As the unofficially-declared year of climate change in 2009 makes way for the officially designated 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, the international sustainable development agenda looks busier than ever.
While the international sustainable development community continues to assess the implications of last month’s UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and hopes to have more clarity on its impact following the 31 January deadline by which parties were encouraged to list their emission reduction targets in the Copenhagen Accord, upcoming events will also inform these judgments. Among the February meetings to watch for the direction that international climate action may take post-Copenhagen will be the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, and the 11th special session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (UNEP GC/GMEF), which will be the first UN environmental negotiation after the Copenhagen climate talks.
Chemicals and wastes issues will take center stage during several UN processes this year. First, the simultaneous Extraordinary Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions will consider questions related to streamlining administration and management, and the UNEP GE/GMEF will consider financing for chemicals and wastes. In May, the Commission on Sustainable Development will review chemicals issues within the broader sustainable development context. And negotiations on a new convention on mercury will commence in earnest in 2010. While significant in their own right, these events will also influence the agenda for the particularly active 2011-2012 period for international chemicals policy making, with sessions for each of the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions’ Conferences of the Parties and the CSD policy year scheduled to convene and adopt internationally-endorsed decisions.
Sustainable development will be on the agenda at the highest levels of the UN as well. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently declared that promoting sustainable development will be his top priority in 2010, including efforts to advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In this connection, the Secretary-General is convening a special MDG Summit in conjunction with the UN General Assembly’s annual General Debate in September, and has already invited State and government leaders to attend. The CSD deliberations and MDG Summit discussions will also feed into the High-level five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States, which will convene in September 2010.
And all of this will take place alongside a very busy year for biodiversity policy makers, during which the target to reduce significantly biodiversity loss by 2010 will be assessed for lessons and next steps, and parties will gather numerous times leading up to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in October.
While we catch our breath from the whirlwind of climate change events that capped a very busy 2009, we look forward to the range of sustainable development issues that will feature in high-level discussions during 2010, and the potential for enhancing linkages among issues and thereby moving the sustainable development agenda forward.