Coordenação de Raul Mendes Silva

ECO 92 – The History of a Negotiation
The financial chapter of Agenda 21 during
the Conference on the Environment and Development
Rio de Janeiro 3–14 June 1992


Ambassador Rubens Ricúpero

When I rose early that Wednesday, 3 June 1992, I thought of the gigantic task that Brazil had accepted. The world had at last become acutely aware that immediate action had to be taken and everything was to happen in the city of Rio de Janeiro. One hundred and three Heads of State and a total of 182 countries took part in the event. In the end, some official international agreements were approved: the Declaration of Rio on the Environment; Agenda 21 and the means to implement it; the Declaration on Forests; and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

How to put together the financial engineering capable of sustaining the following steps, seeing that there was such disparity between the various points of view?

Negotiating the financial chapter of Agenda 21 was full of such curious elements and exposed such characteristic features of the panorama of international relations that it struck me that it might be worthwhile to record some of my impressions on what happened.



I was introduced to the theme rather late, when as Brazilian Ambassador in Washington I was informed that I was being called back to Rio to help in the efforts to be made in the area of finances, this according to a format that was still not well defined but that suggested some parallel and informal initiative at a meeting of ministers from some key countries. Before departing I met with the Executive Director of the GEF in the World Bank and with people involved in the theme in Washington so that I could gather some information on how the status quo.

Partially as a result of these conversations, when I reached Rio I already had a clear notion that the negotiation process would necessarily have to fit the usual standards of decision-making adopted in the United Nations, with all that this implied concerning heavy machinery, meetings with hundreds of participants and the emphasis on intermediation of regional groups. In this scheme there was no place for shortcuts or formulas to save on time or effort.

It also struck me quite clearly how extremely difficult, not to say insurmountable, the task was. Of all the themes on the Agenda, this was the only one that had not a single text that was generally acceptable to all as a basis for negotiations, even with some paragraphs left open, as in the other themes. Right from the start a dialogue between the deaf had been the characteristic of the financial discussion among industrialised and developing countries, the result being that the two experienced and competent diplomats chosen successively to co-ordinate the group before me had been unable to find mature enough conditions to bring the various positions closer.

Accordingly, it was first decided to attempt to entrust Japan with the leadership of the contact group, a position for which it would be the natural candidate, being a nation apparently gifted with a more generous disposition to make a significant financial contribution.

Unfortunately the idea was not well received by the Japanese, so there remained no other option but to resort to the host-country. So it was that with great reluctance on my part, Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore, the President of the Preparatory Committee, appointed me to co-ordinate the contact group on finance at the first meeting of the Principal Committee on Wednesday, 3 June, right after the opening of the UNCED.


First steps

Without delay I began to meet with a smaller group of representatives from the regional groups and like countries: the Group of the 77, China, the Russian Federation, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, the United States, Japan, the EEC, the Nordic countries, CANZ (Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Bearing in mind the negative reaction to the document circulated at the last session of the Preparatory Committee in New York, with the official numeration of the conference by the preceding co-ordinator, I took care to tell some of the representatives before the meeting that I would be willing to draw up a new document, but only if I were asked publicly. The meeting was opened and I summarised the situation in which we found ourselves: we had to finish the work of the Principal Committee by Wednesday, 10 June, and so we in fact only had five days (this was 5 June) to produce a finished chapter for the Agenda. Since there was no common basic document, I awaited suggestions from the delegations as to how to proceed. The delegations answered by pressing me to prepare a document that would not be presented officially as a replacement of document L / 41 / Rev.1, which was still considered by the G-77 and China as a reflection of their position, although it was unacceptable to the other participants.

I began to work on the text of these subsidies with the help of Mr. Joseph Wheeler, a competent American member of the Secretariat of the UNCED who for five years had been Director of the OECD Division of Co-operation for Development and was thoroughly familiar with all that referred to help for development. This small editorial group was completed by the then Minister Luiz Filipe Macedo Soares Guimarães, Head of the Division of the Environment at Itamaraty, today Brazilian Ambassador to Mexico and unquestionably the person who in adverse conditions most contributed to developing the substantive Brazilian positions at the Conference with intelligence and integrity. Of the three of us, I was the one who knew least about the theme, so that anything useful that might have come from the work is due to my two companions.

