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November 2005


Participants at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's 33rd conference in Rome have agreed on FAO's budget for 2006-7 at US$765.7 million – $16.6 million more than the previous budget, but not a large enough increase to cover inflationary pressures. The body will introduce efficiency measures and a restructuring of its headquarters. The FAO conference took place from 19-26 November 2005, while the FAO Council met from 16-18 November and again on 28 November. Links to further information FAO press release on the budget, 26 November 2005 FAO Conference information FAO Council information

The first meeting of the Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has taken place in Geneva. The Committee, which met from 7-11 November, considered five chemicals proposed for inclusion in the Convention: Pentabromodiphenyl ether (proposed by Norway); Chlordecone (proposed by the EU); Hexabromobiphenyl (proposed by the EU); Lindane (proposed by Mexico); and PFOS (proposed by Sweden). The Committee's main task at this meeting was to evaluate whether the screening criteria in the Annex D of the Stockholm Convention were fulfilled. After evaluating each of the chemicals against the criteria on persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse effects, the Committee decided that all five chemicals fulfilled these criteria. The next stage of the process is to develop risk profiles in accordance with Article 8 and Annex E of the Convention. An invitation to Parties and observers to submit the information specified in Annex E of the Convention to inform the risk profiles, will be circulated shortly with a deadline towards end of January 2006 for providing the information. Intersessional working groups will be developing the draft profiles in advance of the second meeting of the Committee, which is scheduled to take place on 6-10 November 2006. Participants at the Committee's first meeting also took decisions on several operational issues, including procedures for handling confidential information, work plans for intersessional activities, and criteria and procedures for inviting additional experts. The Committee elected Jacqueline Alvarez (Uruguay) as its Vice-Chair. A meeting report will be available online shortly (IISD sources). Link to further information POPs website

A declaration has been signed on the protection and sustainable use of the Wadden Sea area. The tenth Trilateral Governmental Conference on the Protection of the Wadden Sea took place in Schiermonnikoog, the Netherlands, on 3 November 2005. At the conclusion of the one-day meeting, the three signatory governments – the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark – signed the Schiermonnikoog Declaration. The declaration reinforced the cooperation on the protection and sustainable use of the Wadden Sea area, which includes, inter alia: improving shipping safety on the sea; coordinating implementation of relevant European legislation; contributing to the process of the EU's Water Framework Directive (WFD) across the relevant WFD borders in the coastal waters; and developing a joint proposal for the nomination of the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site. The declaration.

The European Regional Preparatory meeting and Annual meeting of UNEP National Committees (NATCOM's) partner NGOs took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 31 October to 2 November 2005, at the International Environment House. Participants listened to presentations during the three days and discussions were moderated by Chair Frits Schlingemann, Regional Representative and Director from UNEP, assisted by co-chair Felix Dodds from Stakeholder Forum. Presentations highlighted the extensive participation that the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) had in previous Forums but stressed the further need for CSOs' training and preparation in the agenda setting process. Participants also learnt about the different ways in which civil society can participate in the Forum, from regional meetings and regional statements to production of papers and preparation from accredited CSOs to attend the meeting, circulate written statements and make interventions. Participants were then briefed on the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Transfer and Capacity Building and its implementation in the ECE region. There were also presentations and discussions on the Ministerial Consultation themes for the Ninth Special Session of the UNEP GC/GMEF (chemical management, energy and environment and tourism and environment). Other briefings on international and regional processes took place, including on the UN World Summit, the role of women and challenges for implementing the MDGs, public participation in the implementation of other Conventions (Carpathian, Caspian and Aarhus), and NGO perspectives on education for sustainable development. Challenges, lessons learned and experiences in the UN-Civil Society Relations and UNEP and Civil Society engagement were also presented, before a regional statement was adopted at the end of the meeting (IISD sources). The meeting was one in a series of regional events scheduled for October and November 2005. Link to further information The 7th Global Civil Society Forum

An agreement at the upcoming Hong Kong conference on a comprehensive framework to conclude the Doha Round of trade talks appears less likely following recent discussions in Geneva and London. According to reports, the meetings achieved little movement on agriculture and other key issues, meaning hopes have dimmed for a complete deal at the World Trade Organization's Hong Kong ministerial in December. According to one report, EU trade commissioner ruled out any hopes for an agreement in Hong Kong. Instead, many observers are now suggesting that a partial deal is more likely, and that a second ministerial meeting will be needed in March 2006. Conservation group Friends of the Earth International has praised developing countries for “resisting European and US pressure to open their markets.” The group has argued that no deal is better than a deal that fails to focus on development. The EU recently offered some additional concessions in agriculture, but critics say they are inadequate and would not compensate for their demands on industrial tariffs and services. Links to further information WTO Hong Kong Sixth Ministerial Conference website Mandelson warning of WTO failure, 11 November 2005 Friends of the Earth International press release, 11 November 2005 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, 2-9 November 2005 - 9 November 2005 - 2 November 2005

October 2005


A breakthrough in agriculture negotiations apparently remains elusive with just weeks to go before the World Trade Organization's Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December. Little movement has been reported in negotiations on cuts to tariffs and subsidies by developed countries, with the US and the EU apparently taking quite different positions. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy recently identified market access for agricultural goods as the most contentious issue under negotiation. Recent talks have also prompted disputes within the EU, with France reportedly seeking to limit the negotiating flexibility of Europe's trade commissioner Peter Mandelson in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the WTO's Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance has agreed that it will seek a simple renewal of its mandate in the Doha Declaration at the Hong Kong meeting. The decision to fall back on previously-agreed text was made after disagreements over proposals made by Argentina and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries group. In other news, divisions remain over the definition of environmental goods for the purposes of trade liberalization, according to a Bridges Weekly news report. Links to further information World Trade Talks Near Showdown, BBC news, 23 October 2005 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest reports, 19 October 2005 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest reports, 12 October 2005

September 2005


Market news, experiences and lessons learned, and future regimes were discussed at a recent workshop on emissions trading. The International Energy Agency, International Emissions Trading Association, and Electric Power Research Institute held the Fifth Workshop on Emissions Trading in Paris from 27-28 September 2005. More information.
Expert Meeting on Sustainable Consumption and Production forwards Input to CSD

September 2005: An expert meeting on sustainable consumption and production has developed input for the Commission on Sustainable Development. Over 180 experts from more than 65 countries deliberated from 5-8 September 2005 in San José, Costa Rica, at the Second International Expert Meeting on a 10-Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production. The meeting, which was organized by the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), explored opportunities for partnerships to work on sustainable consumption and production (SCP). It also provided inputs to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) for consideration, in the form of a non-negotiated Co-Chairs' summary report of the meeting. The summary report calls for a third international expert meeting to be held in 2007 as part of the Marrakech Process, to work within and feed into the CSD work programme. It encourages the work of the four task forces announced during the meeting (Sustainable Lifestyles, Sustainable Products, Cooperation with Africa, and Sustainable Procurement) and invites them and other task forces that might emerge to report to the next meeting and to relevant CSD sessions. The summary concludes that SCP work should be linked to poverty reduction, especially the MDGs, and integrated into national strategies for sustainable development and poverty reduction. It also calls for further work on estimating the costs of inaction and the benefits of SCP, awareness-raising, and ongoing international cooperation including capacity building, technical and financial assistance and knowledge sharing. [IISDRS coverage]

August 2005


Informal talks have been held in Greenland to discuss policy differences among key countries on climate change. The confidential discussions were attended by representatives of nearly two dozen nations, including China, India, Japan, the United States, and members of the European Union. According to reports, the event included a helicopter journey to view the impact of climate change on the polar icecap. Links to further information Plea to stop squabbles ends Greenland climate talks, Kerala News, 19 August 2005 Talks renew vigor to tackle warming, BBC news, 23 August 2005

July 2005


A focus on clean and low-carbon technology was supported at a high-level meeting organized by the UK as part of its G8 presidency. The focus emerged from the first Ministerial meeting of the Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, a new initiative launched at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles on 6-8 July 2005. According to some observers, the focus on technological solutions and private sector involvement underlined by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and others reflects recent efforts by the EU, U.S. and other large economies to find common ground in spite of differences over the binding targets set out under the Kyoto Protocol. Blair recently stated that the Kyoto approach will not be viable after 2012 if the U.S. is not involved, and also said countries would not take on targets that would hurt economic growth. Some environmental some groups have accused Blair of backpedaling on future targets – a shift they say will mean that efforts to address the climate problem will almost certainly be inadequate. A further Ministerial Dialogue is set to take place in Mexico in 2006. Links to further information Official Chair's Conclusions of the Conference, November 2005 EurActiv news report, 2 November 2005 NGOs urge Blair not to turn his back on climate change, WWF statement, 11 November 2005

June 2005


The world's least developed countries have agreed a common position on trade issues heading into the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005. The agreement was reached during a meeting of ministers in Livingstone, Zambia on 27 June 2005. Meanwhile, in other trade news, the EU has approved a new Generalized System of Preferences for trade with developing countries. More information: Reports from ICTSD Bridges Weekly.

