DESA News Vol. 13, No. 12 December 2009

Global dialogue on development

A deal to mitigate climate change

The United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen from 7-18 December

Governments have set themselves the deadline for agreeing on action to tackle climate change this December in Copenhagen. This conference may not yield in a new global climate treaty with every minor detail in place, but it is hoped that it will close with agreements on political essentials, creating a clarity the world – not least the financially struck business world – needs.

Four key questions calling for an international agreement must be answered in the conference. According to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the four essentials are: How much will developed countries submit to reducing their emissions? What are major developing countries willing to do to limit theirs? Where will the money and technological support come from to help developing nations to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change? And how will that money be managed?

In the lead up to the conference, DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development has organized two key meetings where technology for adaptation is the focus: The Beijing High-Level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer , which took place in November 2008, and its follow-up conference in New Delhi, held in October 2009.

About the COP

The negotiating process on climate change revolves around the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP), which meets every year to review the implementation of the Convention in order to adopt decisions and resolutions and to make up a detailed set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the Convention.

The COP serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), which also adopts decisions and resolutions on the implementation of its provisions. The COP/CMP meeting is termed United Nations Climate Conference, which also includes the sessions of the subsidiary bodies to the Convention and the ad hoc working groups as well as the many side events and exhibits held parallel to the talks and negotiations.

Traditionally, the COP/CMP attracts several thousand participants, including government representatives and observer organizations. The sessions in Bali in 2007 was attended by about 11,000 participants, including some 3,500 government officials, over 5,800 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and nearly 1,500 accredited members of the media. The UN Climate Change Conference in Poznań last year came close to that size, with around 9,300 participants.

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Impact of crises on women and children

The Second and Third Committees of the General Assembly considered issues regarding to the development and advancement of women and adopted several draft resolutions

This year, agenda items relating to gender equality and the advancement of women were addressed in the Second Committee and Third Committee of the General Assembly. On 22 October, the Second Committee considered the issue of women in development under agenda item 57(b), while between 12-14 October, the Third Committee considered the advancement of women and the implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, under agenda items 62(a) and 62(b).

Second Committee

As the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly took place at the time of ongoing economic, financial, food and energy crises, several Member States at the Second Committee expressed their concerns about the disproportionate impact of these crises on women and children, including as regards to their social and economic costs. Many delegations stressed women’s vulnerability to poverty, highlighting the challenge of its eradication as an essential means of achieving sustainable development and gender equality.

Four resolutions were adopted within the Operational activities for development (item 58): Reports of the Executive Boards of the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP (A/C.2/64/L.6); Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (A/C.2/64/L.35); and South-South cooperation for development A/C.2/64/L.42. The Committee thus concluded its consideration of the item 58 on Operational activities for development as a whole.

Third Committee

On 19 November, the Third Committee adopted by consensus the resolution on violence against women migrant workers (A/C.3/64/L.18/Rev.1). Also on 19 November, the resolution on the follow-up to the Beijing Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly was adopted by consensus as a chair’s text (A/C.3/64/L.60). The resolution welcomes the opportunities in 2010 to accelerate progress in the achievement of gender equality and calls on Member States and UN entities to fully utilize those opportunities.

A large number of countries welcomed the adoption of General Assembly resolution 63/311 on system-wide coherence, particularly as it relates to the establishment of a new composite gender equality entity. Many delegations looked forward to productive intergovernmental negotiations and an early establishment of a well-resourced entity which would contribute to a well-coordinated approach to gender equality within the UN system and a strong, effective presence at country level.

The recent adoption of Security Council resolutions 1888 and 1889 on women, peace and security, including the mandate for a Special Representative to address sexual violence in conflict, was also welcomed by delegations at the Third Committee.

On 10 November, the Committee adopted by consensus the resolution on “Realizing the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disability” (A/C.3/64/L.5/Rev.1), which had 105 sponsors and co-sponsors.

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Mutual accountability in development cooperation

First High-level Symposium to prepare for the 2010 Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) was held in Vienna on 12 and 13 November

Under the theme of the forum was “Accountable and transparent development cooperation: towards a more inclusive framework”, the symposium helped to develop a common understanding of the concept of mutual accountability in development cooperation.

It confirmed that accountability relationships continue to be highly imbalanced. Programme countries have little capacity to hold donors accountable for the quantity and quality of their aid. Likewise, parliamentarians have difficulties holding governments to account on development cooperation as do civil society organizations.

The meeting saw a role for the DCF to review and spur progress in mutual accountability, although there was also a concern to avoid duplication e.g. with OECD/DAC. It was felt that the country level should be the primary area of focus for mutual accountability and there was a clear need to build the capacity of developing countries to monitor donor behaviour.

There were 172 registered participants, with 90 representatives from 61 countries. 56 of these participants represented developing countries, while 34 were from developed countries. 13 parliamentarians were present, along with 6 members of Parliamentary Organizations notably the Inter-Parliamentary Union. 27 representatives from civil society organizations and 23 officials from various multilateral and international organizations also attended.

The existence of national aid policies was seen as an important factor in ensuring mutual accountability at country level. Another important factor - at both global and country level - was the provision of independent evidence as a basis for mutual accountability reviews.

Yet another message of the symposium was that mutual accountability needs to focus on development results, and that the ultimate test for well functioning mutual accountability mechanisms should be whether or not they meet the needs of programme countries. Two panels were also held on policy coherence and South-South cooperation, to launch the work of the DCF in these areas.

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