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Volume 16, No.11 - November 2012

Global dialogue on development


Cooperatives year comes full circle

The International Year of Cooperatives celebrated under the theme “Cooperative enterprises build a better world” will culminate on 19-20 November with a closing ceremony featuring a short film festival


Over one billion people are members of cooperatives, a serious enterprise model that puts people at the heart of all business. Owned and controlled by the members they serve, they are great tools for empowering people. It is also estimated that cooperatives account for more than 100 million jobs around the world.

“Cooperatives empower their members and strengthen communities. They promote food security and enhance opportunities for small agricultural producers. They are better tuned to local needs and better positioned to serve as engines of local growth. By pooling resources, they improve access to information, finance and technology. And their underlying values of self-help, equality and solidarity offer a compass in challenging economic times,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this year when the International Day of Cooperatives was celebrated.

Intended to raise public awareness of how cooperatives contribute to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration, the International Year of Cooperatives was launched on 31 October 2011. The year also sought to promote growth and the creation of cooperatives worldwide and to encourage individuals, communities and governments to acknowledge the role cooperatives play in helping to achieve internationally agreed upon development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

As the year comes full circle, closing events will be held on 19-20 November featuring a short film festival on 20 November. Filmmakers from around the world have been invited to submit their contributions showcasing cooperatives and encouraging support and development of cooperative enterprises by individuals and their communities. The winners and the films selected will soon be revealed.

For more information:

International Year of Cooperatives 2012

International Year of Cooperatives Short Film Festival

Food security, migration and ICTs

The UN General Assembly’s Second and Third Committees will continue their sessions in November focusing on economic and financial issues and on social, humanitarian and cultural matters respectively

The Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) opened its session on 8 October featuring a keynote address by James Robinson, David Florence Professor of Government at Harvard University, who highlighted his book, “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty”, emphasizing the relationship between politics and economic institutions. While long-run economic growth was driven by new ways of producing things, including innovation and technical growth, society also needed to be organized in such a way as to harness the talents, energy and skills of its people, he said. “Societies that fail, fail to use these attributes,” Professor Robinson added.

The Second Committee has during the month of October arranged a number of side events including a panel discussion on “Conceptualizing a set of sustainable development goals” on 16 October; an event focusing on “Sovereign debt crises and restructurings: lessons learnt and proposals for debt resolution mechanisms” on 25 October; and a discussion on “Countries with special needs / Middle income countries” on 31 October.

At the end of October and beginning of November, sustainable development will be at the top of the agenda, followed by topics including agriculture development and food security, poverty eradication, the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ICTs.

Upcoming special events in November include:

  • Special joint meeting of the Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council on “Food security and nutrition: scaling up the global response”;
  • Discussion on “Entrepreneurship for development”;
  • Discussion on “Migration and development”;
  • Panel discussion on “Science, technology and innovation: a new development paradigm”

The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee) also opened its session on 8 October. DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo addressed the Committee highlighting achievements made and challenges remaining as the world community approaches the target date for the Millennium Development Goals.

“We must tackle rising inequalities and address the impact on vulnerable groups,” Mr. Wu said. He also pointed to the dire situation of unemployment around the globe, saying “the global jobs crisis has hit youth the hardest. Young women and men represent 40 per cent of the 200 million jobless people worldwide. They are nearly three times more likely than adults to be jobless.”

As in previous sessions, an important part of the work of the Committee will focus on the examination of human rights questions. It also discusses the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- determination. The Committee also addresses important social development questions such as issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control.

For more information:

Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee)

Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee)

Voices of youth at the UN General Assembly

As the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee opened its session on 8 October; voices and concerns of young people from across the globe were conveyed

With commitment and a huge amount of enthusiasm, UN Youth Delegates took the stage to deliver messages on education, employment and other issues of importance to youth.

“This is one of the best moments in my life, because I represent youth at a crucial time,” said Caesar Suarez from Mexico. He also underscored the importance of youth participation, and making the voices of youth heard. “Look to the youth and let us participate in a responsible and democratic way,” he said.

As some 30 Youth Delegates had gathered in New York, DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development, which oversees the UN Youth Delegate Programme on behalf of the UN, took the opportunity to bring them together for a briefing. The commitment of the UN and the Secretary-General’s pledge to prioritize youth issues were highlighted, along with the action plan being prepared and efforts to involve young people in the post-2015 development agenda.

