DESA News Vol. 13, No. 11 November 2009

Trends and analysis

Discussing complex parliamentary environments

The 2009 World e-Parliament Conference will take place on 3-5 November in Washington, DC, co-organized by DESA and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

The World e-Parliament Conference is the annual forum of the community of parliaments addressing both the policy and technical perspectives on how the use of information and communication technology can help improve representation, transparency, accountability, openness, and effectiveness in the complex parliamentary environment. This year’s conference will be hosted by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives H.E. Ms. Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi and is expected to be attended by more than 400 participants, representing parliamentarians from around the world. The official opening and closing sessions will be co-chaired by Under-Secretary General of DESA Mr. Sha Zukang and H.E. Speaker Pelosi.

The event is structured around three policy-oriented plenary sessions and ten parallel sessions of a more technical nature. The three plenary sessions will touch upon the following topics: connecting Parliaments and citizens: new technologies to foster openness, transparency, and accountability; how ICT can strengthen Parliaments in emerging democracies and promoting democracy and inter-parliamentary cooperation: a collaborative approach to institutional building through a shared framework for e-parliament.

Presenters will include speakers, senior members and officials of parliament, high-level representatives of Governments and international organizations, and world renowned experts. In each session ample time will be set aside for open discussion from the floor.

During the conference, the preliminary results of the Global Survey on ICT in Parliament will be presented, along with guidelines and tools developed to help parliaments to assess and improve their technological level. The conference will also serve as a platform to identify and agree upon future goals and targets for the international community of Parliaments and to provide inputs to the next World e-Parliament Report in 2010.

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Reviewing merchandise trade statistics

DESA’s Statistics Division will organize the second meeting of the Expert Group on International Merchandise Trade Statistics from 3- 6 November at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

The Expert Group on International Merchandise Trade Statistics (EG-IMTS) was established by DESA’s Statistics Division to assist in the revision of the existing United Nations recommendations on international merchandise trade statistics published in International Trade Statistics, Concepts and Definitions (Statistical Papers, Series M, No 52, Rev 2).

The EG-IMTS has to ensure active country involvement in the revision of the recommendations for international merchandise trade statistics; to review and endorse the draft revised recommendations and to provide guidance on the implementation of the revised recommendations after their adoption by the Statistical Commission.

The main purpose of this meeting is to review and endorse the provisional draft of the revised recommendations for international merchandise trade statistics which has to be submitted to the United Nations Statistical Commission for adoption at its 41st Session (23-26 February 2010). The Expert Group will also discuss a number of issues relevant to the development of the implementation program of the revised recommendations. Experts from different countries and regions as well as from international and regional organizations active in the area of international merchandise trade statistics will be participating in this meeting.

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Analyzing the gender implications of the current economic crisis

Expert Group Meeting will discuss the current economic crisis and its implications for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women from 4-6 November

At its 2010 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), the Economic and Social Council will review the implementation of internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and empowerment of women. In preparation for its contribution to that discussion, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will hold an Expert Group Meeting from 4-6 November to analyze the gender implications of the current economic crisis and propose gender-responsive policies on how to mitigate any negative impacts.

The meeting will bring together CDP members and gender specialists from ILO, UNDP, UNIFEM and DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women to review the impacts of the current crisis on women’s work and livelihood and to assess to what extent the various economic stimulus packages adopted so far address gender inequalities. The meeting aims to produce a set of policy recommendations on the gender dimensions that stimulus policy measures should include so as to avoid a reversal of progress achieved thus far and in order to build a gender equitable society. The recommendations will be presented and further discussed at the CDP plenary in March 2010.

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Financial crisis and local institutions

The II Conference of European and African Regional and Local Authorities will take place from 6-7 November in Florence, Italy.

This II Conference will focus on “The impact of the economic and financial crisis on decentralized governance in Africa: the response of local authorities to the new development challenge”. Its aim is to raise the awareness of the international community about the difficulties that local institutions are experiencing in responding to the development challenges posed by the financial crisis.

Representatives of international agencies and civil society, national and regional authorities, as well as international organizations and senior managers of public institutions and/or programs related to decentralized governance in Africa and Europe will gather in Florence to review good practices and distill lessons learned on how to reduce the impact of the crisis and its effects.

The conference will revolve around the following topics:

  • Decentralization and sustainable development: leveraging territorial resources to fight poverty and achieve the MDGs
  • Financial and fiscal decentralization: revenue raising and expenditure powers
  • Enhancing delivery of basic services at the local level
  • Exchanging competencies, knowledge and resources: north-south and south–south partnerships among regional and local authorities.

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Water and sanitation for sustainable development in Africa

2nd African Water Week will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 9-13 November

This week will be both unique and innovative in character as the main focus will be on implementation and partnership as Africa sprints towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals targets. Firstly, it will bring together through a strong unity of purpose, African countries and United Nations agencies, civil society groups, the private Sector and development cooperation partners, to address the critical issue of water and sanitation, which is a key to sustainable development on the continent. Secondly, it is in direct response to the Sharm El Sheikh Commitments on water and sanitation adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government that took place in Egypt on July 2008.

UN-Water will hold a seminar on the three United Nations Global Assessments on Water that are implemented through UN-Water, namely the World Development Report, The Global Annual Assessment on Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS), and the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP). The side event will discuss the role of these assessments for policy and decision making in an African Context and analyze how the assessment can be further improved to respond to the unique challenges of Africa.

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Helping to disseminate census data

DESA’s Statistics Division is organizing two meetings in November to improve census data dissemination and environment statistics systems

The Statistics Division, in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Estatística of Mozambique, is organizing a Regional Workshop on CensusInfo in the context of the 2010 World Programme for Population and Housing Censuses. The Workshop will take place from 10-13 November in Maputo, Mozambique.

In partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA, the Statistics Division has developed a free software package, CensusInfo to help countries to disseminate census data on CD-ROM and on the web. CensusInfo offers specific functionalities to enhance census data dissemination, including a user-friendly interface, template reports for presentation of data at any geographical level, as well as graphing and mapping facilities.

CensusInfo can be customized, in terms of the graphical layout, the list of statistics/indicators and geographical levels for data presentation. CensusInfo was officially launched at the 40th session of the Statistical Commission in February 2009 and is available on-line.

The overall purpose of the Workshop is to develop participants’ capacities to use CensusInfo to its full potential as a platform for disseminating census data. The workshop has been designed using an outcome-based training methodology consisting of a series of demonstrations followed by practical exercises.

The sessions include designing and creating templates and databases to house country-specific census data, learning various data administration utilities including data exchange to facilitate uploading of data into the CensusInfo system, and generating relevant tables, graphs, maps, reports and profiles for reporting purposes.

DESA’s Statistics Division is also organizing, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, an Expert Group Meeting on the Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics on 10-12 November in New York. The objectives of the meeting are to discuss a conceptual framework that best supports an integrative approach to environment statistics and helps countries to establish and improve their national environment statistics systems.

The meeting will review the UN Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics and its accompanying handbooks and will advise UNSD on the directions to take in the revision of these documents as well as on the modalities of the revision process. The conclusions of the EGM will be submitted to the 41st Session of the Statistical Commission in February 2010.

For more information:

Regional Workshop on CensusInfo:

Expert Group Meeting on the Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics:

Reviewing the implementation of the Beijing Declaration

Expert Group Meeting on the impact of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on the achievement of the MDGs will take place in Geneva on 11-13 November

At its fifty-fourth session, to be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 1-12 March 2010, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and its contribution to shaping a gender perspective towards the full realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

In preparation for the session, DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) is organizing an Expert Group Meeting on “The impact of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals” in Geneva in association with the United Nations Development Programme. The meeting will be hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

The findings and recommendations of the meeting will provide input to a Secretary-General’s report to CSW, and will assist CSW as it contributes to shaping a gender perspective towards the full realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

The objectives of the Expert Group Meeting are to examine how the implementation of the strategic objectives and actions outlined in the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action contributes to accelerating progress towards achievement of all MDGs, and also to consider case studies and good practice examples of initiatives at the national level to integrate the gender equality framework in efforts towards the achievement of the MDGs, and identify gaps and challenges for doing so.

Based on experts’ and observers’ papers and the discussions at the meeting, the Expert Group Meeting will propose a limited number of concrete and practical steps and policy recommendations for Governments, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders for accelerating achievement of the MDGs through enhanced implementation of the Platform for Action. Experts will be invited to develop a framework (guidelines, checklist) to support such work by different stakeholders at the national level.

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Water and sanitation services in developing countries

1st International Water Association (IWA) Development Congress (UN-Water) will be held in Mexico City between 15-20 November

The Congress will set the practice and research agenda for water and sanitation services in developing countries and have a strong focus on what works in a development setting and those projects that have potential for large-scale delivery.

The event will bring together 1,000 international water and sanitation professionals to discuss emerging solutions, developments and approaches to sustainable water and sanitation management and exchange knowledge on all aspects of service delivery in low and middle income countries. The emphasis will be on what is working now in the water and sanitation sector of the developing world and what has potential for large-scale delivery.

Participants will include researchers, practitioners, policy makers, consultants, manufacturers, technology suppliers and members of the international development community who play a key role in translating knowledge into workable policies, programs and research that result in action on the ground to support such work by different stakeholders at the national level.

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Promoting social integration

Expert Group Meeting on Practical Strategies to Promote Social Integration: Lessons learned from existing policies and practices will be held in Accra, Ghana from 17-19 November

DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD ) in collaboration with the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare of the Government of Ghana is organizing this meeting as part of the preparations for the 48th session of the Commission for Social Development, which is scheduled to take place in New York from 3 to 12 February 2010.

The meeting is convened in the context of ECOSOC resolution 2008/19 , in which the Economic and Social Council decided that the priority theme for the 2009-2010 review and policy cycle of the Commission should be “Social integration”, taking into account its relationship with poverty eradication and full employment and decent work for all. The outcome of the meeting will present an important input to the work of the Commission, in particular contributing to policy-oriented sessions geared towards promoting social integration.

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Supporting the implementation of the Disabilities Convention

4th United Nations Inter Agency Support Group for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be held in Geneva on 18-19 November

The Inter-Agency Support Group that coordinates the work of the United Nations system in support of the promotion and implementation of the Convention will discuss good practices, challenges and opportunities to support the implementation of the Convention.

Group members will also share experiences on mainstreaming disability issues in displacement, as well as work to develop guiding principles to include disability in the work of United Nations country teams.

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Regional meetings on implementing sustainable development

DESA’s Division on Sustainable Development is collaborating with ECLAC and ESCAP and other regional partners in organizing two Regional Implementation Meetings (RIMs) towards the end of November

The RIM for Latin America and the Caribbean will be held from 26-27 November in Antigua, Guatemala, followed by the RIM for Asia and the Pacific from 30 November - 1 December in Bangkok.

The meetings will contribute to the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) during the implementation cycle focused on transport, chemicals, waste management, mining, and the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production. The meetings will be held in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (JPOI), and will be organized in cooperation with other regional organizations and offices of United Nations funds and programmes.

The RIMs will contribute to the advancement of the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the JPOI. The meetings will also provide inputs to the Secretary-General’s reports and contribute to the 18th session of CSD by identifying region-specific challenges and opportunities as well as lessons learned and best practices. The RIMs will also provide for contributions from major groups.

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