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.

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