May 2005


The case for a UN Environment Organization based in Nairobi, Kenya was the focus of recent informal government consultations. The consultations, which took place in Berlin, Germany on 27 May 2005, involved officials from 36 countries, the European Commission, UNDP and UNEP. According to IISD Linkages sources, the meeting addressed a range of issues relating to upgrading UNEP into a UN Environment Organization (UNEO), including options for a mandate and budget. There were reportedly suggestions by some countries that the UN General Assembly High-level Plenary Meeting scheduled to take place in September 2005 could initiate a process in the framework of UN reform on the possible establishment of a UNEO. However, some participants expressed concerns that a UNEO could lead to an organization “with enforcement powers” Issues of participation and funding were also raised, with some officials suggesting that a UNEO might require additional funding that could prove to be a burden for developing countries. However, supporters of a UNEO argued that the Organization would not have enforcement powers, and would designed to support full participation and could result in more predictable and adequate funding. The meeting took place on the same day as an article was published by the Environment Ministers of Germany, France and Spain calling for “a strong UN Environment Organization.” The article.

April 2005


Members of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have urged greater action on poverty and warned of risks to the global economy during meetings held in mid-April. The World Bank-IMF 2005 “Spring Meetings,” held in Washington, D.C. on 16 and 17 April, resulted in calls for poverty reduction to “remain at the top of the international agenda.” In spite of predicting “robust” global economic growth for 2005, it also warned of growing imbalances within regions, exchange rate volatility, and the risks posed by oil price rises. The two organizations recently issued a report warning that the Millennium Development Goals intended to address poverty, disease and other issues would be put at risk unless the international community acts with greater urgency and commitment. However, some news reports suggested that the Spring Meetings ended without achieving any major new political breakthrough on these issues. There was also apparently little headway made during a recent G7 finance ministers' meeting on debt relief. Links to further information IMF “Spring Meetings” website, April 2005 The report, Global Monitoring Report 2005: From Consensus to Momentum, 2005 Discerning a New Course for World's Donor Nations, New York Times, 18 April 2005 Debt relief delayed by indecision, BBC news, 18 April 2005

March 2005


Ministers and senior officials from 52 Asian and Pacific countries have recently pledged to alter current patterns of production, consumption and distribution and promote cleaner, environmentally sustainable growth in their fight to eradicate poverty. The Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, which convened in Seoul, Republic of Korea, comprised two segments: a Senior Officials Meeting from 24-26 March, and a Meeting of Ministers from 28-29 March 2005. Participants, including Ministers, officials, and environmental experts and representatives from international organizations, discussed strategies for environmentally sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region for 2006-2010. At the close of the conference, Ministers adopted the Seoul Initiative on Environmentally Sustainable Economic Growth: ‘Green Growth', a Ministerial Declaration, and the Regional Implementation Plan for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, 2006-2010. The Ministerial Declaration declared that “Environmentally sustainable economic growth or ‘Green Growth' should be promoted as a basis for improving environmental sustainability and attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the region.” The Implementation Plan calls for, among others, promoting partnerships, using economic tools to improve ecological efficiency, mobilizing technical and donor support, reviewing national laws and identifying, monitoring and building capacity to manage disaster risks. The Seoul Initiative contains three targets: improving environmental sustainability of economic growth; enhancing environmental performance in pollution control and ecosystem management; and promoting the environment as a driver of economic growth and development. IISDRS coverage of this meeting.
EU Council adopts recommendations on climate change, sustainable development and Millennium Summit review

