Volume 18, No.01 - January 2014

Global dialogue on development

ECOSOC set to address sustainable development agenda

“Improving the quality of life of a growing population in a sustainable manner remains the most urgent development priority for the international community,” stressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his report on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council.

The first resolution of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly (resolution 68/1), adopted on 20 September, contains the most far-reaching reforms of ECOSOC since 1991. UN DESA is poised to play a key role in implementing these reforms. The Secretary-General has been asked to make proposals to promote collaboration across the UN system, taking account of the functions of a strengthened ECOSOC, with UN DESA serving as a central hub of support for the Council, in order to better utilize existing resources of the UN system to broaden support to the ECOSOC and its Bureau. The proposals would include measures to enable the Secretariat to better support the implementation of a unified development agenda.

The new elements of the reform package adopted, mandates the Council to provide substantive leadership to the ECOSOC system through: adopting an annual theme; convening an integration segment to promote and monitor the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the work of the ECOSOC system; convening of the HLPF under the auspices of the Council; and immediately staggering the segments of the Council throughout the year, with a work programme cycle beginning in July.

The Council’s meetings will be convened in New York except the Humanitarian Affairs Segment, which will alternate between Geneva and New York. The reform of ECOSOC was carried out in conjunction with the establishment of the new High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will meet annually under the auspices of the Council.

“This Forum is integral to shaping our common vision for future decades,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

For more information on the work of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), browse the Council’s website.


Addressing sustainable cities, climate change and disaster risk reduction

Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (UN Photo)The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals will meet for its seventh session from 6 to 10 January. It will discuss sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport, sustainable consumption and production, climate change and disaster risk reduction.

The programme for this session, including the key note speakers and panellists, can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP).

The Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group will again hold meetings with Major Groups and other Stakeholders every morning of the session. Registered Major Groups can also contribute to Thematic Clusters online.

More information on the possibilities of providing input, the issues briefs prepared by the UN System Technical Support Team, as well as other information on this upcoming session, can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP).


Committee on NGOs convenes for first session of 2014

NGO Committee (UN Photo/Jenny Rockett)The 2014 regular session of the Committee on NGOs will take place in New York from 21 to 30 January.

The session is expected to consider 220 new applications for status by NGOs as well as 219 applications deferred from earlier sessions. The Committee will also review 290 quadrennial reports of NGOs in general or special consultative status, as well as 23 quadrennial reports deferred from earlier sessions. The Committee will meet again on 7 February to adopt its report of the session.The session’s recommendations will be sent to the Economic and Social Council for its approval in July 2014. 

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations is a standing committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It reports directly to ECOSOC, and the two reports of its annual regular session (usually at the end of January) and resumed session (in May) include draft resolutions or decisions on matters calling for action by the Council.

The main tasks of the Committee are:

  • The consideration of applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOs;
  • The consideration of quadrennial reports submitted by NGOs in General and Special categories;
  • The implementation of the provisions of Council resolution 1996/31 and the monitoring of the consultative relationship;
  • Any other issues which the ECOSOC may request the Committee to consider.

The Committee has 19 members who are elected on the basis of equitable geographical representation: 5 members from African States; 4 members from Asian States; 2 members from Eastern European States; 4 members from Latin American and Caribbean States; and 4 members from Western European and other States. The term of office of its members is four years. Current membership will end on 31 December 2014.

Members of the NGO Committee for the period 2011-2014 are the following: Belgium (Vice-Chair), Bulgaria (Vice-Chair), Burundi, China, Cuba, India, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Pakistan (Chair), Peru (Vice-Chair and Rapporteur), Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan (Vice-Chair), Turkey, United States of America, and Venezuela (Bolivarian Rep).

For more information:

Committee on NGOs


ECOSOC addresses response to typhoon in the Philippines

SpecialECOSOCmeetingThe Economic and Social Council convened a Special Meeting on “Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines” on 16 December as a step to follow-up on the resolution on strengthening of ECOSOC.

