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Volume 17, No.10 - October 2013

Global dialogue on development


Impact of world financial and economic crisis on development

The sixth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development will be held on 7 and 8 October at UN Headquarters, on the overall theme “The Monterrey Consensus, Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and related outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits: status of implementation and tasks ahead”.

The two-day event will include a series of plenary meetings chaired by the President of the General Assembly, at which ministers and high-level officials will be able to make formal statements, three interactive multi-stakeholder round tables and an informal interactive dialogue, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders. The themes of the three round tables and the interactive dialogue will be as follows:

  • Round table 1: “The impact of the world financial and economic crisis on the reform of the international monetary and financial system and its implications for development”;
  • Round table 2: “Mobilization of public and private financing, including foreign direct investment and other private flows, and fostering international trade and sustainable debt financing, in the context of financing for development”;
  • Round table 3: “The role of financial and technical development cooperation, including innovative sources of development finance, in leveraging the mobilization of domestic and international financial resources for sustainable development”;
  • Informal interactive dialogue: “The link between financing for development and achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015”.

At the closing, the President of the General Assembly will make concluding remarks summarizing the main points of discussions. Full summary by the President will be issued as an official UN document.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/hld/HLD2013/index.htm

The future older persons want

The NGO Committee on Ageing is celebrating the 2013 International Day of Older Persons on 9 October at UN Headquarters.

This year, in commemoration of the International Day of Older Persons (1 October), the theme “The future we want: what older persons are saying” has been chosen to draw attention to the efforts of older persons, civil society organisations, United Nations organizations and Member States to place the issue of ageing on the international development agenda.

For more information: http://undesadspd.org/Ageing/InternationalDayofOlderPersons.aspx

Employment, MDGs and inequality at the Second Committee

The Second Committee is expected to start its work on 9 October 2013 at UN Headquarters, with an opening address by UN DESA Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo and a keynote address by a prominent economist.

The UN DESA Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (OESC) will coordinate the organization of several special events, subject to the approval of the incoming bureau. Proposed events include joint Second Committee/ECOSOC events on the future of employment; finding a path to delivering the MDGs; and inequality and the global outlook, with the participation of experts from Project LINK. Other proposed events are a briefing on the implementation of the Convention on Biodiversity, which was mandated by the Second Committee, as well as a panel discussion on strengthening vulnerability resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in preparation of the Third International Conference on SIDS.

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

No discrimation for people in extreme poverty

The 2013 Commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP) will be held on 17 October at UN Headquarters, focusing on the theme “Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty”.

This year’s event is organized in partnership with the International Movement ATD Fourth World, the NGO Sub-committee for the Eradication of Poverty and UN DESA, supported by the Missions of France and Burkina Faso to the United Nations.

In addition to the Commemoration in New York, celebrations of the Day are being organized worldwide. Through resolution A/RES/47/196 adopted on 22 December 1992, the General Assembly invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution.

For more information: http://undesadspd.org/Poverty/InternationalDayfortheEradicationofPoverty/2013.aspx

Development cooperation in the post-2015 setting

To advance the dialogue on development cooperation, the Government of Switzerland and the UN DESA are  organizing a High-Level Symposium of the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) on “Development cooperation in a post-2015 era: sustainable development for all”. It will take place in Montreux, Switzerland, from 24-25 October 2013

The international community is preparing for a post-2015 development agenda. The environmental and social challenges of today show that a holistic approach to sustainable development is urgently needed. Silos between the economic, social and environmental spheres have to be broken down to ensure integrated action on all three aspects. What does this mean for development cooperation? And how can development cooperation help to achieve sustainable development for all?

Building a unified and universal agenda

Significant progress has been made on many of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), yet major challenges remain. The global development agenda beyond 2015 will not only have to complete any unfinished business of the MDGs. It will also have to put the world on a more sustainable development path.

Climate change and environmental degradation are threatening to reverse gains made in developing countries and are also affecting developed countries. This shows the need for an agenda not only unified in its thematic focus but also universal in its applicability to all countries. At Rio+20, world leaders agreed on the need to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social – in the post-2015 development agenda.

Implications for development cooperation

Effective development cooperation will be critical to the success of the post-2015 development agenda. This means development cooperation will have to evolve. Instruments, channels and division of labour among partners will have to adapt. Additional resources – public and private, domestic and international – will also be required to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, including addressing climate change and other global challenges.

