DESA News Vol. 11, No. 12 December 2007

Global dialogue on development

Bali conference to launch negotiations on a post-Kyoto deal

Parties expected to agree on a roadmap for a post-2012 period climate change agreement

Getting negotiations going on a new international climate change agreement is expected to be the main purpose of the UN Climate Change Conference, which will bring together representatives of over 180 countries in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 14 December. The Bali conference will not deliver a fully negotiated and agreed climate deal but is intended to set the wheels in motion for completing the text of a new international climate change agreement by 2009. Action is needed in the next two years in order to allow time for ratification by countries before the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

The two-week gathering in Bali includes the sessions of the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its subsidiary bodies, as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol. The first week will be devoted to negotiations among the UNFCCC parties on a wide range of issues, at the level of high-ranking government officials. A ministerial segment will dominate the second week, with statements by the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang.

Parties need to agree on the key areas to be covered by a new climate agreement, such as mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing. Delegates also need to agree on a timetable for the talks.

Other issues up for discussion include a climate change adaptation fund, reduction of emissions from deforestation, the growing carbon market, and review of the Kyoto Protocol.

Shaping a global agenda on forests

Forests are expected to feature prominently during discussions of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties. To provide a forum for discussion and debate on forest issues central to the climate change issue, a special forest day is being organized in parallel to the Bali conference by leading international forest-related organizations including UN Forum on Forests Secretariat.

An estimated 13 million hectares of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation every year, and tropical deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, forests and forest soils store more than one trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount found in the atmosphere.

Under the overall theme of shaping the global agenda for forests and climate change, the forest day programme will feature discussions on the role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, including reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries, monitoring and data-related challenges, and transaction and opportunity costs in carbon markets.

In addition to serving as co-host of the forest day, the DESA’s Secretariat of the UN Forum on Forests will contribute to two conference side events. The first, organized in conjunction with UN Food and Agriculture Organization, is a dialogue on the role of sustainable forest management in climate change mitigation. An overview of experiences in sustainable forest management that can be applied to the challenges of climate change mitigation will be discussed with particular emphasis on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Technical tools and mechanisms, governance and legal frameworks, livelihood concerns, finance, and capacity-building in forest law enforcement, forest fire management, reforestation and forest landscape restoration will be considered.

The second side event, organized in cooperation with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations is on linking decision-making on climate change adaptation to knowledge about sustainable forest management. The event is a contribution of an initiative on science and technology that is part of the UN Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The UNFF Secretariat will also be hosting a booth to showcase recent developments in sustainable forest management at the international level.

For more information:

Dialogue on development features top economists Stiglitz, Bhagwati and Jomo

General Assembly meeting to assess progress in implementation of development goals

As part of the now annual debate on follow-up to the Millennium Declaration and 2005 World Summit Outcome, the General Assembly will dedicate 6 December to an assessment of progress on the UN development agenda over the last year. In the morning, DESA’s Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, will lead an informal discussion on emerging trends and recent phenomena that may affect the stability of the world economy and the efforts of countries to implement internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

Keynote addresses will be made by top economists Joseph Stiglitz and Jadish Bhagwati, both of Columbia University, who are expected to note important trends that need serious attention by the General Assembly in its effort to promote development. Global imbalances, credit squeeze, macroeconomic stability in developed and developing countries, policy responses from national governments and multilateral institutions, and the risk of global downturn will likely be considered. Possible consequences of such phenomena if left unattended will be explored, as well as action that the United Nations could take to accelerate implementation of global development objectives.

The event will be chaired by the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Srgjan Kerim. The UN development agenda is a comprehensive set of development goals agreed at the major UN conferences and summits of past two decades. The agenda serves as the internationally shared framework for action at the global, regional and country levels.

For more information:

Gender inequality is “bad economics”

Panel calls for injecting a gender perspective into Monterrey follow-up process

Most of the world's extremely poor people are women earning on average just slightly more than half of what men earn. What is more, violence against women and girls and maternal mortality are major causes of death and disability for women aged 16 to 44 years. In response to such inequities, the Monterrey Consensus of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development made several references to women's empowerment, and called for gender sensitivity in the application of policies and programmes at the country level.

The General Assembly Second Committee held a panel discussion on 12 November on financing for gender equality within the context of follow-up to the Monterrey Consensus. The dialogue brought in experts to examine progress in mobilizing domestic and international resources for the promotion of gender equality. DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women organized the event in collaboration with the Financing for Development Office. Manuel Montes, Chief of Policy Analysis and Development in that office, stressed the need for countries to pay attention to the impact of women's employment and earnings opportunities. “Women should stop being treated as 'starter' workers, being brought into export production to break into a world market and replaced by men when industries move into higher productivity activities,” he said.

