Books & products

International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology

The World Bank has launched an international consultative process on the risks and opportunities of using agricultural science to reduce hunger and improve rural livelihoods in the developing world (

The eight-month process, which will run until the middle of 2003, is aimed at resulting in an international assessment that would give decision-makers the tools and information needed to answer the tough questions surrounding the issue. The assessment would be modelled on the ones on climate change and ozone depletion that have already proved invaluable in guiding policy-makers.

The initiative will examine a broad range of issues, such as organic agriculture, traditional plant breeding techniques, new farming technologies and biotechnology. Representatives of 19 governments and eight United Nations agencies met with scientists, agriculturalists, industry and non-governmental organizations at the first meeting of the consultative process in Dublin in late 2002. The delegates – who included such antagonists as Monsanto and Greenpeace – made considerable progress in a constructive atmosphere.

‘Nearly 800 million people go to bed hungry every night and over the next 50 years, food production will have to double to meet growing demands’, said Ian Johnson, the World Bank’s Vice-president for Sustainable Development, who also chairs the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). ‘This will involve both productivity and environmental management challenges. As we move forward, the application of science to agriculture needs to be fully assessed in terms of its contribution to enabling farmers to be more productive. But equally, the environmental and social risks, as well as ethical issues, need to be discussed in an open and transparent manner’.

The UNEP-WCMC World Atlas of Biodiversity (University of California Press,, $54.95) addresses concern for the environment and the increased appreciation of the links between ecosystems and humankind. Building on a wealth of research and analysis by the conservation community worldwide, the book provides a comprehensive and accessible view of key global issues in biodiversity, outlining the broad ecological relationships between humans and the natural world, summarizing information on the health of the planet, and examining the possible impacts of varying scenarios for the future.
Ocean Wonderland – a UNEP-supported IMAX film produced by Francois Mantello of 3D Entertainment – shows the immense diversity and beauty of marine life on coral reefs. ‘This can only serve to raise awareness further about the moral, economic and environmental imperatives for saving the world’s coral reefs for current and future generations,’ said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director. Blue Magic, directed by Jean-Jacques Mantello and filmed by Gavin McKinney, will be released worldwide in early 2003. (
The Glowstar Rechargeable Solar Lantern developed by Intermediate Technology Consultants Enterprise Development Programme for developing country villages ( – is offering rural African families a first step up the ‘energy ladder’. Designed to be reliable and robust in harsh conditions, the lantern gives four to five hours of light, or powers a small radio for 15 hours. It is easily recharged by the sun in a full day.
Capacity Building For Sustainable Development is a resource for the growing family of UNEP partners. Within its pages governments; intergovernmental organizations; national, regional and global institutions; academia; civil society and the private sector will find ideas and examples of how UNEP can help make real their plans and aspirations for a better, more sustainable world. Available mid-January 2003 from SMI, PO Box 119, Pin Green, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SGl 4TP, UK.
YOUNG’s ‘Fish for Life’ Alaska Salmon with a lemon and dill crust is the Marine Stewardship Council’s 100th eco-labelled product ( The charity – which was established by Unilever and WWF in 1997, and has been independent since 1999 – gives the label to well-managed and sustainable fisheries.

The Earthscan Reader On International Trade And Sustainable Development (Earthscan £22.95, gives a useful overview of many aspects of globalization, trade, poverty and the environment. Editors Kevin P. Gallagher and Jacob Werksman have brought together a wide range of authoritative authors from all six continents to act as a guide to the next decade of work in this area.

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Looking through new lenses | Development with a human face | Trade can transform | Achieving win–win–win | People | Promises to keep | As precious as gold | Expanding the circle | At a glance: Globalization, poverty, trade and the environment | Acting local | Cooperation is catching | Books & products | Getting through the bottleneck | Investing in the environment | Bishkek Mountain Platform | You can’t breathe money | We will succeed | Fair trade? Fair question