Statement by Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Committee for Programme and Coordination
New York, 23 August 2006

Programme 7, run by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), is the first of the United Nation’s economic and social programmes taken up this session by the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). As Under-Secretary-General of DESA and as Convenor of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (EC-ESA), I welcome this opportunity to share the strategic perspective guiding our work in DESA and EC-ESA.

EC-ESA includes many entities whose strategic framework you will review this week. For all our programmes, the 2005 World Summit has generated new momentum, creating opportunities and challenges that will shape our operating environments and priorities into the 2008-2009 biennium.

A driving factor will be the Summit’s intensified focus on (i) implementing the UN Development Agenda—that is, the development goals, including the MDGs, agreed at the UN conferences and summits—and on (ii) realizing the global partnership for development. For the first of these purposes, the Summit agreed that all Member States would adopt by the end of 2006 national development strategies for achieving the goals. Meanwhile, the Summit decisions on ECOSOC reform have put the Council—and thus DESA, which supports the Council and most of its functional commissions—at the centre of efforts to monitor and advance implementation of the Development Agenda, in a unified and coherent way.

A major challenge for DESA and our EC-ESA partners will be helping to operationalize ECOSOC’s new functions. This process should synergize well with efforts to reinforce some of its existing functions: to re-conceive the Council’s role in fostering global policy dialogue; to strengthen its major role in overall coordination of UN Funds, Programmes, and Agencies; and to build its capacity to respond to trends or emergencies that may threaten development progress.

Effective support for these functions—and overall follow-up to the Summit—will require strategic integration, as well as strengthened coordination and coherence, within DESA and EC-ESA. It will also require strengthening productive interfaces between DESA and UNDP and between EC-ESA and UNDG, not least through improved networking and knowledge management. This unity of purpose in the wider UN development system is critical to our delivering on the UN Development Agenda.

This past winter, we in EC-ESA identified a common set of priorities derived from the Summit Outcome, as well as activities to be undertaken jointly. We also pinpointed where we need to improve cooperation. We are proceeding now on the basis of these understandings, working particularly through EC-ESA’s thematic networks, which bring together programme managers in the various economic and social areas.

We are seeking to tighten cooperation, eliminate duplicative activities, and strengthen the collective impact of our analytical work. In a signal success, the World Economic Situation and Prospects has become a truly joint publication.

We have together supported the Secretary-General’s Policy Committee in developing common approaches to major global issues, such as climate change, trade, and migration. And we have participated actively in the Policy Committee’s work on countries in conflict situations.

In implementation and capacity-building at the country level, we are constructing networks that bring together EC-ESA and UNDG. The aim is two-fold: to foster policy dialogue between UN entities engaged in operational activities at country level and non-resident UN practitioners in different development areas; and to enable UN country teams to tap the expertise available in different UN entities for advice and technical support to countries in devising and implementing their development strategies. At the same time, the lessons learned through our technical cooperation enrich our research, analysis, and normative work in support of intergovernmental processes. All this suggests how our work with UNDG is particularly important in terms of its strengthening the links between the UN’s normative, analytical, and operational activities.

Clearly much, much more remains to be done to increase coherence and exploit synergies in the Secretariat’s economic and social activities. Nonetheless, we have made some significant progress through EC-ESA. And just yesterday we met to get a head start on budget preparations for 2008-2009. We are taking as our starting point an integrated view of the work of our respective organizations—and from there seeking to harmonize better our outputs and align them with the internationally agreed development goals.

This broad strategic perspective informs DESA’s strategic framework. The programme has a wide scope, with the overall objective to promote sustained economic growth, poverty eradication, and sustainable development for all. We consider ourselves the steward of the UN Development Agenda and draw strategic direction from it. And we are thus determined to keep the implementation drive on track to deliver on the Agenda’s great promise for the development of all societies.

The interconnectedness of the many issues we confront demands an integrated approach, across economic, social, and environmental sectors and across normative, analytical, and operational dimensions. Our orientation also derives from the relationship between the UN’s development work and its two other major aims: peace and security, and human rights. We will thus continue to pay particular attention to the emerging interfaces between ECOSOC, the Peacebuilding Commission, and the Human Rights Council.

