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December 2008

UNWTO CONFERENCE STRESSES ROLE OF TOURISM IN A GREEN ECONOMIC NEW DEAL FOR ASIA PACIFIC

The Second UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Conference on Tourism Trends and Outlook for the Asia Pacific took place from 17-19 December 2008, in Guilin, China, and gathered over 100 experts from 25 countries. Delegates concluded that tourism in the Asia Pacific region has been affected by the economic slowdown, but can play a vital role in a long-term green economic new deal. Participants also stressed the need to look at the longer term and position tourism against global challenges such as poverty and climate change. Links to further information UNWTO Press Release, 22 December 2008 Conference website
UNGA CONSIDERS 34 DEVELOPMENT-RELATED RESOLUTIONS FROM SECOND COMMITTEE

Among the 34 development-related actions put forward by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted resolutions regarding the economic ramifications of climate change, and addressing the need for a more equitable international financial system and to bolster developing countries' resilience to financial risk. Resolutions related to water pollution included a resolution regarding the oil slick on Lebanese shores. By a vote, the Assembly requested that Israel compensate Lebanon and Syria for the costs of repairing the environmental damage caused by the destruction of oil storage tanks near Lebanon's Jiyah electric power plant, including restoration of the marine environment. It decided to set up a voluntary trust fund for an eastern Mediterranean oil spill restoration to support integrated, environmentally sound management of the environmental disaster resulting from the destruction. Further, the UNGA adopted a text titled “Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations,” calling on the UN and the international community to help Caribbean countries and regional organizations protect the sea from degradation due to pollution from ships, illegal dumping or hazardous waste, and to provide them with aid for long-term disaster relief. Link to further information UN Press Release, 19 December 2008
ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT GROUP CONSIDERS CLIMATE NEUTRAL UN

The 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Environment Management Group convened on 10 December 2008, in Poznan, Poland. Participants discussed: implementation of the 2007 commitment by the Chief Executives Board on moving towards a climate-neutral UN, including the development of a Climate Neutral Knowledge Management website that will document individual agency's greenhouse gas emissions and reductions; the cost implications and budgetary modalities of purchasing carbon offsets; and future EMG work, including a possible strategic process and the strategy for implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the 2010 biodiversity targets. Regarding the issue of a climate-neutral UN, participants discussed the significant contributions of air travel to the UN's climate footprint. They also considered the Issue Management Group on a Climate Neutral UN's agreement for a common approach on whether to use the Radiative Forcing Index as a metric. Link to further information Meeting website
REPLENISHMENT CONFERENCE FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND GARNERS US$380 MILLION

Approximately US$380 million was pledged to the voluntarily-funded Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) during the High-level Conference on the Central Emergency Response Fund, organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in New York, US. The CERF was set up in 2006 to speed relief for natural and man-made disasters. In a message delivered at the event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the key role played by the Organization in terms of emergency assistance. He noted the importance of humanitarian disaster response for development, and stressed that the financial crisis, climate change and population growth are likely to increase demands for relief aid in the future. He indicated that currently nearly 20% of CERF funds are used to help people suffering from climate-related disasters and called on delegates to contribute generously appealed to the to the CERF. Link to further information UN Press Release, 4 December 2008
UNEP GATHERS LEADERS TO SHAPE UN GREEN ECONOMY INITIATIVE

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) convened economists, academics and leaders of private and public institutions at an “International Workshop to take forward the Global Initiative on the Green Economy.” The workshop, which met in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1-3 December 2008, considered the US$4 million UN Green Economy Initiative, which was launched on 22 October 2008, and seeks to respond to the global economic downturn by focusing policymakers on the promise of economic growth and job creation in environmental industries. Meeting attendees considered and shared ideas on: a sustainable green economy; the role of socially and environmentally responsible investments in such an economy; the institutions needed to enable the transition to a “green” economy; and relevant analytical challenges, including in modeling. The six areas of focus considered by break-out groups were: environmental infrastructure; biodiversity-based business; clean and efficient technologies; renewable energy; chemicals and waste management; green cities; buildings; and transport. Links to further information UNEP Press Release, 25 November 2008 UNEP Green Economy Initiative Website Conference website

November 2008

REGIONAL SEAS GLOBAL MEETING ADOPTS STATEMENT ON IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON COASTAL AND MARINE ECOSYSTEMS

The 10th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans convened from 25-27 November 2008, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and addressed issues related to: climate change, including adaptation to climate change vulnerability and sea-level rise; preparations for the Regional Ministerial Forum on Climate Change; ecosystem management; cooperation with Multilateral Environmental Agreements; sustainable financing and legal instruments to further the implementation of the Regional Seas' work programme; and operational considerations. At the end of the meeting, delegates adopted a statement regarding climate change that recognizes that its consequences will be profound and long term. The statement underlines the need for multidisciplinary efforts to adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of, climate change on coastal and marine ecosystems, and the services they provide to human well-being. The statement further underscores the importance of collaboration and coordination among international and regional organizations, governments, civil society and the private sector. The meeting concluded that there is an urgent need to strengthen political will, secure sustained financial support, develop the necessary frameworks, and coordinate existing conventions, programmes, projects and activities to ensure effective adaptation to, and mitigation of the impacts of, climate change. The meeting also stressed the importance of incorporating climate change as a cross-cutting issue in sustainable development processes. Recognizing that the global impacts of climate change will need to be dealt with on a regional basis, participants supported the initiative of the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific to convene a high-level regional conference on climate change and its impacts on the coastal and marine environment of the Southeast Pacific. Link to further information Meeting website
CONSIDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE CHANGES CONTINUES

UN member States concluded their review of the latest draft resolution on international environmental governance on 25 November 2008, focusing on regional presence, capacity building, information technologies and financing. They also discussed further consultations to explore the possibility of a more coherent institutional framework for international environmental governance. Financing was reported to be a source of continuing disagreement, with debates focusing on the efficiency in the use of funds and the level of funding. Delegates also expressed different views regarding the Secretary-General's request that the UN Environment Programme create and maintain a Global Environmental Finance Tracking System. The Co-Chairs were expected to develop a new draft resolution, based on the comments made in two sessions held in late 2008. Link to further information Reform the UN update, 15 December 2008
SECOND COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTIONS

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), at its 63rd session on 24 November 2008, approved by consensus a draft resolution calling for urgent global action to address climate change. In the draft resolution, the UNGA would, inter alia, stress the seriousness of climate change, call for full implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and recognize the need to provide financial and technical resources. The Second Committee also approved a draft resolution that calls for the effective implementation of the commitments adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and as contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, invites Member States to express their views on the possibility of convening a high-level event on sustainable development and calls for the Secretary-General to report back to the UNGA on these views, and reaffirms the need for financing to support the implementation of Agenda 21. The Second Committee also approved, on 26 November 2008, draft text on small island sustainable development, desertification, and oceans. On oceans, the Committee approved by consensus a draft resolution titled “towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations.” The draft calls on the UN and member states to help Caribbean states and regional organizations to protect the Caribbean from pollution due to ships, illegal dumping and hazardous wastes, and to become parties to relevant multilateral agreements. On small island developing states (SIDS), the Committee approved a draft resolution urging the UN, member states, and the Global Environment Facility to implement the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, as well as to help SIDS in their adaptation efforts. On desertification, the Second Committee recommended that UNGA call for the integration of desertification and land degradation into sustainable development plans and strategies, encourage affected States parties and donors to take into account civil society's participation in Convention processes when setting priorities in national development strategies, and urge the Committee on Science and Technology to expedite efforts to create links with scientific communities in order to fully use relevant initiatives in sustainable land and water management. On disasters, a draft text was agreed that calls on the international community to provide predictable resources to vulnerable developing countries and stresses the importance of the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action in disaster risk reduction. Another draft resolution was agreed that calls for the implementation of the Hyogo documents, institutional strengthening, and contributions to the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction. Links to further information Press Release on GA/EF/3233, 25 November 2008 Draft resolution A/C.2/63/L.62, 25 November 2008 UN Press Release on SIDS, Desertification, Disasters, 26 November 2008
FAO SPECIAL SESSION ADOPTS “IMMEDIATE PLAN OF ACTION”

