CND Intersessional, 18 October 2017: Chapter 7 on alternative development, development-oriented drug policy

Amb. Pedro Moitinho, Post-UNGASS Facilitator: Welcomes panellists.

Jorge Ríos, Chief, Sustainable Livelihoods Unit, UNODC: I will discuss our efforts implementing the Action Plan and the UNGASS. When reading both, it is clear that MS drafted them both understanding the Conventions are their cornerstone. Recap of alternative development history. Originally seen by the international community as a net crop reduction/elimination strategy. Realisation that a sustainable reduction entailed development concerns. The period from the 1970s, where AD was first introduced (by King Bhumibol of Thailand), significant changes, evolution. Trial and error. Initially, massive eradication, with small but resilient development interventions going on in the field. In 2009, the international community turned the corner, learning from valuable investments but also cutbacks. Although eradication is still the ultimate objective, rural development is fundamental. Proper sequencing, long-term projects, environment protection, access to land, the promotion of South-South cooperation. Member States still needed more information to start drafting much more viable and sustainable development programmes. UNODC with Thailand embarked in a range of field consultations and visits. The Guidelines on AD were a step forward, developing areas previously not included or fleshed out: Strengthening justice and security, legal framework and anti-corruption, use of objective evaluations, evaluation and monitoring, encouragement of cross-border cooperation. The UNGASS continues to push the envelope. However, after we came back from New York, we embarked in an internal process on how to implement 2016. There are two elements in Section 2 (H & J) that required a new approach: urban settings (a novelty), which requires focusing on particular forms of infrastructure (basic social services); and drug-related violence. With the support of the German government, we embarked in a series of expert group meetings (in Thailand and in Berlin). We didn’t look at AD as we understood it but how it’s enshrined in the Outcome Document. Something has to be done to address the trafficking, violence and production in urban settings. But the jury is still out on how we translate what we’ve learned in rural contexts into urban settings. One way could be identifying elements that could be adjusted and then collect guidelines and provisions that we can present to member states. I hope next time we meet, we will be able to report more broadly on how to go about H & J.

Question from PakistanWe believe that AD continues to be a very important aspect of our work addressing supply-side strategies. 1) One of the main challenges in my understanding in AD relates to funding gaps. This was highlighted in the WDR of 2014. What efforts has UNODC made in the past few years to mobilise more resources needed to close that gap? 2) The mechanism of expert group meetings. It is not very clear how the platform looks like?

ResponseClear funding unbalance against AD when it comes to official development assistance. AD works when it’s well funded. Areas where programmes are not well resourced or where there are no programmes at all become a hotbed for cultivation (balloon effect). In a majority of the countries, donors and international financial institutions are not investing in AD. This is the case for opium and poppy, but even worse for cannabis. We do what we can, stimulating major funders to mainstream AD. The truth is funding for AD continues to be piecemeal and not very significant in comparison to the overall assistance. This is an appeal to increase support in financial support and in kind. In terms of the expert group meetings, they are meant to convey new and innovative approaches on AD. We’ve made a strong effort to make them more inclusive. Initially with South East Asia and Andean countries. Progressively much more open. They involve people working in the subject. We have reached out to countries interested in applying AD on cannabis. These are not closed meetings, they are open to a large number of MS and we welcome interest. We will talk about the latest at the side event to take place today.

Question from BrazilOn the Expert Group Meeting, we expect them to be even more inclusive. We have been talking about AD in urban settings and we appreciate that these EGMs are touching on this issue. Where these EGMs exclusively dealing with urban AD? Any results to share?

ResponseThey were not only focused on urban settings. The idea of our German and Thai colleagues were about moving Chapter 7 forward. Given the new focus on urban settings in the UNGASS Outcome Document, this issue has been centred in the last meeting. The lunchtime side event will present the conclusions. The next one, in a year, will allow for a better understanding and we hope governments that are interested will participate. There will be a Conference Room paper presented at CND.

Question from AustriaI was intrigued by your remarks about moving AD into an urban setting. The trend to urbanisation is even more dynamic perhaps in the Global South. Are there other fields of development where we could take some clues? Or is the development work in an urban context has been underestimated so far in general?

ResponseI agree on the urbanisation point. In Berlin, everyone recognised something had to be done with the issue of urban settings. Whether or not we can tae specific lessons from agrarian settings to the cities was the debate. There are many lessons from demand reduction. The target population will be to a great extent same. That UNOD sustainable livelihoods department, UNDP, civil society agencies may have… But the expert consultations help to move towards the production of guidelines.

Question from the Philippines: AD is an impactful modality in addressing drug crime. In urban settings, drug peddling and use is rife. Root cause of problem poverty and livelihood. Do you have specific models on AD launched in Asia? What about experiences and lessons?

Response: The model I presented comes from evidence from Asia, so it is very much available, but it needs adaptation to local contexts. There’s also the UN Guiding Principles, which has a number of elements that MS should entertain when addressing AD. With these and participation to EGMs, I’m sure we will move things forward in the Philippines.

Question from Iran: 1) Concerning the EGMs, you mentioned it’s open-ended. Could we have more information on the mechanisms to participate in the expert group. How is it open-ended? What is the mandate? 2) You mentioned there is a cooperation between UNDP and UNODC in Afghanistan. Is that the case for other areas/countries on AD?

ResponseThe UNDP/UNODC Partnership in Afghanistan is not a model that has been tried in other countries. Sister UN agencies or other development agencies have not engaged with development in very insecure areas. We work in crop areas where violence and variables are very different. It is our intention, and the Commission’s (look at 2016) that UN agencies should work with the private sector. You will hear more about this from our colleagues from UNDP. With regards to the mandate of the EGM, there’s no specific mandate; we have taken the initiative from the Outcome Document about stronger cooperation and moved forward. In terms of invitation, delegations that contacted us with interest were invited. Countries that sent specific requests or showed interest, quite organically were invited. We recently held a meeting on livelihoods in Tehran and we hope the outcomes can feed the expert consultations. We want countries to express interest in the consultations and welcome them approaching us on this, and involving them.

