Volume 16, No.02 - February 2012

Trends and analysis

IGF convenes meetings in Geneva

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will hold Open Consultations and a meeting of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) on 14-16 February in Geneva, Switzerland

The meetings will take stock of the Nairobi 2011 IGF annual meeting and focus on discussions on the programme and schedule of the 2012 IGF meeting that will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mr. Elmir Velizadeh, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan will chair the meetings. 

The MAG currently consists of 55 Members from governments, the private sector and civil society, intergovernmental organisations including representatives from the academic and technical communities.

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Employing youth for a better future

ECOSOC will hold an exclusive event, “Breaking new ground: Partnerships for more and better jobs for young people” on 27 February from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at UN Headquarters in New York

This event will serve as part of the preparatory process for the ECOSOC’s 2012 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on “Promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the MDGs”, and is organized by UN DESA and the International Labour Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the UN Office for Partnerships (UNOP) and the United Nations Global Compact.

The event will seek to strengthen the partnership between governments, the private sector and the philanthropic community in advancing youth employment and decent work. The themes to be explored will include issues affecting policy setting for youth employment and innovations for promoting youth employment. The outcome of the deliberations will be submitted to the Member States during the ECOSOC High-level session in July 2012.

The programme will consist of an opening plenary, to be followed by two leadership dialogues on “Innovations in promoting youth employment” and “Creating a new dynamic for youth at work”. The key outcomes of the exclusive event will be to provide increased focus to issues central to the achievement of promoting youth employment and decent work for all, through:

  • broadening of the range of stakeholders involved in the work of ECOSOC, as well as increasing the awareness amongst the philanthropic community on the progress made and the challenges faced in achieving MDG 1;
  • promoting concrete initiatives by the philanthropic community and initiating new partnerships that would accelerate progress in reaching the targets in MDG 1; and
  • expanding multi-stakeholder engagement in the international community’s efforts to help advance the achievement of the two priority areas mentioned above.

The event has a number of co-convenors dedicated to strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of youth employment, including UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, the World Bank, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Clinton Global Initiative, Princes Youth Business International, United Nations Foundation, Young Americas Business Trust, Youth Employment Network and the Youth Employment Summit.

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UN DESA and UNU-IIST to collaborate on e-Government

After a presentation made by Mr. Tomasz Janowski, Senior Research Fellow, UN University – International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST) on 10 January, the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) and UNU-IIST agreed to collaborate

The presentation introduced the concept of electronic governance for sustainable development (EGOV4SD) by systematically mapping the sustainable development (SD) and EGOV domains and presenting examples from around the world on how EGOV is being applied to advance the social, environmental, economic and transitional SD goals.

It explained the fundamental challenges in realizing the transition from EGOV to EGOV4SD and proposed an international research, development, monitoring and education agenda to address such challenges. Haiyan Qian thanked Mr. Janowski for the presentation, noting that the research findings of UNU-IIST were in line with DPADM’s work in the context of the UN E-Government Survey 2012: E-Government for Sustainable Development.

The collaboration will focus on: (i) strengthening the UN E-Government Survey platform by providing DPADM data as a benchmarking resource specifically for policy makers to carry out selection which will enable the creation of an instrument to reflect local conditions and priorities, and (ii) developing a Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) curriculum for the UN Member States based on the joint research of UNDESA/DPADM and UNU-IIST.

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Recognizing important role of e-government

On 22 December 2011, the General Assembly adopted the resolution A/66/437 on “Information and communications technologies for development”, recognizing the important roles of e-government, enhanced cooperation on public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

The resolution mentions UN DESA particularly, taking note of the department’s work in the area of enhanced cooperation on public policy issues pertaining to the Internet (for the first time for this particular topic). The resolution also acknowledges the positive trends of e-government among others (also for the first time) and stresses the important role of governments in the design of their national public policies and in the provision of public services responsive to national needs and priorities through, inter alia, the effective use of information and communication technologies.

In addition, the resolution appreciates the role of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) as an inter-agency mechanism designed to coordinate the United Nations implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). DESA is currently a Vice–Chair of UNGIS, together with ITU as Chair and UNESCO as another Vice-Chair.

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WESP 2012: Worldwide launch and live Facebook chat

The World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2012 was launched on multi-city locations on 17, 18 and 19 January, followed by a live Facebook chat on 20 January on the world economy

The world economy is teetering on the brink of another major downturn. As in 2008, economic woes in the major developed economies are weakening economic prospects around the world. This and other findings were presented as DESA’s flagship report the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2012 was launched on 17 January in Addis Ababa, Beijing, Geneva, Johannesburg, Moscow and New Delhi. Regional releases of the report followed in Mexico City on 18 January; and in Bangkok and Beirut on 19 January.

There are multiple concerns, but policymakers throughout Europe and the United States are mainly fixated on reducing large fiscal deficits and public debt. The concerns are serious, and the ongoing sovereign debt crises in the euro zone have been a source of continuous turmoil in financial markets.

Unfortunately, the present policy responses are highly inadequate. Most developed economies have phased out stimulus measures and shifted to fiscal austerity. With unemployment rates remaining very high and financial sectors still clogged, this approach is pulling the plug on the recovery by exacerbating the lack of aggregate demand, further weakening the prospects for jobs recovery and economic development in the longer run.

Bleaker medium and long-term growth prospects would also undermine the financial sustainability of health and pension systems over time, thus achieving precisely the opposite of what policymakers are aiming at through fiscal austerity.

Is there an alternative? Yes. As shown in the WESP 2012, many developed countries have more than adequate fiscal space for additional stimulus. If well targeted at job creation and green growth and adequately coordinated internationally, additional stimulus could quicken the recovery and put the global economy on a more balanced and sustainable growth path.

In conjunction with the launch of the report, the Development Policy and Analysis Division (DPAD) of UN DESA organized a live chat on Facebook to answer questions concerning the risks and opportunities for the world economy, as well as the scope for policy action in the year ahead. The online chat was led by Rob Vos, Director of DPAD, and included economists from the Global Economic Monitoring Unit.

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Targeting violence against indigenous women and girls

A three-day expert group meeting was held in New York on the theme “Combating violence against indigenous women and girls: article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” on 18-20 January

Throughout the world, indigenous women and girls are exposed to diverse forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence. This is a significant obstacle to the capacity and potential of indigenous women and girls to exercise their rights to participate fully in society.

This pressing reality, as detailed in the concept note prepared by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues, laid the foundation for the three-day international expert group meeting.

Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) highlighted the fact that this meeting is the “first one addressing the issue of violence against indigenous women and girls.” Ms. Bas went on to say that it “shows that the Permanent Forum is addressing an issue that is critical and resonates with governments, indigenous peoples and the UN system.”

The Expert Group meeting was attended by experts on indigenous issues, members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, participants from the UN system, Member States, indigenous peoples and other organizations.

The attendees discussed the way in which the UNPFII should address its mandate under Article 22 of the Declaration which ensures that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.

During the meeting, the “experts will analyze the human rights enshrined within international standards and policies and will indicate how these respond to the challenge of advancing the rights of indigenous women and girls”, said Ms. Chandra Roy-Henriksen, Chief, Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The results of the meeting will be reported to the Permanent Forum at its eleventh session in May, to the General Assembly at its sixty-seventh session starting in September and to the Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-sixth session beginning on 27 February.

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