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MEDIA REPORTS

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2008

 

Sustainable Development Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002


DECEMBER 2008

IFPRI CALLS FOR NOMINATIONS FOR “MILLIONS FED” PROJECT
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is documenting evidence on the policies, programs and investments in pro-poor agricultural development that have had a proven impact on hunger and food security. This “Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development” initiative is welcoming nominations of interventions that have had a significant impact on food security, including those that have empowered women and vulnerable groups to improve their livelihoods. Nominations should be submitted by 31 December 2008.

Link to further information
IFPRI Millions Fed initiative

FAO RELEASES PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF CARBOAFRICA

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has issued preliminary findings of CarboAfrica, an international research project gathering 15 institutions from Africa and Europe. The project aims to quantify, understand and predict the carbon cycle and other GHG gases in Africa. According to Riccardo Valentini, CarboAfrica project coordinator, the evidence so far indicates that Africa seems to be a relevant ‘carbon sink,’ meaning that it takes more carbon out of the atmosphere than it releases. It is estimated that Africa’s GHG emissions from fossil fuels are less than 4% of the world’s total. The preliminary findings of the project were the subject of the Africa and Carbon Cycle Conference held in Accra, Ghana, from 25-27 November 2008.

 

Links to further information
FAO Newsroom, 25 November 2008

CarboAfrica

 

OCTOBER 2008

 
NEW CONVENTION ON SHARED TRANSBOUNDARY AQUIFERS SUBMITTED TO THE UNGA
On 27 October 2008, the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) submitted to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) the draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers, which applies to underground aquifers, most of which straddle national boundaries, and that represent 96% of the planet’s freshwater resources. Many shared aquifers are under environmental threats caused by climate change, increased population pressure, over-exploitation and human-induced water pollution. The draft articles for an international framework convention on transboundary aquifers were adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC) in August 2008. These draft articles represent six years of work by the ILC with the assistance of experts from UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme, and are intended to fill a gap in the law on the protection and management of groundwater resources, which have been neglected as a subject of international law despite the social, economic, environmental and strategic importance of groundwater. The draft treaty requires that aquifer States cause no harm to existing aquifers and cooperate to prevent and control their pollution.

Link to further information
UNESCO Press Release, 22 October 2008

UN Global Compact and UNEP Convene First Meeting of ‘Caring for Climate’ Initiative
Representatives of over 150 corporations, civil society organizations, governments and UN agencies gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, on 21 October 2008, for the first meeting of signatories to ‘Caring for Climate,’ a voluntary global action platform jointly launched in 2007 by the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The meeting aimed to produce business insights and develop a shared path forward in support of an effective post-Kyoto policy framework on climate change. A recent survey among Caring for Climate signatories reveals that a majority of signatories are optimistic about their ability to develop the internal capacity to set targets and reduce climate impact, while expecting: similar leadership from governments; long-term plans for emission reductions; and increased investments in low-carbon technologies.

Link to further information
UN News Centre Story, 21 October 2008

UNWTO Summit: Responding to the Economic Downturn and Staying on Course with the Climate and Poverty Reduction Agenda
The UN World Trade Organization (UNWTO), in partnership with the World Travel Market, will hold a Ministers’ Summit at the World Travel Market in London, UK, on 11 November 2008, under the theme “Responding to the Economic Downturn and Staying on Course with the Climate and Poverty Reduction Agenda.” During the meeting, tourism ministers will consider climate and poverty goals in the context of the economic downturn. Items on the Summit’s agenda include: tourism as a driver of socio-economic progress and poverty alleviation; the UNWTO’s Davos Declaration Process on Climate Change; and TOURpact, the first UN Global Compact Industry Sector Network, which calls on the tourism sector to actively support UN objectives.

Link to further information
UNWTO Ministers’ Summit website

FAO AND DUTCH UNIVERSITY TO COLLABORATE TO ACHIEVE THE MDGs 
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), the Netherlands, to promote education and research in developing countries with the objective of contributing to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The agreement between the institutions will foster the exchange of scientific staff and experts, identify technology, and enhance farm production through the sustainable use of natural resources.