Comment from Colombia: We are pleased that countries like Pakistan and Austria show interest. It’s often unclear for some people, but here we have testimonies from officials and experts on the ground. It is clear that it is not a question of urban/rural areas in the context of illicit crops. There are non-rural areas affected by the production of illicit crops. Gangs take advantage to start young people in the route of consumption and trafficking, developing new chains of production and supply that end up in cities and affect the wellbeing of cities and families. Fostering micro-trafficking involving all members of the family. It’s also a matter of perception, we support the efforts undertaken by Germany, Thailand and the UNODC in facilitating these forums and spaces to speak about these issues away from a context of formality. This issue affects us all. This brings us all together in this meeting. It’s not a matter affecting specific countries. The tangential elements of this problem also affect all countries. We are all called to address the issue. We strongly appreciate the interest in this matter.

Bente Angell-Hansen, CND Chair: I think finance in here is very much at the core. It is about how we work together within UN system, but also IFIs were mentioned. Happy to have UNDP here with a substantive input. This is very much needed. We would like to see the slide on SDG 17 on partnerships. Who are the key partners? UNDP, FAO, UNDOC. It’s not only for UNODC to explore, but also to member states when they are at UNDP or FAO that we integrate AD to our policies. We need to work on a more cohesive way. Basically, this has been an excellent debate and we are moving in a much more holistic way and that is very important for the UN at large. 

Post-UNGASS FacilitatorCompletely agree.

Commentary from Guatemala: An important element when we talk about AD is synergy between institutions, as Mme. Chair said. We are interested in the work of the UN Food Organisation in this regard. We would appreciate their presence in the panel.

CND Secretariat: The organisations mentioned receive a standing invitation. It is not about formally inviting them here. We have encouraged them to come. It would also be up to Member States to stimulate this participation.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator: I already see an improvement. UN Agencies are joining us in the podium. There is a long way to go but I prefer to see the cup half full. The cup is getting fuller.

Muhammad Mustapha Abdalla (Nigeria), Chairman/Chief Executive of the Nigerian Law and Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Africa Group: First, I want to mention land legislation in Nigeria (free lease and freehold, most is leased by the State). Coupled with NDLEA legal powers of confiscation, you see their articulation. We underscore illegal logging and its impact on the environment, and use of cleared lands for cannabis cultivation. Nigeria’s AD programme is still at developmental stage. AD should seek counter cultivation of cannabis, grown everywhere in Nigeria. The most used drug in Nigeria. Half of the seizures. Hundreds of hectares destroyed. Nigeria is a world-leading producer of cannabis. Account for a majority of seizures in West Africa. Trafficking routes from West Africa, to SubSaharan countries to European countries. We have pledged to reduce this flow. Predominantly six states: Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Edo. As part of our strategy to counter these activities, in partnership with UNODC, we have come up with two services. We have experience in crop substitution. I don’t think AD is a strange thing to ask. What we need to do is control it. We are discussing with a Foundation that there is a brand of cannabis where THC content is minimal. If farmed along with other plants, it has the capacity of neutralising other farms. If it proves successful we are planting this kind of cannabis where it grows illegally. ECOWAS acknowledges the magnitude of the drug problem in West Africa. We need funds and political will. AD in drug control is relatively new in Nigeria. We ask for support from international partners. Nigeria is faced with a dearth of data. Most results are either obsolete or limited. We need UNODC to continue to support research aimed at strengthening regional capacity to capture, analyse and monitor the baseline data. We have launched initiatives to eradicate poverty and to lead to sustainable economic development, including Young Entrepreneurship Support (YES), aimed at equipping young people with sills and knowledge to be self employed and manage businesses. And N power Programme, which provides skills and opportunities for inclusion and productivity, addressing unemployment and stimulating the economy. The challenge in Nigeria is that most of the lands are government lands that are hard to access. Another one, that most cannabis farms are leased by absentee barons. And raising the budget for AD. AD is a long term process that requires a longterm commitment. The investment required for road construction to overcome the inaccessibility of these areas is huge. We go slowly but steadily, learning from successes in other countries.

Question from India: Is there an alternative plan available in Nigeria for AD? I do understand the problems of Nigeria. When we talk about AD, two important things: alternative crops (equally remunerative), but also natural reserves where crop substitution doesn’t work. In those areas, it would be about alternative employment more than crops. Any plan?

Response from Abdallah Mustapha, Nigeria: As oil prices go down, we expect people to go back to traditional crops. But substitution crops works best with crops that are sustainable in the long term (cocoa, rubber, etc.).

Question from Mauritania: I want to add to what has been said by the representative of the African Group and what was said by the representative of India. Regarding cultivation in non-urban areas, such agriculture is a problem for all the countries. Although Mauritania is not an agricultural country, the drug problem still concerns us all. It is an environmental problem, it is global, the drug problem is also a global problem. Regarding cultivation of drugs in areas that are not urban, where there are nomads, we suffer from personal property and inherited property: these areas are inherited from other people and states have no control over the area. UNODC should take into account, when setting up the framework of problems, have its experts address this property problem. Although countries have no sovereignty over these lands, they should extend sovereignty there. There is no legal control over this land and cultivators hide behind that to continue illicit cultivation. This is the issue I have identified and this should be more studied. Regarding AD in urban areas and rural areas, it is different depending on the plan adopted, and those targeted by AD will also be different. Specific strategies should be set up by experts in those different areas. On this question, the employment of some minors (below the age of 13) for dealing drugs is used. We should also examine this issue. As for funding, mentioned by some, this is also a problem. It is significant and is related to the environment, which is a global problem. The drug problem also affects the mental health of human beings. The drug problem targets everyone: youth, as well as the whole of humanity’s destiny.

Response from Abdallah Mustapha, Nigeria: In Nigeria we have two types of land property: free lease and free hold. It is very like Mauritania, nobody owns land in Nigeria. So we need to find strategies to make sure that nothing is cultivated that will affect the whole country. I agree also that AD initiatives in the city should be different. When somebody uses the youth because he owns the land freely, the majority of the country suffers.

