The negotiating text released June 16th by the Brazilian chair of the CSD has 287 paragraphs. It consists of agreements in the prior negotiations (agreed ad ref) and many efforts to restate acceptable past agreements.

This text goes beyond agreeing to reaffirm the importance of decisions in other contexts (Part V recounts a framework for action and follow-up on all the other intergovernmental organizations), with energy (125-30), transportation (133-34), forests (with references to REDD), oceans [these are the clauses Ann has been involved with], women, SIS and other thematic priorities. It sets up several issues for future decision in the on-going negotiations by this Rio CSD conference:

1) Creating a new “high level political forum” with universal membership to unite the work on sustainable development, under the umbrella of ECOSOC (paragraphs 83-86) and launch an intergovernmental negotiation of UN Member States to create this new body in time for the 2014 UN General Assembly session (68th session). This raises questions: Will this replace the CSD? Should ECOSOC do this since it already exists (reshape the ECOSOC agenda rather than creating yet another body of universal members)?

2) Strengthening UNEP, with a universal governing council (Para 88). Issues raised: why have yet another universal governing body when the UN could do this via ECOSOC and a smaller, more effective governing council (now 40 some member states) which could run a strengthened UNEP more effectively? This keeps UNEP from becoming a specialized agency, which would need negotiation of a new treaty. The UNGA in the fall of 2012 is asked to act to upgrade UNEP (specifics about this are not included), 67th UNGA.

3) Judicial capacity and Rio Principle 10 are referenced in para 99: “We encourage action at regional, national, and sub-national and local levels to promote access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters, as appropriate.” Issues: The UNEP Congress in Rio could make recommendations to do more to provide capacity building to strengthen the courts in environmental adjudication, and recommend a text to add to draft para 99. These are the talks I shall be involved in during the next 3 days.

4) The funding for sustainable development is to be coordinated in a new 30 government committee, to develop a new funding strategy by 2014 (paras 258-60). This is a way to recognize that many states have pledged funds to further sustainable development but have not fulfilled their pledges. The UNGA is invited in the fall of 2012 to set up this committee and have its strategy working by 2014. Issue: Will the G-20, meeting now in Mexico just before the Rio CSD officially opens, agree to this sort of effort?

There are many other issues in the attached draft that will be debated and changed. Note that climate change is not directly referenced, except in the thematic discussions of desertification, disaster relief coordination, etc. Evidently a number of states (probably including the USA which chose its lead climate change negotiator to come to Rio on the US delegation) have made it clear that no climate decisions are to be taken in Rio, which leaves all climate issues to be decided under the UNFCCC.

On balance, the new draft is a very good basis for on-going negotiations. States are not ready to make the sort of profound decisions that they made in 1992. The draft reaffirms what was decided, and recognized that more is needed by way of implementation, and it gives the UNGA a list of topics to negotiate over the coming year. This is very sensible and realistic, since the CSD only has authority to make recommendations, and the time for on-going negotiations has been too short prior to June 2012 for this CSD to have any greater unity than is now evident. The Brazilian draft is very constructive. Civil society will criticize this CSD session for not moving further, but the recession and elections in major States (USA, etc.) give governments a narrow window for innovative decision-making.

After this Rio session the debates move to the UNGA in the fall. The Pace Environmental Diplomacy program will have a busy autumn moving into 2012-13!