Our challenge is to move sustainable development from the margins to the core of our activities. I first heard this charge from Nitan Desai, then UN Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Development, at an early session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. I was reminded of it while reading the stories for this Linkages Update
The last fortnight has have been a busy period for many of the multilateral environmental agreements and international organizations that we follow. The first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWGLCA 1) developed a work programme for 2008 and the fifth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol convened. The Adaptation Fund held its inaugural session. A framework was agreed for the Global Mercury Partnership. The World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the International Water Management Institute launched an “Initiative for Agricultural Water in Africa” during the First African Water Week.
As significant as these activities may be, stories that involve less traditional actors and approaches to these issues are even more intriguing. The working group on collaboration and coordination between the chemical conventions has proposed convening a joint Ex-COP for the conventions, to be held in conjunction with the next special session of the UNEP Global Ministerial Environment Forum in February 2010. The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee finalized and approved proposed amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships. Perhaps even more noteworthy in this regard, the International Organization for Standardization has launched a project to develop an international standard for energy management; World Health Day 2008 focused on “Protecting Health from Climate Change;” and the Human Rights Council established an independent expert on the right to safe water and adopted a resolution on climate change. Moreover, we have just added to our list of upcoming meetings “Phase-Out 2008: Working Towards Global Phase-Out of Inefficient Lighting,” a conference initiated by the Australian Government and co-hosted by the Global Environment Facility, the International Energy Agency and the China Association of Lighting Industries.
Many of these actions and actors may not have been imagined in the years immediately following the Rio Earth Summit. How far they stray from the margins and move sustainable development toward the core of our activities remains a question, the answer for which we turn in part to scientific assessments. Two bodies engaged in such activities are meeting this week. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has discussed its future work programme, and the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a multi-year study directed by Robert Watson, is scheduled to release its findings on 15 April 2008. These developments will be the subjects of reports in our next issue of Linkages Update
, so stay tuned.