Statement to the Preparatory Committee of the Rio Summit (6 August 1990)

 

In the final analysis the behaviour and the actions of nations and individuals depends on their motivations. And these, in turm, are a product of their deepest cultural, spiritual, moral and ethical values. Virtually all traditional value systems share a respect for the rights of others and a reverence for all God's creation.

 

United Nations General Assembly Distr. General A/Conf.151/PC/5/Add.1
6 August 1990 Original: English

 

PREPARATIONS FOR THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE BASIS OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 44/228 AND TAKING INTO ACCOUNT OTHER RELEVANT GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS: ACTIVITIES OF THE CONFERENCE SECRETARIAT: REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE CONFERENCE

Introductory Statement made by the Secretary-General of the Conference, Maurice Strong at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee

Mr. Chairman, the Executive Directors of UNEP and HABITAT, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First let me join you, Mr. Chairman, in the deep gratitude you have expressed on behalf of all of us to the distinguished President of Kenya, his Excellency Daniel Arap Moi, for the high honour he has accorded us by participating in and addressing this opening session, for his warm words of welcome and wise counsel. As one who has had a long and close relationship with this beautiful land and its people, I would like to thank His Excellency, and his representatives, for all that he and his government have done to make the city of Nairobi the world's Environmental Capital as the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme and Habitat. There could be no more appropriate or congenial place in which to hold this important first substantive session of our Preparatory Committee.

I have other reasons to be especially pleased and grateful on this occasion. Foremost amongst these is my deep pleasure and satisfaction at sharing this podium and this experience with my dear and esteemed friend and colleague, Dr. Mostafa Tolba, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. His enlightened and dynamic leadership has established UNEP as the centrepiece of the global environmental movement and the indispensable instrument through which virtually all the principal achievements in global environmental cooperation have been effected.

Indeed, UNEP's work and its initiatives have also provided the primary source of inputs for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. This Preparatory Committee will, I know, carefully consider the deliberations, advice and decisions of the Special Session of the Governing Council of UNEP which took place here last week in relation to the issues that are on the Preparatory Committee's Agenda. We will all look forward to hearing about the results of this Special Governing Council session from Dr. Tolba and will benefit from the guidance and advice he will bring to our work out of his own unparalleled knowledge and experience.

We begin this afternoon an intensive and substantive phase in the work of the Preparatory Committee and its two working groups. This will be critical to the content and direction of the remainder of the preparatory process and the success of the Conference itselfin 1992. 

Let me say at this point that as my statement is necessarily rather long, I will omit certain portions of it in my delivery of it here; but they remain in the written version and form an integral part of this statement.

The Agenda and Programme of work recommended by the Bureau represents a formidable challenge. I know that we will all be inspired by the sobering realization that the Conference for which we are preparing is one of the most important of our times, and participation in it will be at the highest possible level. The Conference is expected to take decisions which will lead to fundamental changes in the direction and nature of our economic life and behaviour and establish the basis for a more secure, equitable, hopeful and sustainable future for the whole human community. These decisions must be evolved and facilitated throughout the preparatory phase as well as in the proceedings of the Conference. It will be no easy task, particularly as the time for preparations is short. We must not underestimate the difficulties and obstacles which confront us on the road to Brazil; neither should we be cowed or daunted by them.

For the road ahead has been illuminated by the important progress that has been made in some critical areas. Notable amongst these is the landmark agreement reached under the auspices of UNEP in London in June on strengthened measures to counter depletion of the ozone layer and on provision of financial assistance to developing countries to enable them to meet the incremental costs of adhering to the agreement. The important support the World Bank, UNDP and UNEP have received for the proposal to establish a 'Global Environment Facility' is another encouraging sign.

In other critical areas the signs. are less promising. The Development Assistance Committee of OECD reported recently that the flows of Official Development Assistance to developing countries have declined. Moreover, while there have been some hopeful indications of more positive attitudes on the part of creditor nations and institutions towards the reduction of developing country debt, debt servicing continues to impose an intolerable burden on the economies of many developing countries. The resulting net outflows of resources from the developing countries clearly form a major barrier to revitalizing their economic growth on a sustainable basis as well as their joining in international economic and environmental cooperation.

