Volume 15, No.1 - January 2011

Global dialogue on development

High demand for consultative status

2011 Regular Session of the NGO Committee will be held from 31 January to 9 February to examine applications for consultative status

The Committee on NGOs, a standing committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), will meet to review a record number of applications by NGOs seeking consultative status with ECOSOC. Accreditation is important to many NGOs, as it allows for access and participation in all of the subsidiary bodies of the Council, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. In addition, ECOSOC consultative status allows for participation in the Human Rights Council and many of the human rights treaty bodies of the United Nations.

The Committee is expected to review over 170 new applications, and will also deal with an additional workload of reviewing 180 applications from NGOs deferred from earlier sessions.

Of the roughly 3,400 NGOs currently accredited to the Council, some 2,000 organizations in the highest two categories of accreditation, namely General and Special consultative status, are required to report every four years on the work they have undertaken in support of the goals of the Council and the United Nations. In January, over 200 of these reports will be reviewed.

With such a heavy work load, the deliberations of the Committee are facilitated by a unique conference services system, called the Paperless Committee. The 19 member States represented in the Committee are each provided with a laptop to review detailed documentation of each NGO being considered. The system has been recognized by the granting of the UN21 Award in 2008.

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Securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development

First intersessional meeting of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in New York on 10-11 January

This first meeting will update on the preparatory process leading to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (Rio + 20), secure renewed political commitment, discuss the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and focus on the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The meeting will also introduce the Synthesis Report on Best Practices and Lessons Learned on the Objective and Themes of the Conference (A/CONF.216/PC/3). More than 100 member States, Major Groups’ organizations, and United Nations system entities responded to the five-part questionnaire that was proposed by the first Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in May 2010, soliciting their views and requesting information pertaining to the objectives and themes of the Conference.

The Synthesis Report is a reflection of these responses, examining growth in political commitment to sustainable development and evaluating progress in implementation since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit; identifying new and emerging challenges; and offering opinions and suggestions that will set the foundation for future discussions and actions on the themes of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication (GESDPE) and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The results will continue to evolve as additional responses are compiled and synthesized as part of the UNCSD preparatory process.

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Sustainable patterns of consumption and production

High-level intersessional meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development on a 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) will be held from 13-14 January in Panama City

Transitioning to more sustainable patterns of consumption and production is at the heart of sustainable development, and international co-operation is essential to effect that transition. Recognizing this, governments at the Johannesburg Summit in 2002 called for the development of a 10-year framework of programmes in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable patterns of consumption and production that will promote social and economic development within the carrying capacity of ecosystems.

This meeting is jointly organized by the Government of Panama, DESA’s Division on Sustainable Development and UNEP. It will provide a non-negotiating space for Member States, Major Groups, and UN Agencies to discuss potential programs to be included in the 10Year Framework of Programs on SCP (10YFP) to support regional and national initiatives, the structure the 10YFP could take, and the possible visions and objectives it could serve.

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ECOSOC reaches out for education goals in Africa

High Level Regional Preparatory Meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will be held on 21 January in Kenya

In support of the 2011 United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Annual Ministerial Review, an African Regional Ministerial Meeting will take place in Nairobi focusing on the theme “The Right to Education for All in Africa: Reinforcing quality and equity”. The meeting will be hosted by the Republic of Kenya in cooperation with DESA, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The meeting will take place in the context of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All (EFA) International Conference on “Teachers for EFA in Africa: Collaborative action to address the teacher gap”, to be held in Nairobi on 18-20 January.

The meeting will make an important contribution to the upcoming ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review to be held at United Nations Headquarters in Geneva in July 2011 on the theme “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education” and will bring together senior regional practitioners and experts to identify integrated approaches and concrete policy measures that ECOSOC can promote to accelerate progress on the international education goals.

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Forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication

Government delegates, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), and representatives from intergovernmental organizations and major groups will come together at the 9th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF9) from 24 January – 4 February in New York

This year’s session will focus on forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication and include community-based forest management, social development and indigenous and other local and forest-dependent communities, as well as social and cultural aspects. Discussions will also assess progress made on the implementation of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests and towards the achievement of the four global objectives on forests.

During the High-level Segment on 2 February, UNFF9 will officially launch the International Year of Forests 2011, in which Heads of State and Ministers are expected to participate. It will also feature four roundtables on Forests for people, Finance for forest-dependent communities, Forests-plus: Cross-sectoral and crossinstitutional approach and Forests & green economies.

The session will also include panel discussions, including a panel on food, energy and economic challenges and opportunities with special focus on women and youth and another panel on regional and sub-regional perspectives on forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication.

In addition, the meeting will discuss enhanced cooperation and policy and programme coordination, including the provision of further guidance to the CPF. It will also hold an Interactive dialogue among Member States, major groups and CPF members on the agenda item on Multi-stakeholder dialogue.

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Forest and climate change: Time to act

More than 1,500 people attended “Forest Day 4” on 5 December, which was held in conjunction with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16), in Cancun, Mexico

The Day featured a range of issues under discussion on the role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, including forest biodiversity, as well as forest finance issues and the challenges surrounding REDD+ and sustainable forest management.

Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, addressed the opening plenary session of Forest Day 4, and stressed the need to communicate the benefits of forests beyond their influence on our environment. “We need to go beyond simply touting the environmental importance of forests. I want to emphasize that a people-centered approach must become a cornerstone of any debate on forests including the debate on forests and climate change,” said Mr. Sha.

Mr. Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, addressed the opening plenary session of Forest Day 4. “Here and now, it’s time for all of us to push and push hard for full incorporation of REDD+ into a long-term international climate change agreement,” President Calderón said.

