DESA News Vol. 13, No. 02 February 2009

Trends and analysis

Online discussion on global public health

Jointly organized by DESA, UNDP and WHO, the forum from 29 January - 26 February will provide valuable contributions to the intergovernmental process of the Economic and Social Council

The purpose of the moderated online forum is to bring together experts in the field, from within and outside of the UN system to discuss the strengthening of health systems, in particular how to overcome health inequities and to ensure universal access, and what concrete steps can be taken to address the shortage of health-care workers.

The online discussion will also focus on emerging and future health challenges, specifically, the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, the impact of the financial crisis on health care, and improving health partnerships.

The discussion presents an opportunity for the broader development community, in particular those working at the country level, to provide a valuable contribution to the United Nations intergovernmental process that takes place through the ECOSOC family of organizations. The ideas and recommendations collected may be considered for inclusion in the report of the Secretary-General on the Annual Ministerial Review, and will be made widely available on the Internet and at ECOSOC’s substantive session in July.

For more information:

Consultations on energy statistics

Oslo Group on Energy Statistics will discuss a first draft of the International Recommendations for Energy Statistics in Ottawa, Canada from 2-6 February

DESA’s Statistics Division collects energy statistics from more than 190 countries and updates and maintains the Energy Statistics Database which contains energy statistics for the period 1950-2006 on more than 215 countries, regions and areas for production, trade, conversion and final consumption. The annual questionnaire on energy statistics is sent to national statistical offices, ministries of energy or other authorities responsible for energy statistics in the country.

The International Recommendations for Energy Statistics (IRES) are being developed in accordance with the decisions of the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 36th and 37th sessions which recognized the significance of energy statistics, recommended their development as part of official statistics and called for the revision and further development of the relevant international standards.

The Statistical Commission approved the establishment of two complimentary working groups to carry out the work. The Oslo Group on Energy Statistics will contribute to the development of improved methods and international standards for national official energy statistics, and the Inter-secretariat Working Group on Energy Statistics to enhance international collaboration and coordination.

A provisional text of the IRES has been prepared and will be presented at the 4th meeting of the Oslo Group on Energy Statistics in Ottawa, Canada from 2-6 February. In addition, a number of issues that have been identified during the 3rd Oslo Group meeting, Vienna, 4-6 February 2008 will also be discussed.

This first version will be reviewed by the Inter-secretariat Working Group on Energy Statistics at its next meeting and worldwide consultation on the provisional draft IRES will take place in May and June 2009. An amended draft of IRES will be prepared for its review and endorsement by the United Nations Expert Group on Energy Statistics in late 2009. The final draft of IRES will be submitted to the 41st session of the UN Statistical Commission for adoption in December 2009.

For more information:

Linking climate change and development

Workshop in New York on 3 February will prepare for the World Economic and Social Survey 2009

The principal objective of the World Economic and Social Survey 2009 –Climate Change and Development (WESS 2009) is to better understand the linkage between climate change and development with the aim of identifying the programmes and policies needed for low-carbon, high-growth and equitable development.

The tendency of climate change and development discussions to take place in separate areas has demonstrated the weakness of earlier approaches. To date a good deal of those discussions have focused around ethical (the theme of common but differentiated responsibility) and financial (funding mitigation and adaptation) issues, with a good deal less attention on policy measures.

The WESS 2009 will attempt to broaden the discussion to involve such critical issues as the trade, industrial and technology policies needed to help developing countries to establish high-growth, low-carbon development strategies and to make a case for a globally equitable and integrated approach that is coherent and mutually reinforcing.

The objective of the workshop is to generate a set of messages that will form the core recommendations of WESS 2009. The background papers for WESS 2009 are being completed, and the workshop will attempt to crystallize the ideas and recommendations for concrete chapters of WESS 2009.

For more information:

ICT and education

Regional seminar in Havana on 9 February will elaborate joint proposals on the role of technologies in the area of education

The education sector is not only immersed in the digital revolution that is transforming our societies, but because of its potential, it is a key vehicle for ICTs to contribute to development. Incorporating ICTs in education can help to expand educational coverage, improving the quality of education, training future professionals for the digital age and improving teaching and learning processes.

The incorporation of ICTs to education is an important topic in the international community and it has been defined as a priority by the Latin American and Caribbean countries in their national development agendas and in the Regional Action Plan for Information Society eLAC2010. However, for ICTs to contribute to development, it is not enough to incorporate technology, it is necessary to establish long-term sectoral policies.