The event, organized by UN DESA in collaboration with OCHA and UNISDR, drew attention to the international community’s response to Typhoon Haiyan and explored ways to enhance coordination in response, rehabilitation, recovery, reconstruction and development efforts in its aftermath.

The meeting attracted high-level participation from Member States. In a keynote address, H.E. Mr. Jose Rene D. Almendras, Cabinet Secretary of the Philippines, illustrated the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan and provided an overview of the Government’s response. The UN system was represented by Ms. Valerie Amos (OCHA), Ms. Margareta Wahlström (UNISDR), Ms. Luiza Carvalho (UN Resident Coordinator) and Mr. Nicholas Rosellini (UNDP).  The Council also had an opportunity to interact with a representative of the civil society (American Red Cross) and the private sector on the response to the typhoon. Quite a number of delegations participated at the Ambassadorial level during the interactive dialogue.

Both the Government of the Philippines and OCHA were praised for working closely with the international community to coordinate support and to avoid duplication of efforts. The Strategic Response Plan (SRP) of humanitarian partners, which calls for US$791 million, covering 12 months from the date of the disaster, has been designed to complement the Government’s Yolanda Recovery and Reconstruction Plan – a 4-year-plan for $3 billion. As of 16 December, only 30 per cent of the SRP had been funded. The Government of the Philippines intends to conduct a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), commencing in January 2014, and the UN system expressed its readiness to support that process.

While preparedness and early warning systems have improved, more work needed to be done, in particular addressing the underlying drivers of risk, such as weak governance, poor planning and land use, poverty and lack of protection of ecosystems. Other issues raised included the role of local leadership, the role of the private sector in disaster risk management, the use of technology in relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts, civilian capacity gaps and the need to simplify scientific language for ordinary citizens. A key message is that humanitarian efforts should be linked to long-term development agenda.

Expectations are high with regard to the 2014 International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, the 2014 Climate Summit in New York and the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which many view as key opportunities for addressing issues related to natural disasters.

The Economic and Social Council will convene a follow-up meeting to assess lessons learned in March 2014.

For more information:

ECOSOC Special Meeting on “Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines”


Social Development: Report of the GA Third Committee

DanielaBasSince September 20 2013, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly has been addressing social development. During its session, which was concluded on 27 November, a number of agenda items have been discussed relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues.

The Committee is focusing specifically on the 1) implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, 2) the significance of social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family, 3) follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on Ageing, and 4) the initiative of United Nations Literacy Decade:  Education for All.

Over the months, representatives have been contributing their voices and ideas to what the UN can do for social development. On 24 October, the Representative from Senegal spoke on behalf of Armenia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Panama, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova and Senegal about policies and programmes involving youth. He emphasized that this generation of youth is one of the largest ever and that the UN needs to ensure they have access to education, health programs, gender equality, and empowerment.

On 17 October, the Representative of Peru, on behalf of Guatemala, Mongolia and Peru, spoke to the Third Committee about promoting social integration through social inclusion. Peru especially expressed the need for social inclusion in the economy to promote inclusive and equitable economic growth that can overcome the challenges of unemployment is necessary to achieve poverty eradication and inequality reduction.

Among the other speeches by the Member States, themes that were emphasized included “Literacy for Life: Shaping Future Agendas”, “Cooperatives in Social Development” and “Preparations for the International Year of the Family”.

For more information:

Full report of the Third Committee in all UN six official languages

Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly


Furthering South-South cooperation

UN PhotoA major feature of the changing landscape of development cooperation is the greater role of the Southern partners. In addition to additional financial resources, South-South development cooperation has brought benefits in the form of personnel transfers and skills, capacity building, technology transfers and knowledge sharing. Moreover, regional, historical and cultural similarities can add additional value to the engagement by Southern partners.