The 35th Special Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference, which convened from 18-22 November 2008, in Rome, Italy, has adopted a three-year Immediate Plan of Action (IPA), which will implement an agenda for “reform with growth” as recommended by an independent external evaluation completed last year. The Plan provides for enhancing FAO governance and improving its performance through streamlined management, and by focusing more closely on core objectives and functions. The IPA introduces a results-based framework for all FAO's work, consisting of global goals, strategic objectives, organizational results and core functions. The IPA further lays out strategies and timetables for reforming FAO's governing bodies, systems and organizational structures, as well as further actions to improve the effectiveness of FAO governance. The Plan's Annex provides a summary of costs, savings, resource requirements and implementation schedule. Links to further information FAO Press Release, 22 November 2008 Resolution and Immediate Plan of Action
UNEP CO-SPONSORS CONFERENCE ON MILITARY'S ROLE IN CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), along with the EU Member States Defense Environment Network, the US Department of Defense, the Institute for Environmental Security, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Institute for Defense Analysis, and the Environment and Security Initiative, co-sponsored a meeting from 3-5 November 2008 in Paris, France, on “The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate: 2008.” The conference, which is the fifth in a series that began in 1991, sought to, inter alia: highlight lessons from the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer; present military and commercial case studies of climate leadership; discuss progress and challenges in the field; and work towards engaging the military community in mitigating climate change. Participants also considered the importance of cooperation for climate and security, the role of accurate greenhouse gas accounting and specific technologies that can be utilized to reduce emissions. Links to further information International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enfor..., 3 November 2008 Your Defence News, 31 October 2008

October 2008

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: FINANCIAL CRISIS COULD “ECLIPSE THE GLOBAL EFFORT TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE”

In a speech delivered in late October at the University of Philippines, in Manila, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon indicated that his “most immediate concern” was that the financial crisis could “eclipse the global effort to address climate change.” He noted that, while developing countries face the same pressures as the US and Europe, they lack the resources to tackle the crisis. To address the global food, energy and financial crises as well as the threat of climate change, he stressed the need to “act in global solidarity” and “take international cooperation to new levels.” The Secretary-General's comments preceded the holding of an Interactive Panel of the UNGA on the Global Financial Crisis, which was held at UN Headquarters on 30 October 2008. The event included keynote presentations from Joseph Stiglitz and a number of other economists, as well as speeches from Member States. Links to further information Secretary-General's speech, 29 October 2008 The Interactive Panel of the UNGA on the Global Financial Cr...
UNGA SECOND COMMITTEE CONSIDERS HUMAN SETTLEMENTS, CLIMATE CHANGE, DESERTIFICATION AND BIODIVERSITY

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial issues) of the 63rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) has recently considered a variety of topics related to sustainable development, including climate change, desertification, biodiversity and human settlements. On 28 October 2008, the Committee considered the report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) (document A/63/291). The report outlines how the medium-term strategic and institutional plan for 2008-2013 addresses the adaptation and mitigation challenges of climate change in the context of urban development and planning. Discussions in the Second Committee focused, among other issues, on the role of housing finance in the current economic crisis, the need to implement the Habitat Agenda given rapid urbanization. The previous day, on 27 October, the Committee began its general discussion on sustainable development, discussing issues relating to climate change, biodiversity and desertification. Speakers underscored the opportunity to make commitments given the economic and climate imperatives. The discussions were informed by the Secretary-General's note on Implementation of UN environmental conventions, transmitting the reports submitted by the secretariats of the UNFCCC, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Document A/63/294). The document reports on the work of the UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007, and its follow-up. The Report recommends that the UNGA: take note of the report of the UNFCCC Executive Secretary and the outcomes of COP13 and the third session of the COP to the Convention serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol; pledge its support to the negotiating processes established by the Bali road map; and invite the Executive Secretary to continue to report to it on the work of the Conference. In his report on implementing the UNCCD, the Secretary-General recommends that UNGA underline the importance of the Convention when addressing climate change issues, and envisages that the post-Kyoto arrangement should account for land's potential as a carbon storage reservoir, as well as in mitigating the effects of climate change and strengthening the resilience of affected developing countries. The report outlines actions aimed at delivery of the joint strategic objectives of the three Rio Conventions, namely: raising public awareness; creating capacities; contributing to the improvement of the global environment; and fostering strong scientific backing for sustainable policies derived from their implementation. Links to further information UNGA Press Release, 28 October 2008 Report of the Secretary-General on Habitat II Conference, 14 August 2008 UN Press Release, 27 October 2008 Note by the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN en..., 15 August 2008
UN CHIEF EXECUTIVES BOARD MEETING CALLS FOR PROTECTION TO THE POOR

On 24 October 2008, the Chief Executives Board (CEB), comprised of the heads of UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, gathered to discuss ways in which the United Nations system must respond to the financial crisis in a coordinated manner, to protect the most vulnerable and the poor and toensure that crucial issues such as climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, the food crisis and the health needs of the poor are not forgotten. Links to further information UN News Centre, 24 October 2008 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Chief Exec..., 24 October 2008
INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY TO BE FOUNDED IN JANUARY 2009

From 23-24 October 2008, 51 countries met in Madrid, Spain, at the final preparatory conference for the foundation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Participants finalized discussions on the Statute of IRENA, as well as on procedures and criteria for selecting IRENA's interim Director-General and interim headquarters, paving the way for IRENA's founding conference, to be held on 26 January 2009, in Bonn, Germany. A Preparatory Commission was established as an interim body of IRENA. Its first meeting will be held on 27 January, the day after the founding conference. Participants at the final preparatory conference also expressed general agreement on the scope of IRENA's initial activities. The work programme will be further developed between the Founding Conference and the second meeting of the Preparatory Commission in June 2009. Emphasis will be placed on providing, upon request, policy advice for national governments, and facilitating technology transfer and capacity building. The agency will work in close coordination with other related international organizations. Link to further information IRENA website
REGIONAL CONSULTATION MECHANISM MEETING OF UN AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS WORKING IN AFRICA CONVENES

The ninth Regional Consultation Mechanism (RCM) meeting of UN agencies and organizations working in Africa convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 21-22 October 2008. The meeting was co-Chaired by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, who warned that the global financial crisis, compounded by food shortages and the effects of climate change, could “derail Africa's prospects” of attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). She underlined that all the global challenges faced by Africa are intertwined and that efforts to address climate change and food security are integral parts of achieving the MDGs. Migiro called on all UN agencies and organizations working in Africa in support of the African Union to work together and coherently at all levels to seek common solutions to these challenges. The participating organizations concluded that there is a “strong need for coordinated UN-wide support in the area of capacity building of the key players in the continent, including at the levels of African Union Commission, Regional Economic Communities, NEPAD Secretariat, and other African organizations.” They called on all RCM clusters to work collectively to assist all stakeholders to build capacity, and to support efforts to enhance the relationships between the UN and African regional and subregional organizations, and to strengthen the RCM Secretariat based at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Links to further information ECA Press Release, 24 October 2008 RCM website Deputy Secretary-General's Statement, 21 October 2008
UNU, UNCCD, UNEP AND IMO ORGANIZE ENVIRONMENTAL REFUGEE CONFERENCE

