DESA News Help us improve our newsletter - TAKE OUR SURVEY HERE

Volume 15, No.11 - November 2011

Global dialogue on development


Forestry Week celebrates the International Year of Forests

Second Asia-Pacific Forestry Week (APFW) will take place on 7-11 November in Beijing, China

The week, organized by FAO, is being held in conjunction with the 24th Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission and will include events in celebration of the International Year of Forests, 2011. The theme of the Week is “New Challenges – New Opportunity.” Over 1,500 participants are expected to discuss forest issues in the evolving Asia-Pacific landscape. Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFFS), Ms. Jan McAlpine, will deliver a keynote speech on the International Year of Forests at the plenary session.

In celebration of the International Year of Forests, this year’s event will include film screenings from the International Forest Film Festival, launched by UNFFS in partnership with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

For more information: http://www.fao.org/forestry/ap-forestry-week/en/

The International Year of Forests: http://www.un.org/forests

Outreach to Member States on the UN Public Service Awards 2012

Information sessions have been organized to raise awareness about the UN Public Service Awards 2012 open for online nominations until 31 December. The next briefing will be held on 10 November

The UN Public Service Award is an international recognition designed to promote excellence and support innovations in public service delivery worldwide under the management of DESA’s Division of Public Administration Development Management (DPADM). It is open to public organizations of all kinds, including Governments and public-private partnerships involved in delivering services to citizens around the globe.

As Mr. Sha Zukang, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General emphasized during the 2010 UN Public Service Awards ceremony in Barcelona, Spain, “The winners have shown great dedication to upholding the values and virtues of excellent public service and have provided examples of efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability. In transmitting their lessons-learned they are assisting all governments in devising ways to improve the lives of citizens everywhere”.

Held annually on the 23 June, the designated international Public Service Day, the 2012 Public Service Awards will mark the 10th anniversary of the programme. The awards will be bestowed on those public institutions that have distinguished themselves in the following categories: preventing and combating corruption in the public service; improving the delivery of services; fostering participation in policymaking decisions through innovative mechanisms; advancing knowledge management in government and promoting gender-responsive delivery of public services. The awards highlight cutting edge innovations and recognize that democracy and successful governance are built on a competent civil service.

As part of its strategy to raise awareness of the programme and generate nominations for innovative projects that can provide solutions to countries facing similar challenges around the world, DESA through DPADM collaborates with multiple partners, including the UN Women, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UNDP country offices.

To consolidate these efforts, DESA conducts three information sessions for Permanent Missions to the UN in New York. The first of these sessions was held on 13 October, where Permanent Missions of Canada, Central African Republic, Finland, Italy, Namibia, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Romania were represented. The remaining sessions will be held on 27 October and 10 November at Two UN Plaza, Conference Room DC2 – 1949, 19th Floor East 44th Street, New York.

For more information: http://www.unpan.org/unpsa

Nominations must be made online at (deadline 31 December): http://www.unpan.org/applyunpsa2012 .

Addressing macro economy and financing for development

Second Committee focused on macroeconomic policy questions and issues on financing for development at meetings in New York on 10 and 13 October

Considering macroeconomic policy questions and sub-items on international financial system and development and external debt sustainability and development, the Director of DESA’s Financing for Development Office (FfDO) introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on “International financial system and development”. The Chief of the Debt and Development Finance Branch of UNCTAD’s Division of Globalization and Development Strategies, introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on “External debt sustainability and development”. A total of 30 countries and one specialized agency addressed the Committee.

Global economic and financial fragilities and their impact on development

Many delegations pointed to the increasing risk of a renewed global economic downturn and rising financial instabilities. They expressed concerns over the possible adverse impact on emerging economies and developing countries and called for a more rapid concerted response by the international community. In particular, the need to prevent contagion from sovereign debt problems in advanced economies, especially in the euro area, was stressed. The importance of promoting economic policy coordination, implementing growth-oriented policies, addressing global imbalances and volatile capital flows, and fulfilling ODA commitments was underscored. Concerns over high commodity price volatility, partly caused by financial speculation, were also expressed. Several delegations emphasized the central role of the UN in global economic governance.

Reform of the international financial system

Many delegations underscored that deficiencies in the international financial system and architecture were a major cause of the ongoing financial and economic crisis. The continuing need for significant reforms of the international monetary and financial system was underscored. There was also a proposal to develop a Pact on Global Regulation of the financial sector and advocacy for greater involvement of developing countries, including LDCs, in international standard-setting bodies in financial regulation and supervision.

The role of regional and sub-regional monetary and financial cooperation was also emphasized by some countries. A few countries called for a continuation of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of the General Assembly to follow up on the issues contained in the Outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development. Member States were also urged to consider the conversion of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body of ECOSOC.

Governance reform at the Bretton Woods institutions

A few delegations welcomed the recent governance reforms at the IMF and the World Bank. However, a number of them called for further reforms of the mandates, scope and governance structures of the Bretton Woods institutions to reflect current economic realities and ensure full voice and participation of developing countries, including LDCs. It was for instance noted that LDCs were not recognized as a special category by the Bretton Woods institutions. Delegations also called for open, transparent and merit-based selection procedures for heads and senior management of the IMF and the World Bank.

External debt sustainability and development

Delegations from developing countries stated that debt sustainability remained a critical challenge. While developing countries recognized the benefits of debt relief initiatives such as HIPC and MDRI for some countries, others remained at high risk of debt distress. LDCs and others called once again for additional debt relief, including full cancellation of multilateral and bilateral debts. Developing countries called for sovereign debt restructuring and resolution mechanisms that would take into account the multiple dimensions of debt sustainability and the role that debt sustainability played in the achievement of the IADGs, including the MDGs.

It was also noted that significant success had been achieved over the last decade on debt-related commitments, most notably through the Enhanced HIPC Initiative, the MDRI and the joint World Bank-IMF Debt Sustainability Framework. At the same time it was underscored that the international community should enhance its efforts on debt relief.

Debating follow-up and implementation of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2008 Review Conference

On 13 October, the Second Committee focused on the Follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and the 2008 Review Conference. The Director of FfDO/DESA introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on “Follow-up to and implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development”. A total of 22 countries addressed the Committee.

Many delegations called for the full implementation of the commitments and agreements contained in the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development. It was pointed out that aid delivery fell short of commitments and net ODA/GNI targets of many larger donors remained below the UN target of 0.7%. Emphasis was also given to the need to enhance aid effectiveness and to align development assistance with the national priorities and needs of developing countries.

Many delegations referred to the positive contribution that innovative mechanisms of finance can make in mobilizing additional resources for development, while also emphasizing that these should not substitute or negatively affect the level of traditional resources for development. Many speakers pointed out that such financing should be disbursed in accordance with the national priorities of developing countries, while one group of countries also stressed the need for further deliberations and analyses on the potential positive and negative implications to developing countries of these schemes. It was pointed out that Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) constituted an important source of financing for development.

Several speakers stressed the importance of having a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that would contribute to growth, sustainable development and employment. There were also calls for all countries to refrain from protectionist measures. Delegations also referred to the need for the international community to fulfill all commitments contained in the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of the World Trade Organization in favor of LDCs.

Call for reform and greater participation of developing countries

A number of countries spoke of the need for reform of existing international economic and financial systems, and for ensuring greater participation of developing countries in decision making and norm setting processes. There was a call for reforming the mandates, scope and governance of the BWIs, while appreciation was also expressed about the ongoing reforms in these organizations. Reference was also made to the need for better coordination, both between international organizations and between macroeconomic policy objectives and other areas of global governance.

Many delegations stressed the need for an effective and enhanced follow up mechanism for the Financing for Development process. Specific reference was also made to the need to seriously consider the long-standing proposal to create a functional commission on financing for development. There was also support for upgrading the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body of ECOSOC. Many delegations also emphasized the importance of the forthcoming fifth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in New York on 7-8 December.

Innovative mechanisms of financing for development

The Committee also held a separate meeting on innovative mechanisms of financing for development and the Director of FfDO/DESA introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on “Innovative mechanisms of financing for development”. A total of 20 countries addressed the Committee and many stressed the growing importance of raising additional resources through innovative mechanisms of financing for development in the context of the current global economic situation and the approaching MDG deadline of 2015. Several delegations advocated for the extension of innovative mechanisms beyond health and climate change to other areas, such as education, food security, sanitation and other MDGs.

Many speakers emphasized that funding from these mechanisms should be predictable, stable and effective. They also emphasized that innovative financing should be “additional” to traditional sources of development finance. Concerns were expressed over a considerable part of innovative financing being reported as ODA.

Several delegations called for developing an internationally uniform definition of innovative financing to provide the reference point for standardized reporting and accounting. Some delegations noted that the application process for funds was often complex and put additional burden on recipient countries and that countries with weaker institutional capacities failed to benefit from the innovative financing proceeds.