The Council of the European Union met in Brussels from 22-23 March, addressing a number of issues including the: Stability and Growth Pact; Mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy; Sustainable development; Climate change; ITER; Preparations for the UN Summit in September 2005; and Lebanon. On sustainable development, the Council agreed to adopt at its June meeting a declaration on guiding principles for sustainable development, which will serve as the basis for renewing the sustainable development strategy that was adopted at the 2001 Council meeting in Göteborg. Regarding the new EU sustainable development strategy to be adopted by the end of 2005, the Council stated that a new, more comprehensive and more ambitious strategy, comprising targets, indicators and an effective monitoring procedure, should be based on a positive long-term vision and should fully integrate internal and external dimensions. On climate change, the Council acknowledged that climate change is likely to have major negative global environmental, economic and social implications, and confirmed that the global annual mean surface temperature increase should not exceed 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. The Council also emphasized the EU's determination to reinvigorate international negotiations by: exploring options for a post-2012 arrangement in the context of the UN climate change process, ensuring the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response; developing a medium and long-term EU strategy to combat climate change consistent with meeting the 2ºC objective; and promoting cost-efficient measures to cut emissions. On preparations for the UN Summit in September 2005, the Council reaffirmed the EU's resolve to play a major role within the UN in general and in preparations for the Summit in particular. The Council noted the EU's determination that this process should result in the devising of common responses to key development, security and human rights problems. In its discussions, the Council also underlined the particular importance of Africa in 2005, welcomed the Commission's intention to submit early proposals designed to make a substantial contribution to the review of the Millennium Development Goals and to reinforce the Union's support for the African continent, and noted the recent report of the Commission for Africa. Links to further information Presidency Conclusions, Brussels, 22-23 March 2005 Council meeting website

The Environment and Development Ministers of the G8 countries, with the European Commissioners responsible for environment and development, the EU Presidency and senior officials from the United Nations, World Bank and IUCN-The World Conservation Union met from 17-18 March 2005 in Derbyshire, to address illegal logging and the impact of climate change on African development. Prior to the meeting, a consultation with civil society representatives was also held. At the conclusion of the two-day meeting, Ministers adopted a statement of commitments and priority actions. On illegal logging, Ministers agreed that working to tackle illegal logging is an important step towards the sustainable management of forests and sustainable development, and recognized the impacts that illegal logging, and associated trade and corruption have on environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, deforestation and climate systems. Ministers also committed to a range of different actions, including: assisting timber producing countries by increasing support to existing forest law enforcement and governance processes and extending this support to other regions; increasing support to producer countries in their efforts to tackle illegal logging and associated trade; sharing technical knowledge, helping develop tools and building the capacity to apply them to detect and prevent illegal logging and apprehend and prosecute offenders; taking steps to halt the import and marketing of illegally logged timber; taking actions to control illegal logging and associated trade, including wildlife trafficking, through bilateral and regional trade-related arrangements, consistent with WTO rules; and encouraging, adopting or extending public timber procurement policies that favor legal timber. Ministers also requested an expert meeting in 2006 to review progress towards the commitments made, to share lessons on actions to tackle illegal logging, and to make findings available. On climate change in Africa, Ministers noted that African countries are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change and, like many developing countries, are already experiencing more frequent dangerous climate effect. They agreed that urgent action to help the vulnerable adapt to climate change is necessary to ensure that climate impacts do not undermine the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Ministers also agreed that further international action is required to address climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to show leadership in international efforts to tackle climate change and assist vulnerable countries in coping with the impacts of climate change. They also recognized the need for increasing access to reliable and affordable energy services for the poor in Africa, particularly from renewable and energy efficient sources. Ministers also committed to supporting an effective international response: to help Africa understand and manage climate risk by building scientific and technical capacity in Africa; for multilateral development agencies to develop and implement ‘best practice' guidelines for screening Africa's climate risks within development portfolios; and to integrate measures to address the impacts of climate change for Africa in international development assistance and facilitate their integration in regional and national development plans. Links to more information G8 Ministerial outcome G8 Environment and Development Ministers Agree Action on Il..., DEFRA/DFID joint news release, 18 March 2005 G8 Gleneagles 2005

The preparatory meeting for the United Nations Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) 2005 High-level Segment took place on Wednesday and Thursday, 16-17 March 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting focused on “achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, as well as implementing the outcomes of the major UN Conferences and Summits.” Roundtable discussions were held on eradication of poverty and hunger, education and literacy, health and mortality, global partnerships and financing development, gender equality and the empowerment of women, environmental sustainability, and implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, at the country level: how to advance recommendations on an MDG-based approach to poverty reduction. The outcomes of the preparatory meeting will feed into ECOSOC's High-level and Coordination Segments, which will take place as part of the substantive ECOSOC session from 29 June to 27 July 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. The High-level Segment will address “Achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, as well as implementing the outcomes of the major United Nations Conferences and Summits: progress made, challenges and opportunities,” and the Coordination Segment will address the theme, “Towards achieving internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.” IISDRS coverage of this meeting.
Nordic Roundtable Examines Business Aspects of Sustainable Consumption, Production

