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Editor's Note: National Reporting and Programmes for Action: Mapping the Road Ahead 

Issue #168 | 13 May 2011

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By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Group Director, SDG Knowledge, IISD <>

As the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC IV) concludes its week-long meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, those watching it will soon turn to consider how the Istanbul Programme of Action will determine the global development perspective towards the LDCs for 2011-2020.

LDC IV, which convened from 9-13 May 2011, was organized with the goals of assessing the results of the 10-year action plan for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on LDCs in Brussels, Belgium, in 2001, and adopting new measures and strategies for the sustainable development of the LDCs into the next decade. It represented the fourth in the series of ten-yearly UN gatherings, which began in Paris in 1981. At each of these events, participants developed a programme of action with guidelines for domestic action by LDCs and complementary international support measures.

However, the LDC conferences are not the only intergovernmental forum to provide input and direction to LDCs' future policies and practices. This issue of Linkages Update notes a number of recent activities related to the development of national reports, action plans and programmes for the Rio Conventions.

Based on decisions related to the fifth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF 5) in 2010, parties to the Rio Conventions have recently been informed about how GEF 5 funding can be accessed for national reporting, including the development of national action plans and programmes. UNCCD parties have received instructions for how they can directly access funding for desertification projects to align their National Action Programmes (NAPs) with the UNCCD 10-Year Strategy. Likewise, in April the GEF informed parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that the GEF is making available expanded and expedited access to funding for enabling activities, including national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) and national reports under the CBD and the Biosafety Protocol. Furthermore, in an effort to ensure that synergies between biodiversity conventions will be incorporated into the CBD reporting process, the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has developed a draft guide for CITES Parties on Contributing to the development, review, updating and revision of NBSAPs. And the CBD Secretariat is hosting a series of capacity-building regional workshops to facilitate countries' efforts to update their NBSAPs. In a similar vein, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat has just published a document that provides information on financial support provided by the GEF for the preparation of national communications from parties not included in Annex I to the Convention.

The development of these reports and plans often serves as a capacity building and awareness raising tool at the national level. The finished products help countries identify their domestic needs and priorities for further action. And as a collective whole, national reports can offer a glimpse of how a treaty is being implemented, as parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are discovering with their new, online Performance Review and Assessment of Implementation System.

IISD Reporting Services will continue to track all of these new events, reports and policy directions, and bring you the latest developments on the roadmap to international sustainable development, as they happen.