The importance of such cooperation to the future of our planet and the necessity of full and equitable participation in it by all the people and nations of our planet, adds a new and compelling imperative to the priority which must be accorded to remedying the current gross and unsustainable imbalance between rich and poor countries. One of the most important tasks we face in the process of preparing for the 1992 Conference is that of making the case in persuasive but practical terms for new and innovative approaches to redressing this imbalance.
It is the key to the ability of developing countries to revitalize their economies on the basis of sustainable development and join fully in cooperative action to ensure our common future.

The documents you have before you will, I hope, assist you in the vitally important decisions you will be taking. The subject matter you must address in doing this, as defined in General Assembly Resolution 44/228, is broad and complex. Fortunately, most of it is the subject of ongoing activities and work programmes in the agencies, organizations and programmes of the United Nations System and other international, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, in addition, of course to the even more extensive related activities being carried out at the national level.

The Overview of System-wide activities relevant to General Assembly Resolution 44/228 Document #AConf.l5VPC/6 which the Secretary-General undertook to make available to the Preparatory Committee was prepared by the Designated Officials for Environmental Matters (DOEM) under the leadership of the United Nations Environment Programme. This extremely valuable summary of activities being carried out within the United Nations system is supplemented by the information referred to in Document #AConf.l5l/PC7 provided in response to the request of the Conference Secretariat by other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations in respect of their activities relevant to the issues to be addressed by the Conference.

We are grateful to these organizations, and particularly to UNEP, for providing this very valuable information base for our preparatory work. It covers an extensive range of activities and plans. But it still cannot be regarded as complete, particularly in respect of the many development activities and programmes which have a significant environmental dimension. As our own documents are based primarily on the information provided to us, they reflect some of the deficiencies of the underlying information. There are thus several important matters which you will want to address in relation to the broad range of issues identified in the General Assembly Resolution 44/228 which are not fully or adequately reflected in the documents you have received.

These include the issues referred to in the following sub-paragraphs (e), (n), (s), (t) and (w) of paragraph 15of General Assembly Resolution 44/228, which are respectively:

(e) To examine ways and means further to improve cooperation in the field of protection and enhancement of the environment between neighbouring countries with a view to eliminating.'¬adverse environmental effects; +

(n) To promote the development of human resources, particularly in developing countries, for the protection and enhancement of the environment;

(s) To promote environmental education, especially of the younger generation, as well as other measures to increase awareness of the value of the environment;

(t) To promote international cooperation within the United Nations system in monitoring. assessing and anticipating environmental threats and in rendering assistance in cases of environ¬mental emergency;

(w) To assess the capacity of the United Nations system to assist in the prevention and settlement of disputes in the environmental sphere and to recommend measures in this field, While respecting existing bilateral and international agreements that provide for the settlement of such disputes.

I want to assure you that all of these matters will receive the full attention of the Secretariat. based on your guidance and direction, in the period ahead. And we are guided by the strong emphasis on the socio-economic factor that is required by General Assembly Resolution 44/228 and the decisions of the Organizational Session of the Preparatory Committee.

We invited the agencies, organizations and programmes of the UN system, and the other organizations from which we solicited information, to indicate particularly the objectives and outputs envisaged in respect of their current programmes and activities. and the extent to which it may be feasible within the mandate of the 1992 Conference to accelerate or enhance these objectives and outputs. They were also invited to identify important gaps in existing activities. We have drawn on their responses in indicating, where possible, in the synopses presented in Document AConf.l51/PC/5 the kinds of objectives and outputs which the Preparatory Committee might wish to consider in respect of each item. These synopses should be regarded as indicative rather than comprehensive as they omit reference to certain important activities referred to in the documents from which they are derived as, for example, the Regional Seas Programme and such important components of it as the Mediterranean Action Plan.

Most of these existing programmes, activities, and negotiating processes began before the decision to hold the 1992 Conference, and will continue after the Conference. Each of them will provide an important input to preparations for the Conference and. in tum. the output of the Conference will be expected to determine the future direction, goals and priorities to be accorded to the continuing action process in respect of each item.

Preventive and remedial actions must be taken on the basis of sound scientific knowledge and assessment. But, as the recent Houston Economic Declaration pointed out, 'In the face of threats of irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty, is no excuse to postpone actions which are justified in their own right.' This lends further weight to the endorsement at the Bergen Conference of the 'precautionary principle'. And the research, monitoring and assessment activities which provide the basis for preventive and remedial actions are themselves an indispensable part of the ongoing action process. It is evident from an examination of the information on existing programmes and activities of the UN system and other organizations reviewed in the documents for this session that substantial increases in research, monitoring andassessment represent one of the most important needs for action in many of the key subject areas to be addressed by the Conference.

