Volume 17, No.08 - August 2013

Global dialogue on development

The importance of honouring treaties

UN-Photo/Devra BerkowitzThe International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will take place on 9 August in New York. The theme will be “Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements”.

An interactive dialogue will take place on Friday, 9 August at 3:00 pm,  in Conference Room 1 of the UN Headquarters.  The event will feature remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo and Paul Kanyinke Sena, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The commemoration aims at emphasizing the importance of honouring treaties and agreements, as frameworks for them living in proximity and entering into peaceful and constructive relationships.

The panel members will address the following key issues:

1)   The importance of honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and indigenous peoples;

2)   The importance of living up to the terms of the agreements, as instruments outlining a political vision of different sovereign peoples living together in friendship, cooperation and peace on the same land;

3)   The central role of the recognition and implementation of the principle of development with culture and identity, characterized by inter-culturality and environmental sustainability for enhancing holistic visions of harmony between human being and with nature, in recognition of the spiritual, cultural and historic relationship between indigenous peoples and their lands and natural resources;

4)   The impact of initiatives at grassroots level to revive the shared history and the commitment of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to live together in friendship, peace and coexistence, and the influence on Governments to live up to such commitments;

5)   The importance of strengthening partnerships and building alliances between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples towards the achievement of common goals, for example respecting values such as buen vivir, which can be universally applicable as a step towards developing other options such as  treaties, agreements, or other constructive arrangements. The notion of buen vivir The concepts of sumac kawsay in Kichwa, suma qamaña in Aymara, and buen vivir (living well) in Spanish have been endorsed in the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador and they point out the relevance of culture for life and of living together in security and peace. (living-well) means more than just multi-culturality – a simple coexistence or juxtaposition of different cultures. It introduces the concept of inter-culturality, whereby different cultures interact in dialogue and in practice for the promotion of an alternative development in which the objectives of economic growth make way for considerations of wellbeing of the individual in the social context of a community and in a unique environmental situation.

Videos on local experiences of cooperation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples will be screened during the event.

In recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva in 1982, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994.

The event will be broadcast live via UN Webcast starting at 3:00 pm EST (TBC). Please follow us on  Twitter:

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Every development success has drawn from innovating

Photo: ITUGathering world leaders and UN agencies and holding a record number of side events, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has worked hard for the past month focusing on some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. The Council’s Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) focused on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”


High-level Segment (1-4 July) – A need for innovation to advance on MDGs

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Néstor Osorio, Permanent Representative of Colombia, in welcoming numerous ministers, high-level government officials, prominent innovators from academia, civil society and the private sector, as well as UN system partners, to the Council’s High-level segment taking place in Geneva on 1-4 July.

Delivering his opening remarks as a contribution to the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”, the Secretary-General said, “Every development success has drawn in large measure from absorbing knowledge, technology and ideas and adapting them to local conditions… In other words, by innovating”.  He continued by pointing to the need for innovation to drive a two-pronged approach to progress within the UN development system, recognizing the need for advancement on the Millennium Development Goals, while simultaneously laying the foundation for the post-2015 development agenda.

This year’s high-level segment reinforced the role of ECOSOC as a key platform for countries and development partners to discuss, review and make recommendations on policies for overcoming the key sustainability challenges of our time.   National voluntary presentations were given by four countries—France, Nigeria, Peru and Viet Nam—offering country-based information on success factors in working to embed science, technology, innovation and culture into national development strategies.

The launch of the Global Innovation Index (GII)—presented jointly by its co-authors the World Intellectual Property Organization, INSEAD and Cornell University—and organization of the ECOSOC Innovation Fair contributed to the international dimension of the theme and deliberations.  Both events presented tangible proof of the importance of international collaboration and partnerships in driving innovation, as well as the links between policymaking, norms and evidence-based decision-making.

During this year’s High-level segment, the Council introduced an innovation in its working methods, through the inclusion of a session called the Implementation Forum.  The Forum served as a space for the announcement of concrete initiatives, as well as brainstorming around future areas of collaboration for the Council and its key stakeholders, such as the promotion of online educational resources and better linkages between youth and global science initiatives.

The High-level segment concluded with the Thematic debate, which focused on the fulfilment of ECOSOC’s mandate in relation to shaping the post-2015 development agenda and integrating the three pillars of sustainable development.  In addition to the outputs provided by the aforementioned components of the segment, several crucial priorities for ECOSOC’s attention were mentioned, including rising inequality, off-track MDGs and building a sustainable future.

