Share this:

"Alternative development" on the agenda at UNGASS meetings in Vienna

A full plenary session was devoted to "Alternative development" at the UNGASS preparatory meetings in Vienna, along with a number of side-events giving practical examples from the field. Alternative development projects aim to provide sustainable livelihoods to those communities, and also target those that engaged in illicit cultivation in the past or are vulnerable to starting illicit cultivation in the future.

Crop eradication has been part of drug policies in the UN system and  in selected members states for several decades, in an attempt to reduce the supply of illegal drugs. The examples of such execises have been many, but the success stories have been rather few. Experience has shown that a more holistic approach is needed, focussing on social and economic development rather than simply eradicating poppy plants or coca bushes or spraying pesticides. This experience from crop eradication falls well in line with general experience from the development field. Target populations need to be included and mobilised and poor people, as all others, need ways to feed themselves. 

This new understanding of alternative development was well reflected in the discussions at the UNGASS meetings in Vienna, 9-17 of March. Many of the speakers underlined the importance of sequencing, i.e. doing this in the right order. Anther interesting observation was that the government of Germany had made prevention of drug problems through alternative development a priority issue in their development cooperation programme.

Here is a brief report on the discussions on alternative development from UNODC.