M.L. D. Diskul, Thailand, representing the Asia Pacific Group: I will take a bit of your time today because some issues were already covered. But I want to highlight how far we’ve come in AD in the past 10-12 years. It is difficult to move the issue of AD forward. There is now general recognition and acceptance of AD. There have been many documents, over the CND years, some important ones are the UN Guiding Principles on AD, the UNGASS outcome document. There are also a lot of issues we’re beginning to talk about. We heard a lot about links with the SDGs and how to measure the impact of AD in relation to the SDGs. I don’t think AD has gone without lessons learned or experiences gained. But the question for us is how to use and share these experiences and lessons learned with countries considering to implement AD or come up with drug policies to counter illicit crop cultivation. Along with GIZ and UNODC, Thailand launched the GPDPD programme, aiming to bring new countries and interested parties to learn about AD, and for us to learn about other experiences. Through ONCB, we work with the Myanmar government to implement AD, and we are expanding. We are going to launch a programme on the Thai side, in an area where there is a lot of methamphetamine production, near the border with Myanmar. Clearly this is not the usual AD side of policy there, but we see a lot of vulnerabilities: poverty, lack of food security, access to health, basic infrastructure.

The barrier separating urban and rural areas is getting closer and closer. If we believe that vulnerabilities in rural and urban areas are the same, approaches to address those should be the same, and that brings us to whether we can use what we’ve learned in the rural area and adapt it to the urban setting. This is our challenge in the years to come. How can we make development approaches to address these vulnerabilities, enhance the concept of AD and implement it in urban settings. We are living in a parallel universe, which is us here making policies, and the other which is the realities and conditions on the ground. I see the gaps are betting narrower and narrower. But the magnitude of the problem is getting more severe. Can we move away from the compartments we’ve put ourselves in for the past 10 years, and make sure that the next 10 years can really address the issue holistically and in an integrated manner. The world drug problem is not going to slow down for us to find a solution. We must lead ahead to move beyond country boundaries.

Alvaro Salcedo, Peru, representing GRULAC: We have always been one of the biggest promoters of AD around the world, and we were glad that the UNGASS outcome document included recommendations on AD. As UNGASS confirmed, AD is much more than a crop control strategy. It’s about security and development, impacting in a positive way on the lives of people living in rural areas. Peru is one of the most vulnerable countries for illicit crop cultivation, this is driven by poverty. We have developed a policy for comprehensive and sustainable AD to interrupt the illegal economy. DEVIDA is the national entity leading the efforts: supply reduction, demand reduction, AD, common and shared responsibility, international cooperation. We therefore conduct AD through support to families in affected areas.

AD in Peru focuses on socio-economic development for permanent change. We rely on access to roads, schools, primary healthcare, electricity and property ownership, to counteract drug production and cultivation. The AD approach in Peru attaches great importance to community involvement, whose actions are carried out through human development and generation of social capital, economic development, governance, sustainable use of natural resources. We see that 24 areas established AD programmes in Peru. The most emblematic case is the San Martin region: in 2011, thanks to the AD programmes following the eradication process, we saw a significant reduction in the numbers of hectares eradicated. But Peru has other examples as well.

I also want to share some recent results. We worked in over 50,000 ha of illicit crops. The property of farmers was formalised, social inclusion activities benefited more than 30,000 people. We established records of over 30,000 ha eradicated. For 2015: we eradicated more than 35,000 ha. These achievements are the result of the commitment and political will to address this problem, reflected in our national budget. Since 2012, our budget has increased by over 300%. But there is still progress to be made: greater access to credit, investment, productivity, and land property formalisation. We also need to continue facilitating access to markets.

We promote an AD model we offer to the entire international community. We focus on generating the necessary conditions to increase the opportunity for human development and security. Only this way can we stop the vicious circle of drugs.

Daniel Brombacher, representing the Western European and Others Group: I head the Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (DPDPD), it is led by GIZ under the patronage of the drug commissioner of the German government. What is unique with GIZ is that it is not implemented just by GIZ but also with other institutions: the Thai Mae Fa Long Foundation, the International Drug Policy Consortium and the Transnational Institute. We are tasked not only to prepare UNGASS but also to implement the UNGASS outcome document, which is quite a challenge. It is quite early, this process of implementation. It’s been 18 months since its adoption so we can’t report on every detail of implementation. I want to focus on 3 main elements in implementing the UNGASS outcome document.

First, the conceptual headache. The UNGASS chapter 7 is not only unique. It broadens the concept of development in the UN drug control system. We had to fight for development in the UN supply side of drug control. This is now a legitimate element, which is reflected in the title of chapter 7, talking about addressing socio-economic issues. This is a broad wording of what is now accepted. As we have heard before from Jorge, paras h and j focus on addressing urban drug markets and the issues related not only to crop cultivation and rural areas. This new language may have come as a surprise for many delegates but it has been recognised for many years. Development oriented approaches should play a role in UN drug control systems. Many countries have started recognising that law enforcement only was not enough. What we have experienced with other partners is that we are increasingly approached by other delegations to give technical advice on addressing the drug problem from a development perspective. This was quite new and was to be expected to be reflected in the UNGASS outcome document. The UN drug control system needed to respond to this and be reflected in the UN framework. But this only gives us legitimacy to approach the drug problem through the means of development. We now need to translate this, jointly with UNODC and Mae Fa Long Foundation, we have developed expert group meetings to share on the issue. At 2pm we have a side event on the 7th floor in room C2. We will also have food there provided by the Thai delegation.

We have a broad consensus now with UN member states on the fact that global drug policy should incorporate development. This was never a given here in international debates. The debates on development generally focused on South America and South Asia. We now see a diversification of the world drug problem, producing countries are now consumer countries. We have seen a spread of drug production in many countries, and a spread in the recognition of AD in drug strategies. We have heard from India a few minutes ago, for example. We have a growing alliance of countries, but this international backing is not accompanied by funding. This was mentioned before, funding is crucial and the growing support for development is accompanied by growing demand for technical assistance in this area. Germany and Thailand, as well as Colombia, are allocating more resources, but more needs to be allocated if we take the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document seriously.