The adoption of the Ministerial Declaration remains pending due to lack of agreement on language regarding the right to self-determination of people living under foreign occupation. Apart from this, the Declaration reflects consensus on many issues concerning the importance of science, technology, innovation and culture as potential solutions to many global development challenges.

High-level Symposium on the Future of Development Cooperation

The Government of Switzerland and UNDESA publicly launched preparations for the DCF Switzerland High-level Symposium on the future of developmment cooperation, with an informal lunch side-event during the High-level Segment of ECOSOC.

The Switzerland Symposium will be an important milestone in bringing the development cooperation and sustainable development tracks together, into a unified and universal global development agenda. It will take place on 24-25 October in Montreux, with a focus on  “Development cooperation in a post-2015 era: Moving towards equitable and sustainable development for all”.

At the side-event, Mr. Martin Dahinden, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, outlined the next steps on the way to the meeting and noted that it should support reaching greater clarity on the future shape of development cooperation and identify key priority areas to focus on in the run-up to 2015.

H.E. Mr. Minelik Alemu Getahun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, brought to the discussions the key messages of the recent DCF Ethiopia High-level Symposium, on how a renewed global partnership for development could work in practice.

The side event also featured presentations by from Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Mr. Jose Antonio Alonso, Professor of Applied Economics, Computense University, and member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy, Mr. Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General, European Commission, Directorate General for Development and Cooperation, EuropeAid, European Commission, Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Assistant Administrator and Director, UNDP Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy (BERA) and Mr. Jonathan Glennie, Research Fellow, Centre for Aid and Pubic Expenditure, Overseas Development Institute.

During the interactive discussion participants outlined that the upcoming Symposium could explore structural issues and questions of policy coherence between development policy and policies directly impacting development progress. Other key messages echoed the claim for the universality of goals in a post-2015 development agenda and to focus on the unfinished business of the MDGs. Transformative change will have to be promoted to be able to place the world on a more sustainable and equitable path, translating also to the means of implementation of the agenda.

Coordination Segment (5-9 July) – Decent work for all

The Coordination Segment of ECOSOC, that took place from 5 to 9 July, reminded us that today’s challenges require the United Nations system to work in a more coordinated and coherent manner to increase the impact of its work. The Council focused on the implementation of the 2012 Ministerial Declaration on “Promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals”, including through two panel discussions. The Segment highlighted ways in which United Nations inter-agency collaboration and partnerships with other stakeholders, including the private sector, promote productive capacity, employment and decent work. Discussions on the use of human rights instruments and ILO standards and recommendations to achieve decent work for all demonstrated that our challenge is not just about creating jobs. It is about creating decent work for all and applying the rule of law in the economic and business spheres to protect the rights of individuals.

The Segment also focused on Financing for Development, including through a panel on financing for sustainable development. The panel explored options for a coherent strategy for financing sustainable development in the context of Financing for Development follow-up process, implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and in support of accelerating progress towards the achievement of the MDGs and advancing the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

The Segment provided an opportunity to have a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions on the regional perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda. The key activities of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination in 2012 to enhance coherence and coordination on policy, operational and management issues of system wide concern were also discussed.   

Operational Activities Segment (10-12 July) – QCPR implementation

The 2013 Operational Activities Segment, held from 10 to 12 July in Geneva was the first since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 67/226, known as the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR). The Segment aimed to assess the progress in and provide further guidance for the implementation of the landmark QCPR resolution. The Council was in particular expected to review the framework to monitor QCPR implementation and consider several policy documents, for example, on independent system-wide evaluation, a new funding modality for the RC system as well as the modalities to approve common country programme documents at country level.

The Segment featured the most significant representation of senior policy makers from capitals in the recent past. 12 countries were represented by ministers and Director-Generals in charge of finance, development planning and development cooperation, which helped to ensure that ECOSOC deliberations were grounded in country-level realities.

Member States engaged in a dialogue on a range of issues relating to QCPR implementation as well as the future role of the UN system. Several key messages emerged from the deliberations.

Firstly, the development context is changing and so must the UN development system. Addressing issues such as access to modern energy services, demographic change, inequality and youth employment is high on the agenda of every government. This changing nature of development challenges warrants serious reflection on what should be the role of the Organization in the new development environment.

Secondly, moving upstream, or in other words, shifting from being primarily a project-based organization to one that is focused on strengthening the capacity of national institutions, is another high priority on the agenda of the UN development system.

Thirdly, while the attention of Member States and the UN system is increasingly shifting towards the post-2015 development agenda, any unfinished business of the MDGs must be completed. In line with the QCPR, poverty reduction should therefore remain a core task of the UN development system.

