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Outreach Issues A daily publication of Sustainable Development Issues Network (SDIN) and Stakeholder Forum (SF)

Blind Spots on Africa? MONDAY

Africa will be in the spotlight throughout the negotiations at this policy session of CSD-17. This is to be expected because the continent has been set as a subtheme besides others like agriculture, rural development, land, desertification, drought, water and sanitation. When the sum of all these parts is taken together, all fingers point to Africa as a continent that has been left behind in the global scheme of things.

May 4, 2009

By: Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International

Inside this Issue: Blind Spots on Africa Two Weeks, Six Themes And One Challenge

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Rural development in a changing climate


Water Water Water...


Earth Summit 2012


CSD 17: Anything New in Terms of Actions for the People of Drylands?


Public Food and the Challenge of Sustainable Development


A Note from the Editor


Food for Thought‌

In discussions during the intergovernmental preparatory meeting (IPM) of February 2009, several delegates spoke of what their countries/regions had done for Africa but very little was said about what had done to Africa. This historical blind spot has largely clouded discussions about the problems that plague the continent. Convergence of global crises In the negotiations that will be happening at this session, a moment should be taken to review the deep and deepening convergence of crises that has recently gripped the world. This is vital, because they have tossed up a wide deficit of public confidence in global governance with regard to the

handling of the crises. Whereas some countries appear to be moving in a changed direction, when it comes to discussions on the climate crisis, food crisis and the economic crisis there appears to be more continuity than discontinuity. The way in which the resolution is achieved will mark the path of future relationships between and even within regions. With this in mind, Africa should legitimately expect that the challenges of the continent should be viewed through the filter of history with all its baggage of inequity in exploitative relationships including the rapacious appropriation of global commons. Continued on page 2


Outreach Issues is the civil society newsletter produced by the SDIN Group and Stakeholder Forum. Outreach Issues aims to report with attitude, from the global scene of sustainability.


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The financial crises The financial crisis has helped reveal the underbelly of the economic systems built on neo-liberal dogma, fuelled by the structural adjustment programmes of the international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While these institutions preached that states should stay out of productive enterprises and aided the distribution of public goods to the private sector, they also ensured the dismantling of other public nets that provide the base for development in the captive nations. When talks of failing or failed states arise, fingers quickly point at Africa, and the same institutions that brought about the collapse step forward to prescribe the way forward. The threat of state failure Today, the financial and economic crises have confirmed the fear of opponents of neo-liberalism that, even by the sheer size of the bailouts needed, the failure of the market is far worse than the failure of a state. Market failure can be compared to a pandemic whereas state failure could be, and often is discrete. The ripples of state failure may not reach far beyond its immediate neighbours. We note that the threat of state failure was used to force weaker states into line. It has also been seen that the market paradigm is not scientific and that markets do not have self-correcting mechanisms and this is why they needed massive stimulus packages to prop up collapsing scaffolds. The emperor has been naked all along. Someone has to point and shout it!! Farms, not arms It has been reported that in 2006 alone the world spent $1,200 billion dollars on arms. While these arms kill and destroy, some of these expenditures are even classified as overseas development assistance! Imagine what impact a more focused investment in agriculture would have on global food production. Nevertheless, African food production has doubled between 1990 and today. It is time to end the playing of politics with hunger and food aid and support small holder farmers providing them with appropriate technologies and cutting off toxic technologies that lead to biodiversity erosion. Support small farmers Emphasis on chemical based industrial agriculture has overlooked the fact that much of the world is fed by small-holder



“There must be recognition of the role of structural adjustments programs in damaging Africa’s agriculture as a starting point of discussing the problems in African agriculture.” family farmers whose productivity continue to rise despite all odds. The smallholder farmers need to be strategically supported if the world is to escape another and perhaps more vicious crisis. Africa should insist on the utilization of the vital outcomes of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) review as key policy resources. It is time for Africa to recover her place as net food producers and not chronic food importers and food aid dependents. Bretton Woods not in charge As farmers groups in Africa declared in their memo to the G8 meeting on Agriculture, the Bretton Woods institutions whose SAPS crippled much of developing world agriculture should not be placed in charge of managing funds meant to stimulate agriculture development. They also cautioned that there is no need for ad hoc structures, when there are sufficient spaces already in place within the UN system that should be used for this purpose. In the same vein one could add that the World Bank should not turn itself into

the Climate Bank when it is guilty of supporting projects that have massively impacted the climate. NGOs point to gaps in the text On the chair’s negotiation text delegates should pay attention to the gaps and omissions pointed out by NGOs at the close of the IPM. They said: ‘We are concerned about the largely technology solution-slant of the document, thus missing the social and economic dimensions of such farmercentred alternatives as ecological agriculture and organic agriculture. A stronger presentation of the rights-based approach, to food, land, water and productive resources is needed. Proposal on biofuels failed to capture the seriousness of the threats posed by biofuels to local and global food security as shown in last year’s food price crises. The reference to further research and development on 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels must properly reflect this caution. Livestock references should include humane treatment of animals, which is directly linked to health and environment. There must be recognition of the role of structural adjustments programs in damaging Africa’s agriculture as a starting point of discussing the problems in African agriculture.’ In the past it has not been uncommon to see delegates from other regions, especially Latin America, forcefully demand actions that would aid African progress. It will be interesting to see what positions the African group will bring to this very important session.

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Two Weeks, Six Themes And One Challenge Being a Youth Activist is no easy task, much less so here at the CSD: countless meetings, statements, briefings and rules of procedure to observe, attend and possibly contribute to. By: Selene Biffi, Youth Caucus Coordinator

At the CSD-16 the alarm clock buzzed at 5:30, just another day in the life of a Youth Caucus Coordinator at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). A daily meeting to chair, drafting groups to organize, pledges to collect and statements to be delivered, among many other things. It may seem like an easy thing to do, except for an average of 12 hours of work a day, networks and credibility to be established, perceptions to be challenged and reshaped. .

“Two weeks, several energetic young people, six themes and one challenge: Empower young people to speak up for themselves and their communities.” Achievements All that hard work certainly bore its fruits: last year the Youth Caucus made a name for itself and was readily identifiable by most people, thanks to some exciting features never before implemented: • A brand-new logo and Youth Caucus website in five different languages, updated daily • A stand with pictures, documents, and pledges to ask governments to commit to young people • A guide for governments to select and include official youth delegates in their delegations • The statements we delivered were also well received and few of them even got special commendations by the Chairman. Now the opportunity presents itself yet again, with the CSD-17 starting today. While as young people we battle the scourges of global poverty, climate change and deadly pandemics, we also strive to build our collective future, and this is

definitely an opportunity not to be missed. With a less-than-perfect Draft Negotiating text circulating at the IPM, the Major Group on Children and Youth will make sure that children and young people’s voice be heard and included as much as possible, working as hard as ever, to guarantee that our future will be the future of our choice. The choices being made here will directly effect not just the youth of today but the youth of tomorrow. Global campaign A Youth Blast prep meeting took place at Columbia University the weekend before the CSD kicked off, and videos were also shown thanks to a cooperation with Human Rights Watch. A global campaign – the first of its kind in the history of the Youth Caucus – has galvanised opinions, gathered momentum and collected inputs, ideas and suggestions from young people the world over to be included in our statements, complemented by an online group opened to any child or young person willing to contribute to the negotiating text

The Youth Caucus at the CSD (Courtesy Lisa Develtere)

“While as young people we battle the scourges of global poverty, climate change and deadly pandemics, we also strive to build our collective future, and this definitely an opportunity not to be missed ” over the two weeks of CSD. Planned for later this year, a forum for Indigenous Young People will become a permanent feature of our website Web 2.0! Owing to the fact that I will not be able to partake personally this year, moreover, the Youth Caucus will make full use of Web 2.0 technologies to help me coordinate everything virtually, and help other young people have a say in matters affecting us all from the comfort of their living rooms. Just another innovation brought forward by the most creative, dynamic and energetic group at the CSD!!!


