DESA News Vol. 13, No. 05 May 2009

Trends and analysis

Rights of older persons

Experts will explore from 5-7 May in Bonn how fundamental human rights of older persons could be assured and deepened

An Expert Group Meeting, organized by DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development will focus on the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing and how it could be better implemented concerning the rights of older persons. In this context, analysis, approaches and documents of rights enforced in the past, of institutional settings, and of overall capacity to further implement policies and laws concerning the rights of older persons will be discussed during the meeting.

Specific objectives of the meeting will also be to identify and evaluate good national practices regarding protecting and promoting the rights of older persons, and to select innovative approaches to widening and deepening the rights of older persons nationally and internationally. The meeting will also identify capacity tools that are required and could be recommended to policy makers when addressing the rights of older persons and elaborate recommendations on how to promote the rights of older persons at the level of member states and the United Nations.

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Building our humanitarian planet

World Civic Forum, to be held in Seoul from 5-8 May, will focus on civic values for global justice and engagement in public and global governance

Our Earth is calling for a humanitarian regeneration. Despite scientific and technological progress, today we are faced with global problems due to the loss of values of humanity in the course of modern civilization. Redeeming humanitarian values fully to our lives, however, is a daunting task. It requires integrative collaboration across sectors, disciplines, and nations. As much as damage to humanity has generated complicated ills in every corner of our Planet, we need a holistic initiative transcending conventional boundaries and scopes and reflecting planetary consciousness in order to cure the ills.

The World CivicForum 2009 emerges from the leading collaboration between the UN and institutions of higher learning, and aims to develop into an ongoing global institution with the partnership of like-minded actors such as NGOs, international organizations, governments, private enterprise, and the media. As a venue for global reflection and dialogue to enhance future civilizations, it will address the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from various perspectives of education, research, and practice.

The United Nations fully supports Kyung Hee University ( Republic of Korea) in its World Civic Forum 2009 initiative with activities geared towards citizen development. Citizen engagement, inclusive and participatory governance and accountable social development are areas where DESA has been active. As the main convenor for the third abovementioned theme, DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management is organizing two events, namely, one Expert Group Meeting and one Workshop.

The Expert Group Meeting on “Citizen Engagement in Climate Change Governance: Citizens for a Sustainable Future” will bring together experts from national and local governments, civil society and the academic community to assess the global situation of climate change governance and describe the role of citizen participation in the overall governance framework. It will serve as a platform for dialogue on stakeholders’ capacity needs, the opportunities available for fruitful partnership and the challenges that need to be hurdled. Case studies of innovative practices will also be presented.

A workshop on “Citizen Action for the Millennium Development Goals” will assess the global progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and examine the role of citizen action towards this endeavor. The goal is to enhance the capacities of participants in integrating the MDGs into their policy and program designs, and further, build a knowledge-based network among the participants and the United Nations, to strengthen partnerships for the global agenda, including in the achievement of the MDGs.

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Standardization of geographical names

Experts from over 100 countries are expected to attend the 25th session in Nairobi from 5-12 May

As fundamental to the need for global standardization of geographical names, the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) promotes the recording of locally-used names reflecting the languages and traditions of a country. UNGEGN's goal is for every country to decide on its own nationally standardized names through the creation of national names authorities or recognized administrative processes. With the wide dissemination of the nationally standardized forms through gazetteers, atlases, web-based data bases, toponymic guidelines, etc., UNGEGN can promote the use of these names internationally. For each non-Roman alphabet or script this will be through the adoption and use of a single scientifically-based romanization system.

This year’s session of UNGEGN is the first one to be held in Africa. In addition to the discussion of the standardization of geographical names, a poster exhibit and training on toponymy will be organized in conjunction with the session. African countries are encouraged to participate in order to show their work on names in connection with mapping or cultural heritage, for example: field collection of names; names and maps; gazetteers and/or databases, etc.

The session is organized by the UNGEGN Bureau and the Statistics Division of DESA (Secretariat of UNGEGN) in collaboration with UN Economic Commission for Africa.

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Compiling comparable national accounts

Expert Group Meeting on National Accounts in Cairo from 12-14 May is jointly organized by ESCWA and DESA’s Statistics Division

The meeting will discuss the assessment of the country practices of the ESCWA region for compiling internationally comparable national accounts and focus on national accounts issues in implementing the revised 2008 System of National Accounts. It will also have on the agenda new classifications of economic activities and products and the main challenges faced by ESCWA countries on issues such as rebasing and linking of national accounts, backcasting, benchmarking and volume measures.