March 2005: A roundtable on sustainable consumption and production has ended with ideas and recommendations on the role business should play, and on North-South linkages and collaboration. The Nordic Roundtable on Business Relations and Sustainable Consumption and Production in a North/South Perspective took place in Oslo, Norway from 9-10 March 2005. The event considered a range of relevant topics, including international cooperation on sustainable consumption and production, the role of business and industry, EU activities, the promotion of green suppliers, the role of governments in developing countries, and the potential role of investments from Nordic countries in the South. Delegates also considered global consumption trends, and challenges, opportunities and recommendations for further work. Based on the discussions at the roundtable, the Nordic Ad Hoc Group on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which organized the meeting, will finalize a report that will be presented during the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) in April 2005. The report will also be considered at the second international meeting of the “Marrakech Process” on sustainable consumption and production, scheduled to take place in Costa Rica in September 2005. The Roundtable is therefore expected to contribute to the formulation of UN policies, as well as to EU and Nordic policy making. The IISD RS Sustainable Developments report.
CSD-13 Preparatory Meeting Discusses Policy Options and Possible Actions for Implementation

March 2005: The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) for the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) took place from 28 February to 4 March 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. The IPM sought to discuss policy options and possible actions to enable the implementation of measures and policies concerning water, sanitation and human settlements – the thematic cluster of issues for the CSD-12/CSD-13 Implementation Cycle. Throughout the week, delegates met in plenary and in parallel sessions to consider policy options for the three themes and to discuss interlinkages and cross-cutting aspects. These deliberations were reflected in a draft Chair's text, which is expected to form the basis of further discussions during CSD-13, scheduled to meet from 11-22 April 2005, in New York. Following the conclusion of the IPM, many delegates had varying views on the value of the preparatory meeting, but agreed that one of the most important elements of the IPM was the incubation space it provided for the generation of ideas and proposals. During the week, numerous delegations took the opportunity to circulate non-papers and express their visions for the Policy Year's outcomes. Many of the issues proposed were met with a wide range of responses, some of which received varying degrees of support and some which were met with deep skepticism. While the IPM provided delegates the space to digest new ideas to move implementation forward, the divergent views on many of the issues discussed will require CSD-13 Chair John Ashe to delicately navigate the CSD's uncharted waters and balance delegations' views concerning the Commission's role in providing prescriptive global, national and regional level policy options and actions. [The Earth Negotiations Bulletin's coverage of this meeting]

February 2005

23rd Session of the UNEP Governing Council/GMEF

February 2005: The 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council/ Global Environment Ministerial Forum concluded with key decisions on chemicals management, UNEP's water policy and strategy, and international environmental governance (IEG). During the week, delegates convened in plenary sessions, a Committee of the Whole, a drafting group and two open-ended contact groups to consider draft decisions. A three-day ministerial consultation considered the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration, with a focus on environment and poverty, environmental sustainability, and gender and the environment. The Governing Council/GMEF concluded its work by adopting decisions on issues relating to small island developing States, chemicals management, UNEP's water policy and strategy, international environmental governance, gender equality and the environment, keeping the world environment situation under review, Programme of Work and Budget, administrative and other budgetary matters, poverty and the environment, environmental and equity considerations in the procurement practices of UNEP, and strengthening environmental emergency response and developing disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and early warning systems in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. International environmental governance: The GC's decision on IEG focused on six topics: the Bali Strategic Plan, strengthening the scientific base of UNEP, universal membership of the GC, strengthening UNEP's financial base, MEAs, and enhancing coordination across the UN system and the Environmental Management Group (EMG). Chemicals management: Governments supported the development and implementation of partnerships to reduce risks to human health and the environment from mercury. They also asked UNEP to prepare a report summarizing supply, trade and demand information on mercury. While some countries, including those belonging to the European Union, advocated a legally-binding instrument to address the mercury problem, others, such as the United States, Australia and Japan, expressed reservations on the subject. However, delegates agreed to assess the possibility of a legally-binding instrument and other actions at the 24th session of the UNEP Governing Council. On other chemicals management issues, the Governing Council discussed cooperation between UNEP, relevant multilateral environmental agreements and other organizations; the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM); lead and cadmium; and the mercury programme. On SAICM, the Council requested that funding be provided to support SAICM development. On lead and cadmium, the Council asked UNEP to conduct an assessment of scientific information available on long-range environmental transport in order to inform future discussions on the need for global action. UNEP's water policy and strategy: The GC/GMEF decided to adopt UNEP's updated policy and strategy as a general framework/guidance for its activities in the field of water and sanitation, and noted governments' reservations on substantive and procedural issues in developing the strategy. The GC/GMEF recommended that the Executive Director, in his review of the water policy, take into account several concepts (including ecosystem approaches to IWRM, and others) and ensure that it contributes to the achievement of internationally agreed goals contained in the Millennium Declaration and the JPOI. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin report of the meeting, 28 February 2005] [Action on Heavy Metals among Key GC Decisions, UNEP press release, 25 February 2005]

