CSD-19 hits wall: No final decision

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Clearly Friday the 13th was a bad luck day for those who attended the UN Commission on Sustainable Development here in New York. After two weeks of intense all-night negotiations, presentations, side events, round tables, obtuse jargon and "straight talk," the final plenary was thrown a curve ball in which everyone has struck out. When the final plenary opened at 4pm last Friday, there were still some outstanding issues on waste and chemicals that needed to be resolved, leaving crowds of people waiting in the halls for the announcement to return to the main hall for the completion of the UN session. The problem now was mostly in the final section on means of implementation (MOI).

After break-out discussions, the plenary reconvened about 3 am, with the G77/China asserting their problems with the text, calling for removal of the language on “transition to a cleaner and more resource-efficient economy” (after earlier rejecting the phrase "green economy") and for insertion of language of concern about the plight of people living in occupied territories. They also complained about the lack of references to adequate funding and technology transfer. The EU, Japan, and US did not want to re-open the negotiations but to accept the Chair's proposed final package. G77 referred to resistance to their proposals as a disrespectful "take-it-or-leave-it" position which they would not accept.

About 7 am Chair Borbely noted the lack of consensus but declared he was not willing to give up, asking delegates one last time to reach an agreement, which could simply be to continue the negotiations at a later date. Discussion then focused on the funding for this additional meeting, time and place, and other details, including the possibility that the rest of the document could then be re-opened. By 8:30 am when the group reconvened, only 24 of the 53 delegations were present, just under the 27 needed for a quorum. The chair then announced he would no longer seek a resumed session of the Commission, leaving the final text with its unresolved brackets. All groups expressed their disappointment in the failure to reach agreement. By 9 am the session was officially closed.

 For more information, see Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 293, "Summary of the 19th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development: 2-14 May 2011."