Transforming public administration for sustainable development

The 13th session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 7 to 11 April. The newly appointed twenty-four CEPA members will hold discussions on the theme of transforming public administration for sustainable development.

Good governance, underpinned by well-functioning public administration, is the cornerstone of present and future sustainable development. At the 12th session of CEPA last year, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo highlighted the crucial role of public administration in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post 2015 development agenda, acknowledging “the significant task of public administration, which is vital for sustainable development.”

Considering the importance of public administration in the creation of a favorable environment to foster economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection – the three pillars of sustainable development, which the MDGs embody, reinventing and reforming public administration is a positive and necessary way forward.

Established by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in its resolution 2001/45, CEPA is responsible for supporting the work of ECOSOC concerning the promotion and development of public administration and governance among Member States. Since its conversion from a Group into a full-fledged Committee, CEPA has been meeting annually to deliberate on current and emerging public administration issues related to the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals (IADGs), including the MDGs.

The 13th session will witness the first meeting of the 24 members of the Committee appointed by ECOSOC for the period 2014-2017 upon their nomination by the Secretary-General as outlined in the ECOSOC resolution E/2013/9/Add.13. Discussions will be held under the sub-themes of a) strengthening national and local capacities for sustainable development management; b) promoting leadership, innovation and risk management; and (c) invigorating the professionalism and morale of the public service.

To enrich the discussion, UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) invited observers of CEPA to send their input on the main theme of the meeting which will be uploaded online and made available to the public. The inputs will be compiled and made available to the Committee for its consideration during its deliberation.

Strengthening capacities, promoting leadership, and invigorating public service

Experts on public administration will gather from 24 countries to participate in this session.  Members of the Committee will present papers on the above-mentioned different sub-themes for discussion. On the basis of the parameters set out in these papers, the Committee will discuss and present conclusions and recommendations related to the transformation of public governance and public administration in supporting sustainable development.

Dr. Najat Zarrouk will present a paper on the theme of strengthening national and local capacities for sustainable development management. Her paper will address progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, residual challenges and governance deficits and transforming governance to allow it to serve the interests of sustainable development as well as defining a new vision for capacity development, which are now urgent imperatives at both the national and local levels for sustainable development management.

The paper by Ambassador Walter Fust will explore the transformation in public administration and public leadership that needs to be undertaken to enable Governments to pursue and achieve sustainable development. In this paper, the leadership of public administration is called upon to adopt risk management practices and develop appropriate capacities to assess, measure and manage risk.

Ms. Odette R. Ramsingh, will present a paper on the impact of the reform on public service and public servants as the stewards of the development goals, and the challenges and issues that the reform has wrought on professionalism of the public service with special reference to Africa. Additionally, her presentation will draw lessons from the reform periods and the Millennium Development Goals to explore whether public servants have the requisite ethos, behavioural pattern and motivation to successfully deliver on the sustainable development agenda.

Reviewing the UN Programme in Public Administration and Finance

In addition to engaging in dynamic discussions on transforming public administration for sustainable development, the Committee will also review the report submitted by the Secretariat on the activities implemented in 2013 and those proposed for implementation in the biennium 2014-2015 under the United Nations Programme in Public Administration and Finance.

Recommendations will be made to the Secretariat to assist Member States in addressing concerns of global importance, and in becoming aware of emerging issues related to public governance and administration and its role in supporting sustainable development.

CEPA — “Going Green”

Since the 11th session of CEPA, DPADM has partnered with the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) through the Integrated Sustainable PaperSmart Services (ISPS) Secretariat to strategically utilize information technology in servicing delegates with varied methods of accessing documentation.

Delegates attending the 13th Session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration will be able to download documents to their mobile devices/tablets by the use of QR codes. The ISPS Media can make documents also available via flash-drives. Additionally, the ISPS Print-on-demand will provide hard copies upon request.

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