The theme for Forest Day 4 was “Time to Act,” highlighting the necessity of taking action to help preserve and sustainably manage the world’s forests, the biodiversity they embrace and the people who depend on them. “We have to change the way we do things or climate change will change us,” President Calderón noted.

DESA’s UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat co-organized a Forest Day 4 sub plenary session on “Biodiversity: Synergies in policy and practice” together with the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Participants stressed that conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are not just co-benefits for REDD+ but also provide prerequisites for the success of REDD+ initiatives.

“There is greater awareness of the benefits forests provide in stabilizing climate change, protecting biodiversity and in the livelihoods of billions,” said the Director of the UNFF Secretariat, Ms. Jan McAlpine. Forests and forest soils store more than one trillion tons of carbon– twice the amount found in the atmosphere.

The UNFF Secretariat also co-organized a learning event on “REDD+ and Forest Finance: The need for a 360 degree perspective on Forest Finance” together with UNEP/ UNREDD. Speakers stressed the need for additional financing to implement REDD+ at scale, and pointed out that financing pledges made to date fall short of estimated funding needed to stimulate and pay for early REDD+ action at scale, technology transfers, capacity building and the development of national and sub-national MRV systems.

“Forest financing can contribute significantly to the national economy and reducing poverty, proving that forests provide more than just timber and carbon,” said Ms. McAlpine.

With the International Year of Forests 2011 fast approaching, Forest Day 4 will help continue momentum towards greater action and awareness on the links between forests, biodiversity, climate change and human well-being in 2011. The event was hosted by the Government of Mexico, through the National Forestry Commission, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) and the Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR).

The International Forest Film Festival

More than 170 entries for the International Film Festival were received across all six categories, from over 25 countries. The films will be reviewed over the next month, with winners’ films being screened during the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in New York. The submissions window for the International Forest Film Festival has closed, and the festival is currently in the judging stage.

After winners are announced, the film festival will move into the screening stage. Member states, major groups, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector are encouraged to hold screenings of films from the festival, with DVDs being provided by the Jackson Hold Wildlife Film Festival. Over 100 screening requests from around the world have already been received, and more continue to come in each day.

Launches and events

The official launch of Forests 2011 will take place at United Nations Headquarters during the high-level segment of the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (2 February 2011), in which Heads of State and Ministers are expected to participate.

There are some national launch events that the Secretariat has been informed of as well. Germany’s national campaign will be launched by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection during the International Green Week in Berlin on 21-30 January 2011. Switzerland will officially launch its national campaign for Forests 2011 on 27 January 2011 during debates of the Swiss Forestry Society. Countries and organizations that have not notified the Secretariat should do so by sending an email to or a letter by post to the UNFF Secretariat.

“Bridging” from Biodiversity 2010 to Forests 2011

There is a clear synergy between the International Year of Biodiversity, which took place in 2010, and the forthcoming Forests 2011. To commemorate both Years, a “bridging event” was held as part of the closing ceremony of the International Year of Biodiversity in December 2010. The event featured high level speakers, including Mr. Kiyo Akasaka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Ms. Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat and Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. There are plans to build on the successes of the International Year of Biodiversity and carry the momentum forward into Forests 2011.

Logo translation and dissemination

After its launch in July, the Forests 2011 logo has been distributed to over 375 groups, including Member States and other organizations. It has been translated into 40 languages: Austrian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kyrgyz, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay (Brunei), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovakian, Slovenian, Swedish, Swahili (Tanzania), Swiss (4 languages), Turkish and Welch.

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Second Committee adopted 40 resolutions

The Economic and Financial Committee – also known as the Second Committee – concluded its session on 1 December with the adoption of thirty-six resolutions by consensus, four resolutions by vote and three decisions

The Committee had also several new resolutions, all of which were adopted by consensus. The resolution on “Innovative Mechanisms of Financing for Development” stressed that innovative financing mechanisms could make a positive contribution in assisting developing countries and calls for the convening of a separate meeting of the Committee during the 66th session of the GA.

The resolution on “Promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection” illustrates the inter-linkages between sustainable development and the fight against poverty and hunger. The resolution on cooperative measures on waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea noted the importance of raising public awareness of the environmental effects related to this waste.

In the resolution on the protection of coral reefs, the Committee urges States and competent international organizations to take all practical steps to protect coral reefs and related ecosystems for sustainable livelihoods and development.

In addition, the resolution on the Second Decade on Poverty Eradication (2008-2017) emphasized the importance of education and training as critical factors, with a particular emphasis on the role played by UNESCO, UNDP and UNICEF in this regard.

The Committee sent a strong message to the sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Committee also decided that the 66th session of the GA will hold a one-day high-level event on desertification on 20 September 2011. The Committee further decided to proclaim two International Years: 2012 for Sustainable Energy for All and 2013 for Water Cooperation.

The Second Committee also benefited from the high-level events that took place in September on the MDGs, biodiversity and SIDS, as well as the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October. Many of the resolutions built on their outcomes, putting them into implementation.

Finally, the adoption of the decision, “Improving the working methods of the Second Committee”, submitted by the Chair, marks an important step forward in guiding and improving the work of the Committee.

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Adoption of landmark resolution on ageing

The Third Committee adopted resolution A/C.3/65/L.8/Rev.1 on 19 November in which the General Assembly decided “to establish an open-ended working group, open to all States Members of the United Nations, for the purpose of strengthening the protection of human rights of older persons by considering the existing international framework of the human rights of older persons and identifying possible gaps and how best to address them, including by considering, as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures, and requests the Secretary-General to provide all necessary support within existing resources for the duration of its mandate.”

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