Side Event: Towards more inclusive alternative development

Outcomes of the 7th Expert Group Meeting on Alternative Development – Chiang Rai, Thailand, 2022. The 7th Meeting of the Alternative Development Expert Group (EGM), held in Chiang Rai, Thailand from 29 November to 1 December 2022, continued to serve as a platform for sharing experiences and best practices in the field of Alternative Development. At the CND the panelists will discuss the outcome of the EGM, which for the first time focused on gender and ethnically sensitive issues and deepened exchanges on Alternative Development in non-traditional contexts and on the link between Alternative Development and the environment.

Organized by Peru with the support of Germany, Thailand and the UNODC Drugs, Laboratory and Scientific Services Branch.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany: I am an advisor working for GIZ and will be our moderator today. Before the discussion, I’ll give you a brief overview of the event. It’s based on the EGM from Thailand last year. Since 2016, the EGM on AD has served as an open platform for many stakeholders on AD and the evolution of AD-oriented drug policies. Today, we’ll address some of the specific topics from the EGM. First, Mr. Carlos , president of XYZ Peru.

Devida, Peru, Carlos Figuera, Executive President: We’ll cover the drug policies priorities of the Republic of Peru. We introduce this side event to cover a more inclusive alternative development (AD). Peru has provided the multisectorial and international drug policy of 2030, of addressing the public problems related to drugs, the environmental damage, and targeting sensitive economic areas.

As an instrument to generate licit income and reduce vulnerability of families from the illicit drug chain; connecting the public to these barriers, with the first link being the illicit coca production for coca-based drugs. The first priority is strengthening institutional frameworks which…going to the coca growing areas to target the vulnerable families. In this context, technical and financial cooperation is essential to strengthening AD programs, also to provide access to national/international markets to these products. Only with access to both producer/consumer countries together, with a shared responsibility, will lead to better results to greater impact on quality of life of vulnerable families. We need to give space to the meeting/exchange of key participants, who’re fundamental to the strengthening of … (?) . Thank you very much.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany:: Thank you. Moving onto our second panelists, Mr. Wichai, Secretary General of the Narcotics Control Board of Thailand.

Narcotics Control Board Thailand, Wichai Chaimongkhon, Secretary-General: This topic has affected the outcome of the EGM Meeting in Thailand; influencing more inclusive AD. At the EGM, we discussed recent AD developments, including … Increasing access to markets through carbon credit programs. Thailand shares its input to the implementation of AD. In both urban/rural settings, focussing on the empowerment of people, participation youth, women, and ethnic groups. Promoting the implementation of a carbon credit scheme, as an opportunity for successful AD implementation. We’re grateful to have the support of member states of Germany, Peru, thank you.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany:: Next Speaker, Burkard Blienert, Federal Commission. Just a quick note, Mr. Blienert will first give speech in German, and then in English.

Federal Government for Drug and Addiction Policy, Germany, Burkhard Blienert, Commissioner: We’re hoping to demonstrate here today how AD projects can be made more successful. Thank you to all the contributing partners, and especially Thailand for hosting our last EGM. Especially the focus on vulnerable groups, such as women and indiginous groups, is especially important.

The AD program of the Germ gov’t has long been a tool against illicit drug cultivation; however, it needs urgent updating as well to continue successful. Especially focussing on women, in drug cultivation areas, are affected. They need equal access and equal voices. In Germany we speak of feminist AD policy. We also must focus more on indigenous areas than in the past, especially since these areas can be hard to access. Also in regards to indigenous people’s needs and autonomy to self-government.

On the future of AD, a 3rd point: the intersection of environmental/climate protection. Last year included the first environmental  component of UNODC’s World Drug Report (WDR); we must further continue this conversation. In the WDR, politicians and everyone alike can already read more about the environmental impacts of illicit drug cultivation. I hence request your support on a resolution we’ve put forward further targeting the environmental considerations of AD and illicit crop cultivation. Let us work together. Thanks for your attention.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany:: Thank you so much. The rest of the event will include further attention on rights of indigenous groups, and later we’ll hear from Ghada Waly. Next up is the CEU of the Mai Fong Long foundation of Thailand:

