IDDRI's newsletter is a regular electronic publication aimed at providing information on IDDRI’s activities and news and shedding light on the key events for sustainable development around the world.
Almost 25 years after the Earth Summit, which put sustainable development on the international action agenda, 2015 will be a year of important deadlines, in particular the United Nations General Assembly decision on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September and the 2015 Paris climate conference in December. Concluding two different processes whose challenges are nevertheless interconnected, these two events are both aimed at defining a more robust framework for future action; analysing past experience (the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] in the first case, and climate conferences under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] and the Kyoto Protocol in the second) will help to build these frameworks. These two processes have matured, with both arriving at a decisive stage simultaneously.
The 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima is the last major negotiation meeting before COP21 in 2015, at which a new global climate agreement should be achieved. As the penultimate meeting before Paris in a long and intensive negotiation process that started in 2011, Lima will be a key moment to take the pulse of the global negotiations, and indicate how they should take shape in 2015.
More and more scientists are expecting a 6th mass extinction of species. The mid-term review of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) indicates that progress made since 2010 for 48 of the 53 sub-objectives for biodiversity has been limited—non-significant or insufficient—or worse, that the situation has deteriorated. The 12th Conference of the Parties to the CBD, which was held in the Republic of Korea from 6 to 17 October, has nevertheless had very little coverage from civil society.
Sixteen months before the Paris Conference, when all the countries will commit to signing a new international climate agreement, the majority of heads of state and government are meeting today in New York for a special climate summit, at the request of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The goal of this summit is to galvanise leaders and to mark the return of political will and the desire to rebuild a collective process.
The month of July marks the start of a new phase for IDDRI: following the nomination of Laurence Tubiana as Special Representative for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and Ambassador for Climate Change, I have been designated by the board as the new director of IDDRI from now until January 2016. I am honored by this new role within a foundation that disseminates high quality research in an effort to propose policy recommendations that address sustainable development challenges, with the support of a multidisciplinary, solid and well-recognized team.
The biodiversity bill aimed at "striking a better balance between human activities and biodiversity" is currently being considered by the French Parliament, and has the ambitious goal of aligning French policy with international processes and mechanisms.
For proponents of the “sharing economy” or of “collaborative consumption”, owning a car that spends more than 92% of its time parked is nothing more than an under-utilisation of material goods or capital, and is therefore an economic and environmental waste. The same applies to tools stored in a cellar that are only used once or twice a year, or to mobile phones forgotten in a drawer.
Due to growing demand for energy and because of technological innovation, offshore exploration and production activities have developed considerably in recent decades. Today almost a third of all oil and a quarter of all natural gas consumed in the world comes from underwater areas , and this race for offshore hydrocarbons is not over yet: indeed, experts are predicting steady growth in production in traditional oil-producing regions (the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa, in particular) and significant development in new areas (East Africa, the Mediterranean, and even the Arctic). This offshore rush, whether in deep or ultra-deep areas (up to 3km below the surface and 9km below the ocean floor), means increasing threats to the environment, natural resources and economic activities that depend on marine ecosystems, as well as greater risk of accidents, which have multiplied in recent years.
The US shale gas has ignited curiosity, conflict, and envy in Europe and in France. The supposed benefits for the US economy and manufacturing have also created concern. However, in this highly charged debate there is no small degree of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
The stakes involved and the need for clarity inspired IDDRI to launch a 5-month research project on the economics of the shale gas revolution in the US and its implications for Europe. The aim was to have a rational, empirical assessment of the economic issues. In so doing, it was decided to leave aside for now important environmental issues—life-cycle emissions and local pollution—because the current political priority is jobs and competitiveness.
Despite the persistence of profound regional differences, considerable progress has been made in combating food insecurity since the international community agreed to give special attention to reducing hunger within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals. According to the latest estimates, 842 million people still do not have enough to eat (FAO, 2013). The vast majority of these, some 827 million people, live in developing countries. If further efforts are made, the goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015 is within reach. However, the combined effect of climate warming, the degradation of natural resources, high population growth and price volatility is mortgaging the future of a world without food insecurity, while a geographical shift in hunger at the global level seems to be emerging.
