July 16, 2012

Rubble from Rio

Making sense of a failed Summit

Ajay K Jha, Beyond Copenhagen/PAIRVI

The Rio +20 Summit came to a close on 22nd June with hundreds of the heads of the state appreciating the efforts of the hosts in creating consensus on an outcome document titled “the future we want,” after months of intense and often acrimonious negotiations. The President of Brazil Ms. Dilma Rousseff, in her closing speech cautiously described the event as “a starting point.” The other dignitaries described the outcome as “balanced” where all the countries had something close to their hearts. The EU Climate Commissioner Ms. Connie Hedegaard also made a tongue in cheek remark (in a brief meeting with the author), “of having placed hooks at the right places, which will not be easy to dismantle.” However, except for diplomats who are trained in the art of verbal dexterity, many others were not so discreet in their judgment about the near total failure of the Summit. Kumi Naidoo from Greenpeace, said that the outcome document was the longest suicide note. As a matter of fact, the Summit and the outcome document, acknowledged the urgency and need for action on all three pillars economic, environmental and social, but it did not go any further.  In the end “ the future we want” remained an opulent verbosity with no commitments. While the political leaders are happy to have salvaged the Summit; the people share an agonizing frustration over an opportunity wasted and sense of disbelief in multilateralism to deliver. Let’s ponder over few important issues and outcomes from the summit.

Poverty eradication: The outcome document identifies poverty eradication as a major challenge that the world faces today and renews political commitment to address it. It is in fact highly shameful that more than one sixth of the humanity still lives in abject poverty, more than 1 billion people without access to food, and 1.4 billion people without access to electricity, which has a key role in poverty reduction. The Para 2 of Our Common Vision declares “eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensible requirement for sustainable development. In this regard we are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.” Though the outcome document does not go beyond acknowledging poverty as a major challenge, its recognition itself is very important in keeping poverty eradication on the political agenda, not only in the developing countries, but also serving as stark reminder to the developed and rich countries of their responsibility in lending a helping hand to lift half of world population out of poverty.

Reaffirmation of Rio Principles and CBDR; Despite stiff resistance from the rich countries to keep the CBDR out of the document, developing countries solidarity could pull this off. The outcome document makes two references to the CBDR, the text in Reaffirming the Rio Principles and past action plans, and in the text on climate change. This is of extreme significance, as in the Durban, developing countries have carelessly bartered this away, and it was believed that it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to bring this in due to extreme abhorrence of the US with the phrase. Though developing countries failed to bring CBDR in the language in the finance and technology transfer, in the chapter on means of implementation, nonetheless existence of CBDR and reaffirmation to Rio principles and climate change (in key thematic areas) is enough reminder to the rich countries of their historical role and impending responsibility to provide leadership in climate stabilization efforts.

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; The commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies can be the most remarkable outcome of the Summit, if the world leaders remain true to their words. It can definitely be a major take away from the Rio+20. More than 1 trillion of the USD is given to dirty energy companies, which is the major impediment is development of responsible and renewable energy choices. However, there is nothing to be very enthusiastic about the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. The G 20 summit in Pittsburgh (2009) committed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and every G8, and G20 summits hence have reiterated this commitment, however, very little action has reached the ground. As a matter of fact, high secrecy still envelopes fossil fuel subsidies and the ways in which it is given, with few countries like the UK and Japan outrightly reject existence of these subsidies in their countries.  Greater transparency and political will have to precede if governments are serious about actual reduction in subsidies.

Programme on sustainable consumption and production (SCP): The outcome text commits to undertake a10-yearframework of programmes on SCP. It can be extremely helpful in building capacity of business, communities and households on understanding and moving towards sustainable and responsible production and consumption patterns respecting the carrying capacity of the earth. In the current consumption patterns, global use of resources is likely to quadruple in 20 years. SCP has been on the international agenda since Agenda 21 (1992) identified unsustainable production and consumption patterns as the major cause for continued deterioration of the global environment. The JPOI adopted at the WSSD, Johannesburg (2002), adopted a ten-year framework of programmes in support of national and regional initiatives to accelerate the shift towards consumption and production patterns. UNEP launched the Marrakech process in 2003 and has since then convened three meetings. Rio+20 did nothing more than to agree to the adoption of a 10 FYP in the pursuance of process launched after the WSSD.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Initially proposed by Columbia, and supported by Guatemala, SDGs were seen as the most tangible outcome from the Summit.  While most of the countries seem to be agreeable to the concept of the SDGs, sharp differences existed on approach, content and implementation. The EU support for defining SDGs notwithstanding, the final document desisted from giving it a final shape and said “ SDGs should be 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…..”(Para 248).  It also committed to set up a thirty member working group in the 67th session of the UNGA and will submit a report to the 68thsession, containing a proposal for sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action. (Para 248)

Green Economy: Vaguely defined concept of green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, one of the two themes of the Summit, was hotly contested, with many rich countries trying to push an action plan on green economy, and developing countries fearing a blanket green economy framework restricting their right to development. Unflinching stance of G77 and China, in demanding Green Economy as a tool won the day, with Green economy being referred to as “green economy policies”, or “policies for green economy”, rather than “a green economy.” The text mentions “we affirm that there are different approaches, visions, models, and tools available to each country, in accordance with its national circumstances and priorities, to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, which is our over arching goal. In this regard we consider green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one of important tools available for achieving sustainable development and that it could provide options for policymaking but should not be a rigid set of rules……”(Para 56). Removal of the vowel was widely celebrated in the Indian camp as victory on the last frontier.

Institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD); Global environmental governance has been the weakest link in the sustainable development, and the Summit could have been a landmark event to strengthen it, make it more transparent and accountable, but it chose to do it in the weakest possible manner. From amongst the options proposed, consensus could be created on scaling up UNEP with universal membership and the finances. Aspirations of African group to make UNEP a specialized UN agency (which has greater clout) could not be realized and UNEP still remains an institution.The other proposal to form a Sustainable Development Council (SDC) on the lines of Human Rights Council, was transformed into setting up of a high level political forum, to take over from UNCSD. The General Assembly will define the format and organizational aspects of the HLF and will convene the first forum in 68th Session.

