InfoResources News No 1 / 05 (February
> Coherence of environmental policy?
Of current interest
> Has the project approach in development
> A role for renewable energy in development
> Development of the environment in the
Asian Pacific region
> South America: Soy or forests?
> Biodiversity in the farmers’ interest
> An online
market place offering advice on ecosystem services
> Strategic Environmental
Assessments (SEA): a review of
Disaster Reduction Strategy for Central Asia
> Managing change: A key to sustainable livelihoods?
> EFARD 2005: International
Conference on Agricultural Research for
Coherence of environmental policy?
change poses a major threat to biodiversity and, in turn, major changes
in the composition and distribution of vegetation may further upset
regional and global climate. Given these ecological interrelationships,
the rules and regulations developed by the Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD),
are likely to influence each other. The same is true for the relations
between these two conventions and the Convention to Combat Desertification
(UNCCD), as well as the over 250 Multilateral Environmental Agreements
(MEA). So far this mutual influence has not been duly taken into account.
Today, two demands are frequently voiced with regard to improving future
Firstly, the horizontal coherence between the various environmental
conventions needs to be improved. Goals, standards and rules must be
devised in such a way that conflicts are avoided and synergies tapped.
Working groups and initiatives aiming at a better coordination between
the various conventions are now increasingly promoted, and the ”Joint
Liaison Group” of the three convention secretariats is widely acknowledged
as a good starting point. A pragmatic approach at the local level is
proposed in a well-devised toolkit entitled ‘Integration of Biodiversity
Concerns in Climate Change Mitigation Activities’. In the form of practical
guidelines, this document offers simple criteria to support decisions
when developing climate change mitigation projects that are also intended
to advance biodiversity conservation and thus contribute to achieving
the goals of the UNCBD. For example, afforestation of an area in Cameroon
can be acknowledged as a contribution to reducing climate change in
accordance with the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.
If this area was previously degraded and is now afforested with indigenous
species, the project simultaneously also contributes to the 2010 global
biodiversity goals under the UNCBD.
Secondly, there is a great need for concerting local strategies and
projects with national and international environmental legislation,
i.e. for improving their so-called vertical coherence. As the number of global
environmental agreements is growing, so is a lack of implementation.
This challenge needs to be addressed particularly at the national level,
but non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations
(CBOs) equally play an important role in implementing environmental
A study analyses to what degree current local environmental projects
consider themselves contributing to the goals defined under the environmental
conventions. Local projects often emerge from local necessities and
are not necessarily an outcome of the global conventions. Obstacles
to effectively and efficiently integrating the local level into the
national and international policy discussion are predominantly linked
to a lack of funding, language barriers, or a lack of competence in
negotiation among CBOs and NGOs. However, cooperation with government
agencies is challenging as well due to the fact that environmental legislation
is frequently weak, poorly coordinated, and sectoral, and that funding
for local environmental projects is becoming increasingly tight. Integration
of social and economic goals into environmental projects is seen as
one possible solution to these problems.
> Integration of Biodiversity Concerns in Climate Change Mitigation
Activities: A Toolkit. Keya Choudhury, Cornelia Dziedioch, Andreas Häusler,
Christaine Ploetz. German Federal Environmental Agency. 2004. 65p. www.umweltdaten.de/medien-e/biodiv.pdf
> Comprehensive Environmental Projects: Linking Adaptation to
Climate Change, Sustainable Land Use, Biodiversity Conservation and
Water Management. Ana V. Rojas Blanco. Both Ends. 68 p. www.bothends.org/service/Final_report_synergies.pdf
> Regime interplay: The case of biodiversity and climate change.
Joy A. Kim. In: Global Environmental Change Part A. Vol. 14, No. 4,
2004. p. 315–324.
Of current interest: Policy
Has the project approach in development cooperation become obsolete?
Development experts are increasingly coming to realise that projects
are not always effective in combating poverty. A joint research programme
of the UK Bradford Centre for International Development and partners
in South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, carried out ten case studies
investigating the institutional effects of the Sustainable Livelihoods
Approach (SLA) on development interventions. Findings suggest that projects
are often isolated constructs with ample financial resources in financially
rather limited surroundings. Moreover, projects cause relatively high
operational costs in relation to their development-enhancing effect.
Last but not least, the study showed that projects often compete with
The researchers suggest, among other things, that power relations and
steering possibilities in development processes be questioned and changed,
and that more partnerships be formed with the private sector. Interventions
should be adapted to existing structures, and collaboration with government
agencies strengthened at both the local and the national level. According
to the authors, development interventions can only change people’s living
conditions if longer-term social and ecological impacts are taken into
account along with economic and institutional sustainability.
Source: Goodbye to Projects? The Institutional
Impact of Sustainable Livelihoods Approaches on Development Interventions.
Tom Franks et al. March, 2004. 64p. www.livelihoods.org/lessons/docs/GtPFinalReport.pdf
More information: http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/dppc/research/
A role for renewable energy in development cooperation
To begin with, this briefing paper stresses the importance of industrialised
countries playing a pioneer role in reducing CO2 emissions using renewable
energy technologies. The focus then shifts to the question of a promotion
of technologies that takes into consideration the different conditions
in developing and transitional countries.
