27 February 2009
Economic and Social Council
ENV/DEV/1030

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Sustainable Development

Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting

9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PREPARATORY MEETING PREPARES DRAFT POLICY OPTIONS


ON AFRICA, AGRICULTURE, DROUGHT, LAND, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, DESERTIFICATION


Chair’s Negotiating Text Offers Framework for Discussion, Decisions

At Sustainable Development Commission’s Headquarters Session, 4-15 May


Concluding a week-long discussion on the need for a sustainable, home-grown green revolution worldwide, an Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting at United Nations Headquarters today took note of a draft set of policy options Governments could use to expedite programme implementation on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.


The measures will be forwarded to the upcoming seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, scheduled for 4 to 15 May, and serve as a framework for discussions on concrete policy decisions to implement the commitments set forth in Agenda 21 (adopted at the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development) and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development).


Presented as a “Chair’s negotiating text”, the Meeting’s outcome document called on Governments and the United Nations, in partnership with major groups and other stakeholders, to take action to, among other pressing concerns, enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability, invest in essential infrastructure and services for rural communities, manage water and land resources in an integrated manner, strengthen communities’ resilience to drought, combat desertification and land degradation, and integrate African farmers into the global farming supply chain.


Six years ago, the Commission, the key United Nations forum to consider ways to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development ‑- economic growth, social development and environmental protection ‑- approved a multi-year programme of work, featuring different thematic clusters for each cycle.  The 2006-2007 cycle addressed energy for development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change.  The 2010-2011 cycle will focus on transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns.


By the Chair’s text, the Meeting underscored the need for bold, determined and innovative responses to the current financial, energy, food and climate crises, and recognized that a sustainable green revolution with farmers and rural communities at the centre was called for.  Such a revolution should combine traditional knowledge and practices specific to different agro-ecosystems and the best available science and technology.


The text includes 46 policy options in its six main sections, in line with the priority themes, and a section on cross-cutting issues.  It also called for a follow-up process to review the implementation of decisions to be made at the Commission’s seventeenth session.  The text was attached to the draft report (document E/CN.17/IPM/2009/L.1), which the Meeting adopted by consensus.


Prior to the text’s adoption, Gerda Verburg, Committee Chairperson, opened the floor to factual comments.  Making short statements were representatives of the Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Canada, Russian Federation, Norway, Mexico, United States, Switzerland, Japan, Barbados (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)), Botswana, Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Tonga (on behalf of small island developing States), Nigeria, Australia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Argentina, Brazil, Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and Oman (on behalf of the Arab Group).


Making short statements on behalf of the major groups were the representatives of women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, trade unions, business and industry, and the scientific and technological communities.


Earlier in the day, the Meeting held a panel discussion on policy options to address barriers and constraints in relation to interlinkages among agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa, as well as cross-cutting issues, including means of implementation.  One of the panellists, Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, said some of the fundamental themes in sustainable development, such as water and food, could be understood as basic human needs and rights, not as instruments for mere profit.  The issue of “food sovereignty” was not just about food security; it was also about ending poverty worldwide.  Justice was a cross-cutting issue in almost every sector and the distribution of natural resources, or the so-called “ecological footprint”, should be equitable.  In that regard, the global South was owed a debt by the global North, and if the books were to be balanced, credit would be due.


Also addressing the panel, Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University, said today’s climate change debate, which was based on the developed world’s effort to curb its carbon output, was appropriate for the developed world.  But, the focus in Africa should be on adapting to a deteriorating climate, which varied across the continent by region.  Within agriculture, that meant that crops had to be quickly adapted, and he criticized Africa for banning genetic modification based on Europe’s decision to do so.  Europe’s action should be understood as a protectionist step that was not transferable to Africa’s situation.  Likewise, in northern climates, grain should go towards food, and the United States should, therefore, be convinced to drop its agricultural subsidies for biofuel growth.  In contrast, biofuel production in the global South made sense, as long as the United States was convinced to also drop its ban on the imports of those fuels.