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) were among the organizing partners for a UN University (UNU) hosted International Conference on Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability, which took place in Bonn, Germany, from 9-11 October 2008. Participants were asked to capture the current state of research and debate on the issue, and to conclude with recommendations for moving forward. Speaking at the Conference, the UNCCD Secretariat suggested that an international definition of “environmental refugees” should be agreed upon, because UN treaties recognize only political refugees as eligible for aid from the UN refugee agency. Coinciding with the meeting, the UNCCD developed a webpage on desertification and migration. The page notes that Operational Objective 2 of the ten-year strategy for the UNCCD, which was adopted in 2008, covers the issue of environment and migration. The conference also served as a platform to introduce the Climate Change, Environment and Migration Alliance (CCEMA), which was initiated in April 2008 by UNU, IOM, UNEP and the Munich Re Foundation. This Alliance is a multi-stakeholder global partnership that aims to mainstream environmental and climate change considerations into migration management policies and practices, and to bring migration issues into global environmental and climate change discourse. Links to further information International Conference on "Environment, Forced Migration a..., Bonn, Germany, 9-11 October 2008 UNCCD Statement UNCCD Desertification and Migration webpage UNU-EHS Press Release
FAO'S COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES DISCUSSES CHALLENGES FACED BY AQUACULTURE

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI), Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, met in Puerto Varas, Chile, from 6-10 October 2008. At the meeting a report prepared by the FAO outlining issues facing the future of fish farming was presented. In the report, the FAO expresses concern that the aquaculture industry may struggle to meet future world demand for fish as a rising global population consumes an increasing quantity of fish and small farmers in poor countries face difficulties in exporting their produce. During the meeting, participants discussed: the Technical Guidelines on aquaculture certification; improving progress reporting on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, in particular the provisions relevant to aquaculture and culture-based fisheries; improving governance in aquaculture; and opportunities for addressing the challenges in meeting the rising global demand for food fish from aquaculture. Links to further information COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture - 4th Session website FAO Press Release, 6 October 2008
WHO EXPERTS DEVELOP RESEARCH AGENDA ON CLIMATE AND HUMAN HEALTH

Climate change and human health experts discussed health risks from climate change at a meeting in Madrid, Spain, from 6-8 October 2008, and agreed on a research agenda for the topic. The research plan was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) with input from researchers in the field, and makes note of five priority research areas: interactions of climate change with other health-related determinants and trends; direct and indirect climate impacts on human health; effectiveness of various strategies to contend with climate-related health impacts; health implications of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies; and means to enhance public health systems. Link to further information WHO Press Release

September 2008

Water Operators Partnership of Africa Convenes

September 2008: Approximately 100 representatives from African water utilities met in Dakar, Senegal, in September 2008, to discuss areas in which they could share information. The workshop was sponsored by the Water Operators Partnership (WOP) of Africa, a concept that was initiated in 2006 through a process organized by the UN Division for Sustainable Development (DSD). The WOP of Africa was created in 2008. Participants identified areas in which to share technology and experiences, with a view to creating a joint database. [DSD 2006 WOP Workshops] [AllAfrica.com News Story, 18 September 2008] [AllAfrica.com News Story, 22 September 2008] [AllAfrica.com News Story, 24 September 2008]

August 2008

UNEP AND WHO HOLD CONFERENCE ON HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT IN AFRICA

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) organized the First Inter-ministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa, from 26-29 August 2008, in Libreville, Gabon. At the conference, which sought to catalyze the reduction of environmental threats to health, Health and Environment experts and Ministers from across Africa considered: policy actions to address current environmental risks to human health; climate change; new and emerging environmental threats to human health; tools and approaches for policy making in environmental management and public health; policy frameworks for addressing health and environmental impacts; health impact assessment; economic and development dimensions of environmental risk factors to human health; and international legislative and regulatory frameworks. The meeting closed with the adoption of the Libreville Declaration which, inter alia, called on WHO and UNEP to establish a network for addressing communicable and non-communicable diseases. Links to further information IISDRS coverage of meeting Conference website
FAO TECHNICAL CONSULTATION ADOPTS DEEP SEA FISHERIES GUIDELINES

The Second Session of the Technical Consultation on International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas took place in Rome, Italy, from 25-29 August 2008, under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The 69 participating countries adopted guidelines aimed at protecting deep-sea fish species and habitats outside national waters that are at risk from overfishing. The guidelines, which follow two years of preparation and negotiations, were needed in part because many deep-water fish species grow slowly, reach sexual maturity late and may not always reproduce every year. In addition, until now, no framework for tackling this issue existed. According to the FAO, even in national waters, few countries have addressed deep-water fishing management since it is a relatively new activity and requires considerable investment and technology. The Guidelines state that all fishing activity in deep sea areas should be “rigorously managed” and lay out measures to be taken to identify and protect vulnerable ecosystems, and provide guidance on the sustainable use of marine living resources in deep-sea areas. Links to further information FAO Press Release, 3 September 2008 The guidelines

July 2008

ECOSOC Concludes July Substantive Session

July 2008: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) concluded its July 2008 substantive session with the adoption of nine resolutions and three decisions on 25 July 2008. Decisions adopted during the session addressed issues including strengthening coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance and promoting full employment and decent work for all, and a Ministerial Declaration on “Strengthening the efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development.” A resolution on ECOSOC's coordination segment reaffirms the need to continue to strengthen the Council as the central mechanism for system-wide coordination, and recalls that it should increase its role in overseeing system-wide coordination and the balanced integration of economic, social and environmental aspects of UN policies and programmes aimed at promoting sustainable development. The resolution also welcomes the holding of the first Development Cooperation Forum and second Annual Ministerial Review as “steps forward in strengthening of the Council,” and stresses that preparation for the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review should be fully supported by the UN system, especially the funds, programmes and specialized agencies, in coordination with national Governments. It also welcomes strengthened cooperation between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and emphasizes that interaction should be further improved. In his closing statement, ECOSOC President Léo Mérorès (Haiti) indicated that, during the final semester of 2008, he would focus on two issues: responding to the mandate regarding adaptation of the working methods of the Council, for which he would convene a meeting to explore possible areas for further action; and finding ways and means to further strengthen the Council's oversight role on funds and programmes, as envisage in the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review resolution. The Council also decided that the theme of its 2009 thematic discussion would be “current global and national trends and their impact on social development, including health,” and the themes for its Annual Ministerial Reviews in 2010 and 2011 would be, respectively, “implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender quality and empowerment of women” and “implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education.” Links to further information ECOSOC Press Release, 25 July 2008 ECOSOC Press Release, 24 July 2008 ECOSOC website

June 2008

UN CONSIDERS BUSINESS PRACTICE ASPECTS OF SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE

June 2008: UN member States met on 13 June 2008 to discuss business practice aspects of System-wide Coherence. Member States heard a presentation by representatives of the Chief Executives Board (CEB) on a “Plan of Action for the Harmonization of Business Practices in the UN System” and discussed the six high-level objectives presented, which include adoption of international standards and replication of best practices, facilitation of effective inter-agency coordination, and enhanced transparency and accountability. Links to further information Center for UN Reform press release, 13 June 2008
AFRICAN MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT ADOPTS DECLARATION

