Senior UN economic official says ‘policy coherence at all levels’ needed for development

Hjálmar Hannesson

7 July 2006 – Stressing the importance of dealing comprehensively with social and economic issues in view of their impact on poverty and hunger, a senior official from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said today that policy coherence at all levels and across all sectors was needed to successfully achieve development goals.

In a panel discussion focusing on the best ways to achieve economic growth, poverty reduction and development, Hjalmar W. Hannesson, ECOSOC Vice-President, also highlighted that because global poverty was a multidimensional problem no single sector could provide a complete eradication strategy.

Mr. Hannesson opened the discussion by noting that the impact on poverty and hunger of social and economic issues was often context-specific and could not be dealt with in a “one-size-fits-for-all” manner. “Policy coherence at all levels and across all sectors needed to be ensured for the successful achievement of development goals,” he said.

Nora Lustig, Director of the Poverty Group, Bureau for Development Policy of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) told the panel that four basic principles should guide Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)-based National Development Principles. The MDGs are a set of eight targets for tackling poverty, illiteracy and other global ills by 2015.

These Principles are the inclusion of specific pro-MDG policies which do not rely solely or primarily on trickle-down economic growth; the need to ensure broad consistency between macro and growth policies, and pro-MDG policies; a selection of pro-MDG policies that were pro-growth in the long run; and the setting of minimum standards for all population groups and regions that do not rely solely on the performance of national averages.

Today’s discussions were the latest during ECOSOC’s annual session that will run through 28 July. ECOSOC, the UN’s principal body for coordinating and advancing development policy, coordinates the work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, 10 functional commissions and 5 regional commissions, receives reports from 10 UN funds and programmes and issues policy recommendations to the UN system and to Member States. The 54-member Council meets every year, alternating between New York and Geneva.

In a related development, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has hailed ECOSOC’s adoption on Wednesday of a Ministerial Declaration on full and productive employment and decent work, saying it would help strengthen efforts by the UN and the multilateral system aimed at creating jobs, cutting poverty and providing new hope for the world’s 1.4 billion working poor during the next decade.

“This move presents the extraordinary opportunity to mainstream the goal of full and productive employment and decent work for all into the regular activities of all relevant UN organizations”, said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.

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