Addressing governance challenges for sustainable development

“We need institutions at all levels that are effective, transparent, accountable and democratic,” said Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General as he addressed the opening of the 13th session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA), noting that “this year’s theme, ‘transforming public administration for sustainable development’, is particularly timely.”

“The question of sustainable development is the subject of intense interest in the United Nations,” Mr. Wu continued, underscoring the significance of the Committee’s work in providing guidance to policy-makers and enabling them to address the complex challenges of sustainable development. Taking aim at this very topic, the 13th session of CEPA convened at UN Headquarters in New York on 7-11 April, gathering its twenty-four newly appointed members.

“Strong institutions and good governance are now recognized by the international community as a catalyst for sustainable development,” stated Mr. Martin Sajdik, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in his opening remarks.  He further underscored the critical role of governance “to achieve social and economic development, environmental sustainability, peace and security”. Mr. Sajdik also highlighted the potential of technological advancement and innovation to transform public governance.

“Government leaders have affirmed that to achieve sustainable development, good governance, peace and security, respect for human rights, and rule of law are essential […] But what does this mean in practice?”, Mr. Wu said, highlighting crucial signposts from the Rio+20 outcome document agreed upon by all Member States including participation, access to information, public-private partnership, well-functioning institutions and combatting corruption.

Mr. Wu also expressed his expectations on action-oriented, concise and consensus-based advice provided by this Committee for ECOSOC to follow up on, “for governments at all levels of development and in all regions, whatever their particular circumstances, public administration concerns are fundamentally practical in nature,” he said.

For this meeting, CEPA had identified three pressing issues for consideration during plenary sessions and group discussions: strengthening national and local capacities for sustainable development management; promoting leadership, innovation and risk management for sustainable development; and invigorating the professionalism and morale of the public service.

“If we are going to deliver on the sustainable development agenda, we need to nurture and we need to motivate public servants, because they are integral in terms of delivery and in terms of success,” said Ms. Odette Ramsingh, one of the Committee Members and a Group Human Resources Executive from South Africa.

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