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Summary report, 19–21 November 2012

8th Session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-8) and Africa Regional Implementation Meeting (Africa-RIM) for CSD 20

The Eighth Session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-8) took place at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 19-21 November 2012. CFSSD-8 provided a platform for the Africa Regional Implementation Meeting (Africa-RIM) for the Twentieth Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-20). The meeting, organized in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) provided a platform for the Africa-RIM to discuss and adopt an Outcome Document to serve as Africa’s collective input to CSD-20, focusing on the main outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The session marks a further step in Africa’s initiatives, launched during preparations for the Rio+20 Conference, to fine tune its engagement with global sustainable development negotiations.

The session reviewed progress in the implementation of the 2012/2013 work programme of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-programme on Food Security and Sustainable Development, and provided guidance on further work during 2013. CFSSD-8 also produced guidance on priorities for the 2014/2015 work programme in the context of the ECA’s strategic framework for the 2014/2015 biennium.

A number of ministers attended the meeting, along with some 200 delegates from member states, regional and subregional organizations, national parliaments, UN agencies, Major Groups and intergovernmental organizations. Delegates participated in a series of plenary discussions, including parallel sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20-21 November. During the plenary sessions, delegates were invited to respond to a series of presentations on the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference and their implications for Africa. ECA Secretariat staff presented on the High-level Political Forum for sustainable development,  Sustainable Development Goals and linkages to the post-2015 development agenda, the green economy, GDP+, Means of Implementation, and the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

In plenary discussions, delegates also considered the implementation of the 2012/2013 work programme of the ECA Sub-programme on Food Security and Sustainable Development and priorities for the 2014/2015 work programme. They also addressed four key parliamentary reports and special initiatives, on the status of food security in Africa, the strategic food and agricultural commodities value chain in Africa, the ClimDev Africa programme, and the AUC/ECA/AfDB Land Policy Initiative. On 20 and 21 November, an Open-ended Drafting Group produced the Africa-RIM Outcome Document for CSD-20—one of the main outcomes of the session. Delegates focused on recommendations on arrangements for the High-level Political Forum for sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Goals, including Africa’s priorities, and means of implementation. One of the recommendations called for the Africa-RIM to be elevated to a High-level regional forum to ensure that African countries can effectively engage with the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development. Africa also called for the High-level Political Forum’s operational modalities to ensure effective linkages with related bodies at the regional and national levels.


The Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD) was created in 2007 by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). A technical and legislative body, the CFSSD is composed of high-level experts from governments, academia, research and development institutions, the private sector and civil society and meets on a biennial basis to consider food security, agriculture, environment, land, climate change and associated issues, and to provide a platform for advocacy and assessment of the implementation of the outcomes of major conferences and summits related to sustainable development in Africa. In this latter context, the CFSSD has provided regular platforms for the Africa Regional Implementation Meetings (RIMs) to review progress in the implementation of the outcomes of major sustainable development conferences and summits.

STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE:  The UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 5-16 June 1972, and produced three major sets of decisions. The first decision was the Stockholm Declaration. The second was the Stockholm Action Plan, made up of 109 recommendations on international measures against environmental degradation for governments and international organizations. The third set of decisions was a group of five resolutions calling for: a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons; the creation of an international databank on environmental data; addressing actions linked to development and the environment; the creation of an environment fund; and establishing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the central node for global environmental cooperation and treaty making.

BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION:  In 1983, the UN General Assembly decided to establish an independent commission to formulate a long-term agenda for action. Over the next three years the World Commission on Environment and Development —more commonly known as the Brundtland Commission, named for its Chair, Gro Harlem Brundtland—held public hearings and studied the issues. Its report, Our Common Future, which was published in 1987, stressed the need for development strategies in all countries that recognized the limits of the global ecosystem’s ability to regenerate and absorb waste products. The Commission emphasized the link between economic development, security and environmental issues, and identified poverty eradication as a necessary and fundamental requirement for environmentally sustainable development.

UN CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT:  UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, was held from 3-14 June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and involved over 100 Heads of State and Government, representatives from 178 countries, and some 17,000 participants. The principal outputs of UNCED were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 (a 40-chapter programme of action) and the Statement of Forest Principles. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity were also opened for signature during the Earth Summit. Agenda 21 called for the creation of a Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), as a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, and examine progress in implementing Agenda 21 at the local, national, regional and international levels.

UNGASS-19: The 19th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the Overall Review and Appraisal of Agenda 21 (23-27 June 1997, New York) adopted the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (A/RES/S-19/2). It assessed progress since UNCED and examined implementation.

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:  The WSSD met from 26 August - 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The goal of the WSSD, according to UNGA Resolution 55/199, was to hold a ten-year review of UNCED at the Summit level to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. The WSSD gathered over 21,000 participants from 191 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, academia and the scientific community. The WSSD negotiated and adopted two main documents: the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI); and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.

The JPOI is designed as a framework for action to implement the commitments originally agreed at UNCED and includes chapters on: poverty eradication; consumption and production; the natural resource base; health; small island developing states; Africa; other regional initiatives; means of implementation; and institutional framework.

UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (Rio+20): The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), Pre-Conference Informal Consultations facilitated by the host country, and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. During their ten days in Rio, government delegations concluded the negotiations on the Rio outcome document, titled The Future We Want. Representatives from 191 UN member states and observers, including 79 Heads of State or Government, addressed the general debate, and approximately 44,000 people attended the official meetings, a Rio+20 Partnerships Forum, Sustainable Development Dialogues, SD-Learning and an estimated 500 side events.