What Rio+20 failed to deliver

The zero draft was seen as a very weak and unambitious document from the beginning and there were several calls from developing countries to focus on root cause of unsustainable development namely, reform in global financial architecture and role of IFIs, technology transfer, reform in trade framework including making IPR restrictions flexible so that they can access and use green technologies, and strengthening the means of implementation to support their transition to a green and clean future. However, developed countries failed to raise the level of ambitions and provide additional finance or technology.

There is no money honey; The G77 and China had proposed setting up a sustainable development fund of 30 billion USD by 2013 to be scaled up to 100 billion USD by 2015. It was based on an old UNEP proposal made in 1992. However, developed countries completely refused to provide any new and additional finance saying that Rio+20 was a not a “pledging moment” and countries should “look forward rather than backwards.” They also suggested that most of the finances required will have to come through innovative finances, which literally means from market mechanisms and public private partnerships. South South cooperation and triangular cooperation are proposed to complement (read replace) north south cooperation.  A compromise between the warring blocks (North and south) was reached by a proposal to set up a 30 member expert committee to assess financial needs, which will complete its work by 2014. The Summit also urged the developed countries to ensure (Monterrey consensus) providing 0.7 % of the GNP to developing countries and 0.15-0.20% to the LDCs. The timing of the Summit when the Europe and the United states are fighting with continued economic recession too, did not augur well for the developing countries.

Summit trips on Technology transfer and IPR: Developed countries not only failed to provide much needed additional financial support, but also did a volte-face with regard to technology transfer. The developed countries are so much averse to the term technology transfer so that the title “technology transfer” was replaced by “technology,” and “technology transfer” was referred to as “technology transfer…… on favorable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed.” The references to IPR were altogether removed from the final text.

Key thematic areas; recognition of challenges but not rights: The outcome document also recognized 30 key thematic areas for further action and follow up such as poverty eradication, food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, water and sanitation, energy, sustainable tourism, sustainable transport, sustainable cities and human settlements, health and population, promoting full and productive employment, decent work for all and social protection, oceans and seas, small island developing states (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Africa, regional efforts, Disaster Risk Reduction, climate change, forests, biodiversity, desertification, land degradation and drought, mountains, chemicals and wastes, sustainable consumption and production, mining, education, and gender equality and empowerment of women. While they acknowledge the problems and challenges, and encourage action, there are no real commitments. While many alleged that the rights components have been further weakened in the final document, perhaps oceans and SIDS, received best possible treatment in terms of unambiguous language, bringing out clearly that business as usual is not the option.

Developing countries and Rio+20

The developing countries largely welcomed the document, even though they complained of lack of resources and technology for shift to green economy. Many of the developing countries wanted flexibility in defining green economy and SDGs, which has been left open enough for their own interpretations and definitions depending on their national circumstances, priorities and policies. This flexibility can be used well and also abused. The flexibility might allow the governments to get off the hook and get away with doing nothing new and continuing in business as usual approach. Many developing countries do have a track record of favoring the latter. BASIC countries too need to provide some real leadership and practice at home what they preach in big summits. Brazil has been under scanner as being the host of the summit. A world leader in clean energy with high hydropower production capacity and high ethanol production, Brazil set up a new climate regime in 2009 with voluntary national GHG reduction target between 36 to 39 percent. More recently, it has announced lowest deforestation rates, however, enhanced action is required as forest data predicts increased deforestation due to change in country’s forest code. South Africa has provided leadership to the African Union on climate change and sustainable development issues. However, the most remarkable outcome of the COP 17 hosted by the South Africa, was its fascination with “climate smart agriculture” under pressure from the World Bank, FAO, and industrial agriculture countries including the US, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. South Africa’s penchant for climate smart agriculture, which is a package of false solutions and agribusiness agenda, not only threatens food security and small, traditional and family farmers in the country but entire African continent undergoing second colonization through massive land grabs under the guise of responsible investment in agriculture in Africa. China and India have been perceived as blockers of Summits of late, have much to prove at home for their leadership in the developing world. China is an emerging giant in renewable energy, however, its investment in renewable energy is still dwarfed by its investment in dirty coal fire powered plants. Last but not the least in the league, India, even with three times increase in installed power capacity within the last three decades, it has failed to provide significant energy access to more than half of the population. Its continued dependence on coal, 10 proposed super critical ultra mega thermal power projects (4000 MW each approx), and fixation with nuclear energy continues to threaten millions of people with displacement, loss of livelihoods, forests and biodiversity. The lesson for them is to put their own house in order first.

June 18, 2012


Beyond Copenhagen will host more than one event at Rio+20!

En'light'ened lives? (Google Images)
  • What are the alternatives to using fossil fuels?
  • Where is EQUITY in the Energy dialogues?
  • What responsible choices must we make?
  • A critical look at policies relating to energy

These are the major talking points at our side event:
Energy; Equity as fundamental goal
Date: 18th June,
Time: 13.30-15.00
Venue: Room T-4, Rio Centro


Beyond Copenhagen's presence will be felt at Rio + 20.

When will we be food secure?
  • Why are people still hungry if enough is being produced? 
  • What are the challenges in addressing food security? 
  • How are agriculture policies creating food insecure countries? 

Get these questions answered at our side event:
Sustainable Agriculture and Food; First
Goal for Sustainable Development

Date: 18th June,
Time: 13.30-15.00
Venue: Room T-8, Rio Centro

Rio +20 PrepComm results: No Major Progress

Rich countries concede on green economy; stalemate on finance, technology continue
Ajay K Jha, 17th June, Rio de Janeiro

United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, billed as biggest event on environment and sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, which was also the venue of historic Earth Summit in 1992 is witnessing stiff resistance from the developed countries. The Summit, which began on 13th June with the aspiration of renewing political commitment to sustainable development is plagued by the differences between developed and developing countries over a number of issues. With only few days remaining before the high level forum from 20th to 22nd June, when more than 150 heads of the state for final declaration on the outcome of the summit, differences remain not only on language of the outcome document titled “the future we want” but also on fundamental and major issues such as reaffirming commitment to Rio principles laid down by the world earth summit in 1992, vision, finance, technology transfer, and sustainable development goals. The differences also plague negotiations on green economy and institutional framework for sustainable development, two themes of the Summit.

