Volume 9, no.2 March-April 2005

In this issue:

Consolidation of Departments
Sectoral Executive Committee to Further Policy and Programme Integration
Targeting Employment
LDCs Experts Propose Specific Measures to Implement Agenda 21
Economy up, but Poverty not Down in Africa
Commission Celebrates Fiftieth Anniversary
First Subsidiary Body Meetings in Bonn
Cabin Crew, Prepare for Takeoff...
Finance for Sustainable Development: Experts Agree on the Road Ahead
Some Personal Thoughts on "People Management"

Consolidation of Departments

by Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General

I welcome this opportunity, through Kiosk, to address staff members of DPCSD, DESIPA and DDSMS to explain what will guide the process of consolidation of the economic and social departments. The overall parameters were enunciated in the Secretary-Generalþs letter addressed to the President of the General Assembly (A/51/829). In this article, I have put in simple terms three clusters of issues -- the functions of the new Department, the principles that will guide the consolidation, and the process itself -- which I hope will de-mystify the work in hand and will give all staff members an idea of the canvas on which we have to work in the coming months.

Principles of consolidation: At the end of the process we hope to create

  • A Department fully responsive to the needs of member states

    • respecting all mandates given by member states;
    • respecting the diversity and the special needs of the most vulnerable member including:

      1. Africa
      2. Least Developed Countries
      3. Small Island Developing States

    • bolster support for South-South cooperation.

  • A Department which optimises the benefits of consolidation

    • fully exploiting the synergies of integration;
    • capable of mobilising capacities flexibly around issues/mandates;
    • channelling the administrative cost savings directly into development activity.

  • A Department responsive to the needs of civil society

    • helping NGOs integrate more fully in the work of the United Nations;
    • sensitive to the need for greater involvement of civil society in shaping and implementing the programmes established by the UN Conferences.

Functions At the end of the process, we hope that the new Department will have the following functions to make the parliamentary and related processes in the United Nations work better.

  • A strong policy formulation function and related normative, analytical/statistical, and technical cooperation functions;
  • A clear mission statement containing some of the following elements:
    • reaffirming Charter principles and the subsequent legislative mandates;
    • spelling out responsibilities to the standing United Nations process -- GA, ECOSOC and its subsidiary machinery;
    • indicating how the Conference follow-up will be implemented;
    • elaborating the coordination functions of the Department;
    • explaining what are the relevant technical cooperation elements.

  • A clear and well articulated structure which will ease interaction and contact with member states, NGOs and civil society;

Process To achieve the objectives inherent in the principles and functions above I have established a process which is:

  • Inclusive - including the three departments as well as other appropriate Departments and entities of the United Nations system;
  • Transparent (relying on a systematic flow of information and collegiality);
  • Open to suggestions.

It is in this spirit that I am now writing to you to communicate some early reflections. I have already received many suggestions and welcome them to help create an optimally designed and structured department which will have a clear niche in the entities dealing with economic and social issues, be a reservoir of initiatives/ideas, be at the forefront of global issues, foster consensus, serve to promote the development of developing countries and base its policy development work on the highest quality statistical and analytical foundations.

Sectoral Executive Committees to Further Policy and Programme Integration

Shortly after taking office, the Secretary-General introduced a broad definition of the main sectors of work in which the Organization is engaged:

  • Peace and Security
  • Humanitarian Affairs
  • Economic and Social Affairs
  • Development Operations, and
  • Human Rights.

He initiated the grouping of UN Departments, Programmes and Funds in accordance with these sectors, and the establishment of Executive Committees composed of their Heads to guide the various sector groups.

The Executive Committees are intended to be policy development and management instruments, geared to contributing to, and affecting, policy, administrative and operational decisions in each UN entity, while at the same time strengthening decision- making processes in the Organization as a whole.

The Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (convenor: the Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development) comprises the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD), the Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis (DESIPA), the Department for Development Support and Management Services (DDSMS), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements-Habitat (UNCHS), the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), and the Regional Commissions, and will also include the United Nations University (UNU) and the research/training institutes: International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRIS), and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). Members of the Executive Committees on Humanitarian Affairs or Development Operations may be called upon to participate in the work of this committee depending on items under consideration (for example items on coordination in the issuance of economic and social surveys).

The Executive Committee on Development Operations (convenor: Administrator/United Nations Development Programme) comprises UNDP, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Childrenþs Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), DDSMS, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and UN/AIDS and will also include UNDCP and UNCHS (Habitat). Members of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, particularly those serving as executing agents for operational activities, may be called upon to participate in the work of this committee depending on the items under consideration.

The Executive Committee on Peace and Security (convenor: the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs) comprises the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Department of Peace- keeping Operations (DPKO) and the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), and will also include the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Other UN entities may be called upon to participate, depending on the subject matter under consideration.

The Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (convenor: the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs) will comprise DHA, UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, and will also include DPKO, DPA and UNRWA. Other entities (e.g. UNEP, UNFPA) may also participate, as required.