Participants at Rio+20 were encouraged to make voluntary commitments for actions to implement the conference’s goals, with financial commitments from governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups. The Future We Want calls for the UN General Assembly to take decisions on, inter alia: designating a body to operationalize the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production; determining the modalities for the third international conference on small island developing states, which is to convene in 2014; identifying the format and organizational aspects of a high-level forum, which is to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development; strengthening UNEP; constituting a working group to develop global sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be agreed by UNGA; establishing an intergovernmental process under UNGA to prepare a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy; and considering a set of recommendations from the Secretary-General for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.

In addition, the UNGA is called on to take a decision in two years on the development of an international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The UN Statistical Commission is called on to launch a programme of work on broader measures to complement gross domestic product, and the UN system is encouraged, as appropriate, to support best practice and facilitate action for the integration of sustainability reporting. The text also includes text on trade-distorting subsidies, fisheries and fossil fuel subsidies.

Africa is the only region that is the subject of a dedicated section in the Rio+20 outcome document. African countries welcomed a number of outcomes, including: reaffirmation of the Rio Principles, notably common but differentiated responsibilities, past action plans and the accelerated implementation of development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); commitment to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); the language on the green economy as one tool/path among others; and the invitation to UNGA to adopt a resolution on strengthening UNEP.


On Monday morning, 19 November 2012, Ambassador Lazare Makayat Safousse, Republic of the Congo, Permanent Representative to the African Union and to the ECA, and Chairperson of the Bureau of the Seventh Session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-7), opened the session, welcoming delegates and announcing the agenda (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/1). He commended the collaboration between the Bureau of the CFSSD-7, chaired by the Republic of the Congo, with the support of partners, including the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Josué Dioné, Officer in Charge, ECA, recalled the main outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. On behalf of Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Carlos Lopes, he stressed the potential of the CFSSD-8 to review the work of ECA on food security. He also noted the strategic character of the meeting, as it takes place five months after the Rio+20 Conference, emphasizing how the session is an appropriate platform to deliberate on Africa’s priorities for the post-2015 agenda for the follow up to the outcomes of Rio+20.

Federica Pietracci, Division for Sustainable Development, UNDESA, noted that a range of advances made in Rio will only become visible when the resulting processes have come to fruition. She reported on a number of developments since the Rio+20 Conference, including: plans to agree on modalities for a universal High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) during the 67th session of UNGA; negotiations in the UNGA Second Committee on strengthening UNEP and the imminent appointment of two co-facilitators to guide negotiations; the imminent constitution of an Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs with support from a UN inter-agency technical support team, and the circulation of a questionnaire on the SDGs proposed to member states; and the opportunity presented by the September 2013 meeting of the UNGA for a convergence of the SDG and post-2015 agendas. On the 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP), she noted that the Second Committee will decide which body will need to take steps to operationalize the framework. She observed that member states have also agreed to establish an intergovernmental process under the auspices of UNGA on effective sustainable development financing, and explained that a process will be implemented by an intergovernmental committee, comprising 30 experts nominated by regional groups, who will conclude work by 2014. She said the CFSSD-8 session is a unique opportunity for delegates to express views, commenting that the stakes are high. Concluding, she added that the current session of the UNGA is also expected to adopt a resolution on the modalities for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2014. The UN Secretary-General is expected to soon appoint a Secretary-General of the Conference to facilitate preparations.

Lamin G. Barrow, AfDB, underlined the need for broad-based and inclusive growth in Africa, noting youth unemployment and likely constraints on translating growth into poverty reduction and achieving the MDGs. He outlined major concerns for key economic sectors, including food insecurity, inadequate water resource availability, degeneration of natural resources and biodiversity, land degradation and coastal zone recession. He underlined the Bank’s triple role as financier, partner and adviser and its commitment to deepening support for African countries’ efforts to foster inclusive development. He said CFSSD-8 is timely and should identify: priority actions to help shape the review of the implementation framework of the second pillar of the Bank’s Agricultural Sector Strategy; provide insights for the preparation of the Bank’s Natural Resources Management Strategy; and illustrate the Bank’s commitment to collaboration with its partners, in particular the AUC and ECA, and support for the preparation of the CFSSD-8 Outcome Document of the Africa RIM for CSD-20.

On behalf of Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, AUC, Ambassador Tete Antonio recalled the actions on climate change and food security, underscoring that the Rio+20 outcomes reaffirmed strong political will to move the sustainable development agenda forward. Recalling that the AUC is supporting its member states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to direct efforts towards sustainable development, he emphasized the importance of CFSSD-8 in guiding the 2012-2013 AUC work programme.

On behalf of State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia, Admasu Nebebe, Director, UN Agencies and Regional Economic Cooperation Directorate, Ethiopia, recalled that the Rio+20 outcome document, The Future We Want, closely corresponds to the “African Consensus Statement.” Noting the need to transform political commitments into “meaningful impacts” on the livelihood and well-being of African people, he stressed the importance of regional coordination at national, subregional and regional levels to develop one common sustainable development framework in Africa. He called for a “strategic” vision and for an effective integration of CFSSD-8 outcomes into national policies, suggesting that ministries of planning should take the lead and ensure appropriate coordination.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Chair Safousse, Republic of the Congo, reported on behalf of the Central African region, that the Republic of the Congo had been asked to resume the role of Chair of the Bureau of CFSSD-8 to ensure continuity in the process. He invited regional representatives to report on informal consultations on the election of Bureau Vice-Chairs.