It will be important to ensure that a greater focus on sustainable development is truly an integrated approach and does not detract attention and resources from poverty eradication. More, development cooperation should be geared to help to break down the silos between the environmental, social and economic strands of work streams.

There is need to assess the use of all available forms of financing for sustainable development, including public and private, cross-border and domestic sources. This will give some countries more room to manoeuvre, as they find themselves exposed to a more diverse range of stakeholders to work with. Other countries, may find traditional funding reduced. There is an urgent need to ensure that resources are equitably distributed and reach the poorest countries and people.

Launching this dialogue in Switzerland

To advance the dialogue on these issues, the Government of Switzerland and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs are together organizing the High-Level Symposium of the United Nations Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) on “Development cooperation in a post-2015 era: sustainable development for all”. The second in the series of preparatory symposiums for the July 2014 DCF, the symposium will take place in Montreux, Switzerland from 24-25 October 2013. With its multi-stakeholder character, the DCF can bring together a plurality of actors. High-level representatives from governments in developing and developed countries, Southern partners, the private sector, academia, civil society and international organizations will all participate.

Bringing together the environmental and development portfolios

Given its focus, this symposium is a great opportunity to bring ministers from the environmental, economic and development portfolios together to discuss the challenges a renewed global partnership for development will have to address in the post-2015 era and to assess how development cooperation will have to evolve to best help to advance this future agenda.

The symposium will further examine the potential implications of a post-2015 development agenda for the allocation of different types of resources, both among and within countries and sectors. It will focus on how development cooperation can be used to mobilize additional public and private resource to finance sustainable development and how coherence in approaches to different types of financing and accessibility of funding can be ensured. It will also look at how global monitoring of and accountability for development cooperation would have to change in the post-2015 setting.

The 2014 Development Cooperation Forum

The 2014 Development Cooperation Forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Counil, taking place in July 2014 in New York, will help to advance the global dialogue on the future of development cooperation in the post-2015 agenda.

To support the preparations for the 2014 DCF, UNDESA is organizing three High-Level Symposia in partnership with UN member States and a number of high-level preparatory meetings focusing on thematic aspects such as gender, South-South Cooperation or philanthropic engagement in development cooperation. Ethiopia hosted the first High-Level Symposium in June 2013, with a focus on the renewed global partnership for development. In March 2014, Germany will host the concluding High-Level Symposium in the cycle, examining global accountability and effective development cooperation in the post-2015 era.

For more information, please visit the DCF website at: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/newfunct/dcfswitzerland.shtml

Task Team to develop QCPR Monitoring Framework begin discussions

In response to the ECOSOC resolution on the progress in the implementation of resolution 67/226 on the Quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR), a Task Team consisting of DESA, DOCO and other UNDG representatives has commenced work to refine the QCPR monitoring and indicator framework.

The objective of the Task Team is to merge UN DESA’s preliminary QCPR monitoring and indicator framework with UNDG’s QCPR Action Plan to produce a single coherent, concise and comprehensive QCPR monitoring framework.  The Task Team will also develop a clear and simplified methodology for data collection that minimizes transaction costs while capturing the depth and breadth of the work of the UN system to inform the SG’s report to ECOSOC on QCPR implementation. The Team is expected to complete these objectives by the end of October.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/2012qcpr.htm

Small Islands Developing States need partnerships

The world has the opportunity to use the Third Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa, next year to forge partnerships to address critical issues concerning sustainability in small islands, according to world leaders who met in the margins of the UN General Assembly on 25 September.

The conference – to be held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa – will focus global attention on the small island developing states that remain a special case for sustainable development because of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.

It will also serve as an important opportunity to galvanize partnerships for action on sustainable development in small island developing States, including on issues such as climate change, oceans, waste, sustainable tourism, and disaster risk reduction.

The island states have adopted the theme for the Conference, proposed by Samoa, of “sustainable development of small island states through genuine and durable partnerships.”

“We need to bring more attention to the problems that small island developing states face, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the leaders. “Many of your countries are isolated. Your markets are too small to realize economies of scale. All small island developing sates are exposed to high risks from environmental threats, especially climate change.”

But he said the world has not paid enough attention to the issues that the islanders, often on the frontlines, have had to face alone.

Involve more actors through social media

“If we are honest, we have to acknowledge that the 1994 Conference on small island developing states did not attract much international attention.”  The difference now, he said, is that there are many more actors involved on the climate issue now than there were in 1994, and communications have grown more inclusive and participative with the rise of social media.

