Volume 14, No.2 - February 2010

Trends and analysis

Implementing sustainable development

Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment

Multistakeholder Dialogue will be held on 1 February in New York to ensure a more effective and coordinated implementation of global policy on sustainable development

The slow rate of implementation of the sustainable development agenda, including the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) decisions, remains a source of concern. This concern has been expressed by many stakeholders at different international meetings including in sessions of the Commission itself.

Although CSD continues to remain the leading mechanism within the United Nations system to follow up the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, many stakeholders hold the view that CSD needs to become more forward-looking and action oriented.

This is possible, but requires that decisions taken by the Commission are implemented in their true spirit by all stakeholders. Governments of developing countries continue to struggle with accessing enough resources, and acquiring capacities and technologies to implement the decisions leading to slow progress in meeting internationally agreed goals.

The dialogue is an innovation established by DESA and will bring together former and current leadership of CSD along with major implementing partners.

The meeting will discuss how the Commission can become more forward-looking and action oriented. It will focus primarily on CSD-17 decisions pertaining to agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa, however its outcomes are also meant to hasten implementation of the broad development agenda as detailed in Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

Meeting objectives include reviewing partner engagement, raising awareness, exploring new implementation modalities, building partnership and fast tracking successful practices.

More information on the Multistakeholder Dialogue.

Drafting International Recommendations for Energy Statistics

Oslo Group on Energy Statistics will meet in Cork, Ireland from 1-4 February

The International Recommendations for Energy Statistics (IRES) are being developed in accordance with the decisions of the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 36th and 37th sessions which, inter alia, recognized the significance of energy statistics, recommended their development as part of official statistics and called for the revision and further development of the relevant international standards (see the Reports on the thirty-sixth session and on the thirty-seventh session of the Commission). These decisions followed a programme review of energy statistics conducted by Statistics Norway and the recommendations of Ad-Hoc Expert Group on Energy Statistics ( New York, 23-25 May 2005).

The Statistical Commission approved the establishment of two complimentary working groups to carry out the work: (a) the Oslo Group on Energy Statistics to contribute to the development of improved methods and international standards for national official energy statistics, and, in particular, to review and contribute to the updating of the United Nations handbooks and manuals on energy statistics; and (b) the Intersecretariat Working Group on Energy Statistics to enhance international collaboration and coordination.

IRES is intended to cover a broad range of issues from basic concepts, definitions and classifications to data sources, data compilation strategies, energy balances and dissemination. Once approved by the Commission, IRES will provide a firm foundation for a long-term development of energy statistics based on Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. Additional guidance to assist countries in the implementation of IRES will be provided in the Energy Statistics Compilers Manual (ESCM) which will be prepared by UNSD as a part of IRES implementation programme.

This meeting will discuss the provisional text of the International Recommendations for Energy Statistics and will share national practices in energy statistics.

More information on Oslo Group on Energy Statistics

Setting priorities to implement the Mauritius Strategy

DESA and the ESCAP Pacific Operations Centre (EPOC) will co-host the Pacific Regional Meeting on Mauritius Strategy of Implementation +5 on 8-9 February in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The purpose of the meeting will be to provide a forum for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific to evaluate continuing national and regional challenges in implementing the Mauritius Strategy as outlined in the respective national assessment reports, to assess ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities, to discuss common priorities for action, and to prepare a regional synthesis report for consideration by CSD-18 acting as the preparatory committee for the high-level review of the Mauritius Strategy in September 2010.

The regional synthesis report will outline priorities, emerging issues and future areas for further addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS.

It is expected that the meeting will be attended by: representatives of SIDS governments in the region; UN agencies active in the region; representatives of relevant non-UN regional and international organizations; and representatives of relevant Major Groups.

For more information Mauritius Strategy of Implementation +5.

ICT to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals

Steering Committee Meeting of DESA’s GAID will discuss the Plan of Action of the Global Alliance for the coming year on 8 February in New York

The Steering Committee, that is headed by Mr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Chairman of Talal Abu Ghazaleh Organization, consists of members from both the public and private sectors, and civil society, and provides strategic guidance to the work of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) regarding the Alliance’s mission to best harness the vast potential of Information and Communication Technologies to further development efforts around the world.

