DESA News Vol. 11, No. 1 January 2007

Trends and analysis

Agreement to manage the world’s forests on track for adoption this year

The instrument provides an articulated and practical framework for sustainable forest management.

More than 300 forestry experts from Governments, intergovernmental organizations and major groups participated in an ad hoc expert group on the consideration of the content of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests in New York from 11 to 15 December 2006. The meeting ended on a high note with experts observing that widespread political commitment for the agreement and the positive tone of the discussion indicated likely adoption of the agreement at the next session of the UN Forum on Forests to be held from 16 to 27 April. This constructive attitude and increased awareness of forest issues mirrored the stance of the General Assembly which adopted a resolution on 20 December declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests .

Forests cover 30 per cent of the world’s land area and more than 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood. Every day some 350 square kilometers of forest cover are lost worldwide largely as a result of human activity. “The non-legally binding instrument is intended to create awareness of the need to protect and sustainably manage the worldwide forest,” says Hans Hoogeveen, Chair of the United Nations Forum on Forests. “It is also intended to provide a well-articulated and coherent framework for sustainable forest management.” ECOSOC resolution 2006/49 recognized the agreement’s importance, calling for a quick conclusion to negotiations and adoption of the instrument in 2007.

To assist the Forum in its deliberations, the December meeting of experts was held to identify and analyze common elements of the non-legally-binding instrument, and to elaborate its substantive, working and institutional elements.

The instrument highlights the importance of voluntary national measures, policies, actions and partnerships, and will enable countries to better determine their national targets, goals and policies. It provides a global platform for coordination of the myriad forest-related agreements and processes already in existence.

The work of the expert group took into account a compilation of draft indicative elements and other proposals submitted by member States and regional groups. Substantial progress was made at the expert group meeting as participants completed a first reading of the agreement. Strong support emerged on certain issues, among them enhancement of national forest management policies, recognition of the importance of international trade in forest products, and the need for a scientific basis for policy development.

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Leading ecologists, economists and social scientists appointed to the Committee for Development Policy

The Economic and Social Council approved on 30 November 2006 the nomination of 24 experts of the Committee for Development Policy for a three-year term beginning 1 January 2007. Biographical information on the newly appointed members is contained in document E/2006/9/Add.18.

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Statistics Division wins UN21 Award for outstanding work in monitoring MDGs

The Statistics Division team has worked since 2002 to provide a sound statistical basis for the international political debate on the MDGs and for the development of effective strategies to achieve the goals. The team has coordinated the work of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators, which is responsible for monitoring global and regional MDG trends, reviewing methodologies and supporting countries in data collection, analysis and reporting for MDG indicators. The team’s coordination efforts have led to an unprecedented level of inter-agency collaboration, contributed to improve the consistency of data disseminated and used by international agencies and facilitated the use of statistics by a wide range of users.

Countries have benefited from the coherent and focused approach taken by IAEG in many ways, including: increased attention by national governments to statistical systems; improved use of statistics in policy making and monitoring; improved understanding of national development priorities, increased adoption by countries of international statistical standards; and improved coordination of statistical capacity building initiatives by international partners.

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Elimination of discrimination against women

New York, 15 January-2 February

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the human rights treaty body in charge of monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, will hold its thirty-seventh session in New York from 15 January to 2 February. Under article 18 of the Convention, States parties are requested to report periodically on the legislative, judicial, administrative, and programmatic measures they have taken to put the Convention into practice, and on tangible progress achieved in the elimination of discrimination.

During the upcoming session, the Committee will examine the initial report of Tajikistan, and the periodic reports of Austria, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Greece, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Namibia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Suriname, and Vietnam. The Committee consists of twenty-three independent experts elected for a four-year term.

The Committee welcomes country-specific information from non-Governmental organizations in the form of alternative or shadow reports which can be submitted prior to or during the session concerned.

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Triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities

The Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination has begun preparations for the triennial comprehensive policy review of UN system operational activities for development to take place during the sixty-second session of the General Assembly later this year. The aim of the review is to evaluate the extent to which the UN system provides efficient and effective support to developing countries in the realization of national development strategies and internationally agreed development goals. The review focuses on the comparative advantage of the UN in the increasingly complex and competitive environment that characterizes globalization.

DESA is engaging in intensive preliminary consultations with a range of partners, among them Member States, the United Nations Development Group, United Nations Evaluation Group, and the OECD Development Assistance Committee. Ten analytical studies will be prepared examining effectiveness, efficiency and coherence, as well as funding development cooperation activities throughout the system. These studies will be completed by late February 2007, and provide information that will feed into the Secretary-General report on Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review due to be released in the fourth quarter of this year.

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