The twelfth session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN-12), which convened from 7-12 June 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa, adopted the AMCEN Johannesburg Declaration on the Environment for Sustainable Development, in addition to decisions on: implementation of the Action Plan of the Environment Initiative of NEPAD; climate change, including sections on Africa's preparations for developing a common negotiating position on a comprehensive international climate change regime beyond 2012 and on a comprehensive framework of African climate change programmes; AMCEN's Constitution; the status and use of the general trust fund; chemicals and hazardous waste management; environmental education and technology-supported learning; Africa Environment Day; and the Africa Environment Outlook process and the Africa Environment Information Network. Link to further information IISD RS Coverage
Marrakech Process Meetings Convene

June 2008: Costa Rica recently hosted the Fourth Meeting of the International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development, which is one element of the Marrakech Process, a global process to support the elaboration of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production, as called for by the World Summit on Sustainable Development's Johannesburg Plan of Action. The 8-12 June 2008 meeting in San Jose and Arenal, Costa Rica, discussed issues including the protection of natural resources, promotion of sustainable production and consumption patterns in the tourism industry, and best regional practices on sustainable tourism development. Labels, standards and certification processes for sustainable tourism, and integrated coastal zone management were also addressed. This was the first meeting of the sustainable tourism task force to take place outside France, the leading country for this task force. In other Marrakech Process news, the first Advisory Committee of the Marrakech Process met on the sidelines of the sixteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), on 8 May 2008, in New York, US. The Advisory Committee is a body of experts drawn from all regions and key stakeholder groups to provide guidance to UNEP and UNDESA in developing and implementing the Marrakech Process on sustainable consumption and production. Among other agreements, Committee participants agreed that the Secretariat should prepare a first draft of the 10YFP, to be sent to the Committee members by the beginning of June 2008. The Marrakech Process website indicates that the first draft of the 10YFP will be made available on 1 July 2008. The Advisory Committee also agreed that its next meeting will take place on 22 October 2008, in Paris, France, on the margins of UNEP's Annual Dialogue with Business and Industry. [Newswire Today, 9 June 2008] [The Marrakech Process website] [Minutes of the First Advisory Committee meeting]
UNGA CONSIDERS ROLE OF GLOBAL PRIVATE INVESTMENTS IN CLIMATE CHANGE

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) considered private investment's role in mitigating climate change and how climate change, in turn, influences private investment decisions, during this body's first follow-up to its February 2008 thematic debate on climate change. Panelists at the 9 June 2008 meeting outlined the scope of environmental concerns that affect the market, which they said is marked by more uncertainty than predictable regulation regimes. The panelists offered examples where specific local regulations spurred investment and technological innovation, and agreed on the need to adopt stable regulations to provide incentives for private sector action. Panelists agreed that incentives need to be put in place through stable regulation, which could get companies to move, rather than taxes paying for an overall adaptation and mitigation scheme. In addition, they emphasized the importance of making consistent and clear information on all aspects of climate change factors readily available. Representatives from developing countries highlighted the concept of equal but differentiated responsibilities in relation to panelist's suggestion for a substantial worldwide carbon tax. Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, pointed out that, while equal but differentiated responsibilities are not a private sector concern, they are a major principle for international organizations. Links to further information Meeting website UN Press release, 6 June 2008 Press summary, 9 June 2008
OECD MINISTERIAL COUNCIL AND FORUM FOCUS ON THE ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Forum 2008 and the annual OECD Council at ministerial level met from 3-5 June 2008, in Paris, France. This year the Forum addressed the role of biofuels, sustainable cities, innovation and climate change, as well as the relationship between climate change and other issues including nuclear energy, partnerships and finance. The OECD ministerial summit discussed the economic impact of climate change, rising food prices and a broad range of other trade, growth and development issues. Ministers also addressed food-price inflation and its linkages to broader issues such as alternative fuels, climate change and impacts on distribution of income and growth within economies. Links to further information Chair's summary of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level, Pa... OECD Forum 2008, Climate Change, Growth, Stability, Paris, 3-4 June

May 2008

UNWTO RECOGNIZES LEADERS MEETING FUTURE CHALLENGES

The UN World Trade Organization (UNWTO) held its annual Ulysses Conference from 28-29 May 2008, in Madrid, Spain. Focusing on “Education and Knowledge Management: Meeting Future Challenges,” the conference included an emphasis on sustainable development and environmental education, with “Education in Tourism-related Climate Change” as one of two major themes. At the conference, the UNWTO Ulysses Prize and Ulysses Awards were conferred, including on the Eurochile Business Foundation, which won the First Prize for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organization for its achievements as a Sustainable Management Model for Tourism Destinations. Links to further information UNWTO Press Release, 30 May 2008 UNWTO Press Release on the Ulysses Prize and Ulysses Awards, 30 May 2008 Eurochile Business Foundation website
CSD-16 Completes Review of Agriculture, Desertification, Africa

May 2008: Delegates to the sixteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD16), which convened at UN headquarters in New York, US, from 5-16 May 2008, reviewed the thematic cluster of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. Throughout CSD-16, participants highlighted the connections between the session's thematic agenda and both the current food crisis and climate change, and highlighted the drivers of food prices, including land degradation, high energy costs, climate change, poor harvests, speculation in agricultural commodities, inequitable terms of trade, decline of investments in agricultural and rural development, and increased production of biofuels from food crops. A Chair's Summary outlines the issues discussed. Delegates will attain take up these issues at the May 2009 meeting of CSD17, during which policy recommendations will be negotiated. [IISD RS coverage]
UN SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE CONSULTATIONS ADDRESS GENDER

The UN General Assembly consultations on System-wide Coherence continued on 16 May 2008, when UN member States met at UN headquarters in New York, US, to discuss the gender dimension of system-wide coherence. Deliberations focused on the establishment of a new UN gender entity and the creation of an Under-Secretary-General post on gender and women's rights, with some countries supporting the creation of a new body, and others favoring further discussions before any decision is made. Co-Chair Paul Kavanagh (Ireland) stressed the importance of addressing gaps within the UN system and asked the UN Secretary-General to submit a non-paper on the current status of gender within the UN system. Delegations were informed that a debate to address the gender issue on a more programmatic level is scheduled for the beginning of June 2008. Also planned for early June is an information session to learn more about the undertakings within the Chief Executive Board. Links to further information Center for UN Reform Education press release, 19 May 2008 Co-Chairs Mahiga and Kavanagh's letter, 12 May 2008
UN AND BRITISH GOVERNMENT LAUNCH BUSINESS PUSH FOR MDGs

On 6 May 2008, in London, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown took a step further to advance the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Call to Action, an initiative launched in July 2007 that has the support of 14 heads of state and 21 major private sector leaders to encourage the international community to accelerate progress to reach the MDGs. The Business Call to Action event, organized jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UK Government, was attended by the Presidents of Rwanda and Ghana as well as over 80 business leaders, UN officials and members of think tanks. The event sought to galvanize a global partnership of innovative and creative initiatives from the private sector to promote poverty reduction in least developed countries to meet the MDGs. Concrete actions were announced by a number of businesses in attendance, and are expected to generate employment opportunities and potentially improve the lives of poor people across Africa and Asia. During the event, UNDP Administrator Kermal Dervis highlighted that innovative business leaders from the North and the South are changing the way traditional business operate, making markets more inclusive and generating more wealth to groups that were previously excluded. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown indicated that European leaders will meet in Brussels next month to discuss what else can be done to scale up MDG achievements, which will feed into the G-8 Summit in July. The President of the UN General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, noted that many business leaders present at the Call to Action event would be invited to announce new initiatives and champion specific MDGs during the High-Level MDG Summit at the UN in New York, US, on 25 September, which he will convene jointly with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Links to further information Business Call to Action DFID MDG Call to Action UNDP News, 6 May 2008 UN News Centre, 6 May 2008
UNGA TO CONSIDER FURTHER DISCUSSIONS ON IEG