Link to further information
UN News Centre, 10 October 2008

FAO URGES REVIEW OF BIOFUEL POLICIES TO ENSURE THE POOR CAN BENEFIT
On 7 October 2008, at the launch of its flagship publication, The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2008, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf noted both the risks and opportunities created by biofuels. Diouf highlighted the need for an in-depth review them, aimed to ensure world food security, protect poor farmers, promote broad-based rural development and ensure environmental sustainability. Diouf emphasized the need to invest on research and technology for the production of second generation biofuels, which put less pressure on the natural resource base.Diouf also emphasized the need to remove agricultural and biofuel production subsidies, along with trade barriers, in order to facilitate developing countries’s ability to reap some benefits.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 7 October 2008
The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2008

UNEP AND UNWTO announce global sustainable tourism criteria

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), with the UN Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, have established the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The criteria are targeted at establishing a framework to aid tourists and the tourism industry in evaluating the benefits of tourism to local communities, the impacts of tourism on cultural heritage, the extent of harm to the local environment and sustainability.

 

Links to further information

UN News Centre article, 7 October 2008
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, 10 October 2008

GEF FUNDED PROJECT IN HONDURAS WINS TOURISM INNOVATION AWARD
The La Ruta Moskitia (LARUMO) initiative, an ecotourism rainforest project funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, and implemented by five indigenous communities in La Moskitia region -- an area crossed by the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras – has won a national award through the World Travel and Tourism Council for a locally-designed program that encourages visits to the rainforests off the country’s northeast coast. Local fisherman and farmers learned new skills by becoming tour guides and service providers for tourists, and the project team in the first three months made US$25,000 in revenue from the ecotours, with over 25% of the revenue going back to the community.

Link to further information
GEF Press Release, 6 October 2008

TOOLS FOR HARMONIZATION AND EQUIVALENCY IN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE LAUNCHED
The International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalency in Organic Agriculture (ITF) launched two practical tools intended to ease trade in organic agricultural products. Supachai Pantichpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD, Alexander Müller, Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Urs Niggli, Vice-President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), all urged that these measures and other task force recommendations be employed worldwide. The tools comprise: a guide to help decision-makers assess whether an organic production and processing standard applicable in one region of the world is equivalent (equally valid) to another organic standard (Equitool) and a minimum set of performance requirements for organic certification bodies (IROCB).

Link to further information
UNCTAD News

SEPTEMBER 2008

MDG SUMMIT ENDS WITH US$16 BILLION IN NEW COMMITMENTS 
On 25 September 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the UN General Assembly convened a High-Level Event (HLE) on the Millennium Development Goals at UN headquarters in New York. The HLE brought together Heads of State or Government, as well as leaders of the private sector and civil society to reaffirm existing commitments and announce new ones needed to achieve the MDGs by 2015. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that fresh contributions and commitments to the MDGs could amount to around US$16 billion, which was remarkable given the current financial crisis. Among the commitments, some US$1.6 billion was pledged to enhance food security. Anew initiative, “Purchase for Progress,” to buy surplus crops directly from poor farmers in Africa and Central America, was launched. US$3 billion was committed to launch the Malaria Action Plan and new pledges of almost half a billion dollars were committed for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Commitments relating to child mortality and maternal health reached almost US$2 billion next year, rising to US$7 billion in 2015. The Global Campaign on Health has committed to mobilize an extra US$30 billion by 2015, including the training of more than 1 million health workers. Considering that MDG 5 on maternal health has the lowest record of achievement, an additional US$12 billion was pledged to provide 21 million trained birth attendants to prevent deaths in childbirth. Investments of US$2.2 billion were committed to provide water and sanitation to 30 million people by 2015, and  US$4.5 billion was promised to launch the “Class of 2015: Education for All” multi-stakeholder partnership, which aims to put children into school by 2010. Attention was also given to the threat of climate change in reversing the achievements made on the MDGs, and over US$750 million was pledged by member States, along with renewed commitments to reduce deforestation.