Responding to a query from Uganda about the election process, Safousse explained that a decision had been taken at the Heads of State level to invite the Republic of the Congo to ensure continuity by remaining the Chair. South Africa also emphasized the need to ensure continuity, and invited the Chair to clarify that only the Central African subregion had been invited to discuss the Chair position. He said the election should be a collective member state process and proposed further informal consultations to consider all the Bureau roles, including that of Chair, and appealed for agreement by both Anglophone and Francophone countries. Chair Safousse proposed further informal consultations among subregions.

In the afternoon, Chair Safousse invited delegations to report on informal consultations on nominations for the Bureau. After further deliberations on the election process and the mandate of the Bureau, the ECA Secretariat was invited by the Chair clarify the rules for the next Bureau election. Having agreed that Safousse, for the Republic of the Congo, would serve as Chair (Central Africa), the subregional groups elected the following countries to serve as Vice-Chairs on the Bureau: First Vice-President Egypt (North Africa); Second Vice-President Liberia (West Africa); Third Vice-President Uganda (East Africa). Malawi (Southern Africa) was elected rapporteur.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND PROGRAMME OF WORK: Introducing the agenda (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/1), the Chair noted a slight change in the programme regarding the scheduling of a discussion on the main outcomes of Rio+20 and the implications for Africa. The agenda was adopted, as amended, together with the Programme of Work (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/Inf.1).

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES OF THE MEETING: The Secretariat outlined the objectives and expected outcomes of CFSSD-8 (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/Inf.2). He said the main priorities are to provide a platform for the Africa RIM for CSD-20 to deliberate on the central outcomes of Rio+20 and to adopt an outcome document to serve as Africa’s collective input to CSD-20. On expected outcomes, the Secretariat noted that CFSSD-8’s deliberations are expected to address: the implications of the main Rio+20 outcomes for Africa; enhanced implementation of the CFSSD 2012/2013 work programme and priorities for the 2014/2015 biennium; Africa’s food security situation; the Development and Promotion of Strategic Food and Agricultural Commodities Value Chains in Africa; the ClimDev Africa Programme, with particular focus on the African Climate Policy Centre; and the AU/AfDB/ECA Land Policy Initiative. He said the main outputs will consist of the Africa-RIM Outcome Document for CSD-20 and a report of the meeting.


On Tuesday morning, in a parallel plenary meeting chaired by Vice-Chair Sami R.S. Sabry (Egypt), delegates considered the implementation of the 2012/2013 Work Programme of the ECA Sub-programme on Food Security and Sustainable Development and priorities for the 2014/2015 biennium (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/17).

Josué Dioné, ECA, presented a progress report outlining the main activities and outputs made in the implementation of the Sub-programme on Food Security and Sustainable Development in 2012. He focused on constraints, challenges, lessons learned and potential areas for future work and stressed the need to rethink agriculture and rural transformations in Africa, given a new global context. On lessons learned, he focused on the need to scale up measures and resources, as well as advocacy on food security. In respect to the 2014/2015 work programme, he underscored the expectation of enhancing the capacity of member states and intergovernmental bodies. Dioné underscored that the next biennium is expected to maintain the same goal, which is to enhance capacity and promote policies on: sustainable development; food security; the strategic agricultural commodity value chain; and development and implementation of land, water and forests management policies.

Discussion: The ECA Secretariat was requested to respond to several points, including: the value of including the concept of “nutrition security” instead of maintaining the focus on “food security”; the need to take into account the growing pressure of urbanization on food security; infrastructure in rural areas; gender discrimination in urban areas; social safety nets; long-term capacity building; and the need to continue work on food security at a technical level in order to avoid political interference in the established process of policy consultation. The Secretariat explained that panels on climate change and development and the AUC/ECA/AfDB Land Policy Initiative will address most of the issues raised.


On Tuesday afternoon, in a parallel plenary meeting chaired by Vice-Chair Sabry, delegates took up consideration of a report update on the Status of Food Security in Africa (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/7) and a report on Livestock Value Chains in Eastern and Southern Africa: A Regional Perspective (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/6).

STATUS OF FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA: Adama Ekberg Coulibaly, Agricultural Production Systems Section, ECA, provided an overview of the status of food security in Africa (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/7). He highlighted that, despite investments of US$50 billion of commercial imports and at least US$2 billion on food aid, 239 million people (22.9% in 2010-2011) remain undernourished. He underscored that, globally, the number of undernourished people decreased by 33%, while increasing by 36.8% in Africa. Arguing that a “country specific approach” is required, he stressed the complexity of food security, enumerating a number of challenges, most notably linked to political instability and macroeconomic imbalances. Coulibaly said that other factors contributing to food insecurity include high prices of food, volatility of global markets, a growing consumer middle-class, and dietary shifts with increasing prosperity. In this respect, Coulibaly argued that Africa has significant potential to increase intra-regional food trade. He explained that climate change has the potential to affect investment in infrastructure and insisted on the need to implement early warning systems. On policy options, Coulibaly argued that five necessary conditions for agriculture success and rural growth are: a stable framework for macroeconomic and political stability; access to lucrative markets; an effective science and technology transfer system; effective ownership systems (especially for property and land rights); and expanding job creation in non-agricultural sectors.

Discussion: On questions regarding statistics, Coulibaly said his data is mainly from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is mandated by the UN to collect all data on food security. He added that other statistics are also compiled with national level cooperation. He affirmed that investment in the energy and transport sectors are crucial for decreasing food prices. He said that subsidies should not be neglected because Africa needs to assist small-scale producers, if it is to become an exporter region. However, he noted the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach, which should not neglect small, medium and large companies in the process of reducing food vulnerability. He concluded that Africa must take advantage of the high prices of food in the next 5-10 years, in order to change the regional picture of agriculture.

