DESA News Vol. 13, No. 02 February 2009

Global dialogue on development

Developing the world through social integration

Social integration is the priority theme of the 47th session of the Commission for Social Development to be held from 4-13 February in New York

The World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995 envisioned a stable and just society – “a society for all”. It also saw how social integration can promote development and, thus, defined it as “the process of building the values, relations and institutions essential for the creation of such an equitable and dynamic society where all individuals, regardless of their race, sex, language or religion, can fully exercise their rights and responsibilities on an equal basis with others and contribute to society”.

In its 47th session, the Commission for Social Development will focus precisely on social integration as a means to eradicate poverty and provide full employment and decent work for all. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) stresses that policies and strategies to achieve these goals should include specific measures to promote gender equality and foster social integration for social groups, especially the youth, persons with disabilities, older persons, migrants and indigenous peoples.

ECOSOC also asserts that social integration policies should seek to reduce inequalities, promote access to basic social services, education for all and health care, and increase the participation and integration of social groups.

The Commission will also encourage Governments to continue their efforts to mainstream the concerns of older persons into their policy agendas, underscoring the importance of family intergenerational interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity for social development. It will seek the realization of all human rights for older persons as well as the prevention of age discrimination. In this view, it will highlight the report of the Secretary-General on the “First review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing: Preliminary assessment” and the “Regional implementation of the Madrid International Plan on Action on Ageing, 2002”.

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Luxembourg diplomat elected to lead ECOSOC in 2009

Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg was elected on 15 January as the 65th President of the Economic and Social Council, making her the second woman to lead the 54-member body

Ms. Lucas will be assisted by four Vice-Presidents who were also elected: Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernandez of El Salvador, Tiina Intelmann of Estonia, Hamidon Ali of Malaysia and Somduth Soborun of Mauritius. This is the first time in the history of the 54-member Council that its Bureau will be led by three women Ambassadors.

Speaking after her election, Ms. Lucas outlined the Council’s work for the coming year. “Our main challenge is to further strengthen the quality and relevance of the work of the Council on development,” she noted.

She also presented the theme of the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global health,” to be held next July in Geneva.

She urged the Council to take advantage of this theme’s unique cross-sectoral nature that can help it to focus on the inter-linkages between health-related goals, including those that are part of the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the overall development agenda.

“I intend to work very closely with the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly to make this year a decisive year for action on the health agenda,” she said.

In addition, Ms. Lucas announced the participation of ten countries which will make their National Voluntary Presentations (NVPs) during the 2009 AMR, noting that Member States consider the NVP mechanism as an important instrument to review progress, assess impact and promote best practices.

ECOSOC will kick start its activities for the 2009 AMR with the Special Event on Philanthropy and Global Public Health, to be held on 23 February. “This meeting will be an opportunity to engage foundations and the private sector together with the UN, to find creative solutions to step up progress towards the health MDGs and to promote global equity,” said Ms. Lucas.

Congratulating Ms. Lucas on her election, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said she was confident the new President will guide the Council with as much success as her predecessor, Ambassador Léo Mérorès of Haiti.

In the next organizational session of ECOSOC, to be held from 10-13 February in New York, a briefing on the state of the world economy will be presented by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development of DESA. Mr. Jomo will focus on the main findings of the new flagship publication World Economic and Social Prospects 2009. In addition, a renowned expert has been invited to participate in the briefing as a complement to DESA’s assessment.

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A call to conserve resources

The 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development holds an Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting from 23-27 February in New York to discuss a timely agenda

Agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa are the five thematic issues of the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-17) to be held from 4-15 May.

The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting will adopt these matters into the CSD-17 agenda and organization of work, but concerns regarding these thematic issues are not merely abstract notions. They represent a threat that is very real.

Our natural resources, specifically land, are being left barren after countless years of exploitation. As populations grow, the world will go hungrier than ever before if it carries on with the careless use of land. Society is facing the dangers of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

The need for sustainable development has never been more urgent, and CSD-17 is working towards making sustainable agriculture and rural development, among other measures, the benchmark with which governments implement development policies.

The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting is set to discuss policy options and possible actions to facilitate the implementation of sustainable development. While increasing food production and food security is essential for growing populations, it can be done with minimum harm to the environment. It must be done – for the sake of future generations.

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Reinforcing virtual infrastructures

Follow-ups to the third Internet Governance Forum will be held from 23-26 February in Geneva to brainstorm for the next forum

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) of December 2008 in Hyderabad, India concluded with a resolve to make the Internet safer and more accessible to all users. Following its success, the IGF Secretariat is organizing two events: open consultations for stakeholders to share their insights on the third IGF and a members-only meeting to prepare for the upcoming 4th IGF.

