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ENV/DEV/547
8 May 2000

COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, WINDING UP EIGHTH SESSION, ADOPTS KEY TEXTS IN PREPARATION FOR AGENDA 21 REVIEW

8 May 2000


Press Release
ENV/DEV/547


COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, WINDING UP EIGHTH SESSION, ADOPTS KEY TEXTS IN PREPARATION FOR AGENDA 21 REVIEW

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As it concluded its eighth session in the early morning of 6 May, the Commission on Sustainable Development took action on texts relating to land, finance, agriculture, forests and preparations for the 10-year review of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro.

The Commission, adopting a text on agriculture, urged governments to develop coherent national policy and legal frameworks for sustainable rural development and to promote agricultural practices based on natural resource management. Governments were also encouraged to develop the appropriate legal frameworks, administrative and other measures, and put into action appropriate strategies for sustainable agriculture and rural development, the protection of biodiversity and the risk analysis and management of living modified organisms.

By a text on integrated planning and management of land resources, the Commission urged Governments to make concerted efforts to eradicate poverty and to review unsustainable patterns of production and consumption as a crucial means for reducing land degradation, desertification, deforestation and destruction of biological diversity.

Also, the United Nations and other international development organizations were urged to assist developing countries achieve integrated planning and management of land resources through financial support, transfer of environmentally sound technologies on mutually agreed terms, capacity-building and education and training.

In other action, as it adopted a text on economic growth, trade and investment, the Commission urged governments to pursue continued trade liberalization through the elimination of unjustifiable and discriminatory trade practices and non-tariff barriers to trade, notably to improve market access for products of export interest to developing countries.

By a text on financial resources and mechanisms, the Commission, considering the importance of mutually supportive international and national enabling economic environments in the pursuit of sustainable development, urged governments to promote the mobilization of domestic financial resources and to establish the basis for an enabling environment, and to consider ways and means to integrate environmental considerations into the management of public policies and programmes, including public finance.

Sustainable Development Commission - 2 - Press Release ENV/DEV/547 12th Meeting (AM) 8 May 2000

Adopting a decision on preparations for the 10-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of the outcome of UNCED, the Commission invited the General Assembly, at its fifty-fifth session, to decide on the agenda, possible main themes, timing and venue of the 2002 event, the number of intergovernmental preparatory meetings and other organizational and procedural matters related to the review.

The Commission also stressed that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated and that the review should identify measures for the further implementation of Agenda 21 and UNCED's other outcomes, including sources of funding. Among other things, it recommended that necessary steps be taken to establish a trust fund, and urged international and bilateral donors to support preparations for the 10- year review through voluntary contributions to the fund.

In adopting a text on the report of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests on its fourth session, the Commission invited the Economic and Social Council and the Assembly to take action on the proposed terms of reference for an international arrangement on forests, as recommended by the Forum. It also invited the Council’s President to initiate, before the Council’s substantive session of 2000, informal consultations on placing the United Nations Forum on Forests within the intergovernmental machinery of the United Nations system.

In other action, the Commission adopted texts on: the report of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development on its first session; subprogramme entitled "sustainable development" of the draft medium-term plan of the United Nations for the period 2002-2005; matters related to the inter- sessional work of the Commission; and the report of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy and Sustainable Development.

Also, it adopted the report of its session, as well as the provisional agenda for its next session, which will consider energy, atmosphere and transport.

In closing remarks, the Commission's Chairman, Juan Mayr Maldonado (Colombia), said that the Commission, in recent years, had evolved in a positive way. The new millennium posed challenges for the international community, which required greater detailed analysis in the context of sustainable development. Progress was achieved during the session of the Commission due to the valuable contribution made by the multi-stakeholder dialogues and the high-level debates, which allowed for greater participation and transparency.

On the role of the Commission in preparation for the 10-year review, he said that multi-stakeholder dialogues could be held to decide on particular questions in an open and frank manner. The decision adopted on the 10-year review was most appropriate and would allow for a successful review. It was crucial that all sectors of society be allowed to participate actively in the preparatory process as well as in the review.

The representatives of Nigeria (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), United States, Japan, Honduras, Sudan, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Russian Federation, Brazil, Morocco and Cuba also spoke.

