DESA News Vol. 12, No. 10 October 2008

Trends and analysis

Amid financial tumult, top economists look to 2009

Project LINK will bring together global experts on 23 and 24 October to assess prospects for the year ahead

Some of the biggest names in economics will gather in New York on 23 and 24 October to discuss the global economic situation and prospects for 2009, as the world leaders remain focused on the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. Some thirty experts from developed and developing countries, plus participants from major international organizations, are expected to discuss the world economic outlook, along with regional variations, against the backdrop of unusual volatility in financial markets and continuing concern over commodities.

The outcome of the meeting, an initiative of Project LINK, will be incorporated into the annual UN report on World Economic Situation and Prospects to be released in January 2009. Project LINK is a co-operative, non-governmental, international research activity, which integrates independently developed national econometric models into a global econometric model.  It provides a consistent framework for undertaking quantitative studies of the international economic transmission mechanisms and of the effects of international and national policies, developments and disturbances on the outlook for the world economy, and global economic integration in general.

Founded under the intellectual leadership of Nobel Laureate Lawrence Klein, LINK has expanded from a core of eleven researchers and seven country models in 1969 to more than 100 participants from sixty countries, with seventy-nine country models, including forty-five models of individual developing countries and regions. The national centres of the project include universities, private research organizations, government agencies, and central banks. The activities of the LINK consortium are coordinated jointly by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Project LINK Research Centre at the University of Toronto.

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Women do double-duty as work falls along traditional gender lines

Gender experts head to Geneva from 6 to 9 October to debate policy prescriptions for promoting equal sharing of responsibility between women and men

Caregiving places disproportionate burdens on women and girls who are more often than not called upon to act as unpaid family caregivers, due to persistent gender stereotypes, limited public health systems, and scarce social services in many countries. The effects of unequal sharing of responsibilities between men and women are visible across generations, with substantial practical limitations on girls' full school attendance, women’s workforce participation and leadership roles in political processes. Moreover, women and girls caring for relatives afflicted with HIV/AIDS are frequently stigmatized leading to a profound sense of isolation in what would otherwise be close-knit social groups.

In order to explore strategies for the promotion of equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women is inviting a group of international experts to meet in Geneva from 6 to 9 October. Participants will explore the causes of unequal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in the public and private spheres – such as gender roles, stereotyping and socialization processes – as well as identify their effects on the structure of the labour market, governance and decision-making at all levels. They will also pave the way for improved data on time use among family members and other social policy measures.

The panelists’ findings and policy recommendations will be conveyed to the UN Commission on the Status of Women whose next session, in March 2009, will be devoted primarily to the question of equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS. This month’s consultation in Geneva is being organized in collaboration with ILO, ECE, UNAIDS, and UNRISD. Observers from governments, UN agencies, NGOs and academia are also welcome to attend.

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How to rebuild State capacity after conflict?

Practical measures for post-conflict reconstruction will be the subject of a DESA-UNDP expert group meeting in Accra from 2-4 October

A picture that often emerges after conflict is that of a devastated public administration unable to resume the basic functions of government to help with national reconstruction. In the worst case, the entire structure of government has to be rebuilt from scratch. And while, numerous reports, guidelines and recommendations have been written on post-conflict capacity-building, best practices that can be readily adapted and replicated remain elusive.

To address the knowledge deficit, DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management, in collaboration with UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, will bring together expert practitioners to share their experiences in re-establishing credible, functional governance and public administration institutions after violent conflict. The DESA-UNDP event, unfolding in Accra from 2 to 4 October, is part of DPADM’s ongoing research into post-conflict reconstruction of government, the subject of the next edition of its flagship World Public Sector Report.

National reconstruction is inevitably a long and expensive process requiring careful analysis of the causes of conflict, as well as thoughtful consideration of the sort of public institutions that can help prevent conflict from recurring. It is particularly important to distinguish between the roles and responsibilities of State and non-State actors, as well as the influence of external actors in the sustainable reconstruction of governance and public administration capacities. The assembled experts will explore these and other matters when they meet in October, with a view to clearly identifying workable procedures and common challenges in implementation of national action plans.

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ICT gurus chat with young people about education

GAID will join forces with world youth in Yerevan from 21 to 24 October to discuss innovation in education for ICT promotion

The UN Global Forum for ICTs and Development will hold a forum on education and development in Yerevan from 21 to 24 October in an effort to engage more young people in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through information and communications technology. Several hundred youth from across the globe will mix with ICT experts from both private and public sectors during the four-day event, showcasing innovative uses of ICT in the name of development.

Forum participants will delve into the conditions that lead to and sustain innovative practices with a particular emphasis on improving educational opportunities in developing countries. Limitations of education systems in many developing areas are seen by some as an impediment to diffusion of technology. The participants will discuss the ways to improve access to education, and specifically on building ICT skills among young people. Questions of access, connectivity, and local content will be examined as well as ideas about how obstacles – infrastructural, financial, cultural, or otherwise – might be overcome. On the final day of the conference, participants will present a set of proposals for evaluation by government, private sector, and civil society leaders.

The Yerevan forum is being co-organized by GAID, Athgo International, and the Government of Armenia. GAID is a project supported by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management.

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Sustainable consumption and production

Draft ten-year framework to promote sustainable consumption and production aims to align economic activity with ecosystem capacity

The first draft of a global framework of national and regional initiatives on sustainable consumption and production was released in September. DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development, in collaboration with UNEP, will soon begin seeking input from government experts, civil society organizations, and the public with the aim of finalizing a proposal in time for the 2010 session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

The draft ten-year framework of programmes, informally known as 10YFP, is an expected output of the Marrakech Process, a global initiative to assist countries in their efforts towards sustainability. The process is guided by an Advisory Committee, which will meet in Paris on 23 October to provide feedback on the draft framework, among other matters.

The Marrakech Process was launched in 2003, not only to produce a draft 10YFP, but also to build political support and strengthen technical capacities for the implementation of sustainable consumption and production. During the last few years the process has led to greater cooperation among stakeholders and enhanced political support of the sustainable consumption and production agenda. Africa and Latin America have developed their own regional strategies on sustainable consumption and production, as has the European Union which issued an action plan in July. Importantly, progress has been made in engaging countries with emerging economies, for example through national roundtables in Brazil, India, and China.

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Inter-agency meeting on MDG indicators

Each year, leading statisticians from the UN system and beyond gather to review indicators used to measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Since not all countries are equally prepared to produce the requisite data, the group will also considers way in which technical assistance can be applied to enhance national capacities for MDG tracking. The 2008 session, formally known as the fourteenth Inter-agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators, will unfold in Geneva from 28 to 30 October. The IAEG membership includes UN system entities, national statistical offices, and other organizations concerned with the development of MDG data such as donor agencies and expert advisers.

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