Task Forces - FAQs

Q :: What is a Task Force?

A Task Force is an informal group of countries and organisations coordinated by a lead country that have decided to work collaboratively on a specific issue of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) committing themselves to carrying out a concrete set of activities focused on implementation. In general, Task Forces have around 5 - 10 interested governments as members with some geographical balance. The Task Forces aim at promulgating successful national projects and best practices within the international community. Meetings and publications should not be the core output. Activities may be related to technical assistance, capacity building, transfer of technology and know-how, and even financing. There are no specific rules or obligations as these are purely voluntary initiatives.

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Q :: How many Task Forces already exist?

As of August 2006, there are seven confirmed task forces on:

  • Sustainable Lifestyles (Sweden);
  • Sustainable Product Policies (United Kingdom);
  • Co-operation with Africa (Germany);
  • Sustainable Procurement (Switzerland);
  • Sustainable Tourism (France);
  • Sustainable Buildings and Construction (Finland);
  • Education for Sustainable Consumption (Italy).
Various other governments are developing specific terms of reference for other task forces to be launched in the future.

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Q :: Who can create and lead a Task Force?

Any country interested in playing a leadership role on a certain SCP issue may do so. Responsibilities include providing funding to support activities and coordinating the involvement of other countries in the development and implementation of the projects and programmes.

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Q :: How can a country start a Task Force?

Task Forces are established in co-operation with UNEP and UNDESA. A country willing to lead a Task Force expresses its interest to these UN offices and develops a proposed work programme in consultation with them. The country itself takes the lead on this but may ask UNEP or UNDESA to provide assistance and support for the development of the work plan. The lead country will then invite partners to become part of the task force, convene planning meetings and start the work.

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Q :: How do the Task Forces link to the Marrakech process?

Activities carried out within the Marrakech process include:

  1. Organizing regional consultations in all regions to promote awareness and identify priorities and needs for sustainable consumption and production;
  2. Building regional strategies and implementation mechanisms with regional and national ownership;
  3. Implementing concrete projects and programmes on the regional, national and local levels;
  4. Monitoring and evaluating progress and exchanging information and experience at the international level.
The work of the Task Forces is directly aimed at item c), but can also help to achieve the other items. For that reason, the various task forces are encouraged to report to and make use of the international and regional Marrakech meetings.

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Q :: How are the task forces connected to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)?

Sustainable consumption and production is a cross-cutting issue for all CSD cycles, but it will also be addressed as one of the primary themes in the 2010/2011 cycle of the CSD. Additionally, task forces linked to the respective substantive themes of each CSD cycle can enrich the respective discussions with their progress achieved and lessons learned. Among the most obvious linkages in this respect are energy and industrial development in 2006/2007, agriculture and Africa in 2008/2009, transport, chemicals and waste management in 2010/2011, and forests, biodiversity and tourism in 2012/2013.

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Q :: Why are the Task Forces so loosely defined?

The format is in a preliminary phase. The upcoming third international review meeting of the Marrakech process (to be held in Sweden in June 2007) will provide an occasion to evaluate the experiences of the Task Forces and progress made to date.

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Q :: Can an existing initiative, such as UNEP's Life Cycle Initiative, be considered as a Task Force?

No, the Task Forces are meant to generate extra activity, led by national initiatives. If a given country however would like to build on existing programmes, and propose and carry out additional activities, with a group of other countries involved, then that might well become a Marrakech Task Force.

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Q :: How much does it cost to launch and run a Task Force?

This depends very much on the level of ambition of the lead country, on what has already been achieved, in what regions the Task Force wants to be active, etc. The terms of reference of the established Task Forces may serve as informal benchmarks.

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