DESA News Vol. 12, No. 12 December 2008

Global dialogue on development

Poznań climate change conference to ensure post-Kyoto agreement

Parties are expected to advance international cooperation on a post-2012 climate change deal in

Over a decade ago, most countries joined an international treaty - the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. More recently, a number of nations approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful (and legally binding) measures. The Protocol’s first commitment period began in 2008 and ends in 2012. A strong multilateral framework needs to be in place by 2009 to ensure that there is no gap between the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period in 2012 and the entry into force of a future regime.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań, Poland from 1 to 12 December will be a milestone on the road to success for the processes which were launched under the Bali Road Map. The meeting comes midway between the Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 in Bali, which saw the launch of negotiations on strengthened international action on climate change, and COP 15 Copenhagen, at which the negotiations are set to conclude.

The Poznań meeting, which is expected to draw around eight thousand participants, will both advance international cooperation on a future climate change regime and ensure progress on key issues. It will provide an opportunity to draw together the advances made in 2008 and move from discussion to negotiation mode in 2009. At COP 14/CMP 4 in Poznań, Parties are expected to:

  • Agree on a plan of action and programmes of work for the final year of negotiations after a year of comprehensive and extensive discussions on crucial issues relating to future commitments, actions and cooperation
  • Make significant progress on a number of on-going issues required to enhance further the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, including capacity-building for developing countries, reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD), technology transfer and adaptation.
  • Advance understanding and commonality of views on "shared vision" for a new climate change regime
  • Strengthen commitment to the process and the agreed timeline

In addition, the issue of technology will be high on the agenda and the conference will deal in depth with the issue of risk management and risk reduction strategies. Poznań can also produce concrete progress on several issues which are important in the short run - up to 2012 - particularly for developing countries, including adaptation, finance, technology and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

In the context of adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change, Parties are expected to put the finishing touches to the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund so that it is ready to roll out concrete projects in 2009 in Poznań. Some governments are likely to make voluntary contributions to provide for initial funding.

Such an outcome at Poznań would build momentum towards an agreed outcome at Copenhagen in December 2009.

For more information: http://unfccc.int/2860.php


Shaping the global agenda for forests and climate change

Forest Day 2 will be held on 6 December during the Fourteenth Session of UNFCCC to discuss the role of sustainable forest management in fighting climate change

Every year, an estimated 13 million hectares of forests are lost globally due to deforestation. Trees, under-story vegetation, and forest soil contain some 1.2 trillion tones of carbon, just over half the total in all terrestrial vegetation and soils. Tropical deforestation releases approximately 3.8 billion tones of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year and accounts for about 17 percent of human-generated CO2 emissions. However, mitigation of global greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration is one of the many vital services that forests provide to the global environment. Over 1.6 billion people worldwide are estimated to depend on forest products and services for their livelihoods.

Forests have been increasingly acknowledged as being central to the ongoing debate on climate change in recent years. To provide a forum for discussion on some of the interlinkages between forests and climate change, Forest Day 2 will be held at the upcoming Fourteenth Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznan, Poland on 6 December. This event is being organized by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Government of Poland, and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) including the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, DESA.

Under the overall theme “Shaping the Global Agenda for Forest & Climate Change”, Forest Day 2 will discuss the role of sustainable forest management in fighting climate change, forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation, including reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD). The Day will also focus on monitoring and data collection challenges, governance issues such as rights, law and enforcement, poverty, livelihoods, equity and justice as well as financial incentives such as payments for ecosystem services.

DESA’s UN Forum on Forests Secretariat will be organizing a special event as part of the Forest Day 2 programme on “Financing for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM): Climate Change link”. This event will highlight some of the challenges, opportunities, and recent developments on financing for sustainable forest management and how these issues affect the role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For more information: http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/Events/COP14-ForestDay/forest_day2008.htm


Second Committee’s work in full swing

A total of 38 draft resolutions have been put forward and the Committee has already adopted ten of them, including the one on debt and international financial system

The Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) of the General Assembly is dealing in this session with issues relating to economic growth and development such as macroeconomic policy questions (including international trade, international financial system and debt), financing for development, sustainable development, human settlements, poverty eradication, globalization and interdependence, operational activities for development, and information and communication technologies for development.

