DESA News Vol. 13, No. 04 April 2009

Global dialogue on development

Emphasizing human rights in development

42nd session of the Commission on Population and Development discusses development goals from 30 March to 3 April in New York

The year 2015 is fast approaching – the year by which 189 United Nations Member States pledged, during the 2000 Millennium Summit, to have significantly helped the world’s poorest countries. It is in this setting that the Commission on Population and Development gathers for its 42nd session.

Carrying on the task of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), where a Programme of Action for development was adopted, the Commission will work on this year’s theme on “The contribution of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development to the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals”.

The Commission considers the interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development, advances in education, economic status and empowerment of women. While the past two decades saw advances in areas concerning increased use of contraception, decreased maternal mortality, implemented sustainable development plans and projects and enhanced educational programmes, much remains to be accomplished. Intensified efforts in population and development activities are thus needed in the coming years, as early stabilization of the world population would make the achievement of sustainable development possible.

It is critical to ensure the success of the ICPD Programme of Action in this regard. The Programme of Action offers a set of objectives which focuses on the needs of individual women and men, rather than on achieving demographic targets. Because it recognizes that respect for human rights and development, the recommendations it provides would have positive impacts on people’s well-being, and ultimately lead to development.

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Sustainable management of the world’s forests

Government delegates, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and representatives from intergovernmental organizations and major groups will come together at the 8th session of the UN Forum on Forests from 20 April – 1 May in New York

Discussions will focus on two particularly challenging sets of forest issues: Forests in a Changing Environment and Means of Implementation for Sustainable Forest Management. The first theme covers issues such as desertification, forest degradation, climate change and biodiversity; while the second includes a decision by the Forum on a voluntary global financial mechanism/portfolio approach/forest financing framework.

UNFF8 will build on the highly successful negotiations from the last Forum in 2007, which resulted in the first international non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests, a comprehensive agreement informally referred to as the “forest instrument”. This instrument was adopted by the General Assembly in December 2007.

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution 2007/40 called for the eighth session of the Forum to develop and consider for adoption, a voluntary global financial mechanism/portfolio approach/forest financing framework to support the implementation of sustainable forest management, the achievement of the global objectives on forests and the implementation of the forest instrument. This mechanism/approach/framework is aimed at mobilizing significantly increased, new and additional financial resources for the implementation of the forest instrument and promoting sustainable forest management.

In November 2008, the UN Forum on Forests convened an open-ended ad hoc expert group (AHEG) to develop proposals for the development of a voluntary global financial mechanism/portfolio approach/global financing framework in Vienna, Austria. While two key concepts emerged from the AHEG in support of a distinct dedicated fund and a facilitative mechanism; the expert group recognized the need for more discussion on the issue. In this regard, informal consultations were held in Rome from 12-13 March at the FAO Headquarters, to further the work of the UNFF expert group, expand on the understanding on options for forest financing and facilitate and advance consensus at UNFF8.

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Documents on UNFF8:

UNFF Ad hoc expert group:

UNFF Informal consultations:

Impact of financial and economic crisis on development

Special high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the UNCTAD will unfold in New York on 27 April

Under the overall theme of “Coherence, coordination and cooperation in the context of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development,” the Note by the Secretary-General will serve as a background document for the meeting and tackle two issues: (1) Addressing the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on development, including issues related to the international financial and monetary architecture and global governance structures and (2) Strengthening the intergovernmental inclusive process to carry out the Financing for Development follow-up.

The Note reveals how both of these topics - chosen by ECOSOC President Amb. Sylvie Lucas - are intrinsically related as the world community searches for mechanisms to elevate the level of multilateral cooperation to respond effectively to global crisis. The Note elicited interest and cooperation on the part of the staff of major stakeholders of the Monterrey process – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and UNCTAD – who contributed to the writing of the report.

In discussing the implications of the financial crisis, the Note highlights its systemic, which portends to a possible prolonged period of instability and distress. By the end of 2008, most advanced economies were for the first time since World War II simultaneously in recession. Total world economic growth is expected to be zero or worse in 2009, which implies that per capita income will decline by at least one per cent, a loss that would be borne disproportionately by the world’s poor. While the crisis originated in the developed countries, it will have the severest impact on developing countries whose recent growth patterns have depended heavily on trade and financial flows from industrial economies.

The Note warns that if the current economic crisis brings to a halt progress on internationally agreed development goals and poverty eradication, the prospects for a vibrant and peaceful international community would be at risk.

The financial crisis will have long-term implications for developing countries in all areas covered by the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration – in domestic resource mobilization, international private capital flows, international trade, official development assistance, external debt, and systemic issues.

The discussion of the financial crisis is divided into three key sections: the global community’s immediate response to the crisis (entitled “Promoting cooperation in tackling the global financial and economic turmoil”), the long-term challenges in addressing the deficiencies in global policies exposed by the crisis (entitled “Learning from the crisis and reforming global economic governance”) and the implications for global community in strengthening multilateral economic cooperation (entitled “Enhanced global governance and cooperation as the critical ingredient in crisis response and system reform”).