Following the conclusion of the eighth session, in a separate meeting, the Commission elected Bedrich Moldan (Czech Republic) as Chairman of its ninth session. David Stuart (Australia), Alison Drayton (Guyana) and Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka (Uganda) were elected as Vice-Chairmen.

The Commission decided to postpone to a later date the election of its remaining Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur.

The session will also consider information for decision-making and participation and international cooperation for an enabling environment; it will also include a high-level segment.

The Commission monitors the implementation of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. At its nineteenth special session, in June 1997, the General Assembly adopted the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21, recommending measures to improve implementation of the document, which aims at reshaping human activities to minimize environmental damage and ensure sustainability in the development process. The Commission consists of 53 members, elected for three-year terms.

Commission Work Programme

The Commission on Sustainable Development met early Saturday morning, 6 May, to adopt its report and close its eighth session. It was expected to take action on several texts.

Action on Texts

MOHAMMAD REZA SALAMAT (Iran), Co-Chairman of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy and Sustainable Development, said that the Group had very fruitful discussions on ways and means to make energy use more sustainable, which would be one of the major themes for the Commission’s ninth session. The Group wished to encourage the participation of energy ministers, in addition to environment ministers, in the activities of that session.

IRENE FREUDENSCHUSS-REICHL (Austria), the other Co-Chairperson of the Group, highlighted the importance of various inter-sessional events relating to the Group's work. She encouraged the participation of non-governmental organizations in the work and activities of the Group, and appealed to all governments in a position to do so to make voluntary contributions for facilitating the participation of developing countries in the work of the Group.

The Commission adopted the draft decision contained in paragragh 1 of the Group’s report (document E/CN.17/2000/12). By the text, the Commission endorsed the agenda for the Group's second session, as adopted by the Group at its first session. Among the key issues to be considered at the second session were accessibility of energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy, advanced fossil fuel technologies and nuclear energy technologies.

The Commission then turned to the draft decision submitted by the Vice- Chairman of the Commission, Zvetolyub Basmajiev (Bulgaria) on the basis of informal consultations on the Report of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development on its first session (document E/CN.17/2000/L.4). By its terms, the Commission would take note of the report of that Committee on its first session, and note that the Secretary-General, in his reports submitted to the Commission, took note of the recommendations included therein.

The Commission adopted the text without a vote.

The Commission then took up the draft decision submitted by Mr. Basmajiev entitled "subprogramme entitled ‘sustainable development’ of the draft medium-term plan of the United Nations for the period 2002-2005" (document E/CN.17/2000/L.5). By the text, the Commission would take note of the proposed subprogramme (E/CN.17/2000/CRP.1), and request the Economic and Social Council to invite the Committee for Programme and Coordination and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to take into account the provisional nature of those proposals in the light of the forthcoming review of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21, which was likely to have an impact on the programme of work of the United Nations in the area of sustainable development.

The Commission adopted the text without a vote.

Also before the Commission was the draft decision submitted by Mr. Basmajiev on matters related to the inter-sessional work of the Commission (document E/CN.17/2000/L.6). By its terms, the Commission would decide that in order to assist it in its deliberations at its ninth session, the 2001 sessions of inter- sessional working groups would be devoted to the issues of information and decision-making and participation, and international cooperation for an enabling environment, atmosphere and transport. It would also decide that the Bureau of the Commission would continue conducting transparent and open-ended consultations in a timely manner on matters related to preparations for the ninth session.

The Commission would also invite the Bureau of the ninth session, in consultations with governments, to elaborate specific proposals for organization of work during the sessions to ensure effective preparations for the ninth session on those issues. To ensure an effective decision of work between the Group of Experts and the inter-sessional working groups, it would invite the Bureau to consult with the Bureau of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Energy and Sustainable Development, which was preparing for the ninth session of the Commission, on the issue of energy. It would hold its second session immediately before the 2001 sessions of the inter-sessional working groups.

The Commission adopted the text without a vote.

