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Editor's Note: Crises, Reform and a Very Busy Month 

Issue #169 | 2 June 2011

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

The last few weeks have brought a number of interesting developments related to the institutional arrangements for sustainable development policy making and implementation.

The closure of the 19th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 19) without a decision perhaps raises the most questions regarding the appropriate structure for sustainable development institutional arrangements. As our Earth Negotiations Bulletin analysis of this meeting suggests, “The failure of CSD 19 to adopt a negotiated outcome dealt a blow to the standing of this UN body, and sowed doubts regarding the ability of governments to collectively and effectively address crucial sustainable development issues.” From a different perspective, however, the hard thinking about the CSD's future following this outcome might “serve as a wake-up call for those involved in the Rio+20 process,” with our analysis noting that “sometimes it takes a disaster or a collapse to make people get serious about reform.”

During the same period, another Earth Negotiations Bulletin team reported from the 33rd session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was evaluating recommendations to revise its own governance procedures following public criticism related to inaccuracies in the Fourth Assessment Report and the Panel's response, as well as questions about the integrity of some of its members. Our analysis of this meeting suggests that the “IPCC could come out of the crisis stronger—with stronger governance, better policies, and improved procedures. The decisions taken at IPCC 32 and 33, together with those expected at IPCC 34, will lay the foundation to regain and strengthen the IPCC's credibility.” The participants in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) process have their work cut out, to follow-up the CSD 19 collapse by envisioning an institutional framework for sustainable development that can engender a similar analysis.

Meanwhile, our International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Reporting Services teams are fanning the globe, to bring you the latest developments in sustainable development policy making. Our team has just finished its report from the 40th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, and its decision to broaden the GEF Partnership under Paragraph 28 of the Instrument for the Establishment of the Restructured GEF (GEF Instrument), which establishes criteria and accreditation procedures for allowing new entities into the Partnership during a pilot phase. Currently, we have three teams in the field, at the Working Group on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, the UNFCCC Workshop on Technology Needs Assessments and the Third Latin America and Caribbean Regional Meeting on SAICM. Through the end of June, we will be writing 12 more meeting summaries, bringing you a steady source of information and analyses on the structures, implementation mechanisms and international activities that contribute to sustainable development.