A great many existing action processes and pathways converge in the preparations for 1992. The Conference will hopefully provide the catalyst for many of these action processes to be expedited and completed. Preparations for the 1992Conference are, as you know, designed to draw fully on existing programmes and activities. There is no need to duplicate or compete with them but rather to complement and supplement them in order to meet Conference timetables and objectives as well as to lend them additional impetus and support.

It is equally important that the major programmes, activities and negotiating processes be carried forward in close cooperation and inter-action with preparations for the 1992 Conference. This is the approach that has guided your Secretariat in its work to date. I am pleased to say that at the Secretariat level we have already established close cooperative working relationships with our colleagues in the UN system, particularly UNEP. We are developing similarly close links with other organizations, both inter-governmental and non-governmental.

General Assembly Resolution 44/207, paragraph 10, recognized the urgent need to begin negotiations, as soon as possible, after adoption of the IPCC assessment report, on a framework convention on climate change and adopting the convention if possible at the 1992 Conference. The June 1990 Resolution of the Executive Council of the WMO and the just concluded UNEP Governing Council Special Session, recalling General Assembly Resolution 44/207, decided to
authorize the Executive Director of UNEP to convene jointly with the Secretary-General of WMO an open-ended working group of government representatives to prepare for negotiations on a framework convention on climate change in September 1990. In light of this and the prospect of the United Nations General Assembly recommending ways, means and modalities for further pursuing these negotiations, the Preparatory Committee may wish to consider what these recommendations could be and defer until its next session a decision on its position as to how this matter might best be dealt with for 1992.

The issues pertaining to climate change, and the current state of scientific knowledge and opinion concerning them are vastly more complex and difficult than in the case of ozone depletion. The process of achieving agreement will be much more complex. This is all the more reason for the Conference preparations to provide strong and vigorous impetus to this process.

You will also be reviewing the progress made in the consultations initiated by UNEP to consider prospects for a convention on biodiversity. A report on this by the Executive Director of UNEP will be available when Working Group I considers this issue. Even if completion of such a convention by 1992 cannot be assured, it is again important that the Preparatory Committee provide strong impetus and direction to the negotiating process. There are, of course, many steps that can and should be taken without waiting for a new convention in this field. These include various measures to identify and mobilize resources to protect critical areas, and other steps to fill gaps identified in the 'Overview' paper and referred to in my own report to this Preparatory Committee.

The UNEP Governing Council Special Session agreed to continue the work on biological diversity and biotechnology with a view to arriving at an international legal instrument on biological diversity within a broad socio-economic context and to ask the UNIDO/UNEP/WHO infonnal working group to come up with specific recommendations for safety in biotechnology. The Preparatory Committee may wish to consider the co-operation and assistance that could be extended to these on-going activities in relation to the preparatory process.

There are some other areas in which it may be useful and feasible to consider the prospect of initiating or accelerating negotiation of conventions. Forestry is a case in point The prospect of a forestry convention or agreement was raised in the communique of the recent Houston Summit Forestry is one of the protocols that could be considered in a Climate Convention. Forestry is also closely related to the issue of biodiversity. The Preparatory Committee may wish to consider how these components might best be co-ordinated in light of these complex inter-relationships.

Other legal measures to which the Preparatory Committee should give consideration include those cited at the Sienna Forum on International Law of the Environment in April 1990 and the recommendation of the World Commission on Environment and Development that the United Nations General Assembly draw up a 'Universal Declaration' and later a 'Convention on Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development'. It should also examine the prospect of extending certain agreements that have been initiated at the regional level, particularly in the ECE Region, to other regions or the global level. These could include for example, environmental product labelling and trade in chemicals.

While it would not be realistic to believe that the 1992 Conference can see the completion of all such agreements, the Preparatory Committee can clearly lend them strong impetus and direction. It can also urge governments to accede to or ratify existing global and regional conventions dealing with environment and development and to apply them with more vigour and rigour. In doing so it
would be giving effect to another important recommendation of the Brundtland Commission in respect of legal measures.