Some of the representatives shared what it feels like to represent their country at the UN and also what key messages they conveyed to the Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

“We are so happy to be here. This is the first time that Kenya has youth representatives. We represent over 70 per cent of the Kenyan population,” said Rebecca Ndombi. Sharing some of the key points in her statement, Rebecca said, “I spoke about how education needs to be taken as an important step, and how more investments need to be made in order to educate and empower the youth of Kenya.” Rebecca also highlighted the role of ICTs as a very effective tool, as well as the importance of showcasing positive examples.

Gladwell Kahara, also representing Kenya, spoke about youth unemployment and about the importance of reaching out to young people, teaching them how to protect themselves from becoming infected with HIV and AIDS. Paula Lascano from Mexico also addressed unemployment and the importance of youth participation. She also highlighted her country’s commitment to people with disabilities.

“For me it was important to say something that I really, really believed in. Therefore I chose to speak about anti-racism, migration and the situation for people that had to leave their countries,” said Sweden’s youth delegate Milischia Rezai.

Panyarak Roque from Thailand shared his views about being a youth delegate, the honor it entails but also the responsibility that comes with this role. “One of the things we do as youth delegates, is to try to actually represent young people and to make sure that the youth delegation programmes at the UN are not only tokenistic programmes, but also have actual results and actual representation,” he said.

After participating in the Third Committee’s working session and in youth-focused side events, some of the delegates will leave UN Headquarters to return home at the end of October. But many will be back again early next year, making sure that the voices of youth are being heard as the Commission for Social Development opens its 51st session on 6 February 2013.

For more information:

DESA/Division for Social Policy and Development/Youth

UN Youth Delegate Programme

Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee) of the UN General Assembly

“Human life dependent on ‘planetary boundaries’ that should not be crossed”

This statement was given by one of the panelists in the Second Committee Special Event “Conceptualizing a set of sustainable development goals” which was arranged on 16 October

UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeHuman life on earth would depend on the formulation of a set of sustainable development goals built on an ambitious vision, Kate Raworth, Senior Researcher for Oxfam GB, told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on 16 October as it held a panel discussion on this topic.

One of four panellists in the discussion, Ms. Raworth described nine “planetary boundaries” in areas including land use, chemical pollution, climate change and ozone depletion, emphasizing that in order to maintain the planet, they should not be crossed.

Noting that three of the boundaries had already been crossed, with others under major stress regionally or locally, Ms. Raworth underscored that they were designed not “to protect tree frogs or polar bears”, but humanity, and not as part of an environmentalist agenda, but as part of a humanist one.  With “choppy waters” ahead, she said, there was an “extraordinary chance” to develop a real plan to deal with future development.

But that was only half the challenge, she said, describing an inner limit of resource use within which people lacked adequate access to water, energy, jobs, income and gender equality, among other things. “Every human being must have the resources to meet their human rights,” she stressed, calling for a balance between resource use and resource limitation that would exist in a “safe space for humanity.” The current imbalance amounted to an “indictment of the path to development we have followed to date”, she said, adding, however, that the challenges could be met.

Also featured as panellists in the discussion led by the Second Committee Chair George Wilfred Talbot of Guyana, and moderated by Andrew Revkin, Senior Fellow at Pace University’s Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, were Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil, Permanent Representative of Egypt; Manish Bapna, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute; and Charles Kenny, Senior Fellow, Centre for Global Development. Shamshad Akhtar, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, also participated in the event, discussing the process for moving forward.

Mr. Bapna, echoing calls for a set of forward-looking Sustainable Development Goals, said they must tackle today’s problems rather than those of yesterday. Also emphasizing that the Sustainable Development Goals must be multidimensional, he said that, unlike the Millennium Development Goals, they needed to focus on sustainability and to make clear the links connecting the three pillars of sustainable development. Moreover, the Millennium Goals asked very little of high-income countries, he pointed out, calling for Goals that would focus explicitly on “global collective action problems” such as climate change and food supply.

The process of conceptualizing a set of Sustainable Development Goals must be open and inclusive, unlike the process that had come up with the Millennium Development Goals, Mr. Bapna stressed, pointing out that the poor had not been consulted to determine how they defined poverty and what must be done to induce change. Fortunately, some organizations were beginning to reach out to the poor, he said, adding that it was important to acknowledging shortcomings in the Millennium Development Goals in formulating the new set of targets.  However, it was crucial not to lose sight of good decisions, he said, urging the Committee to “build on the good decisions and learn from the bad decisions so as to not repeat them”.

Source: UN Department of Public Information

For the complete summary of the meeting:
General Assembly GA/EF/3341 (Department of Public Information/News and Media Division)