Rio Centro: Ground Zero of the Negotiations at Rio+20 (Google Images)

Several rounds of negotiations leading to the Summit have failed to bring a convergence, and many feel that it might ultimately prove a damp squib with no real and effective outcome to support sustainable consumption and production leading to sustainable development. United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban ki Moon, speaking at the inaugural Plenary termed the Summit as the once in a life time opportunity and urged the delegates to “make the most of time” in coming to an effective outcome. He also said that “launching the sustainable development goals and improving institutional framework on sustainable development” should be two objectives that the countries should work to achieve.

However, the negotiations till now do not show the promise of resolution of conflicts, which have become deeply entrenched on north south lines. While the developing a poor countries many of them entrenched in poverty, and lacking resources and technology to devise green development pathways insist that developed countries should lead the way in providing finance, technology and capacity building on the basis of common but differentiated responsibility, a key principle for international development cooperation as laid down in the Rio Earth Summit. They also insist that developed countries fulfill their previous promise of providing 0.7% of their GNP to developing and poor countries. However, rich countries say that Rio+20 is not a “pledging event” and that world has changed dramatically from 1992 and developing countries should “look forward rather than looking backwards.” Their common refrain is developing countries should take equal responsibility.
Discussions in Progress: Rio+20 (Google Images)

Very little has been achieved in the initial three days of negotiations in the third prepCom. A breakthrough of sorts was arrived when developed countries conceded on language of the green economy and agreed to use the “green economy policies” rather than “a green economy.” G77 insists that there cannot be universally applicable definition of “green economy,” which will be subject to circumstances of the particular country, and therefore, they should be allowed to define it according to their needs and priorities. However, major differences still remain on provision of finance and technology transfer, and the sustainable development goals. The US and the Canada, outrightly refuse to respect previous commitments regarding increase in the overseas development assistance (ODA), as they never agreed to it. On new and additional finance, rich countries say that finance has to come from south south collaboration, FDI, and the markets. Financial support from IFIs and UN systems is also not an option for rich countries. G77 insists that “global solutions will have to be supported internationally.” Similarly, technology transfer is also a much hated word for the developed countries, and many of them including the US. The EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada want to replace technology transfer with “technology development and innovation.” They also insist that language on technology transfer be changed to “technology transfer voluntarily or on mutually agreed terms. They also want to remove any references to IPR, patent rights held by rich countries for green technologies, are major handicap in transfer and effective use of technology in developing and poor countries alleges G77.

The delegates are wondering what will be the form of discussion and negotiation, after the end of the PrepCom. They also wonder whether the same level of transparency will be maintained henceforth towards the final negotiation and outcome. All await the new text that Brazillian  govt. chair the Summit has promised. The lull in the negotiations also reflect that uncertainty about the future of the planet and the environments.

