Volume 16, No.03 - March 2012

Global dialogue on development

ECOSOC and global governance

A special event will be convened at UN headquarters in New York on 7 March with support from UN DESA’s Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination

The objective of this event, themed “ECOSOC and Global Governance”, is to identify the world’s most pressing global governance challenges and examine how the UN ― and the Economic and Social Council in particular ― can better meet them. Panellists will particularly discuss global financial, economic and sustainable development governance, analyzing their implications for the UN and ECOSOC. The Council’s relationship with the G20 will be considered, as will ECOSOC’s role in the post-Rio+20 follow-up.

H.E. Mr. Gert Rosenthal, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the UN, will serve as moderator and panellists will include Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; and a high-level representative of the Government of Mexico (TBC), which currently holds the G20 presidency.

For more information:

Adressing range of emergent development issues

Fourteenth session of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will meet at UN Headquarters in New York on 12-16 March

CDP is a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council, providing inputs and independent advice to the Council on emerging cross-sectoral development issues and on international cooperation for development, focusing on medium- and long-term aspects. The Committee is also responsible for reviewing the status of least developed countries (LDCs) and for monitoring their progress after graduation from the category.

The 24 members of the Committee are nominated by the UN Secretary-General in their personal capacity, and are appointed by the Council for a period of three years. Membership is geared to reflect a wide range of development experience as well as geographical and gender balance.

Chaired by Professor Frances Stewart, the annual meeting of the Committee will address the following issues:

  • Promoting productive capacity and employment in a socially responsible environment, forming CDP’s contribution to the 2012 Annual Ministerial Review of the ECOSOC. It argues the importance of maintaining real macroeconomic balance beyond price-level stability and proactive policies, supported by public-private institutional arrangements, that aim at transforming the economic structure, for creating higher productive capacity and employment;
  • Triennial review of the list of least developed countries and monitoring of graduating and graduated countries from the list of LDCs: it examines possible inclusions and graduation of developing countries into or from the LDC category and monitors socio-economic development of the countries that graduated and are graduating from the category;
  • The UN development agenda beyond 2015: it provides a summary of the debate on the contribution of the MDG framework for global development policy and its shortcoming, and examines what would be the most effective way to take the MDGs agenda forwards after 2015, and;
  • Strengthening smooth transition strategy provisions (CDP input to ad hoc working group of the General Assembly): it reviews the existing smooth transition mechanisms and identifies their benefits to graduating countries from the LDC category and their shortcomings, and how such mechanisms can be further strengthened and better monitored.

For more information:
Committee for Development Policy

Getting ready for Rio+20

First round of ‘informal-informal’ negotiations on the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document will take place on 19-23 March, followed by the 3rd Intersessional Meeting on 26-27 March

Getting ready for Rio+20The UN Conference on Sustainable Development – known as Rio+20 – will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 20-22 June with the goal of securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and addressing new and emerging challenges.

On 25-27 January, an informal preparatory meeting took place at UN headquarters to hold initial discussions on the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document. Member States devoted three sessions to general discussions and comments, and three sessions to informal negotiations on Sections I and II of the zero draft, covering the Preamble/Stage Setting and the objective of Renewing Political Commitment to sustainable development. Member States were invited to submit their written comments on those Sections in advance of the meeting.

The Rio+20 Bureau now invites Member States to hold the first round of ‘informal-informal’ negotiations on the zero draft. Delegations are invited to submit comments on sections III, IV and V of the document by 29 February for negotiation on 19-23 March. The zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document is available on the official Conference website.

Following the week of ‘informal-informal’ negotiations, Member States will be joined by Major Groups and other global stakeholders for the Third Intersessional Meeting of Rio+20. Throughout the intervening weekend (24-25 March), an Expert Group Meeting retreat for Major Groups and other stakeholders will be held in New York to facilitate coalition building behind various themes of sustainable development identified in the zero draft. More information about how Major Groups are supporting the Rio+20 outcome document is available on the Conference website, please see link included below.

Voluntary associations of NGOs will lead various thematic clusters in order to present stronger advocacy and more effective engagement with the intergovernmental negotiating process. Registration for the full segment of meetings is open through the CSO Net online events registration system.

For more information:
Rio+20 Conference website
CSO-Net online events registration system
The Future We Want – Zero draft of the outcome document
Major Groups and NGO thematic clusters

Promoting social development

The Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development took place in New York on 1-10 February

This year was the policy session on the priority theme “Poverty eradication, taking into account its relationship with social integration and full employment and decent work for all”. General discussions and a high-level panel discussion were devoted to this theme on 1 February. A Special Event on the financing of social development was organized on 3 February and a panel discussion was held as part of emerging issues on “youth: poverty and unemployment” on 6 February.

Priority theme: poverty eradication

A high-level expert panel discussion preceded the general discussions on this agenda item. Delegations expressed concern about the ongoing financial and economic crisis which could further undermine the realization of the MDGs, especially poverty and hunger eradication. Job creation, economic growth and people-centered socio-economic policies should be at the core of the current macroeconomic policies to mitigate further worsening of the negative impacts.

Addressing the main causes of poverty – unemployment, inequality, instability and armed conflicts – remained a priority. Identification of sources of innovative financing for social development globally and mobilizing domestic resources of the developing countries were named among some tools to pursue, considering the current trends to reduce public budgets. Many delegations welcomed the social protection floor initiative.

Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups

The Commission heard a presentation by the Special Rapporteur on Disability, Mr. Shuaib Chalklen. The Rapporteur first briefed the Commission on his work during the past year and outlined latest steps in the promotion, monitoring, and implementation of the human rights and disability-specific instruments worldwide, with a specific focus on Africa. Mr. Chalklen stressed the need for disability to be mainstreamed into all development agendas. The upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 and the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development, to be held in September 2013, provide such opportunities. 