Many delegates stressed that the growing role of innovative mechanisms of financing for development should not weaken donors’ commitment to the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GDI and 0.20 per cent to LDCs, and that the implications of innovative financing for aid architecture and aid effectiveness required continued attention.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ga/second/index.shtml

Third Committee urges integration of social concerns into economic recovery policies

At the opening of the Third Committee on 3 October, Mr. Sha Zukang, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General, stressed the need to design ways of integrating social and economic policies to ensure “people-centred recovery and long-term” sustainable development

Mr. Sha Zukang, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of next year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), urged countries to pursue economic policies that take social considerations into account to ensure that the poor, youth, persons with disability and the elderly do not continue to bear the brunt of fiscal austerity measures and unemployment in the uncertain global economy.

“Successful policies are those that promote economic and social development together with human rights protection, more [and] better jobs, social cohesion and less inequality,“ Mr. Sha said in an address to the annual opening of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs.

In his speech, delivered by Thomas Stelzer, the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Mr. Sha stressed that the world must design ways of integrating social and economic policies to ensure “people-centred recovery and long-term” sustainable development.

The official highlighted three approaches that he said could facilitate the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.

“First, in the current economic climate, it is important to maintain our commitment to poverty eradication and social justice. We must retain and strengthen social objectives, not to diminish them,” he said, noting that countries must safeguard growth-enhancing social expenditures even at they strive to bring fiscal deficits under control.

“Second, experience has shown that job creation is paramount. As policy responses to the current crises are developed, jobs are needed for inclusive recovery and poverty reduction.

“Third, the establishment and expansion of social protection floor is also imperative. Such a floor protects people from extreme poverty and deprivation. And it functions as an automatic stabilizer by supporting aggregate demand during economic downturns,” said Mr. Sha.

He said the Rio+20 will be an opportunity to integrate social concerns with the economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

“We know that a green economy must support poverty eradication. That is why we continue to explore… ways in which a green economy can create jobs for the poor and sustainable livelihoods,” added Mr. Sha.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/index.shtml

Discussing green economy and inclusive growth

The Government of India and the Rio+20 Secretariat jointly organized the Delhi Ministerial Dialogue on “Green Economy and Inclusive Growth” on 3-4 October in New Delhi, India

Over 150 participants, including 24 ministers (14 from developing countries) and 12 experts attended the meeting. The Dialogue advanced the understanding and promoted the achievement of consensus on key issues related to green economy and inclusive growth, with a particular focus on how green economy strategies and policies could be integrated with food security and energy security objectives.

DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of Rio+20, Sha Zukang, emphasized that Rio+20 must be about integration, implementation and coherence, and must “mobilize renewed political commitment for sustainable development.” He also commented on the importance of food production saying “to tackle the food and nutrition challenge, the best agricultural science will need to be wedded to the best traditional knowledge. And the outcome needs to benefit smallholders, especially women farmers.”

For more information:
http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&nr=320&type=13&menu=23

Mr. Sha’s statement: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/usg/statements/delhi-ministerial-dialogue.html

Promoting forests’ contributions to green economies

The conference on the Contribution of Forests to a Green Economy was held in Bonn, Germany on 4-7 October

The meeting was organised in support of the UN Forum on Forests, and in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. The meeting was jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in collaboration with the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFFS) and FAO.

The conference brought together nearly 150 forest experts from governments, the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests (CPF), intergovernmental organizations and major groups. Presentations and panel debates focused on the essential role that forests play in sustainable development.

The significant role of forests in transitioning towards green economies was stressed, noting that forests provide a variety of goods and services that support human well-being, including through poverty reduction. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population (1.6 billion people) depends on forest goods and services for livelihood and subsistence.

In her opening address, the Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, Jan McAlpine, highlighted the changes in approach and vision related to forests that have taken place in the 20 years since the first Rio Summit in 1992. She pointed out that “one size does not fit all”, and that green economies will apply differently across countries, depending on their national circumstances, priorities and capacities. She also emphasized the critical role that the International Year of Forests has played in raising awareness and visibility of forests, both in the global policy agenda, and in public media.

The conference included side events, a reception celebrating the winners of the Future Policy Awards, and the inauguration of the International Forest Days in the city of Bonn. The outcome of this conference is contained in a co-chairmen summary which will be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.