End of message
Comments and feedback are welcome at k.ajay.j@gmail.com

June 16, 2012

A Future Uncertain: What to expect at Rio+20

Sustaining an Uncertain Journey Towards Sustainable & Equitable Development
-------------  Soumya Dutta, Beyond Copenhagen / Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, India----------------
One of the biggest gatherings of world leaders on issues related to progress of the human race without endangering its future survival in reasonable comfort, in other words, on sustainable development – is about to start in the Brazilian city of Rio-de-janeiro.  This UN Conference on Sustainable Development is supposed to be a follow up of the first Earth Summit held in 1992 in the same city, and is thus also called the Rio+20 conference.  A decade before now, the world also gathered at Johannesburg in 2002, to take stock of how far we have travelled on that road, but the assessment was rather disappointing.  The Earth Summit was also soon after the global capitalist euphoria of the successful dismantling of the S oviet Union, or as claimed – realization of ‘the end of history’.  The Johannesburg summit came at a time when even the ‘practitioners of the alternative’ succumbed to the ‘shock & awe’ of the western capitalist juggernaut. From now on, no more social-cultural experiments or alternatives need be attempted by humanity !   From now on, the western model of privatized, corporatized ‘liberal democracy’ will deliver all the results, for everyone !  Another decade was about to pass, but the 1992 Earth Summit’s well worked out Agenda 21, even the half-hearted Millennium Development Goals – all seemed to be getting lost in the din of unbridled market capitalism and the panacea offered by liberalization-privatization-globalization.  
The world has changed somewhat again, and in not so hidden corners of the world – distress and anger at the killing-exploitations and mind boggling disparities have grown to become a perceived threat to the established world order.  After the 2007-08 economic meltdown, millions of people even in the developed world are now questioning many of these magic mantras. The unquestioning acceptance of the private corporations, and their intentions and abilities to deliver ‘development’, is no longer wide-spread.   No one could possibly have foreseen the spread of the Occupy movement in the heartland of capitalism, though the real picture & driving force of the so-called ‘Arab spring’ is not yet clear.  The shining attraction of the Euro-zone has faded considerably.  And the accelerated exploitation and marginalization of large sections of humanity – the indigenous, the disadvantaged women & children, the poor of the world, has given birth to innumerable resistance movements across the world, to some extent obliterating the North-South divide for the short-charged people.  Unlike at any point of time in the past, the survival of deprived people is seen by the global society, as intricately connected to the survival of the earth’s eco-systems.   This has also brought into focus the age-old understanding in indigenous societies – that of Rights & Needs of Mother Earth, into global recognition.  
With this emerging new understanding, and the possibility of a new world order – even if not in the immediate future – world leaders, political, social and commercial – are about to meet again in Rio, to talk, debate, fight (with voices & pens & guiles) and come to agreements about the future course of the human experiment on this earth.   The road to Rio was neither smooth, nor does it give lots of hope.  Very few signs are there of the acceptance of the blunders our dominant societies committed and the plunders all of them tried to their full capacities. Everyone agrees that the Earth is in danger of becoming so badly scarred, that the life support systems might start malfunctioning soon – for which signs are already visible. Climate change, desertification, large-scale deforestation, ocean acidification – all are in focus because of their massive threats, but none have been adequately addressed by the global community of actors.   We know that we are pushing  the planetary boundaries to the limit, but we have not stopped doing so.  The other boundaries of acceptable stress – increasing joblessness, wide-spread-poverty, malnutrition & hunger, collapse of social safety nets -- all are in the red zone for a majority of the world’s people, even by conservative assessments.   A significant part of the human race is standing at the very edge of an abyss, and looking in anger at those who are driving down towards them, blocking the only escape route. And the existing governance systems in major parts of the world, refuse to accept that – you cannot cure the ills by prescribing more of what caused the illness in the first place.
With this rather overcast sky as the backdrop, world’s leaders are about to meet again in one of the biggest such gathering about the human survival and the earth’s continuing suitability for that.  The primary document that was supposed to guide this new journey, the zero Draft, subtitled “the Future We want”, has gone from somewhat objectionable but comprehensible, to complicated beyond reasonable limits, so as to become less & less useful to guide discussions. It has become difficult to fathom – whose future they are talking about, and who all fit into this picture? The two focus areas for the conference – Green Economy, and Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, have seen acrimonious debates and barely any agreement.  The debates have – of late – degenerated to the levels of which institution is to be given more money, where will some head-quarters be located and the like.  The main players of the dirty and black Economy have remained in the driver’s seat to chart out a green economy, and they have understandably opted to paint their dirt green. 
What should one do – if one’s conscience is still alive – under this painful scenario?  Should one reject the entire exercise as useless, even illegitimate and retrograde ?  Does participation give undeserved legitimacy to the “conferences of polluters”, as the Copenhagen climate change conference (as well as the next two in Cancun and Durban) was termed and turned out to be ? Does it compromise the strength and purity of the voices of resistance ? Or is there merit in trying to engage many actors, in the hope and design of blocking the more damaging pathways, in getting larger voices organized around alternatives emerging from the ground ?  How much does it help to build up human connections in the face of de-humanized economy-focused nations ? How much of these churning we have been able to generate in our own countries, states and cities or villages, that can be an important enough input to the world stage ?  Can some of the positive aspects be strengthened by lending the support of those who are at the centre of deliberations but not allowed in the glass palaces ?  As representatives of the voices and understandings of the exploited & the underprivileged, grounded-in-reality civil society faces this difficult choice.   These are neither tick-the-right-box questions, nor there seem to be any definitive yes-no answers, and the only course of action for us is to stay true to our convictions and on charted pathways – irrespective of what the immediate results turn out to be.    That’s what we are and will be trying -- raising issues, expanding collectives, establishing bridges across physical oceans and economic gulfs and cultural foundations, to become a humanity united by much more than the genetic identity of Homo Sapien Sapiens, into a society which addresses these survival questions as earnestly & honestly as they can.

A brief introduction of major issues at Rio+20
There are 7 Critical Issues under serious consideration at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or  Rio+20, and these are (paragraphs within quotes – from the UNCSD document) -
“Economic recession has taken a toll on both the quantity and quality of jobs. For the 190 million unemployed, and for over 500 million job seekers over the next 10 years, labour markets are vital not only for the production and generation of wealth, but equally for its distribution. Economic action and social policies to create gainful employment are critical for social cohesion and stability. It's also crucial that work is geared to the needs of the natural environment. "Green jobs" are positions in agriculture, industry, services and administration that contribute to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment. “

This is not the result of an ‘economic recession’ alone, it started much earlier and the roots are much deeper.  In spite of these expressed concerns, over the last 3 decades, the focus of most economies have shifted to increased reliance on ‘automated’ production, eliminating more jobs.  With these ‘modernized industries’, the investment required for creating a single job has gone up very sharply, whereas the available investment has not kept pace, despite huge rise in both production and the profits from the same investments. This has lead to job-less growths in many economies.  In many southern countries, one of the biggest sources of giving people an earning is livelihoods, not jobs. With massively increased and organized corporate plunder and destruction of all kinds of natural resources, the very sustenance of these livelihoods are under grave threats today.  Land, forests, rivers, coasts – all that gave billions of people their livelihood opportunities, are increasingly being parceled out and given to private corporations by most governments.  Jobs have not increased to take in these doubly displaced people, creating explosive social situations.  And in several southern countries, the largest provider of both livelihoods and jobs – small holder agriculture or peasant farming is being pushed out by policy initiatives. Unfortunately, these understanding has not been acknowledged in its fundamentals, and the governance push continues for more of the same change !

“Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential. Sustainable energy is needed for strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems and achieving equity. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is leading a Sustainable Energy for All initiative to ensure universal access to modern energy services, improve efficiency and increase use of renewable sources. “

Sustainable energy is really one of the keys, but the thrust of the energy industry do not seem to be taking cognizance.  With climate change and air & water pollution in many countries at an alarming level, even today the world gets over 80% of its primary energy supply from dirty fossil fuels. The dirtiest of them all – coal, is still considered the mainstay of almost all the developing economies, and the continuing massive increase in coal & coal-based electricity capacity in many of these emerging countries is a mockery of sustainable energy talks. In the name of the poor and energy deprived, these dirty energy capacity has been increased hugely, while the reality is that a large percentage of the poor are still out of the reach of the grid, which has served a sharply increased power demand of the emerging elite and the middle classes in these societies. Except a few notable exceptions, most developing economies have given a go-by to the universal access idea, and focused mostly on increased energy availability. And the not-so-hidden environmental & social costs of these dirty energy use is being dumped mostly on the same energy deprived.  Even the rich & developed countries, with again very few exceptions to a certain degree, have not moved rapidly enough away from the dirty energy and towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.  And the crucial question – whether the earth can sustain the scale of energy extraction and use that these rich economies have established, is not be found anywhere in the energy debates.

“Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically. However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity while not straining land and resources. Common city challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure. The challenges cities face can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. “

Cities are also the biggest sinks of most natural resources extracted, including energy, water, food and metals & minerals. In spite of the knowledge that the present urban models pushes up per person consumption drastically, very limited efforts have been made to change either the pattern of consumptive urbanization, or to slow down this trend.  Globally, over half the population already lives in cities, with over half that number living in sub-standard conditions of urban slums.  Though some efforts are on to reduce the urban footprints in some areas – like some attempts at promoting mass transportation, very few countries have looked at the problem from a holistic viewpoint. The successful examples to make an urban area less of a sucker, as demonstrated by Cuba – seems to find few other takers.  Following the trend in the developed countries, attempts are being made in developing ones, to move massive numbers of people from their rural base to the urban slums, irrespective of their capacities to provide even basic services. The deeper question of whether this is ecologically and socially desirable or sustainable, is not being raised at all.  Urbanization has been accepted as a given, mostly because it helps in forming a monolithic class of consumers of industrial products.  The sustainability of this increased urban consumption is a big question mark.

“It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done
right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment.
But right now, our soils, freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity are being rapidly degraded. Climate change is putting even more pressure on the resources we depend on.
A profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to nourish today's 925 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050. The food and agriculture sector offers key solutions for development, and is central for hunger and poverty eradication.”

There are vital inter-linkages between all these ‘sectors’ that the ‘solution providers’ often refuses to see and acknowledge. Increasing and fast-paced urbanization is causing an accelerated loss of fertile agricultural lands in most developing countries, as is the push for green-field industries on agricultural lands. The massive agro-fuel programs of many developed countries, along with some of the emerging ones, have diverted the vitally needed food-grains and other food into making fuels for luxury cars, dramatically increasing the food insecurity for the world’s poor, and yet these are certified as part of the “green economy” !   The huge consumption in developed countries and increasing shift in many emerging ones -- towards industrial meat production, has again diverted the poor’s food grains for fattening these, at the cost of far lower availability of total food, and at affordable prices. Water is a vital input for food production, and yet, more and more of this limited resource is being diverted to consumer goods production in industrial factories, starving food production.  Increased commercialization of the food-supply chain and the global movement of produced food – with their attendant grading—packaging--transportation, has dramatically increased the energy & water consumption. The other result is the sky-rocketing costs, making food unaffordable to the poor, sometimes even to the producers themselves, with an increasingly affluent middle class consuming & wasting a larger share of the available food.  There might be enough food available on a per capita basis, but that do not automatically translate to food for every hungry stomach, and sustainable food system must address both these challenges on an urgent basis. 

There are renewed attacks on the world’s small farmers, one of the consistent food growers given the neglect and difficulties they have faced over the last 5-6 decades. The primary contributors of the global green house emission, industry, transport and commercial forestry – have not taken significant steps to reduce their emissions, while the pressure is now building on the small food growers in the southern countries – to do mitigation through soil carbon mitigation. Many governments are rightly skeptical, but that has not prevented global organizations like the FAO & the UNFCCC to push for this dangerous approach, which will further threaten the survival of peasant farming. 

“Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this dream. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world's poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition. By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.”

Both water availability and consumption varies tremendously between countries, and even within countries - between classes and regions. The supposed consensus on priorities, that drinking water & other basic human needs gets first priority, followed by food production, is increasingly threatened in many countries by the large scale water privatization for industrial use. The recognition of the role of ecological flows of rivers and other ecological water needs is only technical, not followed in policies and actions.  Urbanization and industrialization are both demanding and getting larger shares of scarce water resources, along with huge waste generation, that also pollute the rivers and ground water sources.  Spreading dumps of industrial pollutants – coal-ash ponds of power plants being one big contributor – has contaminated vital aquifers in large areas.  Many of the big urban centers in the emerging countries have dumped billions of liters of untreated sewage into the very rivers they depend on for life support – converting them into foul drains. Increasing numbers of dams on rivers are killing aquatic eco-systems, as well as preventing aquifers along the course of these rivers from getting recharged, whereas the withdrawal from them increases.  These have also stopped billions of tons of fertile silt that were earlier carried to fertilize millions of hectares, threatening the food security and increasing the demand for GHG emitting synthetic fertilizers.  In spite of the UN general Assembly passing a resolution in July 2010, on water and sanitation being basic rights of each human being, the global, national and regional governance systems seem to be un-willing to change course. The only silver lining appears to be the increasing assertiveness of exploited communities, in reclaiming their own resources and sustainable environments.

“The world's oceans - their temperature, chemistry, currents and life - drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. “

And yet, the great rush for exploitation, further and deeper into the oceans continue.  Taking advantage of the Arctic ice loss due to global warming, the Arctic Ocean is being explored for possibly huge oil resources, irrespective of the fact that this will hasten the reduction of Arctic ice cover, decreasing the earth’s albedo and accelerating climate change.  The oceans are the biggest sink – for not only the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning, but also of the heat that is forced into the earth, with over 90% of this heat ending up in them.  Both this are causing a drop in the ocean’s ability to absorb and retain CO2, leading to a dangerous positive feed-back for a climate catastrophe. And the millions of marine life species are finding this warmer, more acidic environment harder to adjust, resulting in great stress on marine eco-systems.  Notwithstanding these, there are risky geo-engineering plans to inject possibly billions of tons of CO2 – from the yet-untested-in-large-scale CCS (carbon capture & storage) – under these threatened oceans !  The fish and other marine resources have been depleted by both over exploitation and thermal & chemical pollutions, and yet, there is an increased trend of locating huge coal & nuclear energy based power plants on the coasts, increasing both thermal & chemical pollutant loads on the coasts, and devastating coastal ecosystems and the multiple millions of livelihoods that depend on coastal resources.  The oceans are also being looked as the possible sources of extension of our mining madness – for manganese nodules, for methane hydrates etc. All these greed driven actions are trying to ignore or hide the science of the oceans, indicating they are close to the ecological tolerance boundary for life-support systems.

