Volume 18, No.03 - March 2014

Global dialogue on development

Open Working Group meets for ninth session

owg9The ninth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals will take place from 3 to 5 March.

The first two days of the session will feature comments from and discussions by Member States. On the third day, the Group will have a joint meeting with the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Financing for Sustainable Development. The third day will also include a meeting between the Open Working Group and Major Groups of society.

The Open Working Group has published a progress report which outlines the substantive highlights of the Group’s deliberations during its first eight sessions, its stocktaking phase. This report, along with a document outlining 19 focus areas of the sustainable development goals, can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.


Towards more accountable and effective development cooperation

ECOSOC_GermanyeventTo advance the dialogue on development cooperation, the Government of Germany and UN DESA are organizing a High-Level Symposium in preparation for the 2014 ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) on “Accountable and effective development cooperation in a post-2015 era” on 20-21 March in Berlin, Germany.

The success of the post-2015 development agenda will depend on how the lessons learned from the MDGs are harnessed and new issues of global concern are addressed. A shared understanding has emerged that a strong sense of ownership and leadership, solidarity, cooperation and accountability must underpin the post-2015 development agenda.

Which lessons from effective development cooperation can be reflected? How can a global monitoring and accountability framework for development cooperation commitments be designed to support implementation of commitments under a renewed global partnership for development?

Development cooperation in a post-2015 era

There is a recognized need to enhance the effectiveness and accountability of development cooperation and its ability to respond to changing development needs. A range of measures to maximize the quality, effectiveness and impact of development cooperation are currently in place. Governments, civil society, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, parliamentarians, local governments and international organizations and others, increasingly work in unison to deliver sustainable development results and support an enabling environment for such outcomes. This wealth of experience can provide lessons for the post-2015 development agenda.

Effective accountability can incentivize progress of implementation

The ambitious common agenda will require a renewed global partnership for development that catalyses long-term finance and effectively engages and monitors different actors and holds them answerable to their promises and pledges. The wealth of experience of development actors to strengthen accountability to deliver on development cooperation commitments – of a quantitative and qualitative nature – can provide critical lessons for the design of a multi-stakeholder monitoring and accountability framework for development cooperation.

Continuing this dialogue in Germany

The Symposium will provide an opportunity to explore how to engage the diverse range of development actors in a monitoring and accountability framework for development cooperation for the post-2015 era. This will include the assessment of how lessons learned on enhancing the impact of development cooperation can be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda. The Symposium will build on key messages from the Ethiopia and Switzerland symposia and analytical work by UN DESA on mutual accountability and effectiveness of development cooperation.

The Symposium will make a contribution to the discussion on how a renewed global partnership for development can be implemented in a more coherent, effective and legitimate manner. Key messages from the Symposium will contribute to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing. The key messages of the symposium will also inform the discussions at the first ministerial meeting of the Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, which in turn will present its outcome to the 2014 DCF.

170 High-level participants from national and local governments, civil society organizations and academia, parliaments, foundations and the private sector and multilateral organizations are confirmed to attend the Symposium.

The 2014 Development Cooperation Forum

The DCF Germany Symposium will serve as the final preparatory event for the 2014 Development Cooperation Forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, to be held in New York on 10-11 July 2014.

The 2014 DCF 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, UN DESA 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.

For more information:
2014 Germany High-Level Symposium on “Accountable and effective development cooperation in a post-2015 era” – Berlin, 20-21 March 2014 

Global celebration of forests

IDF_logo_EForests will be in focus on 21 March when the International Day of Forests is celebrated worldwide.

This new global celebration of forests builds on the successes of the International Year of Forests in 2011, and provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.

UN DESA’s United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat was designated by the General Assembly to facilitate the implementation of the International Day, in collaboration with FAO, Governments, and other members of the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests and international, regional and subregional organizations as well as relevant stakeholders, including civil society.

For centuries forests have been a source of food, fibre, livelihoods, resources and water. They are also central to combating climate change, but until last year, and despite a multitude of special days honouring or commemorating key elements of human life, there has never been a globally recognized day for paying homage to the world’s forests.

That changed when the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012 designated 21 March as the International Day of Forests “to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests”.

In a message for the new International Day celebrated for the first time in 2013, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “By proclaiming the International Day of Forests, the United Nations has created a new platform to raise awareness about the importance of all types of forest ecosystems to sustainable development.”

Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General also noted that that “forests are inextricably linked to our social and economic value, to our bonds with nature and the health of ecosystems. Hence, we cannot think of them in isolation. It is up to us to make these connections and establish the policies, laws and institutions required. It is up to us to implement sustainable forest management.”

