One month into 2008, the year’s sustainable development agenda continues to take shape and hold promise for many interesting discussions and linkage opportunities, on issues ranging from climate change to the Millennium Development Goals and agriculture.
Climate change will no doubt again dominate the international agenda. Talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change umbrella will keep negotiators busy throughout the year, with the dates for the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, a new body established at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, having just been announced (31 March-4 April 2008).
Many other UN entities have placed climate change high on their agendas, as well. The UN General Assembly will debate “Addressing Climate Change: The UN and the World at Work” on 11-12 February 2008. At its January 2008 meeting, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) discussed its new vision for its Global Observing System to monitor climate change and weather, while the first meeting of the International Organizing Committee for the WMO’s World Climate Conference-3 (WWC-3, 12-16 October 2009) suggested that the 2009 conference should urge the international scientific community, including governments, to do more to improve seasonal climate predictions to enable adaptation to climate variability and change. In January 2008, delegates to the 122nd session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board meeting adopted a resolution on climate change and health, to be forwarded to the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008 for adoption. The draft resolution details a comprehensive Organization-wide response to climate change and outlines a role for WHO in the implementation of the UNFCCC Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change. Another aspect of climate change will be addressed at the tenth special session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum, to meet in Monaco from 20-22 February 2008, where the ministerial consultations will focus on “Globalization and the Environment – mobilizing finance to meet the climate challenge.” The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will consider, during its March-April 2008 session, the report of MEPC’s Intersessional Correspondence Group on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Related Issues, which was created in July 2007 to compile possible approaches on technical, operational and market-based measures to address GHG emissions from ships. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has set the dates for numerous expert meetings and consultations leading up to its 3-5 June 2008 High-Level Conference on World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.
Initiatives outside the UN are also expected to feed into the climate change decision making process. From 14-16 March 2008, for example, Japan is hosting the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development. The US has just hosted the second Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, and the third such meeting may take place in April. From 4-6 March 2008, the US will host the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference in Washington, DC. The Fourth Global Conference on Oceans (Hanoi, Vietnam, April 2008) will be organized around the theme “Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change.” The G8 Summit to convene in Hokkaido, Japan, from 7-9 July 2008, is also expected to shape the international climate change dialogue.
With 2008 being the mid-point for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a number of events have been scheduled to take stock and generate renewed commitment to achieving them in 2015. The UN Secretary-General will host a series of events under the MDG Africa Initiative to galvanize financial support and coordinated action between the UN system and the multilateral banks. The UK’s MDG Call to Action will organize a conference involving the private sector in May 2008, and the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will also take place in May. The issue is expected to be brought up at the G8 Hokkaido Summit in July, and an MDG Summit has been scheduled at the UN on 25 September 2008.
Agriculture is another issue that will appear on a number of agendas throughout the year, from the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in February, to the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Developmentin April, to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in May.
Our Linkages calendar of upcoming meetings (http://www.iisd.ca/upcoming/
) lists these and more events. We encourage you to survey our lists as you develop your own linkages.