, common sense and economics dictated that such action should be taken.  Africa was a continent of paradoxes:  it had abundant water resources, but it was ranked last in access to water and sanitation.  Recognizing that not all African countries had the capacities to immediately implement the initiative, the activities were sequenced for implementation over the 11 years.  In addition, countries were grouped according to their readiness for investment intervention.

ZEPHIRIN DIABRE, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that his agency supported programme countries in developing their national capacity to take an integrated approach to water resource management through effective water governance.  To support governments in implementing their commitments in water, sanitation and human settlements, the UNDP was working in partnership with national and local public sector institutions, bilateral and multilateral organizations, the private sector and United Nations partners.

In its approach, the UNDP recognized the linkage between poverty and environmental issues, and, in fact, was conducting a Poverty and Environment Initiative.  Other relevant programmes included the Community Water Initiative and the “Ecosan” mechanism, designed to save water, protect the environment and improve food security. The agency had been helping to facilitate multi-stakeholder processes for the preparation of Integrated Water Resource Management Plans, as well as actions to carry them forward.  It was also facilitating dialogue on river basins, working on habitat issues with many partners, and actively participated in UN Water.

EMILE DOUMBA, Minister for Forestry of Gabon, said Gabon endorsed the statement made by Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  Water, sanitation, and human settlements were closely interrelated and were vital goods required for life, security and development.  To meet the Millennium Development Goals, it was necessary to strengthen technical, financial and human capacity, particularly in rural areas.  That required a constant flow of resources.  In order to meet Gabon’s objectives, an overall sum of $35 million per year was required.  Given the magnitude of the development challenges, it was urgent to establish a framework for concrete action.

He said his Government had placed great priority on water management and waste water.  Gabon favoured reinforcing existing institutional mechanisms to ensure proper coordination in the field and in the shared management of ecosystems and transboundary water resources.  The effective implementation of various development objectives agreed upon in various summits required greater international cooperation, increased aid, debt relief and technology transfer.  There was also a need to reinforce existing United Nations bodies and to expand their mandate to address sustainable development, especially on issues related to water, sanitation and human settlement.

ISMAEL GASPAR ABRAÃO MARTINS (Angola) said his Government was dedicated to translating the recently arrived peace into meaningful improvements in the lives of 14 million inhabitants and continuing its path on the road to sustained economic growth and sustainable development.  Thus, specific programmes were being implemented, such as the Poverty Eradication Strategy, the Water Sector Development Strategy, the Pilot Water and Sanitation Provisions Plans for the Provinces of Angola, Child Education and Instruction Upgrade Programme, and Social and Productive Reintegration Programme, among others.  His Government had also promulgated its environmental and water laws, in line with its obligations undertaken at Johannesburg.  Key to achieving the targets for water, sanitation and human settlements was the reaffirmation of the principle of common, but differentiated, responsibilities that guided Johannesburg.  There, nations committed themselves to building a humane, equitable and caring global society.

He urged that national strategies and initiatives in developing countries be accompanied by actions from developed countries, as well as from international organizations, based on nationally owned needs assessment exercises.  In Angola, supportive cohesive actions on the part of international partners must recognize that 30 years of conflict had created enormous challenges, which could not be tackled by domestic resource mobilization alone.  International support for the continued consolidation of peace in Angola involved an intensified partnership for financing technical and institutional cooperation, and human and institutional capacity-building, consistent with a nationally owned poverty-reduction strategy.  That partnership should also promote technology transfers, and support the productivity, diversity and competitiveness of the economy through a combination of financial and technological support for the country’s rehabilitation.

NAMO NARAIN MEENA, Minister of State for Environment and Forests of India, said his delegation attached great importance to this session of the Commission to set a road map for developed countries to reaffirm their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Lack of financial resources was the single most important constraint in addressing the imperative of poverty eradication.  Equally critical was the need to address the issue of making available necessary technologies to developing countries and to adopt measures to facilitate access and transfer of such technologies to developing countries.

He said equitable access to natural resources was also seriously hampered by the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption in the developed world.  Threats to the global environment emanated primarily from such unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.  He urged developed countries to assume the main responsibility for preventing and reversing environmental degradation.

Turning to the issue of transboundary waters, he said India’s experience had shown that bilateral approaches had worked well.  Given the great diversity in the demographic, social and economic situations of watershed and river basins throughout the world, it was not possible to arrive at a one-size-fits-all in multilateral norms for management of transboundary water bodies.

