States differ on the text of the “zero draft” for the June sustainable development conference

Posted on | april 3, 2012 | No Comments

Controversy pitting developed and developing countries emerged at an informal negotiations on the compilation on the text of the “zero draft” of the outcome document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The meeting held at the UN headquarters in New York, US nded with the two blocks sharply divided on the green economy, institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the means of implementation. (Further analysis on the outcome document will be provided in forthcoming articles).

Under negotiation is the lengthy compilation text containing textual amendments and new proposals by Member States that have been included in the “zero draft” document titled ‘The Future We Want’ submitted in early January 2012 by the Co-Chairs of the process, Dr. John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) and Mr. Kim Sook (Republic of Korea). An initial discussion of the zero draft of the outcome document took place on 25-27 January, also in New York.

The compilation text is comprised of five chapters viz. (1) preamble/stage setting; (2) renewing political commitment (3) green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication (4) institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) (5) framework for action and follow-up including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and means of implementation (finance, access to and transfer of technology, capacity building).

The session also saw Member States engaged in a second reading of Chapters 1 and 2 of the compilation text on the final day (27 March). Given the lack of time to complete the second reading of all the paragraphs in Chapter 2, Member States were requested to submit their views in writing to the Secretariat by the end of 28 March.

The first of two rounds of “informal informal consultations” started on 19 March and were scheduled to end on 23 March but continued through 26 to 27 March during the third informal intersessional meeting of the Conference’s Preparatory Committee.

The second round of the “informal-informal consultations” will be held from 23 April to 4 May in New York. The Rio+20 Conference will be on 20-22 June.

On the next steps from the first round of negotiations, Co-chair John Ashe said that the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference had met and agreed that the Co-chairs will attempt to streamline the text of the outcome document by inserting possible suggestions into the compilation text.

He explained that what Member States will see is the same compilation text containing the proposals of the Member States with the addition of the suggestions by the Co-chairs for the consideration of Member States.

Ashe said that as soon as the various chapters are done, they will be circulated to Member States via the members of the Bureau, with Chapters 1 and 2 being ready by 2 April. He also said that the Co-chairs were willing to meet with anyone and welcomed feedback. With the feedback, there will be streamlining of the Co-chairs suggestions, he added.

The United States, in welcoming Ashe’s proposal, suggested that the Co-chairs provide a document with just the Co-chairs’ suggestions, in addition to another document with the suggestions integrated into the compilation document.

At this stage of the meeting, Member States were informed that the G77 and China were having consultations among members of the Group on how to proceed with the negotiations and asked for a suspension of the meeting pending the conclusion of those consultations.

The meeting was suspended following this request and upon resumption of the session, Ambassador Mourad Benmehidi, the Permanent Representative of Algeria to the UN and Chairman of the G77 said that following deliberations on the proposal made by Ashe, the Group raised several points.

The G77 and China requested the Co-chairs to make the negotiating document available as it stood as of 27 March, at 7 pm. Since the Chair had allowed for further inputs to be made online (by 28 March in relation to the second reading of Chapter 2 that could not be concluded on 27 March), the G77 was willing to look at those additional inputs and these inputs should be dated.

When the informal negotiations resume on 23 April, the G77 Chair said that it will be on the basis of the compilation document as it stood on 27 March and 28 March with the additions and this status be preserved as the document produced by Member States.

The G77 was also in favour of making the best use of the time between the negotiating sessions and said that between 27 March and 23 April, its door was open to the Co-chairs to make their views known on how best the process can go forward, including their ideas on streamlining and organising the existing text.

Ashe said that the Co-chairs will meet Member States on the ideas for streamlining the text and hoped for an intense phase of negotiations.

Secretary-General of the Rio+20 conference, Mr. Sha Zukang, in his concluding statement said that Member States had completed the first reading of the (draft) outcome document and many have underscored the need for changing course as regards unsustainable production systems and consumption patterns. He said that some Member States were worried about the pace of the negotiations and the introduction of additional issues but this was necessary for consensus building.

He added that the broad range of discussions demonstrated the magnitude of the challenge but this had laid the foundation for consensus. The text of the negotiations was long while time was short, said Sha.

He said that the General Assembly resolution (mandating the Conference) had called for a focused political document and that discussions have shown that members were committed to a high-level of ambition anchored on actions. Many have stressed that Rio+20 should not repeat Agenda 21 or other agreed treaties and outcomes, but should build upon and focus on actions and concrete steps to address the implementation gaps and give shape and form to the future we want.

There were repeated calls for bold action and ambition and the need to blaze a new path, said Sha. There was need for the accomplishment of deliverables for poverty eradication, food, water and energy and to deal with the emerging challenges of urbanisation, oceans and disasters.

As regards the green economy in the context of sustainable development, Sha said there were calls for action, a roadmap and SDGs. There was need to build the right institutional framework, including the setting up of a Sustainable Development Council and a strengthened United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Referring to the expected presence of 127 Heads of State in Rio de Janeiro in June for the Conference, Sha said that Member States should produce something which they would feel proud to sign on to.

AUTHOR: Henry Neondo
URL: http://
E-MAIL: neondohenry [at]


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