We gave the result of our efforts the modest name of Elements for a Working Paper and on presenting it we were careful: a) to state clearly that this was not an official Conference document, nor was it meant to replace L/41/Rev.1; and b) to explain that the new paper was justified by the need to put into writing all that had happened after the L/41/Rev.1, such as the result of the discussions of the Preparatory Committee at its 4th session in New York, the meeting of the GEF in Washington in May, the financial provisions of the conventions on climate and biodiversity, the meeting of prominent personalities in Tokyo, the latest communiqué by the Bruntland Committee in London, and so on.

The reactions to the paper, relatively more lively on the part of the G-77, guided the drafting of a new version submitted to the appreciation of a plenary meeting of the Contact Group on the afternoon of Friday, 6 June. We began the discussion by examining possible amendments to the opening paragraphs. After about two hours we were still at the first part of the document and the amendments were multiplying. There was only an hour left to the end of the meeting, so it seemed best to ask the delegations to express their ideas on the other elements of the working paper. The invitation stirred up such an intense and lengthy debate that we were forced to proceed solely in English for over an hour after the interpreters had left. Although this was frustrating because of the tendency for discussion to retreat to where they were months before, in my mind the experience had two merits. The first was to offer the delegations the chance to express their tendencies and emotions, which provided a precious basis for adjusting the text. The second merit was that the delegations themselves eventually began to propose adopting a format with fewer participants, that may lead to effective negotiations based on a revised version of the text containing the relevant comments.

When the meeting came to an end, despite a certain disappointment due to the tiresome debate, we three members of the editorial nucleus worked from 7:30pm to midnight making drastic alterations to the text and doing our utmost to incorporate as many new proposals as possible and harmonise them altogether. The resulting document was distributed late Saturday afternoon to give the delegations time to digest it on the Sunday and hold the meetings of the regional groups on Monday the 9th. At this juncture, close to the deadline for the Principal Committee, suggestions began to circulate that the matter should be entrusted to a small group of ministers. We firmly discouraged such suggestions.


Decisive negotiation

Since the G-77 and the other groups had held their co-ordinating meetings on the 9th, a meeting of the regional leaders was called the following day, where we would have to produce in any event a finished chapter with as few pending elements as possible. This meeting, appointed to a smaller room and set for eleven o’clock on Tuesday 10th, was delayed half an hour because of too many delegates, who were eventually persuaded to leave the premises. The work finally commenced with the participation of Japan, the United States, CANZ, the Nordic group, the EEC (Portugal, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France), the Russian Federation, China and the G-77 (Pakistan, which presided the group, plus India, Malaysia, Iran, Benin, Mozambique, Nigeria, Egypt, Jamaica, Mexico and Venezuela).

We skipped the first 14 paragraphs and began our onslaught on the hardest part: the means of implementation. At about 1pm, without much progress, the secretary reminded us that we would have to vacate the room for a meeting of the Caribbean Group. We decided not to give up the room to anyone and to end the meeting only when we had finished our work. An attempt was made to have some food brought in, but to no avail, so we proceeded anyway, each delegation depending on its own resources. The atmosphere of the negotiations was harmonious and constructive, although there were some moments of intense tension and nervousness. Twice we had to suspend the deliberations briefly to remove, with some difficulty, the “gatecrashers” who threatened to demolish the format of the small negotiating group.



As predicted, the part relating to the GlobalEnvironmentFacility (GEF) of the World Bank was the thorniest of all, requiring four to five hours of discussion. Nevertheless, the result was better than  expected and represented a considerable advance compared to the previous stage. A relatively clear and detailed text was produced, with the indication of necessary insertions in order to obtain a renewed mechanism: transparency, universality and equilibrium. It was only at the end of the negotiations that we reached an unavoidable point: the G-77 demanded that explicit mention be made that they did not accept loans with conditionalities, which caused in retaliation the introduction by the United States Delegation of inverted square brackets in several paragraphs, the wording of which had already been negotiated and approved.