Taking a different tack, Erick Fernandes, Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Development at the World Bank, stressed the merits of smallholder agriculture, and harnessing traditional and cultural knowledge, as an essential part of global economic growth and sustainability.  The push towards large-scale agricultural production in many agriculturally abundant countries should not trample on local communities and should only be applied in areas where market-based systems worked.  Sustainable agricultural strategies must be prepared, as part of national action plans.  Infrastructure investment was also important, so that rural and urban communities could benefit from improved policies and research.


Also participating in the panel discussion were the representatives of the Sudan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Grenada (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Tonga (on behalf of Pacific small island developing States), Nigeria, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Mexico, United States, Chile, France, Norway, Guatemala, India, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Barbados, Austria, Bolivia, Tuvalu, Senegal and Brazil.


Speaking on behalf of the major groups were the representatives of local authorities, trade unions, women, business and industry, and non-governmental organizations.


Background


Convening this morning to continue its consideration of policy options and possible actions to expedite implementation on the six thematic issues of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa, the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development considered reports of the Secretary-General on these themes (document E/CN.17/2009/3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, respectively), and on interlinkages and cross-cutting issues (document E/CN.17/2009/9).  In the afternoon, members were expected to adopt the draft report of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (document E/CN.17/IMPLEMENT/2009/L.1).


Panel Discussion


Gerda Verburg (Netherlands), Commission Chairperson, presided over the morning discussion, which featured panellists Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action; Erick Fernandes, Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Development, World Bank; and Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University.


Opening the panel, Mr. BASSEY noted how prominent the agriculture theme had been during the week’s discussion, with repeated calls for “revolution”.  But, when applying the idea of agricultural revolution to Africa, it should be asked:  is the future going to build on what existed before?  And will it truly bring change?  Quoting Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, he said, “Simply cranking up the fertilizer and pesticide-led production methods of the twentieth century is unlikely to address the challenge.  It will increasingly undermine the critical natural inputs and nature-based services for agriculture, such as healthy and productive soils.”


In the agricultural context, free market forces were not really free after all, he said.  A lot of regulation was going on behind the scenes, but its effectiveness should be ensured.  Moreover, all the forces could be manipulated and controlled for the common good and it was hoped that the World Bank and other global financial institutions would work in a more democratic way and to further the interests of all shareholders.


He said the week’s discussion had also underlined justice as a cross-cutting issue in almost every sector, including gender justice and ecological footprints.  As the delegate speaking for the European Union had said, control over use of natural resources was a source of power.  The distribution of natural resources, or the so-called “ecological footprint”, should be equitable.  A historical view of the use of natural resources revealed that the global South was owed a debt by the global North, and if the books were to be balanced, credit would be due.


Consumption also remained a big problem, but was more complex than was often discussed, he said.  While hunger in Africa was a big problem, obesity was also an expanding problem.  But, it was caused by more than simple abundance.  Those who were obese were severely overweight not because they ate too well, but because they did not eat nutritious food.  On the flip side ‑- production ‑- there was a clear need for mixed-use farming of grains for food and biofuels, but food crops should be primarily used for consumption, not ethanol.  A global snapshot of agricultural production showed that products were moving in one direction from South to North.  That had implications not only for capital flight, but for climate justice.


He stressed that some of the fundamental themes in sustainable development could be understood as rights, such as water and food.  In Colombia, there was a push to codify water as a human right.  With freshwater making up roughly 1 per cent of the Earth’s total volume and another 1 per cent being brackish, water remained a severely limited resource, with agriculture use competing with home and industrial use.  In other areas, the issue of “food sovereignty” went beyond food security.  Noting that the concept was already law in Ecuador, he recommended that it should be taken back to Member States for legislation.  In the end, the change that counted was the change that ended the impoverishment of the majority of the world’s poor.  It was based on human needs and human rights, not mere profit.


Mr. FERNANDES said smallholder agriculture was fundamental to global economic growth and sustainability.  An estimated 75 per cent of the world’s poor lived in rural areas and were mostly involved in farming.  Women played a major role in farming.  The confluence of the public and private sectors in agriculture was very important, as was harnessing traditional and cultural knowledge.  Many people depended on good agriculture for their food.  Important data showed that, as agricultural productivity went up, malnourishment went down.  Better natural resource management was fundamental for agriculture and the reduction of greenhouse gases.  New ideas and data on climate change were surfacing each week.  Climate change would be a major issue for the next 10 to 30 years.  The cost of mitigating it would be significant, and who would pay for it was a good question.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was preparing for a major meeting in Copenhagen at the end of the year, he said.  Since the Kyoto Protocol did not expire until 2012, the international community should not be fixated exclusively on Copenhagen.  The consequences of poor risk management would be quite devastating.  Emerging signs and activities in the field must be heeded.  The growing frequency of natural events, from once every 10 years at present, to once every 2 years in the future, was a growing sign of the urgent need to properly address climate change, he said, pointing to melting glaciers in Kilimanjaro and devastation in the Andes.  Desertification was not just occurring in Africa.  Burning in South-East Asia and the Congo was causing all types of problems.  The regional and global effects were worrisome.  Trade was not just connected.  Lives and livelihoods were all also connected.  Water management was also an increasing source of concern.


Africa, South Asia and parts of the Mediterranean were emerging as major hot spots, he said.  Communities, individuals and Governments must prepare to address their respective environmental challenges.  The Zambezi drought was indicative of the serious nature and consequences of extreme weather events.  The floods in Mozambique in 2000 had resulted in a 23 per cent loss in gross domestic product (GDP).  But, the cost of the last two big floods in Mozambique had yet to be calculated.  The situation in the Sahel desert region of Africa was not good.  Urgent action was required to ensure food security and natural resource management there.  State-of-the-art science must be applied.  Scientists were coming up with new approaches to agriculture.  The 1 billion hectares of degraded lands worldwide must be restored to good health.


The global community did not live in isolation, he continued.  Sea-level rise would be a major issue for everyone.  He stressed the importance of comprehensive natural resource management programmes, and the need to look at how one tracked soil when dealing with one system to another and how to apply that knowledge in society.  It was possible to link the livelihoods and footprints of the various people of the world.  Also needed was a user-friendly decision-support system that responded to policymakers, so that new breakthroughs were shared and not just known and applied within academia.


It was essential to prepare sustainable agricultural strategies as part of national action plans, invest in institutions, harness cultural and traditional knowledge and bring those different components together, he said.  Infrastructure investment was important, so that rural and urban communities could benefit from improved policies and research.  Land tenure way key.  There was now a push to have large-scale agricultural production in many agriculturally abundant countries, provided that local communities were not trampled on and that market-based systems worked.


Mr. COLLIER said the issues involved in sustainable development, especially those of climate change, were too serious to allow self-indulgent Romanticism to colour their analysis.  Solutions that might not be very palatable were nevertheless critical and had to be judged on their effectiveness.  Today’s whole climate change debate was based on the developed world’s effort to curb its carbon output.  That was the right debate for the developed world, but not for Africa.  Africa’s focus should be on adapting to a deteriorating climate and should avoid mimicking the dominant discourse.


Because climate change was not a scientific forecast, but already a fact of life, he stressed that adaptation was also needed now and should be differentiated across the continent by region.  The adaptation agenda should also be evaluated on an intersectoral basis and on its implications for agriculture.  The intersectoral view revealed that the area most affected by climate change was agriculture.  Thus, the right response was to move away from agriculture and into industrialization, based on that principle that fragile economies should move into sectors where it was less vulnerable.