LIVESTOCK VALUE CHAINS IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA: Youssouf Camara, Agricultural Marketing and Support Services Section, ECA, presented the “Report on Livestock Value Chains in Eastern and Southern Africa: Regional Perspective” (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/6).  Presenting the background to the report, he noted the 2010 Abuja High-Level Conference on African Agribusiness and Agro-industries, which urged the AU member states to establish the requisite legal, regulatory and institutional framework to support agribusiness and agro-industry development and to put in place programmes to accelerate the development of the value for strategic food commodities, build competitive food supply systems and reduce reliance on food imports. The presentation focused on the results of a stocktaking exercise carried out with a regional perspective of the livestock value chains in Botswana and Ethiopia. Several recommendations were proposed based on these case studies, including: a regional approach and harmonization of resources to ensure food security and sustainable income among pastoralists and smallholder farmers; synchronization of disease-control (e.g., tick-borne disease) among countries and regional clusters; development of water-harvesting technologies and improved access to boreholes in drought-prone areas; and improvement of livestock productivity and marketing through the creation of sanitary standards.

Discussion: During the discussion, Côte d’Ivoire highlighted the meager level of intra-regional trade in Africa. From the floor, Dioné recalled that 1% growth in agriculture could trigger 3% growth in the entire economy. Noting that 60% of investments in Africa in land are to outsource food production, he called for reversing this trend. Responding to Swaziland’s question, Camara mentioned that studies on the negative impacts of subsidies, particularly for climate change and continental livestock, are being developed by ECA.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA: On Wednesday morning delegates were invited to consider a Report on Climate for Development in Africa Programme (ClimDev-Africa) (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/8).

Yacob Mulugetta, African Climate Policy Centre, ECA presented the report. He explained the main goals of ClimDev-Africa, which are the construction of a solid climate science and observational infrastructure to enable partnerships with all African stakeholders. He indicated some priority areas, including: diffusion of climate information; production of quality analysis for decision support; information for decision making by producing guiding documents and engagement of technical support; and the establishment of a functioning technical programme. On the 2011 work plan, he highlighted that the main objective was to enhance the visibility of the initiative across Africa, mentioning the engagement of researchers at the PhD level. Elaborating on recent activities, he explained the focus on the development of a new data network aiming to implement early warning assessment and adaptation policies, as well as to better assess climate change impacts. He highlighted the contributions of ClimDev-Africa to the assessment of long-term climate projections and scenarios and to inform the African Group of Negotiators. Mulugetta stressed the challenges of human resources expansion and that coordination with other institutions deserves further thought. In conclusion, he highlighted managing demand; establishment of “credible” partnerships; building work relevant to members states and RECs;  developing regional climate-focused institutions; and dealing with internal bureaucracy as key challenges.

Discussion: Morocco suggested a programme to confront the problem of population displacement caused by extreme weather events. Chair Sabry commended the presentation for illustrating “something tangible on the ground.”

Mulugetta responded to delegates’ concerns recalling that ClimDev is within the food security division of ECA. Answering the Chair’s question on differences and regional climate change impacts, he noted that, despite the possibility of some countries benefitting from higher temperatures in northern regions, negative impacts would be considerably more damaging. He recalled no country has managed to secure development goals without mobilizing its own internal capacity.

LAND POLICY INITIATIVE: On Wednesday morning delegates were invited to listen to a presentation from the ECA Land Policy Initiative on an update on the implementation of the African Union Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa, as guided by the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/9).

In a presentation, Joan C. Kagwanja, AU-ECA-AfDB Land Policy Initiative focused on the accomplishments and future work of the initiative. She provided an overview of the implementation status of the Nairobi Action Plan (NAP) on Large Scale Land-Based Investments (LSLBI), which was adopted in a multi-stakeholder forum in Nairobi in October 2011. Kagwanja explained that the main achievement of the initiative so far has been the development of tools leading to implementation policies engaging grassroots stakeholders. She highlighted the issue of land in the context of agriculture affirming that land planning needs to be addressed by including issues on peace and security, climate change and other environmental concerns. She underscored that the NAP reaffirms the commitment of Africa to improve the principles, data and monitoring to improve equitable access to land, along with better regulatory frameworks for LSLBI. She noted, however, the high costs of implementation of the initiative, around US$4 million up to 2016.

Discussion: NGOs inquired about actions on the national level. Swaziland and Uganda asked about women’s land rights. Liberia reported on concrete legal progress ensuring women’s right to land. Nigeria said that Africa needs to solve its land challenges through data gathering and legal reforms. He added that large-scale land investments are fundamental, particularly to reduce food import. Rwanda reported its own experience with food insecurity. Kagwanja responded to the questions from the floor. She affirmed that a key solution is to work through partnerships. Responding to Tanzania’s comment, she said that more data on land use planning is necessary, observing that land ownership is not equitably distributed. On migration and urban development, she said urbanization relates also to small rural towns and noted opportunities to positively engage smallholders in the mining sector. Kagwanja stated that small holding farmers and producers are the largest investors on land.


IFSD AND HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: On Monday afternoon the Secretariat introduced the first thematic discussion on outcomes from the Rio+20 Conference and their implications for Africa. The first presentations and discussions focused on the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) and recommendations for a High-level Political Forum on sustainable development.