For more information: www.forests-in-a-green-economy.de

Highlighting annual meetings of Bretton Woods Institutions

Briefing by the World Bank and the IMF on the Outcome of the 2011 Annual Meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions which took place in Washington, DC, on 23-25 September

On 14 October, DESA’s Financing for Development Office (FfDO) organized a briefing by the World Bank and the IMF on the Outcome of the 2011 Annual Meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs), which took place in Washington DC on 23-25 September.

The briefing was chaired by the ASG Thomas Stelzer and featured the following presenters:

(1) Mr. Jorge Familiar Calderón, Vice President and Corporate Secretary, World Bank Group, on the meeting of the joint World Bank/IMF Development Committee;

(2) Mr. Elliott C. Harris, Special Representative of the International Monetary Fund to the United Nations, on the meeting of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee;

(3) Mr. Sudarshan Gooptu, Sector Manager, Economic Policy and Debt Department (PRMED), Poverty Reduction Economic Management Network (PREM), World Bank Group, on the World Economic Outlook; and

(4) Ms. Carolina Sanchez, Senior Economist, World Bank Group, on the 2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development.

Mr. Familiar briefed delegations on the outcome of the meeting of the joint World Bank/IMF Development Committee, where the two principal themes were jobs and gender equality. The Development Committee also discussed the economic performance of developing countries in the current situation of the world economy and noted rising financial instabilities, fiscal strains, volatile commodity prices and pressures on food security. Members of the Development Committee committed themselves to pursuing policies that supported strong and inclusive growth and job creation. Mr. Familiar informed that the next World Development Report will be on jobs.

Mr. Harris shared with delegations the economic background analysis undertaken for the meeting of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC). The world economy was in a dangerous phase, with financial instabilities, insufficient demand, and sovereign debt problems in advanced economies threatening global recovery.

Against that backdrop, IMFC agreed that advanced economies would address sovereign debt problems, pursue medium-term fiscal consolidation, ensure strong capital positions of banks, maintain accommodative monetary policies, revive weak housing markets and undertake structural reforms to boost growth and job creation. Emerging economies and developing countries would rebuild policy buffers, contain overheating and enhance their resilience in the face of volatile capital flows.

The IMFC encouraged the Fund to focus on a more effective and even-handed surveillance framework, enhancements to the global financial safety net, a review of the adequacy of Fund resources, adequate policy advice and financing to low-income countries, and further work on a comprehensive and balanced approach for the management of capital flows.

The IMFC also agreed to intensify efforts to ratify the 2010 quota and governance reform, called on the Fund to complete a comprehensive review of the quota formula by January 2013, and committed to complete the 15th General Review of Quotas by January 2014.

Mr. Gooptu provided an assessment of the global economic outlook, based on the Bank’s biannual Global Economic Prospects, which examined growth trends for the global economy and their impact on developing countries. The global economic environment for developing countries had become more precarious. Contagion from financial instabilities and economic slowdown in advanced economies, commodity price volatility, inflationary pressures and increasing precautionary savings represented significant downside risks. Market concerns about the sovereign debt crisis, in particular in the euro area, had started to adversely affect sovereign debt markets worldwide, including hitherto unaffected countries, such as lower middle-income countries. Capital flows to developing countries had started to decrease in August/September 2011.

Ms. Sanchez provided an overview of the World Development Report 2012 on “Gender Equality and Development”. In terms of economic impacts of gender equality, the report pointed to significant economic costs of persisting gender inequalities. The report highlighted the relevance, underlying reasons and policy options to deal with gender inequality.

In the ensuing discussion, delegations raised a number of issues, including the recognition of the category of LDCs at the Bretton Woods institutions and financial facilities for LDCs (Nepal), current work on commodity price volatility (New Zealand), the process of implementation of the 2010 IMF governance reforms (France), the World Bank strategy towards middle-income countries (Turkey), and ongoing work at the BWIs on the measurement of development (Denmark).

The representatives of the BWIs responded that the lack of a separate category of LDCs at the BWIs did not represent a practical disadvantage. All concessional facilities were accessible for low-income countries. The IDA crisis response window was targeted to support low-income countries. Commodity prices were being watched and related research was ongoing, focusing on mitigating the impact of price fluctuations.

The implementation of the 2010 IMF governance reforms was lagging behind. To date, only countries representing 19 per cent of quota shares had ratified the reforms, while 85 per cent were necessary for the reforms to enter into effect. The World Bank was currently reviewing its strategy towards middle-income countries. The BWIs considered multi-dimensional development indicators, including social and environmental factors, more appropriate measures of development than purely GDP-based indicators.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/events/2011BWIBriefingprogramme13.10.11.pdf