Groundbreaking study on Alternative Development projects sets important impulses at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs Intersessional Meeting



Groundbreaking study on Alternative Development projects sets important impulses at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs Intersessional Meeting

Bauern in Myanmar

The research branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented a Global Overview of Alternative Development to the United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on 17 October 2019. The study, which was financed by the Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (GPDPD), for the first time provides comprehensive information on the current status of Alternative Development projects on the global level. At the Intersessional Meeting of the CND in Vienna, the GPDPD drew attention to a number of challenges highlighted by the study results and set impulses for increased global involvement in development-oriented drug policy.

Until now, many actors who want to finance or implement Alternative Development (AD) projects at the international level have lacked the necessary knowledge and information on this drug policy approach. Although much experience is available, it has hardly been processed systematically so far. The study evaluated the objectives, budget, duration and other information of 53 Alternative Development projects worldwide implemented between 2013 and 2017. It is therefore a novelty and an important cornerstone for making Alternative Development projects even more effective.

In view of the increasing cultivation of coca and opium poppy, conventional approaches have failed. They perceive the challenges one-dimensionally as a security problem and focus on the eradication of illicit drug plants. The concept of Alternative Development, on the other hand, takes a holistic view of the cultivation of illicit drugs and addresses its root causes. If poverty, violence and the lack of legal markets force people to cultivate drugs, these problems must be solved.

Thus, the Alternative Development approach is closely linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s Agenda 2030. Many of the AE projects completed in recent years aim to end hunger, eradicate poverty, achieve peace or combat climate change.

In order to achieve such goals more effectively, improvements are necessary, GPDPD stressed in Vienna: Long-term projects and higher financing are needed. More than half of the projects have a duration of less than six years. Sustainable changes can hardly be achieved in such a short time period. In recent years, financing has risen slightly in some countries, but remains too low at the global level to offer sufficient support the people on the ground.

Furthermore, the UNODC study shows that there is no consistent model for the systematic processing and evaluation of all Alternative Development projects. As the objectives can vary depending on the conditions in the respective country, it becomes more difficult to compare different projects. Each country is unique, the conditions are different and each implementation must be designed individually in order to be successful.

Not enough countries have so far promoted and recognized the effectiveness of Alternative Development. The UNODC study, together with innovations such as the ARQ reform, can lead to changed perceptions and better drug policies.

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