Having had no lunch or dinner and only a half-hour break for the participants to grab a snack, exhaustion, drowsiness and hunger finally combined to produce a spirit of compromise. At around two in the morning, the same negotiators who in the beginning would take hours to discuss a single word were taking just a few minutes to approve one page after another. Which nonetheless was to cause us a few problems later on, as we shall explain below.

At about five o’clock in the morning, in a completely deserted Centre of Conventions, we reached what had seemed impossible: to have chapter 33 of Agenda 21 approved, which was greeted by the participants with applause expressing relief and happiness.


Pending matters

Three major themes were pending: the date for compliance with the commitment to contribute 0.7% of the GNP to the official development aid (ODA); the paragraph on transferring in real terms the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, and the section on the GEF. Two other minor matters resulted from the rather confused conditions of the final hours of these exhausting negotiations: the misunderstanding between the delegations of India and the United States when the latter inserted the word including between new and additional resources and on grant and concessional terms in paragraph 10 (the real problem was to know whether all the new and additional resources would be provided on concessional grounds and through official aid programmes, or if part of these resources could come from private investments or flows), and a reference to kinds of debt relief in the context of the Club of Paris, added at the initiative of Mozambique and Benin on behalf of the less developed countries, and rejected, after approval by the Group, by Japan and the United States, who were opposed to decisions to expand the concessions made by the Club of Paris.

The next day the Principal Committee approved the chapter on its general contents and we began to concentrate our efforts on overcoming the matters left pending. The presence of many Ministers in Rio at that time and the obvious impossibility of resolving the problem of committing 0.7% of the GNP at the level of high-ranking officers made it advisable to separate this point from the others and leave it to consultations to be held by the Minister of Co-operation for Development of the Netherlands, Jan Pronk. The Minister has vast experience in this field (he has taken part in negotiations on the issue since the 1970s) and enjoys credibility among the developing countries (also and especially because his own country is one of the few that have already met the 0.7% target).

Meanwhile, after consultations with the delegations directly involved, a solution was gradually being found for each of the other outstanding questions. Separating into two distinct sentences the references to new and additional resources and on grant or concessional terms rendered the controversial addition of the word including unnecessary.

After laborious triangular negotiations between Japan, the LDCs (Mozambique, Benin) and average-income Asiatic debtors (Philippines, Indonesia), a formula was agreed upon to mention the two categories of debtors in the context of the debt-relief measures of the Club of Paris, with different treatment and emphasis in favour of the former.

The problem of conditionality was relatively easily solved with unanimous acceptance of the expression in Resolution 44 / 228: "without introducing new forms of conditionality”. Accordingly, the United States delegation agreed to remove the square brackets in the other paragraphs and the section on the GEF was approved by consensus.


The ida problem

One of the remaining questions became the most exasperating of the whole negotiation: transferring the capital of the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, a discussion on which would begin one month after the UNCED event. This also proved to be one of the deep frustrations of the financial negotiations in terms of results. Right at the start of the Conference, the speech made by Lewis Preston, President of the World Bank, was greeted with enthusiasm by Maurice Strong and the Secretariat and the majority of delegates. Preston proposed in an incisive fashion that the IDA should be recapitalised in real terms, which meant raising the available resources from about US$ 15 billion to approximately US$ 18 billion. In addition to this level, an Earth Increment of US$ 5 billion would be created, to which the Bank would contribute US$ 1.5 billion from its own earnings.

Preston’s speech substantially increased the level of expectations of the developing countries whose position papers had until then mentioned modest transfer targets for the Fund. This also became the minimum standard used by the Secretariat. On seeing that our Secretary, Joseph Wheeler, had incorporated the essence of Preston’s pronouncement to the paragraph corresponding to the IDA, I had the intuition that this would turn into a focus of problems and was reluctant to accept the proposed wording. However, I eventually gave in to the argument that, since this was the concessional branch of the IBRD and was intended for poorer countries, we should at least try to obtain endorsement of what Preston had proposed.

