Durban climate talks: now a matter of form!

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Filed under: Climate change Development Environment

Today in Durban parties to the climate conference met once again to discuss the legal form of the outcome from the meeting. Will it be a new agreement, a protocol or any other form requiring ratification or will it be some kind of decision which is not legally binding?

A “menu” of legal options was put on the table by the chair, from which participant countries had to make a choice. Clearly the menu on offer included some options that would be difficult for many to digest:

  1. Legally binding instrument(s)
  2. Decisions including:- A mandate to define a legally binding instrument with a clear roadmap- Affirming the importance of a legally binding outcome to provide clarity and vision- A statement/declaration regarding future instrument(s), leaving the legal form open to discussion- Continuing to substantively address all pillars of the Bali Action Plan (pdf) trough Conference of Parties decisions

Developing countries are clearly in favour of option one. However, it seems that before there is more clarity substance, an agreement on the exact form will not be reached. So the parties have to decide not only on what to agree on but also in what form. Simple enough, one would have thought, but the implications are far-reaching.

If you are interested in all the complexities of legal form, we can recommend the newly published WRI report on The Challenge of Legal Form at the Durban Climate Talks.

Previous posts from Durban

TODAY! World AIDS Day: John and Dudley are taking over our Twitter account!

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Filed under: Development Health HIV

These amazing lads will be with you for all of tomorrow (December 1st) - World Aids Day – tweeting and replying to your tweets on issues related to HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe, Caucasus andCentral Asia (follow them at @UNDP_Europe_CIS)

They both work for our HIV, health and development team that seeks to promote and protect the rights of key populations such as injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men. The team also works to help national health systems mitigate the effects of HIV, tuberculosis and other health challenges.

 

Dudley Tarlton

Dudley works with countries in Europe andCentral Asia to promote sustainable financing for HIV treatment and the enforcement of laws that protect people living with HIV.

 

 

 

 

 

John Macauley

John has been working on HIV, health and development issues in Eastern Europe andCentral Asia since 2004. He currently focuses on the identification and dissemination of good practices.

Minority rights: loyalty is a two-way street

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Filed under: Human rights

“Are minority rights different?” this is a typical question I am often asked by participants and peers whenever I raise the issue of the protection of minorities under international human rights law. My   first response is no, which is generally followed by a more lengthy response. Minority rights form part of human rights. Persons belonging to minorities are entitled to equal freedom of all human rights, which, in turn, make a fundamental contribution to human development. Minorities have different perspectives that enrich the analysis of development and help identify solutions to difficult challenges.

However the realities on the ground are somewhat different from the theory. Inclusion of minorities in national planning and development processes proves to be difficult. Politics (of all forms), and political considerations play a less than conducive role, to put it mildly. Often, minorities are demanded to demonstrate their loyalty to states without adequate or necessary reciprocity i.e., inclusion, tolerance and social protection.

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Thoughts from Durban – Will the Clean Development Mechanism survive?

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Filed under: Climate change Development Environment

In climate change meetings, there is a constant endeavor to improve the rules, procedures and geographical distribution of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): the instrument whereby emission-reduction projects in developing countries can earn certified emission reduction credits. In spite of these efforts, the uncertainties regarding its existence and sustained demand in the post 2012 era still remain. Yet, the establishment of a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol is vital for the continuation of the CDM.

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We should not allow Durban to be the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol

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Filed under: Climate change Environment

There are rumors in the corridors of Durban (and beyond) that Canada is planning to officially withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Although neither denied nor confirmed at the moment, they disrupt the momentum of the negotiations. The US position—repeated in its press conference on Monday afternoon—that it does not favor discussing a broader agreement at this time, is adding another layer of complexity.

Another sour drop are the discussions that occurred at the last meeting of the Transitional Committee for the design and transparency of the Green Climate Fund, which took place in October. The meeting, which had aimed to conclude discussions ahead of COP 17, ended without consensus to adopt the Committee’s final report. The report was sent to the COP for consideration and approval; however, some think this will be a “bargaining chip” to be traded off later in the negotiations.

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Save Tomorrow Today – or maybe not… The first day in Durban

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Filed under: Climate change Environment

194 countries are currently meeting in Durban for two weeks to decide how the future of the international climate change regime will look like in the next decade. 35,000 participants are expected to attend the conference in Durban, including Al Gore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Angelina Jolie and the Princess of Monaco.