UNDP, in view of its operational coordination responsibilities and its field network, may be called upon to participate in the work of all Executive Committees. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights (UNHCHR/CHR) should equally be able to contribute to the work of all Executive Committees. The Department of Administration and Management (DAM), the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), and the Department of Public Information (DPI) will similarly be called upon to support all Executive Committees, as required.

Targeting Employment

by John Langmore

"Over 120 million people worldwide are officially unemployed and many more are underemployed, causing massive personal suffering, widespread social disintegration and huge economic waste."

So begin the Agreed Conclusions of the 35th session of the UN Commission for Social Development which met in New York from 25 February to 6 March. The main subject for discussion was productive employment and sustainable livelihoods. This was the first conference on the subject at the United Nations in New York (as distinct from the International Labour Organisation) that anyone could remember.

The ILO prepared an excellent paper for the Commission on the theme and their brilliant report on World Employment 1996/97 was also distributed. A new report on the World Social Situation by the UN Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis provided further authoritative background data and analysis.

The session was attended by the 46 countries which are members of the Commission and another 58 which attended as observers. A few delegations were led by ministers and most member countries and some which observed sent expert officials from their capitals. Over 100 NGOs also sent representatives - who could address the Commission after the countries had finished for the day.

At the request of the Chairman, the secretariat for the conference, the Division for Social Policy and Development, and staff from the ILO prepared draft agreed conclusions which served as a basis for debate in the second week. The debate was complex and tediously long and every word was scrutinised, but in the end this adds weight to the final document because it carries the endorsement of all 46 member countries - which includes not only all the larger economies - China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia and the US - but also a wide range of medium and smaller countries.

Many of the conclusions re-emphasise positions of earlier conferences, particularly the Social Summit. There is some value even in that because it reminds countries of commitments which they have already made. Of greater interest though are new or strengthened commitments. Ten stand out. The most important is the recognition that "it is imperative for all countries and the international community to reinstate the attainment of full, productive, appropriately and adequately remunerated and freely chosen employment as a central objective of economic and social policies". This is a remarkably resolute statement at a time when unemployment is terribly high and still growing in some countries, both developed and developing.

It was linked with an important innovation, the recognition that setting time-bound goals and targets for expanding employment and reducing unemployment þwould give a strong signal of the increased priority to be awarded to this objective of full employmentþ. One of the invited panelists who spoke to the Commission, Ralph Willis, the former Australian Treasurer, pointed out that many countries have set targets for the reduction of inflation or for economic growth but few have ever set targets for the centrally important goal of employment growth and linked them with strategies for their achievement. The Commission picked up this remark and included the proposal in its recommendations.

The Commission recognised that in most developing countries the informal - unregulated - sector is a major area of low productivity income-earning opportunity. Therefore increasing productivity in rural and urban informal sectors is vital through improving access to credit, fertile land, other productive inputs, infrastructure, basic social services such as education, training and health, information and extension services.

Balanced macroeconomic policies are important in all countries in order to enable steady employment growth, price stability and low interest rates - the latter to facilitating private investment. A crucial and often neglected aspect of budgetary policy is the aim of maximising the quality and accessibility of social services such as education and health, to both improve the well being of citizens and to increase employment in areas where it can be of particular value.

An instrument which combines some of the best aspects of economic and social policy but which is sometimes forgotten is promoting consensual, equitable approaches to income determination through negotiation of prices and incomes policy for this is a means of moderating unemployment, inflation and industrial conflict simultaneously.

Amongst many other important themes, promoting life-long learning was emphasised beginning with basic education and continuing with opportunities for further education, training and skills development. For the first time in the UN encouraging flexible working time arrangements such as job sharing and part- time work in order to promote equitable access to work was highlighted.

Naturally the value of international, mutually reinforcing economic growth and social cooperation was discussed together with other means of supporting development such as increasing trade, continuing the growth of financial flows to developing countries, reducing debt and stabilising and reducing risk in financial markets. The importance of improving statistical data bases on key social indicators was also noted.

This is an impressive outcome. If all these recommendations were applied there would be faster employment growth everywhere and this would be mutually beneficial. The Commission recognised both the importance of political will and of appropriate, professional economic and social policies. The Special Session of the UN General Assembly to be held in 2000 will provide an opportunity for a rigorous assessment of the extent and effectiveness of national and international implementation of the commitments made at the Social Summit and at follow-up conferences such as this.

John Langmore is Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development

The web site of DSPD is at: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/dspd

LDCs Experts Propose Specific Measures to Implement Agenda 21

Experts from 12 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), joined by international experts and representatives of a number of organizations of the United Nations system met at United Nations Headquarters from 3-4 April, 1997 to review progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 in their countries, and to evaluate how the international community has responded to the special priority attached to assisting LDCs as defined by the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21.

