Volume 17, No.02 - February 2013

Global dialogue on development

Commission to focus on empowering people

The Fifty-First Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) will be convened in New York on 6-15 February under the priority theme “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”

Commission to focus on empowering peopleCSocD is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Since the World Summit for Social Development took place in Copenhagen in 1995, the Commission has been the key UN body in charge of the follow-up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. As a result of the Summit, the mandate of the Commission was reviewed and its membership expanded from 32 to 46 members in 1996.

Meeting once a year in New York, the Commission has addressed key social development themes as part of its follow-up to the Copenhagen Summit and the Programme of Work contains all documentation of the Commission for each of its sessions since the Summit.

This year, the event will feature a high-level panel discussion on 6 February, focusing on the priority theme and aiming to deepen knowledge and understanding of the link between empowerment and other critical elements of social policy to reduce poverty, promote social integration and full employment and decent work for all.

Panel discussions will also be arranged with events focusing on aging on 7 February; on the emerging issue of the social dimension of the global development agenda beyond 2015 on 11 February; and reviewing the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth on 11 February.

The Special Rapporteur on Disability, Mr. Shuaib Chalklen, will also give a presentation during the evening session on 8 February.

For more information:
Fifty-First Session of the Commission for Social Development

Feature story: Empowering people for social change

Google+ Hangout on sustainable development

Key outcomes of Rio+20 and the way forward will be discussed on 12 February in the first of a series of Google+ Hangouts

Sustainable Development in Action Google+ Hangout

The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June last year resulted in a focused political outcome document, which launched clear and ambitious processes for the UN System, Member States and the Major Groups to collectively achieve the Future We Want.

As part of the ongoing follow-up of the conference, DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development will host a Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, 12 February at 12 PM EST, featuring key experts on Rio+20 and sustainable development from the UN system and civil society. The first in a series of Google+ Hangouts will highlight the major outcomes of Rio+20 and the key follow-up processes launched at the conference. 

Panellists for the first “Sustainable Development in Action” Google+ Hangout include Nikhil Seth, Director of DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development; Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator for the Rio+20 conference; Kimo Goree, Vice-President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development Reporting Services (IISD); and Jacob Scherr, Director of global strategy and advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 

The Google+ Hangout will also feature a 20-minute live Q&A session with the panellists. Tweet your questions for panellists to @SustDev using #SDinAction or post them on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform Facebook page or register for one of our Sustainable Development Action Networks to join the conversation there. 

The Hangout will be hosted at the UN Google+ account at

For more information:

140 Member States expected at UN Statistical Commission

The 44th session of the Statistical Commission will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 26 February – 1 March

The United Nations Statistical Commission, established in 1947, brings together Chief Statisticians from Member States from around the world. This year, representatives from about 140 countries are expected to gather in New York.

The highest decision making body for international statistical activities and a Functional Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council, it oversees the work of DESA’s Statistics Division.

13 agenda items will be discussed including the implementation of the fundamental principles of official statistics; environmental-economic accounting; environment statistics; national accounts; international comparison programme; international trade and regional statistical development in Africa. An additional 16 items will be presented for information, including education, employment, integrated economic statistics as well as development indicators.

A great number of side events will also be arranged, including on “Big Data for Policy Development and Official Statistics”, taking a closer look at the fundamental change to the nature of data caused by the arrival of the Internet, mobile devices and other technologies.

For more information:
UN Statistical Commission

Feature story: Getting the data right for global development

Turkey to host 10th Session of UN Forum on Forests

For the first time, Turkey will host a multilateral meeting on forests, with 193 Member States participating, in Istanbul from 8-19 April following the signing on 24 January of an agreement between Turkish Government and United Nations representatives

As host country, Turkey will provide resources for holding the upcoming tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests and for the participation of delegations from developing countries. Signing the agreement were Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Yasar Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations. 

Mr. Wu described Turkey’s support for the Forum as “generous”, saying that the Government’s offer to host the Forum represented its “strong political commitment to international cooperation”.  The upcoming session of the Forum was very important to the ongoing discussions on the post-2015 United Nations development agenda, he noted. 

Mr. Çevik said that his country felt “honoured to host the tenth Forum in Istanbul”, pointing out that it would be the first time that it had held a session outside United Nations Headquarters. “I would like to reiterate once again Turkey’s commitment to sustainable forest management and raising awareness on the importance of forests in economic life and poverty eradication,” he added. 