The first day was “business as usual”: general statements reiterating the already known positions.  Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, expressed his hopes that COP17 (that’s how people in the field call the meeting) will deliver balanced and positive outcomes. Other senior speakers – including the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Cristiana Figueres, the president to the previous meeting (yes, you guessed right!, COP16) Patricia Espinosa (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico), the current president South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the president of Angola and the vice-president of Chad all expressed their positive expectations for the conference.

However, a few minutes later, when the formal plenary session of the COP17 had started, the by now familiar problems with the adoption of the agenda took place (see here for our account of previous drama related to the agenda definition in Bangkok).

The time for negotiations is very limited, considering the complicated agenda and the fact that the high level talk will start on December 6th.

Will tomorrow bring a breakthrough? Watch this space…

Green Tourism in Uzbekistan: A view from the field

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Filed under: Environment

In the midst of a chaotic exhibition hall, visitors to the Tashkent International Tourism Fair (TITF) were drawn to a trickling waterfall set against a backdrop of a panoramic view of mountains. This was the booth for Zaamin. The mountain scenery was photographically reproduced to transplant the visitor from the middle of Tashkent city to the soothing, lush green mountain forests of Zaamin. Visitors including industry specialists from Uzbekistan and beyond came for the calming display and stayed to learn more about the unique tourism endeavour between the local government, the Uzbek government and the UNDP’s Local Governance Support Project (LGSP).

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Exploring the link between migration and tuberculosis in Central Asia

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Filed under: Development Health HIV

The European/Central Asian region has the highest rate of multi-drug- and extensively-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR and XDR TB respectively, in practitioner’s jargon) in the world. According to WHO, there are currently an estimated  81,000 people with MDR or XDR TB in the region. Most of them do not receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

At the national level, health systems often do not have enough capacity to identify and treat cases. The situation is further worsened by the substantial amount of (partially illegal) labor migration in the region.  Moving to another country means that diagnoses get hidden or delayed and treatment interrupted.

Drug resistant TB is not purely a health issue. It has economic repercussions as well.  Compare the costs of just a few Euro for a normal TB treatment course with thousands of Euro per person for all costs related to dealing with drug-resistant TB. WHO is estimating that we need to invest US $ 5.2 billion over the next 5 years for a reasonable action plan; without it, the final bill will be definitely larger.

Ultimately however at the core of this problem are social determinants of health and inequitable access to health services.

For the above reasons, I welcome next week’s high-level meeting on “Migration and tuberculosis: cross border care and control in Central Asia” in Almaty. I am looking forward to reviewing the outcomes of the meeting and, perhaps most importantly, to helping with the implementation plan coming out of the event. Watch this space for updates.

Social media for anticorruption: from “why” to “how to”

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Filed under: Anticorruption

If it is true that the use of social media has become an “automatic reflex” in development sectors such as disaster response and election monitoring, can the same be said of the fight against corruption? This is the question I posed to participants of the regional conference on anticorruption organised by UNDP in Belgrade last week. The panel of discussants included Natalia Kosheleva (the author of the upcoming UNDP-commissioned study on social media for anticorruption and transparency in the former Soviet block) as well as practitioners with hands-on experience of managing social media projects such as Vladometr.org or vestnik.transparency.sk (see presentations below). Overall, the discussion confirmed the impression that, in order to move beyond the technology hype in this area, we need many more in-depth case studies that look at experiences “from the trenches” to answer important questions such as:

  • how do we define impact?
  • how do we ensure long term sustainability of projects? (a point made also in this study from LSE)
  • how can we foster that ideal triangulation of citizen reporting, civil society monitoring and validation, and government commitment to respond which seems to be a key factor to success?

3 observations from participants stood out, in my mind, from the debate:

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A weekend without a social innovation camp is like a fish without a bike

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Filed under: Development

Armnews is interviewing #iLike team at #mardamej

A social innovation camp (SIC) takes a room of full tekkies, activists and itches that need a scratch. You place these ingredients in a space with internet access and…

…I can’t really say that you lock them up for 48 hours but it got close to that. What’s more I was locked up with them! And these are the projects that I saw coming to life:

MyTransport.am
The winners of the SIC Armenia  – MyTransport.am  developed a platform that should help solving the  ‘simple’ problem of getting from point A to point B, using public transport. It should include marshrutkas, buses and taxis. MyTransport are also tinkering with car-sharing with a hefty Facebook add on.

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