HENRI DJOMBO, Minister of Economy, Forestry and Environment of the Republic of the Congo, said that the Congo basin had been facing increasing turbulence with regard to the level of water and its rate of flow.  So, the UNDP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the countries of the river basin –- Central African Republic, Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo -– had launched a management programme for the Congo River and its main tributaries.  They were also seeking to set up effective international partnerships to deal with the problem of encroaching sand and invasive floating plants, and to carry out a sustained water monitoring exercise.

Turning to sanitation, he said that African countries were facing the challenges of urban sprawl.  Appropriate measures should be taken, therefore, to ensure that sanitation networks were not just confined to cities.  Equal access to land and credit for all should also be promoted, as well as housing security, equal opportunity to lead a healthy life free from danger, establishment of social integration measures for the underprivileged, and gender equality in housing acquisition.  The Secretary-General had urged that a leap be taken from talking to taking action.  Establishment of a world partnership for that purpose must reaffirm real political will.

CARMEN ELENA AREVALO CORREA, Vice-Minister of Environment of Colombia, affirmed her Government’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, especially with regard to sustainable development.  It had prioritized water, sanitation and human settlements in its national policy for sustainable development.  There was a critical need to apply solutions to ensure access to safe drinking water and housing for 11 million inhabitants, as well as safe housing in rural and urban areas.  To accomplish that, more than $100 million annually would be required.

She said there was also a need to improve the entrepreneurial framework to increase private sector involvement.  Efforts were being made to reallocate funds in order to achieve the Millennium Goals.  Her Government hoped to increase financial resources from the private sector and to adopt mechanisms for more efficient use of existing resources.  The allocation of microcredits could play a role in improving housing conditions and providing community support.  It was critical to address water and sanitation problems through an integrated approach and to identify mechanisms to ensure more efficient use of resources.  Colombia was convinced that the implementation of strategies to meet the Millennium Goals would hinge upon environmental sustainability.  It was crucial for developed countries to channel greater resources for those efforts.

KAHINDA OTAFIIRE, Minister for Water, Lands and Environment of Uganda, endorsed the statement of Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77.  He said his Government had prioritized water, sanitation and human settlements.  It planned to achieve 95 to 100 per cent safe water supply coverage and 100 per cent sanitation coverage by the year 2015.  It would also continue with land reforms and legal measures to address tenure problems and the challenges of urbanization.

He said attainment of the targets, though, required massive resources for investment in both infrastructure and capacity-building.  To help remedy that problem, he called for an increase of ODA and debt cancellation for poor countries.  He said that well coordinated pro-poor activities should be implemented and service delivery issues should be addressed through partnerships at all levels, with local communities empowered.  The path set at Johannesburg must be illuminated by implementation of commitments and monitoring of progress, if the Millennium Development Goals were to be met.

MARJAN SETINC (Slovenia) said that, despite some gains, there was no doubt that more could and should be done.  Everyone, however, was fully aware of the problems of unbalanced and badly managed development in many parts of the world.  In developing countries, the number of people without access to water and basic sanitation was appalling.  Increased resources, therefore, must be committed to solving that problem.  He was convinced that the current system of development assistance not only required additional resources, but also better and more effective implementation of the guidelines.  Water and sanitation were the basic preconditions for progress in all areas of life.  Everyone also knew that many problems were linked to consumption and production disparities.  It was up to all to change those disparities, not only for the present generation, but also for future generations.

THOSAPALAGE HEWAGE, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Water Supply of Sri Lanka, said that his country had developed a national target of 100 per cent access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to its citizens by 2025, through an innovative national strategy that redressed regional inequities.  However, the tsunami disaster devastated much of the basic infrastructure of the human settlements.  It had forced the country to reformulate the road map to achieving its national objectives.

The strategic way forward, he said, was to bring all stakeholders to develop an integrated implementation mechanism, while empowering communities to take over the management of development activities.  The Millennium Development Goals would be at the centre of those planning processes.  Much capital investment was required, however.  For provision of services to new settlements alone, $400 million was needed.  Therefore, a positive response from donors was vital for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

ANTONIO SERRANO, Secretary-General for Territory and Biodiversity, Ministry of Environment, Spain, said his country was revising its integrated water management planning to be more closely linked with new objectives concerning environmental sustainability and water usage, in line with the proposed Commission text.  Awareness and concern were growing in Spain for the connection between water resources, health, city systems, rural-urban relations and development sustainability.  Such key themes would be showcased at an international exhibit on water and sustainable development in Zaragoza, planned for 2008.

