More from UNDESA Vol 22, No. 01 - January 2018

Boost in global economy offers opportunities to tackle deep rooted development issues

An upturn in the global economy—now growing by about 3 per cent—paves the way to reorient policy towards longer-term issues such as addressing climate change, tackling existing inequalities and removing institutional obstacles to development, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2018, launched on 11 December in New York.

“The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018 demonstrates that current macroeconomic conditions offer policy-makers greater scope to address some of the deep-rooted issues that continue to hamper progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the Foreword.

According to the report, in 2017, world economic growth has reached 3 per cent—the highest growth since 2011—as crisis-related fragilities and the adverse effects of other recent shocks subside. The improvement is widespread, with roughly two-thirds of countries worldwide experiencing stronger growth in 2017 than in the previous year. Global growth is expected to remain steady at 3.0 per cent in 2018 and 2019.

Launching the report, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin noted: “While the upturn in global growth is a welcome sign of a healthier economy, it is important to remember that this may come at an environmental cost. This calls for stronger efforts to delink economic growth and environmental degradation—as also emphasized by the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn last month.”

The recent pickup in global growth, the report states, stems predominantly from firmer growth in several developed economies, although East and South Asia remain the world most dynamic regions. In 2017, East and South Asia accounted for nearly half of global growth, with China alone contributing about one-third. The end of recessions in Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and the Russian Federation also contributed to the rise in the rate of global growth between 2016 and 2017. The upturn has been supported by a rebound in world trade and an improvement in investment conditions. The challenge is to channel this into a sustained acceleration in productive investment to support medium-term prospects.

Despite the improved short-term outlook, the global economy continues to face risks—including changes in trade policy, a sudden deterioration in global financial conditions and rising geopolitical tensions.

The world economy also faces longer-term challenges. The report highlights four areas where the improved macroeconomic situation opens the way for policy to address these challenges: increasing economic diversification, reducing inequality, supporting long-term investment and tackling institutional deficiencies. The report notes that reorienting policy to address these challenges can generate stronger investment and productivity, higher job creation and more sustainable medium-term economic growth.

Inclusive Growth

The recent improvements in economic conditions, however, have been unevenly distributed across countries and regions. Negligible growth in per capita income is expected in several parts of Africa, Western Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017–2019. The impacted regions combined are home to 275 million people living in extreme poverty, underscoring the urgent need to foster an environment that will both accelerate medium-term growth prospects and tackle poverty through policies that address inequalities in income and opportunity.

The report found that very few least developed countries (LDCs) are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for GDP growth of “at least 7 per cent” in the near term (SDG 8.1). Advances towards sustainable development in this group of countries continue to be hindered by institutional deficiencies, inadequate basic infrastructure, high levels of exposure to natural disasters, as well as challenges to security and political instability. In addition to mobilizing the financial resources to meet the investment needs in the LDCs, policies must also focus on conflict prevention and removing barriers that continue to hinder more rapid progress.

Environmental sustainability

Preliminary estimates suggest that the level of global energy-related CO2 emissions increased in 2017 after remaining flat for three consecutive years. The frequency of weather-related shocks continues to increase, also highlighting the urgent need to build resilience against climate change and prioritize environmental protection. Policies that target international shipping and aviation emissions—which do not fall under the purview of the Paris Agreement—need to be strengthened, as emissions from these sectors continue to grow faster than those from road transport.

Addressing financial challenges

Many developing economies and economies in transition remain vulnerable to spikes in risk aversion, sudden capital withdrawal and an abrupt tightening of global liquidity conditions, while rising debt poses global financial challenges. The report suggests that a new financial framework for sustainable finance should be created in alignment with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda that would shift the focus from short term profit to long term value creation. Regulatory policies for the financial system, well-coordinated with monetary, fiscal and foreign exchange policies, should support this framework, by promoting a stable global financial environment.

About the report: The World Economic Situation and Prospects report is the UN’s flagship publication on expected trends in the global economy. WESP is produced annually by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in collaboration with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the five UN regional commissions and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

For more information: World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018

First international forum on migration statistics to kick off

UN DESA, represented by the Statistics Division and the Population Division, OECD and IOM are organizing the first ever International Forum on Migration Statistics on 15 and 16 January 2018, in Paris, France. The event brings together all producers, analysts and users of migration statistics, creating a community of interest centred around migration measurement issues. It is expected that 300 participants will gather for the Forum, which will be supported by partner organizations, including Eurostat, ILO, UNECE, UNHCR, UNODC and the World Bank.

The Forum is organised to review best practices in collecting, compiling and disseminating statistics on international migration to fulfil policy needs and is organised around the following five themes: (i) migration measurement, (ii) innovation and synthesis of data sources, (iii) understanding migration through data, (iv) capacity building, and (v) cooperation and data governance.

The sessions on the last two themes will directly address the gaps and needs for capacity building and international cooperation, which could be extremely useful in considering the future directions of capacity building activities by the international community in the area of statistics.

The Forum will be attended by people from a wide range of disciplines – such as political science, economics, demography, development, geospatial science, sociology, statistics, and information technology – that can contribute to improve global understanding of the migration phenomenon.

The Forum directly contributes to enhance national capacities for improving the availability and quality data on international migration. It aims at providing statisticians and migration data experts with advanced knowledge and understanding of global and regional policy needs for migration statistics through speeches delivered by eminent persons who leads the discussion on migration at the global level. The Forum will also enhance the exchange of information, promote mutual learning and facilitate cooperation among data experts and other stakeholders.

For more Information:

International Forum on Migration Statistics 2018

2017/2018 DCF Survey supports developing countries to assess how effectively their development cooperation works for them

In uncertain yet uplifting times, with the transformative ambition of the global sustainable development agenda, there is heightened demand for reality-based and results-focused discussion on development cooperation.

In December, UN-DESA launched the 5th Development Cooperation Forum Global Accountability Survey. Since 2008, these biennial surveys have provided evidence on the state of play in development cooperation on the ground.

The DCF Survey supports developing countries to structure their assessment of how effectively their development cooperation works, and why, by focusing on key enablers.

National policies that clarify a country’s priorities, commitments and activities in development cooperation, complemented by measurable targets, including for partners, help identify outcomes and impact. Tracking of progress and mutual learning is further advanced by platforms engaging the different stakeholders in meaningful discussions. These enablers work in tandem with others, like information systems that document a country’s development cooperation in a timely and accurate way.

Ministries of Planning and Finance from developing country governments are invited to participate in the Survey, and to consult with line ministries, domestic stakeholders and external partners in preparing their responses.

Beyond the “effectiveness agenda”, the DCF Survey covers key issues in the SDG era, such as supporting integrated approaches, addressing inequalities and mobilizing the private sector.

Through the Survey, the realities and concerns of developing countries are tangibly brought into the decision making of the United Nations and other platforms. The confidential responses feed into key processes, including the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development.

Survey findings will inform the 2018 Development Cooperation Forum to take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 21-22 May. Convened by ECOSOC, the DCF is the principal platform for global policy dialogue on international development cooperation, open to all Member States and engaging all stakeholders.

For more information: DCF Survey

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