Alternative development is a sustainable strategy to tackle the global illicit drug cultivation



More than 150 participants followed the high-ranking event about the Future of AD at CND 2019.

Photo: Drogenbeauftragte/
Photo: Drogenbeauftragte/

On March 14th 2019, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), together with many top-class partners, invited to the high-level event "The Future of Alternative Development" in Vienna. The event took place in the context of the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The high-ranking representatives from Colombia and Thailand, among others, agreed: The approach of alternative development in drug policy is an effective strategy to improve the socio-economic framework conditions for smallholder farmers. It is not primarily a matter of reduction of illicit drug plants.

"Poverty is one of the main causes of illicit drug cultivation – alternative development tackles the problem at it’s roots by creating other income opportunities for smallholder farmers," said Prajin Jungton, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. Thailand is successfully pursuing this approach: in 2003, the United Nations (UN) removed the country from the list of opium-growing countries.

More than 150 participants followed the high-ranking panel. The panel included Marlene Mortler, Federal Government Commissioner for Drugs, Gloria María Borrero Restrepo, Colombian Minister of Justice, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Miwa Kato, Director of Operations UNODC, Christian Leffler, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Marco Balarezo, Ambassador of Peru, Gabriela Sellner, Austria's Permanent Representative to the UN. Other co-hosts were the governments of Colombia, Austria, Peru, Thailand as well as UNODC and the Thai Mae Fah Luang Foundation.

The speakers agreed that a sustainable drug policy can only be shaped jointly and at international level. It must be based on scientific facts and focus on the individual. The decline in drug cultivation should result from a development process and not be repressive or discriminatory. The complementarity between public and private investment and the EU Council Conclusions on Alternative Development were highlighted. According to Christian Leffler, the EU and its Member States reaffirmed that programmes should support development at local level, "while considering interactions with factors such as human security, governance, violence, human rights, development, health, education and food security."

Germany is building on a health and development policy approach in global drug policy, not on a war against smallholder farmers and consumers. The event contributed to highlight the positive cooperation with the above-mentioned governments and institutions.

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