A draft resolution has been presented on international environmental governance (IEG) during a recent meeting at UN headquarters in New York. During a meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) informal process on strengthening IEG held on 2 May 2008, Co-Chairs Peter Maurer (Switzerland) and Claude Heller (Mexico) presented a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening the environmental activities in the United Nations system.” Noting that the discussions on IEG do not take place in a vacuum, the Co-Chairs underlined that the draft IEG resolution is an attempt to keep related processes, such as those on climate change, system-wide coherence, management decisions of UNEP, and others, in mind, while offering support to other parts in the UN system. The operative part of the draft resolution follows the seven building blocks that were presented in the Options Paper from June 2007. The blocks deal with scientific assessment, monitoring and early warning capacity, agency coordination, MEAs, regional processes, the Bali Strategic plan, IT, partnerships and advocacy, and funding. The draft resolution suggests that the Environment Management Group (EMG) is placed under the direct authority of the UN Secretary-General to raise its profile, while its management would remain under the Executive Director of UNEP. To facilitate inter-agency planning and coordination, the resolution requests UNEP's Executive Director to submit an annual consolidated appeal containing needs, planned activities and estimated funding levels for all environmental capacity building activities in the UN system, including for MEAs and for the implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan. On financing, the resolution suggests the creation of a Global Environmental Financial Tracking System, a web-based database relying on voluntary self-reporting by donors and recipients to provide transparent information on multilateral and bilateral financial flows for environmental activities. The resolution acknowledges that diverse views have been presented on the broader transformation of IEG system. In this regard, the Co-Chairs indicated that member States had expressed a preference for a step by step approach to improve the present system. On steps forward, the resolution suggests to continue the informal consultations during UNGA's 63rd session to discuss the broader IEG transformation and the interaction among different intergovernmental bodies, and to assess progress achieved at UNGA's 64th session. The Co-Chairs announced that the first feedback session on the draft resolution is tentatively scheduled for 21 May 2008. Links to further information The draft resolution Co-Chairs' talking points, 2 May 2008
ECOSOC DISCUSSES CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has convened two special sessions, the first to discuss climate change and the second to discuss the global food crisis. The Special Event on Climate Change and Development, “Achieving the MDGs and coping with the challenges of climate change,” took place on 2 May 2008, at UN headquarters in New York, US. The event, which was funded by the Government of Italy, included panel discussions on “learning to cope with climate change” and “reducing the world's carbon footprint.” The outcomes of the event are expected to serve as input to the forthcoming ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review in July 2008, which will focus on sustainable development. The 20 May 2008 session, which extended into 22 May 2008 due to the large number of UN member states wishing to take the floor, convened at UN headquarters in New York, US. Léo Mérorès, President of ECOSOC, emphasized that “agriculture has to be put back in the center of the development agenda,” adding that “we need to concentrate efforts on minimizing greenhouse emissions, deforestation and global warming, while finding ways to promote investments in agriculture [and] maximize the use of agro-science and technology, with the aim of reducing the costs of production and substantially increasing the productivity and output of every hectare of arable land.” UN General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim also emphasized the need for greater investment in agriculture, calling for the “best science, tools and technologies to optimize efficiency and boost production,…[and] policies that support land and resource ownership.” Kerim also drew attention to the role that high oil prices have played in rising food prices, and emphasized that “A sustainable solution to the crisis must therefore be linked to oil price stability and our efforts to tackle climate change.” Links to further information IISDRS coverage of Special Event on Climate Change and Devel... Special Session on global food crisis website Statements

April 2008

PARIS CONFERENCE DISCUSSES RESOURCE EFFICIENCY

The International Conference on Resource Efficiency, jointly organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was held in Paris, France, from 23-25 April 2008. More than 300 participants from governments, industry and non-governmental organizations heard presentations on and discussed issues relating to: indicators for measuring resource efficiency; sustainable mining and recycling; policies on transforming waste to resources; sustainable manufacturing and distributions; and technology and innovation. Among other things, the key conclusions of the conference included: the need to set up monitoring systems for measuring resource efficiency; the importance of supporting the UNEP/UNIDO network of National Cleaner Production Centers; and the need for efforts on waste management and recycling to be strengthened. Link to further information OECD press release, 25 April 2008
BUSINESS-ENVIRONMENT SUMMIT CONSIDERS CLIMATE CHANGE, BIODIVERSITY-HEALTH LINKS

The Global Business for the Environment Summit, jointly organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Global Compact, met in Singapore from 22-23 April 2008 to discuss business-driven solutions for mitigating and adapting to climate change. During the event, UNEP announced that ten new participants joined the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net). The CN Net is an online forum set up by UNEP, in cooperation with the UN Environment Management Group, to tackle the challenge of increasing greenhouse gases. The initiative was launched in February 2008, during UNEP's Governing Council in Monaco. The meeting also revealed the findings of a newly released book entitled Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity, which provides a comprehensive view of how human medicines, biomedical research, the spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food depend on biodiversity. Links to further information UNEP press release on CN Net, 23 April 2008 UNEP press release on "Sustaining Life," 24 April 2008 Sustaining life website, Harvard Medical School
OXFORD SEMINAR HIGHLIGHTS LINK BETWEEN TOURISM AND CLIMATE CHANGE

An international seminar entitled “Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Tourism Sector: Frameworks, tools and practices,” which primarily focused on developing countries and small island developing States (SIDS), was held from 9-11 April 2008 in Oxford, the UK. The event was jointly organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Oxford University's Centre for the Environment and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and brought together some 30 high-level tourism and environmental officials to discuss capacity building and pragmatic adaptation and mitigation methods for developing countries and SIDS to meet the climate change challenge. One of the seminar's conclusions was that the tourism industry has a key role to play in confronting the challenges of climate change, by reducing its green house gas emissions and by helping the communities where tourism represents a major source of income to adapt to the changing climate. Links to further information Seminar website UNEP press release, 11 April 2008
MERCURY PARTNERSHIP MEETING FINALIZES FRAMEWORK

In accordance with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council decision 24/3 paragraph 27, UNEP Chemicals convened a meeting from 1-3 April 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland, to finalize the overarching framework for the Global Mercury Partnership. The meeting was attended by over 70 participants from more than 30 countries, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry groups. The outcome of the meeting was an agreed framework for the Global Mercury Partnership. The framework outlines the goal, organizational arrangements (including a Partnership Advisory Group), and operational guidelines for the individual partnership areas (IISD Sources). Link to further information UNEP Mercury Programme meeting report

March 2008

THIRD MEETING OF THE AHJWG ON COLLABORATION AND COORDINATION BETWEEN THE CHEMICAL CONVENTIONS PROPOSES JOINT EX-COP

The Third Meeting of the Ad Hoc Joint Working Group (AHJWG) on Enhanced Cooperation and Coordination between the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions convened from 25-28 March 2008, in Rome, Italy. The AHJWG was able to reach agreement on all recommendations laid out in the co-chair's paper UNEP/FAO/CHW/RC/POPS/JWG.3/2. The key outcome of the meeting was the proposal to convene a joint extraordinary conference of the parties (Ex-COP) of the three Conventions. The Ex-COP is proposed to be held in conjunction with the next special session of the UN Environment Programme Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) in February 2010. The aim of the meeting would be to organize the joint recommendations, as well as the recommendation to synchronize the three Convention budgets. Before the Ex-COP is confirmed, the AHJWG recommendations must be agreed by the three COPs: the Basel Convention in June 2008; the Rotterdam Convention in October 2008; and the Stockholm Convention in May 2009 (IISD Sources). Link to further information Ad Hoc Joint Working Group on Synergies meeting documents
UN SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE SESSIONS ADDRESS “DELIVERING AS ONE,” FUNDING AND GOVERNANCE

Within the framework of the UN General Assembly consultations on UN System-wide Coherence, member States met on 28 March 2008 at UN headquarters in New York, US, to consider the issue of Delivering as One at Country Level, on 7 April 2008 to discuss the UN's funding structure, and on 17 April 2008 to address governance and institutional reform. On 28 March, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro noted that significant progress had been achieved on the “One budgetary framework,” as well as on increased accountability and national ownership, while cautioning that new priorities must be set for 2008, including closing the funding gap. Several members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Group of 77 also drew attention to the funding gap, underlining that savings must be channeled back into the system. Discussions on funding on 7 April focused on achieving a better balance between non-core and core funding, resource mobilization and reviewing funding mechanisms. On 17 April, delegates heard briefings on the Resident Coordinator system at country level, and subsequently discussed governance, primarily on the intergovernmental level. Discussions centered, among other things, on the balance between national ownership of development strategies and mechanisms for intergovernmental oversight, and several delegates noted that coherence at the country level needs to be reflected at the central level. Links to further information Co-Chairs Mahiga's (Tanzania) and Kavanagh's (Ireland) state..., 17 April 2008 Co-Chairs statement, 7 April 2008 Co-Chairs' statement, 28 March 2008 Center for UN Reform Education, press release 18 April 2008 Center for UN Reform Education, press release 8 April 2008
UNEP-SUPPORTED MEETING DISCUSSES CLEAN FUELS

A regional policy development meeting on ‘Clean Fuels and Vehicles,' organized by the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) and supported by the UN Environment Programme's Regional Office for West Asia, was held from 12-13 March 2008, in Manama, Bahrain. The event gathered more than 70 representatives from governments, the Arab League, oil companies, the vehicle industry and civil society to discuss cleaner fuels and vehicles, as well as challenges and recommendations towards regional harmonization. Participants also deliberated the goals of PCFV to achieve a global ban on leaded petrol and a worldwide target of less than 50 parts per million for the sulphur content of diesel and petrol fuels. Links to further information PCFV conference page Fia Foundation Press release
UN FISH STOCKS AGREEMENT MEETING AGREES TO RESUME REVEW CONFERENCE IN 2010

The seventh round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA) met from 11-12 March 2008, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting was attended by some160 participants and focused on reviewing progress towards the implementation of the UNFSA, including outcomes of its 2006 Review Conference, and considered the date of the resumed Review Conference and the next round of informal consultations. The two key achievements of the consultations were the in-depth engagement in discussing the obstacles to wider participation in the UNFSA by non-parties and developing countries, and agreeing on resuming the Review Conference in 2010 and the modalities for its preparatory process. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
ECOSOC MEETING CONSIDERS AMR CONTRIBUTION

A Global Preparatory Meeting for the 2008 High-level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) convened on 6 March 2008, in New York, US. The meeting sought to provide participants an opportunity to identify: next steps that ECOSOC could take to make the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) a central forum for reviewing progress on implementation of the UN Development Agenda; measures to make national voluntary presentations more effective and make them a process of continuous engagement rather than a one-off event; and major challenges in the area of sustainable development that require urgent action by ministers at the AMR July 2008 session. Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, suggested that the goal of the AMR should be to establish it as the implementation “ARM” of the UN, with “A” standing for accountability, “R” for review and renewal of commitments, and “M” for mobilizing and maintaining the momentum. Antonio Pedro Monteiro Lima, Permanent Representative of Cape Verde, told participants that his country has volunteered to give an AMR national voluntary presentation and to participate in the Delivering as One initiative to get advice and help in addressing its challenges, and said an AMR voluntary presentation will only have an impact if it is embedded in a proper preparatory and follow-up process. Link to further information AMR Global Preparatory Meeting website
HIGH-LEVEL GATHERING DISCUSSES SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE

The high-level dialogue United Nations System-wide Coherence: The Next Steps, organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), convened from 4-5 March 2008, in Vienna, Austria, gathering representatives from governments, the “Delivering as One” pilot countries, aid agencies, and the UN system. The objective of the dialogue was to focus discussions on the development aspects of system-wide coherence and the “Delivering as One” initiative, as well as reviewing the status of inter-governmental consultations on system-wide coherence and the next steps to be taken. Co-Chairs Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania) and Paul Kavanagh (Ireland) of the UN General Assembly consultations (UNGA) on System-wide Coherence outlined experiences from their recent visits to three of the pilot countries, Tanzania, Mozambique and Cape Verde, emphasizing that the ‘Delivering as One' projects are resulting in significantly greater alignment of UN system activities to national plans and priorities, and highlighting the political commitment of the governments concerned. They also stressed the need for various headquarters to catch up with progress at country level and for granting greater flexibility to the UN country teams. The recognition and popularity of the project is reportedly growing, with some 30 small and medium-sized states having asserting their interest in joining as pilot countries. In related news, on 26 February 2008, Co-Chairs Mahiga and Kavanagh put forward a preliminary programme of work for the UNGA consultations on System-wide Coherence, where they suggested holding consultations on 28 March to consider the topic delivering as one at country level, and on 7 and 17 April to discuss issues relating to funding and governance, respectively. Furthermore, the Co-Chairs expressed their intention to invite the UN Secretary-General to brief delegations on the efforts toward greater coherence being made under the auspices of the Secretary-General and the Chief Executives Board in early May 2008. Links to further information UNIDO High-level dialogue website Statement by Co-Chairs Augustine Mahiga and Paul Kavanagh, 4 March 2008 Co-Chairs' letter to UN member States, 26 February 2008

February 2008

ECOSOC EVENT DISCUSSES CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY AND THE MDGS

A special event of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has discussed “How corporate philanthropy can contribute to advancing the Millennium Development Goals, particularly for sustainable development.” The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with support from the UN Office for Partnerships (UNOP) and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), organized the 25 February 2008 event, which gathered more than 200 executives, corporate philanthropists, UN officials and country representatives at UN headquarters in New York, US. Amir Dossal, Executive Director of UNOP, summarized the proceedings, highlighting that participants had raised issues related to questions of scale and strategic approach, and the need for private-public partnerships to be beneficial to both sides. Participants also noted a role for developing guidelines for building partnerships with the UN, and indicated that the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has experience in this regard. A synthesis of the event will be reported to ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly. Link to further information ECOSOC News Release, 25 February 2008
Expert Group Discusses Land, Africa Before CSD-16

February 2008: The Expert Group Meeting on Land for Sustainable Urbanisation in Africa, which convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 21-22 February 2008, was convened to prepare for the thematic reviews on Land and Africa at the upcoming sixteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), which will take place in New York, US, from 5-16 May 2008. The meeting provided an opportunity for African participants who will be attending CSD-16 to discuss urban land issues that can inform decision making in the African context. Participants identified emerging issues requiring attention, emphasized the need for innovation in Africa's land management, called for recognition of the dynamic nature of land tenure systems in Africa, proposed off-farm activities to increase Africa's land productivity, and called for improvement in information management to streamline land administration and attain better governance. [IISD RS meeting coverage]
UNEP COUNCIL APPROVES DECISION ON MEDIUM-TERM STRATEGY