Measures for the exhaustive coverage of economic activities in the national accounts including the measurement of the informal sector activities will also be deliberated in the EGM. It is expected that the discussions would contribute to the formulation of a regional plan for implementation of the revised macroeconomic accounting standards of the 2008 SNA for the countries in the region.

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Achieving sustainable urbanization

New York conference on 13 May to discuss sustainable urbanization in the information age and the role of infrastructure in metropolitan development

The conference seeks to address the global challenges posed by rapid urbanization and the impact of global warming on both the man-made and natural environments - from poverty and inequality to natural and manmade disasters - by calling for better sustainable planning for urban growth.

In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which commit the Member States to improve the living conditions for the 2.5 billion poor in the world. Millennium Development Goal 7 aims to ensure environmental sustainability by integrating the principles of sustainable development into Member States’ policies and programmes. Sustainable urban design and architecture are key considerations in environmental planning and management, however, even in developed countries, such sustainable approaches are new.

The conference aims to provide the venue for dialogue and exchange of experiences on improving capacities of cities and local governments for planning, implementation and management of infrastructure networks, not only in physical planning but for healthcare and education, which are critical for a sustainable future.

This conference is the second in a series of UN-AIA-RPA sponsored conferences on sustainability in the information age. The first conference, held in New York in the spring 2008, brought together professionals, academics, policy makers and politicians from both the executive and legislative branch. This highly successful first conference demonstrated that human ingenuity combined with political will could effectively address complex global problems.

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Next steps for Internet Governance Forum

Forum will meet on 13-15 May in Geneva to prepare for the annual its annual meeting and bring together the Multistakeholder Advisory Group

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Secretariat is organizing open consultations on 13 May for all stakeholders to prepare the 2009 annual meeting of the IGF, which will take place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on 15-18 November. Representatives of government, the private sector, civil society and the academic and technical Internet communities are to discuss a programme paper containing the draft outlines of an agenda and schedule for the meeting. The consultations are also expected to address the review process of the IGF, called for by the Tunis Agenda on the Information Society. The meeting will be chaired by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Internet Governance, Mr. Nitin Desai.

The open consultations will be followed by a private meeting of the 55-member Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) on 14-15 May, which is entrusted with assisting in the preparations for the annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum. The group is expected to finalize the draft agenda of this year’s annual meeting.

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WSIS outcomes to be implemented

Fourth Facilitation Meeting on 20 May in Geneva will implement action lines related to public governance

DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) will organize this meeting on implementing WSIS outcomes related to action lines C1 - The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development, C7 - ICT applications - E-government and C11 - International and regional cooperation. The meeting will be a substantive component of Forum 2009 on implementation of World Summit on Information Society (WSIS).

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Improving public service delivery

Experts to meet on 21-22 May in Geneva to focus on e-government and public-private partnerships

A public-private partnership is a collaborative effort whereby the public sector of a state uses its influence on the private sector in order to form a partnership to achieve some economic and developmental goals. At the United Nations World Summit in 2005, leaders outlined a vision for a people-centered and inclusive information society, putting the potential of information and communication technologies at the service of development and addressing the new challenges of the information society.

For this purpose, DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) will organize an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on E-Government and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for Better Public Service Delivery and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation. The meeting will be a substantive component of Forum 2009 on the implementation of World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 21 to 22 May.

The EGM will be organized in cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and will aim to identify the major issues and trends in e-government and PPPs towards effective and efficient public service delivery and revamp MDGs implementation by reviewing existing approaches worldwide and analyzing the structural and process changes associated with PPPs and e-government development.

The goal of the meeting is to further the thinking of the United Nations and multistakeholders on how e-government  and PPPs could accelerate and underpin public service delivery and contribute to up scaling MDGs implementation. The Meeting will explore and identify issues and challenges facing both governments, citizens and the private sector in their quest towards achieving MDGs.

The meeting is expected to identify the major issues and trends in e-government and PPPs towards effective and efficient public service delivery and revamping MDGs implementation by reviewing existing approaches worldwide and analyzing the structural and process changes associated with PPPs and e-government development. The experts will present papers on the themes outlined above, as well as participate in the discussions at the Meeting. 

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Alleviating poverty with mobile technology

Multistakeholder Panels during the 12th session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) will be held in Geneva on 26 May

DESA’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development is organizing, together with the CSTD Secretariat, the ITU and WHO, an event on Mobile Technology, Convergence and Social Networking Tools for Development and Poverty Alleviation and on the Innovative Uses of ICT in Delivering Digital Health. The event is designed to bring the added value of multi-stakeholder inputs to intergovernmental discussions in the CSTD on the follow up to WSIS.

The first Panel will focus on “Mobile Technology, Convergence and Social Networking Tools for Development and Poverty Alleviation”. This Panel will discuss the policies and strategies that developing countries and their development partners need to devise to respond to the new opportunities created by the technological innovations and rapid advances in mobile access for accelerating their development. The Panel also aims at creating a dialogue on the respective roles of the key stakeholders in mobilizing necessary resources and capacity to form new partnerships involving not only governments and civil society, but also the private sector, to ensure that the benefits of technology are placed at the service of development and yield tangible progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The second Panel will focus on “Innovative Uses of ICT in Delivering Digital Health”. This Panel intends to look at the current and future landscape of mHealth and eHealth in the developing world, to identify building blocks required and innovations to make them more widely available through sustainable and scalable implementation, and how to seed a multi-sector partnership dedicated to designing, funding, and advancing e- and mHealth projects in developing world.

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Estimating economic trends

Monitoring the global economic and financial crisis will be the focus of a seminar held in Ottawa, Canada from 27-29 May

The present economic and financial crisis is characterized by its magnitude and speed, apart from its interconnected nature across all domestic sectors of the economy and its global cross border spill-over, impacting developed, emerging and developing economies alike. Analyst and policy makers urgently need high frequency statistics which are timely, reliable and comparable over time and between countries and regions to monitor the development of the crisis. These high frequency statistics are instrumental in the analysis of the turning points of the crisis in support of swift and synchronized policy actions at the global and national level.

For this purpose a seminar on “Timeliness, Methodology and Comparability of Rapid Estimates of Economic Trends” is jointly organized by DESA’s Statistics Division, the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) and Statistics Canada. The seminar will be hosted by Statistics Canada and held from 27-29 May in Ottawa.

It will bring together around 50 countries and 15 international and regional agencies. In a collaborative effort between national and international statistical and central bank authorities, an assessment will be made about the availability, timeliness and quality of high frequency estimates and the innovative techniques applied in accelerating the release of rapid estimates. The assessment will cover broad sets of high frequency estimates like for national accounts, prices, production, external sector, government, sector, household sector and financial sector.

It is expected that this assessment will render a repository of country practices offering descriptions of national practices in the release of rapid estimates including the modeling, econometric and collection techniques used for the different types of rapid estimates. The joint assessment of this inventory during the seminar should determine the work priorities for the various sets of national and global rapid estimates. When desired and supported by the countries, an agreed statistical framework for the global monitoring of the global economic and financial crisis and the impacts of the crisis on countries and vulnerable population groups within the countries could be considered based on timely and comparable sets of near term indicators.

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Establishing InfoPoverty networks

9th InfoPoverty World Conference, held from 18-20 March in New York, identified solutions to achieve the MDGs by 2015

The conference was a multi-conference event connected with Milan ( Politecnico and the European Parliament Office), and Brussels and was organized by OCCAM and the InfoPoverty Institute of the University of Oklahoma and supported by DESA’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development Secretariat. It brought together key stakeholders from the UN system and ICTD practitioners for an exchange of experiences and perspectives to spur the use of ICT for development.

The conference underlined the need to identify solutions to the “abuse and refuse” of ICTs in development strategies, in order to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

The meeting achieved as outcome the establishment of an InfoPoverty network of villages and communities in order to create a campus of scientific experiments, to test the innovations, to evaluate them in terms of cost and efficiency, and interact with local population as well as to define those innovations as valuable tools and practices to be shared and applied to UN aid programs.

It will also support initiatives and projects presented at the Conference including: the Electronic and Mobil Knowledge Repository (e/m-GKR) of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Technologies (G3ict), the 500/12 Initiative and the U-movement.

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