Third, the unclear relationship with the SDGs and potentially conflicting objectives of the UN drug control system and the SDGs. I am representing a development agency here so the SDGs are a crucial normative framework at GIZ, and I have to justify the work I do regarding the SDG goals. If you have a close look at it, the preambular part includes references to the SDGs. But the SDGs should be an overarching framework, not operating in parallel with the UN drug control system. For chapter 7, the wording contained in the UNGASS outcome document raises certain questions: should the AD recommendations serve the UN drug control system or the SDGs? We need a rethink of how to report on drug control strategies based on the SDGs, and we will have some discussions on this later on. But this is a tricky issue on how to make our strategy more coherent.

Video message of Lauda Riao, United Nations Development Programme, country office of Afghanistan: I want to talk about alternative approaches to sustainable livelihoods. I want to discuss community approaches in cultivation areas in Afghanistan. The problem of drugs is extensive and complex. We operate in a country where more than 80% of the world’s opium is produced, making it difficult for us. We build on lessons from AD. What is new in the way we operate is that we look at the issue from an area-based approach, focusing on the area’s problems, threats, opportunities. For example, we look at solutions in areas where there is a flux of refugees. We work also with the communities and government structures to make it possible for our actions to be more sustainable. We look carefully at the places where we operate in terms of conflict and insecurity. We work in collaboration with UNODC, we have powerful allies to collect data and analyse it to ensure impact.

The project I want to introduce today is a specific project focusing on offering alternative livelihoods. This is the way forward to make it possible for areas of the country to have an alternative economy. This is in cooperation with the Ministry of Livestock and the Ministry of Anti-Narcotics. We do not believe in quick fixes, we believe in sustainable results. We intend to reach 500,000 farmers, working with 45,000 households to learn about the dangers of illicit crops and give them opportunities for alternative livelihoods. Finally, we have pulled a strong focus on community infrastructure. For UNDP, it’s important that this project contributes to the SDGs, and is integrated in the government projects and vision.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator: We thank the UNDP for this presentation and hope they will be present in person in Vienna.

Jamie Bridge, International Drug Policy Consortium and representing the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC): I am not an opium farmer from Myanmar, but I am speaking today on behalf of Nang Khin Oo from the Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum, thank you for the opportunity. I also want to thank the Post-UNGASS Facilitator and CND Chair for their support to civil society. I apologise for the lack of speaker on Monday. I also want to reiterate that the statements from civil society do not necessarily represent the views of the VNGOC.

My name is Nang Khin Oo, a smallholder opium poppy farmer from Shan State of Myanmar. I am also member of “Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum”. My village is situated in a remote mountainous area, with poor road access and almost without any public services such as health, education, communication and development supports. In our village, we grow opium poppy for generations as a coping strategy to off-set food shortage problem and generate income to buy daily necessities, cover the costs of health care, social rituals and religious donations, and sending our children to school.

The elevation of our village is 1,700 meters with extreme weather almost no food crop can survive, and there is limited options to grow other cash crops due to poor infrastructures, access to credit, access to market and agriculture techniques. Moreover, we are in armed conflict zone. Fighting between Myanmar government troops and ethnic armed groups often broke out near our village, and we have to flee so often losing our properties, crops, and domestic and farm animals.

Under such misery context, opium poppy has many advantage as a cash crop for smallholder farmers in armed conflict zones. It’s a short-term crop, not depleting the soil of its nutrients as rapidly as rice, wheat or vegetables. Opium yields a higher income than other crops, it small payload is easily transportable over jungle trails, and is not subject to bruising or rotting. It grows well on the poor soil of high mountainous area, requiring only a modest level of technology, and the poppy itself contains alkaloids that are of medicinal value that indigenous people traditionally use to cure many illness and diseases.

However, our survival as a human being is at risk due to the repressive drug control policy of Myanmar government. Our opium poppy fields have been destroyed without any compensation. The forced eradication make our life from bad to worst. We lost our primary income source that consequence acute food shortage, school drop-out, reduce of traditional rituals and religious donation. Many families have to sold out their farming assets and send their children to Thailand to earn working as un-skilled wage labours. We also have to excessively extract non-timber forest products fetching for income to buy foods. Forced eradication violates our fundamental rights of indigenous people to livelihoods.

As conclusion, my recommendations on drug control policy are:

  • No plant is drug, opium poppy farmers should not be criminalized;
  • Eradication should come only after viable alternative livelihoods is in place;
  • Eradication should not be the precondition of receiving development supports;
  • Farmers should have meaningful participation in the whole process of project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluated the impact of the development projects;
  • Legalize cultivation for pharmaceutical industry should not be excluded as an alternative option;
  • Recreational, Cultural use and traditional medicine value of opium should be recognized;
  • “Without us, nothing about us”, opium poppy farmers should have the rights to involve in the drug control policy reform process.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator: The interventions from civil society and NGOs have been important for us to know what’s happening on the ground and how we can help them in their lives.

European Union: Just a comment: the EU offers a lot of support from AD projects in Latin America and Asia. In particular we focus on Bolivia, Peru. What was said by the colleague there is critical: having a dialogue with the producers, this is a very important point. We a lot of interesting projects involving producers so thank you for raising this issue.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator: We have now finished with presentations from the panellists. I will now turn to you for interventions from the floor.

Mexico: Thank you very much. From my government, a priority is the necessity to align the objectives of global drug control with the SDGs. Mexico was one of the main champions of incorporation of socio economic issues in the UNGASS outcome document from the perspective of drug policies geared towards development and AD. My delegation wants to take this opportunity to raise awareness of several efforts undertaken. We have worked within CICAD and within COPOLAD, in which we’ve supported broadening the vision of AD towards sustainable development considerations. Drug policies should be considered as within the SDGs. AD should be considered as its most wide concept in rural and urban zones affected by the drug chain. We welcome the interventions of Germany and Thailand in broadening the concept of AD in both rural and urban spheres. The response must go beyond traditional definitions of AD, to ensure we focus on promoting development oriented drug policies as agreed at UNGASS. We also welcome the debate triggered by Germany and Norway with the support of civil society and academia. We reiterate our commitment to contributing to the conceptual headache mentioned by Germany. We must promote interventions focused on the people and preservation of human rights to mitigate impacts on society and help those most vulnerable to the drug trafficking chain. The objective is to ensure comprehensive socio and economic policies, focusing on indicators that are tailored to development.

