Volume 19, No.03 - March 2015

Global dialogue on development

Including persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction efforts

During the past decade, the world has witnessed an increase in the number of major disasters, such as the Asian tsunami in 2004, the Haitian earthquake in 2010, the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and hurricane Sandy in the United States 2012. Persons with disabilities are disproportionally affected by conflict, disasters and other emergency situations. The Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (3WCDRR) taking place in Japan on 14-18 March, will address this issue.

Different populations, when exposed to similar risks of disasters and emergency situations, are affected in different ways. Factors such as poverty, social status, geographical location and access to mitigation and relief resources, influence the impact of disasters on each individual.

With early warning systems for disasters often not adapted to their specific needs, people with disabilities are especially at risk, resulting in a mortality rate two to four times higher than that of the non-disabled population, in many disaster situations.

Often overlooked, people with disabilities are a unique resource of knowledge and experience, essential to help reduce the risk of disasters and build resilient societies and communities. A barrier-free environment helps to ensure full and equal participation in society by all, regardless of age, gender or ability.

To ensure the integration of persons with disabilities in the development of a global framework for disaster risk reduction, UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development Division (DSPD) is working along with all stakeholders, including governments, UN system organizations, academics, the private sector, civil society organizations, and persons with disabilities and their organizations.

Based on the first global framework on disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) which concludes in 2015, the international community is moving forward with a post-2015 international framework on disaster risk reduction (HFA2) that will be adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (3WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, on 14-18 March. This framework will guide and support global efforts at all levels to build nations and communities that are resilient to disasters.

“Globally, over 1 billion people or 15 percent of the world’s population live with some form of disability,” Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said in a statement on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in December last year. “Available data indicates that persons with disabilities experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and face exclusion and lack of equitable access to resources such as education, employment, health care and legal and social support systems.”

At 3WCDRR, the world will consolidate their expertise and efforts to adopt an agreement on a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction. But while international efforts are being made to create more resilient communities, a gap between the inclusion of persons with disabilities and the rest of society persists.

Also at 3WCDRR, DSPD will organize a public forum event entitled “Taking action toward a disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction framework and its implementation”. At the Forum, stakeholders will conduct a review and assessment of existing policies and programmes, as well as the progress made and lessons learned for the advancement of disability inclusive disaster risk reduction at local, national, regional and international levels, drawing out concrete recommendations for the implementation of HFA2.

“A huge tsunami is coming in a minute, how do I know it is coming?” Akiko Fukuda, Secretary-General of the World Federation of the Deafblind asked delegates at a press conference in New York last December, illustrating the shortcomings of early warning signals that are broadcasts via mainstream and often inaccessible media such as television, radio or the internet. “I want to hear someone say ‘You are not alone’”, she added.

Institutional mechanisms and innovative technology have given policymakers more possibilities than ever before to include those with a disability in disaster risk reduction efforts. It is vital to ensure that these possibilities are fully developed and that persons with disabilities are included in both the design and implementation of future policy frameworks.

DSPD continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure that inclusive disaster risk reduction is prominently placed on the agenda in Sendai, and to remind governments, policymakers, civil society and the private sector that the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of disaster risk reduction efforts can save lives.

For more information: Realizing a disability-inclusive post-2015 disaster risk reduction strategy


Strengthening accountability for sustainable development

Least developed countries CDP NewsletterThe 17th plenary session of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will be held on 23-27 March at UN Headquarters in New York.

During the five days, the CDP members will examine the following themes; (i) strengthening accountability for sustainable development in the post-2015 era; (ii) CDP’s contribution to the mid-term review of the Istanbul Plan of Action; (iii) the 2015 triennial review of the least developed country category; (iv) monitoring of countries graduated and graduating from the LDC category; and (v) fine-tuning of the human asset index. The Committee plans to organize a lunch-time briefing on the first theme, strengthening accountability for sustainable development in the post-2015 era, on 24 March 2015.

The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. CDP provides inputs and independent advice to the Council on emerging cross-sectoral development issues and on international cooperation for development, focusing on medium- and long-term aspects. The Committee is also responsible for reviewing the status of least developed countries (LDCs) and for monitoring their progress after graduation from the category.

The 24 members of the Committee are nominated by the United Nations Secretary-General in their personal capacity, and are appointed by the Council for a period of three years. Membership is geared to reflect a wide range of development experience as well as geographical and gender balance.

For more information: The Committee for Development Policy


New US $1 million UN Grant for leadership and innovation in sustainable energy

grant pic right newsletterA new programme that will offer US $1 million to institutions or individuals that have demonstrated leadership and innovation in energy for sustainable development was launched today by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with funding support from the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a Hong Kong-based NGO.

The new grant programme “Powering the Future We Want – Recognizing Leadership and Innovative Practices in Energy for Sustainable Development,” will provide US $1 million to grant recipients every year. Potential recipients will be expected to apply the funds to capacity building that will replicate and scale up their successful experiences.

