Events & Conferences

This section brings periodical updates on alternative development relevant issues and UNODC news and events on this particular field. The primary focus is to highlight UNODC activities as well as events, meetings and workshops dedicated to alternative development.



The next issue of the Bulletin on Narcotics will focus on Alternative Development, building on the research conducted for the World Drug Report 2015. More information on this call for academic research articles can be accessed here.


Expert Group Meeting

On 26 and 27 November, UNODC together with Deutsche Gesselschaft fuer Internationale Zussammenarbeit and Mae Fah Luang Foundation held an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) to discuss alternative development leading up to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. The EGM provided a forum to discuss regional approaches and recommendations for better research and impact assessment indicators. Participants divided into working groups to discuss issues related to funding, land rights, rule of law, linking AD to the sustainable development goals, cannabis and AD, and appropriate knowledge-sharing and peer-mentoring platforms. These working groups were instrumental in consolidating key messages on alternative development for the consideration of UN Member States within the UNGASS-process, which will be included in a Conference Room Paper to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.



From 19-24 November 2015, The Royal Thai Government, in cooperation with UNODC and the government of Germany, organized the second International Workshop and Conference on Alternative Development (ICAD2). Participants visited the Myanmar-Thailand Cooperation on Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development Project, Mong Hsat District, Eastern Shan State, the Doi Tung Project (DTDP), Chiang Rai Province, and the Royal Project, Chiang Mai Province. A high-level conference consisting of 150 policy makers, experts, practitioners, members of international organizations, and civil society from 27 countries gathered to exchange ideas and lessons learned, and to consider alternative development in the context of the global development agenda. It is hoped that ICAD2 will lead to increased political and financial support for AD programmes by strengthening global alliances among international donors and countries implementing AD programmes.


58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs

In the margins of the 58 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), UNODC's Sustainable Livelihoods Unit held a side event in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the Governments of Colombia and Thailand. Speakers at the side event included Mme. Marlene Mortler (MP), Federal Drug Commissioner, Germany and Mr. Miguel Samper Strouss, Vice-Minister of Justice, Colombia. A special presentation was delivered by Mr. Joseph Zotter, owner of Zotter Chocolates, on the special alliance that the Zotter Chocolate industry has with Colombian farmers. This unique partnership is an outstanding example of collaboration between a UNODC supported Alternative Development project and the private sector. Through this project, 1,250 farmer families from the Chocó region of Colombia have moved away from illicit crop cultivation and into commercially viable livelihoods, generating significantly higher incomes than those made illegally.

57th Commission on Narcotic Drugs

High-level review: Last March 2014, the High-Level segment of the 57th Commission on Narcotic Drugs was held at the UN headquarters in Vienna, with the participation of delegates representing Member States, the civil society, and other stakeholders. The Executive Director of UNODC, Yury Fedotov, welcomed dignitaries, experts, policy-makers and all participants and underlined that "the cultivation, manufacture, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs continue to pose a major threat to the health of people everywhere; and to the stability and sustainable development of a number of countries and entire regions". This year's meetings and High-Level review by the CND were a major milestone on the road to the special session of the General Assembly in 2016 which will address the current state of the world drug problem.

Side-event on alternative development

In the margins of the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Sustainable Livelihoods Unit (SLU) organized a side event entitled "Outreach to New Stakeholders in the Field of Alternative Development". The Executive Director of UNODC, Yury Fedotov, delivered opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of alternative development as a fundamental pillar for combating the cultivation of illicit drugs. He underlined that "we must keep in mind that when we are talking about alternative development, we are talking about small farmers faced with poverty, food insecurity, lack of land and instability, who, as a result, find no other option but to engage in illicit drug cultivation." The side-event reminded that in order to guarantee a successful approach, strong political will and commitment as well as financial resources are necessary : alternative development is not fiction but a reality and continues to be a priority for UNODC.

Experts meeting in Moscow on Alternative Development, 25 March 2014

The Russian Federal Drug Control Service organized an experts meeting on: "An Alternative Path of Development for Drug-Producing Regions", last March. All delegations present, including UNODC, agreed that alternative development is the mechanism to reduce illicit opium poppy cultivation in a sustainable manner. The three Drug Control Conventions were unanimous recognized as serving as the foundation for international drug control and the Plan of Action on international Cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem as offering guidance on how best to design and implement alternative development programmes. UNODC was acknowledged as a leader in the field and urged to share best practices and lessons learned from its more than 40-year work on alternative development in the Andean region and South East Asia. The Russian delegation also presented a draft programme for Afghanistan focusing on industrializing the country to promote alternative development: "A new Generation of Alternative Development Programs for Elimination of Drug Production in Afghanistan".

Up-coming Thai workshop on alternative development

Following the adoption of the Resolution E/CN.7/2014/L.2/Rev.1, the Government of Thailand will host an international seminar/workshop on the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development. The implementation of the Guiding Principles will require Member States' long-term commitment, dialogue and cooperation among relevant stakeholders, from local communities and authorities to policymakers at the national and regional levels, as well as close collaboration among the UNODC, other international organizations, regional organizations, development agencies, donors and financial institutions, and the civil society, in order to share information and best practices and increase efforts to promote sustainable alternative development, in accordance with the Guiding Principles.