More than 800 participants from governments, UN agencies, business and industry, academia and non-governmental organizations gathered for the tenth special session of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GCSS-10/GMEF) in Monaco, from 20-22 February 2008. The meeting adopted decisions on UNEP's Medium-term Strategy for 2010-2013, the Global Environmental Outlook, chemicals management, mercury and waste management, the sustainable development of the Arctic region, and the International Decade for Combating Climate Change. The approval of the decision that authorizes the Executive Director to use the Medium-term Strategy in formulating UNEP's programme of work and budget was seen by many as a positive step in shaping a regenerated UNEP. In parallel, the GMEF ministerial consultations addressing “Mobilizing for the climate challenge” concluded that, while economic growth is compatible with addressing climate change and investment capital is available, financing adaptation remains limited. The need to establish policy frameworks was also emphasized. Discussions on “International Environmental Governance and UN reform” highlighted converging views on the need to strengthen UNEP in parallel with a dialogue addressing more far-reaching ideas. Prior to GCSS-10/GMEF, the ninth Global Civil Society Forum gathered close to 200 participants on 19 February 2008, at the same venue. The Forum addressed a range of issues, including civil society engagement at GCSS-10/GMEF, the adoption of the “Guidelines for improving the Global Civil Society Forum Cycle,” and “globalization and the environment, mobilizing finances to meet the climate challenge.” Participants also heard a panel discussion on the Medium-term Strategy and engaged in a dialogue with UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of UNEP GCSS-10/GMEF Global Civil Society Forum website
UNGA CLIMATE CHANGE EVENT FOCUSES ON POST-BALI TALKS AND PARTNERSHIPS

The need for a global agreement on climate change for the post-2012 period, the importance of collaborative partnerships, and the role of the United Nations system were the focus of discussions during a three-day “thematic debate” in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The event, which met at UN headquarters in New York, US, from 11-13 February 2008, took as its theme: “Addressing climate change: the United Nations and the world at work.” The meeting, which went one day longer than originally scheduled, drew more than 100 high-level speakers from governments, the UN, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the media, and other key stakeholders. The event opened with statements from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Secretary-General Ban stressed the priority of reaching a global agreement by the end of 2009 to limit greenhouse gas emissions. “A deal in Copenhagen, on time, and in full, is my priority and that of all the Funds, Programmes and Agencies of the United Nations family,” he said, referring to the UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to take place in Denmark from 30 November to 11 December 2009. On the first day, participants held high-level panel discussions focused on partnerships and on the work of the United Nations. During a panel discussion entitled “Responding to a multifaceted challenge: the UN at work,” the Co-Chairs of the UN General Assembly consultations on International Environmental Governance (IEG), Peter Maurer (Switzerland) and Claude Heller (Mexico), noted that aside from the debate on scientific knowledge and the policy responses to the climate change challenge, the third dimension of IEG was how to organize the international community to respond more efficiently to these challenges. Drawing attention to the lack of coherence and coordination among the UN agencies dealing with the environment, the Co-Chairs underlined that strengthening IEG would be beneficial for all bodies managing environmental issues, including climate change. In addition, the Co-Chairs stressed the need to move the IEG process forward, and expressed their intention to facilitate a draft resolution in the near future. At the conclusion of the first day's sessions, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said countries participating in these talks had the responsibility to turn the outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007, into a success through a “truly comprehensive climate change strategy” that united the developed and developing worlds. De Boer also stressed that finance and technology mechanisms would be an essential component of the negotiations that lay ahead. On the second day, a number of member States made statements. Antigua and Barbuda, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said multilateral action should remain “fully rooted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol,” and that developing countries should receive technology, capacity building and other support “in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner,” as agreed in the Bali Action Plan. Slovenia, speaking for the EU, urged a global agreement for strong post-2012 action and also outlined the EU's unilateral policy agreements on emissions and renewable energy. Other speakers addressed issues including reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries, the vulnerability of small island developing States, and the role of public-private sector partnerships. On the final day, member States commented on issues including “climate proofing” development assistance, the importance of energy efficiency, market mechanisms, clean technologies, financing for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, and the need to follow up on the Bali conference by designing and agreeing on an inclusive and effective post-2012 framework for global action. At the close of the meeting, Assembly President Srgjan Kerim reflected on the discussions, noting that the large number of speakers was a “testament to the importance of taking immediate practical action” to combat climate change. He highlighted speakers' comments on the need for both long-term targets and short-term action and said the UN system must respond with policy solutions that could help member States answer some of the questions and issues raised during the discussions. He also announced that he would hold two additional meetings in 2008 that would focus on the concerns of vulnerable countries and on corporate responsibility and sustainability. Links to further information UN press statement/report (day one), 11 February 2008 UN press statement/report (day two), 12 February 2008 UN press statement/report (day three), 13 February 2008 UN press overview of meeting, 14 February 2008
UNESCO MEETING DISCUSSES FUTURE OF BIOSPHERE RESERVES

The third World Congress on Biosphere Reserves, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Spanish Ministry for the Environment, opened on 4 February 2008 in Madrid, Spain, and will finish on 9 February. Gathering more than 1000 participants, the event will aim to take stock of the current Biosphere Reserves Programme and define an action plan for the five years ahead. Biosphere reserves are sites recognized under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme, which innovate and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development. They are also tools to help countries implement the results of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and, in particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Ecosystem Approach. There are 529 sites worldwide in 105 countries. Links to further information Congress website UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme website
UNESCO CONFERENCE SAYS BIOSPHERE RESERVES CAN SPUR CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION

Participants at the third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, which took place from 4-9 February 2008, in Madrid, Spain, and was organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have adopted the Madrid Declaration, which underlines that biosphere reserves can spur efforts “to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to promote the greater use of renewable energy,” as well as to tackle challenges such as the loss of traditional knowledge and cultural diversity. Conference participants also adopted the Madrid Action Plan, mapping out the Man and the Biosphere Programme's strategy and actions for 2008-2013, which emphasizes the need to use biosphere reserves to demonstrate effective responses to poverty, growing urbanization, climate change and desertification. UNESCO's world network of biosphere reserves now includes 531 reserves spread over 105 countries, following the addition of the Rostowsky Biosphere Reserve in Russia and the Islas Marietas Biosphere Reserve off Mexico's western coast. The Rostowsky reserve provides a habitat for more than 460 species of plants, 30 species of mammals and 200 species of birds, while the Islas Marietas is home to many species of coral, the humpback whale and other mammals, birds and fish. At each reserve listed in the network, local communities try to enhance their socioeconomic development while promoting biodiversity conservation. Links to further information UNESCO news release, 11 February 2008 World Congress on Biosphere Reserves website
UN SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE DISCUSSIONS RESUME

An informal meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) consultations on System-wide Coherence took place on 7 February 2008 in New York, US, aiming to take stock of recent developments and the report of the previous Co-Chairs during the 61st UNGA session. The new Co-Chairs, Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania) and Paul Kavanagh (Ireland), proposed using a bottom-up approach in exploring ways for the UN to work more coherently and effectively. Co-Chair Mahiga stressed that they would strive to reach an agreement in June 2008 on the modalities for implementing greater coherence across the UN development activities system, noting that this will require a careful assessment of progress made so far, particularly focusing on the implementation of the 'One UN' pilot projects. He also said that the Co-Chairs plan to tour four pilot-countries and report back to member States in mid-March 2008. UNGA President Srgjan Kerim cited recent encouraging developments, including the adoption of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, which contains many elements that will promote better coherence across the UN's operational activities for development, and he also stressed the importance of system-wide coherence in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Among the statements made, the EU, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand stressed the importance of increased efficiency and accountability “on the ground,” while the G-77/China put priority on overall funding, development and governance, as well as demand-driven development cooperation. A more detailed program of work is expected from the Co-Chairs shortly. In related news, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has announced that it will host a conference entitled United Nations System-Wide Coherence: The Next Steps from 4-5 March 2008 in Vienna, Austria. This high-level conference will provide a platform for interactive and action-oriented discussions on the development aspects of system-wide coherence and the “Delivering as One UN” initiative, among representatives of governments, aid agencies and UN organizations. Links to further information Center for UN Reform Education news release, 12 February 2008 UNGA President Srgjan Kerim's statement UNIDO conference website
LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS DISCUSS CLIMATE CHANGE