Spain had offered to set up an office in Zaragoza to help meet the objectives of the “Water for Life” campaign in the framework of the International Decade of Water, he continued.  The office would promote public information and awareness about the links between water and sustainable development, in order to encourage greater civil society participation, encourage States to devise sustainable solutions to water-related problems, and showcase advancements and results in the field.

BAKI ILKIN (Turkey) said that, for his country, unemployment and lack of adequate sanitation constituted the main problems facing its cities.  Making adequate shelter available and accessible to meet the needs of an ever-increasing population in urban areas also remained a great challenge.  His Government had initiated a housing programme with the objective of improving living standards of its urban poor.  However, due to a lack of financial resources, Turkey had not been able to attain development targets, especially with respect to sanitation.

He said his Government regarded water as the engine of sustainable development.  Poverty and hunger could not be reduced without an adequate supply and efficient use of water resources.  Turkey had recently revised its water policy to take into consideration its present and future water and energy needs and its fast growing population.  Priority had been given to utilizing water resources in an efficient manner.  Given the transboundary nature of most of its major rivers, Turkey had also given priority to enhancing cooperation with other riparian States.  There was an urgent need to mobilize additional financial resources and to encourage public-private partnerships, along with support from international and regional financial institutions, in order to attain development goals.

LEUTLWETSE MMUALEFE (Botswana), endorsing the statement of Ghana and Jamaica on behalf of the African Group and the Group of 77, respectively, said that despite a host of constraints, developing countries had demonstrated considerable commitment to achieving sustainable development targets.  That commitment and leadership should be encouraged by the provision of necessary resources and assistance.  The respective countries would play their part in ensuring that such assistance was used effectively to implement sustainable development targets.

The provision of clean water, sanitation and basic shelter was central to Botswana’s development efforts, he continued.  The development of a national water master plan would begin this year, a long-term wastewater and sanitation master plan was completed in 2003, and a community-based housing project for rural poor had been ongoing for a number of years.  The country continued, however, to face mammoth challenges, ranging from limited resources and technology to HIV/AIDS.  Africa as a whole faced bleak prospects in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  It was, therefore, important for more support to be provided to regional initiatives, such as NEPAD and the African Ministers Conference on Water

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said he did not accept the idea that governments were the only ones responsible for the solution of problems related to water access, sanitation, and human settlements.  Nor did he accept that associations were the magical solutions to problems.  The private sector might contribute to finding certain solutions, but those should correspond to national development plans and priorities.  As always, the balanced, effective and transparent participation of all sectors of society should be promoted.

He stressed that special consideration should be given to the general situation of developing countries, especially in Africa, the less developed, and landlocked countries and small island developing States.  The latter’s scarcity of resources should be taken into account, as well as their vulnerability to natural disasters and their limited capacity in sanitation, treatment of residual waters and overall national capacities.  South-South cooperation should be developed, within the context of current international conditions, which was characterized by increasing economic and social inequity.  The decentralization process in the comprehensive management of water resources and the improvement of human settlement conditions should also be implemented in accordance with national policies and their corresponding action plans.  It should be ensured that that process guaranteed efficient and transparent management of the assigned resources.

KAMAL KHALIER, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan, said his Government believed an integrated approach to water resources management was the way to tackle the increasing demands for water, especially in arid and semi-arid countries.  Jordan, like other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, suffered from severe shortages of water, a situation aggravated by the increase of population due to the influx of refugees from neighbouring countries as a consequence of the unstable political situation in the region.

He said his Government was also gravely concerned about the overuse of water from the Dead Sea, one of the most holy and historical lakes on earth.  Most of the water flowing into the Dead Sea had been exploited and dammed from all sides, resulting in declining water levels.  Scientists had warned that, unless certain measures are taken, the Dead Sea would vanish in 50 years.  Tackling environmental disasters required the cooperation of the international community.  The provision of urgently needed financial and technical assistance would do much to prove that water could be an element of peace, rather than a cause of war.

