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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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May 15, 2008 was the main Hooray of CSD 16. In Conference Room 4 was going on “at High Level” – Deputy Assistant Secretary of a Ministry, and Second Secretary of a Permanent Mission to the UN – the “Thematic Cluster for the implementation cycle 2008/2009 – review session. But outside that room there were so many true high level parallel side events, CSD Related Events, Learning Center Sessions, and Other UN Activities, that trying to cover that whole gamut of events, I had to walk in and out – choosing particular presentations, and obviously loosing out on much of the discussion.

I will proceed now to try to give some proof why I still think that the UN CSD has to be saved – rather then walked away from with disgust.

First, under the category of Other UN Activities, during the UN lunch break 1:15 – 2:30 pm, in conference room 7, UNCTAD, with invitation to everybody interested, this including the CSD participants, had a “
Briefing on the outcome of the 12-th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development that was held in Accra, Ghana, April 20-25, 2008.

I picked up the documents, listened to the opening, and when the first speaker started to show the touristic markets of Accra, I left. I had later the chance to find out that someone connected to UNCTAD did in effect not know the name of one of the first that did run that organization. I am attaching here the “Accra Declaration” and note that UNCTAD, that was created as an antidote to the World Trade Organization, has worked itself into a corner of irrelevance. My belief is that it should be merged into the CSD as trade is definitely part of development, and it   has thus to be pursued in the context of Sustainable Development. Again, if the CSD is aching but needed, it can be improved eventually if less outside organizations are let to run around lose – turning themselves into touristic experiences.

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Also a general UN event held during the lunch-time UN recess:

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This event was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Philippines as per UN General Assembly Resolution 55/282.
Actually, the organizers had invited Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, the USG for Communications and Public Information. Seemingly busy he delegated participation to a much more eager and UN troubleshooter Mr. Eric Falt who has been brought in this year – as Director of the Outreach Division of DPI, to help save the UN from itself.

This event will have a follow up of sorts on May 21, 2008 with the help of the SUSTAINABLE FUTURE CAMPAIGN www.sustainablefuturecampaign.com and the UN Youth and Student Association of Austria www.afa.at
We will mention here that youth is a CSD “Major Group” and 14 delegations prided themselves with having had a youth representative at CSD 16. The youth had also a desk in the corridor and did their naive best to try to convince those present at the CSD meetings to take their task seriously.

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But from all of these activities, as said, the most impressive were the four parallel events of the “Side Events” to   CSD 16 that were held during the lunch-time intermission:

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The event in Conference room 2 was organized by the ICLEI of the EU showing off an integrated sustainable development program in the “County of the South East” of the Spanish Island of Gran Canaria (Gran Canaria Sur Este, Spain, that includes the communities of – Aguimes, Ingenio, and Santa Lucia.   www. surestegc.org The event’s   shepherd was   Mr. Jan-Gustav Strandenaes, Senior Policy Advisor, The Northern Alliance for Sustainability, (ANPED}, The Stakeholder Forum, and the Partnerships for Sustainable Development.

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The event in Conference Room 4 was a high powered technical event organized by Greece and involving the European Commission’s Mediterranean initiative with special emphasis on the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in the region. The event, besides the EU, also involved the Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED) a high official of Tunisia, and the leader on Environment issues for the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) thus bypassing an Israeli participation. This was unfortunate because in other Mediterranean fora there is a very positive history of cooperation between Israel and the Arab States – including in fora organized by the EU under Spanish leadership. The unfortunate part is in the participation of ESCWA that is located in Damascus, even though in the past, in private discussion, upon a question about the need of regional cooperation on subject of Middle East environment, I remember that Dr. Hosni Khordagui told me that he cooperates regularly with Israeli scientists.

Originally, invited were also a representative of Lebanon, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank – but they did not confirm their participation and did not show up.may-15010.gif

Professor Scoulos pointed out that ” some non-EU members of the group have yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, others have difficulties in implementing it correctly.” Recently the Mediterranean countries have adopted the Almeria Declaration to the Barcelona Convention of 2005, identifying a number of measures and common actions on climate change.

He pointed out that the Mediterranean area can expect by 2100 a temperature increase of 2.2 -5.1 degrees C and total precipitation drop of 4-27% In the Middle East there will be competition over water resources. There will be migratory pressure from South and East.   www.mio-ecsde.org and www.gwpmed.org

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The Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium event organized by the Norway, dealt with our need to change the ways of economic development, what technically is called MITIGATION of climate change – and the need for ADAPTATION in order to handle disasters caused by climate change. This was the downside of climate change – the recognition that we have done very little to avoid it and very little to help those most threatened.

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With opening statements from the Norwegian highest ranking UNDP official, Director of the Bureau for Development Policy, Mr. Olav Kjorven, and the Panel Chair, Ambassador Mona Elisabeth Brother from the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs foreign aid programs, and the Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN (Ambassador Carsten Staur) it was for the Permanent Representatives of Haiti (Ambassador Leo Merores, President of ECOSOC) and Grenada (Ambassador Angus Friday, Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States – AOSIS) to state the obvious facts that it is the weakest States that are the first to suffer from the effects of climte change.

The Heads of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at UNDP, The new office of Climate Change effects established by UNSG Ban Ki-moon, and Field Support team of the Red Cross (IFRC) were there to point out the Human and Security problems that will be resulting from climate change induced massive migration. There is very little heartening that can be expected with such visions. Norway is there to worn us with the need to prepare to act.

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The fourth among the “Side Events” during the lunch time break of May 15th, – held in room 6 – the smallest of the rooms – was probably the most important from all the four important events. This was the reason we decided on our title for this posting, and as we will eventually see from the reporting dealing with the following day’s closing of CSD 16, it will become clear that I do regard the penultimate day to be of higher value,   that might show more lasting effect.

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The two main presentations were by Ahim Steiner and Michel Jarraud, but to us the special thing was the position taken by Josue Dione. He came out saying that for food security Africa has to develop it by themselves, and he gave the example of Malawi who did the right thing and now are not short of food anymore, In effect they do export food now to neighboring countries. The point is that Africa must stop complaining and start digging themselves out from hunger by themselves. Sure it needs help but Africa has to do the work.

Among the material I picked up here was a set of data collected by the UN as Energy Indicators for Sustainable Development for: Brazil, Cuba. Lithuania, Mexico, Russia, Slovakia, Thailand.

And two recent volumes published by Springer which I intend to review separately:

a – “Climate and Land Degradation” edited by Mannava V.K.Sivakumar and Ndegwa Ndiang’ui.

b – “Managing Weather and Climate Risks in Agriculture” edited by Mannava V.K. Sivakumar and Raymond P. Motha.

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