The Sixteenth Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean met from 27 January-1 February 2008, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The meeting was organized by the Government of the Dominican Republic through the State Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources and the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP/ROLAC), in its capacity of Secretariat of the Forum. A Preparatory Meeting of High Level Governmental Experts convened from 27-29 January, to elevate decision proposals to the Ministers and Heads of Delegation present at the Sixteenth Meeting of the Forum, which took place from 30 January-1 February. Issues addressed include the implications that future international environmental negotiations on climate change and biological diversity will have for the region, including in relation to initiatives to improve air quality and fuels. Participants also considered implementation of the decisions adopted by the Fifteenth Meeting of the Forum and the application of the Bali Strategic Plan for Capacity Building and Technology Support. Among the 20 decisions adopted by Ministers were agreements to: redouble regional, sub-regional and national efforts in applying the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development (ILAC); maintain the operation of the Interagency Technical Committee under the coordination of UNEP; urge further development and implementation of the Caribbean SIDS programme, and call on UNEP to maintain and further develop its technical programme for Caribbean SIDS and to continue its support to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); support the continuation of the Working Group on Environmental Indicators of the Forum; establish a regional network of authorities tasked with addressing atmospheric pollution; approve the Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production; promote capacity building of indigenous peoples; and request the Interagency Technical Committee and the Secretariat of the Forum to, in coordination with the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, prepare a regional proposal, including specific actions and modalities to facilitate and increase the flow of financial resources for UNCCD implementation at national, subregional and regional levels, consistent with the UNCCD´s 10-years Strategy. Links to further information Meeting website Final Report of the Preparatory Meeting of Experts

January 2008

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ADDRESSES CLIMATE CHANGE, MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND WATER

The World Economic Forum made climate change one of its major areas of discussion during its latest session in Davos, Switzerland. The event, which convened from 23-27 January 2008, included sessions on “going nuclear to fight climate change?” and on international collaboration in moving “beyond Kyoto,” as well as discussions on “the effectiveness of carbon trading.” In the closing session of the Davos event, business, government and civil society leaders called for “a new brand of collaborative and innovative leadership to address the challenges of globalization, particularly the pressing problems of conflict in the Middle East, terrorism, climate change and water conservation.” As well, Japan's Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, announced a five-year, US$ 10 billion fund to support efforts in developing countries to combat global warming. Japan also plans to create a new multilateral climate change mitigation fund with the US and the UK. The Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, also attended the Davos meeting, where he outlined the scientific basis of climate change and the need for urgent action. Prior to the event, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer responded to the pre-meeting “Davos question” posed for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. In a video interview, de Boer responded to the question, “What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?” by highlighting the immediate and long-term risks of climate change, including economic implications. On 25 January 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, U2 rockstar Bono, Queen Rania (Kingdom of Jordan), World Economic Forum Chairman Klaus Schwab, Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, and Cisco CEO John Chambers issued a joint statement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, vowing to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty and to get back on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed that 2008 will be the year of the bottom billion, referring to those living on under $1 dollar per day. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for a meeting with the private sector in May to galvanize support towards financing the MDGs. Bono, U2 rockstar, warned that pledges would not be enough and said a binding contract is needed among governments, with the assistance of the private sector. Among other announcements, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a US$ 306 million package of agricultural development grants “designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty.” In his address to the World Economic Forum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that both governments and businesses must play a role in the efforts to achieve the MDGs and to secure safe water for all. The Secretary-General called on business leaders to make water sustainability a corporate priority, and commended the efforts of Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical to address water scarcity and sanitation through initiatives such as The CEO Water Mandate. The CEO Water Mandate was launched at the UN Global Compacts' Leader Summit in July 2007 and represents both a commitment to action and a strategic framework for companies seeking to address the issue of water sustainability in their operations. The first implementation conference for endorsers of the CEO Mandate will convene on 5 March 2008 at UN headquarters in New York, US. Links to further information World Economic Forum 2008 – list of events and summaries World Economic Forum 2008 – statement from the closing sessi... IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri's speech, January 2008 UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer's video presentation ... January 2008 Davos session on Call to Action on MDGs, 25 January 2008 World Economic Forum Press Release, 25 January 2008 AllAfrica.com News Story, 25 January 2008 DFID News release, 25 January 2008 End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign, 25 January 2008 BBC News Story, 25 January 2008 UN Secretary General's address, 24 January 2008 The CEO Water Mandate homepage
WHO EXECUTIVE BOARD ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND HEALTH

Delegates to the 122nd session of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Executive Board meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, adopted a resolution on climate change and health (EB122.R4). The resolution, which will be forwarded to the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008 for adoption, details a comprehensive Organization-wide response to climate change, and outlines a role for WHO in the implementation of the UNFCCC Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change. The resolution proposes that the WHO Director-General work in close cooperation with appropriate UN organizations and Member States to develop capacity to assess the risks from climate change for human health and to implement effective response measures, by promoting further research and pilot projects in this area, including work on: health vulnerability to climate change and the scale and nature thereof; health protection strategies and measures relating to climate change and their effectiveness, including cost-effectiveness; the health impacts of potential adaptation and mitigation measures in other sectors such as water resources, land use and transport, in particular where these could have positive benefits for health protection; decision-support and other tools, such as surveillance and monitoring, for assessing vulnerability and health impacts and targeting measures appropriately; and assessment of the likely financial costs and other resources necessary for health protection from climate change. Link to further information Full Text of the WHO EB resolution
DIALOGUE ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT ADDRESSES LEGAL AND POLICY PERSPECTIVES

The Center for Migration Studies and the International Organization for Migration hosted a Conference on International Migration and Development in New York, US, on 17-18 January 2008. The Conference aimed to continue the dialogue initiated by the High-Level Dialogue on Migration convened by the UN Secretary-General in 2006 and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) launched in 2007. During the two-day conference, policy-makers, practitioners and experts reviewed the outcomes and achievements of past events to assess the direction of the international debate on migration and development as well as policy and legal implications. In her opening address to the conference, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro stressed how the debate on migration and development has matured from a sensitive, conflictive issue to a collaborative one between recipients and countries of origin. The meeting will feed into the second GFMD to be held in Manila, the Philippines, from 27-30 October 2008. Greece will host the third GFMD in 2009. Links to further information UN News Centre, 17 January 2008 Deputy Secretary General remarks, DSG SM/370, 17 January 2008 Conference website
UNEP-ORGANIZED CONFERENCE ADDRESSES ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN ASIA PACIFIC

The Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Environmental Justice and Enforcement, organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, convened on 14-16 January 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand, bringing together judges, prosecutors and legal practitioners from about 40 countries in the Asia Pacific region. The event was aimed at strengthening the role of judges and legal practitioners in environmental governance, enforcement and the rule of law. Participants discussed, among other issues: emerging trends in environmental jurisprudence and enforcement of environmental laws; the interface between international policy and legal frameworks and national legal systems; and ways to strengthen environmental justice to deal with major environmental challenges, including climate change. Several delegates noted that corruption and a lack of political will are slowing down efforts to enforce environmental laws in the Asia Pacific region. Links to further information UNEP ROAP News release, 14 January 2008 Bangkok's Independent Nation, 15 January 2008