UN General Assembly President John Ashe said the theme of partnerships not only applies to small island developing states, but also to “the effective delivery of all our broader development goals, which will require empowered partnerships based upon mutual trust, equality, respect, and accountability.”

He said partnerships can play a key role in addressing specific areas of concern, including climate change, disaster resilience, energy, oceans and seas, waste management, sustainable tourism, and environmental audits and indicator systems.

“The primary benefit of partnership,” he said, “is that it builds on skills, efforts, shared vision, expertise and comparative advantages of different committed actors while offering something greater than one part; partnerships widen the circle of possibilities and opportunities.  That is why we look to them – look to each other – in achieving our goals.  For SIDS countries, and indeed all countries, they will become increasingly important as our global interconnection continues to deepen and expand.”

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi said Samoa wants to use the Conference strengthen partnerships.  “Partnerships must be encouraged at all levels, national, regional and international, including among SIDS.”  But he added that the measure of success for the Conference was not the quantity of the resources mobilized or the number of initiatives launched, but ultimately, it was their quality in benefiting the people of the small island developing States.

The road to Samoa will not be easy

Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade Maxine McClean said, “The Road to Samoa will not be easy. But we have provided ourselves with the right tools to ensure that we will navigate all challenges and have a successful outcome.”

She added that the first International Year of SIDS will help.  “We have an unprecedented moment throughout 2014 to elevate our voices, and embark on new development collaborations and partnerships with the UN System, Major Groups and the wider international community.   While we seek to highlight our vulnerabilities, 2014 will also give us the opportunity to showcase our culture and or technological achievements.”

Other speakers included the European Union’s President Joao Manuel Barroso, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Foreign Minister José García-Margallo of Spain, Environment Minister Andrea Orlando of Italy, Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz of Turkey, who all reaffirmed their commitment to continue supporting SIDS development efforts as well as the Conference itself, through genuine and durable partnerships.

For more information:  http://www.sids2014.org/

Commission on Sustainable Development holds final session

After promoting sustainable development for two decades, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) held its last session on Friday, 20th September. The concluding meeting took place just before the inaugural session of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development on Tuesday, 24 September, which has replaced the CSD.

A bold and new idea that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit, the CSD was the first UN body established to promote and monitor the implementation of sustainable development.  It broke new ground by including an array of participants from civil society in its deliberations.  The CSD also served as the launching pad for a range of new initiatives, treaties, and organizations aimed at addressing particular issues within the sustainable development agenda.

But over time, participants expressed concern that progress in implementing sustainable development was lagging and that the issue needed to be addressed at a higher level. Therefore, in the  Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want,” Member States called for the creation of the High-Level Political Forum to ensure that sustainable development tops the agenda of the highest levels of government and is embraced by all actors.

CSD taught us many lessons

The Chairperson of the final CSD session, Bektas Mukhamedzhanov, Kazakh Vice-Minister of Environment Protection, said “the CSD played a critical role to maintain the momentum on sustainable development.  CSD taught us many lessons on how the Forum can deliver on this responsibility.”

“We are entering a new period in history,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo.  “There is a realization that sustainable development—the integration of policies and actions that promote economic and social well-being that also protect the environment—has to have a  prominent place on the international agenda at the highest levels.  The Commission on Sustainable Development has served us well, yet we have to recognize that we need to urgently accelerate action.  The High Level Political Forum will help us do just that.”

Former CSD Chair Gerda Verburg, the only woman to chair the Commission in its history, said that what we need from the HLPF is an “integrated and result-oriented approach, without dogmas and a fixation on talks and negotiation. It is our generation that can and has to make the difference”.

A platform for inspiring action

The CSD has been credited with helping countries share ideas and best practices and many believe that it provided a platform for inspiring action.  The work of the Commission led to the establishment of the UN Forum on Forests, which has advanced progress on sustainable forestry through the adoption of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests in 2007. A recommendation of the Commission led to the process that established the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, as well as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

The Commission has also advanced progress in the areas of oceans, water and energy, among others, and has worked to promote sustainable development in small island developing states.

According to a report of the UN Secretary-General on the lessons learned from the Commission, the contributions achieved by the CSD were also accompanied by a number of shortcomings. The report pointed to shortcomings in fully integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and in its review and impact on the implementation of sustainable development.

The new High-Level Political Forum will be shaped with these useful lessons in mind and its first session revealed an optimism and determination that bodes well for the future.

