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Commission on Sustainable Development Briefed on Progress of Negotiations in Working Groups

6 May 2009
Economic and Social CouncilENV/DEV/1044
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Sustainable Development

Seventeenth Session

4th Meeting (PM)





Meeting briefly this afternoon, the Commission on Sustainable Development heard briefings by the co-Chairpersons of its two working groups on the status of negotiations on the outcome document of the 53-member body’s current session.

The Commission’s seventeenth session, which runs through 15 May, aims to discuss and ultimately adopt a series of policy recommendations to guide global action on its priority themes, including agriculture, along with measures to address drought, desertification, land use, rural development and sustainable development in Africa.

Tania Valerie Raguz (Croatia), Commission Vice-Chairperson and Co-Chair of working group I (agriculture, rural development, as well as interlinkages, cross-cutting issues, means of implementation and the document’s preamble) said delegations had held a first reading of three fourths of the text, as well as a first reading of the proposed preamble.  Their work would resume tomorrow on interlinkages and implementation, she said, applauding the “good momentum” and welcoming the “spirit of cooperation” among the participants.

Commission Vice-Chair and Co-Chairperson of working group II (land, drought, desertification and Africa) Javad-Amin Mansour ( Iran) said delegations in his groups had held a first reading on land, desertification and drought, and were making good progress on the portion of the text dealing with sustainable development in Africa.  He hoped the group would complete the Africa section soon, so that it could immediately begin its second reading of the relevant chapters of the text.  He appreciated the work of all delegations and, among others, the United Nations agencies, which he believed had added to the richness of the discussions.

Applauding the “excellent atmosphere” of the negotiations and urging delegations to press ahead, Chairperson Gerda Verburg (Netherlands) then briefed the Commission on the arrangements for its high-level segment, set to begin Wednesday, 13 May, and run through the end of that week.

She said that, in order to drive implementation of the agreed policy actions, the Commission’s Bureau had decided to invite ministers and other high-level Government officials to take part in that segment, which would include several small interactive round tables, “to avoid the reading of formal statements […] and allow them to articulate their collective vision to meet development challenges”.  She said that eight eminent persons, whose names would be announced later, had been invited to open the session and, following that, groups would take the floor.

As for the round tables, which would be the “main thrust” of the high-level segment, Ms. Verburg said those discussions would focus on, respectively, responding to the food crisis through sustainable development, realizing a sustainable “green revolution” in Africa and integrated management of land and water resources for sustainable agricultural and rural development.  Following opening statements by ministers and guests, the round tables would break into small groups for interactive discussions that would also include the heads of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, and representatives from the policy research community.

She said that, on Friday, 15 May, she planned to summarize the outcomes of the round tables, including the presentations of eminent persons and experts in a “shared vision” document.  That text would formally be considered a “Chair’s summary” and would not be a negotiated outcome of the session.

Following Ms. Verberg’s briefing, the representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was necessary to keep the outcome document current to avoid repetition and to use linkages between the themes.  Indeed, the working groups should not create a wish list, but should focus on priorities.

Further, he stressed, it was not useful to discuss principles that had already been agreed on.  The focus should be on concrete suggestions.  Promising that the European Union would be a constructive partner, he said negotiations were moving ahead.  The first and second reading would move forward by Friday.  Next Monday, delegations could progress to creating the most desirable formulations for the high-level segment.

Next, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, a member of working group II, said the portions on land, drought, desertification and, especially, Africa, had become a “Christmas tree”, being too big and unwieldy.  As a result, he feared it might be hard for the working group to meet deadlines.  He requested that delegations use restraint, emphasizing that “this is not a political platform, but just a development platform”.

The Commission will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 8 May, for another update on the status of the outcome policy document.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.