Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the National Preparatory Workshop For The 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review
Astana, Kazakhstan, 17 April 2008

Delivered by Mr. Navid Hanif, Chief, Policy Coordination Branch, Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate the government of Kazakhstan on volunteering for a National Voluntary Presentation at the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review in July. I am honoured that you invited me to contribute towards the workshop, which marks an important step in the preparation of your presentation. Before I share my views on how Kazakhstan could best benefit from the presentation, allow me to provide a brief background on the Annual Ministerial Review.

At the turn of the Millennium, by adopting the Millennium Declaration, world leaders committed themselves to an ambitious, yet achievable development agenda. The Millennium Declaration marked a distillation of some of the key elements of the outcomes of the UN conferences and summits of the 1990s, including a number of time-bound targets. When world leaders came together again during the 2005 World Summit to assess progress, it became apparent that, five years into the new millennium, the world was off track to meet the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, by the 2015 target date.

To close this implementation gap, world leaders mandated ECOSOC to hold an Annual Ministerial Review (AMR). The Reviews aim to accelerate implementation by:

  • strengthening accountability for commitments to achieve agreed development goals;
  • providing a forum for Review and Renewal of commitments; and
  • mobilizing and maintaining the momentum to achieve the development goals, including the MDGs.

National presentations are at the heart of the AMR. By bringing country experiences and perspectives to the Council’s high-level segment, the presentations have allowed the Council to engage in a much more specific and hands-on debate on how to address key obstacles to implementation. Following the successful first round of presentations last year, expectations for the 2008 National Voluntary Presentations are high. With Chile, Lao PDR and Tanzania volunteering alongside Kazakhstan, the national presentations will feature developing countries facing a diverse set of challenges. On the donor side, they will be joined by Belgium, Finland, Luxemburg and the United Kingdom, who will give an account of their efforts to advance the United Nations development agenda. With this interesting mix of countries, we are confident that the national presentations will once again spark a very rich discussion and lead to some concrete initiatives.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Given the purpose of the AMR, a successful national presentation is one that ultimately facilitates implementation. This preparatory workshop provides Kazakhstan an opportunity to:

  • assess the progress or lack thereof towards the achievement of the United Nations development agenda, made up of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs;
  • identify policies and measures that you would like to be scaled up;
  • discuss the kind of concrete assistance that you would like to solicit from the UN membership and the UN system during the Annual Ministerial Review.
  • You have already identified education, sustainable development and the reduction of poverty as focus areas for your national presentation. In these areas, your progress towards the MDGs and the internationally agreed development goals has been mixed. While there have been some laudable achievements in these areas, there is a need to address some of the challenges which Kazakhstan is facing on sustainable development and in equally spreading the benefits of economic growth. During the meeting, you will have the opportunity to identify both policies or measures that have already proven successful and that you would like to be scaled-up, and areas where course correction or additional assistance from the international community is needed.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Volunteering for the national presentations will require not only thorough preparations but also effective follow-up. UNDESA hopes that the national voluntary presentation will, over time, develop into a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating implementation and ensuring that challenges faced by countries in achieving the internationally agreed development goals are addressed effectively. This vision of the Annual Ministerial Review was shared by many participants during the AMR Global Preparatory Meeting, which was held in March 2008 in New York.

    Given the importance of proper follow-up, I would like to encourage you from early on to start looking beyond the July presentation and to consider how your continued engagement with the Council could assist implementation. At the AMR Global Preparatory Meeting, several proposals for country engagement beyond the presentations were discussed. Among them is the creation of an AMR Alumni network to share experiences. Another option discussed was providing volunteering countries with the opportunity to address the ECOSOC’s coordination or operational activities segment on the progress made in implementation three or four years after the presentation.

    To facilitate further sharing of lessons learned from past Reviews, UNDESA will launch a web-site and database on “policies that work”. The website, which is currently under development, will provide access to a network of global partners/experts to support governments in assessing the implementation of their national development strategies. These will include experts from governments, NGOs, the private sector and academic and research institutions in both developed and developing countries.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    By holding this workshop, Kazakhstan is taking the first step towards making the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC and its National Voluntary Presentations a success. I wish you a truly stimulating process of dialogue, debate and participation of all stakeholders who are engaged in the country’s development process. And, I promise you UNDESA’s unwavering support in your efforts.