A formal summit on the MDGs to review implementation in 2010 will convene and will monitor the commitments made. The High-Level Event also sent a message to the Doha Review Conference from the highest political level, on strengthening the global partnership for development and building consensus on financing for development. The Doha event will take place from 29 November to 2 December 2008, in Doha, Qatar.

Links to further information
High-Level Event on MDGs, 25 September 2008

UN News Centre, 16 September 2008
IISD RS Coverage
Financing for Development Review Conference

HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT NEEDS ADOPTS POLITICAL DECLARATION
The High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs took place at UN headquarters on 22 September 2008, under the theme “Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward.” The President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, opened the plenary and noted that, while official development assistance (ODA) has increased from 1.3 % of GDP in 2005 to 1.8 % in 2007, levels of ODA should be further increased to meet the commitments undertaken in Monterrey. He urged G8 members to double ODA for Africa by 2010, as promised at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, pointed out that no African country will achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, but that they remain achievable in Africa. He emphasized that the MDG Steering Group assessed that US$72 million per year is necessary to achieve the goals by 2015. The meeting ended with the adoption of a resolution entitled Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs (A/63/L.1). Leaders from Africa expressed their determination to achieve the MDGs and reaffirmed that NEPAD provides an agreed foundation. They noted that this framework can only be implemented if the international community fulfills its commitments to tackle the myriad challenges faced by Africa.

Links to further information
Africa’s Development Needs, 22 September

IISDRS Coverage

World Tourism Day focuses on Climate Change
T
he World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day, which focused on the response of the tourism industry to climate change and was hosted in Peru, was observed on 27 September 2008. World Tourism Day kicked-off a year-long campaign during which the UNWTO aims to: raise awareness of the positive role of tourism in sustainable development; advance tourism in the UN global response to the challenges of climate change and poverty alleviation; promote the Davos Declaration Framework for the Tourism Sector and encourage its implementation by all stakeholders at a global level; encourage tourism stakeholders to adapt, mitigate and use new technology; and secure financing for the poorest countries.

Link to more information
World Tourism Day website

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RECONSIDERS BIOFUELS TARGET
The European Parliament’s industry committee has proposed reducing the EU’s existing 10% target for adopting traditional biofuels for road transport by 2020. Instead, the committee had advocated a 6% target for traditional biofuels, with the other 4% coming from electricity or hydrogen from renewable sources, or from second-generation biofuels. The proposal comes in the wake of concerns that biofuels have affected food prices and deforestation. The biofuels target is part of a larger series of goals that address climate change and energy issues.

Links to further information
BBC news, 11 September 2008
Spiegel Online International, 11 September 2008

MDG BLOG LAUNCHED PRIOR TO HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON MDGs
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) have launched a blog discussion on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Blog is facilitated by the MDG Network and the UN Development Group Policy Network for MDGs, and will run from 26 August to 26 September 2008. The Blog seeks to provide a space for stakeholders from government agencies, civil society and the private sector to offer comments on five main themes related to the MDG framework. The themes covered by this Blog are drawn from the
Secretary-General’s background note for the High-Level Event on MDGs, “Committing to Action: Achieving the MDGs,” which are: poverty and hunger; health and education; environmental sustainability; gender equality and empowerment of women; and global partnership for development. Comments submitted through the Blog will be summarized and considered by the Co-Chairs and Thematic Experts of the round-tables at the High-Level Event on MDGs, which will convene in New York on 25 September 2008.

