Reassessing Alternative Development in the UNGASS 2016 Process

Organized by the Governments of Colombia, Germany and Thailand and the UNODC Sustainable
Livelihoods Unit.

Yury Fedotov
Development is an important issue for discussion in context of the world drug problem, and in preparation for UNGASS 2016. Advancing alternative development so farmers cultivating illicit crops can join the licit economy remains a multifaceted challenge. Need to look at how we can improve implementation, monitoring, and financing of alternative development.

Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand
Over the past seven years, the concept of alternative development has been recognized as allowing people to overcome poverty. In many cases, with sequential adoption of means and measures, sustainability can be established. Need to advance the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Alternative Development. Thailand is organizing an international conference on alternative development to be held in November 2015 to discuss best practices and foster wider application of the guiding principles. Conference will allow for practical contributions to UNGASS 2016.

Marlene Mortler, Germany
Germany regards ongoing illicit cultivation of opium and coca poppy a result of lack of development in the regions where they are grown. Fully believe poverty is the root cause and needs to be addressed in the framework of rural development, which is the core of alternative development. Over thirty year long commitment in Asia and Latin America shows that alternative development leads to permanent reduction. UN Guiding Principles on Alternative Development, and 2015 World Drug Report Special Issue on Alternative Development, underline the importance of this issue and support among member states. High political profile is misleading, as despite the progress, there has been a marked discrepancy between political profile and funding it has received. Funding for alternative development as compared to any other component of drug control strategies has been very modest at best. As a result, a low percentage of farmers have been reached by alternative development, and only a small percentage of area under drug cultivation has been covered. Need to reassess alternative development and new challenges at UNGASS 2016. Germany launching a new program to promote alternative development and a public health approach to drug policy.

Miguel Samper Strouss, Colombia
Aerial spraying, forced eradication, and voluntary eradication accompanied by alternative development are the three strategies used in the country for supply reduction. Illicit cultivation is not in the far reaching regions of the country, but they are near development (cities). Need to get development to those regions. We are facing the beginning of the end of aerial spraying in Colombia. Need smart international cooperation. Don’t need money to be put into aerial spraying. Need money to bring roads, health care, justice system, and alternative development opportunities to the people. Rethinking drug policy in Colombia. UNGASS 2016 needs clear, open, and transparent debate. Each territory has its on vulnerabilities. We need to minimize those vulnerabilities by responding to particular needs of each territory. That is the only way we will reach a sustainable solution.

M.L. Dispanadda Diskul, Deputy CEO, Mae Fah Luang Foundation, Thailand

Alternative development products can’t be bought out of pity, as they will only sell once. Need to be high quality and provide value for the consumer. Need to add to local wisdom, values, and skills. Understand what they do best and look for a market opportunity. Follow the value chain, and optimize sales value from given sources. Differentiate products from others in the market. Social and environmental aspects are added benefit to consumers, but not the only determining factor for consumers. Always ask yourself, would I buy this product? That is a good indicator of whether this product will be successful.

Michael Zotter, Zotter Schokoladen
Private sector perspective on alternative development products. Project called “cocoa instead of cocaine.” Fair trade certifications are important. Want to assure a quality product, from cultivation to manufacturing.

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