CSD-17 – more web resources

Just read the blog of the interns at the New York office of the Baha’i International Community. Nice to see how Jeff & Kirsty were inspired by the City Farm tour during CSD-17.

There are now 12 videos of CSD-17 on the BIC YouTube channel, check them out here:

I’m still waiting for the Learning Centre webpage to provide the content of the Climate Ethics event.

And I’m still mulling over the whole CSD-17 experience, so watch out for more reflections soon.


CSD-17: final reflections

CSD-17 has had time to sink in. It is now one week after I left the UN. By 4 PM last Friday (15 May), no final text had yet appeared, although the chair’s Shared Vision was available. Some last minute tough negotiations meant that finally by 10 PM the negotiation text was approved by the government delegations. Phew!

Was it worth it? Starting with a negotiation text of 25 pages which over time increased to more than 100 pages (I lost count about the maximum number of pages), and finally resulting in an agreed version of 52 pages. Well, the main thing I learned is that everything that happens during a policy session is about building ‘unity of thought’. Because that is what we need first before we can have ‘unity of action’. So, why does it take so much time and effort, so many (late) hours of really tough negotiations?

Well, if you consider how many families in the world struggle with achieving ‘unity of thought and action’ within their own households, why are we amazed that it takes so much time at the highest (international) level? It’s like running a marathon, when you’ve just learned to walk. Getting so many countries with wide ranging backgrounds, land uses and historical perspectives agree on something (anything!) is an achievement in itself! Let alone agree on such challenging topics as rural development, agriculture, land, drought & desertification, and Africa. And now it’s up to these individual governments to start implementing what they agreed on. And it’s our job (you & me) as citizens to ensure our governments do fulfill their promises. So, please pay attention to what each of our governments does with regard to sustainable development!

Below I’m just highlighting some paragraphs of this Shared Vision (emphasis is mine):
Emphasizing the urgent need to increase food security and agricultural development, the Commission stressed that agriculture lay at the centre of sustainable development and farmers must be at the heart of a global “green revolution”.

The shared vision formed by delegations revealed that sustainable farms, food, feed, fuel, and funds were all needed to chart a sustainable path to the future.  …. The most important ingredients in the recipe are farmers, especially women farmers, and rural communities, whose empowerment is the key to poverty eradication and to sustainable development. With the world on the cusp of a potential agricultural and rural revival, it was her [the chair’s] hope that delegations would all be guided in their endeavours towards sustainable development “by a shared vision –- one of shared well-being for all people and of common stewardship of this planet which we all share and which sustains us”.

And compare the above words with these:

* Only upon a foundation of genuine unity, harmony and understanding among all people can a sustainable global society be established.

* Development policy must reflect the fact that agriculture constitutes the fundamental basis of economic and community life.

* The full emancipation and involvement of women is a prerequisite for sustainble rural development.

Those 3 points were the BIC focus points for CSD-16. Nice, isn’t it? We are talking the same language – now let’s start implementing it as well.

So, what next? Well, I’d better mark the following info in my diary: The themes for the next implementation cycle 2010-2011 are transport, chemicals, waste management, and mining, plus a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainble consumption & production patterns. CSD-18 (review session) will be held from 3 to 14 May 2010.  The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting will be held from 21 to 25 February 2011, while CSD-19 (policy session) will take place from 2 to 13 May 2011.

Women’s Major Group CSD-17

Women's Major Group CSD-17

Women's Major Group CSD-17

That’s us at our last morning briefing – a great group to work with. Thank you all.

12th Day CSD-17

This will be my last blog directly from CSD-17. I’ll be travelling next week with little access to the internet, so you’ll have to wait a bit for my final reflections on this CSD.

Major Groups have had the opportunity of 28 direct interactions plus a full day of Stakeholder Dialogue. Ten issues (108 pages) of the daily Outreach newsletter were published. Seventy side events happened. and we walked a lot in this massive UN building.

It now seems as if the presentation of the chair’s Shared Vision will be at 1 PM, we’ll see. Everything is very flexible at the moment and things change by the minute.

11th Day CSD-17

Round table day; the morning one on a Green revolution for Africa and the afternoon one on integrated land & water management. After the usual 2 briefings I went to negotiations in room 6. In this room you sit literally behind the negotiators, so you could hear all the informal (‘off the mic’) taking place. It really is like bartering on a market. I heard the negotiator from G77 say to a collegue that he, personally, agreed with a certain point but that this wasn’t the opinion of the G77 so he had to object to it. The female chair was just amazing, she kept everybody moving along, at an incredibly slow pace though!

At lunch time I went to the BIC offices where Kiara was performing her play Theater of Survival. This time all the technology cooperated and it was great. Check out the BIC YouTube channel if you want to see it.