Link to further information
High-Level Event on MDGs
MDG Blog

 

AUGUST 2008

MONTERREY REVIEW PROCESS DRAFT OUTCOME DOCUMENT RECOGNIZES CLIMATE CHANGE-DEVELOPMENT LINKAGES
The President of the UN General Assembly issued a draft outcome document for the Monterrey Consensus Review Conference to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November-2 December 2008. The draft outcome document was based on input during the first semester of 2008 from countries, businesses, NGOs and civil society on the thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus, as presented during several informal review sessions. The draft document reaffirms the goals and commitments of the Monterrey Consensus on issues such as mobilizing financial resources for development and international trade as an engine for development, and welcomes the targets announced by G8 countries in Hokkaido, Japan, to increase their official development assistance (ODA) to US$130 billion by 2010. The draft also presents proposals to improve the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development. A section on “New Challenges and Emerging Issues” recognizes “increased costs from damage to the earth’s environment and climate change” as key challenges the world faces today, and reaffirms the need for concerted global action to address these “while consistently furthering economic and human development for all.” In particular, the draft document recognizes responses to the climate change problem have “major development implications” and proposes that countries agree to “address such implications in a timely and decisive way” by addressing the financing needs for mitigation and adaptation to climate change in developing countries in the context of sustainable development and within the structure of the UNFCCC. Informal consultations and drafting sessions on the outcome document will be held during the second semester of 2008, leading to the Doha Review Conference in November.

Links to additional information
UN Financing for Development Office
Doha Outcome Document draft, 25 July 2008

JUNE 2008

UNWTO EXECUTIVE COUNCIL FUNDS ST-EP PROGRAMME
The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council held its 83rd Session from 13-14 June 2008, in Jeju, Republic of Korea, following the Sustainable Tourism – Elimination of Poverty (ST-EP) Foundation’s Board of Directors meeting, which convened on 12 June 2008. At the Executive Council meeting, the Council agreed to allocate US$500,000 to fund the ST-EP programme, which seeks to promote poverty elimination through sustainable tourism development.

In other ST-EP news, the first ST-EP project in China was launched in Guizhou province. The project seeks to support micro-credit financing for local handicrafts in the province.

Links to further information
Conference website
China ST-EP Programme Launch press release, 26 June 2008

UK ADOPTS IAASTD RECOMMENDATIONS
The UK has adopted the recommendations of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), calling for an end to input-intensive, trade-driven agriculture and renewed support for sustainable, local, smaller-scale agro-ecological farming. The UK became the 58th of 61 countries who participated in the final IAASTD report review to endorse the call for "A New Era of Agriculture." The US, Canada and Australia have not adopted the document.

Links to more information
UK Parliament, 6 June 2008
IAASTD website

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY OBSERVED
In advance of World Environment Day, which is observed on 5 June, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, likened fossil fuel dependence to a “dangerous addiction.” World Environment Day 2008 was hosted by Wellington, New Zealand, under the theme is “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.”

Links to further information
Text of Secretary-General's statement, 23 May 2008
Press Release on World Environment Day Event, 23 May 2008

World Environment Day 2008 website

APRIL 2008

UN AGENCIES ANNOUNCE PLANS TO ADDRESS FOOD CRISIS
The UN has announced its agencies’ plans to address the food crisis. Following the semi-annual meeting of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the UN’s agency heads on 28 and 29 April 2008, Ban announced plans to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the global food crisis. A task force will be coordinated by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and UN System Avian and Human Influenza Coordinator David Nabarro. The task force will seek to develop an action plan by the beginning of June, when UN agencies will discuss it at a meeting in Rome, Italy. Ban will chair the task force, which will also include the heads of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and World Trade Organization (WTO). Additional organizations will also be invited to join the group.

The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced that it will provide US$ 200 million for poor farmers during the upcoming cropping season. Lennart Båge, IFAD President, highlighted that “poor rural farmers are central to any solution to today’s global food crisis and the long-term problems of hunger and poverty.” He called for a three-pronged strategy: providing emergency food aid to feed the hungry today; supporting, in the short term, smallholder farmers to plan next season’s crops; and longer-term investment in agriculture to ensure food security, nutrition and rural development.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced plans to provide approximately 10,000 farmers in five African countries with low-cost rain gauge equipment and seminars by agricultural experts. With the Government of Spain, WMO will work with volunteer farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, training them to use rainfall data to plan sowing, fertilizer application and harvesting.
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) has emphasized the role that drought and unsustainable water management have played in the current problem, and will play in resolving the food crisis. Director of the UN/ISDR Secretariat Sálvano Briceño, highlighted the need for “a genuine mindset and policy shift towards the ethos that prevention is better than cure, and serious political and economic commitment to saving harvests and lives on a global economic level.”

Meanwhile, World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran has warned that soaring food prices across the globe are threatening WFP’s efforts to feed the world’s hungry.

Links to further information
UN News Center, 25 April 2008 (IFAD story)
UN News Center, 25 April 2008 (UN/ISDR)
UN News Center, 28 April 2008 (WMO)

UN News Center, 30 April 2008 (Task Force)

PESTICIDE BANS DO NOT REDUCE AGRICULTURAL OUTPUT – STUDY
A Sri Lankan study on the impacts of banning insecticides monocrotophos, methamidophos, and endosulfan found no reduction in agricultural productivity. The chemicals were banned in the 1990s in an effort to reduce fatal poisonings and suicides. The study, which was published in the April 2008 issue of the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives,
concluded, that where affordable substitutes exist for pest control, there is no significant impact on agricultural output.

Link to more information
Article, April 2008

WFP CALLS FOR US$ 750 MILLION TO FEED WORLD’S HUNGRY
On 18 April 2008, the World Food Programme (WFP) indicated it would need an additional US$ 756 million to meet its commitment to feed 73 million hungry people this year. The dollar figure represents an increase of over US$ 250 million since a WFP announcement in February, which was itself on top of an initial 2008 appeal for US$2.9 billion to carry out its efforts. The appeal for additional funds is in response to increasing food prices.

Link to further information
UN News Centre, 18 April 2008

IAASTD REPORT SAYS AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES MUST BE REVISED TO BENEFIT THE WORLD’S POOR
Modern agricultural practices must change to better serve the poor if the world is to cope with a growing population and climate change, according to the Synthesis Report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), released on 15 April 2008. The report is the result of three years of cooperation between nearly 400 scientists. Global and sub-Global “Summaries for Decision Makers” and an “Executive Summary of the Synthesis Report” were approved at an Intergovernmental Plenary that met from 7-12 April 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Synthesis Report integrates the key findings from the Global and five sub-Global assessments, and focuses on eight topics: bioenergy; biotechnology; climate change; human health; natural resource management; traditional knowledge and community based innovation; trade and markets; and women in agriculture. The report primarily addresses how agricultural knowledge, science and technology can be used to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and facilitate equitable environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable development. The report suggests that the way to meet this challenge is to put in place institutional, economic and legal frameworks that combine productivity with the protection and conservation of natural resources, while meeting production needs. The IAASTD was sponsored by several UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Environment Programme and World Bank.

Links to further information
The IAASTD reports
UN news release, 15 April 2008

ISO TO DEVELOP AN ENERGY MANAGEMENT STANDARD
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has launched a project to develop an international standard for energy management, following the successful examples of the ISO 9000 series on quality management and the ISO 14000 series on environmental management. The creation of a project committee (referred to as ISO/PC 242) signals the first step in the development of the standard, which is expected to provide a practical and widely recognized approach to increasing energy efficiency, reducing costs and improving environmental performance by addressing both the technical and management aspects of rational energy use. It will also offer organizations with operations in more than one country a single, harmonized standard for implementation across the organization, and provide a logical and consistent methodology for identifying and implementing improvements that may contribute to a continual increase in energy efficiency across facilities. The standard is intended to be broadly applicable to various sectors of national economies, including utility, manufacturing, commercial building, general commerce and transportation sectors, and therefore could have influence on as much as 60 percent of the world’s energy demand. A working group meeting co-organized by UNIDO and the China Standard Certification Service convened in Beijing, China, on 9-11 April 2008, and the secretariat of ISO/PC 242 will be held jointly by the ISO members for the United States and Brazil: ANSI (American National Standardization Institute) and ABNT (Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas).

