National Preparatory Workshop for the 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to National Preparatory Workshop for the 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review Bagamoyo, Tanzania, 22-23 May 2008

Excellencies,

Distinguished colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate the government of Tanzania 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 this workshop, which marks an important step in the preparation of your presentation. Before I share my views on how Tanzania could best benefit from the presentation, allow me to provide a brief background on the Annual Ministerial Review by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

At the turn of the Millennium, in 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 at the 2005 World Summit to assess progress, it became apparent that 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, Kazakhstan and Lao PDR volunteering alongside Tanzania, the national presentations will feature developing countries facing a diverse set of challenges. On the donor side, you 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,

This preparatory workshop provides Tanzania an opportunity to:

Looking globally, we see that progress has been made in meeting development goals, with most regions now expected to reach the target of halving the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty by 2015. But this global picture masks important regional and sub-regional disparities. Africa in particular, as a region, is seriously challenged to meet most of the MDGs by 2015.

Looking here, in Tanzania, we see a country clearly on track to achieving its national development strategy, in particular the MDGs related to primary education, gender equality and key targets under the environmental sustainability goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to drinking water and of ensuring access to basic sanitation. And we understand that Tanzania is going through a rigorous costing exercise to identify the resources required to achieve national development targets and the MDGs.

We are also pleased to see that the Mbola project is underway, to apply and evaluate a concept for implementing the practical interventions needed to achieve the MDGs in rural Africa over a five-year time frame. The project seeks to demonstrate and scientifically document that community-based, low-cost and integrated interventions can empower impoverished rural areas and enable them to achieve the MDGs.

The challenge is now to consolidate the successes and to replicate the successes and lessons-learned in more countries, in the region and globally. Your national presentation in ECOSOC provides an important opportunity to do so. The policy lessons and the Council’s recommendations will encourage world leaders to fix their attention on the specific steps that need to be taken, thereby also providing critical inputs to the upcoming international forums on development later this year with a focus on reaching the MDGs and especially in Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To get the maximum value out of the national presentations will require not only thorough preparations but also proper follow-up. UN-DESA 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 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 your implementation efforts. At the AMR Global Preparatory Meeting, several proposals for country engagement beyond the presentations were discussed. Among them was creating an AMR Alumni network to share experiences. Another was providing volunteering countries with the opportunity to address ECOSOC’s coordination or operational activities segment on the progress made in implementation, three or four years after their presentations.

To facilitate further sharing of lessons learned from past Reviews, UN-DESA will launch a web-site and database on “development strategies 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, as well as experts within the UN system.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

By holding this workshop, Tanzania is taking a significant 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 UN-DESA’s unwavering support in your efforts.

Thank you.

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