The Commission then turned to a draft decision submitted by Mr. Basmajiev on preparations for the 10-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of the outcome of UNCED (document E/CN.17/2000/L.7). The text would have the Commission invite the Assembly at its fifty-fifth session to decide on the agenda, possible main themes, timing and venue of the 2002 event, the number of intergovernmental preparatory meetings, and other organizational and procedural matters related to the 2002 review, including the clarification of the term "United Nations Conference on Environment and Development-related Conventions", taking into account the views of the Commission, the Governing Council of UNEP and the Economic and Social Council.

The Commission would stress that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated and that the review should identify measures for the further implementation of Agenda 21 and UNCED's other outcomes, including sources of funding. It would also stress the importance of early and effective preparations for the 2002 review and assessment of progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21 and other outcomes, to be carried out at the local, national, regional and international levels by governments and the United Nations system, so as to ensure high-quality inputs to the review process.

Among other things, the Commission would recommend that necessary steps be taken to establish a trust fund and urge international and bilateral donors to support preparations for the 10-year review through voluntary contributions to the trust fund, and to support participation of representatives from developing countries in the regional and international preparatory process and the 2002 event itself. It would also encourage voluntary contributions to support the participation of major groups from developing countries in regional and international preparatory processes and the 2002 event itself.

Introducing the draft decision, Mr. BASMAJIEV said that following productive consultations held in drafting group 3, the group had adopted the draft decision and recommended it for adoption by the Commission.

The delegate from the United States said that with regard to the draft, his country understood the view that "Rio +10" should be held as a global conference outside of New York. It also supported a major review. However, because of current United States policy regarding United Nations matters, the United States was unable to join the consensus and would be unable to pay its share of the United Nations funding for such a conference. The United States did not support the convening of any new global United Nations conferences.

The delegate of Japan said that useful views had been gained in discussions. He commended the Chairman's handling of the Commission's work and would like to make use of opinions in the Chairman's summary in the course of Economic and Social Council and Assembly discussions on that point.

The delegate of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that environment and sustainable development were crucial issues for developing countries. The Chairman brought a level of transparency to discussions and had accommodated even minor views. The Group felt that they had not been talking in the dark about their desire to have the event take place in a developing country. The United States had the right to express its views. He felt that the United States was not against the Summit, only against the financial implications of the conference. Eventually they would come on board, as they usually did. Nigeria also recognized the role of the Chairman in the entire process, and acknowledged the importance of not limiting the summary, which would be a reflection of the high-level segment.

The delegate of Honduras said that draft decision took into account national reports prepared by the governments on the relation of Agenda 21 at the national level. In a letter addressed to Mr. Desai, Honduras stated that the Commission could play an important role in including the participation of civil society and the private sector. The Commission should take into account the role of other regional bodies, such as national plans for sustainable development in the Americas. Honduras was ready to make Rio +10 an encounter that would make for rational and productive dialogue. His delegation had submitted a copy of the letter addressed to Mr. Desai and would like that letter to be a part of the compendium.

The delegate of Sudan said that the Chairman could be proud of the excellent results reached in the Commission. The document was balanced, well-drafted and represented an excellent basis for the work of the Assembly. The first paragraph of the decision confirmed the Assembly's authority in reviewing the means of participation by other partners.

The delegate of Argentina said that with regard to the latter point, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) would be a relevant organization to deal with the work of the Commission. That had not been mentioned. Argentina would like that organization to be listed.

The delegate of Mexico said, with reference to paragraph E, that national reports were very important and could be used as a way of assessing the agreement reached so far. Mexico considered the environmental process most relevant.

The Commission then adopted the text without a vote.

Next, the Commission turned to the draft decision, submitted by Mr. Basmajiev, on the report of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests on its fourth session (document E/CN.17/2000/L.9). By that text, the Commission would invite the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly to take action on the proposed terms of reference for an international arrangement on forests, as recommended by the Forum and contained in the appendix to chapter III of its report, and as reproduced in the annex to the present decision. It would also invite the Council’s President to initiate, before the Council’s substantive session of 2000, informal consultations on options for placing the United Nations Forum on Forests within the intergovernmental machinery of the United Nations system.

The representative of Costa Rica drew the Commission's attention to an error in the Spanish translation of the text.

