As we move from January’s meeting lull into a very busy 2009 sustainable development meeting schedule, our teams are preparing to follow the year’s early policy debates from Nairobi to New York.
Our first Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports for 2009 will be published from the UN Environment Programme’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (UNEP GC/GMEF), which will convene in Nairobi, Kenya, from 16-20 February. This high-level forum was constituted to provide a venue for the international community to address major and emerging environmental policy issues, and therefore provides an appropriate starting point for the sustainable development policy community. The global food, energy and financial crises all took firm hold of the international policy agenda after last year’s GC/GMEF gathering, so participants will take up these issues for the first time in this forum, and their resumed discussions on other issues, such as international environmental governance, will take into account the new parameters these crises bring for the first time. Among other agenda items, the GC/GMEF will consider an international approach to mercury, based on input from the intersessional Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group to Review and Assess Measures to Address the Global Issue of Mercury, and the Government of Denmark, which will host the December Climate Change Conference, will organize the ministerial meeting on 18 February. The outcomes of both of these discussions could set the stage for further policy developments in 2009.
The second meeting on our Earth Negotiations Bulletin roster will be the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) for the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD17), which will convene in New York, US, from 23-27 February. Last May, CSD16 “reviewed” the thematic issues on the CSD17 agenda: agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. At that time, delegates recognized that the emerging food and energy crises were likely to change the international debate before they returned to CSD17 to take up policy options to address their related thematic issues. However, the financial crisis, which emerged in late 2008, has further altered the issues and policy options that will be placed on the table. IPM delegates will engage in an initial discussion of the proposals to be considered at the May CSD17 meeting, so that they can conduct consultations with their governments and better prepare for it.
Through our other reporting initiatives, this month we are also following the outcomes of the 12th African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government, the High-Level Meeting on African Agriculture in the 21st Century, and the Pew Whales Commission. In addition, CLIMATE-L.ORG
tracks news and information on the actions of the UN system and international organizations in responding to the climate change challenge, the MEA Bulletin
offers updates on developments within MEA Secretariats, and Linkages Update
pulls all of the news together into a fortnightly summary of recent developments. We are looking forward to another eventful year of listening to the debates, monitoring the policy developments, and keeping our readers informed about what is happening, in real time.