Now and into 2008-2009, the programme, especially through its Subprogramme 1, will concentrate on the exercise of ECOSOC’s two new functions. The Annual Ministerial Review could become the major global mechanism to strengthen accountability for international commitments to the development goals and thus for implementation of the development agenda by all partners. The Development Cooperation Forum will provide the first global platform where all actors have the opportunity to dialogue on the key policy issues affecting development cooperation, in all its forms: multilateral, North-South, and South-South. Both new functions could make a qualitative advance in the Council’s effectiveness as the central instrument for policy coordination and coherence within the UN system.

Reaping this potential will depend in each case on the production of high quality documentation, based on the latest and best available data. This renders the work of Subprogramme 5 on Statistics even more essential, with its objective to strengthen the global statistical system through the production of high quality statistical norms and standards, harmonization of development indicators, and assistance in building the capacity of developing countries to produce and share quality data on economic, social, demographic, and environmental issues.

Subprogramme 7 on Development policy and analysis will likewise play a key role in the exercise of ECOSOC’s new functions. The subprogramme fosters a unified UN view on the world economic outlook and its implications for the prospects of developing countries. It will also contribute support to the General Assembly and ECOSOC in identifying and understanding emerging economic issues important to achieving the development goals.

A crucial dimension in the implementation drive is our work on poverty eradication, to which our Subprogramme 3 on Social policy and development applies a comprehensive approach, covering poverty eradication, employment generation, and social inclusion, with particular attention to issues relating to older persons, persons with disabilities, family, youth, and indigenous peoples.

Subprogramme 2 will focus on the crosscutting issue of gender mainstreaming in all policies and programmes, from the global to the local level and within the UN system itself. Such mainstreaming was recognized by the World Summit as essential to achieving not only gender equality and the advancement of women but also the entire array of agreed development goals.

And Subprogramme 8 will seek to stimulate progress on crosscutting issues of governance and public administration important to integrated, effective implementation of the development goals, namely: post-conflict reconstruction of governance and public administration systems; participatory governance; capacity-building and promotion of professionalism and ethics in the public sector; and information and communications technology for development.

Yet another major component of the Summit-propelled implementation drive is the effort to achieve the global partnership for development set forth in the Millennium Declaration and at Monterrey and Johannesburg. This is the primary concern of two of our subprogrammes.

Subprogramme 10 on Financing for Development will take the lead in promoting effective multi-stakeholder monitoring and implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. It will place a particular focus on the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial, and trading systems in support of development—including by contributing to the Development Cooperation Forum and preparing a follow-up conference on financing for development.

Subprogramme 4 on Sustainable Development will spearhead support for the next cycle of the Commission on Sustainable Development, devoted to accelerating implementation in the areas of agriculture, rural development, drought, desertification, and Africa. It will also extend its work in building developing countries’ capacities to implement actions and national strategies for sustainable development in energy, water, and natural resources.

We will work to make the most of synergies between these efforts and those of Subprogramme 9 on Sustainable Forest Management. Under the renewed mandate of the UN Forum on Forests, we will support policy dialogue and facilitate the adoption and implementation of the non-legally binding instrument, support programme coordination through the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and facilitate evaluation of progress on sustainable forest management at all levels.

Finally, while the UN Development Agenda has given our Department and its various subprogrammes a clear unity of purpose, it has also proved flexible and versatile enough to accommodate and, indeed, encourage action on complex emerging issues that may defy easy definition, but nonetheless bear on development prospects.

The multisectoral issue of migration is an excellent example, being pursued through our Subprogramme 6 on Population as an increasingly significant dimension of development at the national and international levels. We expect that the outcome of the General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue on the subject may affect the subprogramme’s work in the next biennium, during which it will also continue its focus on issues of fertility, mortality, HIV/AIDS, urbanization, population growth, and population ageing.

Let me close by donning my EC-ESA cap once again. I hope that you have heard in my remarks here today how we are striving to improve coherence within EC-ESA and in our work with UNDG, seeking both to boost collaboration and exploit potentially powerful synergies among our departments and programmes. We see our Committee, in a way, as a Secretariat sister to the CPC, given our common concern for programmatic coordination on economic and social issues. In this spirit, we are very much looking forward to our dialogue with you on the strategic framework for the next biennium.