Informal consultations are still ongoing on the remaining draft resolutions and the overall negotiations seem to be progressing in a constructive atmosphere. One resolution that still needs to be finalized is on operational activities. This resolution will address three major issues: funding of operational activities, improving statistical reporting and changing the review cycle from triennial to quadrennial.

Another outstanding draft resolution is on globalization and interdependence, where biennialization of the agenda item and the selection of next year’s theme are being discussed. Consensus has yet to be reached on the reference to the latest financial crisis. Other more difficult resolutions that need to be finalized include climate change, poverty eradication, and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

For more information: http://www.un.org/ga/second/index.shtml


GA consultations on operational activities

Second Committee needs to finalize the discussion on funding of UN operational activities and aligning the planning cycles of UN funds and programmes

Following the General Debate on operational activities for development in the Second Committee on 15 October, Member States have engaged in a series of informal consultations on a draft resolution, presented by G77, with a view to providing further guidance on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 62/208 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system.

The consultations have revolved around two main issues, namely, 1) funding of UN operational activities for development and 2) aligning the planning cycles of UN funds and programmes with the comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development.

Funding

Voicing concern about the decline in real contributions to the UN development system in 2006, the draft resolution would urge donors and other countries to substantially increase their voluntary contributions to the core budgets of the UN development system, while inviting the Secretary-General to scale up his efforts to promote the quantity and quality of funding for UN operational activities for development. There was a perception that the statistical analysis of financing of UN operational activities for development should be strengthened. In this regard, Member States requested UNDP and DESA to integrate by 2010 the two reports that they are preparing on this topic.

Alignment

The negotiations showed that there is broad support for changing the comprehensive policy review from a three-year to a four-year cycle. Two potential options for timing the shift to a quadrennial cycle are under consideration. Although there has not been consensus, Member States were of the view that the optimal option should be the one that allows for greater guidance from the General Assembly to the governing bodies of the funds and programmes.

The agreed draft resolution will be presented to the General Assembly for approval following the conclusion of the consultation process.

For more information: http://www.un.org/ga/second/index.shtml


Third Committee focuses on gender equality and women’s human rights

Resolutions on violence against women, trafficking in women and girls, gender mainstreaming, and gaps between commitments and implementation of gender equality were adopted by the Third Committee

From 13 to 15 October, Member States discussed gender equality and women’s human rights under agenda items on the advancement of women and the implementation of the outcomes of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly in the Third Committee.

Violence against women

Attention was focused on violence against women as one of the most pervasive human rights violations in the world. Building on global momentum to address this scourge, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a new resolution to intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women. The resolution welcomed the Secretary-General’s Campaign “UNiTE to End Violence Against Women” (http://endviolence.un.org/). While welcoming the many activities implemented by States, the resolution acknowledged that impunity for acts of violence against women continued worldwide. The resolution urged States to continue to develop a systematic, comprehensive, multi-sectoral and sustained approach to ending violence against women, and to use all available information on promising strategies to end impunity and eliminate the culture of tolerance towards violence against women.

The General Assembly also provided detailed guidance on the steps and measures that States should take to prevent and address violence against women, including the development of national action plans, strengthening of legislative frameworks, collection and analysis of data, and allocation of resources. Other measures recommended were the creation of specialized institutional mechanisms, the implementation of specialized training of relevant public officials, the establishment of integrated centres to provide services to victims and the provision of appropriate rehabilitation programmes for perpetrators. Measures to modify discriminatory social and cultural patterns and stereotypes and to support partnerships with non-governmental organizations were also called for.