The ECA Secretariat recalled the main outcomes of Rio+20, emphasizing the agreement on strengthening global sustainable development governance with the goal of promoting enhanced coherence. On IFSD, she stressed that the Rio+20 Conference called for, inter alia: an adequate framework for sustainable development at the international, regional, national and sub-national levels; and the establishment of a universal intergovernmental High-level Political Forum (HLPF) aiming at a balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, to replace the CSD. In light of these outcomes, she proposed that the RIM should consider, at the global level, a clear definition of roles, responsibilities and relationships with other bodies, notably ECOSOC. She insisted on the need for an inclusive participatory process informed by a multiple stakeholder approach. At the regional level, ECA noted the Africa Consensus Statement and encouraged delegates to support the strengthening of ECA and the transformation of the Africa-RIM to a Regional Forum. At the national level, she recalled the Africa Consensus Statement’s recommendation to strengthen the National Committees on Sustainable Development. In this respect, the Africa-RIM should consider, inter alia, a mandate that allows effective integration across several bodies and provides a platform for experience sharing and knowledge networking.

Discussion: Recalling that CFSSD-8 could be the last meeting dealing with CSD, Benin stressed the importance of agreeing on common objectives and “speaking with one voice.” Cameroon said delegates should elaborate on the post-2015 agenda proactively. He suggested the prioritization of agriculture investments.

Guinea remarked on the importance of the green economy concept in the Rio+20 debates, calling for greater inclusion of this theme in the discussion. He noted that NEPAD should continue leading the implementation of actual programmes on sustainable development. Egypt urged countries to provide recommendations that can have a solid application on the ground. South Africa and Uganda stressed the importance on allocating more time for discussions on the HLPF.

Noting the lack of clarity regarding the future of the CSD and the possibility of its termination, Kenya urged the development of a common African position on the HLPF. He suggested further thinking on innovative ways to increase the involvement of ministries of finance in deliberations on sustainable development matters. The ECA Secretariat responded to delegates’ statements, stating that the objective of the meeting is to seek further guidance with respect to future work. Algeria called for a focus on hunger in Africa. Morocco called for an integrative approach, incorporating planning systems at national level. He underlined the importance of poverty in Africa and its links to the MDGs and SDGs. Senegal proposed that the HLPF should add thrust to African development and become a crucible for financing.

On Tuesday morning, delegates met in parallel plenary sessions to listen to presentations on the SDGs and linkages with the post-2015 development agenda, means of implementation, the green economy, GDP+, and the third international conference on SIDS, followed by discussion.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Bartholomew Armah, Economic Development and NEPAD Division, ECA, recalled that Rio+20 had underscored the importance of SDGs and their integration into the post-2015 development agenda. He anticipated a convergence of these agendas and noted Africa’s interest in bottom-up consultation processes, the overarching priority of poverty eradication, and the Rio principles, notably that of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). He outlined a number of initiatives on the post-2015 agenda in Africa, including the report, The Future We Want for All, prepared by UNDP and UNDESA. He proceeded to identify a number of ways in which the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda overlap, including their underlying focus on economic, social and environmental sustainability, and approaches to clear and measurable targets and timeframes. He identified a number of shortcomings in the MDGs, including a limited focus on growth and transformation; insufficient emphasis on domestic resource mobilization; neglect of service delivery; a silence on inequality dimensions; and a disproportionate focus on outcomes.

MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION: Aissatou Gueye, Economic Affairs, ECA, delivered a presentation on means of implementation (MOI). Noting the constraints posed by the financial crisis on raising resources for the implementation of the sustainable development agenda in Africa, she emphasized the need to “bridge financial gaps,” and recalled the Rio+20 agreements on innovative sources of finance, stressing the opportunity for Africa and emerging countries to establish new partnerships. Noting the Rio+20 decision to put in place an intergovernmental process under the UNGA to deal with development financing, she said that a rough estimate of Africa’s needs for the implementation of the sustainable development commitments has been estimated at around US$200 billion. In order to attain this financial goal, it was suggested, inter alia, to: engage in global discussions on the post-2015 agenda by enhancing synergies among ECA, AUC and the AfDB. She said these institutions should mobilize resources from the private sector; consolidate existing funds; and create an African Sustainable Development Fund. She observed that revenues from the exploitation of natural resources should be channeled towards sustainable development.

Rawda Omar Clinton, Economic Affairs, ECA, delivered a presentation on capacity-building frameworks for sustainable development, highlighting African initiatives. On the African Union-NEPAD Capacity Development for Sustainable Development initiative, she said the cornerstones are leadership transformation, citizen empowerment, the knowledge economy, mobilization and participation, and gender mainstreaming. She also outlined the AU-UN Ten Year Capacity Building Programme, which provides a framework for system-wide UN engagement with Africa, with objectives that address institution building, human resources, financial management, peace and security, human rights, politics and law.

Louis M. Lubango, Scientific Affairs Officer, ECA, addressed the promotion of technology development and transfer. He said it is crucial, if Africa is to promote innovation, that its representatives transmit views to the UN Secretary-General. At the regional level, he highlighted the relevance of the Regional Coordination Mechanism’s cluster on science and technology.