The Warsaw climate conference (COP19) succeeded in setting a pathway towards the Paris climate conference in 2015, where states should strike a new global climate deal. Yet it showed how long and difficult the road will be. Fundamental questions remain unanswered requiring high level political engagement.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the most important environmental fund on a worldwide scale, even though the more significant funding from major development donors also includes—at least partially—an environmental dimension. Within the context of resetting the post-2015 international agenda and of intervention by new players (donors from emerging countries, charitable foundations and new climate-issue funds, etc.), the discussions on the GEF’s 6th replenishment (GEF-6, 2014-2020) and on its more long-term strategy (launched in spring 2013 and scheduled to finish in spring 2014) represent a crucial opportunity for reasserting the importance of its mission to help protect global environmental public goods, as well as for capitalizing on its successes and drawing lessons from its limits.
The environmental conference formally closed the French national debate on the energy transition. Submitted on 18 July to the President of the Republic, in the presence of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development, the summary of findings set out guidelines, took stock of consensus on the major issues and listed the points of divergence to be settled by the public authorities. IDDRI played a major role in this debate: as part of the steering committee, with Jean Jouzel and Laurence Tubiana, and in the expert committee, with Michel Colombier; but also through the research and publications mobilised during the discussions, especially by Andreas Rüdinger and Lucas Chancel. This exercise was IDDRI’s first contribution of this magnitude to the …
Launched in September 2012, IDDRI's New Prosperity programme is based on the premise that more and more industrialised countries have experienced structurally low economic growth since the early 1970s and that the demand for environmental sustainability has become increasingly prevalent. The programme examines the dynamics of growth and its interaction with the environment, and analyses the linkages between growth and the concept of prosperity.
In our society of urban dwellers—soon to become four billion worldwide—the fabric of the city poses a number of challenges that cannot be solved with a package of predetermined tools, but instead requires a real paradigm shift. The first challenge—which overshadows the others—falls into the category of what is commonly known as "city governance". This approximate concept certainly requires precise definition, while in the French case we clearly observe great difficulties caused by the organisation and operation of the fabric of the city. In France, the current debate on metropolises and territorial organisation, under Act III of decentralization, firmly underlines this point. The (counter)examples of the Grand Paris project and the Marseille agglomeration serve as sharp reminders of the difficulty involved in redefining the organisation of urban power if we aim not for a mere redefinition of its anatomy (which powers at which levels), but rather to focus on the physiology of the system (the way in which the various levels of power relate).
The need to protect biodiversity and the fairness of the exploitation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge (TK), including through the application of biotechnology, have engendered one of the most contentious global debates of the 21st century between developed and developing countries. The importance of such a debate stems from its fundamental implications for the way in which basic and applied research on biological resources and biodiversity are conducted and its results (ranging from improved food crops to domesticated animals, from the next generation of lifesaving drugs to cosmetics and food supplements—just to mention a few) are made available between and within societies. Therefore, biodiversity governance not only tells stories about biodiversity conservation, but also about food security, global health, intellectual property, indigenous peoples, equity, justice and human rights.
The debate on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the 2014-2020 period has been underway for three years already. The final phase of the negotiations has just begun and will see the three stakeholders (the Commission, the Parliament and the Council) come together on 40 different occasions to reach a compromise, expected in June 2013 by the Irish Presidency of the European Union. This is a considerable challenge for European integration in an enlarged EU of 28 Member States, for which it is one of the most emblematic policies. But also for the future of European Agriculture, whose changes will have repercussions for the rest of the world, while financial and budget crises are making it necessary to rethink the use of EU funds.
Is the world becoming less egalitarian? Are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? What are the non-monetary components of inequality? To grasp the contemporary evolution of inequalities and to understand their consequences for sustainable development, A Planet for Life dissociates the gaps in the standard of living between countries from the gaps within countries. Each of these two dimensions is currently undergoing a major turnaround, and their conjunction marks a historic shift for humanity as a whole.
In marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ)—the high seas and the deep seabed located outside the continental shelves of States, often simply named the "high seas"—biodiversity is at risk, suffering from the expansion of human activities in previously inaccessible places as well as from the growing impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. Recognising the importance of this issue, Heads of States and Governments committed during the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ("Rio+20") "to address, on an urgent basis, the issue of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, including by taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under the Convention on the Law of the Sea". This declaration also defined a deadline for adopting a decision on the development of a United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) Implementing Agreement on the subject: at the latest by the end of 2014, under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The national debate on the energy transition launched in November 2012 by the new French government is part of a global reflection on our future ways of life and their implications for our economic system and our methods of governance: how do we want to live—differently, better—in 10, 20 or 30 years? Based on current technical and scientific knowledge and on future scenarios, how can we appreciate the costs and benefits, risks and opportunities of an energy transition and make significant short- and long-term choices? This is the truly political and civic sense and scope of this debate.
The Group of the 20 wealthiest economies in the world, the G20, provides an informal discussion forum for the Heads of State to address the major problems of the world economy. Long criticised for its conservatism and the exclusion of the developing world, the Group of Six, created in 1975, was extended several times before institutionalising the G20 in 2008. This move from the G8 to the G20 reflects the shift in the centre of gravity of the world economy towards the emerging countries and Asia in particular. The process has also become more representative: the G20 member countries today account for more than two thirds of the world population, compared to less than a sixth for the G8 prior to 2008. But it is now time for the first assessments, after five years of activity. Like the G8, the G20 must account for its capacity to transform economies and to overcome the global challenges that are central to its operations, year after year.
As a fortnight of negotiations closes, a new climate agreement has finally been found. The aim of this conference in Doha (Qatar) was twofold: moving forward in the implementation of agreements already reached, with the adoption of a second Kyoto Protocol period and of new financial commitments for developing countries; and setting the negotiation process on the path to achieving an ambitious legally binding agreement for all in 2015.
The 11th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was held from 8 to 19 October in Hyderabad (India), was presented as a return to normality after the somewhat unusual publicity surrounding the previous conference in Nagoya in 2010. It was the opportunity to take stock of the "Nagoya legacy", and was to enable limited but necessary progress to be made on several important subjects.
Since 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided the roadmap for development as far as the first milestone, the year 2015. So we are now nearing the time to assess results and set new challenges, possibly based on fresh goals. In 2012, the UN Secretary-General entrusted this task to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, whose report will be forthcoming in May 2013. At the same time, the States present at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) laid down the basis for a sustainable development agenda underpinned by MDG-type quantitative targets. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be, as set out in paragraph 247 of Summit’s declaration, The Future We Want, "action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities". At the United Nations’ initiative, an intergovernmental working group and an international expert network are being set up to work on defining the SDGs.
Marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ)—the high seas and the deep seabed located outside the continental shelves of coastal States—is facing many threats due to the overexploitation of its resources, the expansion of human activities to previously inaccessible places, climate change and ocean acidification. For more than a decade now, the attention of the international community has been drawn on the need for a stronger global governance regime for these areas.
What has come out of Rio+20? A sense of realism, certainly. While the final text does not match up to the challenges at stake, it is a relatively true reflection of the current state of play in international cooperation, and reveals the limits of the multilateral cooperation system inherited from 1946.
While the heads of State of 130 countries have discussed sustainable development at the Rio+20 conference, the European governments are still mulling a crisis exit strategy. Despite the weaknesses of the text discussed in Rio, the idea that it is necessary to include the environmental dimension in responses to economic crises is taking root. IDDRI is working to foster this position in Europe.
Despite the success of the EU plans for Spain’s bank bailout, the eurozone situation remains extremely precarious, marked by a downward spiral: activity is continuing to decline, and real wages are plummeting not only in the peripheral countries, but also in Germany; yet the volume and nature of European debts is still cause for concern.
In this context, a certain …
To mark the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit, the United Nations General Assembly decided to organise the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio +20, in Rio de Janeiro from 20 to 22 June 2012.
The recent series of accidents on offshore oil platforms have served to raise public awareness on the extent to which offshore energy exploitation is moving into increasingly deep waters.
A Planet for Life is an annual publication on sustainable development launched in 2007 from a partnership between IDDRI and AFD, and published since 2011 by Armand Colin. Every year the first part of the publication reviews the sustainable development highlights of the year, while the second part takes a closer look at a specific subject.
Through the consideration of migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change, IDDRI is engaged in a broader analysis of the governance of migration linked to environmental degradation. Today, approximately 210 million people live in a country that is not their original birthplace. This represents approximately 3% of the world population, a figure that has more than doubled over the past 25 years. In addition, many people migrate within their own national borders: at the last count, this number stood at 740 million. This means that around one in seven people now live in an area other than that in which they were born.
The UN conference on climate change took place in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011, in the face of a jittery global economy. The accords agreed, after two days of overtime, can form the basis of long-term ambitious cooperation and could allow increased ambition in the short-term, where possible.
Climate policies give rise to contradictory ambitions, as they are both criticised for their negative impacts on competitiveness and employment, and presented as a key element of a new economic model based on a resource-efficient service economy. Recent debates in France on the carbon tax have shown, for example, that it was presented alternately as the core element of a redeployment of taxes from salaries to pollution and energy consumption, and as an additional burden for agricultural and industrial sectors that have been given a rough ride by globalisation.
Areas located beyond any national jurisdiction i.e. high seas, which are further than 200 nautical miles from coastlines, and deep seas which lie beyond the limits of the continental shelves of states, represent nearly two-thirds of the total sea and ocean area and are home to a rich biodiversity that is still little known and insufficiently protected. The creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) is considered as a particularly appropriate tool to provide the necessary protection. The international community recently confirmed the importance of this type of instrument when in 2010 in Nagoya it adopted a Strategic Plan, the objective 11 of which provides for the creation of a network of MPAs by 2020, to cover a minimum of 10% of coastal zones and oceans. However, in areas located beyond national jurisdiction, the legal framework for the creation of these protected areas appears incomplete.
The upcoming international climate negotiations that will be held in early December in Durban, South Africa, look set to be thorny once again. Some progress is expected on the technical points of the negotiations, such as the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) mechanism for greenhouse gas emissions, technology transfer from developed to developing countries, or the creation of the Green Climate Fund, which was agreed upon in Cancún in 2010. However, the issue of a legally binding framework to follow on from or replace the Kyoto Protocol remains unresolved and means the outcome of this summit is again uncertain.
Furthermore, both developed and developing countries are still reluctant to make commitments before the international community. This is mainly down to a lack of knowledge about …
Over half the world’s population now lives in cities, which are both actors in climate change (40% of total greenhouse gas emissions) and particularly vulnerable to its impacts (extreme weather events, fragility of urban coastal zones, difficulties providing water, etc.). It is therefore necessary to rethink the development of cities and their infrastructure from a long-term, sustainable perspective.
This is what is advocated by the report entitled Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, published by Cambridge University Press. Through a detailed analysis of climate trends and forecasts for 12 cities (Athens, Dakar, New Delhi, Harare, …
Since 2007, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the French Development Agency (AFD) have been working together to produce A Planet for Life, an annual publication on sustainable development, published by Teri Press.
Every year, A Planet for Life deciphers the complex processes involved in sustainable development and reveals its full value. In addition to an overview of the international negotiations and policies conducted over the past year in the field of sustainable development, the publication also explores a specific subject. Previous editions have thus focused on issues concerning energy choices in the face …
The year 2010 ended on an ambivalent note, with a clear sense of relief in international negotiations relating to biodiversity and climate on the one hand, and renewed mobilisation of environmental sceptics on the other.