Trafficking in women and girls

The General Assembly continued its work to address trafficking in women and girls which is recognized as one of the most corrosive forms of violence against women and a violation of women’s human rights. It is also the fastest growing form of transnational organized crime. Trafficking in persons is regularly addressed by the General Assembly and other bodies of the United Nations, and there is increasing collaboration among United Nations entities in anti-trafficking activities. The General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus on 21 November, which called for Member States to, among other things, strengthen gender- and age-sensitive preventive and accountability measures, and to provide protection and support for trafficked victims.

Importance of gender mainstreaming and equality

A third resolution adopted by the Third Committee reaffirmed the importance of the gender mainstreaming strategy. The resolution on Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, called on Governments, the United Nations system and civil society to intensify actions at national, regional and international levels to address the gap between commitments to gender equality and their implementation. Intergovernmental bodies were also encouraged to incorporate gender perspectives into their work.

In the General Debate, Member States welcomed the outcomes of the fifty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women on “Financing for gender equality and empowerment of women” and saw an opportunity in the upcoming Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus (Doha, Qatar, 29 November-2 December 2008) to address gaps in financing for gender equality.

Efforts to mainstream gender equality perspectives into national development strategies and international development cooperation programmes were highlighted by Member States. New initiatives reported on included gender audits, mandatory gender assessments, and gender-responsive budgeting processes. Several Member States noted the usefulness of gender-responsive budgeting for determining resource needs and financing gaps, and called on the international community to help developing countries build their capacity for gender-responsive budgeting.

Appreciation of UN gender equality work

Member States expressed their appreciation for the work on gender equality carried out by the United Nations, as well as their support for proposals for improved institutional arrangements for gender equality. Several Member States emphasized the need to maximize the impact of the gender equality work of the United Nations at national and regional levels.

The status of women in the United Nations system was also discussed by Member States, some of which expressed concern with the slow pace of progress towards gender parity. They stressed the importance of the United Nations leading by example and called on the Secretariat to intensify efforts to achieve gender balance.

For more information: http://www.un.org/ga/third/index.shtml


Advisory Group on DCF to discuss thematic focus areas

In the course of the Doha Review Conference, the Advisory Group on the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) will meet on 1 December

The biennial high-level DCF is one of the principal new functions of a strengthened Economic and Social Council. Mandated to enhance the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, and to promote dialogue to find effective ways to support it, the DCF will be held every other year within the framework of the High-level Segment of the Council. The Forum was launched in Geneva in July 2007 and the first biennial Forum took place in New York on 30 June and 1 July 2008.

To enable a coordinated and focused dialogue with key stakeholders on the objectives and agenda of the preparatory process for the high-level biennial DCF, the Under-Secretary-General of DESA has established an informal Advisory Group for the Forum. The next meeting of this advisory group will take place in the course of the Doha Review Conference on 1 December 2008, from 8:30 to 10:00 am in the DESA Conference Room at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha.

The main purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the approach and the thematic focus areas outlined in the draft strategy for the 2010 DCF, to prepare a strategic road map to foster convergence between the OECD/DAC-led aid effectiveness process and the mutual accountability role of the DCF; and explore ways to proactively engage the stakeholders throughout the preparatory process, at the country, regional and global levels. A number of new members have joined the Advisory Group for the period until 2010.

For more information: http://www.un.org/ecosoc/newfunct/advisory.shtml


Internet for all

Third Internet Governance Forum to be held from 3 to 6 December in Hyderabad, India will focus on people with disabilities and linguistic diversity

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an outcome of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which took place in 2005. In the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, Governments asked the Secretary-General to convene a new forum for policy dialogue to discuss issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the Internet's sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The two previous meetings of the Forum were held in Athens in November 2006 and in Rio de Janeiro in November 2007.

The Forum is not a decision-making body, but a space for dialogue for all those involved to discuss Internet governance issues, where all participants engage as equals. There will be no negotiated outcome, but the meeting will seek to create an open and inclusive dialogue among all participants on public policy issues relating to the Internet and create new dynamics between participating institutions.