Isabella Bakker, Professor and former Chair of Political Science at York University in Toronto, highlighted the crucial importance of integrating a gender perspective into the Monterrey follow-up process, which has so far paid only limited attention to gender equality and women's participation. Ms. Bakker said that, according to the 2007 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, gender inequality cost the region $80 billion annually. “The region loses up to $47 billion annually because of restrictions of women's access to employment, and up to $30 billion because of gender gaps in education,” she noted adding: “It's clear from statistics that there remains a crucial need for resources to eliminate gender gaps in quality of life and life chances. Gender inequality is bad economics.”

Mohammed Chafiki, Director of Studies and Financial Forecasts at the Ministry of Finance and Privatization of Morocco, pointed out that for the first time in its history Morocco has published a set of gender statistics and set up indicators to determine women's access to health care, education and energy, among other areas, making it possible to address gender inequality and create guidelines for the public and private sectors while furthering dialogue on issues relating gender inequality and the differing needs of the population.

He said his country is developing a gender report to evaluate public policies and a poverty map to address poverty eradication and gender, and thus budget accordingly. School attendance has risen from 79 percent in 1999 and 2000 to 93 percent in 2005 and 2006, largely thanks to progress made among rural girls.

The 2008 Doha Conference on Financing for Development is set to address international financing for the rights of the individual, particularly women, and the effectiveness of aid. Public investment in infrastructure and the use of targeted credit to create employment will also be of paramount importance. At the same time, the priority theme of next year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women will also be financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The International Women's Day in 2008 will likewise revolve around that issue.

For more information:

Aid dependency, a challenge for development

Panelists discuss how to reform the aid machinery to make aid more effective

New insights into the problems of aid dependency from the financing and development perspectives arose throughout the panel discussion on moving out of aid dependency, which the DESA Financing for Development Office organized as part of the work programme of the Second Committee of the General Assembly on 16 November. A panel of experts representing donors and recipients of aid, in addition to academia, discussed the development paradigm needed for countries to move out of aid dependency. Among other issues, the panelists exchanged views on how aid machinery can be reformed to so that aid delivery is better aligned with an overall development strategy.

Benu Schneider, Chief of the International Finance, Debt and Systemic Issues Unit in the Financing for Development Office said the aid system, with a wide a variety aid instruments, is complex, uncoordinated and fragmented. In addition, Ms. Schneider indicated that there are gaps between commitments and actual disbursements when it comes to aid. This hinders prospects for stable, predictable and durable aid over the long-term. What is needed, in her view, is a streamlined aid delivery mechanism.

Dr. Poul Engberg-Pedersen, Director General of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, pointed out that aid is used as a tool of foreign policy by donors to achieve certain policy goals and that donors were as aid dependent as the recipients. He added that donors should not concentrate on the aid process but rather on end results.

Panelists stressed the fact that the present aid system is too focused on temporary safety nets and macroeconomic stability, and needs to be embedded in an overall nationally owned development strategy. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers process was in the view of many of the panelists a consultative rather than a national owned process. Development strategies, it was said, should have flexibility to shift with underlying realities and encompass a wide array of investments beyond aid and that flexibility in the use of aid is also needed. WTO rules are preventing sources of financing such as tariffs and non-conditional aid which were available to countries that managed development successfully, such as the Republic of Korea.

Many panelists pointed out that aid selectivity was leading to a dichotomy of so-called darlings and orphans. They also noted that the aid system, with a wide a variety aid instruments, is complex, uncoordinated and fragmented. It was also indicated that donors have a tendency to move aid in and out of countries in tandem, which can make aid more volatile than domestic fiscal revenues. In addition, the gaps between commitments and actual disbursements cause interest and exchange rate volatility and volatility in public expenditure. This hinders prospects for take off of credit and stable growth.

Dr. Debpriya Bhattacharya, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed that Bangladesh could move out of extreme aid dependency because of remittances and that liberalization of migration policies was an essential so that remittances could finance development. He also pointed out to other emerging sources of development finance.

For more information:

UN and Egypt sign agreement on high-level development symposium

The Cairo meeting will lay the groundwork for the first Development Cooperation Forum next July

UN and Egypt sign agreement on high-level development symposium

Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, and Maged Abdelaziz, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations signed an official host country agreement on 28 November paving the way to a high-level symposium on development cooperation in Cairo on 19 and 20 January 2008. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro is expected to participate.

As part of the preparations for the 2008 Development Cooperation Forum, DESA is supporting the organization of several country-led high-level symposiums to promote discussion of priority issues in development cooperation in informal settings. The first symposium took place in Vienna in April this year. The second will be held in Cairo in January 2008 in cooperation with the Government of Egypt on the subject of trends in development cooperation, South-South and triangular cooperation, and aid effectiveness.

The first biennial Development Cooperation Forum, one of the new functions of the Economic and Social Council, will unfold during the Council’s high-level segment in 2008 in New York. The Forum is set to become a main mechanism for global dialogue and policy review on pivotal development cooperation issues. The aim of the Forum will be to improve the coherence and effectiveness of international development cooperation system through policy guidance and practical recommendations.

For more information: