Volume 14, No.7 - July 2010

Global dialogue on development

Coherent development cooperation to accelerate progress towards the MDGs

Second biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) took place as part of the ECOSOC High-level Segment on 29 and 30 June in New York

The forum addressed an array of challenges the international community is facing to ensure greater progress in international development cooperation and towards the MDGs. The 2005 World Summit outcome mandated ECOSOC to convene the DCF to review trends in international development cooperation, including strategies, policies and financing; promote greater coherence among the development activities of different development partners and strengthen the normative and operational link in the work of the United Nations.

The first DCF held in 2008 represented the first decisive step in positioning ECOSOC as a key venue for global policy dialogue on international development cooperation. As a result of the first DCF in 2008, the outcome document of the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development acknowledges the role of the DCF as focal point within the United Nations system for holistic consideration of development cooperation with participation by all relevant stakeholders.

What makes the DCF stand out?

The most valuable asset of the DCF is its support by Member States of the United Nations and relevant stakeholders engaged in development cooperation. In order to live up to its vast mandate and large expectations in the development community, DESA facilitated an effective consultative and preparatory process based on solid substantive and technical inputs, that helped the Forum to establish its comparative advantage in producing high quality analysis, organizing balanced North-South discussions about development cooperation, and involving all necessary stakeholders in consultations on aid issues.

Both preparatory symposia in 2009 (in Vienna) and 2010 (in Helsinki) were multi-stakeholder events with the participation of senior technical experts in aid management and development cooperation from governments, parliaments, local governments, civil society organizations, foundations and the private sector. By giving voice to these stakeholders, the DCF encourages participatory multi-stakeholder dialogue on major development cooperation issues – which is the second key value added of the forum.

What were expectations for the 2010 DCF?

Since the first forum, the global economic landscape has changed dramatically. A confluence of crises still threatens to derail the development process and signs of recovery are timid at best. Hard-won development gains are still showing reversals. Yet, there are stories of progress, and the MDGs can and must be achieved. Political momentum and a focus on turning pledges into implementation are urgently needed.

Accountability on commitments made is key if acceleration of progress is to happen. With limited resources and competing demands, any type of development assistance must show tangible results at the national and local level. In this new landscape, the Development Cooperation Forum has a unique value as a universal and authoritative forum where the various stakeholders can come together.

Against this backdrop, the 2010 Forum will be structured around the following themes: (i) Promoting greater coherence; (ii) Accountable and transparent development cooperation; (iii) The role of various forms of cooperation including South-South, triangular and decentralized cooperation; (iv) The impact of multiple crises and aid allocations; and (v) Improving development cooperation to accelerate progress towards the MDGs by 2015.

The policy dialogues brought together key players in international development cooperation, including from relevant line ministries in South and North, parliamentarians, and civil society to identify ways to enhance development cooperation to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. The outcome of the forum, in the form of an official summary by the ECOSOC President, presents an important contribution of relevant development cooperation actors to the United Nations September 2010 Summit on the MDGs.

Discussions in this second DCF aimed to establish consensus on priority actions to advance the implementation of commitments on development cooperation, which will be used as guidance for the work of the United Nations System with partners on the ground.

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Advancing gender equality and empowerment of women

Along the DCF, this year’s high-level segment of ECOSOC features the Annual Ministerial Review from 28 June to 1 July

The event draws on the Beijing+15 global review, assessing the progress made in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted in 1995, and it contributes to the 2010 High Level Plenary Meeting of the 65th General Assembly, to be held in September.

As part of the Review, thirteen developing and developed countries, Australia, Brazil, France, Guatemala, Moldova, Mongolia, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Republic of Korea and United States, report on the progress they have made towards advancing gender equality and empowerment of women.

The related thematic discussion highlights the role of women in countries in special situations. The debate focuses on the interconnections between gender equality and empowerment of women, ensuring food security, tackling climate change, and addressing the global financial crisis and gives special attention to improving the lives of women in countries in special situations and in conflict/post-crisis zones.

The high-level segment also includes keynote addresses by Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom, Celso Amorim, Minister of External Relations, Brazil, Moshira Khattab, Minister of State for Family and Population Affairs, Egypt and Frances Stewart, Chair of the Committee for Development Policy.

Representatives of the international financial and trade institutions will gather in the Council on 2 July for a policy dialogue on the state of the world economy and its implications for the achievement of the MDGs. The dialogue, which will be moderated by DESA Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Sha Zukang, features Reza Moghadam, Director of the IMF’s Strategy, Policy and Review Department, Otaviano Canuto, Vice President of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network of the World Bank, Clemens Boonekamp, Director, WTO and Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. The high-level segment will conclude on 2 July with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration.

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Focus on global public health and on financing for development

The 2010 Coordination Segment will be organized from 6 to 8 July 2010 and focus on implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health and on financing for development

In its consideration of these issues, the segment provides an opportunity to assess the UN system role and activities in a broad range of policy areas relevant to development, identify areas where the UN system should promote more comprehensive and effective approaches, and recommend ways in which support by the UN system in the areas of global public health and financing for development can be strengthened against the backdrop of current challenges.

