Volume 19, No.01 - January 2015

Trends and analysis

In pursuit of sustainable development goals

In September 2014, the UN General Assembly decided that the report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals would be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda while recognizing that other inputs will also be considered in the intergovernmental negotiation process. As part of the preparations for the new development agenda, an Expert Group Meeting will be arranged in New York on 28-29 January, focusing on “Policy integration in government in pursuit of the SDGs”.

In anticipation of the adoption of a post-2015 development agenda in September 2015, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is asking “what it will take” to make the transition to a development framework based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it has invited the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) and other subsidiary bodies to contribute their views.

Set against this background, UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) will hold an Expert Group Meeting on “Policy integration in government in pursuit of the SDGs” at the United Nations Secretariat on 28-29 January 2015.

The meeting will provide an opportunity to elicit experts’ insights as an input to the 14th session of the CEPA, to be held from 20-24 April 2015 under the banner of “Building trust in government in pursuit of sustainable development goals – what will it take?” The meeting is expected to result in:

  • Views on how to translate conceptual notions of policy coherence and principles of policymaking into practical terms
  • Establishment of a baseline understanding of the capacity of administrations to pursue integration in pursuit of SDGs
  • Build on work by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank and others, connecting of observations and conclusions to policy cycles taking into account political and institutional realities

The event will bring together experts from government, academia, the United Nations, OECD, World Bank and other organizations to review developments in the field of policy integration in government administration, the conditions that makes policy integration viable, and obstacles to its adoption as a common practice in government institutions. The meeting will tackle the “what?” and “how?” of integration, with special consideration of the prospects for policy integration in low- and middle-income countries.

Policy integration will indeed present a key governance challenge in pursuit of the SDGs, particularly in view of the rising complexity of social problems and global issues with important national and local impacts such as climate change. Effective policy integration is all the more important, given the range of expertise from different institutions and sectors required to tackle the SDGs, as well as demands for more innovative, responsive and equitable service delivery, which transcend the competences of individual ministries.

Photo credit:

For more information: UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM)


Responding to demands to monitor goals beyond 2015

UN DESA’s Statistics Division and the Statistical Office of the European Communities are organizing the Global Conference on a Transformative Agenda for Official Statistics on 15-16 January, seeking to formulate an adequate response to the increased demand for detailed and timely data to monitor progress on the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda.

These goals and targets are universal in the sense that they concern all United Nations Member States, but they are specific at the same time in the way they are formulated at sub-national, national and regional levels. These new demands require a more efficiently functioning national statistical system.

This Conference is organized as a High-Level Forum of official statisticians with the purpose to seek a broad consensus on the strategic agenda for statistics for the consideration of the 46th Session of the Statistical Commission in March 2015.

For more information: Global Conference on a Transformative Agenda for Official Statistics


Experts gather to discuss future international arrangement on forests

United Nations Forum on Forests Photo Competition

The second UN Forum on Forests Ad-Hoc Expert Group Meeting (AHEG2) on the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) is scheduled to take place at UN Headquarters from 12 to 16 January.

The meeting will discuss actions and options related to key components of the International Arrangement beyond 2015.  These components include the Forest Instrument, Financing of Sustainable Forest Management, the UNFF and its Secretariat, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, Major Groups and Regional Entities. The outcome of these discussions will be reflected in the AHEG2 Co-Chairs’ summary, which will be submitted for consideration by the Forum at UNFF11 in May 2015.

In April 2013, the tenth session of the UN Forum on Forests established the open-ended intergovernmental ad hoc expert group (AHEG) on the IAF as part of the intersessional preparatory activities for the review of the IAF. The AHEG is mandated to review the performance and effectiveness of the IAF, based on inputs provided by various stakeholders, as well as the outcome of the work of the independent assessment of the IAF. Based on this review, the AHEG will put forth a set of recommendations to UNFF11 on the strategic direction on the function and institutional arrangements of the IAF for the period beyond 2015.

For more information: Second meeting of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Ad Hoc Expert Group on the International Arrangement on Forests (AHEG2)


New million dollar UN DESA Grant to promote sustainable energy

Secretary-General tours Shams Solar Power Plant.“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 Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, at the first meeting of the Advisory Council for a newly created UN DESA Grant to promote sustainable energy.

During the Rio+20 Conference, Member States realized that there had been success stories in advancing sustainable development, but that the international community is not doing enough to replicate and scale up best practices and lessons learned from successful experiences. They encouraged the UN system to do more to identify and publicize best practices and lessons learned, in collaboration with Governments, business, civil society and other stakeholders.

As a response, UN DESA, with funding support from the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a Hong Kong-based NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC, has launched the project “Powering the Future We Want – Recognizing Innovative Practices in Energy for Sustainable Development”. This initiative seeks to replicate and scale up best practices and lessons learned from successful sustainable energy experiences.

“At the Rio+20 Conference, Member States recognized the critical importance of access to sustainable, modern energy services for poverty eradication, public health and in meeting basic human needs” said Mr Wu. “They also recognized that improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy and cleaner and energy-efficient technologies are critical for addressing climate change,” he continued.

The ‘Powering the Future We Want’ initiative therefore offers an annual one million US dollar Grant to institutions or individuals that have demonstrated leadership and innovation in promoting sustainable energy. The award does not simply recognize past achievement, but the recipients of the Grant are expected to apply the funds to furthering their best practices and to building capacity in developing countries, thus furthering sustainable energy.

The first meeting of the Advisory Council for the Grant took place on 5 December at UN Headquarters in New York. The Council discussed selection criteria and modalities for the Grant, which are expected to be published before the end of the year. An important selection criteria will be for recipients of the grant to outline how they will use the award to further best practices and capacity building.

Applicants will also need to demonstrate that they have achieved, through leadership and innovative initiatives, tangible results and impacts at the local, national, regional or global levels in advancing energy for sustainable development.

The Advisory Council for the Grant consists of 12 members from UN entities, academic institutions, business and civil society groups. Membership is for one year, renewable annually. Each year, the Advisory Council will review and rank the applications and submit the top three candidates to the High-level Steering Committee, for Grant consideration and decision. The High-level Steering Committee consists of the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, the Executive Directive of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretary-General of China Energy Fund Committee and further UN entities.

For more information: Powering the future we want


Getting ready for the 2015 and 2016 cycles of ECOSOC

Preparations for the 2015 substantive session of ECOSOC commenced with the convening of an Expert Group Meeting in preparation for the 2015 and 2016 cycles of the Council, which was held in New York on 4-5 December. The discussions, in particular, focused on the institutional, policy, monitoring, accountability and partnership dimensions of such a transition.

Participants examined the type of changes and adaptations that will be required in existing institutional, policy and accountability frameworks to accommodate a universal, inclusive, and integrated development agenda and to ensure its effective implementation. They also addressed how the ECOSOC system can work more effectively to provide substantive leadership to support these changes and facilitate a smooth transition to the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

Experts shared their views and insights on the issues, which were thoroughly discussed and examined in the course of the two-day meeting. The outcome of the EGM will provide the analytical basis for the preparation of the Secretary-General’s reports on the 2015 theme of the ECOSOC and on the 2015 Thematic Discussion, as well as for the preparatory activities for the next two cycles of the Council.

The ECOSOC President and members of the ECOSOC Bureau participated in the meeting, which provided a forum for delegations, UN staff and participants from academia and NGOs to discuss critical aspects of the transition from an MDG to an SDG-based development agenda. Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, DESA delivered an opening address on behalf of Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General.


For more information: