Report of main proceedings for 25 February 2009

CSD 17 Intersessional Preparatory Meeting (IPM)

The Intersessional Preparatory Meeting (IPM) for the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-17) concluded its discussion of rural development and discussed land during the morning, and addressed the issue of drought during the afternoon.


The REPUBLIC of KOREA underscored mainstreaming rural development in national development frameworks. PAKISTAN highlighted the need to focus on real life examples and praised the work of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program in rural communities in Pakistan. Youth and Children expressed hope for a successful Doha Development Agenda.


Panelist Harold Liversage, International Fund for Agricultural Development, underscored the importance of land tenure security for economic growth and poverty reduction. Panelist John Bruce, Land and Development Solutions International, discussed shared-use resources and proposed demarcating and registering common-use areas, instituting model by-laws, and providing community-level technical assistance. Panelist Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), presented a framework to address land degradation, and underlined the role of land in carbon sequestration.

The G-77/CHINA outlined several policy options to harness land for poverty eradication and food security, and said financing remains the main hurdle. The EU: emphasized proper land use and management, equitable access to land, enforceable land rights and transparent land policy; called attention to the 2004 FAO Voluntary Guidelines that support the progressive realization of the right to food and the 2004 EU Land Policy Guidelines; and said efficient and sustainable use of water resources is fundamental. Micronesia, on behalf of AOSIS, said: small island States’ management of land, coastal-zones and oceans need to incorporate climate change adaptation strategies; and fiscal measures and financial instruments could be targeted to help optimize land use. The ARAB GROUP suggested: undertaking land censuses and developing data bases; adopting legislation to protect water resources and land against degradation; enhancing the capacity of scientific research organizations; and developing long- and short-term policies for the use of underground water.

Tonga, on behalf of PSIDS, underscored its UN General Assembly (UNGA) draft resolution on Security and Climate Change (A/63/L.8), which stresses the security implications for the disappearance of territory. CHILE proposed the use of mechanisms like payments for environmental services for sustainable land management (SLM). SOUTH AFRICA said efforts to formalize and secure land rights must be supported by policies. The US emphasized coherent land policies and scientifically sound management practices for sustainable land productivity, and highlighted good land governance principles, strategic technology use and women’s land rights. CANADA prioritized measures to increase compatibility of land use practices with landscape capacity and to expedite appropriate information development, management and application. SWITZERLAND emphasized tenure rights and payments for ecosystem services for SLM, and called for an international instrument on the sustainable use of soil.

Indigenous Peoples emphasized the need to involve indigenous peoples in land reforms and to involve women in all stages of programme development, implementation and evaluation. INDONESIA said preservation of forest resources must not be overlooked, and linkages between SLM and climate change and conflict over land should be considered. NIGERIA, supported by IRAN and GHANA, proposed that UNGA’s high-level discussion on climate change in September include attention to the nexus between climate change, land degradation and desertification.

FAO said the Clean Development Mechanism should include soil carbon sequestration in agricultural lands in a post-2012 regime. ISRAEL emphasized policies that promote land ownership, economic growth and sustainable management of natural resources. UN-HABITAT suggested a shift to a focus on security of tenure.

IRAN underlined the use of satellite technology for land-use planning, and emphasized land tenure systems in SLM. ECUADOR highlighted national efforts to address land, and supported Bolivia’s proposal to designate a UN International Day for Mother Earth. MALAWI highlighted its latest land reform processes and highlighted measures for SLM, including payments for ecosystem services.

GUATEMALA called attention to conflicts over land, particularly when organized crime has taken over protected areas, and indicated a role for international assistance with this problem. NGOs suggested using a human rights framework to address the unequal power relationships behind unjust land tenure structures. NORWAY emphasized the importance of: SLM and equitable access to land for sustainable development and poverty reduction; soil protection in ensuring food security; protection of productive areas to reduce soil loss; and local adaptation through participatory processes.

BOLIVIA said its constitution has incorporated traditional and indigenous knowledge, gender and participatory processes in land and natural resource management. CAMBODIA expressed support for land reform policies, community-based management of land and diversification of crops. MEXICO highlighted how conservation agriculture incorporating agro-ecological practices can be the solution to land and water conservation, and noted the importance of promoting payments for ecosystem services and mechanisms to appraise policies. 

GHANA supported discussion of the climate change-desertification nexus in Copenhagen, and invited support to complete its ongoing land and water management programs. Business and Industry described replicable land management practices, including conservation tillage, development corridors, and integrated crop management. CUBA underscored the importance of political will in implementing policy proposals with examples from its response to extreme weather events in 2008. The REPUBLIC of KOREA emphasized that appropriate water policies are important for agriculture and SLM. ARGENTINA supported an integrated approach to the components of this issue and incorporation of climate change, and said payments for ecosystem services should be in accordance with WTO agreements.

Panelist Liversage highlighted that land rights may involve family and group rights and can be linked to water rights. Panelist Bruce emphasized that, in the long run, it is better to focus on creating incentives than to focus on enforcement in relation to property rights. Panelist Gnacadja emphasized that land is a win-win way to address many of the current crises.