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Rural development in a changing climate The current context of diverse crises should force us to perceive development and its actors in a rather different light. For those seventy-five per cent of poor women and men who live in rural areas and who depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods this juncture could translate into an important opportunity as long as decision makers move away from business as usual approaches and decide to do things differently. By: Maria Arce Moreira, Policy Adviser, Practical Action

Decisive Action Agriculture will still play a key role in rural development but it is time to work more decisively with the interconnectivity it has with a number of other key sectors such as transport, energy, water management and of course trade but not only focused on trade for export. For rural women who constitute most of small-scale farmers with a major role in agriculture and significant interest in rural development the time has come to become key actors in this debate. In the past their needs, interests and capacities went largely unrecognized and treated in a rather generic way. In reality their key role as essential managers of natural resources and their close interaction with the environment, its biodiversity and its ecosystem services make the voices of poor women essential to build up the crucial adaptive capacities that rural communities require to address the challenges of climate change. It is acknowledged that the poor and their livelihoods are directly dependent on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet the environmental degradation of fragile, marginal lands directly threatens the livelihoods of 250 million people, while a further 1 billion people are at risk. This acknowledgement also requires a critical look at the scale of interventions that will be favoured for the reinvigoration of rural development. Traditional policies and investments on rural infrastructure have favoured centralised schemes that often have not addressed the basic needs of the poor and that often have been environmentally damaging. While traditional infrastructure and services programmes will still have a role 4

to play in the development of poor countries, it is important to complement this approach with clear support for decentralised and alternative infrastructure systems that make the most of the existing natural resources and benefit the poor directly at location. For instance locally managed decentralised energy systems could provide for the basic energy needs of dispersed rural communities in a more direct and cost effective way than extending the grid; while support for appropriate types of transport including waterways, animals, gravity ropeways can be as important as building roads. Likewise the potential for creating income generating activities that decentralised

“locally managed decentralised energy systems could provide for the basic energy needs of dispersed rural communities in a more direct and cost effective way than extending the grid” systems offer is not negligible when reflecting on existing experiences of energy and small roads maintenance micro-enterprises. Rural economies are still based on a combination of subsistence and productive activities complemented by short- and medium-term strategies such as migration and paid labour. It is normal that it is the most vulnerable who are forced into these exclusionary cycles, those who have no

access and control to land, water or genetic resources.


Equality Gender imbalances in all those remain unresolved and unchallenged. It is therefore of great importance that to begin with issues of land tenure, reform, restitution and redistribution are addressed in these discussions in spite of its complexity. Small farmers’ and producers’ control of land and water resources should be ensured. A fundamental Right to Food Food production should have the right to food –as agreed internationally- as its main priority. In spite of growing demand for raw materials and increased attention to access to export markets, policies in this regard should reflect critically on the reduction of resilience of food producers that may impact food security in the long term due to their specialisation in a limited number of export crops. In that sense Governments should take the opportunity to promote the diversification of livelihoods, prioritise national manufacturing capacities and its ability to protect local and regional markets from unfair and stronger competition. Rural development that contributes to poverty eradication will be demanddriven and consider for instance the existing knowledge of small scale farmers and producers to reorient the provision of extension services. Impact studies of the privatization of agricultural extension services, particularly veterinary services, indicate that the smallest and neediest farmers, mainly women, cannot access and do not benefit from these services.

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Community-based extension that revalorizes and supports traditional knowledge systems and networks, with training for local farmer-to-farmer extension agents, is an alternative solution for the most vulnerable and needs to be reflected in policies. Decision makers have the opportunity to ensure that rural development promotes increased adaptive capacities, reduces vulnerabilities and increases the resilience of rural communities. For that to happen, clear spaces need to be open for the small

scale farmers, forest dwellers, livestock keepers, fishermen and pastoralists to bring their agendas and expertise forward

and for us for at least once, to listen and learn.

“Clear spaces need to be open for the small scale farmers, forest dwellers, livestock keepers, fishermen and pastoralists to bring their agendas and expertise forward and for us for at least once, to listen and learn”

Water Water Water…….. Why The Discussions at CSD17 Must Address Water as a Cross-Cutting Issue. By: Hannah Stoddart, Stakeholder Forum

2009 will go down as a year during which some make-or-break decisions were made with regard to the global environment. The keenly anticipated deal on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions that will emerge from COP-15 in Copenhagen at the end of this year will represent a critical juncture for the well-being of the planet and future generations. Yet whilst the world’s most powerful decision-makers, lobbyists and mainstream media join the debate on percentage cuts, baseline emissions and ‘common but differentiated responsibility’, there is significant work to be done behind the scenes to ensure that an enabling environment is created to both mitigate and respond to climate change impacts. The way in which countries manage their resources for economic, social and environmental wellbeing must be addressed, and the principles of sustainable development adopted as the lens through which decisions are made. The thematic focus of the Commission on Sustainable Development on Agriculture, Rural Development, Drought, Desertification and Africa therefore offers an ideal opportunity for progressive thinking on how to achieve rising living standards in the context of sustainable natural resource management.