Fore more information, including a video summarizing the CSD’s history and video messages from two of its Chairs, please see: http://bit.ly/18XacL9. A short video on the HLPF can be found here: http://bit.ly/18cx3p1

A step forward in sustainable development

With the goal of reinvigorating sustainable development efforts, world leaders gathered at the UN Headquarters on 24 September for the inaugural session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

The convening of this new Forum represents a major step forward in the follow-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).  The forum was born from the realization that there had been insufficient progress in implementing sustainable development — and in promoting prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment — at a time when many global challenges threaten to roll back the successes achieved in fighting poverty.

In the outcome document of Rio+20, “The Future We Want”, Member States accordingly decided to create a high-level political forum to ensure that sustainable development tops the agenda at the highest levels of Government and is embraced by all actors.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “The Forum is a key platform for examining today’s challenges in a holistic and integrated manner. It can be the catalyst for a strengthened global partnership for sustainable development, providing political leadership grounded in solid science.” He announced the creation of a Scientific Advisory Board to strengthen the science-policy interface. Addressing the Major Groups, the Secretary-General said “We need your ideas, expertise and leadership.” He added that the forum would engage the full range of sustainable development actors.

General Assembly President John Ashe said that the meeting had confirmed world leaders’ readiness to put poverty eradication and sustainable development at the core of the post-2015 development agenda. He highlighted that the HLPF will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the elaboration and the implementation of this agenda. “It should be the home for concrete guidance in the review of the sustainable development goals, their implementation and monitoring, as well as integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development by all actors. It will, if properly used, become the tool for embedding or mainstreaming sustainable development at all levels”.

The GA President also emphasized that the Forum has been afforded the rare opportunity to get things right from the start, because a new institution is a clean slate. “The slate of the HLPF waits for us to write in its purpose and its future. We have the opportunity to set the tone, tenor, scope of action, level of engagement, achievement and productivity for which this Forum will become known. Through our efforts in this Forum we can and must offer our citizens new hope and new solutions,” he said.

Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo stressed the importance of grounding the work of the forum in science and scientific findings.   He presented the summary of the prototype Global Sustainable Development Report aimed at making this happen.  He called for a new initiative to improve the quality and quantity of data on sustainable development.

The Forum has a novel institutional structure, bringing Heads of State and Government together every four years, under the auspices of the General Assembly.  Their deliberations will translate into an inter-governmentally agreed declaration.  The Forum will also meet annually, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council at the ministerial level.  In both formats, the forum will aim to promote implementation of sustainable development and address new challenges.

Starting in 2016, the Forum will include reviews on the implementation of sustainable development by all countries and the United Nations system, which should allow greater accountability and focus on action on the ground.

The President of Brazil and the Prime Minister of Italy spoke at the opening of the forum. ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and International Monetary Fund Chairperson Christine Lagarde were also among those addressing the Forum. The opening was followed by a series of “Leaders Dialogues” that explored the role of the forum in translating the vision of Rio+20 into action, the global partnerships that create jobs and improve sustainable lifestyles and mapping the way forward for poverty eradication.18 Heads of State or Government and 30 Ministers spoke. Representatives from civil society participated in all the discussions.

The Forum replaces the Commission on Sustainable Development, which concluded its work on 20 September after 20 years of promoting sustainable development.

More information:  http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1649

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVIqaVQ7eF8

Including the disabled in Sustainable Development Goals

As the General Assembly adopted a landmark outcome document aimed at promoting disability-inclusive development, during its first-ever high-level meeting on that topic, that took place on 23 September, its President underlined the text’s significance as the instrument to guide efforts towards the creation of a fully inclusive society through 2015 and beyond.

“Given the size of such a marginalized group, the onus is on us all to ensure that any future sustainable development goals include the disabled,” Assembly President John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) stressed, pointing out the absence of any reference to people with disabilities in all eight Millennium Development Goals. The international community had now realized that it would be impossible to meet development targets, including the Millennium Goals, without incorporating the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities.

By the text adopted today, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their resolve to work together for disability-inclusive development and for the international community’s commitment to advancing the rights of all persons with disabilities, which was deeply rooted in the goals of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

More ambitious disability-inclusive development strategies

World leaders also underlined the need for urgent action by all relevant stakeholders towards the adoption and implementation of more ambitious disability-inclusive national development strategies, while expressing their resolve to undertake various commitments to address barriers, including those relating to education, health care, employment, legislation, societal attitudes, as well as the physical environment and information and communications technology.