For more information:

DESA News feature story and video

International Day of Forests

Addressing challenges to meet development goals

development_committeeThe Committee for Development Policy will hold its sixteenth session from 24 to 28 March 2014, examining the 2014 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) theme on Addressing ongoing and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains for the future.

The Committee will also consider the refinement of the criteria for the identification of least developed countries (LDCs), the role of country grouping for development and monitoring reports on countries that are graduating and graduated from the LDC category.

The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. CDP provides 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 United Nations 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.

For more information: Committee for Development Policy 

Open Working Group arrives at transitional moment

owg_websitestory12FebThe Open Working Group on sustainable development goals has arrived at an important moment of transition. “Almost one productive year has passed in which we have done some deep reflection together, and now we begin crafting a proposal on sustainable development goals”, said Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary and Co-Chair of the Group, at the conclusion of its eighth session.

Ambassador Kőrösi presented the Co-Chairs’ draft summary, in which he and the second Co-Chair of the Group, Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, outline some of the main arguments made during the deliberations that lasted from 3 to 7 February.

Healthy oceans and forests are vital life-support systems

The first cluster of issues discussed at the session – oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity – was universally acknowledged as important for the sustainable development agenda. “Picking up on the metaphor of the Earth’s lungs, if oceans are one lung, forests are the other”, said Ambassador Kőrösi. Forests and oceans were described as by far the richest habitats of biodiversity, on which humans depend for food supplies, medicines, livelihoods, ecosystem stability, and other vital services, and which also carry important cultural value. “We need to recognize the living value of species beyond their commodity values”, said the Ambassador, referring to a statement a delegate had made earlier.

The Open Working Group discussed a number of drivers of biodiversity loss that the sustainable development goals should help slow and reverse, among them deforestation, overfishing, pollution and habitat alteration from ocean acidification. Positive efforts by governments and stakeholders that could help reverse the tide were also highlighted, such as the creation of biosphere reserves, protected areas and no-catch zones. Indigenous peoples and local communities would have to enjoy benefits from such ecosystem management for it to succeed.

Being born into poverty must not be a life sentence

With respect to the second cluster of issues – promoting equality, including social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment – concerns were voiced by many about the wide and in some respects widening inequalities in the world, both within and between countries. “These pose a risk to social cohesion and addressing them effectively calls for social solidarity,” said Co-Chair Kőrösi.

Referring to a metaphor used during the deliberations, he also said that it was critical that the ‘social elevator’ is in good working order, so that being born into poverty is not a life sentence. This could be achieved by affordable access for the poor and disadvantaged to education and health care as well as productive and remunerative employment opportunities. Policies supportive of entrepreneurship and small-scale enterprises could also enhance opportunities for the poor.

Gender inequality was overwhelmingly recognized as the most pervasive form of inequality in the world. Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment was not only a matter of human rights, but a fundamental condition for sustainable social and economic development. “We know that depriving women of the right to realize their full human potential imposes an enormous cost on society as a whole,” said Ambassador Kőrösi.

There was broad support for a two-pronged approach to reflecting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the sustainable development goals: through a stand-alone goal and through mainstreaming gender equality in other goals.

In the course of the discussions it was also noted that social equity had other important dimensions in addition to gender equality. All vulnerable groups would need to be ensured equitable access to capacities and opportunities, basic services and participation in social, economic and political life.

Peaceful societies are the basis for sustainable development

Regarding the final cluster of issues – conflict prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding and the promotion of durable peace, rule of law and governance – many delegates said that conflict undermines development and that peaceful societies are the basis for sustainable development.

Severe inequalities of power, voice, opportunity and wealth among ethnic and other identity groups were identified as being among sources of conflict, as were competition over natural resource wealth, transnational crime and illicit arms trade, among others.

Participatory governance was mentioned as contributing to conflict prevention. It was stressed that such governance would need to include both women and men as well as young people and all vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples. Rule of law was described as a cornerstone of society, which, as one speaker noted, should focus not just on fair process but on fair outcomes at national and global levels.

The SDGs will need a good business plan

The valuable contributions of Major Groups to the sessions’ discussions were also recognized by the Co-Chairs. One such contribution was the observation that a good business plan will be needed if any goals are to be achieved, and that means of implementation could be viewed as part of that plan. The Co-Chairs also noted as important the question raised by Major Groups as to how the High-Level Political Forum would be empowered to perform its important oversight function in monitoring progress towards the sustainable development goals.

The Co-Chairs’ concluding remarks and bullet point summary can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

The photo shown was taken by Olga Lavrushko, Ukraine, one of the winners of the UN International Forest Photograph Awards. The photos of the winners and finalists of this contest are currently on display (until 28 February 2014) in the “My Forest – Our Future” photo exhibit at the Gabarron Foundation in New York.