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Editor’s Note No. 106
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Chris Spence
Chris Spence
Managing Editor, Linkages Update
and Deputy Director, IISD RS
As the sixteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development got underway in New York earlier this week, delegates were quick to connect its current focus on agriculture, land, rural development, drought, desertification and Africa to two other high-profile issues – climate change and food security. With the global food crisis and climate change continuing to dominate the news media, delegates were urging some serious discussions on these timely and connected issues.

As this issue of Linkages Update shows, experts and policy makers have been trying to come to grips with these matters across a range of venues, from the Commission on Sustainable Development to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to various other fora. A host of new research is also focusing on these topics, as our “New Reports and Resources” section clearly demonstrates.

While there are many diverging views on food security and biofuels, climate change and energy use, at least one area of consensus already seems to have emerged: across all these topics, the development dimension is key. Several reports and meetings featured in this issue of Linkages Update focus on how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) connect to these other challenges. Together, these stories show the risks that rapid food price rises, unabated climate change, or misguided policies on biofuels, agriculture or biodiversity pose for human development. With the MDGs’ 2015 deadline now less than seven years away, advances on all these fronts will be essential if these ambitious targets are to be achieved.

In the coming weeks and months, many meetings will be held in an attempt to tackle these important topics. The first of these are meetings of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, all taking place in Bonn, Germany in May and June. Also, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is hosting a ‘High-Level Conference on World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy,’ which is taking place in Rome in early June.

IISD RS will continue to track these and other events and examine their implications for sustainable development and the MDGs.
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