In addition, many of the other specific issues which will be dealt with by the Conference and the preparatory process will have significant legal implications. It is important that the development dimension be fully reflected in the consideration and negotiation of all legal measures.

This adds up to a very substantial and important work programme for the Preparatory Committee in the legal area and points to the need for early action to constitute the working group which the Preparatory Committee decided to establish at its organizational session on 'Legal and Institutional and Related Matters' particularly with regard to legal matters.

The negotiation of legal agreements is one of the most important elements of the ongoing action process to which the Preparatory Committee and the Conference will need to give strong impetus and direction. But there are many important actions on which a sufficient degree of consensus can be reached before completion of formal agreements to permit the action process to proceed in
parallel with the negotiations of formal agreements concerning them. Such actions need not and should not be deferred until the formal agreements pertaining to them are completed. The action process should proceed on two separate but related tracks: one being the formal negotiating process
and the other being the less formal process of undertaking cooperative action in respect of those measures which can be agreed upon prior to completion of the formal negotiating process.

Using the 1992 Conference to facilitate or accelerate the processes of negotiating legal measures clearly represents one of the important objectives of the Conference. But it must produce much more than this if it is to fulfil the expectations of the world community for a secure and sustainable future in both environmental and development terms.

Of special, indeed seminal, importance will be an agreement on the basic principles which must guide people and nations in their conduct towards each other and towards nature to ensure the future integrity and sustainability of Planet Earth as a hospitable home for the human species and other forms of life. This could draw from and build on the Stockholm Declaration. I would suggest that consideration be given to incorporating these principles in a brief document, perhaps in the format of a Charter, an 'Earth Charter', which could be presented on a single page in clear and cogently worded language. It could be accepted by governments and embraced by people through¬out the world as a historic symbol of their commitment to, and hopes for, the future of life on our planet.

To give effect to these principles will require an accompanying commitment by governments at the Conference to an agenda for action following the conference and leading to the 21st century on the wide range of specific issues that must be addressed by the Conference in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 44/228. While the Conference preparatory process will serve to accelerate or enhance the objectives of many of these activities, most of them do not lend themselves to the kind of actions which can be completed at or by the time of the Conference. Indeed, it would be unrealistic to expect the Conference to complete the action process in respect of the broad range of issues which must be addressed during the preparatory process except in a very few particular instances of which conventions are an example.

In respect of the many other issues which must be addressed during the preparatory process, what would seem most useful and feasible for the Preparatory Committee to do at this point would be:

(i) To examine the existing activities concerning them, the current objectives and expected outputs of such activities and gaps in them;

(ii) To begin the process of formulating in respect of such issues specific goals and targets and the action process required to achieve these. This would provide direction and guidance for the extensive amount of work that must be done before the next session of the Preparatory Committee to enable it to give more detailed consideration to other important elements of the action process. These would include questions as to the principal institutions involved and the mechanisms necessary for cooperation amongst them, economic implications, estimated costs and how these are to be met, and related needs for technologies and other supporting measures. It would also be necessary to make clear where this action process fits, and the priority to be accorded to it, within the overall agenda for action to be agreed by the Conference. The time horizon for the initial phase  of this 'Agenda 21' would be the final seven years of the century, 1993 through 000, but it would be specifically geared to meeting the needs and challenges ofthe 21st century.

Agenda 21 would go well beyond the kind of 'Action Plans' which have traditionally emerged from UN conferences. It should provide the basic framework and instrumentality which will guide the world community on an ongoing basis in its decisions on the goals, targets, priorities, allocation of responsibilities and resources in respect of the many environment and development issues which
will determine the future of our planet It should therefore incorporate provisions for monitoring of progress and periodic review and revision.
Agenda 21 would be one of the most important products of the Conference. In providing a coherent and manageable framework for dealing with the vast array of subject matter confronting the Conference, it would constitute an instrumentality through which the world community and its many institutions and mechanisms can continue to deal effectively on an ongoing basis with this complex and inter-acting system of issues.

Agreement on Agenda 21 will be meaningful only if it is accompanied by agreement on the means required to implement it. Thus, the key cross-sectoral issues of financial resources, technology transfer and institutions must have the especially important place on the Conference agenda provided for in General Assembly Resolution 44/228.