Representatives of government, the private sector, civil society, the academic and technical communities, international organizations and the media will meet in Hyderabad, India, for the third meeting of the IGF, to be held from 3 to 6 December 2008 at the Hyderabad International Conference Centre in Hyderabad, India. The meeting will focus on the overall issue of "Internet for all", with a strong focus on people with disabilities and linguistic diversity as we move towards giving Internet access to the next billion people.

Four main themes will be addressed: reaching the next billion; promoting cyber-security and trust; managing critical Internet resources; emerging issues - the Internet of tomorrow. In addition, one session will be devoted to taking stock and looking at the way forward. Parallel to the main sessions on these themes, there will be open meetings and thematic workshops to discuss specific issues and share best practices.

Some 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries are expected to attend. Assistant Secretary-General on Economic Development, Jomo Kwame Sundaram will open the meeting.

For more information: http://igf.wgig.org/cms/


New report on social determinants of health

Members of ECOSOC will be briefed on a new report on 10 December focusing on the social causes of poor health

Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death. We watch in wonder as life expectancy and good health continue to increase in parts of the world and in alarm as they fail to improve in others.

The new report “Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health” of the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, gathers the findings of the Commission on the social causes of poor health and delivers recommendations on what needs to be done to reduce health inequalities within and between countries. The briefing is an opportunity to learn on a topic of direct relevance to the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review theme on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health”.

The briefing on a new report will be held for Members of the Economic and Social Council on 10 December, 3-5 p.m. in the ECOSOC Chamber. The event will feature a presentation by the Chair of the Commission, Sir Michael Marmot, and interventions by two discussants, Dr. Ruth Levine, Vice President for Programs and Operations, and Senior Fellow, Centre for Global Development (Washington, D.C.), and Dr. Nora Lustig, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Affairs, The Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. The session will be moderated by Mr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs.

For more information: http://www.un.org/ecosoc/meetings/meeting_WHO.shtml


Rights of persons with disabilities

First session of the States Parties to the Convention took place in New York on 31 October and 3 November to elect the bureau of the conference

The purpose of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first new human rights treaty of the twenty-first century, is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. The Convention and its Optional Protocol entered into force on 3 May 2008. As of 19 November, the Convention had been ratified by 41 States, and signed by 136. The Optional Protocol had 25 ratifications and 79 signatures. For countries ratifying the Optional Protocol, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be able to consider complaints from individuals or groups on inadequate implementation of the Convention, once all national recourse procedures have been exhausted.

The Convention is serviced by a joint Secretariat composed by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, housed in the Division for Social Policy and Development of DESA, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. DESA’s work on the Convention focuses on providing policy guidance on the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development, including the processes of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed goals.

The first session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities took place on 31 October and 3 November at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

On 31 October, the bureau of the Conference was elected: Mexico as President, with four Vice-Presidents - Hungary, Jordan, New Zealand, and South Africa. The Conference also held an interactive panel discussion entitled “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a human rights instrument and a tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goals”.

On 3 November, 12 independent experts were elected to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the treaty body tasked with monitoring the Convention’s implementation. Members of the Committee serve in their personal capacity, and do not represent any government or other organization. The twelve elected Committee members are: Mr. Monsur Ahmed Choudhuri (Bangladesh), Ms. Amna Ali Al Suweidi (Qatar), Mr. György Könczei (Hungary), Ms. Ana Peláez Narváez (Spain), Mr. Cveto Ursic (Slovenia), Ms. Jia Yang (China), Mr. Mohammed Al-Tarawneh (Jordan), Mr. Ronald McCallum AO (Australia), Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes (Chile), Mr. Germán Xavier Torres Correa (Ecuador), Mr. Lotfi Ben Lallohom (Tunisia), and Ms. Edah Wangechi Maina (Kenya).

The next session of the Conference of States Parties will take place in New York, likely in August 2009, with the exact dates to be announced.

For more information: http://www.un.org/disabilities