In its final part, the Note serves as a discussion point for the 27 April meeting in New York. It presents a synthesis of various proposals, criteria and objectives, building on both the Rio Group and SG’s suggestions, as well as on ideas from other stakeholders. Should this be accepted by Member States, this combined proposal would replace the current mechanism and process of follow-up of the Financing for Development Process.

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Promoting health literacy

Asia-Pacific Regional Ministerial Meeting from 29-30 April in China will be held in the run up to the 2009 AMR

The Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) is a function of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) mandated by Heads of State and Government at the 2005 World Summit. Its purpose is to assess progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals and the implementation of the other goals and targets agreed at the major UN conferences and summits over the past 15 years, which, together, constitute the United Nations Development Agenda (UNDA).

The 2009 AMR, held during the high-level segment of the annual session of ECOSOC (6-9 July 2009) in Geneva, will focus on "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health". It will provide an opportunity to assess the state of implementation of theUNDA and explore key challenges in achieving the international goals and commitments in the area of global public health.

In preparation, national and regional meetings, as well as a global preparatory meeting will be held in the run up to the 2009 AMR. The Asia-Pacific Regional Ministerial Meeting on “Promoting Health Literacy”, held from 29-30 April in Beijing, China, will discuss topics in the area of health literacy, including the key factors of health literacy and how they can be strengthened - individually as well as structurally.

During three panel discussions participants will discuss how multisectoral actions can be promoted and how the media, new communication technologies and empowerment can help improving health literacy. The question on how to build capacities to achieve health outcomes among patients will also be addressed and best practices and new initiatives showcased.

The Ministerial Meeting will be hosted and organized by the Chinese government in cooperation with DESA, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

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Equal sharing of responsibilities

Commission on the Status of Women adopted agreed conclusions on its priority theme at its 53rd session from 2-13 March in New York

This year, the Commission considered “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS” as the priority theme. A number of interactive events related to the priority theme were held, including a high-level round table and interactive expert panels on key policy initiatives and on capacity-building in mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development, implementation and evaluation of national policies and programmes.

The Commission also evaluated progress in the implementation of its previously-agreed conclusions on “Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels,” through an interactive dialogue and considered as the emerging issue “The gender perspectives of the financial crisis,” through an interactive expert panel discussion. An expert panel on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health: a gender perspective,” was held to provide input to the 2009 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review.

During the general discussion, over 130 speakers representing Member States, Permanent Observers, regional groups, UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) made statements.

The Commission adopted agreed conclusions on the priority theme. They provide a set of policy recommendations on a broad range of areas where action is required to address the equal sharing of responsibilities, including labour and social policies, the provision of services and infrastructure, the elimination of gender stereotypes, data collection and research; and international cooperation.

The Commission recognized that gender inequality and discrimination, including stereotypical perceptions of men and women, contribute to the continuing imbalance in the division of labour between women and men. It noted the need for men and boys to take responsibility and work in partnership with women and girls. The Commission expressed its deep concern over the negative impact of the global economic and financial crisis.

The agreed conclusions called for measures to reconcile caregiving and professional life, and to ensure men’s equal responsibilities for household work. Such measures include the design and implementation of family-friendly policies and services such as quality care services and access to maternity, paternity, parental and other forms of leave. Other forms of support called for include social protection measures such as health insurance and child and family allowances.

The agreed conclusions include measures to reduce the burden of care on households through the provision of public infrastructure, including clean water supply, sanitation, energy, telecommunications and affordable housing programmes. The Commission also called for strengthened efforts to protect the rights and ensure decent work conditions for all domestic workers, including women migrant domestic workers.

The Commission also adopted a resolution on “Future organization and methods of work of the Commission” that included a new multi-year programme of work for 2010 to 2014 and a resolution on “Preparations for the fifty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women” on the modalities for the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2010. The Commission also adopted a resolution on the future work of the Working Group on Communications on “Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women”,

Approximately 300 parallel events were organized by UN entities, Permanent Missions, and NGOs. 1,993 civil society members representing 323 NGOs were present during the session.

Immediately following the closure of the fifty-third session, the Commission opened its fifty-fourth session to elect its new Bureau. By acclamation, it elected Ambassador Armen Martirosyan (Armenia) of the Eastern European Group of States as the Chairperson for both the fifty-fourth and fifty-fifth sessions. The Commission also elected Ms. Leysa Sow (Senegal) of the African Group; Mr. Roberto Storaci (Italy) of the Western European and other States Group; and Mr. Takashi Ashiki (Japan) of the Asian States Group. The Commission agreed that, upon nomination of a candidate by the Latin American and Caribbean States Group, it would elect that candidate post-facto at its second meeting in 2010.

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