Discussion: Egypt called for a focus on SDGs, which should carry forward the Rio Principles from 1992, particularly that of CBDR, and emphasized the need to have targets on MOI, especially related to technology transfer under the JPOI. Malawi asked for clarification on how the international process on SDGs overlaps with national and regional initiatives. Noting that Africa “lags behind” in all MDGs, Ethiopia emphasized the importance of conducting national consultations to inform the SDG process and the post-2015 agenda at all levels, and pledged greater investment in infrastructure. Kenya recalled the lack of participation of countries in drafting the MDGs. To avoid this scenario with the SDGs, he called for further engagement of Africa in the design of SDGs, suggesting emphasis on energy security. He also noted the lack of attention to MDG 8 (global partnership for development), and stressed the relevance of infrastructure investments, and proposal that this theme be transformed into a SDG. Ghana, supported by Uganda, underscored that SDGs should complement what the MDGs have not been able to accomplish, and prioritize poverty eradication. On MOI, he noticed that good governance mechanisms must be put into place, while “green jobs” and “green cities” should be included in the discussions of the Outcome Document. Workers and Trade Unions, for the Major Groups, asked for social safety nets to be addressed. Côte d’Ivoire recalled that security and peace dimensions should be included in the SDGs debate. Liberia recalled the risks of a competitive process defining the post-2015 agenda. Morocco stressed that SDGs should prioritize, inter alia, hunger, maternal and child mortality, children’s education, water and sanitation. Women, for the Major Groups, asked for “technical recognition” for women’s contributions to agriculture practices and services to the community. The Science and Technology Major Group commented on technological transfer saying that, without science there is no technology. Children and Youth emphasized that green jobs and social entrepreneurship must be on the SDGs agenda.

Responding to Malawi, Armah explained that there is no official process on SDGs at the regional level. He stated that one potential and relevant outcome of the CFSSD-8 could be the establishment of a working group mandated to ensure convergence between both processes.

GREEN ECONOMY, GDP+ AND THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES: On Tuesday morning, Vice-Chair Marjon Kamara (Liberia) invited the ECA Secretariat to deliver presentations on the green economy, GDP+ and small island developing states, followed by discussion.

Alessandra Sgobbi, Environmental Affairs Officer, ECA, recalled that the Rio+20 Conference had agreed that the green economy is one of several approaches, visions, models and tools available to countries pursuing sustainable development. It should also contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth and innovation, social inclusion, employment and healthy functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems. She identified continuing elements of controversy around the concept, including fears in some developing countries that the green economy will be used as a barrier to or restriction on development. She indicated that the ECA, with others, is indicating a step-wise approach to the green economy, while African countries are also seeking a better understanding, could learn from case studies, and could press to ensure that the concept helps deliver inclusive job-creating growth, and is consistent with their technology and capacity needs and investments. She outlined a number of approaches that could be taken by African countries in the pursuit of inclusive green growth.

Xiaoning Gong, Chief, Economics Statistics and National Accounts Section, African Center for Statistics, ECA, noted that Rio+20 had recognized the need for broad measures of progress to complement the use of GDP (GDP+) in informing policy decisions. He said the Conference had asked the UN Statistical Commission to launch a programme of work on complementary approaches to measurement and the resulting programme of work is aligned with Africa’s call for reference indicators to assess economic, social and environmental performance. He suggested that African countries might consider mobilizing financial, technical, and human resources to adopt, implement and move towards international statistical standards to assist comparability and compatibility of data, build horizontal linkages with other ECA committees and build vertical linkages with the UN Statistical Commission. He also commented that the ECA and AUC include relevant indicators that take into account the integration of sustainable development dimensions in the African Statistical Yearbook in a way that complements the use of GDP. He also suggested that ECA, the AfDB and AUC consider working on a management of framework for the implementation of the African Charter of Statistics.

On the Rio+20 proposal for a Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, Sgobbi noted their vulnerability to new and emerging challenges, including climate change, and calls for continued and enhanced efforts to support SIDS’ implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. On the five African SIDS (Cape Verde, Comoros, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles), she suggested that delegations consider reiterating the importance of scaling up on SIDS efforts to achieve sustainable development, call for bold and ambitious outcomes from the third international conference, and invite the UN and partners to provide coordinated support for national and regional preparations.

Discussion: Responding to questions from Gabon, Guinea and Morocco, Sgobbi agreed on the importance of broad-based participation, including that of parliamentarians. She noted the ECA’s role in the preparation of the Sustainable Development Report in Africa, focusing on the pursuit of sustainable development through inclusive green growth and the identification of gaps and areas for further discussion.


On Tuesday afternoon delegations met for the first time in a drafting group to consider the draft Outcome Document of the Africa Regional Implementation Meeting for CSD-20 (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/4/Rev.1) and with reference to the main outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/2). Vice-Chair Marjon Camara (Liberia) invited delegations to commence a paragraph-by-paragraph consideration of the draft Outcome Document.

Preamble: On the preamble, South Africa proposed new language expressing appreciation for the partnership between and the role played by the ECA, AUC, AfDB, REC, UNEP and UNDP in supporting African countries in effectively articulating their priorities at Rio+20, and requesting these organizations and other partners to continue and step up efforts to provide facilitation and coordination support towards effective implementation of the Rio+20 outcomes in Africa.