The text urged the United Nations system as well as Member States to stay engaged in efforts to realize the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond. It encouraged the international community to seize every opportunity to include disability as a cross-cutting issue on the global development agenda, including the emerging post-2015 United Nations development framework.

The world’s largest minority

Assembly President Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), noting that some had labelled the disabled “differently able”, emphasized that people with physical, sensory, mental and intellectual disabilities were “the world’s largest minority”, numbering more than 1 billion. “They are a diverse and varied group, each with unique gifts and abilities, and each with unique challenges,” he said. “They teach us not only lessons about love and respect, but also about persevering against the odds.”

Turning to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the Assembly in 2006, he noted that 134 countries had ratified or acceded to the treaty, which had been envisaged from inception as both a human rights and a development instrument.

Lastly, he said international efforts should be focused on providing critical leadership with a view to mobilizing action and support for specific policy commitments in national and regional environments, and to harnessing best practices, experiences and resources from effective multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 80 per cent of persons with disabilities were of working age, and the same percentage lived in developing countries. Too many of them lived in poverty, suffered from social exclusion, and lacked access to education, employment, health care as well as social and legal support systems. Women and girls with disabilities often experienced double discrimination, and it was therefore necessary to emphasize the gender dimension of a disability-inclusive development agenda. Quoting International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics, he warned that excluding disabled persons could cost economies as much as 7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). “Together let us turn a new page in the history of the United Nations by giving full meaning to the outcome document of this meeting,” he said.

Also speaking this morning were Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum; and Stevie Wonder, award-winning musician and United Nations Messenger of Peace.

20 per cent of the world’s poorest people have disabilities

Ms. Reyes said the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was the “lighthouse” that should guide engagement with disabled people in the new century. It was important to ask how their rights could be improved, looking not merely at the disadvantages they faced, but also at how they dealt with barriers and limitations on their actions. Noting that 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people had disabilities, she said it was clear that their ability to exercise human rights and fundamental freedoms was closely related to the exercise of socioeconomic rights.

She said her Committee foresaw the full reflection of the Convention in today’s outcome document. It should prioritize equality and non-discrimination, and include women, girls and boys, older people, indigenous peoples, people in rural areas and those living under humanitarian threats. States must comply with the commitments they had made.

Mr. Vardakastanis said 1 billion people with disabilities were looking to decision-makers nationally and internationally to tackle the exclusion, discrimination and poverty they faced. There was minimal acknowledgement of their rights in international law, despite the Convention’s adoption and ratification. The Millennium Development Goals contained no reference to people with disabilities, a situation that could not be tolerated in the post-2015 development agenda. Disability rights needed mainstreaming under the principles of “inclusion, non-discrimination and equity”, he emphasized.

A world with no limits for persons with disabilities

Mr. Wonder described the Meeting as “historic”, recalling that in his capacity as a Messenger for Peace since 2009, he had been advocating for the fundamental goals of peace, development and human rights for all. As “a man of dreams and hope”, he had sought to create a world with no limits for persons with disabilities who could contribute their talents to society.

He went on to point out that less than 5 per cent of millions of publications were available in a format accessible to the visually impaired, adding that the rate was even lower in the developing world. Braille, large prints and audio books could make a real difference in the lives of more than 300 million visually impaired persons, he said, stressing the need to reflect the voices of the disabled in every effort, whether for peace or development. “Let us all be messengers of peace,” he added, recalling that his mother had allowed him to discover the world, which in turn had led to the discovery of his own talent as a gospel singer and eventually to a recording contract with Motown.

Following the opening segment, the Assembly held two round-table discussions, on the first on “International and regional cooperation and partnerships for disability inclusive development”, and the second on “The post-2015 development agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities”.

Press release: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2013/ga11420.doc.htm

Nominations started for UN Public Service Awards

The United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) has now started to accept nominations for the award. The UNPSA rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective, innovative and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.

Nominations can be submitted online at www.unpan.org/applyunpsa2014 from 18 September 2013 and the closing date is 18 December 2013.

The 2014 UNPSA consists the following categories:

1.   Improving the Delivery of Public Services;

2.   Fostering Participation in Policy-Making Decisions through Innovative Mechanisms;

3.   Promoting Whole-of-Government Approaches in the Information Age

4.   Promoting Gender Responsive Delivery of Public Services.