The meeting focussed on trade and environment, international support for domestic capacity-building for sustainable development, financing sustainable development projects and programmes in LDCs, and national policies for sustainable development, with a focus on the rural sector. The meeting concluded that Agenda 21 needs to be complemented by more specific policies and measures for LDCs which should be taken into account by the Special Session of the General Assembly in June, 1997. Some of the key recommendations are the following:

  • in the area of financing, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) should simplify its procedures and make them more flexible while substantially increasing funding to LDCs. It should consider assigning an allocative target for funds projects in LDCs;
  • in the area of trade and environment, bilateral and multilateral donors should support LDCs by increasing market access, providing incentives to encourage FDI flows, helping to create capacity to monitor the import of potentially hazardous wastes and products, and assisting in identifying infrastructure requirements for developing eco-tourism; in the area of the transfer of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs), the establishment of partnership arrangements among LDC governments, donor agencies and small, medium and micro-enterprises with a view to promoting investment in cleaner production technologies;
  • in the area of human resources development, the international community should focus on building institutional capacity to coordinate policies in the area of poverty eradication, trade and environment management.

The Expert Group Meeting was organized jointly by the Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries (OSCAL) of the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It was attended by experts from Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Western Samoa, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen. Experts from the United Nations system, including UNCTAD, UNDP and the Division for Sustainable Development of DPCSD, and international experts representing the NGO and academic communities served as resource persons.

The outcome of the expert meeting will feed into the review of the implementation of AGENDA 21, to be undertaken at a Special Session of the General Assembly in June, 1997.

Leslie Wade, OSCAL

Economy up, but Poverty not Down in Africa

The Panel of High-Level Personalities, which was established in December 1992 to advise and assist the Secretary-General on African development, held its sixth meeting on 13 March 1997.

The Panel concentrated on overall economic and political developments in Africa in 1996, and on the issues of good governance and food security in Africa in the aftermath of the recent World Food Summit. The Secretary-General, who convened the meeting, referred to the African continent as a þsleeping giantþ. He also presented an integrated vision of African development in which peace, security, stability, and human rights were essential elements together with good governance, sound economic policies and reforms leading to sustained growth and equity.

After some exchange of views on major developments in Africa in 1996, the Panel commended African countries for their improved economic performance and continued efforts to assume ownership for their development programmes, and for the progress achieved in regional cooperation, but noted that poverty in Africa had generally increased in the region. It called upon African countries to aim at a sustained 7 per cent growth in GDP per annum so that growth could have an impact on peopleþs lives. In this regard and in order to successfully diversify African economies, the Panel observed that substantial financial and technical support from the international community and greater involvement of the private sector were of the essence.

For sustaining economic growth, the Panel stressed the need to promote public savings through appropriate fiscal policies and rationalized public expenditures, and also the need to increase private savings through strengthened financial intermediation. The Panel further noted that physical infrastructure and the development of human capacity required utmost attention, and that investment in African countries, particularly from the private sector, should be increased.

The Panel welcomed the special measures recently adopted for the least developed countries by the World Trade Organization, as well as the recent Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative, and the proposed DAC/OECD New Global Partnership with developing countries. It called for more flexibility so that many countries could be eligible to benefit from debt relief and trade facilitation measures. The Panel also expressed the hope that the progress achieved regarding Africa at the G-7 Summit at Lyon would be further strengthened at the forthcoming G-7 meeting at Denver.

On the issue of good governance, the Panel stressed its importance for creating an enabling environment for sustainable development and stressed that it should go beyond the electoral process and democratization. It should include also such elements as civic education, gender mainstreaming, separation of powers, decentralization, neutrality of civil service, and timeliness and accuracy of central statistical information.

The Panel also noted that while a number of serious conflicts had ended, concern was expressed over some of the unresolved long-running conflicts and the newly emerging crisis in the Great Lakes region. Nevertheless, the Panel commended the progress made by African countries in putting in place popularly-elected Governments, though the enforcement of the protection of human rights and the rule of law remained uneven, and the supporting institutional framework weak. The Panel encouraged African countries to continue putting in place mechanisms for equitable participation and representation, and to strengthen the civil service through training, adequate incentives and mechanisms to prevent corruption.

Recognizing that food security was related to both inadequate food production and poverty, the Panel observed that it was necessary to improve food supplies and also access to food through productive employment and better income earning opportunities. The Panel stressed that in order to achieve a sustainable level of food security, it was essential to create an enabling environment and to learn from successful experiences as regards food security. The Panel stressed that food security should be a national responsibility, and that it was important to improve rural development, rural infrastructure, food storage, water resources, productivity, water storage and effective use of fresh water. The donor community should, in this regard, complement national efforts.

The Panel is entrusted with the responsibility of playing an advocacy role and heightening visibility of Africaþs problems in the international community. It plays an important role in making recommendations on global issues of particular importance to African development, while urging African countries to pursue their own efforts. It also makes recommendations on how to improve coordination within the United Nations system in the formulation and implementation of its programmes and activities in Africa.

This meeting was chaired by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Minister for Overseas Development of the United Kingdom. Introductory remarks were made on behalf of the Secretary-General by Mr. Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General, Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. Other participants were: Botswanaþs Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, B.K. Temane, representing the President of Botswana; Special Adviser of the Africa Society of Japan, Yasushi Kurokochi; Adviser to the President of Indonesia for South-South and North-South Cooperation, Mohammad Sadli; Director for Sub- Saharan Africa of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Rainer Barthelt; Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity, Vijay Makhan, representing its Secretary-General; Senior Adviser to the President of the African Development Bank, Delphin Rwegasira, representing its President; and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Hazem El-Beblawi. Assistant Administrator and Regional Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also participated in the discussions of the Panel. The Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries acts as the Secretariat of the Panel.

The Panel agreed to devote its future work to such issues as the role of foreign direct investment in Africa, the implementation of the HIPC initiative on debt, and development assistance for capacity-building in the framework of the New Global Partnership. It would also review progress on the implementation of the United Nations System-wide Special Initiative on Africa, as well as the issue of trade access in light of post-Lomé IV future arrangements.

Herta Kaschitz,OSCAL

The web site of the Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries is at:

Commission Celebrates Fiftieth Anniversary

The forty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place from 10-21 March, opening with a commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary. The Secretary-General addressed the gathering. It was only the second time the Commission had been addressed by a Secretary General; the first having been Dag Hammarsjkold.

Honored guests were introduced and recognized for their contribution to the work of the Commission. Among those honored were: Ms. Minerva Bernadino who was present at the UN Charter Conference; eight other previous chairpersons of the Commission on the Status of Women, including five present and four who sent written messages; and the Secretaries General of the four global UN womenþs conferences including Ms. Helvi Sipila of Finland who was present. Also honored were Ms. Esther Hymer of the International Business and Professional Women and Ms. Margaret Bruce, former Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs for their long service to womenþs issues, and Khunying Supatra Masdit, the Convenor of the NGO Forum at Beijing, who was present at the commemoration. The ceremony ended with statements by regional groups and slides depicting memorable moments from the four global United Nations women's conferences held from 1975. A colorful booklet depicting Fifty Years of the Commission on the Status of Women was presented to the Secretary General, Mr. Desai and the Chairperson, Ms. Brennen-Haylock, by Ms. Angela King, Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Gender Issues, and was later mode available to all . The booklet and the ceremony were highly appreciated by participants.

More than 300 Non-Governmental Organizations from all regions sent representatives to the Commissionþs session. A series of consultations and daily briefings facilitated by DAW, among NGOs and delegations took place and provided a rich and diverse exchange of views. NGOs also were invited to participate in the Commissionþs dialogue sessions with three to five of them being identified to participate in each dialogue.

A computer display of "WomenWatch", the DAW, UNIFEM, and INSTRAW gateway on the Internet to information on the advancement and empowerment of women, was viewed by more than 250 delegates and NGO representatives who attended demonstrations on the use of the technology. Considerable interest was expressed in cooperating with and receiving further information on the project.

During the session, the Commission focused on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and related issues. Interactive panels were held on four critical areas of concern from the Beijing Platform for Action and at the end, agreed conclusions were adopted for each critical area. Measures were proposed for accelerating the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action moving the debate forward from Beijing.

Under its agreed conclusions on "Women and the Environment", the Commission agreed after lengthy negotiations spurred by a number of African delegates that women should be "accorded full and equal rights to own land and other properties, including through inheritance". Previously agreed formulations recognizing womenþs "access to ownership of land and properties, including through inheritance" were replaced by a more direct recognition of women's equal right to own land and other properties. The agreed conclusions also underscored the importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmmes in the area of sustainable development, and the need to take women into account when reviewing the implementation of Agenda 21 as a whole and not only to consider women as a major group.

Under its agreed conclusions on "Women in Power and Decision-making" the Commission recommended the establishment of training programmes in the conduct of political campaigns, fund-raising and parliamentary procedures to encourage women to run for public office. Mechanisms were identified to achieve gender balance in decision-making and conflict resolution such as quotas and other temporary special measures. The importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all decision-making processes was also emphasized. The UN Secretary-General was requested to ensure full and urgent implementation of the strategic plan of action for the improvement of the status of women in the Secretariat so as to achieve overall gender equality, particularly at the professional level and above, by the year 2000.

Under the agreed conclusions on "Women and the Economy", the Commission stated that economic policies and structural adjustment programmes, including liberalization policies, which include privatization, financial and trade policies, should be formulated and monitored in a gender-sensitive way with input from women most impacted by those policies. It was agreed that governments, international organizations and the private sector should recognize the contributions women make to economic growth through their paid and unpaid work.

Under the agreed conclusions on "Education and Training of Women" the Commission stated that governments, international bodies, donors and NGOs should make special efforts to achieve the benchmarks set in the Platform for Action for universal access to basic education and provide assistance for the implementation of those goals. The need for additional funds from private and public institutions to enable girls and women to complete their education was also underscored as well as the great importance of basic education and vocational qualifications in particular in the field of science and technology.

