The afternoon’s discussions focused on paragraphs 44 – 65 of the zero draft, with the majority of the comments coming from Uruguay, on behalf of the Group of 77 + China, followed by the US, Serbia and Switzerland. The bulk of the comments were requests to delete proposed additions to the text because similar points are made elsewhere and it was argued that the text should be as lean as possible.
One noteworthy moment came when Switzerland proposed a paragraph referring to the impact of demographic factors on sustainable development policies. The G77 + China replied that this proposal suggested that demographics were to blame for a lack of sustainable development, while in fact it is global inequalities which determine both (the lack of) sustainable development, and result in, amongst other things, demographic pressures. Switzerland acknowledged the inadequacy of their language and committed to re-wording the paragraph in light of the concerns raised.
What was striking watching the discussions was how much time was spent disagreeing on the format and procedural aspects of the text rather than the actual content. If progress is so slow when all the countries are in broad agreement, it’s amazing that contentious issues are ever resolved!