Saturday, March 7, 2009

[PBN] Sustainable Development Preparatory Meeting prepares draft policy options on Africa, agriculture, drought, land, rural development, desertification

From: Relief Web - 27/02/2009
"Chair's Negotiating Text Offers Framework for Discussion, Decisions At Sustainable Development Commission's Headquarters Session, 4-15 May"
Concluding a week-long discussion on the need for a sustainable, home-grown green revolution worldwide, an Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting at United Nations Headquarters today took note of a draft set of policy options Governments could use to expedite programme implementation on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.
The measures will be forwarded to the upcoming seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, scheduled for 4 to 15 May, and serve as a framework for discussions on concrete policy decisions to implement the commitments set forth in Agenda 21 (adopted at the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development) and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development).
Presented as a "Chair's negotiating text", the Meeting's outcome document called on Governments and the United Nations, in partnership with major groups and other stakeholders, to take action to, among other pressing concerns, enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability, invest in essential infrastructure and services for rural communities, manage water and land resources in an integrated manner, strengthen communities' resilience to drought, combat desertification and land degradation, and integrate African farmers into the global farming supply chain.
Six years ago, the Commission, the key United Nations forum to consider ways to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development - - economic growth, social development and environmental protection - - approved a multi-year programme of work, featuring different thematic clusters for each cycle. The 2006-2007 cycle addressed energy for development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change. The 2010-2011 cycle will focus on transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns.
By the Chair's text, the Meeting underscored the need for bold, determined and innovative responses to the current financial, energy, food and climate crises, and recognized that a sustainable green revolution with farmers and rural communities at the centre was called for. Such a revolution should combine traditional knowledge and practices specific to different agro-ecosystems and the best available science and technology.
The text includes 46 policy options in its six main sections, in line with the priority themes, and a section on cross-cutting issues. It also called for a follow-up process to review the implementation of decisions to be made at the Commission's seventeenth session. The text was attached to the draft report (document E/CN.17/IPM/2009/L.1), which the Meeting adopted by consensus.
Prior to the text's adoption, Gerda Verburg, Committee Chairperson, opened the floor to factual comments. Making short statements were representatives of the Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Canada, Russian Federation, Norway, Mexico, United States, Switzerland, Japan, Barbados (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)), Botswana, Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Tonga (on behalf of small island developing States), Nigeria, Australia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Argentina, Brazil, Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and Oman (on behalf of the Arab Group).
Making short statements on behalf of the major groups were the representatives of women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, trade unions, business and industry, and the scientific and technological communities.
Earlier in the day, the Meeting held a panel discussion on policy options to address barriers and constraints in relation to interlinkages among agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa, as well as cross-cutting issues, including means of implementation. One of the panellists, Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, said some of the fundamental themes in sustainable development, such as water and food, could be understood as basic human needs and rights, not as instruments for mere profit. The issue of "food sovereignty" was not just about food security; it was also about ending poverty worldwide. Justice was a cross-cutting issue in almost every sector and the distribution of natural resources, or the so-called "ecological footprint", should be equitable. In that regard, the global South was owed a debt by the global North, and if the books were to be balanced, credit would be due.
Also addressing the panel, Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University, said today's climate change debate, which was based on the developed world's effort to curb its carbon output, was appropriate for the developed world. But, the focus in Africa should be on adapting to a deteriorating climate, which varied across the continent by region. Within agriculture, that meant that crops had to be quickly adapted, and he criticized Africa for banning genetic modification based on Europe's decision to do so. Europe's action should be understood as a protectionist step that was not transferable to Africa's situation. Likewise, in northern climates, grain should go towards food, and the United States should, therefore, be convinced to drop its agricultural subsidies for biofuel growth. In contrast, biofuel production in the global South made sense, as long as the United States was convinced to also drop its ban on the imports of those fuels.
Taking a different tack, Erick Fernandes, Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Development at the World Bank, stressed the merits of smallholder agriculture, and harnessing traditional and cultural knowledge, as an essential part of global economic growth and sustainability. The push towards large-scale agricultural production in many agriculturally abundant countries should not trample on local communities and should only be applied in areas where market-based systems worked. Sustainable agricultural strategies must be prepared, as part of national action plans. Infrastructure investment was also important, so that rural and urban communities could benefit from improved policies and research.
Also participating in the panel discussion were the representatives of the Sudan (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Grenada (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Tonga (on behalf of Pacific small island developing States), Nigeria, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Mexico, United States, Chile, France, Norway, Guatemala, India, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Barbados, Austria, Bolivia, Tuvalu, Senegal and Brazil.
Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts:

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