“Disasters caused by earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis and more can have devastating impacts on people, environments and economies. But resilience -- the ability of people and places to withstand these impacts and recover quickly -- remains possible. Smart choices help us recover from disasters, while poor choices make us more vulnerable. These choices relate to how we grow our food, where and how we build our homes, how our financial system works, what we teach in schools and more. With a quickening pace of natural disasters taking a greater toll on lives and property, and a higher degree of concentration of human settlements, a smart future means planning ahead and staying alert.”

Both the global rate of disasters and the number of people affected by these have increased sharply over the last few decades, and most of the contributing factors are anthropogenic, or rather, from certain kind of economic choices.  Earthquakes & tsunamis are natural, but human interference in the earth’s climate & other eco-systems have either increased the floods, droughts, big storms, or increased their strength and damages. There are studies to show that the most vulnerable countries are also those that have contributed little or nothing to this increase, where those causing this trend – though affected – are far less vulnerable.  This called for a just and CBDR based response – but increasingly, the richer countries have withdrawn from even the minimal earlier commitments. Adaptation is a key need for the increasingly vulnerable poorer societies, but there is hardly any support available, with talks and vague assurances replacing actions and concrete commitments.  On the other hand, the corporatization of adaptation – through big-budget technological solutions is finding increasing favour of even the poorer country governments.    

June 11, 2012

In the news: Concerns on Indian representation at Rio+20

A Times of India report quoting CECOEDECON's ALOK Vyas and overall civil society expectations from Rio.


May 31, 2012

Will the High Level Panel report on Global Sustainability change anything?

'Resilient people, resilient planet: a future worth choosing' - Report of the High-level Panel of the Secretary-General on Global Sustainability is now under consideration in the UN Secretary General's office & is expected to considerably influence the Rio+20 outcome document.

Following is the link to the report:

Following is a critique published in The Hindu:

May 26, 2012

Committee on Allocation of Natural Resources - Latest from the Government

The Prime Minister of India chaired a meeting with the Ashok Chawla Committee to oversee the recommendations with regard to allocation of Natural Resources.

What was the role of the committee?

The Committee on Allocation of Natural Resources was constituted to examine the approach to allocating natural resources such as land, coal, minerals, petroleum, natural gas, etc. The purpose was to obtain recommendations which would enhance transparency, effectiveness and sustainability in the allocation, pricing and utilization of natural resources through open, transparent and competitive mechanisms and to suggest changes in the legal, institutional and regulatory framework to implement the recommendations.

69 out of 81 recommendations have been given the nod by the Group of Ministers on Corruption. Following is the government press release:


May 18, 2012

For more updates on events in SB 36 UNFCCC Meeting in Bonn

Work Programme on Agriculture; Priorities for Small Holder Farmers

A brief report of the SB 36 side event, Bonn

NGOs slam proposed work programme on agriculture
UNFCCC Climate change Conference (SB36)
16th May, 2012 Bonn

In a side event at UNFCC SB 36 titled “Work Programme on Agriculture; Priorities for Small Holder Farmers” network of organizations came out heavily on the proposed work programme on agriculture, which many of the Annex 1 and also developing countries are proposing SBSTA to undertake. In SB 36, SBSTA work is focused on analyzing submission and discussing views of country parties on issues related to agriculture, based on which it will advise the COP 18 in Qatar on whether a work programme should be adopted. By submission of parties, it is almost certain that COP will instruct SBSTA to undertake a work programme on agriculture to explore “linkages, synergies and trade offs” between mitigation and adaptation. However, in the side event, presented by CECOEDECON, PAIRVI, BJVJ, SADED and Beyond Copenhagen, organizations and networks representing small holder farmers slammed the proposed work programme on agriculture saying that the work programme will pave the way for introducing soils in the carbon markets, will have disastrous impact on food security and small holder farmers who produce more than 70% of world’s food. They also cautioned that adaptation should be the priority in discussion on agriculture, rather than mitigation as agriculture in developing countries has much lower emissions and farmers need financial and technological support and capacity building to enhance resilience of agriculture that can ensure food security. They forewarned that work programme will neither reduce the emissions, nor help food security or small farmers.

Opening the discussion, Mr. Soumya Dutta (India Peoples Science Forum & Beyond Copenhagen) said that the discussion is extremely important and relevant to generate more clarity among the country parties and also civil society, as there are many and divergent views, on what should be the direction of discussion on agriculture in climate change negotiations, which should be the basis of decision whether a work programme is at all required. He also reminded that while talking about agriculture we have to keep in mind that roughly one fourth of the world’s population depends on agriculture as livelihood, while the proportion in developing countries is much higher.

Mr. Ajay Jha (CECOEDECON & PAIRVI) presenting an overall analysis of submission on Annex 1 countries and non Annex countries said that most of the developed countries see this discussion as an opportunity to push mitigation further in agriculture, which has been on the table since run up to Kyoto and has succeeded only partially till now. Most of the Annex 1 countries are submission are based on considerations of exploring synergies and trade offs between mitigation and adaptation, ensuring enhanced food production and agriculture being a major driver of deforestation, however, developing countries and least developed countries have been more comprehensive in their approach and based their submissions on approaches of poverty eradication, food security, environmental and livelihood sustainability, sustainable development etc. while NZ, US, Japan, Switzerland and many other Annex 1 countries have a clear preference for mitigation, Developing countries and Least Developing Countries favour priority on adaptation (Gambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Sudan), few others (G77 & China, South Africa); while recognizing the potential for mitigation, categorically prefer adaptation as a priority for developing and least developed countries. He added that developed countries far exceed developing countries in per capita emissions in ag, and in keeping with principles of CBDR, developed countries should lead the way in mitigation in agriculture.  He added that Annex 1 countries, which actually have increased their ag emissions from methane and nitrous oxide from 1990 levels (except EU).