The links between rural development and the MDGs were underscored at the recent member's assembly of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Convening under the theme “Make Rural Poverty History,” the 28th session of the IFAD Governing Council, which took place from 15-18 February in Rome, approved US$53.3 million to finance the organization's administration, initiated consultations on the seventh replenishment of its resources, and re-elected Lennart Båge as its President. The session hosted roundtables that: shared experiences on the role of agricultural growth and achieving the MDGs between Asia and the Pacific and Western and Central Africa; discussed national strategies for rural poverty reduction; and underscored the need to reduce rural poverty in order to achieve the MDGs. A panel discussion on rural investment and enabling policy for rural development was also convened. The official session was preceded by special events focusing on IFAD's action plan for the tsunami response, integrating indigenous peoples' perspectives on development to reach the MDGs, and farmer organizations, policies and markets. More information is available on the IFAD GC website.
Earth Observation Summit Endorses 10-Year Implementation Plan Establishing Global System of Systems

February 205: Governments have endorsed a 10-year implementation plan for the development of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The Third Earth Observation Summit, which took place on 16 February in Brussels, brought together ministers and representatives of almost 60 governments to discuss and promote the development of a comprehensive system of systems for gathering and distributing data and information on the Earth's systems, including its weather, climate, oceans, atmosphere, water, land, geodynamics, natural resources, ecosystems, and natural and human-induced hazards. The Summit, which was preceded by the Sixth Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Meeting held from 14-15 February, is the third in a series that began in Washington, DC in July 2003. The second Summit held in Tokyo in April 2004 adopted the framework for the implementation plan. The Brussels Earth Observation Summit adopted three key outcomes: a GEOSS 10-year implementation plan, a resolution, and a communiqué that expresses support for tsunami and multi-hazard warning systems within the context of the GEOSS. The implementation plan outlines the purpose, scope, approaches, operational modalities and governance of GEOSS and the GEO. The resolution endorses the 10-year implementation plan as the basis for its further development and for establishing a GEOSS, and establishes the intergovernmental GEO to ensure implementation of the plan. Participants also agreed to meet before the end of 2007 to assess progress and provide further guidance on implementation, and resolved to conduct a mid-term GEO assessment by 2010. [Earth and Space Week website] [Group on Earth Observations website with links to the outcome documents]

Central Africa's political leaders have signed a treaty aimed at protecting the African rainforest. Leaders attending the second Central African Heads of State Forest Summit in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, from 4-5 February 2005, adopted a plan to protect the African rainforest. The treaty, which is the first regional conservation agreement of its kind in Africa, establishes trust funds to ensure sustained funding for the agreements implementation on the ground. The Forest Summit, which sought to coordinate local and global efforts to preserve Africa's rainforests, was attended by leaders of seven Central African countries—Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo. French President Jacques Chirac was also present, as were African and Western logging companies. The signatories to the new treaty are also expected to create a certification system for tropical wood. Commenting on the deal, environmental organization Greenpeace expressed doubt that the pledges made in Brazzaville would be followed by actions. A spokesperson said Greenpeace intended to “intensify its campaign in the coming months to get countries of the G8 and European Union to move from declarations to action and to intensify efforts to promote transparency, fight corruption and clean up the African timber trade.” 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya has agreed to be the goodwill ambassador for the protection of the forests of the Congo basin, and will seek ways to curb illegal logging and the illegal trade in bushmeat. Links to further information African Treaty to Protect Forest, BBC News, 5 February New Commitments Needed to Save the Congo Basin's Forests, WWF press release, 3 February Africa's Rainforest Depend on Cutting Out Corruption, Greenpeace press release, 5 February