Unfortunately my premonition proved right and we soon had indications that the donors, in particular the United States, who accounted for almost 22% of the Fund, and Japan, in addition to most of the others, were unwilling to take on such a categorical commitment during the UNCED.

At 6pm on Friday, 12 June, we opened a meeting of the smaller group of regional representatives to try to solve the matter. That night, President Collor was offering a dinner in Laranjeiras Palace to celebrate President Bush’s birthday. As one of the guests, I had to leave Riocentro before 8pm with Minister Celso Lafer. At 7pm it was obvious that the question was much more serious and that we were faced with a developing crisis. I hesitated a few minutes, than finally apologised for my absence at the dinner and together with my group companions sought some expression that might convey the substance of Preston’s proposal without using the phrase real terms, which was objected to, among other reasons, because it could set a precedent for other processes of capital transfer. For hours we explored a dozen different formulas, some of them ingenious and seemingly satisfactory.

None of them, however, were satisfactory for both developed and developing nations. At a certain point I adjourned the session and invited for a private conversation in my office Ambassador Curtis Bohlen of the United States Delegation and Ambassador Marker of Pakistan, President of the G-77 in New York, both diplomats of great integrity and competence and whose constructive spirit contributed a great deal to concluding the financial negotiations. This more intimate contact showed that the impasse was indeed serious, since the unacceptability of the expression real terms and other elements of Preston’s proposal had been confirmed on the Latin-American side after consulting the White House, whereas on the other side it was a priority demand for Pakistan, perhaps even more than for the G-77 itself.

This was perhaps the moment in the whole negotiation when I felt most disheartened, perhaps on account of the tiredness and sacrifice that had accumulated over almost two weeks. Marker had gone off to have something to eat and then join some other meetings, so we proceeded informally to seek a solution, which at last was found in a surprising way by means of a formula proposed by the representative of India, who suggested that the paragraph on IDA should simply say that special consideration would be given, in negotiating replenishment, to the speech delivered by the President of IBRD. With the acceptance by the Chinese representative, this formula had then the endorsement of the two countries that are the major recipients of IDA. Approved by Bohlen, the Japanese and Europeans, the formula was then taken late at night to the plenary, where Marker, who had not been available for consultation (unlike his delegation companions) requested some time until the following morning to consult the G-77. On Saturday, with the Pakistanis removing their objection, it was finally possible to obtain consensus on the formula with reference to Preston’s speech.


The question of the 0.7%

Having thus resolved the last pending matter under my direct responsibility, I began to work with the Dutch Minister Jan Pronk towards a solution to the sticky problem fixing a time horizon for complying with the commitment to contribute 0.7% of the GNP to official aid of development.

Right from the start it was evident that the only chance of dealing with a problem that had dragged on for more than twenty years would be through what is known as a menu approach. In other words, this was an endeavour to set a distinction between the particular situations of the various categories of countries (in terms of the historical pledge of the United Nations) and to give each the corresponding treatment.

So, in the case of the United States (and like countries), who claimed they had never made that commitment, the formula encountered consisted of two elements. The first was to avoid speaking in the general sentence of affirming the commitment as an amendment to the reaffirmation of this commitment by those who had already agreed to it. The second element was to include a sentence covering the category of country in which it would be said that "other developed countries" ("in keeping with their support of reform efforts in developing countries," the phrase in the UNCTAD Declaration of Cartagena, added by the United States Delegation) "agree to make their best efforts to increase their level of ODA.”

The former socialist countries and oil exporters were considered in the following sentence: "Other countries, including those undergoing the process of transition to market economy, may voluntarily increase the contributions of the developed countries." As we shall see in the part relating to the negotiating positions of groups, this formula was also a controversial item that until the very end threatened to obstruct a consensus.

The most crucial problems, however, involved the situation of the countries that accepted the pledge but failed to meet the target. The few countries that complied with the commitment were highlighted as deserving praise and "encouraged to continue to contribute to the common effort to provide the substantial additional resources that must be mobilised."

In the first versions we proposed for chapter 33, we offered three options: a) the year 2000; b) as soon as possible; c) the year 2000 or as soon as possible after that date. After negotiations that lasted until the night before UNCED came to an end, the general rule was adopted that "the developed countries reaffirm their commitments to reach the target accepted by the United Nations - 0.7% of the GNP in relation to the ODA -, and to the extent that they have not yet reached that objective, agree to increase their aid programmes in order to achieve the target as soon as possible and to guarantee prompt and effective implementation of Agenda 21". It was then indicated that "some countries accept or have already accepted to reach the target in the year 2000”. The new item, however, was the inclusion of the decision that "the Committee on Sustainable Development will inspect and regularly follow up on the progress made towards that target... This review process (the paragraph continues) should systematically combine monitoring the implementation of Agenda 21 with a review of the available financial resources."

In connection with article 21 of the chapter, which had already stated the need for reviewing and monitoring the funds involved in implementing the Agenda, for the first time the paragraph on the ODA set up a United Nations mechanism (the Committee on Sustainable Development) empowered to follow up on and inspect the flows of official aid for development. As is known, until now the data on these flows were only provided to the donors to the DAG Committee of the OECD.

In their final version, the approved formulas developed from proposals of a small editorial group co-ordinated by Minister Klaus Topfer of Germany. We still had to wait a few hours for the laborious internal process of consultations among the members of the OECD to reach a conclusion. The comments heard on the occasion revealed that one of the problems had arisen from the difficulty of giving due credit to the countries that had already in the past agreed to comply with the commitment by the year 2000 (the Netherlands, Denmark), at while establishing a distinction with regard to those who had only accepted the commitment at that moment (France). Finally, at nearly 11pm the gavel came down and the entire financial chapter (33) of the Agenda was approved, but not before Saudi Arabia and Kuwait manifested their reservation as to the paragraphs referring to the expectations concerning their possible contribution as donors, part of their general strategy to try to reopen the general consensus on the Agenda that had been so painstakingly accomplished.


Confronting positions

The finance group did not see a repetition of the polarisation between the United States and the others that characterised the issues of biodiversity or the limits for gas emissions in the Convention on the Climate. As was to be expected, given the nature of the financial discussion and the central role played by the old topic of the 0.7% commitment, the participants were generally divided according to the traditional line that demarcates North and South. At the same time this opposition revealed important exceptions and significant nuances. For example, the Nordic group, who had already complied with the pledge (or were close to doing so) were often a more insistent and, I might even say, intransigent pressure group than the G-77 in their demand that the other industrialised nations reach the set target. They also lent special and understandable emphasis to the need for a more equitable distribution of the burden among the rich countries.

As for the former socialists, led by the Russian Federation, their objective was greater and almost unique: to establish their category of countries in transition towards a market economy and prevent their being automatically submitted to standards of expectations of contributions to the ODA similar to those made by the industrialised countries. They met resistance on the part of the G-77 and China, who only at the very end gave in to the commitment. The oil-exporting countries, already worried about the premise of Agenda 21 on behalf of greater energy saving, sought constantly to weaken the idea even further that they should voluntarily offer their own resources to increase the contribution of the developed countries.

For the G-77 as a whole the main point was to consolidate the conceptual advance that the Agenda could only be implemented if there were substantial new additional resources. This explains the struggle for a "green fund," for the pledge to meet the target 0.7% on a certain date, the demand for transferring the IDA in real terms, and the Earth Increment.

Among the developed countries, those most reluctant to accept the date proposed for the ODA were countries that faced difficulties with serious budget deficits or needed to increase their aid programmes significantly in the short or medium run in order to accompany a growing GNP (Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan). The EEC was facing a problem all of its own. Its difficulties to settle joint positions internally marked many important moments of negotiation. In one such moment, when all the participants had been called to express their reaction to a certain point, the Community representative (Portugal), after confessing that the EEC had nothing defined on the matter, suggested that we should first negotiate among ourselves a formula to be later proposed to the Community for their appreciation. I could not refrain from commenting that to accept such an approach would be to grant the EEC the privilege of being the sole participant in the negotiations to be under no obligation, in other words to be at the same time both participant and judge. The Community, so concerned about being represented in all international organisations and forums as a union that claimed to have a single voice, eventually behaved at the UNCED in the same way as a mere geographical group of Latin-American or Asiatic countries, that evidently have no pretensions to common attitudes. If the EEC were unable to present common positions, I commented, it would be better for it to be represented by the twelve members.

I heard later from another Community delegate that the EEC had made a mistake in attempting to operate as a sole entity on an issue on which the Committee of Brussels had no mandate (unlike the trade area, for example, reserved to the Committee by the Treaty of Rome). In addition, with such wide dispersion in the real situations of the community countries with regard to meeting the target of 0.7% of the ODA (from 0.7% to 15%), any attempt to unify positions was bound to fail. Deep down, the Community wanted to emulate the Holy Trinity and be twelve different personalities in one single, impossible unit.


Final balance

In all the lists of UNCED failures, the weakness of financial commitments looms prominent alongside the rejection of obligatory targets for the reduction of gas emissions, the American refusal to sign the convention on biodiversity or the dilution of the declaration of principles on forests. Maurice Strong, for example, regretted the absence of automatic modalities to generate funds by means of innovative formulas such as tradablepermits, and lamented that although there had been agreement on finance, these agreements had not been accompanied by sufficient commitments.

After describing the Conference as “a game of lost opportunities," the Financial Times believed it had put its finger on the essence of what happened: the industrialised world and the developing world once again failed to find a basis for co-operation. In an article by Edward Mortimer on 12 June, the newspaper detected at the UNCED summit meeting a "smell of the 70s," because of the reappearance of the Group of 77 as the efficacious articulator in what had become a typical and undisguisable North-South balance. Mortimer’s summary of the question was: “Can the recent interest of the North in the global environment, and especially in preserving natural resources such as the tropical forests located in the South, provide an alternative basis (in comparison with the petrol of the OPEC of the 1970s) for a bargain?” He goes on to say: "The governments of the North accepted that the South could not take the ecological demands seriously unless their own agenda for economic development was respected. The tropical countries felt that finally they had something that the North wanted and for which it was willing to pay." The journalist concluded, in my mind somewhat rashly: "Nevertheless, it is now clear that no real bargain was made."

The key word here is real. If this is meant to say that concrete and tangible offers of substantial amounts of funds were missing, then it is difficult to disagree. However, if the intention is to deny that the Conference created the benchmark for a new type of international co-operation, then it is easy to show the opposite. To reach a balanced judgement, I believe that the results of the UNCED should be evaluated based on four main aspects: the negotiating process, committed resources, financial system, and conditioning of environmental programmes to the availability of resources.


The negotiating process

From this point of view the meeting represented a significant advance in international practice. When it refers to the "smell of the 1970s," the Financial Times intuited a past fact that had gone unnoticed: in a somewhat indirect manner the UNCED achieved the ambition of the "global negotiations" that were rejected in Cancun in the early 1980s, this being the gesture that symbolically ended the dialogue between North and South in the 1970s.

As will be recalled, the expression contained two elements: the need to negotiate globally all the interconnected aspects of the world economic order (currency, finances, trade, aid) and the demand that the locus of the negotiations be the General Assembly of the United Nations, in a democratic and equalitarian decision-making process (rather than in the institutions of Bretton Woods, in accordance with the pondered vote that characterises these organisations).

It was the ideal of global negotiations that finally prevailed in Rio de Janeiro, of course without the scope of all the themes on the agenda of the 1970s, but nonetheless covering a very vast territory (a glance at the table of contents of Agenda 21 is enough to prove the point).

So it should come as no surprise that the negotiating difficulties were enormous where the difference of concrete interests was intensified by ideological divergences about the way to approach constructing the economic order. In spite of the weaker bargaining power of the developing countries, the United Nations process afforded them real participation in a negotiating game where the industrialised nations had to make appreciable concessions. In this sense the "consensus of Rio” was far from the so-called exclusivist vision of the "consensus of Washington," which saw only one path to development.

As a matter of fact it was interesting how in this first test at building a new order the more affirmative attitude of Europe and Japan, on the one hand, and the reticence that weakened the United States’ power of leadership, on the other, opened the space for more pluralism and diversification among the developed nations.


