DESA News Vol. 13, No. 04 April 2009

Trends and analysis

Human factor in capacity building

Committee of Experts on Public Administration to examine the role of the human factor in achieving the UN Development Agenda at its eighth session from 30 March - 3 April in New York

In the human factor lies the key to sustainable development. Skilled and qualified civil servants in the public sector are indispensable for the creation of an enabling public administration, which then can effectively engender and maintain talent. At the same time, only a capable and competent public sector, which takes accountability and transparency as its core values, can pursue the public good genuinely and resourcefully.

Against this backdrop, the eighth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration will focus on the main theme of human factor in capacity building and development. The Committee supports the work of the Economic and Social Council and the Secretariat concerning the promotion and development of public administration and governance among Member States in connection with the United Nations Development Agenda. The session opened on 30 March with a welcome address by the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Honorable Madame Sylvie Lucas, followed by the opening statement of the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, Mr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram. The Committee will finalize its session on 3 April 2009.

Some of the sub-themes covered during this session are human resources management, accountability, transparency and citizen trust in government and serving in the Information age. The Committee will also review the United Nations Programme on Public Administration and Finance, take stock of past achievements and plan for challenges ahead.

The Committee will also finalize its work on the online compendium of basic UN terminology in governance and public administration. Its purpose is to identify the most important and frequently used terminology in governance and public administration to promote clarity in discussions among Member States.

This year the Committee will also examine the theme of the Council’s upcoming Annual Ministerial Review– Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health– from the perspective of public administration.

For more information:

Mainstreaming disability in MDGs

Experts will review policy frameworks, resources and tools for mainstreaming disability in the implementation of the MDGs from 14-16 April in Geneva

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will not be achieved if their policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation do not include persons with disabilities. While persons with disabilities make up ten per cent of the world’s population, disability is associated with twenty per cent of global poverty according to the World Bank’s findings. Currently, there are no references to persons with disabilities either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines and policies, programmes and conferences that are part of the on-going MDG efforts. In addition, the new revisions of the MDGs currently in process do not include persons with disabilities.

The international community needs urgently to act to mainstream disability in the MDG processes. This requires policy makers and technical experts specifically tasked with the programming, monitoring and evaluation of current MDG programmes to begin to consider disability so that the next phase of the implementation of the MDGs will include disability as an important component of its core mission.

The Expert Group Meeting on “Mainstreaming Disability in MDG Policies, Processes and Mechanisms: Development for All”, organized by DESA’s Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in collaboration with the World Health Organization in Geneva from 14-16 April, will review existing policy frameworks, resources, mechanisms and tools for mainstreaming disability in the implementation of the MDGs. It will also provide policy recommendations that will link the MDG processes with other internationally agreed development goals.

The outcome of the meeting will be a “roadmap” to include disability issues in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of all MDG-related plans, programmes and policies in international development currently in operation or in the planning stage. It will also review the on-going international, national and regional efforts in mainstreaming disability and empowerment of persons with disabilities in developmental contexts. Furthermore, it will identify emerging issues and trends concerning the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities in the broad human rights-development framework.

For more information:

Sustainable land management in Africa

From 16-17 April in Goethenburg, Sweden, experts will identify possibilities to scale up sustainable land management and agricultural practices

Most economies in Africa are agro-based. The agricultural sector directly affects economic growth, poverty alleviation and social welfare in this region. Increasing productivity in Sub-Saharan agriculture is widely recognized as a key driver of regional development. Reducing land degradation threats and promoting Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and Sustainable Agricultural (SA) practices that are suited to the agro-ecological conditions and other resources farmers are endowed with has been recognized as a necessary requirement for achieving a sustainable African green revolution.

Over the last decades, knowledge about SLM and SA practices has been accumulated steadily. In particular, a number of initiatives have been undertaken to collect data on successful practices, including data on soil conditions, agro-climatic conditions and biodiversity conditions. These data are deemed to be relevant to the determination of success or failure of land management and agricultural practices.

The Expert Group Meeting on “Sustainable Land Management & Agricultural Practices in Africa”, held in Goethenburg, Sweden from 16-17 April, will identify possibilities and constraints to scale up successful SLM and SA practices based on the adoption of research literature. The meeting will also discuss approaches to categorize what SLM and SA practices work where and for whom and how learning from best practices could be institutionalized into a knowledge management framework that could guide interventions and extension. Participants will also work towards establishing an informal institutional network between various actors active in this area and discuss how to design and implement such frameworks at the country level.