“We expect the recipient to identify lessons learned and best practices, and share these lessons with decision-makers and practitioners from other countries, through capacity building activities,” said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

Grant applicants will have to outline their proposed capacity-building activities, illustrate their existing sustainable energy projects and demonstrate how their project has contributed to leadership, vision and commitment in promoting sustainable energy and improving living standards. Applicants will also need to demonstrate that their project has promoted international cooperation in energy and capacity building and furthered the integration of energy for sustainable development strategies.

Today some 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and some 2.7 billion people rely on biomass for cooking and heating. At the same time, energy-related greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change, as much as 80 per cent of emissions in many economies. The ‘Powering the Future We Want’ initiative seeks to help promote universal access to modern energy services while reducing energy-related emissions.

‘Powering the Future We Want’  is a follow-up initiative to the 2012 Rio+20 Conference, at which Member States had called for increased dissemination of success stories and capacity building to replicate and scale up best practices in sustainable development, in collaboration with Governments, business, civil society and other stakeholders.

The grant seeks to encourage scientific and technological innovations in energy. It aims to foster leadership initiatives and innovative actions that improve access to modern energy services, increase efficient use of energy, and enhance availability of new, renewable and advanced energy technologies, while addressing economic, social and environmental sustainability.

The grant recipient will be identified through a competitive review and selection process involving an Advisory Council and a High Level Steering Committee, with participation from relevant UN system organizations.

“The well-being of our people and economy, and the health of our environment, all depend on safe, clean, secure, sustainable and affordable energy,” said Mr Wu at the first meeting of the Advisory Council of the grant. This cross-cutting nature of the global energy challenge reflects the broader theme for the year 2015, a year of global action in which the world seeks to adopt a new sustainable development agenda and to reach a global agreement on climate change, recognizing these issues as two sides of the same coin.

Applications must be submitted in English by 31 March 2015. Questions can be sent to

For more information: Powering the Future We Want


Adapting to challenges posed by post-2015 agenda

ECOSOC_OperationalSegmentThe 2015 Operational Activities for Development Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) took place on 23-25 February in the ECOSOC Chamber. The segment serves as a key meeting place for stakeholders interested in operational activities for development of the UN system.

It is mandated to provide guidance to the UN development system on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of operational activities of the UN system. Operational activities of the UN system currently account for nearly two-thirds of all activities of the Organization.

This year, discussions in the Operational Activities for Development Segment also contributed to the recently started ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system, mandated in Council resolution 2014/14. The new ECOSOC Dialogue will take place over the next year and half with a view to informing the outcome of the next General Assembly resolution on the QCPR to be adopted in December 2016.

Ministers and high-level UN officials, including heads of agencies, funds and programmes, participated in the segment. The Deputy Secretary-General opened the segment with a keynote address, stating that the new development agenda required a UN system that is more agile and reduces transaction costs. He stressed that for the UN to be fit for purpose, the UN system will need to differentiate its response for different country contexts, improve its capacity to leverage partnerships, and strengthen coordination and collaboration within the system and with outside actors.

UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the QCPR. It was widely acknowledged that the UN system had made progress in implementing the resolution on QCPR but that there were gaps in implementation. There was a widely shared view that better implementation of the QCPR would improve efficiency and delivery; that the UN system must focus on its comparative advantage; that underscored that business as usual is not an option and that we are at a critical juncture and time is ripe for change.

It was emphasized that a clear mandate originating from the Post-2015 Summit Outcome document would add momentum to the ECOSOC dialogue, which will culminate in a comprehensive resolution in December 2016.

For more information:

ECOSOC Operational Activities for Development Segment 2015


Member States and stakeholders discuss vision for post-2015

post2015_negotiations_26FebThe post 2015 negotiating session held from 17-20 February 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York focused on the Declaration component of the new development agenda. The Declaration “will be an important part of the future framework and indeed of the outcome document” of the post 2015 agenda, said Co-Facilitator David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland. Co-Facilitator Macharia Kama, Permanent Representative of Kenya, stressed that the Declaration should be visionary and “speak to the future”.

In the run up to the session, the Co-Facilitators had circulated an Elements Paper to animate discussions among Member States, which was turned into a Discussion Paper reflecting comments made by the delegations in the course of the session. During the last two days of the meeting, delegations expressed their views on the Discussion Paper.

There was wide agreement that the Declaration should be concise, visionary, ambitious, actionable, communicable and simple. Many delegations stressed that it should lay out a collective vision and clearly argue why we need the new development agenda. Many also said that it should show how the agenda responds to the challenges facing the world today and convey the assurance that ‘no one will be left behind’, be it vulnerable groups or countries in special situations. Furthermore, a number of delegations underlined that poverty eradication should be highlighted as overarching objective and sustainable development as the way forward.

An interactive Dialogue with Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) was held on Thursday morning, during which they commented in detail on the Elements Paper. The Co-Facilitators lauded the organization and contributions of MGoS during the session and reiterated their commitment to continuing such dialogues moving forward.

Next to the Declaration, the four part post-2015 development agenda will consist of sustainable development goals, targets and indicators; means of implementation and global partnership for sustainable development; and a follow-up and review framework.

Statements from the four day session, the Co-facilitator’s Discussion Paper and further information can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

The third session of the Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations will be held from 23 – 27 March 2015 and focus on the sustainable development goals and targets.

For more information: Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations (Declaration session)