The Secretary-General’s report on “the role of the United Nations system in implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health” will provide the background analysis for the debate on that issue.

In addition, the annual overview report of the UN system Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB) will be presented to the Council.

The segment will also review progress made by the Council in promoting the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the major UN Conferences and Summits. An updated report of the Secretary-General will be presented under this item.

Under the financing for development agenda item, the Council will consider the Summary by the President of the Council of the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, held in April 2010, as well as a report of the Secretary-General entitled “Recovering from the Crisis: a Global Jobs Pact”.

The work of the Coordination Segment will be complemented by the following panels:

  • Towards a United Nations comprehensive policy response to global health challenges
  • Coordinating efforts for achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals
  • Operationalizing the UN system’s short and long-term response to the economic and financial crisis: Progress towards implementing the Social Protection Initiative and the Global Jobs Pact
  • South-South Cooperation and Financing for Development: Investment, Trade and Technology Transfer
  • Global Economic Governance

The Council will also hear an address by Mr. Antonio Marzano, President of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and similar Institutions (AICESIS).

Operational Activities Segment

This segment of ECOSOC’s substantive session is where the Council provides guidance on the implementation of General Assembly policy orientations on UN operational activities for development. The segment of this year will be held from 9 – 13 July.

It will be opened by Mr. Sha Zukang, USG for Economic and Social Affairs, and chaired by H.E. Mr. Alexandru Cujba, Vice President of ECOSOC. Prior to the segment, there will be an informal roundtable discussion among the heads of development cooperation ministries and agencies from programme countries.

Preparations for the Segment are well underway. 4 reports of the Secretary-General have been prepared to aide the Council’s deliberations. A briefing on the Segment was held on 17 June.

Delegates envisaged that the informal consultations on the outcome of the Segment would start the week of 5 July on the basis of a draft prepared by DESA to avoid overlaps with other intergovernmental processes. The negotiations will be facilitated by Switzerland.

Humanitarian Affairs Segment

This segment, which will take place from 13 – 15 July, provides an important forum where Member States and Humanitarian Organizations discuss the challenges, opportunities and activities related to the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.

At its organizational session for 2010, the Council decided that the theme of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment will be “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian assistance” and that it will convene two panel discussions, of which the topics will be “Humanitarian assistance operations in highly hazardous, or insecure and unsafe environments” and “Strengthening preparedness for humanitarian emergencies and the coordinated provision of humanitarian assistance, in particular addressing the humanitarian needs of the affected populations and the factors that increase susceptibility to humanitarian emergencies” (Council decision E/2010/L.3). Each panel will feature high-level participation from Member States, relevant UN agencies, NGOs and experts.

The panel discussion on “Humanitarian assistance operations in highly hazardous, or insecure and unsafe environments” will take place on Wednesday, 14 July 2010. The discussion will focus, from an operational perspective, on how to maintain the ability of humanitarian organisations to operate in insecure and high-risk environments and look at issues such as risk and security management for humanitarian operations, coordination with national and local authorities and management of perceptions and acceptance at all levels.

The panel on “Strengthening preparedness for humanitarian emergencies and the coordinated provision of humanitarian assistance, in particular addressing the humanitarian needs of the affected populations and the factors that increase susceptibility to humanitarian emergencies,” will take place on Thursday, 15 July 2010. The discussion will focus on how to better support governments and the humanitarian community in addressing more systematically humanitarian needs that arise from chronic and acute vulnerabilities, and look at issues such as improved monitoring of humanitarian needs in developmental and slow-onset disaster contexts, preparedness for response and strengthened partnerships with non-traditional humanitarian actors.

Scheduled for Tuesday afternoon 13 July, in between the Operational and Humanitarian Affairs Segments, is the informal ECOSOC event on “Transition from relief to development, lessons learned from the experience in Haiti”. This event will provide an opportunity to take stock of the recovery efforts in Haiti, draw lessons learned and discuss good practices and remaining challenges.

In the margins of the Segment, there will be also the annual “Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) Mid-Year Review” and informal side events on durable solutions for internally displaced persons, on cities at risk, on gender mainstreaming in humanitarian work, on environmental emergencies and on the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.

General Segment

At this segment, to be held from 16 to 22 July 2010 in New York, the Council will review the reports of its subsidiary bodies and of other United Nations entities working in the economic and social fields. The subsidiary bodies include the Council’s functional commissions, regional commissions, expert and ad hoc bodies.

A series of events will be held during the General Segment. A joint meeting of ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) will take place on the theme of “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Conflict”. The objective of the meeting is to offer a joint analysis to Member States on how countries in or emerging from conflict could be supported to achieve the MDGs. A Briefing on cybersecurity and a panel on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will also be organized during the Segment.

