National Preparatory Workshop For The 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the National Preparatory Workshop For The 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review Astana, Kazakhstan, 17 April 2008

I would like to congratulate the government of Kazakhstan on
volunteering for a National Voluntary Presentation at the 2008 Annual
Ministerial Review in July. I am honoured that you invited me to
contribute towards the workshop, which marks an important step in the
preparation of your presentation. Before I share my views on how
Kazakhstan could best benefit from the presentation, allow me to
provide a brief background on the Annual Ministerial Review.

At the turn of the Millennium, by adopting the Millennium
Declaration, world leaders committed themselves to an ambitious, yet
achievable development agenda. The Millennium Declaration marked a
distillation of some of the key elements of the outcomes of the UN
conferences and summits of the 1990s, including a number of time-bound
targets. When world leaders came together again during the 2005 World
Summit to assess progress, it became apparent that, five years into the
new millennium, the world was off track to meet the internationally
agreed development goals, including the MDGs, by the 2015 target date.

To close this implementation gap, world leaders mandated
ECOSOC to hold an Annual Ministerial Review (AMR). The Reviews aim to
accelerate implementation by:

National presentations are at the heart of the AMR. By bringing country
experiences and perspectives to the Council’s high-level
segment, the presentations have allowed the Council to engage in a much
more specific and hands-on debate on how to address key obstacles to
implementation. Following the successful first round of presentations
last year, expectations for the 2008 National Voluntary Presentations
are high. With Chile, Lao PDR and Tanzania volunteering alongside
Kazakhstan, the national presentations will feature developing
countries facing a diverse set of challenges. On the donor side, they
will be joined by Belgium, Finland, Luxemburg and the United Kingdom,
who will give an account of their efforts to advance the United Nations
development agenda. With this interesting mix of countries, we are
confident that the national presentations will once again spark a very
rich discussion and lead to some concrete initiatives.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Given the purpose of the AMR, a successful national
presentation is one that ultimately facilitates implementation. This
preparatory workshop provides Kazakhstan an opportunity to:

You have already identified education, sustainable development and the
reduction of poverty as focus areas for your national presentation. In
these areas, your progress towards the MDGs and the internationally
agreed development goals has been mixed. While there have been some
laudable achievements in these areas, there is a need to address some
of the challenges which Kazakhstan is facing on sustainable development
and in equally spreading the benefits of economic growth. During the
meeting, you will have the opportunity to identify both policies or
measures that have already proven successful and that you would like to
be scaled-up, and areas where course correction or additional
assistance from the international community is needed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Volunteering for the national presentations will require not
only thorough preparations but also effective follow-up. UNDESA hopes
that the national voluntary presentation will, over time, develop into
a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating implementation and ensuring
that challenges faced by countries in achieving the internationally
agreed development goals are addressed effectively. This vision of the
Annual Ministerial Review was shared by many participants during the
AMR Global Preparatory Meeting, which was held in March 2008 in New
York.

Given the importance of proper follow-up, I would like to
encourage you from early on to start looking beyond the July
presentation and to consider how your continued engagement with the
Council could assist implementation. At the AMR Global Preparatory
Meeting, several proposals for country engagement beyond the
presentations were discussed. Among them is the creation of an AMR
Alumni network to share experiences. Another option discussed was
providing volunteering countries with the opportunity to address the
ECOSOC’s coordination or operational activities segment on
the progress made in implementation three or four years after the
presentation.

To facilitate further sharing of lessons learned from past
Reviews, UNDESA will launch a web-site and database on
“policies that work”. The website, which is
currently under development, will provide access to a network of global
partners/experts to support governments in assessing the implementation
of their national development strategies. These will include experts
from governments, NGOs, the private sector and academic and research
institutions in both developed and developing countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

By holding this workshop, Kazakhstan is taking the first
step
towards making the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC and its
National Voluntary Presentations a success. I wish you a truly
stimulating process of dialogue, debate and participation of all
stakeholders who are engaged in the country’s development
process. And, I promise you UNDESA’s unwavering support in
your efforts.

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