Adaptation within agriculture meant that crops had to be quickly adapted, he said.  The technology to do so already existed in genetic modification, and it was absurd that African Governments had banned genetically modified crops based on Europe’s decision to do so.  Europe’s action should be understood as a protectionist step that was not transferable to Africa’s situation.  Likewise, the objection to growing biofuels was also misunderstood.  It was sensible for the world to grow biofuels, but not for the United States to do so.  In the northern climates, grain should go towards food, and the United States should, therefore, be convinced to drop their agricultural subsidies for biofuel growth.  In contrast, there were great and sensible opportunities for biofuel production in the global South, as long as the United States was convinced to also drop its ban on the imports of those fuels.


It should also be recognized that the reorganization of agriculture should often be accomplished through commercialization.  Too much of Africa’s agriculture was based on the peasant mode, which made it especially vulnerable.  Other developing countries, like Brazil, provided good models for how to commercialize.  Overall, the global South should drop its objection to genetic modification, move into the production of biofuels while getting the North to move out of it, and commercialize.


Turning to deforestation, he cited the example of Haiti, where on the Dominican Republic half, there was nearly 50 per cent forest cover and in the Haitian half only 3 per cent.  That occurred because of strong incentives to cut trees down for their carbon use in Haiti.  To address the carbon need, it should be subsidized via kerosene subsidies.  Similarly, tree growing should be incentivized, and mangoes were one crop where incentives could be particularly effective.  In closing, he said that, because it used nuclear power, France’s policy towards carbon emissions was far more effective than that of the United Kingdom.


In the panel’s interactive portion, delegates underscored the need for policies and measures that addressed systemic and structural impediments to development and focused simultaneously on economic development, social advancement and environmental protection.  They also expressed differing views on Mr. Collier’s statement in which he objected to the ban on genetically modified organisms, particularly in Africa.


The Sudan’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, underlined the importance of developing sustainable consumption and production patterns, with developed countries taking the lead, in accordance with the principle of common, but differentiated responsibilities.


A representative of trade unions said that, in the debate on sustainable consumption and production, developed countries with high levels of consumption ignored the fact that they had poor households that consumed very little.  Similarly, developing countries claimed they had low levels of consumption, negating the fact that their upper classes were large-scale consumers.


France’s representative stressed the need to mobilize financing for sustainable agriculture and called for creation of an international partnership on agriculture and food security, including through the Marrakesh process.  The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, also supported the Marrakesh process and said the Union was committed to playing an active role to change unsustainable consumption and production patterns of food and other resources, as well as to reduce poverty.  He also defended the European Union’s ban on genetically modified crops, saying biodiversity and other safety concerns must be taken into account.


Several speakers from African nations, however, expressed mixed views about the use of genetically modified organisms.  Senegal’s representative said he agreed with Mr. Collier that Africa needed more adaptation and less mitigation.  But, genetic modification, while potentially very beneficial, had uncertain consequences.  The international community must proceed with caution and balance the production of biofuels and food to ensure food security needs were addressed.


Echoing those concerns, Nigeria’s representative said the environmental impact of genetic modification must be taken into account, and that development across Africa was not wrong in itself, as long as it did not ravage agricultural resources.  Developed countries, he lamented, had not lived up to their commitments to Africa on technology and capacity-building, which were urgently needed to achieve sustainable development on the continent.


A representative of non-governmental organizations was more severe in her critique of genetic modification, saying it would negatively impact biodiversity and do nothing to help small-scale farmers.  Such farmers, she warned, must not serve as wastebaskets for producers of advanced technology.  What was really needed was a rights-based approach that more equitably distributed the world’s food, water and land resources.  Food sovereignty meant focusing more on food production chains through stronger rural-urban links.  Fertilizers and agricultural land must be used first to produce food; production of biofuels and other non-agricultural products should be secondary.


Grenada’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), called on Governments to support the efforts of small island developing States to ensure food security through sustainable forestry, crop diversification and fishing.  The international community should provide those States with policy space in global trading regimes to encourage the use of locally grown products, reducing their reliance on expensive imports.