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Honouring excellence and innovation in public service

On Public Service Day, 23 June, the United Nations presented awards to 23 public institutions in Barcelona

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the Day, stated that “through this year’s United Nations Public Service Awards competition, we can see that innovation is thriving throughout the world”.

Among the winners are an Indian initiative allowing citizens to air their grievances directly to the Chief Minister and to get timely answers regarding the provision of public services at the state level, and a programme enabling Italian secondary students and their teachers to be actively involved in the law and decision-making processes in the local assembly.

This year, for the first time, the United Nations Public Service Day and Awards Ceremony were held away from United Nations Headquarters, in Barcelona, Spain, co-organized by the government of Catalonia. The Directorate General for Civic Participation of the Government of Catalonia, Spain, won the United Nations Public Service Award in 2008.

The Awards were presented at the end of a three-day international meeting on the role of public service in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  The meeting, which was followed by a ministerial round table, made recommendations on how to promote innovation in government.  Participants shared best practices, including how technologies and innovations are being applied around the world to help meet internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

In total 23 winners — from Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Tunisia —received a Public Service Award.  They are distinguished by their creativity and innovation in improving delivery, transparency, accountability and responsiveness in public service and for advancing citizens’ participation in policymaking decisions.  They are also being honoured for knowledge management in government.

“The winners have shown great dedication to upholding the values and virtues of excellent public service,” said Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  “They have provided examples of efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability.”

Special Awards for e-Government

In addition to the Public Service Awards, United Nations e-Government Special Awards were bestowed on the Governments of the Republic of Korea, United States and Canada.  These are the three top countries that, according to the biennial United Nations e‑Government Survey, have ensured the continued availability of robust telecommunications infrastructure, excellent human capital capacity, e‑services and e‑content.

Also honoured by the e-Government Special Awards are 3 of the top 20 countries that have made significant progress in improving their e-service delivery and strengthening their citizens engagement through e-participation.  The three countries are Singapore, Spain and Bahrain.

The e-Government Special Awards recognizes the success of each world region by distinguishing the top-ranked countries from Africa (Tunisia), the Americas (United States), Asia (Republic of Korea), Europe (United Kingdom) and Oceania (Australia).

The United Nations e-Government Survey presents rankings on a national and regional basis in two major categories: e-readiness — provision of government services and products online, combined with the extent of telecommunications infrastructure and public education in the country — and e-participation, or the degree to which government opens itself to interaction with its citizens through the Internet.


The Public Service Awards programme, established in 2003, aims to reward excellence and promote professionalism in the public sector around the world.  It is the most prestigious recognition of excellence in public service.  Public organizations and agencies at national or subnational levels, as well as public-private partnerships, can enter the Awards competition.

There are four categories: improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the public service; improving the delivery of services; fostering participation in policy-making decisions through innovative mechanisms; and advancing knowledge management in government.

Source: United Nations Press Release Note No. 6264

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Maximizing impact of development cooperation

Helsinki Symposium was held on 3 and 4 June in preparation for the second ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum (DCF)

The symposium entitled “Coherent Development Cooperation: Maximizing Impact in a Changing Environment“ had the primary purpose to advance the understanding of the issue of policy coherence for development. The meeting was opened by the Foreign Minister of Finland and co-chaired by Finland’s Under Secretary of State for Development Cooperation and DESA’s Under-Secretary-General. The symposium concluded with a High-level Seminar on how to enhance development cooperation through more policy coherence.

The meeting was attended by some 165 participants from developing and developed countries, including a large contingent of parliamentarians and civil society organizations. The involvement of such a varied group of stakeholders has been a hallmark of the DCF. Participants were all senior officials engaged in development cooperation, which made for a very informed and lively debate.

On policy coherence, the meeting reiterated that policies in areas such as trade or agriculture have a major impact on development objectives. A number of initiatives have been taken in OECD and the European Union to promote “policy coherence for development”. But there was the feeling that political will is lacking to make headway in this area.

The meeting also discussed how best to ensure that the activities of foundations and civil society organizations complements the development cooperation work of other actors and are aligned with national development plans. A key message was the importance of assuring accountability of civil society organizations. Foundations also emphasized the need for a forum for their views to be shared in a systematic way.

One panel was also dedicated to ways of ensuring that partners in development cooperation hold each other accountable on development results and aid management. Currently, programme countries have difficulties holding developed countries accountable for the way they deliver their aid (e.g. its predictability and use of country systems).

Oversight of parliaments and civil society over development cooperation is also limited. A survey conducted in 70 countries by DESA together with UNDP confirmed this situation. It was very well received, leading to recommendations for a greater role of the UN and the Development Cooperation Forum in mutual accountability on development cooperation.

Participants also discussed the relationship between development cooperation and gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was pointed out that many commitments have been made in this area and solutions are known. Little is known however about how much aid impacts on gender equality. It was felt that better data and indicators were needed to track progress.

Overall, the symposium put forward a number of ideas on areas which the Development Cooperation should explore, at its meeting on 29 and 30 June or between 2010 and the next DCF in 2012.

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