Youth: poverty and unemployment

The Commission held a panel discussion on the topic of “Youth: poverty and unemployment”, chaired by Mr. Mohamed Elbahi, Vice-Chair (Sudan). The panellists discussed social and economic policies to foster decent work opportunities for young people; EU’s work to prioritize youth employment within the G-20 agenda, in partnership with the ILO; ways to better align education programmes to match the actual demands of the labour markets; more careful data collection and monitoring of youth employment trends to ensure better policy responses; and Uruguay’s tri-fold approach involving young people, the State and private-sector companies to address youth unemployment.

Special event on financing of social development

The Commission held a special event on this topic moderated by the Director of UN DESA’s Financing for Development Office, with presentations by representatives of the IMF, ILO, civil society and the President of the National Institute of Statistics of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The panellists discussed ways to leverage ODA for social protection systems; financing of social development as a national priority that has to be country-specific; innovative strategies that could help finance social development, such as taxing mineral exploitation, increasing social contributions, reducing non-essential spending, taxing hydrocarbon sales and cancelling debt; and finding the right balance between social and economic investments by mobilizing national resources, regulating foreign direct investment, establishing fair rules for world trade and initiating new instruments for development.          

Session concludes

The Commission concluded its session by adopting seven draft resolutions for adoption by the Economic and Social Council, covering topics that ranged from the mainstreaming of disability into the international development agenda, to the priority theme for the next session.

Several of the texts approved focused on organizational matters, including the Commission’s future organization and working methods. By its terms, the Economic and Social Council would select “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all” as the priority theme for Commission’s fifty-first session. 

Other draft resolutions approved focused on specific initiatives, including preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (1994), while others explored the social dimensions of existing international instruments, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

For more information:
Commission for Social Development

Coordinating international migration issues

UN DESA’s Population Division organized the Tenth Coordination Meeting on International Migration at the UN from 9 to 10 February

Coordinating international migration issues The coordination meeting brought together representatives from UN entities, other relevant intergovernmental and regional organizations, Member States, civil society and the research community. In total, some 120 participants attended the two-day event.

The meeting discussed the contributions of relevant entities of the UN system and other organizations to the preparations of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which will be organized by the General Assembly during its sixty-eighth session in 2013.

The meeting also examined cooperation between international organizations and the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Global Forum is a voluntary, intergovernmental, non-binding and informal consultative process open to all Member States and Observers of the United Nations.

Experts from international organizations and academia informed participants about the latest research findings on global migration levels and trends, remittances, and the complex relationship between population, migration and the environment.

The coordination meeting allowed international organizations to exchange information on current activities and to present major new initiatives in the area of international migration. As such, the meeting provided a unique venue to enhance interagency coherence, in particular in responding to the growing demand from Member States for activities and support on issues relating to the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development.

The outcomes of the meeting will contribute to the report of the Secretary-General on international migration and development for the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly and to the preparations for the 2013 High-level Dialogue.

In a recent message, marking the International Migrants Day on 18 December, 2011, Ban Ki-moon also highlighted the valuable role migrants play, “Migrants make vast contributions to host countries. As workers, they bring skills. As entrepreneurs, they create jobs. As investors, they bring capital…No migrant should be sent back to a place where he or she will be tortured. Every migrant woman should have access to health care, including reproductive health care. Every migrant child should be able to go to school.”

For more information:
Tenth Coordination Meeting on International Migration

Forest heroes honoured at closing ceremony

People making special contributions towards protecting forests received the Forest Heroes Award at a special ceremony hosted by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat to mark the conclusion of the International Year of Forests on 9 February

International Year of Forests 2011The ceremony also featured the winners of the 2011 Universal Postal Union letter-writing contest, which drew entries from more than 2 million children and youth worldwide, and the announcement of the winners of the 2011 children’s art contest “Celebrate the Forests”.

Film clips from the first-ever award-winning International Forest Film Festival were also shown, as well as the launch of the commemorative book Forests for People with 75 articles from 35 countries.

Jan McAlpine, Director of UNFF Secretariat and a member of the jury panel for the Forest Heroes Awards, said the well-being of forests was a concern for everyone. “Each of us, all 7 billion people on Earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to forests. We launched the UNFF Forest Heroes Awards for the International Year of Forests 2011 to identify and honour the countless individuals around the world who are dedicating their lives to nurturing forests in quiet and heroic ways. The programme aims to spotlight everyday people working to make positive changes for forests.”

Through many activities, the 2011 International Year of Forests helped promote awareness of the issues confronting the world’s forests and the people who depend on them. Forests cover 31 per cent of the world’s total global land area, store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon and provide livelihoods for more than 1.6 billion people. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The UNFF Secretariat received 90 nominations from 41 countries and selected 15 finalists. After a long and difficult deliberation, the jury finally decided on the following regional winners: Africa’s Paul Nzegha Mzeka (Cameroon), Asia’s Shigeatsu Hatakeyama (Japan), Europe’s Anatoly Lebedev (Russian Federation), Latin America’s Paulo Adario (Brazil) and North America’s Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva (United States). The jury decided to add a special award in recognition of the deceased couple José Claudio Ribeiro and Maria do Espírito Santo, two activists tragically murdered in Brazil while trying to protect their natural forests.

Each hero embodied innovative approaches and grass-roots initiatives that make a direct impact on the forests to which they have dedicated themselves.

Since its launch in February 2011, global observance of the International Year of Forests has been dedicated to raising public awareness of the vital role of people in sustainable management and catalysing actions in the development and conservation of all types of forests.

International Year of Forests closing ceremony 2011 (part 1)

International Year of Forests 2011 closing ceremony (part 2)

For more information:
International Year of Forests 2011