Tonga’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, expressed hope that the plan of action adopted at last year’s Rome Summit on Food Security would be matched with resources, so that relevant technologies and know-how could be implemented on the ground.  He also called for directly funding local communities that needed technology and money to replace subsistence farming with commercial methods, as well as for eliminating developed countries’ agricultural subsidies.


Indonesia’s representative said developing countries in particular must design incentive-based national policy frameworks for agricultural and rural development, and he lauded those African countries who had committed at least 10 per cent of their budgets to that end.


Several speakers touched on water management as a cross-cutting issue and a vital part of any green revolution.  Cambodia’s representative said widespread access to clean water and enhanced sanitation, as well as proper water irrigation and storage systems, were essential for mitigating climate change.  Bolivia’s representative shed light on the merits of nationalizing water resources and water rights, as had been done in Bolivia under the current Administration.  Water for all was now recognized as a fundamental human right, particularly for Bolivia’s indigenous population, which had previously suffered from high water prices and inadequate water access for development.


A representative of women said women must be at the centre of the water management and technology transfer process, and all agricultural institutions must be gender-balanced.  Many Governments had adopted policies to guarantee women 30 per cent of all leadership posts.  Such policies must be extended to all professional women, including women farmers.  She also stressed that global food security was not enough.  Safe food for everyone was also necessary, as was the right to land, water and sanitation.


Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Mexico, United States, Chile, Norway, Guatemala, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Barbados, Austria, Tuvalu and Brazil.


Speaking on behalf of the major groups were the representatives of local authorities and business and industry.


Responding to the numerous interventions, Mr. BASSEY said that the global North’s over-consumption was not as big a concern as its ecological footprint.  As the global South engaged in mitigating and adapting to climate change, it should not focus exclusively on transferring technology.  In fact, it was important not to go the same way that led to the current situation and, in that respect, the Industrial Revolution should be recognized as a major driver of climate degradation.  On genetically modified organisms, he stressed that precaution was needed.  Even though 80 per cent of genetically modified grains went to animal feeds, it seemed clear that agriculture was the way to go in sustainable development, while the “silver bullet” of biotechnology was not.


Mr. FERNANDES said that agriculture was vitally important in sustaining rural landscapes and preparing for the future, provided it maintained a special focus on people and on eradicating poverty.  It was a win-win in that:  if you practised good agriculture, you also practised good climate change mitigation.  While focusing on agriculture’s challenges, there were significant opportunities.  The financial crisis had underscored one key concept:  one should not put all the eggs in one basket.  Diversification was key.  But, while the focus on crops was valid, it should be flagged as only one of many other options available.  The world had not yet begun to even address maybe 20 per cent of the benefits to be derived from effective natural capital management.  Calling Kyoto a missed opportunity for Annex II countries, regarding their possible contributions to climate change adaptation and mitigation, he said those parties had a major chance in the run-up to Copenhagen to take the conversation beyond forests to include agriculture’s potential.


Mr. COLLIER, stressing that his presentation had been meant to provoke rethinking rather than offence, said genetically modified crops should be considered in a calculus of risk, not in an ideological framework.  Specifically, it was critical to ask what was now known about genetic modification that was not known when much of Africa banned such crops.  First, it was now clear how rapidly the climate was deteriorating.  It was also obvious that, if the continent did not adapt more rapidly than it had in the past, widespread hunger would result.  Meanwhile, genetic crop modification was a lot less risky than it had been thought when the ban was established.  Taken together, that meant the risk calculus had certainly changed, and it was worth asking which African countries would, in 30 years, still be banning genetically modified crops when countries like South Africa had been using them for years.  Europe’s ban had already cost it something like 15 per cent of its potential agricultural profit.


Turning to a question about the impact of planting tree-based crops, he agreed that tree crops did not use as much labour as other crops.  That was one reason why trees were uprooted in Haiti:  there were not enough opportunities for employment outside of agriculture.  But, that was also why it was vital to industrialize outside agriculture, so that a move to more tree crops proved viable and the tree cover could be regenerated.


