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Editor’s Note No. 130
Friday, 5 June 2009
Lynn Wagner, PhD
Editor,
Linkages Update

and MEA Bulletin
In the global marketplace of sustainable development ideas, how does an international consensus to take action on a particular issue take shape and inspire other actors to direct their attention and resources towards that policy option?

This issue of Linkages Update reports on a number of approaches that have been used in the last month with the objective of initiating such a conversation. The Major Economies Forum preparatory meeting in Paris offered an informal venue for the 17 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, accounting for 80% of global emissions, to discuss options for a climate change agreement. Other meetings in the past month presented open venues to promote options for the climate change agreement, including the High-level Conference on Fighting Climate Change with Carbon Capture and Storage, the World Business Summit on Climate Change and the World Oceans Conference. The release of publications and resources have been timed with the goal of influencing the current climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, with the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Agriculture And Climate Change: An Agenda For Negotiation In Copenhagen and the UN Environment Programme’s Climate in Peril: A Popular Guide to the Latest IPCC Reports as examples. Numerous side events taking place during the Bonn climate change talks are seeking to further promote and develop the organizers’ ideas with the goal, as the “Director’s Cut” article in this issue highlights, of feeding these new ideas into the main negotiations.

Once an issue is incorporated into the agenda of an existing UN process, many challenges remain. As our current reports from the climate change talks in Bonn indicate, some of the same issues are on the agendas of multiple subsidiary bodies, introducing complexity for delegates’ efforts to design a coherent approach to the issue. The recently-concluded session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) offered the international community the opportunity to take stock of their collective approach on issues related to agriculture, land, rural development, drought, desertification and Africa, but the CSD’s lack of implementation authority means that follow-up will rely on how long and far the session’s debates and decisions resonate beyond the UN Headquarters’ walls.

Communication is a key component in all of these endeavors, from bringing the international community together to discuss issues and develop proposals at meetings, to publicizing ideas and networking with like-minded actors on the sidelines of conferences, to coordinating delegation positions within multiple meeting rooms. Our Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily reports from negotiations, ENBOTS side event summaries, Linkages Update and MEA Bulletin newsletters of current developments affecting multilateral environmental agreements, and Climate-L.org knowledge management project on international organizations’ climate-related activities comprise key components of this communication equation. They can assist with real-time tracking of current events, and also provide an historical record for stocktaking of how and when new issues emerged and took root in the global marketplace of sustainable development ideas.
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