ITTIPORN BOONPRACONG (Thailand) said Thai officials had adopted a pro-poor approach to sustainable development in both urban and rural areas.  Since 1997, it had implemented an integrated water resource management policy.  New legislation on basin management of water resources was being drafted and should take effect soon.  Thailand had achieved a high-level of access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, and had reached Millennium target number 8.  Industrial and municipal waste management remained a challenge.  Many programmes for land tenure security, slum upgrading, low-cost housing and long-term mortgages for housing for the poor had been implemented, thanks in part to public-private partnerships.

Domestic efforts to achieve the Millennium targets in water, sanitation and human settlements were essential.  However, the international community must continue and increase support financial, technical and capacity-building support to developing countries, particularly least developed countries.  Partnerships were also essential.  Thailand was poised to share its experiences and practices on water, sanitation and human settlements with other countries, relevant United Nations agencies and subregional bodies.

TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia), supporting the statements made by Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Madagascar on behalf of the African Group, said more than 70 per cent of urban dwellers in Ethiopia lived in slums.  Public access to the country’s national water supply and sanitation services was poor by both subregional and global standards.  Water resource development was central to Ethiopia’s socio-economic development.  In 1999, officials devised an integrated water resource management policy.  They also launched an integrated river basin development plan, a framework to improve national management and planning capacity of water and sanitation, and a Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP).

Ethiopia was also striving to step up cooperation with riparian countries to promote transboundary water development, he said.  The Nile Basin Initiative Strategic Action Programme was a good example of regional cooperation for development of shared water resources.  Riparian States also shared a vision for economic growth and stability though cooperative investment and management of Nile water resources.  Officials had doubled funds for water supply and sanitation services and related activities during the 2003-2007 period.  Despite that, and contributions from investment partners and community groups, there was a current shortfall of $0.23 billion in the $2.6 billion investment required for rural water supply and sanitation.  Of the $4.74 billion needed for urban areas, there was a gap of approximately $0.72 billion.  He called on the Commission to expedite resource mobilization and capacity-building. 

KAREN KRAFT SLOAN, Ambassador for the Environment of Canada, said she welcomed the Commission outcomes, including the matrix of policy options and practical measures, which would expedite implementation of human settlements goals if widely applied.  She supported measures that contributed to the goal of “adequate shelter for all”, such as the provision of innovative financing for low income housing and community improvement, through loan guarantees and microcredit systems.  She also supported the need for integrated human settlements planning and development, and partnerships for financing and developing infrastructure and affordable housing.  Canada, as one of the most urbanized countries in the world, recognized that rapid urbanization posed significant challenges to the achievement of the goals and targets at all levels.

She said her country had launched a “New Deal for Cities and Communities” as a top priority.  The “New Deal” assisted municipalities in addressing sustainable infrastructure needs, water and wastewater needs, public transit, green spaces, affordable housing, and other key social, economic and environmental issues.  It also supported sustainability planning.  The Government also recognized that shelter was the foundation upon which healthy communities and individual dignity were built.  Within Canada, the Government was working on many fronts to address the housing needs of all Canadians.  The national housing agency helped Canadians access a wide choice of quality, affordable homes, while making vibrant, healthy communities and cities a reality across the country.  The Government was also presently building a new partnership-based Canadian Housing Framework, which would build upon innovative initiatives and proven programmes to supply affordable housing.  Internationally, her Government helped to build institutional capacity.

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said his country possessed abundant water resources, but their full potential had yet to be tapped.  A number of hydro-power projects were under way, and partnerships and regional cooperation for the management of transboundary water resources were being encouraged.  His Government had adopted long-term national programmes built on principles of sustainable development.  Practical measures could make huge strides in ensuring that sustainable development would continue to play a key role in the achievement of development targets.

YUSSEF HOJJAT, Deputy Vice-President, Department of Environment, Iran, said that the set of policy options and practice measures emanating from the current session should address major concerns and interests of all countries in a comprehensive and fair manner.  Likewise, the existence of political will, setting up of appropriate mechanisms for follow-up, implementation of existing commitments, and involvement of all stakeholders -- particularly civil societies and women -- were key to success.  In addressing sustainable development, urgent attention should be paid to resource mobilization and the technology transfers.  The severe living conditions of the people, particularly the poor, in arid and semi-arid areas due to water scarcity and drought should be addressed.  Provision of safe water services and wastewater treatment in such areas was a critical problem.  The role of water-related measures, such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, among others, should be recognized.

He said that, owing to an allocation of 70 to 80 per cent of freshwater to the agriculture sector, water use efficiency and technology transfer deserved a high place in all policies.  If the world did not succeed in gradually achieving the Goals by 2015, it would face a catastrophe in all three pillars of sustainable development.  Slums expansion, lack of adequate housing and access to sound sanitation and safe water posed serious threats to human dignity, rights and health.  An impact assessment of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, settlement, and its integration into the national and regional preparedness plans, as well as the international response, could aid risk mitigation and disaster reduction.  Supporting refugee host States in the provision of basic services remained the responsibility of the international community.  He drew delegates’ attention to the “International Conference on Environment, Peace, and Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures”, to be held in Tehran, Iran, in May.

STUART W. LESLIE (Belize), on behalf of the member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the importance of an integrated approach to the management of water, sanitation and human settlements could not be overstated.  In the case of CARICOM, major urban centres with industrial and commercial activity were located principally in coastal zones.  Tourism development, the mainstay of many Caribbean economies, was also concentrated in coastal areas.  That had increased rural to urban migration along coastlines.  The vulnerability of those urban coasts had been exacerbated by population growth.  Indeed, the Caribbean was the most urbanized island region in the world, with an urban population that grew an average of 1.58 per cent annually from 1995 to 2000, and a significant number of the countries were already predominantly urban.

He said that the trend towards urbanization further pressured the environment and increased vulnerability to natural hazards, particularly among the poor.  In most cases, urban expansion inevitably implied unplanned spread beyond the urban fence onto lands important for agriculture or watershed protection.  Unplanned, informal settlements in the hinterlands, populated mainly by the poor, invariably lacked the requisite sanitation infrastructure, and improper disposal of waste had inevitably led to pollution of the water table, further limiting the freshwater supply.  For CARICOM, the inability to provide adequate sanitation services had often resulted in increased pollution of the coastal waters, as well, which were vital to the economic viability of the islands.

It was impossible to pursue effective management of those sectors without a comprehensive strategy to address the needs of the poor, both urban and rural, he said.  More attention should also be given to programmes for housing the poor.  Meanwhile, national recycling initiatives had been hampered by financial constraints.  There was also a need for, among other things, training programmes in water resources management.  Implementation of national policies and legislation was often constrained by the absence of institutional capacity and appropriate expertise.  CARICOM member States, thus, joined the call for increased financial support, particularly where the investment of appropriate technology for more effective water resources management was concerned.  Continued attention must also be given to national policies for freshwater and waste management.

ALHAJI MUKHARI S. SHAGARI, Minister of Water Resources of Nigeria, said he recognized the need for increased national coverage of safe potable water supply and sanitation, as well as sustainable water resource management.  To enable implementation of Nigeria’s new national development strategies, it had established a National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy, which included an integrated water resources management plan.  It had also set for itself a target date of 2011, which was ahead of the Millennium Development Goal target, to achieve its water goals by using the framework of “Water for People, Water for Life”.  At the highest political levels, Nigeria was committed to mobilizing resources and involving all stakeholders in the implementation of its water programmes.

He said that many had already alluded to the magnitude of resources needed to meet the water goals and targets.  In Nigeria, the estimates indicated that a minimum of $720 million needed to be devoted annually over the next 10 years to the water sector alone, in order to achieve its water targets.  He reiterated his delegation’s expectation that the Commission would provide action-oriented policies to overcome the constraints developing countries faced in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  There was no denying that the Goals were interlinked to other sectors, which also exerted an enormous burden on both internally and externally generated resources.  In particular, he emphasized the need for financial assistance, technology transfers, capacity-building and market access.  He also renewed Nigeria’s call for debt relief, especially debt cancellation and debt swap for development.

Action on Outcome Text

After several suspensions of the afternoon meeting, at approximately 10 p.m., the CHAIRMAN read out some changes to his text, which was then adopted by consensus, as orally amended.

Following the adoption, Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the decision just taken on the report of the Commission -– his understanding was that there was a compromise.  He had not understood that that compromise meant removing the full text on page 9.  He had understood that the Commission was going to lose the part of the text, which had read:  “eliminating illegal settlements emerged from foreign occupation”, but he had not understood that the Commission was going to lose the second part.  That had put the Group in a difficult position.  It had not been in a position to respond before the Chairman gavelled the statement, which now placed the Group in an invidious position.

He said that those issues were of vital interest to the Group, and certainly it had wanted a decision which was clear and acceptable to all -- not that all of its requirements and needs would have been met, but certainly that it would have come out with language that it could have lived with.  Now, the way that had come across was going to “cause us tremendous difficulty in the future”.

Jamaica’s representative, speaking in his national capacity, said the session had identified two of the most critical constraints for developing countries.  The first was financing and the second was institutional and human resource capacity.  It was really disturbing to see that, in this meeting, he had not seen the willingness to fundamentally deal with those two aspects.  The difficulties had not only affected the objectives and targets at hand in this meeting, but all of the goals and targets set and agreed by their leaders.  Instead of turning political commitments into positive actions to take things forward, the Group’s partners seemed to be heading in an opposite direction, circumscribing and reversing commitments made in the Rio, Johannesburg and Monterrey summits, in particular the commitment to strong partnership. 

He said he was very distressed at having to convey that message to illustrate the frustration of the Group of 77 and China on the way things were heading in the Commission, particularly with regard to the following:  the thirteenth session, from all perspectives, did not help to achieve any of the proposals or aspirations of the developing countries, as the Group observed its partners rejecting proposals, one after another.  The session had revealed to the Group that its partners were refusing to reaffirm previously agreed commitments, particularly those related to financial resources.  It had also seen attempts to turn the Commission into an environmental commission, with a reinterpretation and renegotiation of previously agreed language, including through an insistence on having a text that contradicted decisions of the eleventh session.

The Group of 77 reiterated its willingness to continue working with its partners in preparation for the September high-level General Assembly meeting, he said.  The future of the Commission and the whole concept of international cooperation had been built on the concept of mutual understanding and recognition of others.  Failure to understand that and to pursue instead selfish insular agendas would only result in resistance and ultimately a total loss.  Any loss in that instance rested clearly on the shoulders and consciences of his partners.

The United States representative said that the Chairman’s leadership had successfully guided the Commission through the closure of its first cycle -- the water cycle.  Two years ago, the body embraced an ambitious and critical task by deciding collectively to adopt new ways of doing business to better meet the challenges of the implementation era, which would look different from the process of norm setting and would change the way the Commission did business.  And, change was very hard.  He cited evidence of successful outcomes from the current cycle:  prioritization had been identified in the water cycle and actors, not only United Nations actors, but non-governmental organizations, businesses, regional actors and locals had been convinced that water, sanitation and human settlements were priorities and needed to be dealt with.

He said that United States ODA had nearly doubled from $10 billion a year to $19 billion a year in 2004.  That was a successful outcome and evidence of prioritization.  Partnerships were announced here and approaches were taken by the UNDP and the World Bank to deal with shared river basins.  New approaches were coming out of here, and approaches on creative financing were also emerging from here, as well as proposals for capacity building.  The Learning Centre was training over 800 people in this cycle; that was real capacity-building, real training.  Now, two additional documents to guide implementation efforts had been adopted:  a matrix, which told at local, national and international levels what was expected, and a text that the Chair had helped formulate.  That all pointed to exactly the way forward in terms of outcomes.  The new Commission had set the right course to pick up on the energy cycle.

Jamaica said there seemed to be a misunderstanding in relation to the decision that was taken.  It was serious enough for us to reconsider what was done.  He, therefore, asked for a brief suspension to have some consultations to see how the matter could be rectified.

The CHAIRMAN then suspended the meeting at approximately 10:45 p.m.

At approximately 1 a.m., the Chairman said he had revised his text by reinserting the line:  “Resolving to take further effective measures to remove obstacles to the full realization of the rights of the peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be combated and eliminated”, on pages 9 and 11.

His earlier oral amendment to include a reference to paragraphs 103 and 104 of the Johannesburg programme of implementation remained in the preambular section.

The Chairman’s outcome text was then adopted by consensus.  The Commission would forward it to the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council in July for consideration.

Following the adoption of the orally amended text, Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union, explained that they had joined consensus, but did not consider it a precedent.  Australia and Canada said they would have to dissociate themselves from the lines concerning foreign occupation.

Thus, the Commission adopted the report of its session, and approved the agenda for its next session.  The CHAIRMAN then opened the fourteenth session and proceeded to the adoption of a new bureau, by acclamation, as follows:  Aleksi Aleksishvili, Minister of Economic Development of Georgia, as the new Chairman; and Javad Amin-Mansour (Iran), Adrian Alfredo Fernandez Bremauntz, President of the National Institute for Ecology of Mexico, and Yvo de Boer (Netherlands) were elected as Vice-Chairmen.

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For information media. Not an official record.