… audio unfortunately cut out for online participants …

Mae Fah Luang Foundation, Thailand, M.L. Dispanada Diskul, CEO: … Long we’ve talked about how to link AD into the SDGs. More recently the issue of climate change, where’s there’s significant potential to enhance benefits towards local communities. In Nov 22′ the government of Thailand, Germany, and UNODC hosted participants in Chang Rai, where over 44 participants in 13 countries went over (?) to innovate AD techniques to learn, on topics also beyond AD (synthetic drugs consumption, etc.) and how to use AD techniques to further address these problems. Other issues include livelihood option, stigma, and law enforcement. In livelihood, we need to speed up: we want  higher incomes, and we need to figure how to actively scale up their incomes (in AD projects); we need private partnerships in this realm. Recently, we brought private partners in from day 1, since they have the existing structure and know-how. In terms of stigma, we brought in representatives from the Ministry of Health, where people can come in voluntarily to be treated; they’re given also jobs opportunities, so that they already have savings by end of the program and continue on a licit path. So, treatment must come with employment, otherwise they’re still at risk. Also, working with community leaders to focus on welcoming back drug users/former offenders with open arms, view as positive steps back into community; continue on positive path. In law enforcement, we work with them especially on synthetic drugs, etc., but the roles of LE and AD must be separate groups, not one group doing both (carrots and sticks). We get strong support from (?) and this allows us to move forward. In terms of climate change, we all know COP27 and the net zero 2050 goals. In this is the concept of climate finance, how to deal directly (economically) with climate. In terms of AD, many cultivation areas are areas with trees; makes them automatically applicable for climate finance. This is different from typical AD funding, with more stringent rules, etc. Recently, there’s this climate financing which is completely different–we can essentially get more ($?) doing the same thing.

So, my question is how can we realign AD programs to access climate finance. Actually, there’s companies already who’ve already promised net zero and they would want climate credits. Again, it can come from beyond existing AD actors (e.g. private, etc.) and will help us make sustainable long-term solutions, including indigenous communities and vulnerable people (popular term nowadays). This is how far we’ve come. For context, there were 25 countries already debating resolution L3, 10 years ago it would have only been 8. As we build more inclusive AD programs, more countries will be involved. Also will bringing country-specific positions, but rather than this limited perspective, we need to build policies 5/10 years down the road, forward looking, and hence need more inclusive policies either way. And look at the groundwork required for a more inclusive discussion.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany:: Thank you! We’ll hear more from Mr. Figoroa, about indigenous rights.

Devida, Peru, Carlos Figuera, Executive President:: AD under ethnic inclusion. How does illicit drug trafficking affect indiginous communities in Peru? In 2023, 3 million inhabitants who are a priority. We have 6 million of people consisting in 56 ethnic groups, 51 in amazon and 5 in the highlands. They have limited knowledge of the sustainable use of land production and specific vulnerabilities in illicit drug cultivation. In 2021, there were 315,000 hectares of land for coca crops, with 80,000 in Peru (2nd biggest); this affected a massive (?) proportion of land for indigenous peoples, and impacting the areas used along (??). The AD Peru model is part of national anti-drugs strategy of 2030, consists of reducing the vulnerability of families in the illicit drug trafficking chain. Connects to social fabric of society, the first link being the cultivation of coca for illicit drugs production. With the implementation of the AD mode of Peru, the state engages in an institutional/cultural framework of haste. AD Peru model includes bolstering strength of social actors…and security conditions. We promoted productive diversification of economic opportunities, access to markets, …, increasing public and private investment into these topics, under the economic value chain approach. Peru contributes globally to the 2013 Action Plan agenda of the SDGs. Truthfully, the Peru model is the transition of the vulnerable families, criminal groups, to a sustainable link to the licit market. 45 families (?) received technical knowledge from ?? organizations for AD crops such as cocoa, coffee, beans, avocado, ginger, bananas.

[speaker switched to Spanish] Translator for Mr. Figuera: At this point of the evolution of the AD concept, we’re aware we need to have a more inclusive view of what falls under this policy. It’s important to incorporate the impact on the environment, and inclusion of indigenous/vulnerable groups, and with gender mainstreaming. Also important to have a market-driven approach for these products. If not, it will be difficult to maintain its sustainability. Most important is the focus of the families who’re caught in the circles of illicit drug cultivation/trafficking. Better chance to protect their human rights and find sustainable ways forward to maintain their lives.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany:: Thank you both.

UNODC, Ghada Waly, Executive Director: Excellencies, ladies and gents, honored to join today and speak on inclusive AD. It will be a continued focus of the UNODC of the year’s moving forward. … The development approach is at the center of the CND this year. Given the resolution put forward, you can count on the UNODC’s full support if it’s passed. Indigenous people, also, are at particular risk and for environmental harms; in forested areas, they’re at particular risk for damaging fragile ecosystems. In place of illicit crops, we must find … young people especially harmed by environmental change… . In golden triangle area, we see these risks most. Last year, I was honored to discuss the progress and see the results in Thailand, and announce the new plan for the Southeast Asia, related to illicit opium production in the area. But we cannot do this alone, we need partnerships with public and private actors. For example the UNODC collaboration with Mualongo coffee plant which has exported (? amount) of coffee to Europe in recent years. Ladies and gents, we can continue an inclusive understanding of AD…ensuring long term peace and sustainability and ensuring that no one is left behind.

GIZ, Sarah David, Advisor, Germany:: Thank you very much, Ms. Waly.

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