Millennium Assessment Around the World: National and Regional Engagement

By reaching out directly to stakeholders in countries and regions the MA seeks to share its work and expertise at different scales, promote multisectoral dialogue, bring the assessment closer to regional and national priorities and concerns, and support the work of the international conventions it serves. With the support of various partners, the MA has established ongoing interaction with government officials, civil society and indigenous organizations, universities, business associations and others in a number of countries.

A series of 25 videoconferences and discussions in developing countries and regions around the world sparked the development of multiple national and regional user networks, intended to bring the MA closer to local concerns and public agendas. The MA and its partners have prepared the ground for more in-depth and formal dialogue between the Assessment and national or regional decision-makers. At the same time, the relevance of the MA to the national and regional scene, and hence the utility of MA products over the next years, is becoming stronger. Finally, in many cases, these dialogues have been synergistic with MA sub-global assessment activities.

Some examples of how the national and regional user networks have identified local concerns that can be usefully addressed through the MA conceptual framework:

West Africa is one region where the connection between ecosystem change and human condition is especially clear and palpable. One critical issue in this region is land tenure. The MA will contribute to ongoing regional policy making processes around this regional concern..

The national environmental authority in Argentina is considering declaring the MA of ‘national interest’ and engaging in an effort to disseminate the process and its products throughout the country. The Chilean government has now fully incorporated the MA sub-global assessment in that country (in Salar de Atacama) into its program of drylands-related initiatives nationwide and has brought this experience to the attention of CCD.

The MA is taking place at a time when the Arab world is especially hit by recession. Stakeholders in this region see that the MA’s contribution to sustainable development would be especially relevant if it recognises this context.

Indonesia is preparing a national summit on sustainable development (ISSD) to follow up on the results of WSSD and make them a national commitment. The MA will be discussed in a workshop prior to this summit and will become an input to ISSD.

The republics of Central Asia are pursuing sustainable development strategies through the Central Asian Agenda 21. These countries have agreed that sub-regional cooperation in Central Asia is an essential component of any effort to address problems of environmental degradation and associated issues. The MA Conceptual Framework and its application to achievement of the Central Asian Agenda 21 was the topic of a regional workshop to be held in August 2003.

As can be noted, in most cases the MA could make a broader contribution to sustainable development in each country and region. But by working with local institutions on locally defined priorities, the MA can demonstrate its effective relevance and therefore build a sounder basis for further explorations.

The MA has also been planning and undertaking outreach and engagement activities in developed countries during the last year. Some of these activities include:

  • In the United States, the State Department hosted a briefing on the MA in May 2003 to identify and coordinate the agencies that would participate in the review of the Assessment Reports. In addition, the MA welcomed additional groups to the Affiliated Scientific Organizations (ASO) group. The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Agronomy Society of America (ASA) are the first ASO members from the United States.
  • Japan will host a dialog on the MA Conceptual Framework in October 2003. This event will be similar in scope and format to those held as part of the User Forum activities with involvement of multiple stakeholders and critical discussion.

What next? In September, the MA will release its first product: Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: A Framework for Assessment. We want to share this work broadly. And we also want to encourage a critical discussion, by and for stakeholders in each country or region. Between September and November, a number of workshops and seminars will take place around the world, which will lead to continuing multi-stakeholder discussions of MA findings next year. In 2004, the review process of the full MA reports will take place, which will provide a new opportunity to share information and deepen policy dialogue concerning ecosystems and human well-being.

© 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment