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Strong Focus on Energy at CSD-14

19.05.2006


Human Security and Institutions also Crucial



At the 14th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-14) that took place in New York from 1 to 12 May 2006, the energy theme occupied the top position in the discussions. The pressing need for debate and action - with oil prices nearly tripling in the last two years - turned the spotlight on this UN event. Politicians and energy experts used this platform to address the energy challenge and accompanying security concerns, as well as industrial development, air pollution and climate change. One of the main questions is: What are the implications for sustainable development? The difficult energy situation will almost certainly lead to a recalculation of the financial viability of emerging renewable energy sources and technologies.

Research on Energy and Material Flows


The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) focuses on all these issues in its research projects. The Industrial Transformation project looks at energy and material flows. Within this project, researchers from around the globe work on questions such as, for example, energy demand as well as feasible technology and policy options for Asian countries. IT researchers also look at ways and possibilities of societal transformation away from unsustainable lifestyles in the North and its satellites in Southern cities.

Energy, Climate Change, Conflict and Security

IHDP’s project on Global Environmental Change and Human Security looks at this issue from a different angle - what kind of impacts do climate change (which is closely related to unsustainable consumption and production) and other environmental changes like flooding or droughts, have on the vulnerable populations of the South, on the urban poor, as well as on marginalized and impoverished communities and groups in the North? And how can they adapt to these changes? At the CSD-14, the security question was frequently asked, also with regard to women’s access to energy. Also, wars are being fought over lucrative energy sources, leaving the local populations to suffer.

How can Institutions Help instead of Hinder?

During the CSD-14, there was criticism of the fact that there was no strong institutional home for energy in the UN system. This may become a stumbling block for mainstreaming energy concerns. Possible solutions to these institutional concerns were presented and discussed at a special event, organized by the ISSC (The International Social Science Council). The side event showcased the research done by the IHDP’s core research project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. How can institutions help address the challenges of energy, industrial development, air pollution and climate change?

The issue of institutions is a crucial one and pervades all other research themes of IHDP. Institutions are clusters of rights, rules and decision-making procedures that societies create to guide individual and collective behaviour. Some are old and outdated and contribute to inefficient and inequitable consumption of resources (i.e. water rights in certain parts of the world). Other institutions have proven dynamic, effective and efficient in reaching their objectives (i.e. emissions trading systems to reduce air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions). Through this side event, IHDP researchers engaged in a dialogue with policymakers to contribute to the work of the CSD in formulating recommendations in the area of institutions and governance.

For further questions please contact:

Ula Löw, Information Officer
IHDP- International Human Dimensions Programme
On Global Environmental Change -
Bonn, Germany
Tel: +49-228-739061, Fax: +49-228-739054
Email: loew.ihdp@uni-bonn.de

Ula Löw | idw
Further information:
http://www.ihdp.org
http://fiesta.bren.ucsb.edu/~idgec/
http://www.gechs.org/

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