Fourthly, as development challenges become increasingly global and interconnected, the principle of system-wide coherence should provide the overall direction for reform of the UN development system.

And, fifthly, Member States need to ensure that decision-making processes in capitals work, in a coordinated manner, to advance QCPR implementation. It is particularly important in this regard to ensure that the specialized agencies approach the implementation of the QCPR with the same level of commitment as the funds and programmes.

The dialogue with the Executive Heads of the funds and programmes also revealed that the UN development system has taken a number of steps to implement the QCPR resolution.

While noting progress made in the early implementation of the QCPR resolution, Member States also called for stepped-up action in several areas, including: strengthening of national institutions and capacities; simplification and harmonization of business practices; simplification and harmonization of country programming documents of UN entities and the UNDAF; full implementation of the delivering-as-one approach; improved reporting on financial expenditures at the country level; a streamlined and harmonized system for results reporting by UN entities, with a view to enable effective reporting on the results of the system as a whole at the country level; furthering of joint resources mobilization to reduce unnecessary competition for funds at the country level; and strengthening of the role of the UN resident coordinator.

The Council noted that the quality, relevance and vision of the QCPR resolution do not guarantee its implementation. Indicators, targets and effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are an integral part of the QCPR implementation process. The monitoring framework, underpinned by the analytical work of DESA, will be further refined to ensure that it is comprehensive and evidence-based, while also cost-efficient.

The Segment concluded with the adoption of a resolution, which called for strengthening the role of ECOSOC in monitoring QCPR implementation.

Humanitarian Affairs Segment (15-17 July) – A resolution to reaffirms the importance of access

“The future of humanitarian affairs: towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability and effectiveness.” was the theme of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) on 15-17 July. The objective of this year’s HAS was to look forward to how humanitarian actors – as the UN, governments, the private sector, affected communities, and other new partners – can collectively adapt and better respond to the changing humanitarian landscape. Over these three days, this topic was discussed in various fora: two high-level panels, a general debate, a record number of side-events and the first humanitarian trade fair.

This year expanded the number of side-events, with 20 of them focusing on themes such as resilience, preparedness, capacity building, innovation, financing, humanitarian aid effectiveness, and how to improve response in conflict settings. The new addition of the humanitarian trade fair helped to raise awareness and knowledge of what humanitarian innovation can look like, and demonstrate what each actor can contribute to improving humanitarian preparedness and response. Side-events and booths were organized by various partners ranging from governments, UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement to the private sector, civil society and the volunteer tech community.

The main outcome of the HAS was the adoption by consensus of a resolution which reaffirms the importance of access, introduces new language on protection and condemns attacks on medical personnel, vehicles and facilities. This resolution also recognizes the crucial role of women in decision-making and the importance of education in emergencies for girls and boys. Member States acknowledged the Secretary-General’s initiative for a World Humanitarian Summit, noting that it provided an opportunity to improve the coordination, capacity and effectiveness of humanitarian response.  

One of the objectives of this year’s HAS was to ensure the voices of people affected by crisis were heard and that the innovative work being done by communities themselves was showcased. This was particularly successful in the two high-level panels, organized by OCHA, where representatives of communities affected by crises joined panelists from governments, UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and academia. Chaired by the ECOSOC Vice-President, Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan, and moderated by Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, these high-level panels were held on two themes: “reducing vulnerability and managing risk” and “promoting humanitarian innovation for improved response”.

Key highlights of the panel on reducing vulnerability and managing risk included the presentation by Pak Sukiman from the Jalin Merapi on his community’s initiative to use social media and radio to develop an early warning and response system for the Merapi volcano. Muhammad Idrees, from Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency, also gave a compelling case for multi-hazard risk analysis and improved joint planning, and shared concrete experiences on how Pakistan has moved towards a more proactive risk management approach. Claus Sorensen from ECHO and Dr. Nick Bostrom from Oxford University contributed to this discussion highlighting the need to continue to reorient the humanitarian efforts around managing the risks of humanitarian crises, rather than simply responding to their impact, an effort that will require the humanitarian and development actors to work more closely together, with governments and local communities.

During the innovation panel, Mohamed Osman, Managing Director of Star FM (radio station that broadcasts humanitarian information programs to Somali refugees), presented on the importance of communication and information with people affected by crisis and demonstrated the positive agents of change that people can be in their own communities, using innovation such as social media and radio. A live feed with young Somali refugees training to be journalists in Dadaab Camp shared their experiences with using media as a tool to improve humanitarian response in their community. Elisabeth Rasmusson from WFP and Wendy Harman from the American Red Cross also sent a clear message that the humanitarian community needs to foster a culture that recognizes and supports innovation within the humanitarian sector and promote more exchange of ideas and better partnership with governments and the private sector.