Panelist Constance Neely, Heifer International, highlighted the role of grazing and agro-ecological practice to manage ecosystems. Panelist Jeffrey Herrick, US Department of Agriculture, noted the importance of integrating scientific and local knowledge in responding to drought. The G-77/CHINA said this session should focus on means of implementation. The EU emphasized that the UNCCD is a powerful tool to provide a framework for the protection, sustainable use and management of water resources.

Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of AOSIS, suggested upgrading infrastructure for water access and storage, organizing public awareness campaigns regarding water use and efficiency, and studying ocean desertification. BARBADOS said it is seeking alliances to help with drought monitoring and water harvesting technologies. CANADA noted benefits from developing and maintaining agreements on drought and climate variability. CHILE said the development of drought-tolerant plants or rehabilitation of resources requires safeguards.

MEXICO underscored the need to develop capacity to generate sustainable development systems and drought-resistant plants. NGOs noted that investing in sustainable practices is crucial to improving drought mitigation. The US highlighted the shift in its drought policy from an emphasis on drought relief to a forward-looking stance of preparedness to reduce vulnerability. The G-77/CHINA, EU and MEXICO highlighted the importance of integrating drought into national plans. NORWAY recommended, inter alia, building capacity for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, particularly in vulnerable farmer and pastoralist communities and prioritizing drylands issues in national development plans. SOUTH AFRICA said priorities should include investment in research and development, especially for disaster scenario planning.

AUSTRALIA highlighted the role of governments in providing frameworks that allow producers to adopt self-reliant approaches for drought. SWITZERLAND called attention to gaps in the tools, methodologies and coordination efforts at national and regional levels, and said the Sahara and Sahel Observatory is a model for other regions concerned with drought. The ARAB STATES proposed developing early warning systems, supporting forecasting through field observation and remote sensing, defining adaptation measures, and developing policies and strategies to protect coastal areas from sea-level rise and increased salinity of sea water.

IRAN highlighted, inter alia, the need to implement multi-dimensional policies and to examine how public bodies, households and businesses can reduce the impacts and costs of drought. The World Meteorological Organization highlighted some of the recommendations on coping with increasing droughts from the International Workshop on Drought and Extreme Temperatures held in Beijing, China, in February 2009. The Scientific and Technological Community provided recommendations on how to, inter alia, improve early warning systems for drought. MALAWI suggested that CSD-17 encourage new initiatives concerning drought-resistant crops, water harvesting and individual household and community mitigation.

GUATEMALA stressed synergies between the three Rio conventions, and highlighted involvement in regional programmes, and its national measures to address drought. JAPAN said climate change will increase drought and stressed implementing appropriate agricultural measures for drought-preparedness, and using the UNCCD to promote linkages between desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD). He proposed: integrating drought reduction measures into sustainable development and poverty eradication programmes; accumulating scientific data for evaluating risk and predicting drought occurrences; and strengthening international cooperation. Business and Industry said engagement with all stakeholders is essential to addressing drought. NIGERIA underscored: the existence of complementarities among SLM, biodiversity and integrated water resource management policies; the “material” enhancement of the UNCCD as the focal point for DLDD; and the need for more GEF funds to implement SLM projects.

Children and Youth elaborated the ecological and political dimensions of drought, and called for: early warning systems to facilitate preparedness and adaptation; inclusion of diverse voices in policy development; and information and communication technologies to empower drought-affected communities. Women highlighted the role of women as environmental managers, custodians of biodiversity and family providers, and said women are the primary victims of drought. She called for gender analysis on drought and desertification activities before instituting policies, and use of women’s accumulated knowledge to inform policy. KAZAKHSTAN called attention to its large-scale land restoration project, and said its experience could be applied to other countries in the Central Asian Region.

Panelist Neely highlighted the interlinked nature of the themes, and emphasized the need to consider how policies would work across sectors and to address root causes. She also stressed the importance of participatory research that engages local communities in identifying research priorities. Panelist Herrick emphasized “localizing scientific knowledge” and “generalizing local knowledge,” stressing the benefits of communication between scientists and farmers. He also highlighted comments calling for increased data collection, standardization and sharing.


While participants expressed general contentment with the exchange of positions and said they would withhold judgment of the session until the Chair’s IPM summary is distributed on Friday, some contemplated what might be learned during the lunch time briefing that Chair Verburg is slated to hold on Thursday in Conference Room 2. The briefing is reportedly being organized to solicit feedback on the planned organization of work for CSD-17, in particular whether and how to allocate issues to the working groups and the approach to be taken by the High-Level Segment. Options for the latter are reported to include the presentation of statements and the organization of interactive round-table dialogues.

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <[email protected]> is written and edited by Wagaki Mwangi, Tanya Rosen, and Lynn Wagner, Ph.D. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <[email protected]> and the Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <[email protected]>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development – DFID), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission (DG-ENV), and the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea. General Support for the Bulletin during 2009 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF). Funding for the translation of the Bulletin into Spanish has been provided by the Ministry of Environment of Spain. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <[email protected]>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America. The ENB Team at CSD-17 IPM can be contacted by e-mail at <[email protected]>.