While news about the change in leadership and anticipated policy shifts in the United States have overshadowed most other media reports this week, the information we have gathered for this issue of Linkages Update
suggests that this new year also holds the promise of new possibilities and directions for international sustainable development policy.
While the sustainable development policy focus for 2009 is expected to be climate change, with international policy makers maintaining their focus on that issue and the Bali Road Map that was adopted in 2007, new and ongoing efforts will feed into the full slate of climate change negotiations scheduled to take place this year. For example, transport ministers, at a recent meeting in Japan, looked forward to the results, by the end of 2009, of efforts within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to come up with mechanisms and technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their respective fields.
More immediately, next week’s founding conference of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will bring together representatives from approximately 80 States, in an effort to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. The food security and financial crises, the responses to which have been linked to efforts to address the climate change challenge, are being addressed this month in a High-Level meeting on Food Security for All and the UN General Assembly’sCommission of Experts on the Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum will consider “Shaping the Post-Crisis World,” in what has been billed as one of the most important events in the Forum’s 40-year history. Right after this meeting, the annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which is headed by Rajendra Pachauri, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will consider the theme “Towards Copenhagen: an equitable and ethical approach.”
The coming months will also bring new leadership to key UN agencies and committees, along with new perspectives and talents. The current terms for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President will end in the first quarter of 2009, and neither incumbent is expected to seek another term. The UNDP Administrator has also served as the Chair of the UN Development Group, which will therefore also receive new direction. The outgoing IFAD President recently served as the Chair of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination’s High-Level Committee on Programmes, a position that transitioned this month to Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization. In a similar transition, Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, became the Chair of the High-Level Committee on Management, replacing Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund. Two recent appointees from outside the UN system, to serve as Directors of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) and the Division for Sustainable Development (the Secretariat for the Commission on Sustainable Development, CSD), will have their first opportunities to work with UN member States during the April and May 2009 meetings of the UNFF and CSD, respectively, with observers watching to see the new path along which they may be able to lead those bodies.
We look forward to highlighting the key outcomes and policy directions these events and changes will bring, as we collectively countdown to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference at the conclusion of what promises to be a busy year.