In summarizing the panel, Ms. VERBURG stressed that the pursuit of food security would reinforce the three pillars of sustainable development.  Education for sustainable development should be enhanced.  Affordable access to facilities and services should be required.  Gender equality should be highlighted.  Climate change remained a key, cross-cutting issue in sustainable development.  Support for sustainable development, particularly in the Commission’s six thematic areas, should be provided through substantial increases in investment, including official development assistance, direct investment, multilateral and bilateral support, and debt cancellation.  Capacity‑building should be strengthened.  A universal rules-based and equitable global trading system was needed.  A participatory approach in policymaking and implementation should be promoted.


Consideration of Chairman’s Text


Ms. VERBURG, Committee Chairperson, opened the floor to factual comments on the “Chair’s negotiating text”, which had been distributed earlier in the day and was intended to provide the basis for the negotiations during the Commission’s seventeenth session.


A representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union would continue to play its role as the world’s leading donor in the effort to eradicate world poverty.  It strongly reaffirmed its collective determination to meet official development assistance goals of 0.56 per cent of gross national income by 2010 and 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2015, which would result in aid of over €66 billion in 2010, over half of which would be directed to Africa.  It had also significantly decreased its use of trade-distorting subsidies and would work towards a completion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations.


The European Union believed that biofuel use should be addressed in the text and water use and management should be underscored throughout the text.  The need to stress economic growth in Africa towards generating incomes should be emphasized.  Further, the private capital flows mentioned in the text should be in line with sustainable development principles and in support of African countries’ development.  The European Union also hoped the status of the “Chair’s negotiating text” would be clarified between now and May.


Canada’s representative said it was her delegation’s understanding that the outcome document would be a summary text, not a negotiating text.  Canada was not prepared to enter into negotiations at this time.  It understood that there would be an opportunity at the beginning of the May session to respond to this document with respect to specifics, and only after that would a negotiating text be released.


To that end, she said an effective summary document would present the breadth of the week’s discussions, yet there were significant omissions in the negotiating text, particularly with respect to disaster risk reduction in the Africa theme.  It was important that Governments responded to the humanitarian needs of their populations when natural disasters occurred.  The creation of early warning systems and the inclusion of such systems in national policies were crucial, and should be mentioned.  While the text acknowledged the potential of ecosystem services as a new opportunity for creating income in rural areas, her delegation was disappointed that the value and importance of ecological processes and services in sustainable land management had been overlooked.  Good governance as a cross-cutting issue had also been omitted.  Such good governance and good policies were foundational for sustainable development and required respect for human rights and gender equality; respect and enforcement of rule of law; accountable transparent and inclusive public institutions; and commitment to freedom and democracy.


The representative of the Russian Federation said he was “stunned” by the previous interventions.  His delegation believed the text served as a good opportunity for future negotiations.  It was balanced in terms of thematic clusters, and focused in terms of deliverables.  It was worded in such a way that augured well for negotiations during the seventeenth session.


Norway’s delegate said the document today was a good starting point for the discussions in May, but there were a few issues that had not been properly addressed.  First, on food security, the document covered the issue of increased food production well, but did not reflect the question of distribution and the right to food.  It also did not address the issue of biofuels, particularly by calling for international guidelines, in enough detail.  On desertification, there was a gap on the question of agricultural production and climate change adaptation.  It should go beyond management practice.


Mexico’s representative said this text would be a good basis for study and would allow delegations to prepare for more fluid negotiations in May.  After first reading it, her delegation would prefer that the different policy proposals that were substantive in nature should be included in an operative section, not the annex.