As such, water must be addressed as a cross-cutting issue during the negotiations, recognizing that effective and sustainable management of water resources underpins progress in all these areas. The Global Public Policy Network on Water Management, a joint initiative of Stakeholder Forum and Stockholm International Water Institute, has been working with stakeholders in the run-up to CSD17 to ensure that water is a key consideration. Below are outlined just a few of the issues that have been raised. Agriculture Agriculture uses approximately 70% of

freshwater resources. With growing demand for food driven by an expanding and increasingly affluent global population, there is intense pressure for enhanced agricultural production. Whilst this expansion provides significant economic opportunities for developing countries, there is a risk that short-term economic incentives will outweigh a long-term and sustainable approach to agricultural development, accounting for integrated land and water management policies and the incorporation of approaches that build ecosystem resilience to maintain healthy freshwater resources. Continued on page 6

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Continued from page 5 Throw into this the potential impacts of climate change on water availability in many parts of the world, and the consequences could be disastrous. All too often the knee-jerk response to increased demand for agri-cultural products is the intensification of irrigation to meet those demands, taking little account of the impact of freshwater diversion on broader ecosystem stability, which in turn provides the services upon which agriculture and livelihoods depends. How will the proposed ‘Green Revolution’ in agriculture take into account the natural limits of ecosystems, and the need to balance the increased demand for water for agricultural purposes with the demand from other sectors and users? If the importance of land rights and security of tenure in the agricultural context is rightly recognized, why are we not also talking with more urgency about the rights of the environment and of ecosystems? WWF

“Capacity must be built at every level to ensure that patterns of land use are considered in the context of integrated water resources management” points out in its valuable work on water management that building ecosystem resilience for sustainable livelihoods may require ‘prior allocation’ of water for environmental flows, redefining water rights systems so that the basic requirements to maintain healthy ecosystems are met. This is not at odds with a people-centred approach, rather it is integral to it. Land and Rural Development It is welcome to see reference in the Chair’s negotiating text to the importance of managing land and water resources in an integrated manner. Integrated land and water resources management holds the key to avoiding land degradation and also to adapting to the impacts of climate change – this has been the subject of the Danish Dialogue on Land and Water Management, which has comprised a series of intergovernmental and multistakeholder roundtables, and has resulted in a set of principles and options for going forward that should be vital reading for delegates at the CSD. Capacity must be built at every level to ensure that patterns of land use are considered in the context of integrated water resources management, and that incentives are provided for preserving freshwater ecosystem services


to avoid land degradation. It is at this point that the inter-related nature of the thematic discussions at CSD17 becomes more evident, as Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes can be a highly effective way of both building ecosystem resilience and also enhancing rural development, as rural communities are rewarded for managing land and water resources in such a way that avoids ecosystem degradation. Providing rural communities with the training, tools, technologies and incentives for managing water and land resources in an integrated manner offers enormous opportunity for long-term and also climate resilient development. Drought and Desertification One might say that drought and desertification are sadly the inevitable outcomes of the wrong kinds of natural resource management policies in the areas of land, agriculture, and rural development touched on above. Natural fluctuations in weather patterns are not something that can necessarily be controlled, though human-induced climate change is projected to increase the quantity and severity of droughts. Whether climate change-induced or not, managing drought and building resilience depends on the sensible management of land and water, and the practice of sound agricultural policies that use water productively and efficiently, and do not degrade ecosystems and deplete freshwater resources so that there is little ‘buffer’ in the case of drought conditions. It is critical once again in this context to consider the importance of the ecosystem approach, and the recognition that environmental flows must be secured as a priority alongside basic social needs, especially in times of water shortage and scarcity. Depriving ecosystems of the water that they need in times of decreased water availability is tantamount to cutting off the hand that feeds you – at the heart of any policies on drought and desertification should be the recognition that water for development means water for environment.