In summary, this approach would enable the principle work of the Conference itself to be organized around the following main agenda items:

1. Conventions - the Conference would provide the forum for Conventions to be signed, if prior agreements have been reached..Conventions would not be negotiated or debated at the Conference. The action at the Conference would depend upon the results of negotiations preceding the Conference;

2. Earth Charter setting out the basic principles for the conduct of people and nations towards each other and the Earth to ensure our common future;

3. Agenda for action, 'Agenda 21' to provide concrete measures for implementation of these principles through an agreed international work programme in the period following the Conference and leading into the 21stCentury.

And the means required for implementation of this Agenda through:

4. Financial resources - measures for financing the actions provided for in Agenda 21 and in particular to ensure access by developing countries to the additional financial resources they will require to integrate the environmental dimension into their own development policies and practices as well as the incremental costs that will be incurred by complying to international environmental conventions and protocols;

5. Technology transfer - measures to ensure that all countries, and particularly developing countries, have access to environmentally-sound technologies on an equitable and affordable basis, as well as the capacity to make effective use of them.

6. Institutions - measures for strengthening existing institutions, notably UNEP; the environmental capacities of development agencies and organizations; the processes of collaboration and coordination amongst them; and the machinery to enable environment and development issues to be examined at the policy level in their relationship to other important security, economic, humanitarian and related issues.

Decisions taken by the Conference on these major issues will determine its success and each will require attention throughout the preparatory process, starting now.

It would, of course, be premature to attempt to crystallize substantive decisions on these key issues, but we will want to begin here to define them and shape the process of dealing with them. Of these issues, the need of developing countries for access to the new and additional financial resources they will require to enable them to participate fully in international environmental cooperation and integrate the environmental dimension into their own development policies and programmes undoubtedly poses the greatest challenge. The difficulties of reaching broad agreement on this issue and the current state of political will in respect of it were evidenced at the Bergen Conference, in negotiations for the establishment by the World Bank of its proposed 'Global Environment Facility', in negotiations in London in respect of the Montreal protocol and at the special session held here last week of UNEP's Governing Council. But the London agreement and progress made in respect of the World Bank facility also demonstrate that it is possible to muster, political will when there is cleat and compelling evidence to support the need for action.

The most important decisions to be taken by the 1992 Conference will be in the areas of development and economic policies and decision-making. For it is largely through changes in economic life and behaviour in all countries and in the international economy that most principal environmental risks must be addressed. And, as we have seen, these changes do not come easily. Existing attitudes and practices are deeply entrenched. Despite the fact that the environment development relationship is being increasingly acknowledged at the conceptual level, there has been little real progress in giving effect to it in the ongoing processes of economic and sectoral policy and decision making.

The Bergen conference focused a good deal of attention on these issues and produced some important proposals which will contribute to your deliberations on this subject, including its call for changes in the system of national accounting to include real natural resource and environmental values. One of the most important economic changes to which the Conference could give rise would be the agreement by governments to review their existing systems of fiscal and regulatory incentives, penalties and subsidies, and reorient them so as to provide positive incentives to environmentally sound and sustainable development.

The 1992 Conference is about environment and development. This must be the pervasive theme in all of our preparatory work. Virtually all environmental impacts arise as a result of development or its failures and it is only through responsible management of the development process that these impacts can be kept within acceptable limits. In addition to natural systems and processes, the human environment must be seen as both a resource for development and a product of development The policy and practical implications of this must be examined in respect of each issue. A special study process is therefore being initiated by the Secretariat which will culminate in a seminar on moving from concept to action in the environment-development relationship. This is intended to make the same kind of seminal contribution to preparations for the 1992 Conference that the meeting in Founex in 1971 made to the Stockholm Conference.

The integration of environment and development will require substantial changes in economic policy and management. There will be many cases in which this need not involve extra costs or where the extra costs required may be met by redeployment of existing resources. But overall, it is evident that incorporation of measures for environmental protection into the development policies and programmes of developing countries will require access to external financial resources beyond those now available to them. Even when the investment required would produce a desirable rate of return developing countries will still need access to the additional capital required to make the investment. Other cases will require more difficult trade-offs between short-term economic benefits and longer term environmental damage. These trade-offs will be even more difficult and complex when, as will often be the case, economic benefits arise in one country and the environmental damages are born primarily by others.

