Volume 15, No.4 - April 2011

Global dialogue on development

Fertility declines worldwide

The 44th session of the Commission on Population and Development will discuss the theme of “Fertility, reproductive health and development” from 11-15 April in New York

This year’s session will discuss a wide range of issues, including the decline in fertility over the last six decades and the efforts being made to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. Discussions will highlight the potential impact of existing levels of fertility if they are maintained. Efforts to rapidly reduce fertility are especially needed in fast growing countries in Africa and Asia. In both areas, particularly in Africa, current fertility levels would lead to unsustainable numbers of people in the future.

The discussion is expected to note that ensuring access to modern methods of family planning to those who need them is an effective way of improving the health of mothers and infants. This is key to making sure that people have the means to exercise their reproductive rights. Furthermore, by preventing unintended pregnancies, family planning can ultimately reduce the overall cost of providing healthcare services to mothers and newborns.

However, even as the funding levels required are greater than ever before, the financial resources actually mobilized are still not sufficient to realize the objectives of the Programme of Action and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The decrease in the funds made available for family planning services has been of particular concern.

Items on the agenda for the Session include actions to follow-up on the recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a general debate on national experience in population matters, world demographic trends, programme implementation and future programme of work of the Secretariat in the field of population, contribution of population and development issues to the theme of the annual ministerial review in 2011 (“Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education”) and the adoption of the report of the Commission on its forty-fourth session.

The Population Commission was established by the Economic and Social Council in 1946 and renamed the Commission on Population and Development by the General Assembly in 1994. In addition to advising the Council, the Commission, as a functional commission assisting the Council, has the task of monitoring, reviewing and assessing the implementation at the national, regional and international levels of the Programme of Action of the ICPD. The Commission is composed of 47 members, who are elected on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and serve a term of four years.

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Electing members for ECOSOC bodies

ECOSOC resumes its organizational session and holds elections of subsidiary bodies in New York on 27-28 April

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will hold elections to the following subsidiary bodies: Statistical Commission; Commission on Population and Development; Commission for Social Development; Commission on the Status of Women; Commission on Narcotic Drugs; Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; Commission on Sustainable Development; Commission on Science and Technology for Development; International Narcotics Control Board; Committee for Programme and Coordination; Executive Board of UNICEF; Executive Committee of the Programme of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Executive Board of NDP, UNFPA, UNOPS; Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS; Governing Council of UN Human Settlements Programme; and Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting.

The Council will also take decisions on outstanding matters from the organizational session, including themes for the Annual Ministerial Review 2012-2014; for the humanitarian affairs segment and for the item on regional cooperation of the 2011 substantive session. It will also hold the annual half-day session on the transition from relief to development.

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Discussing a range of issues affecting education

Preparatory meeting of the Economic and Social Council on the theme “Meeting the Internationally Agreed Goals and Commitments with regards to Education” will take place in New York on 28 April

In line with the Council’s recent emphasis on giving voice to people with a direct stake in its debates and policy recommendations, it will hear the views of a range of stakeholders, including young people and students, UN system and academic experts on education, practitioners and the general public.

A range of issues affecting education, including access, innovation, quality and its relevance for capacity building, poverty reduction and sustainable development will be discussed. The meeting will also highlight some innovative solutions that are currently being tried by various governments and other stakeholders and that could be replicated or scaled up in other countries and regions.

The meeting will be divided into two parts. The first will feature a reporting back on the outcome of a Facebook e-discussion on “Building a future for today’s youth: improving access to education”, and a presentation on the results of the UN Development Group’s MDG-Net forum e-discussion on “Education: Closing the Gap”. The former will feature brief summaries by the discussion moderators from the five geographical regions of the world and the latter will present a short summary of the discussion on the themes of quality, access and innovation in education.

The second part of the meeting will be a panel discussion on “Removing barriers to education: What’s new and notable”, which will feature brief presentations by expert panelists, followed by an interactive discussion.

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Preparing for the Commission on Sustainable Development

Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) of the 19th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-19) took place on 28 February- 4 March in New York

The discussions on all five themes – transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns – as well as on inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues were productive and substantial, providing a very good base for the Chair’s draft negotiating document. Each discussion started with presentations from two to three expert panelists in relevant fields, followed by interactive discussions among Member States, representatives of the UN System and Major Groups.

There were also two multi-stakeholder dialogues, one on implementation of sustainable development and the other on contributions of CSD-19 to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The Chair of CSD-19, H.E. Mr. László Borbély, Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania, presented the Chair’s draft negotiating document. The document will serve as basis for negotiations during CSD-19 and will be posted to the CSD-19 website after factual comments by Member States and other stakeholders have been incorporated.

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Progress made in understanding a green economy

The second Preparatory Committee meeting of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) took place on 7-8 March in New York

A number of publications helped propel the debate forward, including the Secretary-General’s report and Synthesis Report, the UN Environment Programme’s Green Economy Report and the report prepared by a panel of experts (coordinated by UN-DESA, UNEP and UNCTAD) on the “Transition to a Green Economy: Benefits, Challenges and Risks from a Sustainable Development Perspective.”

During discussions on the objective, many speakers referred to the gaps in the decisions made in Rio in 1992 and in Johannesburg in 2002 and the need to assess those gaps. There was significant progress made in the understanding of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Regarding the institutional framework for sustainable development, many speakers stressed finding a balance across the three pillars and on the strengthening of ECOSOC and the Commission on Sustainable Development. They also called for the introduction of stronger mechanisms for reviewing progress of the implementation of commitment.

The meeting concluded with the adoption of a decision that gave the Bureau of the Rio+20 Preparatory Process the mandate to initiate an open, transparent and inclusive process led by Member States. The mandate also called for the preparation of a draft text based on all preparatory inputs that will serve as the basis for a conference outcome document. The text will be prepared for the Second Inter-sessional meeting to be held on 15-16 December 2011, while the zero-draft of the outcome document for consideration by Member States and other stakeholders will be presented in early January 2012, followed by a three-day discussion in January and a week-long discussion in February, March and April 2012.

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High-level innovative debates on financing for development

The Special High-level Meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development was held in New York on 10-11 March on the theme “Coherence, coordination and cooperation on Financing for Development”

This high-level meeting of ECOSOC constitutes an intergovernmental focal point for follow up to the Monterrey and Doha Conferences on Financing for Development. The purpose is to promote an open exchange of views and experiences between the UN Delegates and the Executive Directors of the World Bank and IMF with participation of senior officials from the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and WTO.

The President of ECOSOC Lazarous Kapambwe gave opening remarks, followed by the address of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and statements on behalf of relevant intergovernmental bodies (Development Committee, International Monetary and Financial Committee, Trade and Development Board and WTO).

The meeting was organized in four interactive debates focusing on the Millennium Development Goals, the least developed countries, middle-income countries and the role of the UN in global economic governance. It was very well attended with Executive Directors, Advisors and senior staff members of the World Bank and IMF, participating actively in the discussions and expressing genuine interest in promoting closer relations between their organizations and ECOSOC.

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