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Earth Summit 2012 Throughout the two weeks of CSD-17, Outreach Issues will be publishing a number of articles from different stakeholders on what they feel a Rio+20 Summit might address. Beginning with Felix Dodds Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum. By: Felix Dodds, Stakeholder Forum

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein.

In February the CSD IPM was opened by the G77 Chair, the Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahood Abdalhaleem Mohamed telling the meeting: “In 2012, the international community will reach the twenty year mark from the Earth Summit held in 1992 and the ten-year anniversary of WSSD held in Johannesburg in 2002. It will be 40 years after the Stockholm Conference of 1972. The time will be opportune for the international community to thoroughly review and assess the progress achieved since these momentous summits. Guided by the ‘Rio Spirit’, a Rio+20 Summit should provide the necessary political impetus for the range and level of action to bridge the implementation gap. In this context the G77 and China welcomes the offer of the Government of Brazil to host such a Summit in 2012.” In the spirit of Rio during the IPM, the Stakeholder Forum hosted an informal dinner for 17 governments to discuss the idea of Summit and what that Summit might address. It gave an opportunity for SF to present the outcomes from the San Sebastian workshop held the previous November. The summary of the discussion there highlighted a number of possible outcomes for a Summit in 2012. Including the idea that to underpin a

The Earth Summit in 1992. Rio+20 will rejuvenate the spirit of the 1992 summit.

successful Summit a new deal on funding sustainable development needs to be agreed. To help this the UN Secretary General could set up a High Level Commission or Panel to identify key elements for a Global Green New Deal which would feed into the Summit process in 2011.

Global Governance At the UNEP Governing Council also in February a Ministerial Working Group on International Environmental Governance (IEG) was set up with a 2012 horizon. The South African Minister called for the UNEP GMEF in 2010 to adopt a Ministerial Declaration on IEG Principles and Goals.

Critical Issues The world has changed a lot since 1992 and even since the 2002 Summit. The suggestion was that Summit might address key critical issues under the banner of Human, Economic and Environmental ‘In-Security’ – that is, global insecurity over a range of issues, such as increased consumption patterns, urban growth, food, water, energy, health, migration, climate, resource availability and economics which are going to impact countries with increasing frequency. This would enable a review of Agenda 21 and the JPOI could be undertaken through this new lens of Human, Economic and Environmental ‘In-security’.

But it isn’t just environmental governance that needs to be addressed but sustainable development governance as well. Maurice Strong in Rio and since has called for sustainable development to be addressed at the highest level. In the past ideas included transforming the trusteeship Council, or the formation of a Sustainable Development Council of the General Assembly to look at critical and emerging issues. It’s clear that the CSD over the past few years has lost credibility among governments, and civil society alike. A strengthening of both the environmental and sustainable development architecture would enable the UN to address growing “In Securities”. Continued on page 9


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CSD 17: Anything New in Terms of Actions for the People of Drylands? Drought and desertification occurring in drylands, and the poverty and marginalization of their inhabitants have for a long time been neglected in the priorities of the decision makers despite the efforts of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). By: Written by: Lauren Naville Gisnås (Drylands Coordination Group) and Patrice Burger (Centre d’Actions et de Réalisations Internationales, CARI) and the networks: European networking initiative on Desertification (eniD) and Drynet.

The long term silent crisis of drylands Increasing land degradation leads to increasing food insecurity, poverty, loss of natural capital and also to increasing migration. The implementation of sustainable development policies and practices are for the 1.5 billion people affected by desertification the condition for their survival in the long term. More recently three global crises have taken place between CSD16 and CSD17: the food crisis, the energy crisis and the financial crisis. Many questions discussed during CSD16 have been put under the spotlights of the media and became much more pressing to the general public but also for the decision makers. Nevertheless, one can wonder if the decisions taken at CSD 17, the policies agreed on by the parties to the CSD, will have any concrete positive impact for the people living in drylands. Is this question offensive or simply honest at the beginning of this session? The UNCCD has recently celebrated its tenth birthday and as a its Parties offered it a 10 year strategy for its implementation without clear commitments on the means – is this a strategy for failure or late awareness? A lot of hope is put into this new strategy and the same could be said about the policies agreed on in terms of agricul-