Achieving a viable balance between environment and development factors will not always be solely a matter of adding measures for environmental protection to development programmes and projects. It will more and more require fundamental changes in the dynamics and content of our economic life and behaviour. The most dramatic example of this is the basic changes that will be needed in our current patterns of energy use and transport in order to effect the substantial reductions in fossil fuel use that would be required to reduce risks of climate change. This will require a concerted global effort to improve energy efficiency in all sectors, and a transition to other forms of energy that produce less pollutants, particularly greenhouse gases. For example, there should be greater incentives to and support for research and development on new energy supply and storage options such as electric batteries and hydrogen to power motor vehicles.

There must also be fundamental changes in the basis for our international economic relations, particularly as between more industrialized and developing countries. These can no longer be dealt with effectively in traditional confrontational terms.

Neither can resource flows to developing countries be seen in terms of traditional notions of 'foreign aid', Supporting the development of developing countries and particularly arresting the vicious circle of poverty that is as destructive in environmental and human terms as it is morally repugnant, must be seen as a sound and necessary investment in the future of our planet. For the full cooperation of developing countries is essential to the common future of all humanity and that cooperation will not befeasible if they are denied more equitable access to the benefits available from a growing world economy.

In the final analysis the behaviour and the actions of nations and'individuals depends on their motivations. And these, in tum, are a product of their deepest cultural, spiritual, moral and ethical values. Virtually all traditional value systems share a respect for the rights of others and a reverence for all God's creation. These provide the basis on which we must now build a new sense of community at a global level and a common, transcending commitment to cooperation to main¬taining our planet as a secure and hospitable home for all people and all life. In doing this the role of religious and spiritual leaders, philosophers, educators and communicators will be seminal.

It is within this larger context that you will be considering each of the many individual issues to which your attention will be directed during these next four weeks. In doing this you will have the benefit of the insights, experience and advice of representatives of a number of the agencies, organizations and programmes of the UN system and other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. For the preparatory process for which you are responsible will depend heavily on the collaborative work of the members of the UN system and the contributions of other key organizations.

Each can and is prepared to contribute to this agenda and each is also prepared to undertake a clear and identifiable role in implementing it. The same will be true of important constituencies ¬youth, women, trade unions, scientists, religious leaders, educators, indigenous people and, of course, industry. In making their contribution to. Agenda 21, all must be challenged to commit themselves to their own agenda for action and their roles in implementing Agenda 21. Industry provides a particularly important example. Already arrangements are under way through which industry is to be challenged to undertake a self-evaluation of what it should and will do within its own criteria and what it is prepared to do if governments provide the fiscal and regulatory incentives that can make it possible.

You will be taking a decision as to the basis for participation by non-governmental organizations in meetings of the Preparatory Committee and its working groups. One of the distinguishing and innovative features of the Bergen conference was that representatives of a number of important non-governmental groups, including industry, scientists, trade unions, environmental organizations and youth, were included as full partners in the preparatory process. There are a number of valuable elements out of this experience which I believe we can adapt to the preparations for the 1992 Conference. But I do not believe it would be realistic or workable to apply the Bergen formula directly to the preparatory process for 1992. Both the number of governments represented on the Preparatory Committee and the number of non-governmental organizations that would need to be accommodated are very much greater than for the Bergen Conference. I believe we must encourage and facilitate the broadest possible participation of non-governmental organizations and groups, including those of a non-traditional nature, in our preparatory process. I am confident, too, that ways can be found of doing this that are consistent with the principles exemplified in the Bergen process while applying them in ways that are more likely to be effective under the considerably different conditions of the 1992 preparatory process.

In the final analysis, the work of the Preparatory Committee and the results of the Conference will depend primarily on preparations at the national level. It is here, too, that non-governmental organizations and citizen groups of all kinds can have their principal impact. The national reports provide the primary channels through which national experience, insights and perspectives will contribute to the preparatory process. The suggested guidelines for preparation of national reports which we have prepared in response to your request, will, I trust, contribute usefully to your deliberations on this important aspect of the preparatory process.