High-level Political Forum on sustainable development: On the High-level Political Forum, Kenya sought clarification on the relevance of convening CSD-20, given the scheduled work on a HLPF. Egypt assured Kenya that CSD-20 would go ahead in May 2013. He explained that the drafting group could define organizational aspects such as the high-level segment, its timing and relations with other UN bodies with sustainable development responsibilities such as ECOSOC and UNEP. He cautioned that member states expected the Rio+20 Conference outcome document to be followed to the letter; and proposals from CFSSD-8 must be true to the spirit of the Rio+20 document. He urged delegations to refer, during their deliberations, to the Rio+20 Conference outcome, The Future We Want (A/RES/66/288). Benin said that African countries must be clear in their proposals to enable delegations to the UNGA to participate in the debate with efficiency. South Africa, supported by Kenya, proposed that a small working group should consider the HLPF and report back to the drafting group on questions of HLPF participation, duration, who will coordinate its work, and role in implementation. Egypt noted that any high-level participation implies ministerial participation while political level participation implies the involvement of heads of state or prime ministers. The Republic of Guinea inquired about the role of parliaments and national assemblies. A working group consisting of Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Uganda and the Gambia was tasked by the Vice-Chair to report on Wednesday with recommendations on the HLPF.

On Wednesday morning, Chair Camara reported that a small group of delegations tasked to consider recommendations on a HLPF had submitted text on the HLPF and the SDGs for consideration by the drafting group. Their recommendations on the HLPF included: a call for the HLPF to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations; proposals that the Forum’s policy-making functions address enhanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, have an action-oriented agenda to ensure consideration of new and emerging challenges, and follow up and review progress on sustainable development agreements. On the format and organization of the HLPF, the recommendations called for: high-level political representation at the level of heads of state and government; two-day high-level meetings coordinated with sessions of the General Assembly, and preceded by preparatory technical meetings; the constitution of a joint Secretariat by UNDESA and UNEP, supported by ECOSOC and the President of the UNGA; and chairing of the HLPF by the President of the UNGA.

Benin, supported by the Gambia, recalled the background to the Rio+20 Conference outcome on the HLPF and described the draft recommendation to place the HLPF under the UNGA as problematic. He said the intention of the HLPF is to endow ECOSOC with a decision-making body with impact. He warned against any proposal to create a new de facto council. The Gambia preferred to call for a strong secretariat with technical expertise covering the three dimensions of sustainable development. Kenya recalled that the Rio+20 outcome sets out a process to define the HLPF’s format and noted that ECOSOC has a limited membership. He explained that sensitive decisions on sustainable development must be taken by all states. The ECA Secretariat explained that the HLPF is to take over the CSD’s mandate and the Forum would not duplicate the work of the UNGA and ECOSOC. He said it will give recommendations to the UNGA, while ECOSOC, as a function-based body, can add value to sustainable development and ensure that subsidiary machinery can address sustainable development in an integrated manner. She offered that the HLPF may have three co-chairs bringing together the three dimensions of sustainable development. She recalled that UNDESA had provided the basis for CSD deliberations for twenty years, capturing information from the broader UN system. Kenya recalled that the role of integrating the three dimensions falls under the purview of ECOSOC. He said the HLPF can elevate sustainable development decisions. The Chair cautioned that detailed recommendations may be best left for discussion at the New York level. Benin agreed that the HLPF will, by definition, come under ECOSOC, and there will be no competition with ECOSOC.

On regional and subregional institutions, delegations discussed a proposal to upgrade RIMs to Regional Political Forums, with ministerial-level participation. A representative of the Women’s Major Group called for a reference to representatives of Major Groups, to ensure a richly informed and participatory process. South Africa recommended that national bodies should be encouraged to recognize and include local experiences and actions in sustainability solutions.


On Wednesday afternoon the working group’s recommendations on the SDGs were reported to the final plenary. South Africa summarized the working group’s proposed amendments to the section of the draft Outcome Document (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/4/Rev.1) on SDGs. These amendments include a new replacement chapeau. Other amendments elaborate the principles to guide the process; set out priorities for Africa; and introduce references to access, availability and sustainability in the context of text on energy.

The recommendations include a revised chapeau stating that Africa recognizes the important role that SDGs, based on the Millennium Declaration, Agenda 21 and the JPOI, could play in pursuing sustainable development, coherent with and integrated into the development agenda beyond 2015. The chapeau also states that the SDGs should not divert efforts, resources and focus from the achievement of the MDGs, emphasizing that most African countries are lagging behind and will not achieve the MDGs by 2015. The working group’s recommendations were adopted.

 The Chair of the Open-ended Drafting Group, Marjon Camara (Liberia), invited delegations to examine priority areas as set out by the working group in its proposed amendments to the draft Outcome Document for CSD-20, to reflect on the level of flexibility that they might wish to attach to stated priorities. These priority areas include poverty eradication, food security and combating hunger, combating unemployment, infrastructure, health and education, access to energy, economic growth, gender, reducing vulnerability and promoting resilience, environmentally sound technology, desertification, deforestation, drought and land degradation. Benin noted the absence of text on equity and the establishment of universal social services and social protection.

Other delegations proposed the addition of references to priorities such as water, peace and security, and climate change. Egypt objected to a reference to climate change, because it is the subject of disagreement between developed and developing countries. He asked that delegations await the outcome of the Climate Change Conference to be held in Doha later this month, on finance and technology transfer. He also suggested that inclusion of peace and security could lead to the introduction of conditionalities on the provision of economic assistance.

Kenya, supported by Morocco, Ethiopia, Uganda and the AfDB, raised the importance of including climate change in the list of priorities. He recalled controversies surrounding the use of the term “nutrition security,” and asked that it be deleted from the proposed list. Supported by Egypt, Kenya also requested that a reference to peace and security be dropped from the final text. Egypt noted the risks of opening a precedent for external military intervention and aid conditionalities. Liberia, Gabon and Ethiopia objected, and reference to peace and security was maintained in the list of priorities. Egypt called for the issue of climate change to be linked with MOI for strategic reasons. Delegates agreed. The Africa RIM Outcome Document for CSD-20 was adopted by consensus.