Estonia, on behalf of the European Union. For the last decades, AD has brought new opportunities for livelihood. It is a necessary element of drug supply policies. Without the creation of alternative sources of income, supply reduction will fail. We reiterate the importance of AD as a measure within a comprehensive and balanced national and regional policy. AD has broadened in scope focusing on rural and urban markets within a development oriented approach. But this requires further research and debate. This call to incorporate AD into the broader agenda of governments focused on development is incorporated in the EU Action Plan for 2017-2020. It contributes to reducing poverty, insecurity and vulnerability to the illicit economy for people previously or currently involved in the supply chain. To achieve these objective, the EU has developed good partnerships on AD. This was confirmed during the EU-CELAC meeting in May 2017. We adopted the Buenos Aires Declaration and reaffirmed our commitment to reaffirm AD programmes, and address socio economic factors. We also support the continuation of our activities within the framework of COPOLAD. This EU finded programme focuses on sharing evidence of best practice as well as closer cooperation between EU and CELAC. We have continuously worked to organise workshops and peer to pear dialogues. We promote south-south partnerships as well in AD. At the same time, even if most EU projects on AD have been implemented across Latin America, we also focused on Afghanistan, Myanmar and Laos. We have funded and implemented bilateral projects focusing on illicit plant-based drugs, based on the principle of shared responsibility. Lastly, we need to focus on AD products to global markets. We have developed generalised schemes of preferences: preferential treatment for imports of products derived from AD projects. This can benefit affected communities immediately. We must contribute to comprehensive AD projects through research, technical expertise, livelihood opportunities. However, donors should take account of local and regional circumstances as well as universal standards of human rights and the rule of law to design and implement programmes for peaceful, just and inclusive drug policies. To conclude the ultimate objective of the EU is to implement the UNGASS outcome document and the UN Guiding Principles on Alternative Development. AD does not only contribute to the reduction of illicit crops, but also to meet the goals of the SDGs, especially food security, poverty reduction, environment protection.

Anya Korumlick, UNODC Research and Analysis Branch. I want to focus on technical issues here, focusing on research and impact assessment. The 2009 Action Plan and the UNGASS outcome document call for this. I want to brief you on how UNODC is working on improving the evidence base. I have structured this in 3 areas First, we continue to monitor illicit crop cultivation together with countries concerned. But in addition to reporting cultivation trends, we analyse the changes and conduct socio economic surveys to identify the drivers of illicit cultivation. We also look at price data to help us explain what drives illicit cultivation. The second element is using the data from the survey and other research done to develop an indicator framework. We are working on this now, it is challenging. It includes Human Development Indicators, and others in line with the SDGs, to not develop anything in isolation. It has to feed into the SDGs. Thirdly, we conduct impact assessments of AD projects. Member states have said we should improve this to have better information on what is working and not working. We work closely with colleagues in the field, for example UNDP in Afghanistan. It’s interesting to have a collaboration between UNODC and UNDP and we are learning a lot from each other.

The ultimate goal is to find out what is working and for whom it is working. Here you can see what the results are and where we’re reporting. We want to report on AD indicators around trends in AD, in addition to the data on cultivation and demand. We should have an item every year on AD.

On international cooperation, we work with governments to monitor illicit cultivation and AD, linking this to the SDGs to help them report on the SDGs. Some of the progress we’ve made in the last year has been reports focusing on AD and the SDGs and the implementation of the Guiding Principles. The reports used to be called ‘Opium survey reports’. People didn’t read these reports as they thought it was only on cultivation data so we’ve worked hard to ensure there is more partnerships in illicit cultivation and development areas, speak their language a bit more.

The next thing we’ve worked on was the indicators and the SDGs. It is useful to link AD to the SDGs as we can link to eradicating extreme poverty, link to development actors and expand our radius of implementation, we can compare and harmonise, and we can measure the development gap. We also think that when we have this development indicator we can better understand why cultivation continues.

When you look at development gaps, this slide shows how to use indicators linked to several SDGs and cultivation. There is a difference in key variables: environment, access to markets, etc. The main differences in variables are called the ‘development gap’. What the farmer from Myanmar said is reflected here. We did the same for Afghanistan. You see a clear difference from poppy and non-poppy villages. Poppy villages are worse in all areas, except for cash income. This confirms our surveys when we ask what people do with their income: they spend it on food, to pay debts, to pay education costs. So this is all used to cover basic needs, which cannot be covered by other crops.

Measuring the ‘development gap’, slide by UNODC

I now want to give more details on how we’re working on AD impact assessments, especially in Afghanistan between UNODC and UNDP, using our comparative advantage to map cultivation and security, villages, etc. including needs assessments and baseline surveys. The plan at the end is to do an endline survey. We also look at the land covered to see if cultivation is growing (for opium but also other crops). This is a comprehensive approach. We’re looking at 4 million data points. This means that we have a lot of data, which we hope can be analysed at village level.

For the first time, as part of the household survey, we have interviewed women. They play an important role in getting income at the household. But it’s hard to know because we have not done that in the past, it requires extra efforts. So we hope we’ll have new findings here.

We try to work in all countries on technical assistance. In some cases, it’s just a matter of briefing, workshops, support in following good practice for baseline survey and monitoring. Finally, I still want to highlight that we measure the impact of AD projects. But we should not forget that AD is part of a balanced approach. We must keep in mind that we should focus on other approaches. We look at evidence and cost-effectiveness of AD: how effective are we, in which areas do we get the greater impact. Thank you very much.

Question from Brazil: Thank you for the presentation. The data and best information coming from science is the way we will get some answers. I want to know if there is a focus on prevention of communities to move away from illegal crop cultivation in the first place.

Response from UNODC: This is a difficult question because in the areas we go to, there are growers and non-growers of illicit crops. They have interventions that offer alternatives, whether it is an AD project or a project focusing on road construction and others. These have been tried in the past in Afghanistan. I can’t say whether this has been tried by the international community as a whole. Over the past 40 years, we learned we should have an area based approach: you need to not just work with those who grow the poppy otherwise others will start growing to get some assistance. So we have prevention programmes to work with all. Development assistance has been widely developed in Afghanistan.

Comment from Daniel Brombacher, Germany: I congratulate Anya and UNODC for their ground breaking work on impact assessment on AD. For a long time, we focused on trying to show feasibility and impact, but we each had assessment systems which were competing with one another. This impact assessment by UNODC is crucial to measure impact. You have our support for the future. This will have an impact also on funding as we will be better equipped to show progress and impact.

Mohammad Qader Mesbah, New Line Social Organisation, Afghanistan: Greetings to you, I wish you all success. I am addressing you from Afghanistan, a land using illicit crop cultivation. Afghanistan has 3 characteristics: continuation of terrorist wars and corruption, drug addiction is prevalent, and the illicit drug economy is prevalent. To find a solution to these three problems, I request you to bring pressure on Afghanistan and various member of the international community to act as follows. First, beyond fighting terrorist groups, I wish drugs could be also controlled as they are a reliable source of funding for terrorists. Second, support the Afghan government to reduce addiction. Third, promote agriculture based economy by promoting other seeds. We hope that with these three solutions you will be able to help Afghanistan.

[Lunch break]

Post-UNGASS Facilitator: Before adjourning, I mentioned that the two delegations to speak would be China and the Russian Federation, but unfortunately China will not be able to participate this afternoon.

Russian Federation: As we all know, AD is one of the most crucial elements in order to resolve the global drugs problem. (…) I wish to recall that Russia continues to lend its support to the development of the [] Food Programme in Afghanistan, a key project supporting AD in the country. We hope the donor community will support it, strengthening the efficiency of these efforts, agreed upon by the international community.

Colombia: We appreciate how this chapter links AD with measures to control supply and aligns with the (…). A further significant milestone is that the UNGASS chapter on this pillar gives attention to the socioeconomic matters related to this. AD as part of the broader notion of development. AD must be designed taking into account that ensuring an effective response to drugs and development must be in line with the SDGs. Important to take into account Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. This calls for broadening the understanding of alternative development itself. The pillar should remain a separate component, as it is in the UNGASS Outcome Document. Global cultivation figures remain more or less the same in recent decades. This situation is usually referred to as the balloon effect. There haven’t been any significant reductions. Cannabis and coca cultivation are actually growing. Efforts must be redoubled in terms of sustainability of efforts, and financial and technical support, including from UN Agencies: FAO, UNDP. The FAO and the ILO can provide support for AD implementation to transform economic structure of countries affected by illicit crop cultivation. Supporting rural decentralisation, gender equality and overall financial development. In tandem with all relevant stakeholders, including Academia and civil society. When it comes to indicators, the design and evaluation of programmes needs better evaluation and measurements with proper indicators which go beyond reductionist measures, including environmental sustainability and human development. (…) The drugs trade in Colombia has been linked to the guerrilla forces. For that reason, the FARC guerrillas committed to abandoning the drugs trade. Colombia has thus now an integrated plan for substitution of crops, including socioeconomic support measures. We expect this plan to help improve wellbeing of people in areas affected by these activities, and help them leave these activities once and for all. The plan comprises: immediate support for food security among land workers and farmers, ensuring decent standard of living, socioeconomic infrastructure projects (school building improvements, community canteens), land recovery, mitigating environmental harm. Bringing together community assemblies to draw a diagnosis of what’s needed and develop a comprehensive crop substitution and municipality-led programme with the support of the community. We are launching the most ambitious plan bringing together families affected. In the long term, this will generate new economic activity, strengthen the roles of families and protect ecosystems. In terms of international cooperation, we organised international workshops with Thailand, with the anti-drugs commissioner of Colombia focusing on woodlands protection. The Peace Process designated UN and UNODC as an international partner in implementing point 4 (on alternative programmes). This is a priority for Colombia. We have a proved a multi-million-dollar project for UNODC to lend technical assistance to the Colombian government on implementing its illicit crop reduction policy, particularly in priority areas determined by the government. The project addresses the following: implementation of our strategy for territorial renewal, rural territorial development, strategy for strengthening rural economies, monitoring system by implementing rural development programmes with a territorial focus. Producer organisations in the priority area will be trained on productivity, impact on the local economy, family welfare and society wellbeing. Land property programme allows for an expedited land acquisition process. 7,000 land titles are expected to be handed.

Mr Bo Mathiasen, Regional Representative of UNODC in Colombia, UNODC: My presentation will focus on three items: Peace Process (with insurgent group FARC), AD in Colombia, articulation of AD in Colombia as part of SDG agenda. The Peace Process lasted about 4 years. The final agreement signed 24 November 2016. Immediately thereafter the implementation process begun. For UNODC the most important point has been point 4. To support the agreement, the Colombian government created a new institutional framework, UNODC has partners on: crop substitution, land titling, comprehensive rural development, consolidating productive processes. We work with the Ministry of Law, responsible for the drug policy in the country. The concept of AD in the country focuses on prevention and elimination of drug crops. We focus on the national economic context and the social and cultural characteristics of communities in the country. The AD cycle focuses on: strengthening the communities, help them create associations and strengthening the social fabric, with payments to support their departure from illicit crop, we support the formalisation of lands, the capitalisation of projects including machinery and tools, within a framework of monitoring and evaluation to ensure follow up and evaluation. Within the framework of the SDGs we focus on 2 and 10. Reducing poverty and reducing inequality. When we look at the poverty index, currently in Colombia it’s less than 210$/month, extreme poverty 60$/month. About 54% of the communities and families we work with are within what you would call poor families. A multidimensional poverty index is also looked at, which includes broader development and well-being conditions. More than 50% of the families we work with are in that poverty index. UNODC has supported the government to work with 180 families, 1000 organisations, targeting about 7930 (…).

