DESA News Vol. 11, No. 7 July 2007

Publications and websites

Technical reports

Millennium Development Goals Report 2007

Millennium Development Goals Report 2007

The 2007 edition of the Millennium Development Goals Report has just been launched. According to the report, progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2015 remains mixed. Significant breakthroughs have been made in the area of poverty reduction with the proportion of people living on one dollar a day dropping from 1.25 billion in 1990 to 980 million in 2004. The report estimates that the MDG poverty reduction target will be met for the world as a whole and for most regions, if current trends continue. Progress has been made even in those regions where the challenges are greatest, among them sub-Saharan Africa where the number of desperately poor people has leveled off and the region’s poverty rate has fallen by nearly six percentage points since 2000.

Half of the population of the developing world still has no access to basic sanitation, however, and the effects of climate change are already being felt. Progress is hampered because the benefits of economic growth are not being equally shared while in some countries insecurity and instability caused by armed conflict and HIV/AIDS are taking a toll.

More children in developing countries are going to school – with enrolment in primary education rising from 80 percent in 1991 to 88 percent in 2005 – and women’s struggle for equal rights has gained ground, as a result of their growing involvement in politics and government, but improvement overall has been slow.

The 2007 MDG report is the most comprehensive global assessment of the Millennium Development Goals to date. It is based on a set of data compiled by an Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators led by DESA. The group comprises over 20 organizations both within and outside the UN system, including regional commissions, UN agencies and programmes, the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For more information: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Default.aspx


Statistical compilations

Monthly Bulletin of Statistics and MBS Online

Monthly Bulletin of Statistics and MBS Online

MBS provides monthly statistics on more than 50 indicators from over 200 countries and areas, together with special tables illustrating important economic developments. Quarterly data for significant world and regional aggregates are included regularly.

Vol. LXI, no.3, March 2007 ST/ESA/STAT/SER.Q/411

Special features in this issue: Retail price indices relating to living expenditures of United Nations officials; fuel imports, developed economies: unit value and volume indices; value; indicators on fuel imports, developed economies; registration of new motor vehicles; external trade conversion factors; manufactured goods exports: unit value indices, volume indices and value; selected series of world statistics.

Vol. LXI, no. 4, April 2007 ST/ESA/STAT/SER.Q/412

Special features in this issue: Civil aviation traffic: passenger-km, cargo net ton-km; Total exports and imports by countries or areas: volume, unit value, terms of trade and purchasing power of exports, in US dollars.

For more information: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mbs/


Working papers

Regional Social Policy

Regional Social Policy

Increasingly countries are considering regional policies as a strategy to achieve a fairer globalization. If adequately designed and financed, regional policies may be a complementary tool to foster inclusive development, national equity and social transformation, as well as creating better external collective bargaining positions. This paper presents some recommendations on potential areas, programmes, financing and implementation of regional social policies. Despite the many obstacles, a world of regions each with a strong social dimension could provide an alternative and more effective model of global social governance to redress world asymmetries.

To downlaod: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp37_2007.pdf

Constraints to achieving the MDGs through domestic resource mobilization

This paper focuses on the role of domestic resource mobilization for financing poverty reduction strategies. Policy makers should be aware of important macroeconomic trade-offs associated with MDG strategies financed from tax increases or domestic borrowing. The trade-offs are largely intertemporal: can poor and middle-income countries absorb the initial financing costs in order to achieve expected gains in productivity and human development over time? This calls for a dynamic economy-wide framework to identify the importance of such trade-off s. The paper presents such a framework and illustrates its usefulness in applications for Costa Rica and Ecuador.

To download: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp36_2007.pdf

A counter-cyclical framework for a development-friendly international financial architecture

The major task of a development-friendly international financial architecture is to mitigate procyclical effects of financial markets and open “policy space” for counter-cyclical macroeconomic policies in the developing world. This paper explores a series of policy instruments for this purpose: counter-cyclical prudential regulatory and supervisory frameworks; market mechanisms that better distribute the risk faced by developing countries through the business cycle; multilateral instruments that encourage more stable private flows; and better provision of counter-cyclical official liquidity. It also suggests that regional macroeconomic consultation, and common reserve funds or swap arrangements among developing countries can play a role in this regard.

