Resources for:
  Governments
  Scientists
  Journalists
  Civil Society
  Business Persons
  Children and Youth

Thematic Areas


 
 Printable Version
 

II - DRAFT PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM

10. On the basis of its considerations, the group proposed for inclusion in the work programme on the interrelationship for the United Nations system the followin case studies and projects, of which the first two should initially be given the highest priority:

(a) Deforestation of the Himalayan foothills: interrelated social, economic and physical fa t@ors with mutually reinforcing ettects have led to deforestation reaching higher and steeper slopes, downstream flood damage, droughts, cuts in irrigation potential, reductions in the lifetime of hydroelectric dams and increased expenditure of effort by the upper villagers in gathering fuelwood, leaving less work capacity for cultivatrion, harvesting and other constructive purposes. Countermeasures cannot be effective unless the cycle is broken through integrated policies and programming based on knowledge of the interrelations between these factors. To permit the institution of such policies, the scope of the problem has first to be fully assessed through an interrelationships study. Any activities at the national level should be carried out by national institutions designated by the Governments concerned;

(b) Overgrazing in the Sudano-Sahelian region: Dry farming extended to marginal lands, climatic variations and overgrazing through the expansion of livestock herds have led to serious desertification problems in arid and semi-arid areas. Again, the process is a circular one: for example, the dust storms which arise when surface water is lost through loss of vegetation cover cause further damage to the remaining vegetation and, as desertification spreads, nomadic populations move further south, increasing the pressure on previously healthy areas. Only a comprehensive development programme including coordinated action in relevant sectors and based on specific and concrete knowledge of the interrelations between the various factors involved - including dietary preferences, food supplies, soil characteristics, water availability, climate, population and cultural elements - can be effective in counteracting this process. National institutions designated by Governments must carry out most of the work. Assistance should be given by international organizations having current or planned programmes in the region. These include UNEP, UNESCO and FAO;

(c) Tropical forests: Efforts to exploit the resources of the tropical forests have indicated that, if action is taken without adequate knowledge of the interactions between economic decisions, the people living in the forests and environmental factors such as plants, animals, soils, water and climate, swift and often irreversible changes in the ecosystem may occur. Such knowledge could help identify points of leverage where coordinated policy action could lead to positive cumulative systemic impacts ensuring the rational management of the resources, including the rich genetic resources of tropical forests;

(d) Land resources for populations of the future: With the continuous growth of the wortdls population, man's demand for food from finite land resources with limited production capacity has increased enormously in recent years. The limits of production are set by soil and climatic conditions and by the use and management techniques which are applied. The group recommended that the project described in paragraph 7 above, which is of great importance for the system-wide work programme on interrelationships, be continued on a broader base, covering a wider range of interrelationships and including a series of country studies. It would then have to draw upon inputs from other United Nations organizations, such as UNCTAD, ILO, UNESCO, WHO, the World Bank and WMO, as well as from Governments and non-governmental organizations;

(e) Rural ecology and development: Rural development programmes have led at best to slow rates of improvement in the living conditions of the rural population. Moreover, neglect of the interrelationships has had a variety of harmful impacts, since changes in one component of the rural ecosystem necessarily affect other components, often negatively. Case studies, under different ecological conditions and including modelling, are needed to improve knowledge of the interrelationships and use it in the planning, implementation and evaluation of rural development programmes;

(f) National energy planning: Case studies in support of national energy planning could include an over-all assessment of total national energy use, an outline of programmatic options to counteract environmental degradation in connexion with energy production and cost/benefit analysis and risk assessment of Policy options. The interrelationships could be studied through a disaggregation of supply and demand into their component parts: resource type, technology, intensity of use and poulation - which would make it possible to consider the implications of resource depletion, demographic and social variables, as well as of innovative technologies and engineering efficiencies;

(g) River basins: Dam construction and other capital investment projects in river basin management have often resulted in failure. Water management includes activities in many sectors, and this highlights the need for coordinated policy action taking the interrelationships into account. Interrelationships studies of water management in river basins should aim at identifying points of leverage where coordinated action would create positive cumulative systemic impacts;

(h) Island ecosystems: Two basic case study approaches could be followed, the first focusing on alternative development strategies that can be implemented in developing island States, and the second concentrating on the situations of smaller outer islands, where the relatively closed nature of the system and the ease with which 'externalities' can be identified and quantified would facilitate a system analysis approach using quantitative modelling techniques. ECIA, ESCAP, UNEP, UNFPA and UNESCO are involved in interrelationships studies of islands. United Nations, UNCTRD and UNDP work on the least-development countries might provide inputs to a series of case studies of islands, using the interrelationships approach;

(i) Framing of methodologies and tools for integrated development Planning and management: The development of this part of the programme should, inter alia, draw on the experience of the Kenya/UNEP/UNDP study of interrelationships in a national planning context and of environmental plannig in Venezuela. It should include the development of methodologies for evaluating the over-all environmental impact of interrelated factors and for risk assessment;

(j)Evaluation of past and present ience: Past experience and some activities currently under way which clearly illustrate the interrelations should be analysed to permit the identification of concrete and specific interrelationships, so that guidelines for action to avoid negative systemic impact can be formulated. The cases should be representative of different geographical locations and subjects: the group suggested as examples the use of pesticides in Central America and the rapid economic growth taking place in the Gulf region.

11. It follows from the formulation of the goals and policy measures in the new international development strategy that the interrelationships approach should guide the process of planning and programming for the implementation of the strategy at global and regional as well as country levels.

12. interagency joint planning activities being developed under the aegis of the ACC Consultative Committee on Substantive Questions (Programme) should be strengthened by the application of a systems analysis approach within an interrelationships framework. This will require the strengthening of analytical capacity within the United Nations system, using outside expertise, supported by the interrelationships work programme and through an appropriate interagency machinery. The work programme on the interrelationships could also support follow-up activities in the agencies of the United Nations system and in the regional commissions, as well as the work of the interagency task force on long-term development objectives.

13. Non-United Nations studies: A considerable amount of work of direct relevance to the interrelationships approach being evolved in the United Nations system takes place outside the system, both at official levels and in the activities of academic and other research institutions. The different activities could be used to infuse additional precision and refinement into the further development of the interrelationships approach in development planning and policy formulation. It is both natural and necessary for the United Nations system to analyse and draw on studies of global interrelationships undertaken outside the system, and examination of the methodology followed and the conclusions reached would assist in drawing up and carrying out the programme of work outlined by the expert group.