The agenda for this important meeting will include discussions about a Matrix on the uses of ICT for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, a proposed joint product of DESA’s GAID and the Division for Public Administration & Development Management.

The Steering Committee will also discuss the Global Alliance’s participation in and organization of important meetings for 2010, including World Summit on the Information Society Week and Commission on Science and Technology for Development meetings in May, and the High Level event during the General Assembly summit on the MDGs in September in the context of which GAID will present the ICT for MDG Matrix, and the Annual Meetings and Global Forum of GAID which are scheduled to take place in Shanghai in October, in conjunction with the World Expo.

More information on the Plan of Action of the Global Alliance

Seminar Series on Sustainable Development

In preparation for the upcoming Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the CSD Secretariat is hosting briefings from January through April

The CSD Secretariat is launching new and innovative Thematic Seminar Series that will present scientific and technical information on the current issues under consideration – transport, chemicals, waste management, mining, and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

The CSD Thematic Seminar Series will feature presentations by technical experts, video documentaries highlighting challenges and successes, and interactive discussions. It is designed to inform all CSD participants on the latest research, data, and case studies that will underpin the discussions during the upcoming Review Session this spring.

The series started off last month on the topic of Waste Management and will continue on 11 February with Mining, followed by Chemicals on 23 February and Sustainable Consumption and Production on 23 March. The last session will be on Transportation on 13 April. All briefing will be held at the United Nations Headquarters from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

More information on Seminar Series

Developing with culture for indigenous peoples

Expert Group Meeting from 12-14 January focused on articles 3 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and was followed by the first meeting of UNPFII the next day

The meeting organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (SPFII) was attended by 60 people including four Permanent Forum Members, six indigenous experts, representatives from States, UN Agencies, indigenous peoples’ organizations, NGOs and academia. Discussions were held around the various concepts of development, with participants stating that such concepts must consider the reality and struggle that indigenous peoples experience in order to live in a society that is market-driven.

Development policies, institutions and systems established by States must allow for the co-existence of indigenous governance, economic, social, cultural, spiritual knowledge and natural resource management systems.

On 15 January, SPFII hosted the first meeting of the UNPFII, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and their Secretariats. The meeting was chaired by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.

Participants discussed cooperation and coordination in relation to their work to promote the UN Declaration the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the sessions of the UNPFII and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and in addressing allegations of human rights violations. It was agreed that the three mandates and their secretariats would hold a similar meeting next January, to be organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

More information on the Expert Group Meeting

Building a knowledge base on good practices

International meeting on National Development Strategies, Economic and Social Councils, Citizens’ Engagement and Participatory Democracy, and Uses of ICT for Development was held on 17-18 December in Paris

Collaboration to build a knowledge base on good practices observed in diverse countries was initiated at this workshop, organized by DESA’s Division for Public Administration & Development Management (DPADM), with the participation of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS) and the Information and Communication Sector of UNESCO. The meeting was also held in the context of collaboration agreed last July between DESA and AICESIS.

The workshop was attended by 50 people, mostly Presidents and close collaborators from Economic and Social Councils (ESC) from 29 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. Speakers included high level officials from UNESCO, AICEISIS, GAID and staff from DPADM.

In addition, international dialogue on how National Development Strategies (NDS) can be enhanced through the participation of organized civil society (through Economic and Social Councils and similar institutions) and by the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for development, particularly to advance towards the MDGs, was initiated.

Participants welcomed the opportunity to openly discuss challenges about reaching the MDGs and opportunities provided by participatory processes to define and carry out NDS to this aim, as well as opportunities presented by ICT to enhance public governance, accountability, transparency and efficiency about public service delivery, as well as social networking and private sector participation to facilitate conditions for the achievement of the MDGs.

In particular, the proposal to contribute to a global knowledge base on Public Governance, Citizens’ Engagement and Uses of ICT for Development was considered useful by all participants, and some like ESC of Hungary, Luxemburg and Senegal, as well as the Secretariat of AICESIS, offered their support to collaborate and play leading roles in this regard.

The meeting also resulted in strong support from ESC for the Development Account project which was started by DPADM in 2009 to build capacities in ESC of 16 African countries. A coming workshop in the context of this project will be held at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2010, in which ESC from other regions will attend to share their experiences with African.