To download: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp39_2007.pdf

Central banks as agents of employment creation

Employment creation has dropped off the direct agenda of most central banks. The so-called “global best practice” approach to central banking has not focused on economic growth or employment generation but rather on keeping inflation in the low single digits. However, the policy record shows that employment generation and economic growth are often not by-products of inflation focused central bank policy. This chapter argues that there should be a return to the historical norm of central bank policy in which employment creation and more rapid economic growth join inflation and stabilization more generally as key goals of central bank policy. Supporting this argument, the chapter summarizes major lessons of a multi-country research project undertaken by an international team of economists which show that, within the constraints of contemporary economic conditions, there are viable alternatives to inflation targeting that can focus more on important social, real sector outcomes such as employment generation and poverty reduction.

To download: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp38_2007.pdf

Transforming the developmental welfare states in East Asia

This article attempts to explain changes and continuity in the developmental welfare states in Korea and Taiwan Province of China (hereafter Taiwan) within the East Asian context. It first elaborates two strands of welfare developmentalism (selective vs. inclusive), and establishes that the welfare state in those countries fell into the selective category of developmental welfare states before the Asian economic crisis of 1997. Secondly, this paper argues that the policy reform toward an inclusive welfare state in Korea and Taiwan was triggered by the need for structural reform in the economy. Lastly, this paper argues that the idea of an inclusive developmental welfare state should be explored in the wider context of economic and social development.

To download: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp40_2007.pdf

Developing countries, donor leverage, and access to bird flu vaccines

In early 2007, the Indonesian government decided to withhold its bird fl u virus samples from WHO’s collaborating centres pending a new global mechanism for virus sharing that had better terms for developing countries. The 60th World Health Assembly subsequently resolved to establish an international stockpile of avian fl u vaccines, and mandated WHO to formulate mechanisms and guidelines for equitable access to these vaccines. Are there analogous opportunities for study volunteers or donors of biological materials in clinical trials or other research settings to exercise corresponding leverage to advance health equity?

To download: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp41_2007.pdf

Modernizing the informal sector

The multiplicity of policies proposed to support the informal sector reflects the lack of a common definition. Although they may produce positive effects, these are limited and fail to constitute a comprehensive strategic approach. The different interpretations in the absence of a common definition as well as the strategies emerging from them are reviewed. The identification of informality with illegality and labour precariousness, although conceptually related, is often misleading. Lastly, it explores a strategic option to regulate the informal sector, tracing the different approaches to formalizing informal activities, to facilitate their full integration into the modernization process.

To download: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2007/wp42_2007.pdf


Outreach material

The United Nations Development Agenda: Development for All

The United Nations Development Agenda: Development for All

The historic United Nations conferences and summits held in the past two decades generated an unprecedented global consensus on a shared vision of development. These remarkable participatory processes, and the array of development goals that were agreed through them, laid the groundwork for the Millennium Summit, at which a series of challenging time-bound goals and targets were adopted. Many were later collated as the Millennium Development Goals, which have succeeded in galvanizing an exceptional momentum to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. This publication brings together the decisions of the major conferences and summits held between 1990 and 2005 and draws implications for current and future development strategies.

For more information and to download: http://www.un.org/esa/devagenda


Websites

Social Perspective on Development

Social Perspective on Development

The DESA Division for Social Policy and Development has just launched a new website with an improved structure, updated design and better navigation. The site provides ready access to reports and resolutions relating to the social perspective on development, as well news and events. The United Nations considers social advancement to be one of the three defining elements of development, together with economic growth and environmental protection.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/social/

UN ServiceTrade

UN ServiceTrade

UN Service Trade, the UN database covering statistics on international trade in services, is now available to the public. It contains annual detailed trade in services data by EBOPS category and partner country of about 80 countries, from 2000 to 2006.

For more information: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/servicetrade/default.aspx