The United Nations Forum on Forests is the only intergovernmental body that provides a global platform for policy development and cooperation on forests. The main theme of the April session — “Forests and economic development” — will advance actions for mobilizing finance for forests. Through the Forum, countries have agreed to reduce deforestation, prevent forest degradation, promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for all forest-dependent peoples. 

Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, said: “Turkey has stepped up as a leader by hosting an historic global meeting which will catalyse political and financial support for sustainable forest management”. 

Forests presently cover 4 billion hectares, nearly 31 per cent, of the global land area. Approximately 60 million people are employed by forest-based industries, and the sector contributes $468 billion annually to global gross domestic product.

For more information:
UN Forum on Forests

General Assembly creates group to work on sustainable development goals

On 22 January, the UN General Assembly established a working group to focus on the design of a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection

The 30-member working group, consisting of countries from all regions, will prepare a report containing a proposal on the SDGs that the 193-member Assembly will consider and act on at its 68th session, which begins in September.

The working group is a direct result of the commitment made by governments at the Rio+20 Conference in June to establish a set of action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate goals to help advance sustainable development. The Rio+20 outcome document, entitled “The Future We Want” also calls for the goals to be integrated into the UN’s development agenda beyond 2015.

The SDGs seek to guide countries in achieving targeted outcomes within a specific time period, such as on universal access to sustainable energy and clean water for all, and will build on the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after their 2015 deadline.

The MDGs have been instrumental in driving down poverty rates and increasing access to education, healthcare, water and sanitation, but progress has not been uniform and the UN is currently ramping up efforts to help countries achieve the goals by the target date.

“The Future We Want has broadened the scope for global action for people and the planet,” said DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo. “Sustainable development goals that build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, and that apply to all countries can provide a tremendous boost to efforts to implement sustainable development and help us address issues ranging from reducing poverty and creating jobs to the pressing issues of meeting economic, social and environmental aspirations of all people.”

Assembly President Vuk Jeremic said he would engage closely with Member States to ensure that the process to create the SDGs becomes a top priority and that the work of the newly established group is at the centre of the Assembly’s attention.

“This is a moment for us to imagine the future, and to decide on new ways to address global challenges – to truly define the ‘world we want,’ and the UN we need to make such a vision a reality,” Mr. Jeremic said.

In December, the Assembly passed a resolution outlining a series of steps to implement other aspects of the Rio+20 outcome document, including preparations for the establishment of a new high-level political forum, advancing action on the 10-year programme for promoting more sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and implementing steps to develop a sustainable development financing strategy.

Source: UN News

For more information:
Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

E-government helps countries increase efficiency

As a global hub for innovation in public governance, DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) promotes knowledge-sharing of innovative approaches and practices in public management, particularly in the area of e-government

The need to develop the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector to be able to meet the MDGs by 2015 is underscored worldwide. ICTs can help reform government in such a way that existing institutional arrangements can be restructured and new innovative plans can flourish, paving the way for a collaborative, effective, inclusive, transparent and accountable government, critical for sustainable development.

Every two years, DPADM publishes the UN E-Government Survey, providing a tool that enables decision-makers to identify their areas of strength and challenges. The survey assesses the e-government readiness of the 193 UN Member States according to a quantitative composite index of e-readiness based on website assessment, telecommunication infrastructure, and human resource endowment.

Based on the findings of the UN E-Government 2012 Survey, Tanzania ranks 139 out of 193 Member States in e-government development and is one of the leading top five countries in Eastern Africa.

“We have to change to fit in the fast-growing world of information and technology. E-government is a milestone in our development strategies,” said President Ali Mohamed Shein in his speech to launch an e-government centre at Mazizini, Zanzibar municipality, in Tanzania.

President Shein said that the e-government programme is to improve communications, economic growth, employment creation and quality of lives. He told the gathering comprising Zanzibaris and delegates from the Chinese Embassy in the country that e-government is aimed at increasing efficiency in government through the use of information and communication technology.

President Shein thanked China’s ZTE, Helios-Tech of Israel, Microsoft from USA, and local companies Salem Construction Limited and Kemmisy Investment Limited for supporting the programme, which includes the installation of the fibre optic cable, construction of centres and establishing connections.

Mr. Mohammed Ame, Head of the e-government project facilitation team, said the plan for the e-government project started in 2006, but the ground work lasted only one-year.

“We have to celebrate the success. The project is important in many aspects including improving internet and phone communications,” he said. “The fibre optic cable will enable us to easily access e-health, e-education, e-tourism and other programmes,” he added.

For more information:
UN E-Government Surveys