The representative of Canada said the decision about to be taken was one of the most important ever taken by the Commission. A lot of work went into it and it was one of the best examples of what the Commission could do when it focused on an issue.

The representative of Nigeria said that the Group of 77 developing countries and China commended the work of the Co-Chairmen, Secretariat and delegations who contributed to the fruitful conclusion of the text. What remained was how to implement the text in a meaningful way.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed satisfaction that the Commission was about to adopt a decision today, and expressed gratitude to the Co- Chairmen who ensured that such an action was possible. He pointed out that the Russian translation of paragraph C of the text did not correspond to the English text.

The representative of Sudan said that paragraph C of the decision was very important. In light of the fact that the Economic and Social Council was to have many informal consultations this year, he hoped that in convening those informals, there would be flexibility to allow delegations to participate effectively in all consultations.

The representative of Brazil said that the negotiations had been difficult but the conclusion was very fruitful. She eagerly awaited the commencement of the informal consultations.

The representative of the United States said that the creation of the proposed panel was a significant action by the Commission and one which he fully endorsed. He reiterated that with regard to financial implications, he was aware of his country’s responsibility to back that process. The United States was contributing $700,000 in voluntary contributions towards the Forum’s transitional process.

The representative of Portugal, on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union approved of the results of the negotiations and fully supported the decision.

The representative of Honduras said that he fully endorsed the decision. He hoped that there would be a pilot programme instituted in his country based on the decision.

The representative of Morocco said that forests were an extremely important international heritage. He hoped that the decision would be fully implemented.

The representative of Cuba said that while his was a small country, during the last 40 years it had been successful in protecting its areas of vegetation. It had been able to reconstitute 21 per cent of its forest area. It had also participated actively in the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and hoped to continue that participation in the United Nations Forum on Forests.

The Commission adopted the text without a vote and took note of the Report of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, as orally corrected.

The meeting was suspended at 12:05 p.m. and resumed at 3:40 a.m. on Saturday, 6 May.

When the meeting resumed, the Commission adopted the draft decision on agriculture, submitted by Patrick McDonnell (Ireland), without a vote.

It then adopted the draft decision on integrated planning and management of land resources, also submitted by Mr. McDonnell, without a vote.

Next, the Commission adopted the text on financial resources and mechanisms, as orally amended, without a vote.

It also adopted the draft decision on economic growth, trade and investment without a vote, as orally amended. Both those texts were submitted by Choi Seok- Young (Republic of Korea).

Finally, the Commission adopted, without a vote, the provisional agenda for its ninth session and the report of its eighth session.

Summaries of Texts Adopted

According to the draft decision on agriculture, priorities for future action include implementation of sustainable agriculture and rural development goals, access to resources, poverty eradication, financing for sustainable agriculture and rural development, technology transfer and capacity-building, biotechnology, genetic resources, integrated pest management and integrated plant nutrition, desertification and drought, access to land and security of land tenure, emergency preparedness and water resources.

Among other things, governments were urged to develop coherent national policy and legal frameworks for sustainable rural development and to promote agricultural practices based on natural resource management. Environmentally sound traditional and local knowledge should be recognized, protected and promoted. Governments were also urged to pay particular attention to the social dimension of sustainable agriculture and rural development, including health protection.

With regard to financing, the Commission urged governments to provide an enabling environment for mobilizing domestic and international resources. Additional international financial support would be very important for developing countries. The international community was urged to fulfil the commitments undertaken for the provision of financial assistance for promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development as set out in Agenda 21.

In the area of biotechnology, governments were urged to sign and ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and to support its effective implementation. They were encouraged to develop the appropriate legal frameworks, administrative and other measures and put into action appropriate strategies for sustainable agriculture and rural development, the protection of biodiversity, and the risk analysis and management of living modified organisms.

Priority areas for future work in the area of integrated planning and management of land resources include prevention and/or mitigation of land degradation; access to land and security of tenure; critical sectors and issues, such as biodiversity, forests and natural disasters; and access to information and stakeholder participation. By the terms of the draft decision, governments were urged to make concerted efforts to eradicate poverty, and to review unsustainable patterns of production and consumption as a crucial means for reducing land degradation, desertification, deforestation and destruction of biological diversity.