ture, land management, rural development, drought and desertification at CSD 17. In which perspective and to what degree will these new policies make the lives of people in drylands any less challenging? A reality that one must accept to face Drylands are characterized by low and irregular rainfall which limits agricultural production and which might be worsened by climate change. Droughts and desertification are just two problems which affect dryland areas which are vulnerable to several threats. People living in drylands are often marginalized in terms of local development projects and policies, and their lifestyle, such as pastoralism for example, can be seen as backward. Infrastructure development in terms of roads, health services, communication, etc. is often limited in these areas, which in turn limits

“Dryland areas are often perceived as areas with low value in terms of economic production and as areas which are ‘difficult’ to work in and which face security problems. This leads to a lack of focus on and inward investments in these areas, which increases their marginalization socially, economically and politically.”

local development. Dryland areas are often perceived as areas with low value in terms of economic production and as areas which are ‘difficult’ to work in and which face security problems. This leads to a lack of focus on and inward investments in these areas, which increases their marginalization socially, economically and politically. And who asks questions that should prevent us from sleeping peacefully? In the face of all these challenges, how can the decisions taken at CSD 17 to combat drought and desertification and promote sustainable development in drylands become a reality? How can these promising decisions lead to concrete actions and changes for the people of drylands? And especially, what should be the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in creating an enabling environment for the implementation of these policies at the national and local level? CSOs clearly have an important role to play, as they always have in sustainable development projects. The UNCCD dedicates an important role to CSOs in reaching its objectives and the Chairman’s report, to be discussed during this session, mentions the importance of bottom-up implementation strategies. It is thus crucial that the role of CSOs in bringing these policies to life is discussed and taken into account in the final report of CSD 17. In that aim, a side-event will be organized in the evening of May 11th to address exactly this topic.

Outreach Issues

Public Food and the Challenge of Sustainable Development How School Lunches Can Help Sustain the Whole Planet By: By: Linda Elswick, International Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (IPSA)

Food has a crucial role to play in advancing the sustainable development agenda. Food production and consumption affect our individual and communal health, the integrity of our eco-systems, our quality of life. Hence, political intervention on the various stages of the food chain means addressing multiple forms of deprivation.

Development strategies that emphasize the inter-dependence of economy, society and nature, have the offer diverse benefits over a range of issues. It is hoped that

Kevin Morgan and Roberta Sonnino, University of Cardiff, focus on food as a crucial planning and development tool, to be discussed on the opening day of the CSD from 3-6 in CR 6.

Throughout the world, governments are beginning to discover the development potential of PUBLIC FOOD systems, especially in relation to school food, which is increasingly seen as a strategy that can contribute to food security, childhood education and market access for farmers. Both the Curry and Obesity Reports in the United Kingdom highlighted the potential role of public pro-procurement for re-localizing the agri-food sector and addressing health issues. Continued from page 7 Potential products of the summit could include two conventions -- one on access to information, participation and environmental justice (Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration), and one on corporate accountability. The last year has shown us that voluntary agreements among bankers do not work so, why should we believe that they work in the environmental arena. The time is surely here for a proper regulatory framework for companies in the area of environment. Between Prep Com 2 and 3 for Johannesburg, SF organised a private meeting of 6 multinational companies, key NGOs and the Trade Unions. As the meeting was under the Chatham House rules, I can’t say which companies but I can say they all supported international

the delegates this year recognize this, especially in relation to school food systems and offer concrete support to such programmes both in the developing and developed world.

A Note from the Editor Good morning everyone and welcome to the first day of CSD-17. As the daily editor of Outreach Issues this year, I thought I would introduce myself. So here goes, I am Stephen Mooney, and I work for the Stakeholder Forum, and this is my first year as daily editor and also at the Commission on Sustainable Development. regulation and were fed up with their competitors hiding behind voluntary agreements and not getting any recognition for the positive work they were doing. In the end we couldn’t move forward because it was felt that the political landscape wasn’t positive. That has changed and a corporate accountability convention would give the general public more confidence that the environment was being looked after both now and for future generations.

