The stories included in this issue of Linkages Update offer a case study of the many levels and layers of governance involved with international sustainable development policy.
The World Cities Summit 2010 focused on “Liveable and Sustainable Cities for the Future” and considered challenges that local-level authorities must consider in relation to urban planning, infrastructure financing, public housing, waste management, urban biodiversity and climate change. At a higher level, the third Inter-Parliamentary Union World Conference of Speakers of Parliament brought together legislators responsible for crafting national laws and ratifying international agreements to consider democracy, the role of legislative institutions and their relationship with the United Nations.
A number of government initiatives convened in the past fortnight, providing ministers and their representatives with an opportunity, outside the limelight of intergovernmental negotiating fora, to discuss the possibilities for cooperative action. These included the Clean Energy Ministerial, the seventh Meeting at the Leaders’ representative level of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and the second meeting of the Cartagena Group/Dialogue for Progressive Action. Agreements to undertake bilateral and multilateral initiatives related to the issues under discussion were taken at some of these talks, although the primary focus was to build a better understanding among participants in relation to international negotiations on the climate change regime, in preparation for the Bonn Climate Change Talks scheduled to take place early August and the Cancun Climate Change Conference at the end of this year.
Biodiversity negotiators have also been busy, taking part in the resumed ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which met from 10-16 July 2010, in Montreal, Canada. They approved a substantive outcome in the form of a draft ABS protocol, but also agreed to add additional negotiating days as they seek to come to consensus prior to the tenth session of the CBD Conference of the Parties, which will convene in October 2010.
While States develop international treaties, protocols and related decisions at regular meetings such as those just discussed, they entrust oversight responsibilities for the implementation of the decisions to elected bureaus and governing bodies, such as the UN Forum on Forests Bureau and the Global Environment Facility Council reported on in this issue of Linkages Update. And the convention secretariats are entrusted with responsibilities to implement the parties’ decisions. Stories about workshops convened by the Basel Convention on Ship Recycling and UNEP Chemicals on infrastructures and cost recovery measures for chemicals management illustrate one mechanism through which secretariats seek to implement their mandates.
A few meetings during the past fortnight also sought to contribute new ideas and impetus to the current international sustainable development structure and modus operandi. The UN Energy and Climate Change Advisory Group discussed public-private partnerships, among other topics, in its effort to develop suggestions related to the role that energy efficiency and clean production can play in mitigating climate change. And the Consultative Group of Ministers or High-Level Representatives on International Environmental Governance (IEG) discussed gaps in the current environmental governance system and potential solutions. The push and pull on international policy from each of these levels of action shapes the course of action for the global community, and we seek to report on these actors and influences in Linkages Update to help our readers monitor the directions in which sustainable development policy is moving.