Recent meetings of Southern partners have taken place in New Delhi and in Addis Ababa on the common issues and challenges they face. These meetings called for continued dialogue on South-South cooperation principles, definitions, modalities, as well as views on a renewed global partnership for development that reflects and draws on the experience of South-South cooperation. To facilitate such dialogue, an informal Core Group of Southern partners was established, to be supported by UN DESA and UNOSSC and with the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) as a platform to facilitate its work.

On 2-3 December, the first meeting of the Core Group of Southern Partners was held in Istanbul, Turkey. Jointly organized by UN DESA’s Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (OESC) and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the event was attended by senior officials responsible for development cooperation from 13 governments, as well as participants from international organizations and think tanks.

The Group discussed and recognized the need to further its work on the principles of South-South cooperation and their reflection in operational practices. The next meeting of the Group will be held in Berlin, alongside the DCF Germany High-level Symposium on “Accountable and effective development cooperation in the post-2015 era”, to take place on 20-21 March 2014.

For more information:

The focus on South-South development cooperation

The future of development cooperation

Future of Development (Photo: UNAMID)The landscape of development cooperation has changed greatly since 2000. So has the daily practice of development cooperation. Concepts and policies need to catch up with practical action, as a post-2015 development agenda takes shape. This is the focus of preparations for the fourth ministerial meeting of the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) in July 2014 in New York.

It aims to produce a new narrative and global approach to development cooperation: one that fits and supports a transformative global development agenda, applying to all countries and with sustainable development at its centre.

Preparations for the Forum are tackling several, practical questions. What would a renewed global partnership for development, in support of a sustainable development agenda, look like in practice? What would make it attractive for the diverse set of stakeholders to engage in this partnership? How would development cooperation have to change, to support an integrated approach to the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental?

To examine how development cooperation would have to change to support a post-2015 development agenda, UN DESA and the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency organized the DCF Switzerland High-level Symposium in October 2013, bringing together ministers and experts representing the range of stakeholders, governmental and non-governmental. Drawing upon their varied practical experiences and the analytical work prepared for the Symposium, participants identified the following key elements for the future of development cooperation:

  1. Development cooperation post-2015 should support a single development agenda, with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.
  2. Such a transformative agenda must be matched by a different scope and scale of support.The type, or form, of development cooperation, should follow function and    focus.
  3. Development cooperation should benefit all stakeholders, especially the poor and most vulnerable, within and among countries.
  4. The support should be flexible and take into consideration country needs and specific priorities. Least developed countries and middle-income countries will need continued support, but the kind of support they will need differs.
  5. Working towards meeting the UN’s 0.7 per cent ODA to GNI target will remain critical. Even if past ODA commitments were met, however, these resources alone would still fall far short of what will be needed.
  6. Development cooperation today is about more than governments – North-South and South-South – and about much more than aid. Providing incentives for the diverse set of actors – including also the private sector – will be critical to the agenda’s implementation.
  7. Effective and sustainable development results will require a shared, yet differentiated, framework to hold all actors accountable.
  8. The renewed global partnership for development must take the Monterrey Consensus as a starting point but go beyond it. It should bring together the different tracks, including the Rio+20 follow-up, in a single agenda, with a single financing framework to support.
  9. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are unlikely to replace the inter-governmental partnership. But they are likely to become an ever more important complement.
  10. The post-2015 global partnership for development should reflect the move away from a donor-recipient paradigm and become a genuine and dynamic multi-stakeholder partnership.

The Montreux discussions revealed a new degree of openness to question some of the fundamentals of development cooperation, given the opportunity to advance a truly transformative agenda (click here for more information).

A principle function of ECOSOC, the DCF meets biennially, at ministerial level, based on extensive two-year cycles of preparation that integrate analytical work with high-level symposiums and stakeholder engagement. The DCF provides an inclusive forum for the diverse range of stakeholders to discuss issues and challenges in international development cooperation in a frank and candid manner.

For more information:

2013 Switzerland High-Level Symposium on “Development Cooperation in a Post-2015 Era: Sustainable Development for All” – 24 to 25 October 2013