Everyone involved in producing Outreach Issues would like to have the contribution of all the major groups, and to give everyone the opportunity to submit articles on the daily proceedings. While I can’t promise to publish everything, I think with the input of all the major groups we can produce a good publication. While not every stakeholder will agree with what others have said it is important that everyone has the opportunity to express their views.

Finally a Rio+20, Johannesburg +10 should utilise web 2.0’ learning from the Barrack Obama presidential campaign in the U.S. – it could be used to engage the motivated individuals and in the delivery of its outcome. Millions of people becoming part of delivering a global solutions agenda! Doesn’t that sound like a good Summit!!

This year , then I would like to implement a “write to reply” column, where stakeholders could write a short response to issues that have been discussed. So please do submit your articles and comment (in a constructive and jovial manner) please do get in contact. Stephen Mooney


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Food for Thought…

Felix Dodds, Stakeholder Forum

“100 days of Obama” It always worried me that in that in the United States, the environment had become something of a Left v Right issue which in Europe it had not. After all Margaret Thatcher was one of the key leaders in galvanising support for the Montreal Protocol, President Chirac led the call for a stronger organisation to protect the environment, and a UN Environment Organisation and Chancellor Merkel who the Spiegel calls: ‘Germans Green Chancellor’. So I decided to look up in the Webster definition of conservatism and found that it said: “preferring gradual development to abrupt change,” or to “preserve what is established.” Until Senator McCain’s bid for the White House this view did not seem to percolate the Republican Party. A party that has had green Presidents in the past, after all Theodore Roosevelt is well remembered for creating Central Park, saying: “Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear most important part." But what a difference a President makes,

after eight years of President Bush and the denial around climate change and the blocking of many environmental suggestions, so many things that didn’t seem possible now seem probable. The first green roots can seen in the suggestions around the second recovery package followed by the support by the US for a convention on Mercury. In Bonn at the climate preparatory meeting Todd Stern, the US Climate Change envoy said: “President Obama is proposing to reduce U.S. emissions by something in the order of about 16-17 percent from where we are right now; about 15 percent from 2005 levels, and about 80 plus percent by 2050. That is a significant reduction. I am well aware that there is a historical affection for the year 1990; and that in 1990 terms, the President has proposed to be at that level, the 1990 level, by 2020. But it is a 16 or 17 percent reduction from where we are right now.” This is a huge movement from the previous administration but as yet not enough to ensure we keep within the 2 degree scenario that most climate experts think we should not exceed. Hannah Stoddart, Stakeholder Forum

Editorial Team

Design and Layout: Erol Hofmans, ANPED

We have also seen in response into the U.S. Supreme Court, the US Environmental Protection Agency has determined that: “carbon dioxide and other tailpipe emissions are harmful to the health and wellbeing of the American people.” And finally on Earth Day President Obama said that we need: "global coalition" to solve the problems of climate change. "Our climate knows no boundaries; the decisions of any nation will affect every nation," All this within the first 100 days. Is this enough? This will be the first Commission on Sustainable Development under a President Obama administration...perhaps we will have a clearer idea this time next year when Copenhagen has happened. But we should remember that climate is not everything the US has not ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity nor the Basel Convention or the Law of the Sea Convention so lots for President Obama to do in the second 100 days.

Outreach Issues is made possible through the generous support of:

Pictures published under Creative Commons Licenses. Senior Editor: Jan-Gustav Strandenaes, ANPED

The Italian Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea

Co-Editor: Felix Dodds, Stakeholder Forum Daily Editor: Stephen Mooney, Stakeholder Forum Journalists: Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth Linda Elswick, IPSA Maria Arce Moreira, Practical Action Selene Biffi, Youth Caucus Co-Ordinator Lauren Naville Gisnås, Drylands Group Patrice Burger, Cari


Previous and today’s issues are easily available online, go to:

and Belgian Sustainable Development Federal Public Planning Service

CSD 17 Day 1 - 4 May 2009  

This edition of Outreach is produced by the Sustainable Development Issues Network (SDIN) Group and Stakeholder Forum at the 17th Commission...