Recognizing the existence of different national laws and/or systems of land access and tenure, governments were encouraged to develop and/or adopt policies and implement laws that guarantee to their citizens well-defined and enforceable land rights and promote equal access to land and legal security of tenure, particularly for women and disadvantaged groups. Appropriate authorities were encouraged to ensure that land management plans and policies reflected priority consideration of areas containing high concentrations of biological diversity, threatened ecosystems and species at risk.

Governments and the international community were urged to effectively implement proposals for action emanating from the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests/Intergovernmental Forum on Forests to promote the conservation and sustainable development and management of all types of forests. They were also urged to undertake appropriate measures to address recurring droughts, desertification, the degradation of fragile land resources and the depletion of scarce water resources in drylands. Priority was to be given to areas where there are high-population pressures and droughts.

Further, governments were urged to promote land-related research, and extension and dissemination of technological information and innovative practices, and to undertake training programmes for land users, including farmers and agro- food industries, women and local communities, where appropriate, and other relevant stakeholders. In that regard, developed countries and the international community were urged to improve access to up-to-date information and technology by developing countries.

Also, the United Nations and other international development organizations were urged to assist developing countries in their efforts to achieve integrated planning and management of land resources, through financial support, transfer of environmentally sound technologies on mutually agreed terms, capacity-building and education and training.

According to the text on economic growth, trade and investment, the priorities for future work include promoting sustainable development through trade and economic growth; making trade and environment policies mutually supportive; promoting sustainable development through investment; and strengthening institutional cooperation, capacity-building and promoting partnerships. The Commission urged governments, particularly in developed countries and, as appropriate, international organizations, to improve market access, provide technical assistance and establish capacity-building initiatives in favour of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to help them increase export opportunities and enhance their ability to trade.

Governments were also urged to pursue continued trade liberalization through the elimination of unjustifiable and discriminatory trade practices and non-tariff barriers to trade, notably to improve market access for products of export interest to developing countries. Concrete steps needed to be urgently taken to implement the commitments by developed countries to grant duty-free and quota-free market access for essentially all exports originating in least developed countries, and to further examine options for other proposals to maximize market access for least developed countries.

If introduced, certification and labelling schemes, whether voluntary or mandatory, should be designed and implemented in an open and transparent manner, and should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade. Governments and international organizations were urged to facilitate effective participation of developing countries in the standard-setting process and to further explore the concept of equivalency and its application.

The text on financial resources and mechanisms stated that the priorities for future work include mobilization of domestic financial resources for sustainable development; promotion of international cooperation and mobilization of international finance for sustainable development; strengthening of existing financial mechanisms and exploration of innovative ones; and improvement of institutional capacity and promotion of public/private partnerships.

Considering the importance of mutually supportive international and national enabling economic environments in the pursuit of sustainable development, governments were urged to: promote the mobilization of domestic financial resources and to establish the basis for an enabling environment through, among other things, sound macroeconomic policies and transparent, effective, participatory and accountable governance; increase cooperation for addressing capital flight and for considering issues related to capital repatriation to broaden the domestic resource base for financing sustainable development; consider ways and means to integrate environmental considerations into the management of public policies and programmes, including public finance; and provide the necessary incentives for sustained private investment, including macroeconomic, legal, environmental policy and regulatory frameworks which would reduce risks and uncertainty for investors.

Also, creditor countries and international financial institutions were urged to implement speedily the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to provide deeper, broader and faster debt relief. HIPC countries were urged to develop their national poverty strategies in a participatory way, so that debt relief was linked with poverty eradication, and to allow debtor countries to utilize budgetary savings for social expenditures to have maximum impact on poverty eradication.

In order to attract foreign investment, governments were urged to put in place the policies, institutions and capacities needed for their economies to function in a predictable, transparent, non-discriminatory and stable fashion to facilitate market-driven investment within the appropriate regulatory framework. International organizations were urged to better coordinate their work in the area of finance for sustainable development to avoid duplication and to raise their effectiveness, focusing on their respective area of competence where they have a clear comparative advantage.

Highlights of Session

The Commission's eighth session involved interactive multi-stakeholder dialogues and discussions among high-level representatives on the issues of land and agriculture; finance, trade and investment; forests; and preparations for the 10-year review of UNCED.