Links to further information
ISO press release, 27 March 2008
Working Group Meeting: Towards an International Energy Management System Standard, Beijing, China, on 9-11 April 2008

NEGLECTING AGRICULTURE MAY DRIVE 218 MILLION TO POVERTY – UNESCAP REPORT
On 27 March,
Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath launched the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2008 in New Delhi, India. The Report emphasizes that continued neglect of agriculture in Asia and Pacific is estimated to be driving 218 million people to exacerbated poverty, while increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. According to Heyzer, the rising prices of food commodities reinforce the message of the report on the need to revitalize the agriculture sector, making it economically and socially viable, while contributing to poverty reduction efforts. The report further notes the need to implement land reforms, create opportunities for the poor or small producers to access markets and diversify their skills, and facilitate access to loans and insurance mechanisms.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 27 March
ESCAP Press Release, Press Release No. G/11/2008

 

MARCH 2008

WSSCC LAUNCHES GLOBAL SANITATION FUND
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has announced the 14 March 2008 launch of a Global Sanitation Fund. This Fund will seek to help poor people to attain safe and sustainable sanitation services and adopt good hygiene practices, and thus contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal sanitation target by 2015. WSSCC reports that the Global Sanitation Fund is the first “global mechanism for financing sanitation.”

Link to further information
WSSCC website

FIVE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS DEVELOP NEW AGRICULTURAL WATER STRATEGY
Five international organizations (the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the International Water Management Institute) have launched a new agricultural water initiative. The “Initiative for Agricultural Water in Africa” was prepared for the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD), and launched during the First African Water Week, held in Tunis, Tunisia, from 26-28 March 2008. The Initiative aims to provide a platform to support agricultural water in the region and will bring together financing instruments including loans, grants and other multilateral and bilateral funding in order to aid governments in improving water management.

Link to further information
World Bank press release, 28 March 2008

UNDP-SUPPORTED WIND ENERGY FACILITY OPENS IN ECUADOR
Ecuador officially opened a US$ 10.8 million wind energy facility on the island of San Cristóbal on 10 March 2008, as part of an effort to end the oil dependence of its Galápagos Islands. The San Cristóbal Wind Project is a partnership between Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the US, as well as the Government of Ecuador, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and nine of the world’s largest electric companies. The Project is the first stage of a programme called ‘Renewable electrification of the Galapagos’ (ERGAL), which seeks to lower Ecuador’s energy-related CO2 emissions by introducing photovoltaic and wind energy. ERGAL also seeks to substantially reduce the volume of diesel fuel shipped to the Galápagos for electricity generation, to decrease the risk of an oil spill that could damage the biodiversity in and around the coastal ecosystem of the islands.

Links to further information
People and Planet.net, 10 March 2008
UNDP Ecuador website

UNCCD DEVELOPS PARTNERSHIPS ON AFRICA AND AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH
The Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has recently entered into two new partnership agreements. On 7 March 2008, Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, and Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding between their two organizations, through which they will address a number of issues, including science, technology, knowledge management, capacity building, financing and technology transfer, advocacy, awareness raising and education. They will also work with African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in mainstreaming issues of land degradation, desertification and drought in national sustainable development strategies, poverty reduction strategy papers and other sectoral and crosssectoral policies and programmes.

On 12-14 March 2008, the Secretariat hosted a meeting jointly organized by CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Centers ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) and ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) to finalize a global proposal for a science program to combat agriculturally-caused dryland degradation and desertification. This program is called the “Oasis Challenge Program,” and will be submitted to the CGIAR Science Council and Executive Council for consideration. The programme will focus on integrating bio-physical with socio-economic science through alliances with stakeholders to build their capacities while ensuring that the outputs meet their needs and can be scaled-up for global impact.

Links to further information
ECA press release, 7 March 2008
UNCCD website on Oasis Challenge Program

FEBRUARY 2008

SWISS RE INVITES ReSOURCE AWARD 2009 APPLICATIONS
Swiss Re, the world's leading reinsurer, has invited applications for its “ReSource Award 2009.” The award was established in 2002 as an annual competition for innovative watershed management projects and is worth US$150,000, which will be granted to one or several projects selected by an international jury. NGOs, private, scientific or public institutions and similar bodies are invited to apply by 31 May 2008.

