Thursday, 12 July 2007

As we head into what is traditionally considered a slower period – the July-August northern summer break – recent events and appointments provide us with plenty of material to contemplate and follow during the coming months.

Among the items and questions that this Linkages Update issue raises are the following:

The Economic and Social Council has completed its first Annual Ministerial Review, one element of the “revitalized” ECOSOC structure. Did this experience offer the expected benefits and what lessons can be learned for next year?

New and expected appointments in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Basel Convention, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Development Programme and elsewhere in the UN system promise to bring new voices to the sustainable development debate. What direction and coalitions will they move in this ongoing discussion?

Lynn Wagner, Ph.D.
Editor, Linkages Update
and MEA Bulletin

The eighth meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP-8) ended without a negotiated text, as did the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in May. We are interested in the parallels between the CSD and what are often highlighted as two of its primary successes, the ICP and the forests process, the latter of which had its own history of ending without negotiated texts. These bodies have taken on issues that were known to be complex or highly sensitive, or have hosted international discussions on certain topics for the first time. Both of these explanations offer some perspective for why negotiators have found it difficult to reach agreement, but they remain too simplistic for a full understanding. What lessons can be learned for the international community as it attempts to develop solutions for the emerging and contentious sustainable development issues it faces?

Reflecting the slow down in UN negotiations and activities over the coming weeks, we will not be publishing our next issue of Linkages Update until the second week of August, when we will bring you news from the ECOSOC July sessions and other hot-off-the-press updates. In the meantime, those who need their “fix” on multilateral environmental agreements sooner than this should sign up to Linkages Update’s sister publication, MEA Bulletin. The next issue will be published on 26 July.
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