January 2005


At the end of January, the General Assembly held discussions on the report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on the challenges facing the United Nations. In his summary of the discussions, General Assembly President Jean Ping noted that many delegates have expressed concerns that consultations on the reform and restructuring of the UN should not be limited solely to the recommendations contained in the Panel's report, and that the focus on the Security Council should not further alter the role and authority of the General Assembly. Other issues addressed in the discussions, included those related to disarmament, and socioeconomic development and collective security. Links to further information General Assembly critiques report of high-level panel on wo..., UN New Release, 1 February 2005 Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and C...

The fourth Assembly of the African Union was held in Abuja, Nigeria from 24-31 January 2005. The meeting, attended by over 40 Heads of State and Governments, as well as observers from the UN System, and international and non-governmental organizations, adopted decisions relating to HIV/AIDS, food security, human and peoples' rights, conflicts in Côte d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Sudan, Somalia, as well as the Protocol on Non-Aggression and Common Defense Pact of the African Union. On UN reform, the Assembly agreed to develop an African Common Position, to be submitted to the UN Secretary-General for consideration. On the Report of Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee on NEPAD, the Assembly called on the international community to support NEPAD and in particular called on the G8 countries to: cancel all debts of African countries and take practical steps to urgently implement such cancellation; double development assistance to Africa and improve its quality; and take the necessary steps to complete the Doha round of trade negotiations at the earliest possible time so as to provide free and non-reciprocal access to their markets for African countries and eliminate export subsides for agricultural products. Links to further information Fourth Assembly of the African Union
Kobe Conference agrees on disaster reduction action plan

Negotiators attending a major UN conference on disaster reduction have agreed on a ten-year plan to build the resilience of countries and communities to disasters. They also adopted a statement on the recent Indian Ocean tsunami aimed at reducing the risks of such disasters in future. The UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), which was held from 18-22 January 2005, in Kobe, Japan, took place just weeks after an earthquake-tsunami in the Indian Ocean led to the deaths of over 200,000 people and the loss of livelihoods of millions living in the region. The conference also coincided with the tenth anniversary of the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which took over 6,000 lives in Kobe. The aim of the conference was to increase the international profile of disaster risk reduction, promote its integration into development planning and practice, and strengthen local and national capacities to address the causes of disasters that hamper development in many countries. During the meeting, disagreements surfaced over the link between disasters and climate change. The U.S. and some of its allies questioned climate change as the major contributing factor to the increasing number of natural calamities across the globe, while other delegates, particularly those from the EU and the small island developing States, insisted on the important causal link between increasing hazards and climate change. The dispute was eventually resolved when an eleventh hour deal was struck acknowledging both climate change and variability in the outcome of the meeting. By the end of the conference, two outcome documents had been successfully negotiated: one entitled “Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters: Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015,” and the Hyogo Declaration. Delegates also took note of the “Review of the 1994 Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World and its Plan of Action” and adopted a “Common statement on the Special Session on the Indian Ocean Disaster: Risk Reduction for a Safer Future.” With the meeting coming in the wake of one of the most devastating disasters in a century, the general perception among observers and experts seems to be that participants were able to address the urgent needs of the disaster's aftermath effectively, while also maintaining a strong focus on the long-term goal of reducing disaster risk and vulnerability. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report.
Meeting Concludes 10-year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action, Adopts Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation

January 2005: Following a year of negotiations, which began in the Bahamas in January 2004, the BPOA review process concluded in January 2005 in Mauritius, with the adoption of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Climate change, trade and transport of hazardous wastes proved to be among the most contentious issues during the process, which culminated at the International Meeting (IM) to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS. The IM convened from 10-14 January 2005, at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Center in Port Louis, Mauritius, where almost 2000 participants were in attendance, including 18 presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers, some 60 ministers, and representatives of UN agencies, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. From the perspective of moving forward on implementation, the IM raised the profile of SIDS issues, brought the BPOA more in line with current development funding priorities, and forged links with the review of the Millennium Declaration and with the Doha round of trade negotiations. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage]