DESA News Vol. 11, No. 3 March 2007

Trends and analysis

UN Forum on Forests: charting the way to 2015

A country-led expert meeting in Bali, Indonesia lays groundwork for UNFF’s April session and beyond

More than 150 experts from sixty-six countries, ten international organizations, three regional organizations and eleven major group organizations gathered for an international expert meeting from 13 to 16 February in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. The meeting was a country-led initiative, co-hosted by the Governments of Indonesia and Germany, during which experts examined the elements of a new multi-year programme of work through 2015 to be adopted at the upcoming session of the UN Forum on Forests in April. Participants were given the opportunity to contribute to three parallel working groups. One group addressed future biennial themes of the Forum. A second reviewed modalities of Forum activities including arrangements for the International Year of Forests in 2011, stakeholder, regional and sub-regional involvement, expected outputs, and monitoring and review mechanisms. The third group explored ways to strengthen the regional dimensions of sustainable forest management in particular through enhanced relations with regional and sub-regional forest management entities.

The Co-Chair’s summary report, available online, will be submitted for consideration by delegates to the seventh session of UNFF scheduled for 16 to 27 April in New York.

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Expanding electronic, and mobile, government

DPADM explains the concept of E/M readiness to policy-makers in Cairo

Increasing electronic and mobile Government readiness is one of the best ways for policy makers to improve the provision of public goods in the twenty-first century. With this idea in mind, known colloquially as “E/M readiness”, DPADM is developing regional reports intended to guide policymakers in the future delivery of electronic services. A concept paper on this topic was presented to a group of experts on information and communications technology indicators meeting in Cairo from 13 to 15 February.

Organized by ESCWA and the Information and Decision Support Centre of the Government of Egypt, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss the best approach for the report with regional stakeholders with an emphasis on the needs of Arab States. ESCWA and other participating organizations at the regional level expressed appreciation for the initiative and an interest in joining DESA in developing the regional report as the project moves forward. The event was attended by decision makers, ICT experts, statisticians, and researchers in the field of measurement of indicators in education and e-government from Arab countries, as well as regional and international organizations, and academic and research institutions.

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Spotlight on debt and finance in developing countries

Experts to meet in London in March to discuss emerging issues in global financial integration

The rise of global imbalances, debt sustainability, and the risk of financial crises are issues that dominate the current debate on globalization, and directly effect prospects for durable development of middle-income and low-income countries. A multi-stakeholder workshop on debt, finance and emerging issues in financial integration – organized by DESA’s Financing for Development Office, the Commonwealth Secretariat,and the Commonwealth Business Council – will bring together some sixty high-level participants from around the world to review current issues in international finance in developing countries, and to move the debate further by discussing possible policy options. The meeting, to be held in London on 6 and 7 March, follows from the last round of multi-stakeholder consultations, held in 2005, during which it was agreed that improved mechanisms are needed for orderly debt workouts and that debtors and creditors should be more transparent. While agreement was not reached on a concept of debt sustainability, participants recognized that previous models to assess debt sustainability were incomplete and lacked analytical rigour.

The workshop in London will be attended by experts in finance from the IMF, international agencies, finance houses, and universities. A report and recommendations emanating from the meeting will feed into the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in 2007 and the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus to be held in Doha in the second half of 2008.

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Linking environment and economic development in Asia

A workshop in Bangkok to explore governance challenges in sustainable development

Capturing ways to ensure that sustainable development is reflected in national development plans and poverty reduction strategies will be the focus of a workshop organized by OECD in cooperation with the DESA Division for Sustainable Development, and ESCAP. The workshop, taking place in Bangkok from 8 to 9 March, is expected to gather policy makers from Asia and the Pacific and OECD countries to discuss the challenges of integrating sustainability and development, good governance, and stakeholder engagement.

Representatives of OECD, DESA/DSD, ESCAP, UNEP, UNDP as well as the IMF, World Bank, ADB and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation will review working arrangements for cooperation at the country level with a view to building support, and ensuring coherence and efficiency.

Economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has been impressive over the past forty years. At the same time, there have been environmental and social costs. Economic growth has raised levels of consumption, pollution and waste to the point where the cost of environmental degradation is estimated at between 4 and 8 percent of GDP in many countries of the region. In addition, a considerable number of the poor are dependent on habitats which are gradually being degraded. What are the main challenges in implementing more ecological approaches to economic growth in the region? What is the relationship between environmental improvements and poverty reduction? How can good governance contribute to sustainable development? These are some of the questions workshop participants are expected to address.

Discussions are also to deal with persistent problems in many countries in obtaining sufficient political commitment and financial support to advance national sustainable development strategies. Equally, lack of institutional capacity constrains planning processes. The workshop will debate the extent to which capacity-building is needed for each country to be able to develop and implement national sustainable development strategies.

The workshop is the second in a series sponsored by the OECD and the Division for Sustainable Development on enhancing the governance aspects of sustainable development. A conference on Institutionalizing Sustainable Development was held in Stockholm in September 2006. The next event will be held in late 2007 for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Partners for innovation in governance

Government administrations may need to innovate to achieve internationally agreed development goals

A panel on collaboration and partnerships for innovation in governance and public administration will unfold at the American Society for Public Administration's annual conference in Washington, DC on 26 March. Organized by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management in collaboration with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the meeting will raise key issues on innovations in governance and public administration and the extent to which they contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals, and to national development priorities.

Such innovation should, in addition, be built on strong partnerships among governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure sustainable innovations in governance that can improve the quality of life of all citizens.

Guido Bertucci, Director of DPADM, will discuss the role of the United Nations public administration network in promoting reform and innovation. Adriana Alberti, Chief Technical Adviser in DPADM, and John-Mary Kauzya, are expected to deliver presentations, with Gowher Rizvi, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard, joining the discussion.

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Towards sustainable development strategies for Asia-Pacific

Government and civil society experts from Asia-Pacific to exchange experiences and practices in Seoul

A shared learning and review process of the national strategy for sustainable development of the Republic of Korea began last year as an initiative of the Government in collaboration with the Division for Sustainable Development. A preparatory meeting held in Seoul in December identified the parameters for review, and now a workshop will be held from 12 to 16 March in the Korean capital to open in-depth discussions and share practices and lessons in national strategies for sustainable development.

International organizations such as OECD, ESCAP and UNEP will also participate in the workshop as observers, sharing their works on the matter and enabling the linkage of local, regional and international dimensions of sustainable development. This shared learning and review process is expected to expand the development and implementation of national strategies for sustainable development in the region and foster regional partnership for sustainable development. The results of the workshop will be presented at the fifteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable development to be held between 30 April and 11 May.

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Triennial comprehensive policy review

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.

As part of the preparatory efforts, a series of country case studies will be carried out in February and early March to gather information from key players engaged in the UN system’s operational activities for development at the field level. These country case studies will reinforce the ten thematic analytical studies on issues concerning effectiveness and coherence of the UN operational activities. A global consultation meeting involving UN agencies and Member States will be held in Turin, Italy from 14 to 16 March to validate the findings from both the country case studies and the analytical studies. The outcome of all these preparatory activities will feed in the policy debate on the triennial comprehensive policy review at the General Assembly at its sixty-second session.

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Tufts University cross-cultural leadership symposium on Asia's rising giants: China and India

DPADM participated in a panel entitled “State, Party, and People: Can the Center Hold?” and delivered a presentation on its work in the area of e-Government at the ninth annual Tufts University cross-cultural leadership symposium held from 22 to 25 February in Medford, Massachusetts.

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