Chair Updates Sustainable Development Commission on Progress in Working Group Negotiations

11 May 2009
Economic and Social CouncilENV/DEV/1046
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Sustainable Development

Seventeenth Session

6th Meeting (AM)





The challenge facing the Commission on Sustainable Development as it began the second week of its annual session was how to achieve a successful “harvest” of agreed actions and measurable deliverables, the Chairperson of that 53-member body said today, during a brief plenary meeting before negotiations recommenced on a set of policy recommendations to address agriculture, drought, desertification, land use, rural development and sustainable development in Africa.

“The best farmers are those who use their resources most effectively and efficiently, getting maximum output from minimum input”, said Chairperson Gerda Verburg ( Netherlands) as she urged delegations to pare down the Chair’s negotiating text, which had ballooned from 17 to 70 pages during last week’s negotiations.

With two working days before the opening of the Commission’s high-level segment on Wednesday, 13 May, significant action was needed for a successful outcome, she said.  Despite several days of informal meetings that stretched to midnight last Friday, the Commission’s two working groups had not yet completed a second reading of the text.  A review of the document by her and the Bureau over the weekend had indicated that an enormous cleaning up of the text was needed.  Further, for the text to be adopted compromises arrived at via cooperation and good will would be needed.

Although she had not issued a revised version of the draft Sunday, 10 May, as she had originally proposed, the Bureau had suggested eliminating duplication and repetition of several issues that had been raised repeatedly during last week’s negotiations, to improve and consolidate the text.  Also, working group 1, which handles the sections on agriculture, rural development, and interlinkages, cross-cutting issues, means of implementation and the document’s preamble, had been asked to derive a “chapeau” to the section on agriculture and that had been duly added.  Beyond that addition, the Chair’s negotiating textremained totally untouched, as requested on Friday by several delegations.

Looking forward to the work ahead, she stressed that, to have a successful outcome document, the second reading had to be completed by Tuesday.  Arrangements had been made for “informal informals” after 6 p.m. both Monday and Tuesday.  However, a separate request that the Commission’s two working groups be split, for a total of four, had proved impossible to accommodate.

Nevertheless, she urged delegations to sit together whenever they could to continue their pursuit of the compromise that was required.  “I count on your flexibility,” she said.  “Let us do it.”

In other matters, the Commission also decided to accredit the Nordic Council of Ministers, whose accreditation request is contained in document E/CN.17/2009/L.1, with observer status for the current session.

The Commission will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 12 May, for an 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.