The representative of the United States, supporting the statement made by Canada, said his delegation looked forward to a revised version, as the document seemed to have lost a focus on links to sustainable development.  For example, it spoke of food security, but did not speak of sustainable agriculture.  The references to extension focused too much on technology and not enough on communication, which should be two-way in nature and not just bottom-up.  The United States would consider those options that addressed financial issues in detail.  Among the suggested revisions were that, in the section on agriculture, all crops, not just traditional ones, should be addressed.  In the section on Africa, there was a need to expand local food markets.


Switzerland’s representative said the text did not reflect all the important messages presented.  The point was to strive for shorter outcome documents, without repeating past recommendation.


Japan’s representative lamented the omission in the text of a reference to good governance, which was an important aspect of sustainable development.  More thought should have been given to official development assistance and debt relief.


Barbados’ representative, speaking on behalf of the AOSIS, expressed concern that the text omitted reference to implementation of the Mauritius strategy based on proposals made by the AOSIS.  He said he would resubmit those proposals.


A representative of women said issues of indigenous people and youth were not sufficiently reflected in the choice of words in the text.


A representative of children and youth lamented that there were few references in text to youth as viable actors.  Youth were experts in their own right and their views should be taken into account.


A representative of indigenous peoples said the issue of capacity-building was missing from the text, as was adequate reference to the role of information and communications technology, particularly in local communities.


A representative of non-governmental organizations said the document should strongly present a rights-based approach.  The section on biofuels did not capture the seriousness of the threat they posed to local and sustainable food security.  The livestock reference was welcomed, but it should also refer to the humane treatment of animals.


A representative of local authorities said the text lacked a reference to strengthening urban-rural links to improve access to food security.


A representative of the United States said the document was a summary which would serve as a basis for comment at the beginning of Commission’s meeting in May and from which the final negotiating text would then be developed.


The representative of the Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the negotiating text was a good basis for starting negotiations and amendments would be drafted and proposed as the Commission proceeded.  The document failed to capture the urgency posed by current international challenges.  Further, mention of a number of countries, such as the least developed or African States with special needs, had been omitted, as had the resolution entitled “Political declaration on Africa’s development needs”, adopted by the General Assembly on 8 October 2008.  The challenges faced by people under foreign occupation were also not reflected in the text, which did not differentiate between the commitments and responsibilities of developed and developing countries.


She went on to say that the negotiating text also did not sufficiently address water and sanitation, and, on climate change, it did not coherently draw on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other legally binding documents.  More coherence was needed to underscore financial responsibility and commitments regarding technology transfer, official development assistance, capacity-building and the need for debt cancellation.  The Group was also concerned by the intention to generalize certain commitments undertaken by a number of countries in processes outside the United Nations, particularly the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.  The articulation of each subhead needed review, as it currently created a “judgement call” that imbalanced the text.  The issue of subsidies had been only partially addressed and should be included in the sections on agriculture and rural development.  Overall, the Group’s policy positions needed to be better reflected.  The Commission was a critical forum for discussing the needs of the developing world, and its views should be properly taken into account.


Oman’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the text took into account some of the proposals made by the Arab Group, but had overlooked an issue raised by a large numbers of statements:  the economic, social and development impediments faced by populations under occupation.  The Commission should not shy away from the special needs of people chafing under foreign occupation.


Botswana’s representative said his delegation was encouraged by the text’s focus on partnerships between the developed and developing world, particularly on food security and desertification.


The representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, said the treatment of small island developing States was “disappointing”.  Given the Meeting’s focus on their needs, the text should have been more expansive on that front, and her delegation supported the proposal to include a separate section in future drafts of the text.


Tonga said recommendations had been provided on concerns related to her region and her delegation hoped they would be included.  Specifically, more detail on food security should be provided in the section on interlinkages and cross-cutting issues.  On funding, the issue of availability should be addressed.


Following these comments, the Meeting took note of the “Chair’s negotiating text”.


Commission Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur, Tania Raguz of Croatia, then introduced the “Draft report of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting” (document E/CN.17/IPM/2009/L.1), which delegations adopted by consensus.


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For information media • not an official record