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Volume 15, No.6 - June 2011
Global dialogue on development
UNFF Forest Film Festival wins European Film Award
The International Forest Film Festival has been awarded the grand prize by CinemAmbiente, the leading environmental film festival in Europe and Ms. Jan McAlpine, Director of the UNFF Secretariat has been invited to receive the grand prize in Turin on 5 June
To celebrate the International Year of Forests 2011, the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat launched the International Forest Film Festival in collaboration with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The festival received 167 films from over 30 countries and winners were selected across six categories. The winning films were first screened during the ninth session of the UN Forum on Forests and they are now being presented around the world throughout 2011 as a part of the continuing festival.
This year’s CinemAmbiente festival will open in Turin on 31 May and run through 5 June, which is also World Environment Day. The program features over 100 films to be shown in the National Competition, International Competition, and International Shorts Competition categories, thematic focuses, retrospectives, Ecokids for younger audiences and Panorama, which will probe issues on deforestation and land use.
This year’s festival is sponsored by the UN Regional Information Center (UNRIC) in Brussels. The Turin-based organization also coordinates the worldwide network of similar environmental film festivals and the Environmental Film Festival Network (EFFN).
General Assembly highlights MDGs and the development agenda beyond 2015
Two panel discussions will be held examining “MDG implementation and accountability: women’s and children’s health as an engine for progress” and “Advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015” on Tuesday, 14 June at UN Headquarters in New York
The President of the General Assembly, Mr. Joseph Deiss, will arrange this event on development, mandated by the General Assembly resolution 60/265 which requests that a “specific meeting focused on development, including an assessment of progress over the previous year, at each session of the General Assembly.”
DESA is providing technical and logistical support for the event, which will take the form of a formal plenary meeting and two high-level panel presentations examining “MDG implementation and accountability: women’s and children’s health as an engine for progress” and “Advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.”
In particular, the second panel will seek to inform Member States of ongoing discussions outside the UN regarding a post-2015 framework. A number of high-level and prominent personalities have been invited to contribute to the discussions in each panel.
For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ga/
CSD-19 focused on reducing harms of pollution and waste
The Commission on Sustainable Development held its 19th session on 2-13 May in New York focusing on transport, chemicals, waste management, mining, and a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production (SCP)
The High-level segment on 11-13 May gathered 60 ministers of environment and other relevant ministers, who discussed the themes in four roundtable sessions: SCP; transport; mining; and waste management and chemicals. The opening session of the High-level Segment featured three keynote speakers highlighting the importance of sustainable development and the changing patterns of consumption and production. A number of ministers also presented their views in this area.
The roundtable sessions also had experts on the thematic areas to start the discussions and were co-chaired by ministers from developed and developing countries. The Secretary-General was a keynote speaker on the last day of the Commission’s session where he talked about the importance of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to take place next year in Rio.
CSD-19′s Learning Center offered 14 courses related to the Commission’s five themes and cross-cutting issues to more than 300 participants from national delegations, NGOs, international organizations and other institutions. The class size averaged 23 participants and was over 40 participants in some sessions. There were also forty-eight side events and twelve related activities held in connection with the session.
For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/csd/csd_csd19.shtml
Key messages identified to maximize results of aid
The Government of Mali and DESA co-organized the first symposium “Gearing development cooperation towards the MDGs: Results and Effectiveness” to prepare for the 2012 ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) on 5-6 May in Bamako, Mali
The meeting identified a number of key messages on how to maximize the results of aid on poverty and other MDGs and it was attended by some 150 participants from over fifty developing and developed countries. Attendees included the President of ECOSOC, Ministers from Mali, DRC and Liberia, government representatives, civil society organizations, parliamentarians and local government officials.
The continued involvement of such a varied group of stakeholders is frequently highlighted as one of the key strengths of the DCF, as was also expressed during the ongoing review of General Assembly Resolution 61/16 on the “Strengthening of ECOSOC”.
On delivering results from aid, participants agreed that a focus on short-term outcomes is important to build support for development cooperation, in particular in conflict affected countries. At the same time, more attention should be paid to the medium and long-term impact of development cooperation and its sustainability. Planned results need to be developed under the leadership and inclusive ownership of developing countries. Monitoring and evaluation would need to be a shared exercise. Clear benchmarks can help to measure how aid is contributing to the achievement of national development goals and the MDGs.
The meeting also discussed ways of ensuring that actors hold each other accountable on development results and aid management. The growing number of development actors was seen as a key challenge in coordinating aid. Robust mutual accountability mechanisms between donors/providers and programme countries, based on common results frameworks were seen as an effective tool to overcome this challenge.
Multiple conditionalities on development cooperation continue to hinder national ownership and leadership. This meeting underscored that where conditionalities cannot be eliminated, they should be rooted in national strategies; agreed between donor and programme countries.