The expected output of the meeting is an updated research and extension agenda on sustainable agriculture for the participating organizations, a greater consensus on a methodology to increase investment in SLM and SA and to establish a partnership platform.

For more information:

Revising environmental-economic accounting

14th meeting of the London Group will discuss key topics of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) in Canberra from 28 April – 1 May

The London Group on Environmental Accounting is a city group created in 1993 to allow practitioners to share their experience of developing and implementing environmental accounts linked to the economic accounts of the System of National Accounts.

The Group has played over the years a leading role in advancing the methodologies on environmental-economic accounting and in providing a forum for sharing national and international expertise in the field. The most notable accomplishments of the London Group have been its contribution to the Handbook of National Accounting: Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting 2003 (SEEA-2003) and, more recently, to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water (SEEAW), which was adopted at the thirty-eighth session of the UN Statistical Commission as an international statistical standard.

Given its expertise and leading role in environmental-economic accounting, the London Group has accepted the request of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) to develop a list of issues for the research agenda of the revision of the SEEA-2003 and solve significant number of those issues as part of its programme of work.

The 14th meeting of the London Group in Canberra from 28 April – 1 May will discuss topics in the list of issues for Volume 1 of the revised SEEA. The agenda include, among others, the classification of physical flows, land use/land cover classification, emission permits, accounting for carbon in forest and soil, natural resource management and expenditure accounts, definition and use of environmental taxes and subsidies and the environmental goods and services industry.

For more information:

From global public health to LDCs

Committee for Development Policy (CDP) held its 11th session from 9-13 March in New York to address the 2009 AMR theme on Global Public Health, the financial crisis, climate change and LDCs

The Committee addressed the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) theme on Global Public Health with special emphasis on how to reduce health inequalities through strengthened global health partnerships. The CDPs review of global partnerships for health in support of the MDGs primary recommendation was that the issue of inequality in health outcomes and services should be a predominant consideration, including inequality according to income group, gender, race, ethnicity and geography. Inequalities, which are often severe between and within countries, are of fundamental importance as they determine the health of the poorest and disadvantaged.

The Global Financial Crisis and the need to provide low-income countries with better access to compensatory financing was also top on the agenda. A most urgent international measure is the enhancement of compensatory finance designed to deal with the most severe consequences of trade and financial shocks which affect developing countries. Although in late 2008 the IMF slightly reformed its external shocks facility to compensate low-income countries for trade shocks, in response to criticisms that it was too small and had excessively high conditionality, these measures are not sufficient. What is desirable and urgent is a much larger scale of compensatory financing, ideally equal to the size of the external shock. Because the shock is external, there should be no conditionality attached.

Climate change and sustainable development focused on recommendations for appropriate financing mechanisms for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Committee considered international funding activities in adaptation, mitigation and technology development. Among the various topics under review, the Committee examined the prospect of a set of new financial mechanisms to broaden the scope of climate change-related activities.

The triennial review of the list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), recommended Equatorial Guinea to graduate from the list. Kiribati was no longer found eligible for graduation. The Committee did not recommend either Tuvalu or Vanuatu for graduation at the present review. As both countries have been found eligible they will be considered for graduation at the next triennial review.

The Expert Group identified two countries eligible for inclusion: Papua New Guinea, and Zimbabwe. After being notified of the findings, both countries informed the CDP of their wish not to be considered for inclusion into the list of LDCs (as happened after the 2006 review).

For more information:

Preparing for World Expo 2010

UN focal points met in Geneva from 26-27 March to coordinate the participation at the World Expo

DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management attended a coordination meeting of United Nations Agencies Focal Points participating in the United Nations Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The Government of China has invited the United Nations to present its work at the Shanghai Expo within its own integrated pavilion of 3,000 square meters. The pavilion will feature one consolidated exposition of the United Nations, including interactive installations, as well as engaging presentations, motivated speakers debates and cultural performances. UNHABITAT was entrusted to coordinate the participation of United Nations agencies at the World Expo 2010. The meeting of focal points will take place in Geneva from 26 to 27 March 2009.

The meeting will enable all agencies participating in the Pavilion to be fully briefed by the team coordinating the event and by its Chinese counterparts. Each of these teams will provide detailed information, guidance and advice on the participation of each agency. Furthermore, this meeting represents a good opportunity to preliminary register each agency and their time slot within the six-month Expo calendar, and each focal point will be fully briefed on all the necessary details and formalities guiding participation at the UN Pavilion. The outcome of this meeting will allow United Nations Agencies to formulate a comprehensive participation strategy including financial resources needed to the success of it’s involvement at the World Expo.

For more information: