Russia attaches great importance to the progress in the implementation of Agenda 21. Environmental protection activities are a priority in the work of the Government of Russia. Efforts are being undertaken to improve its legislative framework, the national strategy of sustainable development is at the last stage of formulation and co-ordination. During the last year, the structure of the Russian Government was substantially restructured, the new Ministry of Natural Resources was established with the purpose of ensuring a more comprehensive approach to the issues of sustainable development and the use of natural resources, as well as an improved effectiveness of environmental activities under the conditions of the formation of a market economy in Russia.
Our country participates actively and constructively in important international environmental processes. Russia is a party to most major multilateral environmental agreements to the implementation of which we attach the greatest importance. And at present, we are working on the accession to new instruments in this field.
During the past year, considerable progress was achieved in the international dialogue on various aspects of sustainable development, including within the framework of the conventions launched at or as a result of the Rio Conference. We attach a special importance to the agreement on the establishment of the UN Forum on Forests which should really contribute to the achievement of sustainable forest management at the global scale, and we hope that it will start its work soon.
Russia also attaches great importance to the enhancement of the effectiveness of the work and strengthening of UNEP as the main body of the UN system in the field of environment. We support the implementation of GA resolution 53/242 which determines concrete measures for the improvement of the effectiveness of UN environmental activities. In this connection, we consider it important to ensure a speedy realisation in practice of the decision to establish the Environment Management Group.
A most important issue which will require the attention of this Committee is the preparation for the decennial review of the implementation of UNCED ("Rio+ 10"). In our view, this event should be a summit on sustainable development to be held in a developing country. We see its main future outcome as the elaboration of agreed approaches of the international community to the further steps for the implementation of Agenda 21 on the basis of an objective assessment of past efforts, of course, taking into account new phenomena and challenges. At the same time, we would like to emphasise that, in our view, it would be counterproductive to use this forum for reopening the fundamental agreements reached in Rio.
What is absolutely indispensable for the success of "Rio+ 10", is high-quality organisational and substantive preparations. National and regional reviews are crucial elements of this process, they should result in the evaluation and analysis of the experience of different countries in the implementation of Agenda 21 and the identification of the main areas of further efforts of the international community in this sphere. In this context, we see the main objective of the current session of the General Assembly in producing clear guidelines on the organisational aspects of the preparations for "Rio+ 1 0".
A major contribution to the preparatory process was made by the relevant decision of the 8th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development which established its main parameters. We hope that the General Assembly will reconfirm the recommendation of the CSD on the transformation of its lOth session into a preparatory Committee which will be responsible for the preparations of "Rio+ 1 0" .In this context, we also like to refer to the importance of the first Global Ministerial Environmental Forum and the Malmo Declaration adopted by it.
We appreciate the timeliness of the start of the Secretariat's work on the elaboration of methodological recommendations to countries on the organisation of national reviews. We think that it is important that the relevant organisations of the UN system and UN regional commissions have been involved in the preparatory process.
The Russian Delegation views the enhancement of the complementarities among international instruments related to environment and sustainable development as an important means to achieve sustainable development and to strengthen the effectiveness of international environmental co-operation contributing also to the successful implementation by the countries of their commitments under multilateral environmental agreements.
In general, we are satisfied with the work deployed by the environmental conventions, UNEP, as well as other relevant organisations of the UN system to implement resolution 54/217 which is illustrated by the information contained in the report N551357. In our view, this takes the fruitful co-operation among environmental conventions to another level thus contributing to a real improvement of the effectiveness of their activities.
We believe that the work in this area should be continued. At the same time, it is important to keep the focus on the main objectives identified in resolution 54/217 without trying to artificially accelerate this process and without trying to overburden it with new goals and ideas. It is necessary to ensure a close link of this process with the preparations for "Rio+ 1 0" which will put it in a broader context.
Together with interested delegations, the Russian Delegation intends to submit to the consideration of the Second Committee a draft resolution on this issue and we will be ready to discuss it in a constructive spirit. In this effort, we hope for the support of all delegations.
The Russian Delegation would also like to reconfirm its support to the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan on the proclamation of 2003 as the International Year of F reshwater .We believe that a resolution on this issue would be a timely and useful step that would promote international co-operation in this most important area. Russia, as you know, has co-sponsored the relevant draft resolution ad we invite all the partners to support this document.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, we would like to state that the documentation provided by the Secretariat on the above agenda items is, in general, of a very high quality .But not all of them have been released on time which makes their effective use difficult.