General Segment (18-25 July) – South Soudan and Haiti

The Council’s General Segment took place from 17 to 25 July.  The Council reviewed the work of its subsidiary bodies and, in addition to the texts contained in their reports, adopted 16 stand alone resolutions on a wide range of development issues.

In addition to official consideration of these reports, several panel discussions were organized in cooperation with UN entities, which increased substantive interest to and visibility of the segment.  For example, an exchange of views was organized with Prof. Jose Antonio Ocampo and Prof. Stephan Klasen, also a member of the Committee on Development Policy on the post 2015 development agenda.  A special panel enabled the Council to focus on the work of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the relevance of their work also in the post 2015 context.  In addition, a panel discussion on the implementation of the UN system wide action on gender equality and the advancement of women (SWAP), featured representatives of UN Women, OHCHR, ILO and UNV.

On the connection between peace and development, the Council reviewed the situation in South Sudan and debated lessons learnt from peacebuilding experiences that could be relevant to the country’s development process.  The Council also considered the report of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, which highlighted tangible progress made in the country and presented recommendations for further progress in aid effectiveness (document E/2013/91).  The mandate of the Group was extended for another year.  The economic and social situation and assistance to the Palestinian people, including Palestinian Women, was also addressed by the Council.

As mandated by Rio+20, the 10 Year Framework Programme for Sustainable Production and Consumption, whose secretariat is hosted by UNEP, reported to the Council during a special panel that featured the Minister of Environment of Indonesia as well as high level representatives from Switzerland and South Africa (for information on progress made in the implementation of  the 10 YFP, see E/2013/CRP.3).

Among the numerous decisions taken, the deferred consideration of the graduation of Tuvalu from the list LDCs to 2015, after the CPD reviewed it another time, or the change of mandate of the UN task force on tobacco control, to which UN DESA is a member, into a task force on non communicable diseases, which continues to be serviced by WHO, received particular attention.  The Council also adopted resolutions on the work of UNAIDS, UN Habitat as well as UN research and training entities, among others.

High-level Segment:
DCF Switzerland High-level Symposium:
Coordination Segment:
Operational Activities Segment:
Humanitarian Affairs Segment:
General Segment:


A High-level Political Forum to boost sustainable development

UN Photo/Shareef SarhanOn 9 July, UN Member States, through the General Assembly, established a new High-Level Political Forum to boost efforts to achieve global sustainable development.

The new High-Level Political Forum aims at improving people’s economic and social well-being while protecting the environment. The decision by the General Assembly follows up on a key recommendation of ‘The Future We Want’, the outcome document of last year’s Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro.

The Forum will convene annually at the ministerial level under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and every four years, it will bring together Heads of State to provide added momentum for sustainable development.

“Establishing the Forum marks a major step forward in implementing ‘The Future We Want’”, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Forum can provide the political leadership and action-oriented recommendations we need to follow up on all the Rio recommendations and meet urgent global economic, social and environmental challenges. Countries must do their utmost to realize the Forum’s potential.”

“We are simply not doing enough to meet the fundamental challenges of our time: to end extreme poverty in this generation and significantly narrow the global gap between rich and poor, without inflicting irreparable damage to the environmental basis for our survival,” said UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić. “The new Forum must be more than just a meeting place—it must be the place where countries and civil society generate the momentum for change.”

“This is a great opportunity to advance the sustainable development agenda”, said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “There is so much that we need to do in concert—to accelerate action on the Millennium Development Goals, to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity, to ensure that everyone has a chance for a better life, while addressing important environmental challenges that threaten progress, such as climate change and biodiversity loss and developing a new set of sustainable development goals.”

The High-Level Political Forum will replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission, formed after the 1992 Earth Summit, helped generate action on a range of issues that led to international agreements or treaties. The Commission was also in the forefront in promoting the involvement of civil society in its work. However, governments and civil society actors came to share a belief that a higher-profile body was needed to guide sustainable development towards the Future We Want.

The Forum will review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental – focus on themes consistent with the post – 2015 development agenda and ensure that new sustainable development challenges are properly addressed.

The General Assembly resolution stresses the need to enhance the role and participation of major groups of society and other stakeholders, while retaining the intergovernmental character of the forum. The first meeting of the Forum will be held in September, during the Assembly’s forthcoming 68th session.

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