I then went to the round table on land & water management and heard Willem-Alexander, our Crown Prince, speak on the importance of water & sanitation for agricultural and rural evelopment. It was a good speech. The prince is the chair of the Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.

The best speaket at this round table was the Minister of Iraq. He spoke from the heart, without notes, commenting on what had been said earlier by others. It was a lovely break from all the read statements.

Tomorrow is the last day and it’s still completely unsure if this CSD will end in an agreed final statement.

10th Day CSD-17

The next 3 days are the official Ministerial part of CSD. What does that mean? Well, lots of things. First of all many Ministers and State Secretaries are now here, so there is a high level of extra security (my badge has already been checked more times in detail than the whole of last week). There are now many impressive looking people (it looks as if everybody is dressed just slightly neater than the day before), and of course all the flags are raised.

Flags in front of UN building

Flags in front of UN building

Raising all these flags takes a team of 6 people 20-25 minutes! They start on the side where the BIC offices are and then work their way to the front entrance of the UN.

The Women’s group briefing clashed with the official opening at 10 AM in the General Assembly Hall. So, the small select group of women present at the briefing used the time to brainstorm about the statement to be used during a round table meeting with Ministers on Thursday. The theme of this round table is integrated land and water management. Three of us then wrote our points into a story and circulated it for comments.  I then listenend at the public gallery to the last 45 minutes of the opening meeting.

General Assembly Hall at the UN in New York

General Assembly Hall at the UN in New York

Lunch was a quick stroll over the farmers maket nearby, partially organised by the Youth Major Group. Very funny to see how normal I find these markets and how special they are for others.

I then went to the BIC offices to record a video for use on their YouTube channel. We then had a quick BIC briefing and started to talk about attending the climate meeting in Copenhagen in December. The BIC has been asked, inofficial still, by the Women’s Major Group to provide logistical support during the next CSD-cycle. If the Women’s Major Group makes this a formal request and the CSD Bureau approves it, I’ll be involved and will have the perfect excuse to come back.

Oh, and those negotiations? They are still ongoing, rumours are that they’ll last until Saturday, and last night working group 1 stopped at 2.30 AM!

9th Day CSD-17

Stakeholder dialogue day. I met Meena at 9 AM to practice and then went to the NGO briefing. Gerda Verburg (Dutch chair) was answering questions and she reminded us that we were only in day 7 of negotiations with 4 more days to go. Bascially she told us not to be so impatient 🙂 She’s a very good chair and has become more relaxed during this week. I like her.

After the Women’s briefing I went straight to room 6 and managed to find a seat. I was pleased to see Michaela (Dutch youth rep) in the chair of the Children & Youth. After the opening by Verburg, the highest UN rep on Gender & Development spoke about the importance of women as agents of change. That was nice!

The first part of the Dialogue was not much of a dialogue, just statements presented by Major Groups with the odd question to the governments thrown in. But the 2nd part was much better, focussing on different themes (farmers, rural development, urban/rural linkages, and land & water rights). Good statements, good replies by different governments (Netherlands, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, USA, Czech Republic (=EU), Italy)  and UN agencies (such as UNEP). After the statements by the Major Groups, no one had questions, so Verburg ‘threatened’ she’d look for a volunteer. The Dutch representative then proceeded to reply after Verburg had commented:’He knows me! He’d been volunteered by me anyway’. I thought that was funny. Humour definitely has its place in these kind of meetings or maybe it is because I get all the Dutch word games/jokes.

The chair gave all Major Groups the opportunity to answer the questions/suggestions made to them and it was really good to see that government replies were postponed until all Major Groups had had their say. I thought it was probably as interactive as you can get it at the UN.

Quick lunch with Jeanette from WOCAN in the main canteen while we were keeping an eye out for any female Minister of Agriculture & Environment. Last year WOCAN initiated a network of female Ministers of Agriculture & Environment, so Jeanette is always on the look-out for new ones.

Coffee & biscuits at BIC kept me going in the afternoon and I managed to get access to my email and blog. The wireless connection on my laptop is playing up which is really annoying, so apologies for irregular postings.

I went back for about an hour to the main session and walked in hearing Australia say to the chair: ‘English is not our first language, it’s Australian’. Lots of laughter. Apparently there was confusion about some grammar and a little while later the US also apologised for their poor English. I thought it quite impressive that they could still joke after 2.5 hours of solid negotiations.

The evening event was organised by the South African government & WOCAN showing innovative experiences of female farmers. Very impressive and one of the delegates queried why this was a side event. Dotting ‘i’ and discussing commas should be the side event, this sharing of experience was the most important event – big round of applause by everyone!