Teresa Anderson (the Gaia Foundation, UK) spoke about pilot projects on soil carbon sequestration. She said while developing and least developed countries have been lured by the promises of financial assistance in agriculture through mitigation projects, there is no money in mitigation. Alluding to the pilot project in Kenya, she said that less than 1% of the money changing hand has actually reached the ground, rest being apportioned among the project developer and consultants. Farmers who have been promised an unspecified amount of money (if they perform well) after a certain period, will not get more than USD1-5, every year.  She also talked about the other false solutions (biochar, agrofuels, no till ag etc.) being promoted in the guise of climate smart agriculture and how they have failed the tests of empirical studies. She hinted that already enough work on ag mitigation is taking place and there is no relevance for taking up a work programme which is again focused on mitigation in ag and soil carbon sequestration.

Anika Schroeder (MISEREOR, Germany) emphasized how negotiations in REDD+ also sought to include soils through the integrated landscape approach being pushed by WB, FAO, IFPRI etc. She shared the experience of communities of working in REDD+ projects in Brazil, and Indonesia etc. She also highlighted that while agriculture was being projected as a major driver of deforestation, as a matter of fact, it is agrofuel and largescale industrial plantations that is mainly occupying lands in developing countries. She also insisted that land and tenure rights and food security of the small farmers should have the top most priority in REDD+ discussions, and rights enshrined in the UNDRIP does not have a place in REDD+.

The presentations were followed by animated discussion on drivers of deforestation, climate smart agriculture, livestock and climate change negotiations, India’s NAPCC and SAPCC etc, with participants agreeing to the need for SBSTA to engage with farmers groups to advise the COP 18 on what should be the issues for consideration in negotiations on agriculture and climate change.

May 07, 2012

28th April, 2012,
Conference Room No.2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi
Beyond Copenhagen, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jathha, CECOEDECON, IDS, Jaipur, PAIRVI, Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation, SADED, SANSAD

Brief Report

The National Consultation was organized with a view to bring in multiple stakeholders, persons and institutions to build an understanding on the sustainable development agenda and chart out a distinct road map to Rio+20 :
o        What does the state intend to do?
o        What do Civil Society Organisations want?
o        Are all CSOs on the same page?
o        What is the role of the media in this process?
o        What are INGOs doing? What is their stake?
o        How sensitized are policy makers and the media?
o        What outcomes can be expected at Rio+20 and what are their ramifications for the developing world?

Mr Ajay Jha, Secretary, PAIRVI, opened the session with the basic premise for organizing the consultation that sought to look at the priorities for multiple stakeholders at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Highlighting the significance of this landmark conference, also known as Rio+20, Mr Jha spoke of how there is little or no dialogue, debate and discussion at the national level even as the time for the conference draws near. He stated how this was an opportune moment, the appropriate time to relook at policies within the sustainable development paradigm. The process at Rio+20 seems leveraged in favour of the global North and it is imperative that concerns and priorities of the developing world do not get diluted in these larger hegemonic interests. It was in 1992 that the Earth Summit took place, now, 20 years on it is necessary that we revisit global strategies for ensuring sustainable development.

The key note speech was delivered by Dr Jyoti Parikh, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President, IRADe & highly respected authority on issues relating to energy and environment to present the key note address. Dr Parikh gave a brief overview of how the paradigm of sustainable development took shape ranging from Stockholm 1975 to the Earth Summit in 1992 to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg right up to the upcoming Rio+20. Speaking of Millennium Development Goals and how they brought about a quantitative perspective on poverty alleviation goals, the multiple dimensions associated were brought to light. Two streams of thought are associated with the Sustainable Development agenda – Green (environment related) thought and Equity (poverty related) thought. Critical questions on how MDG aspects still aren’t priorities in our policies and the disparities in linking green initiatives and equity were highlighted. The need to have a larger engagement between the G77 and developing nations, small island countries & the need for a collaborative civil society voice was emphasized. Key words like Inclusive growth need to be understood in the light of assimilating both green concerns as well as address poverty. The debate is now more complex and nuanced.  We need to look for alternatives, solutions and more exercises in understanding concept such as green economy need to be taken up, interpreted and questioned.
The talk by Dr. Parikh was followed by animated discussion and questions relating to the scenario post 2008 economic meltdown, the rationale for green economy (whose agenda is it, anyway?), change in landscape since 1992, India’s intended stand at Rio+20, Indian state’s initiatives in the run-up to Rio, policy framework among other issues and concerns.

Mr Ali Anwar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, also highlighted the necessity to prioritize environmental and sustainable development issues and assured to provide all possible help to discuss the issues within his party and the Parliament.

Session 2 saw specific presentations on key thematic areas. Ajay Jha took everyone through the basics of the proposed outcome document – The Zero Draft and how the negotiations were going ahead. He emphasized that the negotiations were completely bottlenecked on the North South lines, and where developing countries wanted centrality on green jobs and fundamental issues of restricting economic architecture, aid and trade rules, and increased representation of interests from South in global institutions and systems, developed countries are more in favour of focus on green economy, increased role of business and SDGs. He added that expectations from the Rio +20 was coming down world over and unless there is enough pressure from all quarters, we might have to be satisfied with frivolous and dangerous outcomes like Road Map on Green Economy and SDGs.

Soumya Datta, BJVJ spoke on the key topic of energy, particularly highlighting the UN Secretary General’s Initiative on Sustainable Energy for all. He spoke strongly about focus on “modern energy” undermines the issue of “equity” and unless equity is addressed at local, national and global level, sustainable energy for all will remain only a cherished ideal. He emphasized that modern energy debates largely hinge on energy efficiency, while the macroeconomic data shows that increase in efficiency has resulted in more consumption. At the same time, efficiency by itself does not address the equity issue. He put forth a highly nuanced understanding of how globally the issue is diluted by speaking only in terms of modern energy services and energy efficiency and problematical the role of the private sector in the energy market.