The 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Nagoya from 18 to 29 October, was the culmination of an International Year of Biodiversity with a very busy agenda. The issues at stake were clear: for the 193 Parties, the aim was to monitor and guide the implementation of the Convention, which has a particularly vast programme of work. It was therefore no “big night for biodiversity”, although two elements did make this COP a special moment in the life of the Convention: first, negotiations on a new international treaty, in the form of a Protocol on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), were to be finalised; second, a new strategic plan for the 2011-2020 period was to be adopted.
It was said that this COP would …
The current trend in environmental matters is unquestionably to give a growing role to economic science. Two complementary tools are proposed: the development of incentive mechanisms that are potentially more efficient than binding regulations (for example taxation); and the design of analytical frameworks for decision making (for example cost-benefit analyses). Furthermore, following the example of the study entitled "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity", led by Pavan Sukhdev, the use of economic environmental assessments is becoming increasingly common.
On 20-22 September 2010, during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Ban Ki Moon will hold a high-level plenary session on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The United Nations Secretary-General is convening this meeting ten years after the eight MDG objectives were adopted, in order to take stock of the situation five years ahead of the 2015 deadline and to give a new thrust to the process.
Created in 2001 in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002), the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands is the most important informal forum for discussion on marine and coastal issues. From 3 to 7 May this year, the fifth edition of the Forum, held in Paris, brought together over 800 participants from 80 different countries.
Since 2007, IDDRI and the French Development Agency (AFD) have been working in partnership to produce a French annual publication on sustainable development with the Sciences Po University Press. This 2010 edition led to the publication of a book in English by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), entitled CITIES: steering towards sustainability (A Planet for Life series).
Without a doubt, 2009 was the year of the climate with the high point being the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The IDDRI was closely involved in this event, which you were able to follow primarily on our blog. What was learned during these two weeks of high emotion, setbacks and disappointments? The IDDRI gives you its ‘off-the-cuff’ analysis of these two weeks and the Copenhagen deal: What happened? Who won and who lost? What should we make of this declaration? And most importantly, what do we do next? [Download this publication]
This first analysis will be followed by a more in-depth review and a public conference on 27 January 2010.
Today, the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change opens in Copenhagen (Denmark), and will run from 7-18 December. The stakes are high for the international community: it must reach an ambitious, fair and effective agreement to ensure a massive, rapid and global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, while adhering fully to the principles of the Rio Declaration (1992), especially that of common but differentiated responsibilities.
Since this round of negotiations was launched at the Bali Conference in December 2007, IDDRI has been actively involved as both observer and actor in these negotiations and is striving to identify the room for manoeuvre available and to foster the emergence of points of convergence.
For the last two …
On 7 December 2009, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will open in Copenhagen (Denmark). As a key stage in the adoption of a new international climate regime to replace the Kyoto Protocol (1997-2012), the Copenhagen conference will conclude the round of negotiations launched by the Bali conference in December 2007. The priority and the challenge for the international community is to reach an ambitious, fair and effective agreement to ensure a massive, rapid and collective reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Yet less than two months before the Copenhagen meeting, its outcome is causing a great deal of concern due to the lack of political consensus on some key points of the negotiation.
Although the main obstacle on the …
At the heart of international concerns, the issue of climate change and its consequences in terms of vulnerability and adaptation is approached by IDDRI particularly from the perspective of the Mediterranean basin, which is both a priority region for adaptation and a testing ground for what could be achieved elsewhere in the world.
IDDRI is developing this research as part of the European CIRCE project (Climate Change and Impact Research: the Mediterranean Environment, www.circeproject.eu), which involves over 60 partners on the three shores of the Mediterranean. Laurence Tubiana is coordinating the economic and social sciences aspects of the whole project, and four of IDDRI’s researchers are also involved: first on the issue of adaptation policies (review, challenges, methods and opportunities for regional coordination) …
To celebrate a year of integration with Sciences Po, IDDRI is pleased to introduce its new logo! The logo symbolises the merger of the two institutions, which during the course of this year have allowed to identify avenues of collaboration, and that have enabled IDDRI to fully participate in Sciences Po life.
Teaching has provided an essential entry point. For several years Sciences Po has been actively pursuing an international policy that aimed to position the institution on the same level as the world’s best universities. …