DESA News Vol. 12, No. 03 March 2008

Technical cooperation

Civic engagement in city governance

Urban managers share views on participatory government at Porto Alegre conference

Civic engagement in city governance

The first World Conference on the Development of Cities was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to map innovative experiences in participatory urban management. The week-long event, from 13 to 16 February, was sponsored in part by DESA along with UNESCO, UN-Habitat, the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and a host of other public and private sector entities.

More than 2,000 public administration professionals gathered to hear Guido Bertucci, Director of the DESA Division for Public Administration and Development Management, discuss civic engagement for urban governance and inclusive development, in a panel that featured Mayors José Fogaça of Porto Alegre, Mario Conejo of Otavalo (Ecuador), Zea Usca of Villa El Salvador (Peru), together with Alberto Paranhos of UN-Habitat and Jonas Rabinovitch, Senior Adviser on Governance in DESA. Altogether, the conference attracted more than 7,000 public officials, urban management experts, academics and community leaders, along with representatives from international organizations and the media.

“Inclusive governance depends on establishing working partnerships between the public and private sectors and civil society,” stresses Rabinovitch adding that, “Beyond the rhetoric, there is also a methodological challenge.” Indeed, Rabinovitch points out, incorporating the needs of women, the disabled, youth, and older persons is hard to achieve without active civic engagement in the planning and budgeting processes of local governments. More than half of humankind now lives in urban areas.

Later this year, DESA will release its flagship World Public Sector Report 2008 on the subject of civic engagement in public governance. The report will showcase innovations and emerging references for civic engagement in public policy design and implementation, along with methodological and capacity-building options.

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Action on ageing in Grenada

DESA workshop in St. George’s provides guidance on national planning for older persons

Experts from DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development head to Grenada to advise government officials as they draft a national plan of action on ageing. The four-day workshop, from 11-14 March, is being organized jointly with the ECLAC Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean.

Older persons in Grenada, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, represent an increasing proportion of the population – a demographic shift for which a clear set of strategies is needed. Sustainable public finances for social security and pensions that can guarantee a decent standard of living for all are especially important.

The most significant hurdles for the island nation are lack of financial support, limited human resource capacity, lack of public awareness of issues facing older persons, and scarcity of income generation opportunities for this age group. Women are particularly vulnerable because of breaks in economic participation associated with childbearing, which put them at a disadvantage in social protection systems, and greater longevity.

DESA’s support to the Government of Grenada is part of a larger effort to build national capacities for implementing the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. Similar advisory missions are being undertaken in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cameroon and Senegal.

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Action on ageing in Grenada

DESA Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang joins the Executive Secretaries of the regional commissions on 8February to consider regional perspectives on ageing. The event was held in conjunction with the 46th session of the Commission for Social Development in New York.


Environmentally sound transport for Asia

A regional forum on environmentally sustainable transport will be held in Singapore from 17 to 19 March to promote public health, non-motorized transport, cleaner fuel and noise abatement among a host of other “people-friendly” transport policies in Asia. Government representatives and transport experts from over twenty South and Southeast Asian countries are expected to attend.

Forum participants will be invited to share experiences and knowledge of best practices, policy instruments and techniques, in the spirit of the 2005 Aichi Statement on environment and transport. The Aichi statement, together with the so-called Kyoto Declaration of 1993, constitutes a blueprint for action on environmentally-friendly transport policy for the continent. Though neither is a binding instrument, the Aichi Statement and Kyoto Declaration are generally supported by all countries in the region.

The forum itself has a broad membership of international, inter-governmental, donor, civil society and other national organizations. The Singapore event is being organized by DESA’s Center for Regional Development in Nagoya, in partnership with the Governments of Singapore and Japan.

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