In parallel to the Commission, an Open-ended Working Group on the Elaboration of a Draft Optional Protocol to CEDAW met from 10 to 20 March 1997 using a draft text prepared by the Chairperson, Ms. Aloysia Worgetter of Austria. The working group made notable strides and agreed to continue its work during the 42nd CSW in 1998 with a view to having a protocol in place by the year 2000.

In her closing statement, Ms. Brennen-Haylock (Bahamas), said that the agreed conclusions would play an important role in the future, particularly in mainstreaming a gender perspective.

The Commission also adopted resolutions on Palestinian women; traffic in women and girls and violence against women migrant workers; release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts and imprisoned; older women, human rights and development; the Open-ended Working Group on the Elaboration of a Draft Optional Protocol to CEDAW; and mainstreaming of a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the UN system.

Krister Timothy and Oliva Acosta, DAW

The web site of the Division for the Advancement of Women is at: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/daw

First Subsidiary Body Meetings in Bonn

There was a sense of history in the Bad Godesberg Stadthalle on February 24 as the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies convened for the first time in Bonn. The opening, attended by the Lord Mayor of Bonn and the Parliamentary State Secretary of Environment, marked the completion of the relocation of the climate change secretariat to its new home on the banks of the Rhine River.

With over 800 delegates and observers in attendance, the event marked the launch of Bonn as a regular UN conference city.

The Subsidiary Body meetings at this session were dominated by the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM). Government representatives from 134 countries met to negotiate for an international agreement committing developed countries to cutting their emissions of greenhouse gases in the first decades of the 21st century. The session was successful in compiling a negotiating text which must be available to the Parties in the six UN languages by 1 June. It will be the subject of further talks in Bonn from 28 July - 7 August 1997 and from 20 - 31 October 1997. A new agreement under the Climate Change Convention is to be finalised by ministers when they meet on 1 - 10 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.

The other subsidiary bodies of the Climate Change Convention also met during this session. The Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI) reviewed the status of the Global Environment Facility, the interim operator of the financial mechanism of the Convention. It held the first round of discussion on the programme budget of the Convention for the biennium 1998-1999. A key issue was whether the United Nations will continue to fund from its regular budget the conference services required by the Convention bodies. Views of major contributors to the budget were divided on this point. It was agreed that the costs of the conference services would be included in the programme budget as a contingency.

This session also took up and produced decisions concerning technology transfer and methodological issues. The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) examined the ground rules for Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ) whereby one country makes investments that reduce emissions in another country. The Ad Hoc Group on Article 13 (AG13) noted that the establishment of a multilateral consultative process was within the framework set by Article 13 of the Convention and that it would form the basis for discussion by the group at its fifth session.

Bonn does not yet have the type of conference facilities normally required for U.N. meetings. This meant a good deal of improvisation and heartache to make sure that the meetings came off without a hitch. One of the reasons for their success was the construction of a temporary plenary room seating 500 and attached to the main building, affectionately known as Plenary II or , unofficially, the tent. Special measures were taken to make the tent environmentally sound and it became a popular venue for consultations. The secretariat is working with the Government of Germany to ensure improved conference facilities for the future.

Nardos Assefa, UNFCCC

The web site of the Climate Change Secretariat is at: http://www.unfccc.de

Cabin Crew, Prepare for Takeoff ...

Under a similar title we reported last issue on the preparation for the fourth IPF. Here is a follow-up:

Situation after the Fourth and Final Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest

The Panel concluded its deliberations on all Programme Elements of its mandate. All proposals for action were fully negotiated whereas the conclusions were discussed and noted by the Panel as generally agreed text.

What the Panel could agree on..

The Panel reached consensus on all major technical and scientific issues including all programme elements under

  • Category I (national forest programmes, underlying causes of deforestation, traditional forest related knowledge, areas affected by desertification and/or drought, the effects of air-borne pollution, and the special needs of countries with low forest cover); and
  • Category III (forest assessments, forest research, the valuation of forest goods and services, and criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management),

with the exception of a globally accepted core set of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.

What the Panel could not agree on..

The proposals for action under

  • Category II (Finance and Transfer of Technology); and
  • IV (Trade and Environment)

still contain options for action on which no agreement was reached: the establishment of a forest fund or other special funding mechanisms for sustainable forest management; trade agreements covering forest products from all types of forests; and unilateral bans and boycotts made by subnational entities.

The special case of Category V..

Concerning Category V (Institutions and Legal Instruments), there was support for the continuation of an IPF-like mechanism under the CSD, serviced by a small secretariat within DPCSD and with the support of the informal, high level Interagency Task Force on Forests (ITFF). However, the functions and mandate of the IPF successor remained unresolved with the following options proposed, not necessarily seen to be mutually exclusive:

a) To continue the intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests and the consideration of all aspects and programmes aimed at management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests in a holistic manner within existing fora such as the CSD, FAO and their respective institutional structures, as well as other appropriate international organisations, institutions and instruments.

b) To continue the intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests through the establishment of an ad-hoc, open-ended Intergovernmental Forum on Forests under the auspices of the UN CSD, with a focused and time limited mandate, charged with, inter-alia, reviewing, monitoring and reporting on progress in the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests, promoting and monitoring the implementation of the Panelþs proposalþs for action. Options under this course of action include:

  • consider and advise on the need for other arrangements and mechanisms, including legal arrangements covering all types of forests, and reporting on these matters to the CSD at the appropriate time in its work programme; or
  • to prepare the basis and build the necessary consensus for a decision to negotiate and elaborate possible elements for a legally binding instrument, and to report on its work on the latter topic to the CSD in the year 1999;

c) To carry forward intergovernmental policy action on forests through the establishment, as soon as possible, under the authority of the UN General Assembly, of an INC on a legally binding instrument on all types of forest, with a focused and time limited mandate.

Following the last day of deliberations by the Panel some delegations supporting options a) and b) expressed their concern that a rushed version of a convention on forests would lead to a þpoorþ convention at the present stage of consensus building and that further international dialogue would be required in order to reach a stage where a convention would be negotiated from a platform of higher general commitments and consensus on key issues, including finance and trade.

Given the outcome of IPF IV, forests are likely to be a major issue during the high level segment of CSD V, especially concerning the successor arrangements and the road towards a convention.

Tage Michaelsen, IPF Secretariat

The web site of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest is at: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/dsd/ipf.htm

Finance for Sustainable Development: Experts Agree on The Road Ahead

The Fourth Expert Group Meeting on Financial Issues of Agenda 21, 8-10 January 1997, in Santiago, Chile was chaired by Lin See- Yan, Executive Chairman, Pacific Bank, Malaysia, and opened by Gert Rosenthal, Executive Secretary, UN/ECLAC, Joke Waller- Hunter, Director, DSD/DPCSD, and Ron Lander, Head of Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands. Despite the diversity of the more than 70 participating experts, there was -- perhaps surprisingly -- much agreement on the major issues of international, domestic and innovative finance, which is very promising for future work.

An overview of progress achieved since the Earth Summit was provided by Theodore Panayotou (HIID, USA), with Manuel Agosin (University of Chile, Chile) as discussant, stating, inter alia, that promises made then had not been fulfilled, but that considerable progress was made in a number of areas (such as foreign private capital flows, debt relief and, to some extent, domestic resource mobilization), while other developments were more disappointing (including concerning official development assistance (ODA) and international innovative instruments); all issues covered in greater detail by other papers and presentations at the Meeting.

Innovative international finance

International innovative financial instruments have received a great deal of attention due in part to perceived revenue- generating capacity, and, less so, to their efficiency-enhancing aspects. Papers by David Pearce (CSERGE, University College London, UK), Ramon López (University of Maryland, USA, and University of Chile, Chile), and Bernard Herber (University of Arizona, USA) all added constructively to the debate, as witnessed by discussants Ved Gandhi (IMF), and Arcadio Cerda (University of Concepción, Chile). While there was widespread scepticism among experts regarding the potential role of international innovative financial instruments, there was also a feeling that these instruments might play a role in mitigating the current aid crisis and contribute to solving global environmental and development problems.

An interesting discussion emerged when Bernard Herber proposed rough guidelines for effective, sensible, and perhaps workable, international taxes, which resulted in a proposal for an international carbon tax levied at the national level (modelled somewhat on the harmonized value-added taxation and the 1991 proposal for carbon taxation in the European Union), of which 98.5 per cent of the revenues would remain with the national government and only 1.5 per cent would be used for international purposes. In such scheme, a "win-win" situation would be created, as increased taxes would reduce carbon emissions while generating revenues for sustainable development, with national governments largely retaining sovereignty of taxation and most revenues from the tax, adding to the political acceptability of such a proposal.

International finance

With the level of ODA stagnating, the debate focussed on budgetary problems in donor countries, perceptions of aid dependency and lack of aid effectiveness among the poorest recipient countries, and a general shift in the development paradigm from a state-led to a multi-dimensional market-based one. The discussion of this shift pervaded throughout the Meeting. Constructive solutions to aid problems were offered by a paper and presentation from Tony Killick (ODI, UK), and comments from discussants Richard Carey (OECD) and Nguyuru Lipumba (UNU/WIDER). For example, transparency of aid policies and allocations should be improved to reduce donor tying of aid for commercial and political purposes and recipientsþ utilization of aid for unproductive or private political and economic gains. Also, aid policies for sustainable development should be recipient driven, and aid should be used to leverage domestic as well as incoming foreign private capital flows. Restoration of public and political confidence in the aid "business" should be a priority.

Inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) by transnational corporations (TNCs) to developing countries reached nearly $100 billion in 1996, it was estimated. Nevertheless, TNCs are often seen as villains in discussions of their impact on sustainable development in host, and home, countries. The debate at the Meeting, however, and the paper by Kwang Jun (World Bank) and Tom Brewer (Georgetown University, USA) and comments from discussants Ricardo Ffrench-Davis (UN/ECLAC) and H. Peter Gray (Rutgers University, USA), gave a more balanced view. For example, affiliates of TNCs generally perform better environmentally than domestic firms in developing countries, and, in any event, respond to the same set of laws and regulations as domestic firms. This led to the broad conclusion that, to attract FDI and improve its contribution to sustainable development, countries should ensure stable and appropriate macroeconomic and social policies, and transparent and predictable environmental and other laws. Furthermore, emphasis should be given to adequate infrastructure and human resources development.

The negative impact of developing-country debt burdens was discussed by a presentation by Anthony Boote (IMF) on the joint World Bank/IMF Heavily-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Debt Initiative of September 1996. While the discussant Carl Greenidge (ACP Secretariat) generally agreed with the progress made, he cautioned that it should not be forgotten that the Initiative was not a panacea for development problems of HIPCs, which were likely to remain after its implementation.

Domestic finance

On the domestic front, conservative estimates at the Meeting, including by a paper from Ved Gandhi, Dale Gray and Ronald McMorran (IMF), suggested that domestic financial reform could generate more than 1 trillion dollars annually in revenues from world-wide reduction of subsidies, introduction of (and increase in) environmental charges, use of market-based instruments, etc., of which an estimated four fifths or so would be generated in developed countries and one fifth in developing countries. While the issue of domestic resource mobilization is often contentious in developed/developing country discussions, most experts agreed that domestic policy reform for resource mobilization was crucial.

Through presentations by Ved Gandhi and Dale Gray (IMF), Anil Markandya (University of Bath, UK), Ronaldo Seroa da Motta (IPEA, Brazil), Jan Pieters (OECD) and Andre de Moor (IRPE, The Netherlands), comments from discussants, Julio Velarde Flores (Universidad del Pacifico, Peru) and Jeff Vincent (HIID, USA) and subsequent discussions, participants agreed that policies for promoting domestic resource mobilization should include macroeconomic and structural reforms, public expenditure reforms, the promotion of environmental taxes and charges, a review of existing subsidy policies, and financial sector development to promote personal saving and access to credit. On subsidy policies, it was particularly emphasized that governments should minimize creation of new subsidies and increase transparency of existing subsidies, including of their impacts.

The very important role of the private sector was emphasized in a paper by Bradford Gentry (Yale University, USA) and, in particular, by discussants Maria Emilia Correa (BCSD, Colombia) and Carlos Joly (Storebrand ASA, Norway) who highlighted examples of the role of large and small and medium-size enterprise (and their differences), "green" investment funds, etc., to show how the private sector contributes to sustainable development, and the policies and actions needed to go ahead. As earlier discussions in and around the UN have shown, this issue, together with the role of international private capital flows, will be increasingly important in the years to come.

The proceedings of the Meeting, entitled Finance for Sustainable Development: The Road Ahead, which will be made available, in an advance version, to the 1997 CSD in April, and published in May/June 1997 in time for the Special Session of the GA. The "Chairman's Summary" of the Meeting, is available from the UN/DPCSD web site (http://www.un.org/dpcsd/dsd/csd.htm).

Juergen Holst and Peter Koudal, DSD

The web site of the Division for Sustainable Development is at: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/dsd

Some Personal Thoughts on "People Management"

I was recently "incarcerated" out on Long Island with a group of 23 other UN staff members for the four-day People Management Training Seminar. To say that I was not looking forward to the experience would be an understatement. I have an aversion to soul-baring and breast-beating and hair-letting-down and other such touchy-feely 1960s-type activities, as well as to the vocabulary of the recently expanding field of business and personnel management. I object to being referred to as a "human resource". It makes me feel as though I am a commodity to be exploited, which may just be a bit too close to the truth for comfort.

Hyperbole aside, I was sceptical about the purposes of such an exercise. Whenever I see the rows and rows of books on the topic - secrets of top managers, how to manage your money (or your life), management as a mission, the spiritual sense of management - I turn tail and run! I have happily avoided the topic for years. Why not just continue in that vein?

The answer is simple - despite almost 18 years in the United Nations and 14 years in the academic field before that, I have plenty to learn about using my time and my energy, about making the best of my resources (hated word!), including the people I work with. Did I have a conversion experience out at Glen Cove? Well, let's just quote an old pop song and say, "I'm a believer".

Without going into details about the seminar, because it needs to be fresh for all those who take it, I would like to share some thoughts on the process and to raise a number of questions that each of us needs to answer in order to become better "managers" of ourselves, our co-workers, our time, and our lives as they intersect our work.

In the sense that we learned to understand it, people management does not mean supervision or behaving according to long-standing rules and regulations. It means creating and maintaining healthy, positive relationships (another sticky word) with those who work with you - at all levels - as well as with the work itself. It is management in the sense of making the best use of all resources - equipment, time and people, and of giving direction so that all are working toward a common goal.

By slight extension, it can and should have implications for how we view ourselves and how we operate both within the work context and outside of it. For most of us that means fundamental changes, necessary changes in our way of thinking about the job.

We need, for example, to change our view of the very word "management". The process does not simply radiate from the top down, as the usual definition of the word indicates. Management operates at all levels and in all directions: of ourselves, of those who work with us, of those working in other departments, and even of the boss. Yes, you can manage your boss just as he or she manages you. The key lies in making management a mutually supportive process; it needs to work for everyone's good.

That is what is meant by the phrase "the culture of management". Are we working in a strictly hierarchical structure where everyone follows age-old rules, where all change is instigated from the top levels, and where the work is defined not by the people who perform it but by those who supervise it?

Such a system may appear safe and secure, but the end result of it is that those of us who are doing the work have no share in it. We do our 9-to-5 without giving thought to its purpose and without realizing that each of us has a contribution to make in the way things are run. Without some evolution in the way we view our role, we risk turning the organization into a static system where change represents a threat rather than a challenge.

The first essential is to recognize the problem. Each of us needs to step back a bit, to gain a little perspective and look at ourselves in relation to our work. Are we defined by our job? Do we make undue sacrifices in order to get all the work done? Do we sometimes feel as though we are skiing backwards and blindfolded in the job? Are we under-appreciated, over-burdened and ill-used?

One of the key words used during the training seminar was "vision". A shared, common goal understood by all involved. What are we working towards? How does our piece of the puzzle, small though it may be, fit into the larger scheme? Indeed, a primary principle is that every part of the machine has its purpose. So a very basic question is raised - do we recognize that, as part of the larger picture, the work that each of us does makes a contribution to advancing the goals, the "vision", of the UN?

In an ideal work situation, each staff member has a clear understanding of his or her day-to-day functions and of the way in which they fit into the overall framework of the work unit. Staff members realize that an important function of their job is to find ways of bettering the system in which they work. Their contributions are valued and, indeed, sought by those with whom they work so that all have a share in the efficient running of the unit.

Staff members are involved in decisions on matters that affect them; they are given authority for those tasks for which they are responsible, and they are given the tools to accomplish those tasks; they are urged to be creative and innovative in their thinking rather than to follow tried-and-true methods. Finally, they are valued as full participants in the cooperative system.

Picture yourself working, toiling, sweating away in the office. What kind of animal are you? A thirsty camel trekking across a barren Saharan wasteland with its hump half dried up? A Grand Canyon burro bearing an overweight tourist up and down the same narrow path day after day, your only view being the rear-end of the burro in front of you? A cottontail rabbit that, of necessity, expends more energy in avoiding being caught than in seeking its own nourishment?

Here's another animal image - a pack of timber wolves newly released in Yellowstone National Park. What is their vision, their overall goal? To establish their territory and to ensure the survival and growth of the pack. To reach that goal they must work together, with each one relying not on its own strength alone but on that of the others. All must be ready to react to whatever challenges face them.

The pack leader is recognized as such, but knows that without the individual and collective strength of the pack members he will not survive. Finally, all have a stake in the future- oriented goal of the pack - the generation to come.

The lesson of the seminar is quite simple. For each work unit within the UN and for the UN as a whole, as for the wolf pack, it is the future that is at stake. Each of us must be ready to evolve with the changing times and the evolving role of our Organization in today's world. We must recognize that each of us has a part to play in the shaping of that evolving role.

Without the capacity to react to such change as a positive force for growth, we as individual staff members risk becoming incarcerated in a system with no future, and trying to function as redundant cogs in a wheel that is not moving forward. That is a risk we cannot take.

Bill Bunch, DPCEA


New York, 7-25 April 1997
Commission on Sustainable Development, Fifth Session

New York, 21 April-2 May 1997
Thirteenth Meeting of Experts on the United Nations Programme
in Public Administration and Finance

Geneva, 28 April-16 May 1997
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
Sixteenth Session

Nairobi, 30 April-9 May 1997
Commission on Human Settlements,
Sixteenth Session

New York, 1-2 May 1997
Economic and Social Council,
Resumed Organizational Session

New York, 5-9 May 1997
Committee for Development Planning,
Thirty-first Session

New York, 5-16 May 1997
Committee on Non-governmental Organizations,
1997 session

New York, 9 May 1997
Committee for Programme and Coordination,
Organizational Session

New York, 12-23 May 1997
Open-ended High-Level Working Group on the Strengthening
of the United Nations System

Geneva, 20-23 May 1997
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Pre-sessional Working Group

Geneva, 20 May-6 June 1997
Committee on the Rights of the Child,
Fifteenth Session

Geneva, 26-30 May 1997
Commission on Human Rights - Subcommission
on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
Working Group on Minorities

New York, 2-6 June 1997
Sixth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for the Americas

Geneva, 2-11 June 1997
Commission on Human Rights - Subcommission
on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Geneva, 9-13 June 1997
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Pre-sessional Working Group

New York, 9-13 June 1997
Open-ended High-Level Working Group
on the Strengthening of the United Nations System

New York, 9 June-3 July 1997
Committee for Programme and Coordination,
Thirty-seventh Session