Himashu Thakar, SANDRP spoke extensively on Water. He said that while water remains a major global concern having wide ramifications, from the point of view of access, and management, it is more of a local issue and needs decentralized, democratic and local solutions. He emphasized that the crisis of energy, food and water cannot be addressed until we add environment, as the fourth critical pillar in order to move towards sustainable development. Skeptical on account of Green Economy not being a solution he spoke of how institutional frameworks need to move beyond the existing status quo.

Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre put forth a logically appealing presentation on cities and sustainable development. He emphasized that solutions are before us but we fail to see and adopt it. Citing the example of Delhi, he added that more land, energy, and water is available than required, however, lack of equitable distribution and democratic management deprive poor people of these critical rights. 

Anita Paul, Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Initiatives illustrated through an example of a village based in the Gugas basin, Uttarakhand as regards the issues in mountainous regions. Through the use of appropriate technologies, a way forward can be sought.

Discussions with regard to focusing on target groups within – Women, Youth, Marginalised groups were taken up and how the commons are placed and should be placed was also debated.

Prof. Surjit Singh, IDS Jaipur emphasized in the Chair’s remarks that last two decades have seen reduced multilateralism and increased influence and control of business over natural resources, means and processes of production at national and global levels. Until and unless there is a huge overhaul of world institutions and systems including the BWIs, UN, the WTO, the power structures will not change and same development paradigm which benefits big business and developed countries at the cost of nature and environment, and rights of people in poor countries will be pursued, he added.

Session 3 had INGOs, institutions and large funding agencies share their views on the process.. Raman Mehta of DFID spoke of new principles of engagement not being apparent and how larger developing countries need to take responsibility. Sunita Sharma & Alisa Zomer from AJWS spoke of strengthening of P10 as key principle in the sustainable development Summit outcome. Vanita Suneja, Oxfam India put forth a clear presentation on Oxfam’s engagement with Rio+20 particularly in relation to Sustainable food and farming, furthering of debates on climate change as well as look at a new global framework. Christian Aid’s Subrata De mentioned the importance of needing to raise issues of equity in a constrained world. He also spoke of the nature of green economy and allied issues, need for pro-poor policies and importance of disaster risk reduction to be taken up. Malancha, TERI spoke of issues with the concept of green economy and extensively highlighted issues within the energy sector. She added that civil society though have limited avenues of influencing the outcomes, however, whatever little opportunity available should be employed to the best possible result. Manish Jain, ACF highlighted in his chair’s remarks that food and nutrition are the biggest emergencies that world faces today, which will worsen in the coming decades. The multilateral and global processes have an opportunity and also a duty to address this crisis, the sustainable development summit also must respond to this call.

The fourth session had strong media and political voices advocating the need of collaborated efforts on part of civil society, media and legislature in being more issue-focused and sensitized to the pressing concerns and needs as was being discussed in the Consultation. Both media and policy makers emphasized that civil society has a distinct role in education of media as well as policy makers on these issues. Om Thanvi from Jansatta, highlighted the limitation of media to take up these debates prominently. Sunny Sebastian, from the Hindu, while acknowledging that it is becoming increasingly challenging to bring issues of social relevance in the media, said there is yet sufficient scope attract media on these issues. Atul Anjaan, National President of AIKS and Secretary of CPI said that despite all its limitations, parliamentary democracy is the best for of governance. There is huge pressure on the time of Parliament and also on individual members, but there are ways to generate debate among policymakers on issues of national and global relevance, and assured all help in reaching out to political parties and Parliament on Rio+20 issues.

The concluding session chalked out a broad strategy framework to enhance discussion, and engage with relevant stakeholders on the issues discussed. Suggestions from Sharad Joshi, Secretary CECOEDECON, highlighted that while the world is witnessing series of crises, the civil society needs to intensify its efforts at local, national, regional and global levels in it engagement with the processes as well as providing viable solutions. He added that the discussion must reach out to people who are victims of the so called development and its paradigm. He suggested that a document highlighting the important issues will be helpful in broadening the debate, as state consultations, and enhancing regional collaboration. He underlines that CSO coordination is poor and work has to take place among multiple stakeholders with media and the Parliamentarians. Soumya Dutta suggested coming out with Rio+20 vision document for India, along with an analysis document. He added that charting out common areas between UNFCCC processes (as many CSO groups are engaged with UNFCCC) and other processes like Rio+20 needs to be looked into. Participants also suggested meaningful intervention at CBD Cop, which is taking place in India in October 2012. Many agreed that the agenda for engagement has to come from wider consultations, which can be initiated on the basis of the draft to be circulated by the organizers.

Co Chairs for session IV and session V, Anil Singh, SANSAD and Prof. Sanjai Bhatt, DSSW highlighted the need for generating a pressure from the below on the choices that the states make. They said that the govt works in silos, there is complete lack of coordination among the ministries/departments, which result in policies being developed in isolation and without being located in the larger development context. Harmonization between policies on environment, trade, financial and industrial policies, agriculture, climate change etc. needs complete reorganization of how we approach these issues. They also underlined that global processes also suffer from these shortcomings, which makes integration of three pillars of economic, social and environmental, impossible. Based on the discussions, the co-chairs also suggested the avenues and ways for engagement with the process suggested as below:

1.       Consultations in states to broaden the debate and deepen the understanding of sustainable development, as well as to bring out the agenda/charter from the people.
2.       An analysis document on major issues in Rio+20, viz. energy, water, food, cities, livelihoods etc. to be compiled from contributions from participants.
3.       Few organizations to take responsibility for coordination at South Asia level.
4.       Few organizations to look into fund raising possibility.
5.       Engagement with political parties, and the MPs to be looked into, Parliamentary Committee headed by Rajiv Pratap Rudy to be accessed.
6.       Organizations going to Rio can help spread the message and concerns.
7.       Need to organize activities at Delhi, simultaneously with HLF at Rio+20.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Dr. Alok Vyas from CECOEDECON.