Link to further information
Swiss Re ReSource Award webpage

MARCH 2008

TWO GROUPS BACK INDUSTRY WITHDRAWAL FROM IAASTD
Two groups, The Scientific Alliance and the Public Research & Regulation Initiative (PRRI), have posted responses backing the decision by industry representatives to end their participation in the International Assessment of Agricultural Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and the subsequent editorial in Nature urging them to continue participating. In its “Open letter to the organisations and governments involved” in IAASTD, PRRI suggests that IAASTD “rewrite the chapter on biotechnology by a group of experts…and with the objective to actively and critically explore how agricultural knowledge, science, and technology can contribute to meeting goals such as reducing hunger and poverty, improving health and livelihoods, and facilitating sustainability with the active of biotechnology, especially from the public sector.”

Links to further information
PRRI Open Letter, January 2008
The Scientific Alliance Newsletter, 1 February 2008
IAASTD website

The East African Standard news story, 3 February 2008

UNDESA AND UNDP ORGANIZE e-DISCUSSION ON ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) are organizing a moderated e-discussion on Achieving Sustainable Development. The discussion, which will take place from 4 February to 14 March 2008, is part of a larger global consultation process for the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review, which will take place in July 2008.

Link to further information
e-Discussion website

 

JANUARY 2008

 

UNDP and Cadbury team up for sustainable cocoa farming

Cadbury has announced the establishment of the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ghanaian Government, which will seek to secure the sustainable livelihoods of a million farmers in cocoa-growing communities across Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean. Cadbury is expected to invest US$ 2 million in 2008 to establish the Partnership, with annual funding levels rising to US$ 10 million by 2010. The majority of the funds will be invested in Ghana, where the Partnership is designed to help cocoa farmers increase their cocoa yields, as well as introducing new sources of rural income through microfinance and investing in community-led development ranging from schools to biodiversity protection projects. This public-private partnership will take on a bottom-up model, with farmers, non-governmental organizations, governments and UNDP working together to determine how best to turn plans into sustainable action.

 

Link to further information

UNDP News release, 28 January 2008
MicroCapital Press Release, 29 January 2008

Cadbury Press Release, 28 January 2008

TWO AGRI-BIOTECH FIRMS PULL OUT OF INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Monsanto and Syngenta, two agri-biotech firms, have indicated that they will no longer participate in the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), which is due to be completed this year. IAASTD is a multi-year project that is seeking to evaluate the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology (AKST), along with the effectiveness of public and private sector policies as well as institutional arrangements in relation to AKST. The Assessment has emerged from an international consultative process set in place following a proposal by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank, in August 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to develop an international assessment of the role of agricultural science and technology. Some 4,000 experts have been engaged in the development of a Global Assessment and five Sub-global Assessments. According to CropLife International, an industry association to which Monsanto and Syngenta belong, their decision was based on their inability to get industry perspectives reflected in the draft reports.

Links to further information
Nature, 17 January 2008
International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development website

EU TO SET ENVIRONMENTAL CRITERIA FOR BIOFUELS
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the EU will be setting sustainability criteria for biofuels, including environmental and social criteria, despite the EU target to cover at least 10% of transport fuel from biofuels by 2020. According to Dimas, the EU had initially underestimated the danger to rainforests and the risk of forcing up food prices. The announcement came following a letter from a group of NGOs called on Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs to introduce tougher standards for biofuel production or give up mandatory transport biofuels targets altogether.

Links to further information
EurActiv.com News, 11 January 2008
Reuters News Service, 15 January 2008

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SANITATION COMMENCES
The UN Children�s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the start of International Year of Sanitation 2008 on 2 January 2008. The year will seek to draw attention to the conditions for over 40 percent of the world�s population who live without proper sanitation. The International Year was established by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 to speed progress towards achieving the seventh Millennium Development Goal, which sets the objective of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Among the events to be organized will be those that commemorate Sanitation and Hygiene Week from 15-21 March and World Water day on 22 March.

Link to further information
UN News Centre, 2 January 2008

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