Potential improvements may be made in terms of fossil fuel and renewable
energy technologies. The paper classifies countries into three groups
and proposes an approach for each group:
- Mainly sub-Saharan countries and others with similar problems (for
example, Nicaragua and Haiti). Proposed approach: reduction
of both ”energy poverty” and the unsustainable use of biomass fuels.
- Mainly transitional countries (for example, Albania and Kyrgyzstan).
Proposed approach: Improvement of energy efficiency and support
of energy market reforms.
- Heavily populated developing countries with dynamic economies, growing
energy demands and rising emissions (for example, Brazil, China, Pakistan).
Proposed approach: ”climate change mitigation and energy security”;
increasing the share of renewable energy use in the long-term through
education, technology transfer, and the strengthening of institutional
and legislative measures.
These very general distinctions will influence the choice of technologies,
partner institutions and the instruments to be used.
Source: Climate change mitigation and
energy policy in development
cooperation: What role for renewable energy technologies? Matthias
Krause, Imme Scholz. Bonn, German Development Institute, 2004. 4 p.
Development of the environment in the Asian Pacific region
While the Asian Pacific region is making progress with regard to economy,
poverty reduction, and the health sector, selected indicators point
to continuous degradation of renewable natural resources. For example,
although Southeast Asia is one of the most widely forested regions of
the world and has a rich biodiversity, its forested area has decreased
by an average of 1.8% per year during the past 20 years, with the corresponding
negative influence on biodiversity. Cross-border air pollution due to
slash-and-burn forest clearing has become critical.
With a view to determining this and other developments, the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) has defined indicators intended to support
countries and regions in measuring progress towards the UN Millennium
Goals. The 2002 Johannesburg Plan for the implementation of these goals
emphasises the need for such indicators as a solid basis for monitoring
and decision-making by policy-makers.
Southeast Asia is one of five Asian sub-regions that have been determined
by UNEP. The others are Central Asia, South Asia, Northeast Asia, and
the South Pacific.
All reports include graphic representations of the trends of over 25
key indicators for air, water, land, biodiversity, social and economic development.
In many of these spheres there is still a lack of sound scientific data
as a basis for assessing progress in development.
Source: Environmental Indicators. Separate
volumes for Central Asia, North East Asia, South Asia, South East Asia,
and South Pacific. United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Resource
Centre for Asia and the Pacific. 2004. www.rrcap.unep.org/indicator
Of current interest: Implementation
South America: Soy or forests?
Soy is a trade crop of international importance, as it is predominantly
processed into fodder or oil. Global demand for these products is growing
continually and cannot be met by increased yields alone. This is the
reason why, in recent years, soy cultivation areas have been expanded
– at the expense of both other crops and natural ecosystems.
This trend is likely to continue, particularly in Brazil, Argentina,
Paraguay, and Bolivia, since these countries still have reserves of
arable land. Today, soy is already the most important agricultural export
product from these countries. However, intensified soy cultivation has
problematic impacts on the environment: valuable forest areas are cleared,
causing increased risks of erosion and growing contamination with pesticides.
A study now suggests combining soy cultivation and livestock farming.
This type of intensification of agricultural production could significantly
reduce the clearing of forests. However, the authors also emphasise
the fact that widespread industrial agriculture is generally problematic
from an ecological point of view, and cannot solve social problems such
as inequitable distribution of income. Economic alternatives for small-scale
farmers and the introduction of ecological and social criteria for products
by soy buyers could help promote sustainable development.
Source: Managing the Soy Boom: Two scenarios
of soy production expansion in South America. Jan Maarten Dros. AIDEnvironment.
Amsterdam. June 2004. 63 p. www.panda.org/downloads/
Biodiversity in the farmers’ interest
What measures can enable a fruit farm to enhance its ecological value
added? How can pests be held at bay with the aid of beneficial organisms?
What function do fallow areas have in agriculture, and how are they
established? How can the ecological quality of agro-ecosystems be evaluated?
These and many other questions are addressed in a new book full of concrete,
abundantly illustrated ideas and impulses. The publication deals with
those aspects of biodiversity that are of immediate use to farmers,
such as, in particular, biological pest control. The first part elucidates
the concept of multifunctional agriculture, along with forms and functions
of ecological infrastructures. The main part shows how this concept
can be implemented in various agroecosystems. Finally, the book presents
methods for measuring and improving ecological quality and sustainability
In a time when sustainable methods of food production are increasingly
demand, this publication offers farmers and consultants a practice-oriented
tool. Although the book strongly focuses on European moderate zones,
a large portion of the content is relevant also for other continents.
Source: Ecological Infrastructures. Ideabook
on Functional Biodiversity at the Farm Level. Ernst F. Boller, Fritz
Häni & Hans-Michael Poehling (Eds.). International Organisation for
Biological and Integrated Control of Noxious Animals and Plants (IOBC).
August 2004. 212p. German/English. Selected pages: www.iobc.ch/ideabook.pdf
Order form: www.iobc.ch/Orderform_IOBC_Ideabook_0904.doc
An online market place offering advice on ecosystem services
Launched during the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress (Bangkok,
17–25 November 2004), the Katoomba Group's Ecosystem Marketplace is
the first online source of information on markets for ecosystem services.
These markets represent a great potential for a large number of stakeholders
at very different levels, as well as for communities, financial agents
and the business world. The primary objective of this initiative is
to provide users with information on the existence of these markets,
on who is buying, who is selling and at what price.
Visitors can also subscribe to an ”eNewsletter” with fortnightly updates.
The website also has a Marketwatch section (still under construction)
with information on biodiversity markets, carbon markets, water markets
and other conservation markets, detailing their location, transaction
values, the carbon sequestered and the protected or restored land area.
The Marketwatch page will soon list the prices and locations of buyers
This online market place should facilitate transactions between the
different users and providers, and perhaps help to promote new markets.
Source: The Katoomba Group’s Ecosystem
Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA): a review of international experience
Following the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), which were targeted
at the ”project” level, the importance of concerted action at the national
and international ”macro” level became clear. As a result, countries
and international institutions introduced new tools to carry out strategic
environmental assessments of different plans, programmes and policies.
This review consists of a collection of experiences in developed, transitional
and developing countries. It presents the many varied approaches taken
by multilateral and bilateral development agencies, and shows that some
analyses deal with integrated (sustainable development) rather than
strictly environmental strategies. For example, the ”World Bank” has
developed a summary matrix to analyse the poverty and social impact
analysis of policy change. Also, an analysis grid is applied in environmental
assessments of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) of Vietnam.
The authors conclude that the future challenges for SEA lie less with
the methodology and more with a clearer and better understanding of
assessment tools and the appropriation of their results by decision
makers. The idea is to have the necessary instruments to illustrate
the impact of sustainable development policies. In the end, however,
it will be the impact of the information transmitted that will be decisive
to the improvement of strategies and policies.
Source:Strategic environmental assessment:
a sourcebook and reference guide to international experience. Barry
Dalal- Clayton, Barry Sadler. London, IIED, 2004. 385 p. www.iied.org/spa/sea.html
Swiss Disaster Reduction Strategy for Central Asia
Human and economic losses caused by natural disasters are rapidly increasing
throughout the world. Although international awareness of this phenomenon
has grown, most regions lack adequate local disaster reduction strategies.
Central Asia is considered particularly instable with regard to its
tectonics and geomorphology. Efforts towards sustainable development
are severely hampered by natural disasters and creeping erosion processes.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has developed
a Disaster Reduction Strategy for Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan,
which will guide the Disaster Reduction Programme for Central Asia during
its first phase until 2008. An accurately recorded regional risk profile
and the specification of horizontal and vertical forms of cooperation
among all institutions involved form the strong points of this strategy.
Its main goals are to intensify the population’s awareness with regard
to disaster reduction, as well as their risk assessment capacities.
In accordance with this integrative approach, the definition of priority
measures and a detailed strategy plan are intended to facilitate risk
and disaster management. In future, aspects of risk minimisation shall
be better integrated in the corresponding countries’ general development
Information: Swiss Cooperation in Central
Of current interest: Research
Managing change: A key to sustainable livelihoods?
In an integrative manner, this book brings together various contributions
on rural livelihood systems in semi-arid India. It raises important
questions about capturing the complexity of such systems and managing
natural resources and change. The book elaborates on interrelations
between livelihood systems and the forces of their larger contexts,
and points out the links between macro-economic policies and rural household
The contributions are based on experiences and insights gained from
a six years research project that has been conducted in Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka and Gujarat and gained national and international visibility.
This volume will contribute substantially to helping people understand
local livelihood systems and the reasons why effective development requires
a holistic view. It is not about models, but about participatory research
tools and translating livelihood research into development practice.
The case studies presented all deal with challenges frequently faced
by development practitioners in search of approaches that foster empowerment.
Source: In search of sustainable
livelihood systems: Managing resources and change. Ruedi Baumgartner,
Ruedi Högger (Eds.). New Delhi, Sage, 2004. 382 p.
EFARD 2005: International Conference on Agricultural Research for
From 27 to 29 April 2005, the European Forum on Agricultural Research
for Development (EFARD) will hold its next general meeting in Zurich,
Switzerland. Entitled ”Agricultural Research for Development: European
Responses to Changing Global Needs”, the EFARD Conference will examine
the implications of current global trends with regard to agricultural
research for development (ARD).
EFARD is a joint effort undertaken by all ARD stakeholder groups –
researchers, policy makers, farmer organizations, NGOs, and the private
sector – to mobilise the scientific community and strengthen the contribution
of ARD to food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development.
The conference will serve as a platform for strategic dialogue, scientific
exchange, and development of joint activities among all involved stakeholder
groups. A number of plenary sessions will address the current and future
ARD agenda and the mechanisms coordinating European ARD. A series of
scientific parallel sessions will cover a wide range of ARD issues and
present new ARD approaches. Several workshops will emphasize on finding
new solutions through partnerships.