We are seeking to mobilize extra budgetary resources to enable us to respond to the needs of developing countries for assistance in their preparations for the Conference at the national level, including preparation of their national reports, Our efforts to do this will be greatly facilitated by the arrangements we have made, in cooperation with the Administrator of UNDP, that Resident Co¬
ordinators assume the additional responsibilities of acting as Representatives of UNCED in their countries of assignment. Support is also being solicited for the participation by developing country institutions and experts in other aspects of the preparatory process at the regional and global levels. I am encouraged and extremely grateful for the commitments of support by the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada for these activities and the indications of support we have received from several other countries and foundations,

May I also take this opportunity to express appreciation to all those countries that have provided support for the Voluntary Fund as indicated in the report which is available to you as Conference room paper no.A/CONF.151/CRP. I would like also to explain to developing country delegations that because of the limited amount of these funds actually received sufficiently in
advance of the commencement of this meeting. arrangements for a number of tickets had to be made under conditions that may have made it difficult for delegates to be here in time for the opening of our meeting. I deeply regret any inconvenience this has caused to delegations and can assure you that we have made every effort to obtain the necessary funds and arrange issuance of the
tickets as expeditiously as is possible under UN budgetary requirements in this respect.

Preparations at the national level will be supplemented and complemented by regional preparations, in particular the important conferences to be held by the other UN regional commissions following the successful Conference of the ECE region held in Bergen in May. A report of the Bergen Conference and plans for the other regional conferences will the subject of separate
consideration on your agenda.

I have recently had the opportunity of paying my first visit to our host country, Brazil, and am pleased to say that I am highly encouraged by the strong commitment of thegovernment of Brazil to the Conference and the arrangements they are making to prepare for it. A senior representative of the Government of Brazil will be reporting to you more fully on these arrangements later in this
session:

At the Secretariat level, since approval by the General Assembly in April of the budget and staffing arrangements based on the decisions of this committee at its organizational meeting in March, we have been preoccupied with establishing our headquarters in the premises generously provided by the government of Switzerland in Geneva, recruiting our staff and preparing for this meeting.
All of the posts in our ad hoc Secretariat provided for through the regular budget have now been filled and/or are in an advanced state of recruitment. In addition, thanks to the generous cooperation of WHO and UNDP, we are benefitting from the secondment of two additional professionals to our staff and we expect others to follow this example. As a result, I am pleased to report that we will have a Secretariat that is well-balanced both in terms of geographical representation and professional expertise. While it is still relatively small in relation to the magnitude of the job to be done, I am confident that with the further support of our UN colleagues and the additional assistance we expect to receive through extra budgetary support we should be in a position to serve you effectively.

I would like to inform you that we have responded to thewishes expressed at the organizational meeting of this Committee and provided for an additional senior staff member to be stationed in New York with important substantive responsibilities as the Special Representative of the Conference Secretary-General.

We have not yet been able to give priority to creating broad public interest in and awareness of the Conference and its preparatory process. I hope that all members of this Preparatory Committee as well as participants from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations will make this an important part of their own responsibilities in the preparatory process in their countries and organizations. All of us have an important stake in the Conference and all of our efforts will be needed to ensure that people everywhere are made aware of it and its importance for their future.

In the mean time, we are working closely with the Department of Public Information in further development of the information and media programme which will be activated to an increasing extent in the period ahead. An important component of this, for which we are seeking extra budgetary funding, will be a book designed to provide for a broad public readership a 'view from the South' as a perspective on the major issues to be addressed by the conference from the viewpoint of the developing world. An eminent person from a developing country has agreed to take the lead in writing the book and one of the most prominent editors and writers from the north will provide the introduction and collaborate on editorial matters.

This overview of the issues you will be addressing during these next four weeks is, I realize, rather long. But, the issues are numerous and important and the context in which they must be viewed is complex. And much has happened since our documents for this session were completed at the end of May of which I felt it important to apprise you. I hope that these observations which will be supplemented by further information as required in respect of each agenda item, will be useful to you in your deliberations. For the decisions you will be taking will determine the future course of our preparatory work and establish the foundations on which the success of the 1992 Conference will be based.

Thus, in a very real sense, the hopes and expectations of the world community will rest with you as you now begin your work.

As noted above, the first session of UNCED's Preparatory Committee was held in Nairobiin August 1990. The two subsequent meetings were held in Geneva in March and August, 1991. The last session was held in New York in April 1992. This session prepared the final documentation for the Rio Conference. One text - the Rio Declaration - was forwarded unbracketed (i.e, without reservations) to the June 1992 UNCED meeting. Most other texts, particularly those relating to finance or the transfer of technology, or to the forests and atmosphere chapters of Agenda 21, contained important reservations and would be hotly debated at the Brazil meeting.