Resources must be allocated to develop and maintain a modern technological infrastructure, and changes in the educational system itself have to be made, including modifications of the curricula and pedagogical processes as well as training for teachers in order to enhance their technological skills and capabilities.

DESA’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UNDESA-GAID), the Government of Cuba and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will organize the Regional Seminar on ICT and Education at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana, Cuba, on 9 February. The seminar will gather ICT-for-development experts to elaborate joint proposals on the role of technologies in the area of education. The event will take place in the context of the 13th International Convention and Fair INFORMATICA 2009.

This seminar will review the state of development and incorporation of ICTs in education in Latin America and the Caribbean and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating ICTs in education. It will also identify the challenges and solutions to address them and review policies and strategies to promote the incorporation of ICTs in education. Projects and innovative solutions that make use of ICTs in the education sector will also be identified.

For more information:

Role of women in development

Expert consultation in Copenhagen from 17-19 February to discuss women’s economic empowerment in preparation for the 2009 World Survey

Issued every five years, the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development is a flagship publication of DESA prepared for the Economic and Financial Committee of the General Assembly. It provides an opportunity to focus attention on the gender equality perspective in economic development.

The 2009 edition will address women’s control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance, within the broad framework of the economic empowerment of women. The World Survey will focus on what has been achieved so far in terms of women’s economic empowerment, identify the remaining gaps and challenges, address some of the key constraints that have hindered progress, and provide policy recommendations.

For this purpose, DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women is organizing an Expert Consultation on the 2009 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 17-19 February. The Expert Consultation is part of the Division’s preparation of the 2009 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development and will discuss women’s control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance. The expert consultation will review the first draft of the World Survey and provide further guidance on key issues and the way these should be addressed in the World Survey.

For more information:

Implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Experts met from 14-16 January in New York to set out methodologies by which the Permanent Forum can fulfill its new responsibilities

In September 2007, the General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, marking a major victory for the world’s indigenous peoples and an extraordinary achievement in international standard setting. The adoption of the Declaration signals a new mandate for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous (UNPFII) to “promote respect for and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration”.

At its seventh session, the UNPFII recommended that the Council authorize an international expert group meeting to discuss in greater detail the way in which the Permanent Forum should address its new mandate under article 42 of the UN Declaration. At its regular session in 2008, the Economic and Social Council approved the Forum’s recommendation in decision 2008/249.

The Expert Group Meeting was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14-16 January 2009. It was attended by indigenous experts and UNPFII members as well as interested Member States, UN Agencies and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations.

During the meeting, participants were asked to outline approaches that the Permanent Forum can take to promote the implementation of the UN Declaration and to set out methodologies by which the Permanent Forum can fulfill its new responsibilities. Specifically, participants were requested to consider the following discussion points detailed below and make recommendations regarding each.

  • Integration of the UN Declaration into the ongoing work of the Permanent Forum
  • Capacity development for indigenous and non-indigenous communities and organizations
  • Promotion of respect for and full application of the UN Declaration at the State level
  • Dialogue with States regarding respect for and application of the UN Declaration and follow up on its effectiveness
  • Cooperation within the United Nations system

Following discussions, the expert group recommended that the UNPFII decides to invite participants to the Forum, States in particular, indigenous peoples and UN agencies to submit written reports under Article 42 of the Declaration providing substantive information on the application and implementation of the Declaration at the national and local level; and to appoint a task team consisting of eight members of the Permanent Forum to examine reports and communicate with the submitting parties as may be appropriate.

The experts also recommended that the Permanent Forum encourage national human rights institutions and indigenous peoples’ institutions to promote respect for and full implementation of the Declaration at the national and local levels; encourage States to incorporate adequate information on the implementation of the Declaration in the ‘core report’ to the human rights treaty bodies; and recommend that States should ‘in the spirit of harmonious and cooperative relationship with the indigenous peoples’ establish as soon as possible where it does not already exist a national dialogue with indigenous peoples on human rights based on the Declaration .

The meeting also recommended that the Permanent Forum requests the Secretary-General to provide an adequate budget for the purpose of meeting the requirements of Article 42 of the Declaration and to remind UN agencies to take note of and respond to Article 42 of the Declaration and, as a matter of priority, directly integrate relevant provisions of the Declaration into the respective policies, programs and strategies of each UN agency. Furthermore, such agencies should undertake initiatives, within a reasonable timeframe, to ensure indigenous peoples’ effective engagement, dialogue and negotiations regarding the exercise of their human rights.

For more information: