DESA News Vol. 12, No. 01 January 2008

Trends and analysis

Experts take another look at LDC threshold

Committee for Development Policy may suggest changes to category that currently comprises fifty countries

An expert group meeting on possible refinements to the criteria for inclusion in, and graduation from, the list of least developed countries will unfold in New York from 16 to 18 January. The development of guidelines for monitoring the progress of countries that have graduated from the list will also be up for discussion. The meeting has been organized by DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division in support of the Committee for Development Policy which is responsible for the LDC standard.

In 2006, three criteria were used to determine LDC status, all of which had to be satisfied for a country to be added to the list by the General Assembly. They were: (1) Gross national income per capita had to be under $745; (2) There must have been limited human development as evidenced by indicators of nutrition, health, education, and adult literacy; and, (3) There must have been signs of economic vulnerability as evidenced by economic smallness, remoteness, merchandise export concentration, dependence on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, homelessness due to natural disasters, instability of agricultural production, and instability of exports. Finally, to be included in the category, the population must not exceed seventy-five million.

To qualify for graduation, a country must meet graduation thresholds for two of the three criteria in two consecutive triennial reviews by the Committee.

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Promoting confidence in government in Asia-Pacific

Researchers gather in Honolulu to identify dimensions of governance that affect public trust

Trust in government is a serious concern for policy-makers and development practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region, much as it is elsewhere in the world. Since good governance is a necessary condition for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, while effective public administration depends in turn on trust in government, many countries in the region have found themselves making limited progress towards the 2015 targets. Corruption, inadequate investment in the judiciary, police, revenue agencies, and land administration, and insufficient analysis before launching government reform initiatives are all thought to have contributed to wariness on the part of an uncertain public.

In order to better understand the role of government reform in renewing public trust, the East-West Center, sponsored by the Government of the United States, together with the UN Governance Centre sponsored by the Republic of Korea will host a workshop for policy-makers, scholars and others in Honolulu from 28 to 30 January. Research directors will present the findings of four sub-regional reviews as well as country studies from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, which will later be published in edited form as a book. Participants are expected to identify critical dimensions of governance that affect public trust while charting a course for further action.

Asia and the Pacific is the fastest growing region in the world. Although some success has been made in reducing extreme poverty and enhancing access to primary education, none of the developing countries of the region is on track to meet all of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite high growth rates, many are falling behind in the areas of child mortality, maternal health, gender equality, the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and environmental sustainability. In addition to public caution, a limited relationship between government policy-making and programme-level intervention may be partly to blame.

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Focus on urbanization

Urbanization has historically played an important part in reducing mortality and fertility rates, and boosting the numbers of internal migrants from rural to urban areas. Though urbanization is a positive and welcome development in general, it presents important challenges that vary in nature and scale in developed and developing countries. To deepen understanding of these challenges, researchers will gather in New York from 21 to 23 January to share recent findings on the multi-faceted relationship between population distribution, urbanization, internal migration and development. Experts will have a chance to reflect on the renewed worldwide interest in these matters, and discuss current publications on the topic produced by UNFPA and UN-Habitat. The meeting is being organized by DESA’s Population Division.

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Secretary-General reinforces development messageSecretary-General reinforces development message

Stressing the importance of the development pillar to the work of the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon started the new year with a visit to DESA on 2 January. Development is a foundation for peace, security and human rights, emphasized the Secretary-General, adding that “each of the pillars is mutually-reinforcing.

” The Department has helped Member States accomplish much in 2007, from the inaugural session of the annual ministerial review in the Economic and Social Council to significant legislative outcomes on indigenous peoples, forests, and persons with disabilities. DESA’s work is crucial for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, noted the Secretary-General in a message intended to reinforce his personal commitment to development issues.

The General Assembly will resume discussions in March on strengthening the work of the Organization in the economic and social fields.

Year in review on UN radio: