DESA News Vol. 14, No. 04 April 2010

Trends and analysis

Rising above the financial and economic crisis

The 9th session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 19 April to 23 April

Since late 2007, the global financial and economic crisis has had a significant negative impact on the income, wealth and living conditions of both developed and developing countries. It has also had a major impact on public administration, especially on the implementation of social and economic policies and, more generally, on its economic functions.

Arguably, public administration is in need of reform. Transformation and the adoption of measures that will not only contribute to a recovery from the crisis in the short and medium term but will also help achieve better sustainable, inclusive and equitable development in the long term are necessary. The ninth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, to be held from 19 to 23 April, will focus on how public administration can cope with the current challenges and regard them as opportunities for structural overhaul and reform.

The Committee is responsible for supporting the work of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) concerning the promotion and betterment of public administration and services among Member States in connection with the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The President of ECOSOC, the Honourable Hamidon Ali, will be delivering an opening statement on 19 April, which will be followed by a welcome address by Mr. Sha Zukang, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

Some of the sub-themes to be covered during this session are: enhanced public governance for fast and coordinated policy response, citizen-centred public service delivery, leadership for effective decision-making in the public sector, transparency and responsive accountability, as well as social and financial protection for priority vulnerable groups.

A special case study will be presented on public administration reform in Singapore by Mr. Philip Yeo, Special Advisor for Economic Development, Office of the Prime Minister, Singapore. The Committee will also review the United Nations Programme on Public Administration and Finance to take stock of past achievements and provide advice on its future activities.

In addition to the main theme, the Committee will also examine the 2010 theme of the annual ministerial review of the high-level segment ofECOSOC: implementing agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and empowerment of women. This session will be opened by Ms. Rachel Mayanja, Assistant Secretary-General, and Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. It will also include a discussion on information and communications technology and gender equality and a presentation of a case study on the empowerment of women in local government in Lesotho, by Her Excellency Pontso Suzan Matumelo Sekatle, Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship in Lesotho.

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Mining and its environmental and social impact

The Secretariat of the Commission on Sustainable Development is holding its 4th innovative Thematic Seminar Series on 9th April that will present scientific and technical information on issues under review by CSD 18 and 19

While mining provides a livelihood for millions of people in developing countries, its activities have been associated with serious environmental and social impacts on communities living near extraction sites, while generating few or limited benefits to producing countries in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction.

Since 2002, major international multi-stakeholder initiatives have been launched, targeting more transparency over the revenues generated by mining activities by both companies and governments. The mining industry has also stepped up their engagement in social issues arising in mining or neighbouring communities and in corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSER) activities.

However, absence of Prior and Informed Consent (PIC) with indigenous communities, resettlements and conflicts between the mining communities and other actors are still an issue in many countries. Adequate capacities at the national and sub-national government levels for planning, dealing with companies, enforcing regulations relating to health and working safety and the environment are often lacking.

All interested representatives from Governments, UN entities, IGOs, NGOs and other Major Groups holding a valid UN grounds pass or representing an accredited organization are welcome to participate.

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Measuring ICT for Development

Multi-stakeholder meeting of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development was hosted by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management on 22 February

The meeting was attended by representatives of the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC). The meeting reported on and reviewed the progress made by the various Task Groups working under the aegis of the Partnership and discussed the planned activities for 2010-2011.

The Partnership’s report to the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) was made available as an information item for the 41st session of the UNSC. It was considered important for the Partnership to continue to include ICT statistics on the UNSC agenda as a means to encourage the adoption of ICT statistics by Member States.

ITU informed the Partnership that they are working on a quantitative review of the ICT indicators, in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), DESA and the World Health Organization (WHO) with the objective to identify a set of measurable indicators that could be applied by national and international stakeholders to monitor progress in achieving the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) targets, and to take stock of what has been achieved to date in terms of reaching the targets.

The Partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to improve the availability and quality of ICT data and indicators, particularly in developing countries.

Enhancing cooperation in Internet Governance

Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) met in Geneva, 10 - 11 February, to prepare for the Forum’s 5th session, to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania in September 2010

In a dialogue with stakeholders, the Group settled on the theme of “Developing the future together” with a six-point agenda as follows: Security, openness and privacy, Access and diversity, Internet governance for development, Taking stock of Internet governance and the way forward, Emerging issues: cloud computing.

This agenda built on the work of previous sessions while setting the stage for future discussions on public policy issues related to the Internet, should the mandate of the IGF be extended. Specifically, the item on “taking stock of Internet governance” is intended as an assessment of progress in governance-related matters over the last 5 years.

The item on “Internet governance for development” is a reflection of stakeholder interest in the relationship between Internet governance and economic and social development, in particular Internet governance for the achievement of MDGs.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has advised the Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) that the Secretary-General’s report on action taken to enhance cooperation in Internet governance, which was prepared by DPADM for the 2009 session of ECOSOC but deferred to the 13th session of Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), may be considered on 18 May. UNCTAD has proposed that DESA send a representative to introduce the report. At the same session, CSTD will consider a report on WSIS implementation and follow-up, including an update on the activities of the Internet Governance Forum.

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