Volume 17, No.10 - October 2013

Capacity development

Infrastructure to implement System of National Accounts

On the request of Qatar Statistics Authority, DESA’s Statistics Division provides technical assistance, in terms of a resource person, to conduct a workshop on “Building the basic for 2008 SNA implementation” for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries from 30 September to 4 October in Doha, Qatar.

The workshop will discuss statistical infrastructure required by countries for implementation of the 2008 System of National Accounts (2008 SNA) and supporting statistics namely, NSDS, business register, data sources, integrated industrial surveys and changes in classifications of economic activities. In addition main changes in the 2008 SNA  and global implementation strategy will also be presented to the participants. It is expected that the workshop will strengthen the statistical capacity of the GCC countries and help them prepare a national statement of strategy for implementation of SNA and supporting statistics as first step for change over to 2008 SNA.

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Compiling environmental-economic accounts in Malaysia

DESA’s Statistics Division and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), is organizing a technical assistance mission to conduct an assisted national assessment for implementation of the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) from 30 September to 1 October in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

The purpose of the assessment mission is to evaluate current situation in compiling environmental-economic accounts in Malaysia, giving policy priorities and available data, and providing some initial recommendations to the Malaysian government to develop an implementation strategy for the SEEA Central Framework in line with national policy priority.

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Making trade and tourism statistics comparable

An International Seminar on Trade and Tourism Statistic, organised jointly by UN DESA’s Statistics Division, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, will take place 7-10 October in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The services sector accounts for the largest share of business activity, employment, and economic growth in most economies, yet the role of services trade, particularly in designing policies and negotiating regional agreements, continues to be poorly understood.  A major reason for this disconnect is the absence of abundant, high-quality data on trade in services that is comparable across economies – making it difficult to measure the impact of services trade on the economy and provide useful information for negotiators and policy makers in coming up with market access or policy tools that could facilitate trade in services.

Recent developments in Asia also point to travel and tourism as two of the main drivers of economic growth are seen as tools for development and change in the region. Therefore, the agenda closely covers the data collection and compilation of travel and tourism statistics. The Seminar will take advantage of the draft versions of the compilers guide for the Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services (MSITS) 2010 and the compilation guide for Tourism Statistics, which are both in their final stages of completion. Specific topics, which are discussed at this seminar, are enterprise and establishment surveys; surveys of persons and households; transportation statistics; manufacturing services on inputs owned by others; statistics on Foreign affiliate trade statistics (FATS), Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and multi-national enterprises; and linking trade, FDI and FATS with the business register. This Seminar is hosted by Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS-Statistics Indonesia).

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Staff exchange visit to Eurostat

A UN DESA Statistics Division’s staff member from the  Economic Statistics Branch will visit Eurostat in Luxembourg on 14-18 October for training on compilation of short-term economic indicators including the business cycle composite indicators and rapid estimates.

Eurostat is the leading organisation in methodological development in this area and is currently preparing handbooks for compilation and reporting of internationally comparable short-term statistics. The handbooks are mandated by the UN Statistical Commission to provide guidance, best practices and harmonised principles to Member States.  Involvement in the preparation of the handbooks will enhance the technical expertise in the area of collection and compilation of short-term economic statistics.

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The way forward for forests

The UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) will hold a workshop on the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) from 22-23 October in Vienna, Austria .  The meeting will facilitate a knowledge-based discussion on the future of multilateral polices and institutions related to forests.

In addition to reviewing polices and institutions related to forests, the workshop will also explore ways to elevate the profile of forests in ongoing intergovernmental consultations related to the post-2015 development agenda, as well as the sustainable development goals. Participants are expected from more than fifty countries, major groups, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders.

“After over 20 years of demonstrating the vital importance of forests and the many benefits they provide, the challenge now is to determine the best way forward – one that sustains both the forests and the people who depend on them,” said Jan McAlpine, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat.

The Vienna workshop is one of several key preparatory meetings taking place in the lead up for the next session of the United Nations Forum on Forests which will take place from 4 to 15 May 2015 in UNHQ, New York.  The 2015 session has an overall theme of “Forests: progress, challenges and the way forward for the international arrangement”.

The Forum is the only subsidiary body of ECOSOC with universal membership, and has a mandate to address all issues related to forests, and to promote conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and trees outside forests.

The 2015 session of the Forum will have far-reaching impact, as Members will decide on the future of the Forum, as well as the policies for promoting sustainable management of forests worldwide. These discussions may also include an agreement on developing a legally binding global treaty on forests, as well as a global forest fund.

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Improving government accountability worldwide

Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of UN DESA will deliver, on behalf of the Secretary-General, a statement at the opening ceremony of the 21st International Congress of Supreme Audit Institutions (XXI INCOSAI), which will take place from 22 to 26 October in Beijing, China.

The International Congress of Supreme Audit Institutions (INCOSAI) is a triennial congress of members of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). Chaired by the hosting Supreme Audit Institution (SAI), the congress offers INTOSAI Members an opportunity to share experience, discuss priority issues, and adopt resolutions and recommendations to improve government auditing and accountability worldwide. At the invitation of the National Audit Office of China, Mr Wu will also address the theme of National Audit and National Governance at a plenary session of the event.

The United Nations has been working with INTOSAI members for more that forty years to support capacity development in external auditing, through promoting professionalization and standard setting, particularly in developing countries. Every two years, DESA co-organizes a UN/INTOSAI capacity building seminar for SAIs of developing countries. Most recently, DESA co-organized a panel on Safegarding Financing for Sustainable Development with the Permanent Mission of Austria where the Secretary-General of INTOSAI made a key presentation.

The XXI INCOSAI will also provide the opportunity to launch a joint publication “A UN-INTOSAI Joint Project: Collection of Important Literature on Strengthening Capacities of Supreme Audit Institutions on the Fight against Corruption” which is an outcome of the Platform of Cooperation between INTOSAI and the UN, an initiative which is chaired by the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea.

Finally, another publication will be launched at the Congress, namely the “Compendium of Innovative Practices of Citizen Engagement for Public Accountability through Supreme Audit Institutions”, which provides an overview of successful examples and innovations in the engagement of citizen in public accountability processes through Supreme Audit Institutions, and is based on the salient features of the deliberations at the 21st UN/INTOSAI Symposium on ‘Effective practices of cooperation between Supreme Audit Institutions and citizens to enhance public accountability’, and the responses of SAIs to the questionnaire which formed the technical basis for the deliberations.

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