Natasha Horsfield, Health Poverty Action: We would like to thank the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) for the opportunity to engage with you directly.  Health Poverty Action works in programmes across 15 countries to address the barriers that marginalized groups face in accessing health systems, using this knowledge to challenge the broad range of social and structural determinants of poverty and health, including working to identify and address the impacts of drug control policy on socio-economic development.

As is recognised in the UNGASS outcome document, the risk factors driving involvement in the drugs trade are socio-economic, influenced by poverty, social and cultural marginalisation, violence and exclusion, a lack of services and infrastructure needs. Health Poverty Action has recently conducted qualitative research amongst rural and urban communities engaged in the illicit drugs trade, the initial findings of which reinforce this understanding, and also highlight the role of punitive drug control strategies focused on criminalisation and crop eradication in reinforcing the existing vulnerabilities of these communities, and notably the role of such interventions in undermining affected communities’ trust in the state and other implementing or external agencies.

We welcome the important commitments by member states in Chapter 7 of the UNGASS Outcome Document to strengthen a development perspective to tackle these causes, including supporting initiatives that contribute to poverty eradication and the sustainability of social and economic development.

However, where they have failed to focus on addressing these social and economic causal factors, national drug control strategies have had harmful impacts on vulnerable individuals and communities and in some cases aggravated their vulnerabilities. In order to contribute to sustainable development in line with UNGASS Chapter 7, member states and relevant UN Agencies must recognise and address the role of drug control policies themselves in re-enforcing poverty and social exclusion. They must address this policy incoherence and bring drug control policies in line with their commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals.

Additionally, current drug control assessment mechanisms fail to measure the impacts of such policies and interventions on the welfare of vulnerable communities, obscuring the extent of these harmful side-effects. Member states and relevant UN agencies should work together to develop new indicators, employing the use of relevant human development indicators, and other measurements in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, to measure the outcomes and impacts of drug control policies and programmes for the security, development and welfare of poor and marginalized communities in particular.

The promotion of research by member states and relevant UN agencies, to better understand the factors contributing to illicit drug related activities in urban and rural areas, is vital to better addressing drug-related socioeconomic issues and the specific vulnerabilities and needs of different affected communities; as is ensuring the engagement, empowerment and ownership of affected local communities in the design and implementation of sustainable development focused interventions.

However, as Health Poverty Action has found in our own research, progress towards achieving these objectives is limited by law-enforcement and military driven drug control policy interventions. The threat of criminal sanctions, and the imposition of unsustainable alternative development interventions, foster fear and mistrust of official and external agencies. Member states and partner agencies should reform national policies and interventions to foster safe and sustainable environments for communities affected by illicit drug-related activities.  This will enable them to engage in participatory research, take ownership of sustainable rural and urban development initiatives, and improve policy coherence helping to achieve the sustainable development goals. Reforms should include ending conditional and forced crop eradication in all its forms and considering the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use and small scale non-violent drug dealing and trafficking.

In order to achieve comprehensive sustainable development strategies that enhance the welfare of affected and vulnerable populations, member states should actively engage with those government and UN agencies (particularly UNDP) and members of international and national civil society with experience and expertise in sustainable development initiatives, promoting cooperation and partnerships with these actors at international, regional and national levels.  

To incentivise the participation of these stakeholders, we urge member states, relevant international financial institutions and United Nations entities to create long term and flexible funding opportunities for development focused agencies and civil society organisations in line with their chapter 7 commitments. These opportunities should prioritise funding to stakeholders with expertise in sustainable development interventions as well as provide the flexibility to support integrating the specific needs of drug affected communities into existing sustainable development strategies and initiatives.

Additionally, these sustainable development initiatives should be prioritised over traditional alternative-development interventions where the reduction of illicit drug activity has been the primary objective.

Finally, we encourage member states to recognise the role which the illicit drugs trade plays in providing livelihoods and income for poor and marginalised communities and to explore the possibility of creating legally regulated markets for certain drugs in consultation and partnership with vulnerable communities already engaged in these particular illicit trades.

Venezuela: We want to share, as we have done before, that we do not suffer from a endemic problem nor a consumption or production issues. We have been declared a free of cultivation country. We have work to empower communities and create robust institutions. Venezuela’s objective is to remove communities from illicit activities under the guidance of national authorities in Andean regions. The Bolivarian government works to ensure positive conditions and promote licit cultivations.

Philippines: Thanks to the Secretariat on behalf of the Prime Minister. Solving the drug problem calls for holistic solution to reduce supply and demand. The Philippines goal is to address the vulnerabilities of the social sector and prevent this global menace. The only way to succeed in a drug free Philippines is if the fight is carried on several fronts. This has been a priority on our president’s agenda since before he took office. Alternative programs focus on cannabis cultivation substitution with various licit crops since 2008. Community based interventions have been expanded to include rehabilitation interventions. Alternative development most not only focus on cannabis crops substitution; we want to expand to urban settings as well. To assure success, we have begun to look at the established system to address its execution challenges. We acknowledge the need to share technology and best practices through the international community and regional integrations. We welcome international collaborations for alternative development. We look forward to work with international partners. We intended to develop a program with the shared success of international community.

USA: Thanks to all the previous expositions. Alternative development is one of the three fundamental pillars in solving the drug problem. It is necessary to focus on addressing the social economic roots of the problem and focus on sustainable development. We are committed to promote alternative development to decrease drugs by reducing its cultivation. Illicit crops cultivation is more lucrative and in many time is attractive particularly when life is threatened. We need to increase collaboration as international community. We need to share best practise and choose those to be implemented, particularly those that can be tailored to the needs of the communities. Alternative development most include communities and NGOs as stake holders. The US has collaborated with alternative development programs in Afghanistan. The US provided funding for a poppy cultivations substitution programme to diversify the livelihood for farmers. Also, the US collaborated on a community based development program to increase farmers household income by improving agricultural business strategies. The US believe that alternative development promotes peaceful societies.

UNODC in Laos: We work in support for the national social economic development plan. The goal is to push Laos out of the last place in terms of development in the region by reducing poverty, introducing sustainable income paths, countering environmental degradation and reducing illicit crops. Laos is part of the golden triage which produces and traffics the largest amount of opium in the world. UNODC have four years working with Laos in alternative development successfully in reducing poverty and crops substitution in a sustainable manner. Our programme focuses on a north-west province, the poorest in the country. The only legal crops initially were maize and rice with rotation, which is damaging to environment and not highly profitable. We needed to find crops with high income potential. We needed to establish knowledge and sustainable organizational structures. One key principle is to focus, this means we don’t want to spread out in several alternatives, better just one or two to ensure a more efficient use of resources. We found that a key crop is coffee, which is very suitable due to its high income. Also, Laos already has a coffee industry which it benefits its introduction to the market. Inclusiveness is always. We want to establish local culture. If we don’t share our vision with the farmers there’s no sustainability. We ask the farmers their points of view and then we included experts. We want to build a local culture. Coffee does not exist in the area therefore there’s not enough knowledge. Creating culture is key. Concentration is important. Furthermore, local presence is necessary. It is important to have training but is insufficient without follow ups. Lastly it is very important to work with local government counterparts to build capacities. Reforestation, single crops and focus on the long term are keys for this project.

Question from Canada: It was a very interesting video, but how do you address the potential of other farmers becoming aware they aren’t beneficiaries if you are focusing only in one area?

Answer from UNODC: That is a perpetual question. The identification is based on deep negotiation with the house government. This area has more poppy crops and its more remote. Also, the government suggested and they have a supportive governor. We need to use our resources on the best possible matter. We don’t have enough resources.

Peru: Thanks. A few weeks ago, in Germany I talk to the Laos government about the programs. An important problem is that a lot of programs are not effective and the farmers don’t believe in alternative development because they are disappointed.

UNODC: Losing the confidence of farmers is the worst menace. That’s the reason on a long term all-inclusive approach. There had been bad experiences that we are dealing with those.

Suriname: Suriname is in full support for alternative development. Suriname incorporated the commitment to address the drug problems related its social economical causes. Suriname calls the international community to implement all modalities as agreed in the pillar seven. Suriname suffers from drug traffic. The country is label as a narcotic country and it stablishes a stigma on the country, its nationals and its business. We have implemented preventive measures based on a multidimensional course we believe is more effective. Crime prevention is more successful with more and better statistics and research; ICT is integrated in the program. Also, laws have been adapted. We expect cooperation with the international community to increase. Suriname’s government has committed to improved crime prevention and coordination by creating capacities in statistics and modernising legislations.

Ecuador: Thank you for all the previous expositions. Developing countries can’t address the drug problem without taking in account poverty and marginalization. Ecuador because its geography is susceptible for traffic in various ways. This provides social and economic challenges. We engage in social intervention for those marginalized based on human right, respecting sociocultural diversity and assuring peaceful coexist. We seek to create spaces to develop people and communities. Alternative development is of great scope in the long term. Ecuador is working to reduce poverty and marginalization by putting people and community at the heart of the issue and respecting traditions and culture.

UNODC in Afghanistan: Alternative development is part from the 2016-2018 program design with the government to achieve the SDG. It will increase income and sustainability. We include as stakeholders’ ministers, international community, the UN, international NGOs, individual NGOs, and more. We collaborate with all the stakeholders to avoid replication in programs. We also contribute to the chapter seven. Some of the example of the work is the improvement on the value chain development on several products and new crops. Women reported income increases. The main objective is to build government capacity in alternative development. We organize a mission to India to exchange knowledge and link markets. Farmers have been link to markets in the UF, particularly with saffron. We have established a green house and innovative techniques. Farmers created a learning schools to exchange knowledge. A very important aspect is to build sustainability by including the community thoughts.

Question from Afghanistan: Thanks for the presentation. I have no questions, we just want to thank the UNODC and their office in Afghanistan for their work. We hope we can continue this excellent relationship. Hopefully the funding could increase. Thanks.

Moulay Ahmed Douraidi, Association de Lutte Contre le Sida (ALCS), Morocco:

Abdellatif Adebibe of the Moroccan Confederation of Associations for the Development of the Senhaja Rif Region, Morocco: The following statement by Abdellatif Adebibe of the Moroccan Confederation of Associations for the Development of the Senhaja Rif Region, was due to be screened as a civil society contribution to a discussion on alternative development and development-oriented drug policy at an intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna. Abdellatif represented cannabis farmers at UNGASS 2016, following the meeting of the Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants in Heemskerk, the Netherlands, organised by TNI.

The video and statement were not screened, following an informal objection by a country delegation. The Transnational Institute and its partners are seeking clarification about the process leading to this decision. The importance of civil society voices in international spaces cannot be over stated. The decision to prevent this statement from being screened should not become a precedent.

Final remarks

UNODC: Thank the commission for the opportunity to convey our vision on alternative development. Thanks all my colleges on the field for expressing your stories. I want to highlight this is a long-term effort, keep that in mind. This is very challenging. In Laos we need to seek for long term crops focus in community and help with deforestation. In Colombia, alternative development is also part of the peace process. We need to focus on sustainability.

Nigeria: I have a short message to deliver. Nigeria is happy to hear and witness that we have a shared destiny. We are all in this together. Happy to learn that every mission is working and willing to learn and adjust strategies to reach the goal of UNGASS.

Thailand: I would like to thank everyone. We have made a lot of progress but the problem is always changing. We need to think out of box and find common ground for new ideas and positions.

Peru: I’ll be brief. Alternative Development works as a strategy that we have witness its success. There’s scepticism due to the balloon effect and the spreading of problems but the example of Peru is that you can reach legal crops. We need to implement more effectively,

Germany: Thank. I have seen many expositions and even some that we were not expecting. The core remains but the solution is dialogue and we should keep those spaces for dialogue.

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