On themes, dates and venue of CFSSD-9, the Bureau, assisted by ECA, will later propose a theme for the next session of the CFSSD, and confirm whether offers to host the next session are received or that Addis Ababa will remain the host. On dates, the Bureau will also confirm the timing of the next session. Under “Any Other Business,” Kenya commended the ECA initiative to invite delegates from permanent missions in New York and delegates agreed to include the final details of the meeting in a revised version of the Meeting Report.


At the final plenary meeting on Wednesday afternoon, delegates deliberated on the report of the meeting. In the absence of paper copies, delegates were invited to comment on text projected onto a screen in the conference room. The report will be issued after minor revisions. The report highlights, inter alia, the importance of ensuring coordination on the preparation for the global discussions, and notes the need to foster convergence between national and global processes on sustainable development debates.

During discussion, delegations asked for deletion of country-specific attribution in a number of sections. Benin asked for acknowledgement of the presence of delegates from New York, which was agreed. Kenya proposed two amendments: the inclusion of the term “one UN development agenda,” to avoid fragmentation; and the inclusion of a reference to “combating desertification, land degradation and drought.” On Means of Implementation, some questioned the inclusion of a reference to a call to rely first on national resources. After suggestions from Kenya, Uganda, Gabon, Egypt and the First Vice-Chair, delegates agreed to amend the paragraph, including terms that stressed Africa’s responsibilities for its own development, but noting the need for developed countries to “fulfill international commitments.” On the green economy, delegates included references to: civil society, parliamentarians and local authorities. Another issue raised by Ethiopia and supported by Uganda, was the validity of data included in a report on the status of food security in Africa (E/ECA/CFSSD/8/7), regarding the number of undernourished people in these countries. From this debate, delegates agreed that there is a need to improve national capacity on producing statistics in order to effectively cooperate with data gathering.

The session supported a special motion to congratulate the work of Josué Dioné, ECA, who will soon retire. Dioné, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of ECA, thanked all delegates who attended the meeting and for their contributions to the outcomes of the meeting. Chair Safousse gaveled the meeting to a close at 8:55 pm.


18th Senior Officials Meeting of the Environment Management Group: This meeting of the Environment Management Group (EMG) is expected to consider the strategic directions for the EMG, and the contribution of the EMG to the follow up of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  dates: 26-27 November 2012  location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: EMG Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8693  fax: +41-22-917-8024  email:    www:

Toward a New Generation of Development Goals: The objective of this event is to bring together key participants in the relevant stakeholder groups to help further the discussions on what is needed in the post-2015/pre-Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) New York Office and Club de Madrid have organized this day-long event, together with co-sponsors the Ford Foundation and the UN-Missions of Mexico, Peru and France. date: 26 November 2012   location: UN Headquarters, New York   contact: NGLS   email:  www:

Fifth Annual Conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development: The Fifth Annual Conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) will discuss: ecological deficits in Arab countries; population demands on natural capital; environmental performance of Arab countries; comparison of ecological footprints and gross domestic product (GDP); achieving sustainability during expected population growth; and regional cooperation. AFED will release its 2012 annual report, “Ecological Footprint and Survival Options in Arab Countries,” during this annual conference. dates: 29-30 November 2012   location: Beirut, Lebanon   contact: AFED Secretariat   phone: +961-1-321800   fax: +961-1-321900  email:   www:  

Regional Implementation Meeting in the Arab Region: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia is expected to convene an Arab regional meeting in preparation for CSD 20. dates: January 2013 (tentative)  location: to be confirmed  contact: ESCWA Secretariat  phone: +961-1-981301  fax: +961-1-981510  www:

Regional Implementation Meeting for Europe: The UN Economic Commission for Europe is expected to convene a European regional meeting in preparation for CSD 20. dates: 31 January – 1 February 2013  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: ECE Secretariat  phone: +41-22- 917-1315   fax: +41-22-917-0107  www:

27th Session of UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum: The 27th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC 27/GMEF) is scheduled to convene in February. The Governing Council constitutes the annual ministerial-level global environmental forum in which participants gather to review important and emerging policy issues in the field of the environment.  dates: 18-22 February 2013  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Secretary, Governing Bodies, UNEP  phone: +254-20-7623431  fax: +254-20-7623929  email:  www:

Regional Implementation Meeting in the Asia-Pacific Region: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific will convene a regional meeting in preparation for CSD 20. dates: March 2013  location: Indonesia  contact: ESCAP Secretariat  phone: +66-2-288-1234  fax: +66-2-288-1000  www:

Regional Implementation Meeting for Latin America and Caribbean: This meeting, hosted by the UN Economic Commission for the Latin American and Caribbean Region (ECLAC), will be held in preparation for CSD-20. dates: 3-5 April 2013  location: Santiago, Chile  contact: ECLAC  phone: +56-2-212-2000  fax: +56-2-208-0252  email: www:

CSD-20: The final session of the Commission on Sustainable Development will discuss the follow-up to Rio+20, specifically the High-level Political Forum for sustainable development, the sustainable development goals, means of implementation and the third international conference on small island developing states. dates: 6-10 May 2013  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  www:

2013 Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting: The Global Reporting Initiative will hold a Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting, focusing on the disclosure and use of sustainability information as a basis for building a sustainable global economy.  dates: 22-24 May 2013  location: Amsterdam, Netherlands  contact: Lucy Goodchild, Global Reporting Initiative Press Office  phone: +31-20-531-0000   fax: +31-20-531-0031   email:   www:

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