When representatives of government, industry, farmers, trade unions and non- governmental organizations met for two days to discuss sustainable agriculture, speakers stressed that sustainable agriculture must be promoted to ensure sustainable development. Industry representatives believed the key to achieving sustainable agriculture was to integrate experience, traditional agricultural practices and modern technologies such as biotechnology. Also, for agriculture to be ecologically, socially and economically sustainable, increasing productivity on existing land was preferred, rather than expanding cultivation into fragile ecosystems.

Throughout the discussion, the farmers voiced their concerns over biotechnology, saying that until adequate assurances of security could be provided and the environmental effects assessed, such technology should not be used. The status of farmers, one said, was now in a critical phase due to global climate changes and lack of access to the latest farming technologies. It was noted that the small farmers of the world were key to food security, as they offered the only possibility for sustainable agriculture.

On the issue of food security, the question was how countries could increase food production and provide safer food for their growing populations without negatively affecting the environment. Sustainable food systems could not be created unless consumer choices as well as agricultural production were changed. Closer cooperation and coordination among farmers, scientists, workers, governments, consumers and industry would be key to ensuring that food continued to be produced and distributed in a safe, economic and sustainable way and responded to consumer concerns and demands.

Some believed that trade liberalization was necessary to achieve viable and sustainable agriculture. Trade in agricultural products would ensure food quality and quantity. While many expressed the view that the solution lay in greater trade liberalization, others stated that the objective of Rio -- to enhance food security in an environmentally sound way -- could only be achieved if trade- distorting practices and barriers were eliminated. Several delegations expressed concern at the reintroduction of protectionism, under the guise of the concept of multi-functionality.

When the high-level segment took up the issue of trade, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Director-General told the Commission that further trade liberalization could put developing countries on a firmer footing in the global economy. While sustainable development was one of its objectives, the WTO was not an environmental protection agency and had to remain sensitive to the needs of its members. While some speakers believed that trade was one of the best channels to achieve sustainable development, others stressed that that was only possible when the pursuit of trade and environmental policies complemented each other and environmental measures were not an unnecessary obstacle to trade, or protectionist in nature.

During its segment on finance and investment, the Executive-Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted that trends in financing for sustainable development had fallen considerably short of the targets and expectations set during the 1992 Earth Summit. Meanwhile, it was important to avoid investments addressed to sectors that made intensive use of natural resources, he cautioned, a trend in many developing countries.

A number of government representatives stated that insufficient international financial flows in themselves were not the principal barrier to sustainable development. National governments had to do their part by creating a stable, predictable and non-discriminatory environment which attracted domestic and foreign investment. Also, it was stressed by several speakers that increased foreign direct investment could not be substituted for official development assistance.

As it held its high-level meeting on the outcome of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, the Commission was told that sustainable forest management was an integral part of sustainable development and required long-term commitment on the part of States. One representative stated that the international community would be paying lip service to environment and sustainable development unless it

established a global financial mechanism to concretely address all the recommendations on forests. Speakers stressed the urgency in making the United Nations Forum on Forests operational, since more and more forests were being destroyed while the subject continued to be debated.

During its discussion on preparations for the 2002 review of progress since UNCED, the Commission heard a variety of views as to the venue, nature and desired outcome of the review. The active participation of civil society, including non- governmental organizations, the scientific community and the business sector, were crucial for both the review and the preparatory process. The general view was that compared with the expectations raised in Rio in 1992, much remained to be done. Also, the majority of delegations felt the review should not renegotiate the agreements made in Rio but rather focus on further efforts for its implementation.

Membership, Officers

The Commission consists of 53 Member States elected for three-year terms. In 2000, the membership is as follows: Algeria, Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.

Juan Mayr Maldonado (Colombia) served as Chairman, and Patrick F.A. McDonnell (Ireland), Zvetolyub P. Basmajiev (Bulgaria), Abderrahmane Merouane (Algeria) and Choi Seok Young (Republic of Korea) as Vice-Chairmen. Mr. Choi Seok Young also served as Rapporteur.

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For information media. Not an official record.