Committed resources

At first sight the firm promises fell far short of the expected five to ten billion dollars a year (perhaps half of this), not to mention the 125 billion estimated by the UNCED Secretariat as necessary. On this point, however, it would be premature to close the accounts. Not only because the results of the transfers of the IDA or the expansion of the GED, or even the creation of "environmental windows” in regional banks, are not yet available. Especially missing are indications as to how donors intend to deal with one of the most relevant provisions included in the financial chapter, paragraph 21, which states that "the developed countries and others capable of so proceeding should assume initial financial commitments in order to render the decisions of the Conference effective. They should announce such plans and commitments to the General Assembly of the United Nations at its 47th Session to be held in the autumn of 1992."

At this juncture, it is also not possible to quantify the increase in resources that is bound to result from the pledge regarding official aid for development (ODA). Although the deadline of 2000 to reach the target of 0.7% of the GNP was not held as mandatory, it continues as a benchmark that will certainly be invoked now that for the first time there is a monitoring mechanism that is not solely controlled by the donors (as is the DAG committee of the OECD).


The financial system

Many were disappointed that it was not possible to set up the so-called "green fund” (although there is nothing in the chapter to prevent this from happening in the future). Instead of a single fund, the Conference assembled a veritable financial system, a set of inter-related elements with the common objective of defraying the environmental programmes.

The structure of this system, as described in paragraph 16, shows clearly that the extreme complexity of environmental challenges of different nature and scope (global, regional, national, provincial, local) called for a flexible system comprised of diversified financing mechanisms (IDA, regional banks, the GEF and other multilateral funds, specialised United Nations agencies, institutions for technical co-operation, the bilateral programmes responsible for almost two thirds of the aid, debt relief, private funds, investments, innovative financing such as tradablepermits, and so on).


The finance-environment linkage

The bargain that the Financial Times journalist claimed had lain beyond the reach of the negotiators in Rio is in fact expressed in two passages of Agenda 21. The first, in general terms, in paragraph 23, which says that "review and monitoring of the financing of Agenda 21 are essential" and then continues: "It will be important to review the adequacy of funds and mechanisms on a regular basis, including efforts to meet objectives agreed upon in this chapter, including targets when applicable." More specifically, paragraph 15, right after reaffirming the target of 0.7% of the GNP in respect to the ODA, states: "It was decided that the Committee for Sustainable Development should on a regular basis review and carry out monitoring of the progress towards accomplishing this target. This revision process should systematically combine monitoring of the implementation of Agenda 21 with reviewing the available financial resources."

The Committee for Sustainable Development, to be set up at the next General Assembly based on the model of the Committee on Human Rights, will differ from the latter in having a mandate where compliance with commitments of the Agenda will be systematically checked step by step together with the measures taken by donors to honour their financial obligations.

As can be seen, the link between the implementation of the Agenda, on the one hand, and the provision of financial resources on the other - both inseparable sides of the same coin - could not be clearer or more equitable.

With all its defects and without denying that, like all that is human, the UNCED only partly kept its promise, to me it does not seem exaggerated to defend that, by connecting the environment to financing, the financial negotiations lent a contractual finishing to the programme outlined in the title of the Earth Summit: the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.


GEF - Global Environmental Facility: the financing fund within the World Bank for projects of global interest

UNCED - United Nations Conference on Environment and Development - the official name of Rio-92

OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in Paris and made up of the 30 most developed countries

G - 77 – The Group of 77, today numbering over 130 members, is the group that articulates the positions of the developing countries in the economic negotiations on development in the United Nations and other organisations

CANZ – The group formed by Canada, Australia and New Zealand in the Conference of Rio

EEC – The European Economic Commission

ODA - Official Development Aid

IDA – International Development Association, the World Bank department for concessional loans to poor countries

LDC - Least Developed Countries: the 49 poorest countries, 33 of which are in Africa

OPEC – Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, based in Vienna (Translated by JM)

Ambassador Rubens Ricupero

Human interference pollutes. The treatment of solid waste is one of the most
important environmental topics.

ECO 92 - Rio de Janeiro