A strong message was the need to build developing countries’ capacities across the board in order to bolster national ownership. Important areas included policy making, monitoring and evaluation, statistics, coordinating aid as well as promoting greater transparency and the inclusion of civil society representatives in all phases of the development process. There was a strong emphasis on the need for “inclusive national ownership” – which engages parliaments, local governments and civil society organizations. Strengthening the capacities of these actors was also seen as critical.
In preparation of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV), the symposium also focused on development cooperation with LDCs. Background documents show that LDCs do not only face the greatest structural needs, but they also receive aid of lesser quality than other developing countries. This compounds the delays in meeting donors’ commitment to increase aid quantity. It was therefore suggested that a framework should be developed to improve accountability between LDCs and their donors on commitments relating to the quantity and quality of aid. Such a framework would support reviews on the follow-up to the Istanbul programme of Action.
It was felt that the UN DCF has an important role in accelerating the achievement of the MDGs and in keeping under review the impact/results of aid. The outcome of the meeting, “Bamako conclusions”, was read out in summary form by the President of ECOSOC. These will be fleshed out and posted on the ECOSOC website and shared with all participants.
The results of the discussion during the symposium will feed into the 2012 DCF. It will also contribute to the OECD-DAC Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) in November 2011 in Busan, Republic of Korea. The outcome of the discussion on LDCs was presented by Mali at a DCF special event at the LDC-IV conference.
For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/newfunct/dcfmali.shtml
Stronger accountability frameworks to enhance aid to LDCs
DESA’s Office for ECOSOC Support organized a special event on “Mutual accountability for LDCs: Aid quality and beyond” with UNDP and OECD-DAC in connection with the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries that took place in Istanbul on 9-13 May
This event took place on 12 May and examined the quality of aid to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and how greater mutual accountability between LDCs and their donors can improve it. The discussions built on the premise that LDCs do not only face the greatest structural needs, but they also receive aid of lesser quality than other developing countries.
This compounds the delays in meeting donors’ commitment to increase aid quantity. It was therefore suggested that a mutual accountability framework should be developed to improve aid quantity and quality that builds on existing mechanisms and contributes to the follow-up to the Istanbul Programme of Action.
The special event brought together approximately sixty participants and high-level speakers from Mali, the Republic of Korea and the IBON Foundation for a lively debate. It was chaired by the President of ECOSOC and introduced by the Head of the OECD-DAC’s aid effectiveness team and DESA’s Assistant- Secretary-General for Economic Development.
Among many other suggestions, great emphasis was placed on the need for stronger global and independent monitoring mechanisms to assess progress towards better and more aid as well as mutual accountability, notably in the absence of well developed national institutions. The role of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) as such a mechanism and as a dialogue platform on technical aspects of mutual accountability was reaffirmed.
Participants also highlighted the need to strengthen institutional arrangements for aid management that are conducive to greater parliamentary oversight and civil society involvement. Existing mutual accountability frameworks should better take into account the concerns and needs of LDCs and be perceived in the context of broad development partnerships, including with the private sector.
In his closing remarks, the President of ECOSOC reiterated that transparent and truthful consultations and strong institutions are key to ensure that assistance provided and received produces the maximum impact for beneficiaries. He stressed the importance of enhancing mutual accountability and assured that this area of work will be continued in the context of the DCF in preparation of its next forum in 2012.
For more information: http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/ldc/home
Strengthening disability rights
The Fifth Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met in Geneva on 11-15 April
Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 10 per cent of the world’s population, eighty per cent of which reside in developing countries. The 18-member Committee was created to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with its aim to promote, protect and ensure the human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, in addition to promoting respect for their inherent dignity.
In a statement, Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within DESA, described the department’s role and work in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in development. She also informed that 99 countries had ratified the Convention at the time of the meeting. This number was later revised as Colombia on 10 May became the 100th country ratifying the Convention, which was adopted on 13 December 2006 and opened for signature on 30 March 2007.
“While the increase in number of ratifications… the lack of expertise in how to plan and execute government policies and strategies that address the situation of persons with disabilities remains a major challenge…The international community has reiterated that disability is a cross-cutting issue and all the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, have relevance to disability and persons with disabilities… Mainstreaming disability in development agenda is defined as a strategy”, Ms. Ito emphasized.
Marcia Kran, Director of the Research and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also highlighted the impressive level of ratifications that the Convention has reached in a short period of time and that this means that the work of the Committee will significantly increase.
Ms. Kran also noted that some states used lack of resources as a reason for not ratifying the Convention. However, as the Committee members illustrated that limited resources in many cases should not amount to become an obstacle to the implementation and the realization of rights of persons with disabilities.
The Committee reviewed the first country report, the initial report of Tunisia and it also established a working group on accessibility to public transportation and airline transport among other things.