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Internet Governance, Mr. Nitin Desai, will chair the open consultations, which will take place from 23-24 February. Representatives of government, the private sector, civil society and the academic and technical Internet communities are invited to the meeting to relay feedback on the previous forum in an effort to improve the IGF. With the Tunis Agenda being central to Internet governance, one day will be set aside to deliberate the review process for which it has called.

A private meeting of the 50-member Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) will follow from 25-26 February. The MAG is entrusted with assisting in the preparations for the annual meetings of the IGF. It will discuss a first draft programme of the 4th IGF, which will take place from 15-18 November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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Philanthropy and the global public health agenda

Special event of the Economic and Social Council will be held in New York on the International Corporate Philanthropy Day on 23 February

Organized by DESA and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, in collaboration with the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy and the World Health Organization, the event will serve as part of the preparatory process for ECOSOC’s 2009 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health”.

Top executives, philanthropy leaders, ECOSOC Members and other partners will discuss together ways to strengthen partnerships towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially in areas where progress has been slow, and which can benefit from stronger multi-stakeholder participation.

The programme will consist of an opening plenary on “Building effective public-private partnerships in health”, to be followed by two leadership dialogues panels on “Improving health outcomes for women and girls” and “Raising the profile of Neglected tropical diseases”. A President’s summary of the meeting’s deliberations, which will capture the “key messages” from the discussion, will serve as an input to the High-level Segment in July 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The event will have a number of co-convenors that are dedicated to promoting the meeting and strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.

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Statistics that go beyond numbers

Climate change, agriculture and energy are top concerns in the Statistical Commission from 24-27 February in New York

Scientific studies on the impact of climate change to the environment, economy and society predict far reaching consequences. Recent climate events, in addition to scientific evidence, stress the urgency of addressing the issue as a priority in the political agenda.

As such, the 40th session of the Statistical Commission begins on 24 February with a review of climate change and official statistics as prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The report first defines the scope of climate change statistics in relation to official statistics. It explores areas where official statistics can provide input and added value to the analysis of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change as well as the adaptation and mitigation measures needed in response to it. Finally, the report offers recommendations for a work programme to mainstream climate change in official statistics at both national and international levels.

A seminar on “Innovations in Official Statistics” is being held on 20 February in preparation for the 40th session. It is part of a series of one-day high level seminars, organized by DESA’s Statistics Division, which takes place every year on the Friday before the session starts. The seminar gives the global statistical community a chance to discuss relevant topics and share experiences on how best to address challenges facing national statistical offices.

The seminar will be organized around three panel discussions: “Innovation in Governance”, “Innovation in Data Collection and Management” and “Innovation in Data Dissemination”. It will be chaired by Mr. Geoff Bascand, Government Statistician of Statistics New Zealand and Ms. Katherine K. Wallman, Chief Statistician of the USA.

Pre-session seminars will jumpstart the week of the Statistical Commission. They begin on 23 February with “Environmental-Economic Accounting”. This seminar gives a general overview of the basic concepts of environmental-economic accounting and its policy relevance as well as an overview of the revision process of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). It will also elaborate on the specific modules of the SEEA, in particular on water accounting, energy accounting and material flow accounting.

A high level forum on “Globalization and Global Crises: the Role of Official Statistics” is also set on 23 February. Organized by the UN Statistics Division, a high level panel composed of users and producers of statistics will impart their views on the role of official statistics vis-à-vis globalization and the global crises.

The UN Statistics Division and Statistics Norway, convener of the Oslo Group on Energy Statistics, organized “Energy Statistics: Challenges and Ways Forward” on 24 February – the first official day of the Statistical Commission – to bring forward issues on energy statistics. The seminar will discuss the need for international recommendations for energy statistics, present challenges in developing these international recommendations, emphasize the importance of making energy statistics an integral part of official statistics and discuss the way forward in the field.

Also on 24 February, a lunchtime seminar on “Advances in Environment Statistics” is organized by the European Commission. Here, Eurostat will provide an overview of the recent developments and challenges facing environment statistics. The Instituto Brasileiro de Geografica e Estatistica (IBGE) will also conduct a special presentation on “Geospatial statistics and its use in Environmental Statistcs” while Statistics Netherlands (CBS) will present “Recent developments in Environmental Accounts”.

The 40th Statistical Commission runs until 27 February featuring seminars with a statistical take on the most pressing global challenges of today.

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