Published:23 September 2014, ECE
The Regional Ministerial Consultation “Monitoring and Accountability for the Post-2015 Development Agenda –The Regional Dimension” discussed how to give ‘teeth’ to a non-legally binding framework that will formulate an ambitious agenda of transformation towards sustainability for all countries. The focus of the discussions was on the features that are necessary to create a strong accountability and monitoring mechanism, the roles of the local, national, regional and global levels within a multi-layered architecture, and how the wealth of existing mechanisms could be integrated and adapted.
The meeting, organized by UNECE and the Regional UN Development Group for Europe and Central Asia, was held in Geneva from 15 to 16 September 2014. The Consultation was chaired by Ambassador Michael Gerber, Special Envoy for Global Sustainable Development of Switzerland, and attended by around 170 participants, including experts and representatives from governments, civil society, the private sector and other international organizations.
Participants identified a number of issues that should be taken into account in designing monitoring and accountability for the post-2015 agenda from the point of view of the UNECE region.
There was a general view among participants that the monitoring and accountability framework should be an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda and not an “after-thought”. A comprehensive, multi-layered and multi-stakeholder accountability framework is crucial for the success of the post-2015 development agenda. An overall accountability mechanism should ensure linkages between various levels (local, national, regional, global), actors (state and non-state) and sectors.
Accountability should be understood as a participatory and inclusive process, which envisages cooperation and an interactive dialogue between multiple stakeholders. Governments, as the primary duty bearers, are the key actors to be held accountable. Accountability also needs to involve parliaments, organized civil society groups and citizens, the private sector and international organizations.
Incentives for countries and other stakeholders to participate in a monitoring and accountability framework were considered a critical factor for success. Shared learning and positive rewards seem more effective to promote progress and participation than negative assessments. Some participants mentioned that ranking of the performance of countries in achieving SDGs in a clear and transparent way could be a powerful incentive in meeting these goals. Information on relative performance could inform the decisions of investors and donors, thus unlocking access to funding for the best performers.
The need for a “data revolution” was emphasized to strengthen monitoring and accountability. Data needs for the post-2015 development agenda are significant but there are already some initiatives to build upon, including the recommendations of the Conference of European Statisticians on how to measure sustainable development. Technological progress and “big data” offer new opportunities to strengthen real time monitoring and contribute to a transparent accountability framework.
The overall accountability framework should rely on the information, outcomes and lessons derived from existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms. A pragmatic approach, building on existing mechanisms, should prevail.
The European region, in particular, has a solid set of institutions and mechanisms with mandates and data capacity to review and monitor socioeconomic and environmental developments as well as democratic governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The value of peer reviews was recognized but some participants stressed that these reviews should go beyond the exchange of best practices to identify areas of underperformance, analyse the underlying causes and propose means of improvement. Experience with the UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews shows that regular monitoring of recommendations to improve performance in different policy areas can lead to strong results if accompanied by political will. Some features of an effective mechanism of peer reviews conducted by the OECD were also stressed.
In the private sector, there are already a number of mechanisms that promote reporting on environmental, social and governance factors, including at the global level initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the United Nations Global Compact.
There was a strong degree of consensus on the importance of the regional level in a multi-layered accountability mechanism as a link between the national and global levels. Complementarity between different levels in the accountability chain should be a key consideration.
A regional review can build ownership and understanding for the universal nature of the new agenda in the region. Regional commissions as well as the Regional UNDG Teams can promote the exchange of experiences and good practices and facilitate capacity building. The regional level also is the natural platform to address transboundary challenges like water cooperation or the green economy, which UNECE promotes through the Environment for Europe process, the Water Convention or the green economy toolbox.
Monitoring and review at the global level is essential and depends on high level political engagement. Many participants stressed that the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is called to play the central role in ensuring the coherence of the overall accountability framework. It was underlined that the HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, will conduct meaningful reviews from 2016 onwards, also taking into account the results of regional reviews.
In follow-up to the consultation, the Chair’s Summary will be submitted to the Secretary-General as an input to his synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda which will be prepared by the end of 2014.
(22 September 2014) Preliminary estimates suggest that the economic costs of climate change will be around 2.5 % of Latin America and the Caribbean’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in the case that the temperature rises 2.5 °C above the historical average, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, said today in the following statement released in the context of the Climate Summit, which will take place on 23 September at the United Nations headquarters in New York:
“For the last decade, ECLAC has studied the economic and social costs of climate change in Latin American and Caribbean countries, providing the statistical information needed to make decisions and offering numerous public policy recommendations.
Estimates from different studies suggest that the economic costs of climate change could total between 1.5 % and 5 % of the region’s annual GDP. These calculations are still preliminary and include a high level of uncertainty because they do not address all the potential effects or possible results of adaptation actions.
These averages do not reflect the region’s heterogeneity either, but they do offer enough evidence to justify incorporating the medium-term effects of climate change into public decisions, for example, regarding infrastructure investments. Investment is the bridge between the short and medium term and these studies allow policy makers to act early.
Latin America and the Caribbean has contributed less to climate change than other regions, but nonetheless it is particularly vulnerable to its effects. The region’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) represent 9 % of the global total, with an annual growth rate of 0.6 % between 1990 and 2011 (compared with 1.5% worldwide). What characterized this region is that a significant proportion of emissions have come from changes in the use of soil, deforestation and agriculture.
The most pressing challenge for the region at this time is adaptation to climate change, especially in the Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean and Central American countries. The annual adaptation costs for Latin America and the Caribbean have been estimated at around 0.5 % of the region’s annual GDP. Although these calculations are preliminary, they clearly reflect the trend in this phenomenon.
The region must urgently design and implement adaptation strategies that include a long-term vision and take into account collateral impacts. The protection of water basins, including forest and soil preservation on high ground and periodic dredging in low areas, is one telling case. A notable example of the pressing need for adaptation is the flooding caused by hurricanes at important basins in southern Mexico and northern Colombia.
The vulnerability of Latin American and Caribbean countries is exacerbated by its geography, the way its population and infrastructure are distributed, its dependence on natural resources, the importance of agricultural activity, and the length of its coastal areas-both along the Pacific and the Atlantic.
Evidence suggests that climate change impact in Latin America and the Caribbean is already relevant and will probably be greater in the future. Variations in temperature levels and precipitation patterns can already be seen. The biggest risks are concentrated in agriculture, water availability, forest conservation, loss of biodiversity, the population’s health, tourism in coastal areas, and rural poverty reduction.
The economic dynamism experienced by the region in the last decade has contributed to reducing poverty and improving the population’s living conditions, but it has also generated negative effects such us atmospheric pollution, greater fossil fuel consumption and the resulting contribution to climate change.
It is a fact that this region has the highest degree of urbanization on the planet. At the same time, there is an increase in private motorization. The lack of modern, safe and high-quality public transportation leads to the preeminence of private vehicles, concentrated among the people who have the highest income levels and who also benefit the most from subsidies to fossil fuels and infrastructure.
The region still has time to choose the paths towards development with equality and environmental sustainability, especially in cities. This is the time for the region to make crucial decisions in order to increase the supply and quality of public services, use renewable energies and shift to a lower-carbon production matrix.
On a global level, the current commitments on mitigating greenhouse gases are still insufficient for stabilizing climate conditions. To do that, the approximately seven tons of CO2 per capita that are emitted today would need to be reduced to two tons per capita by 2050. Only a global agreement with the participation of all countries, along with a paradigmatic technological change in production and consumption patterns, could provide a solution to this phenomenon.
That is why ECLAC is here to accompany the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in convening this Summit ahead of the Conference of the Parties that will take place in our region-specifically in Lima, Peru-in December of this year.
Latin American and Caribbean countries can be fundamental actors in this global but asymmetrical challenge, given that very often those who have contributed the most to GHG emissions historically do not suffer the most intense impacts of climate change, and they normally have more resources to adapt to the new climate conditions.
The challenge of climate change is, ultimately, to transition towards a new model of sustainable development with equality, in the framework of shared but differentiated responsibilities.”
In New York please contact María Amparo Lasso, Chief of the ECLAC Public Information Unit. E-mail: mariaamparo.lassocepal.org; Mobile: (56 9) 7967 8306.
In Santiago de Chile please contact ECLAC’s Public Information Unit. E-mail: prensacepal.org; Telephone: (56 2) 2210 2040.
On 17 September 2014, Arab ministers and senior regional and foreign officials took part today in the opening of the 28th ministerial session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), a key regional event hosted by the Tunisian government, and held under the patronage of the President of the Republic, Mr. Moncef Al Marzouki. In the opening session, Arab and foreign diplomats and senior officials listened to statements that echoed Arab concerns and aspirations towards a better tomorrow guided by social justice.
Speakers were Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Tunis Salem Issa Al Zaabi, whose country chaired the 27th session of ESCWA; Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Ghanem al-Buainain, whose country is chairing the 28th session of ESCWA; UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf; and Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Al Mongi Hamdi.
The message of the UN Secretary-General to the event was read by ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Nadim Khouri. Following the statements, the audience watched a documentary filmed on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of ESCWA, which showcased the most important events during these years.
ESCWA and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) launched the Inventory of Shared Water Resources in Western Asia on 3 september at the World Water Week in Stockholm. This publication is the first effort led by the United Nations to comprehensively identify and assess the state of transboundary surface and groundwater resources in the Middle East, and was prepared in close consultation with ESCWA member countries as well as regional and international experts.
“This unique publication in its groundbreaking information and distinctive preparation process that actively involved ESCWA member countries will provide new insights for future research on shared water resources in the region and will serve as a basis for continuing regional cooperation on water as well as other natural resources that are strategic for this region and often of shared nature,” indicated Roula Majdalani, director SDPD.
Boasting 60 new maps and over 200 figures, tables and boxes with recent, comprehensive data series, the Inventory provides an up-to-date view of the state and evolution of shared water resources in Western Asia. It thus constitutes a sound scientific basis for informing discussion and fostering dialogue on these precious resources that have become increasingly important to sustain development in an era of growing demand and dwindling supply.
One of the key findings of the Inventory is the largely neglected fact that water quality in the region is rapidly deteriorating and is eclipsed by concerns over quantity.The Inventory also points out that there are more shared water resources in Western Asia than was generally assumed and the lack of accurate data hampers joint water management. Another finding stresses that it is already too late to save some shared waters and countries need to cooperate more closely in order to sustain the shared resources that remain.
The Inventory is published on a dedicated website which allows users to browse contents and download individual chapters and maps, available at www.waterinventory.org.For further inquiries, kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Jul 14 2014 | Posted in ESCWA News
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On 2-4 April 2014, the Jordanian capital Amman hosted the “Arab High Level Forum on Sustainable Development” organized by ESCWA in cooperation with Ministries of Planning and International Cooperation and of Environment in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the League of Arab States (LAS) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The Forum, which was inaugurated by HRH Prince Hassan Bin Talal, gathered a crowd of government officials, officials from the United Nations and its specialized agencies, LAS specialized agencies, funding institutions and the civil society.
Topics of discussion among conferees included the ESCWA proposal underway on a set of sustainable development goals for the Arab Region. The proposal reflects the outcomes of consultations led by ESCWA on the subject, in addition to the key conclusions emanating from the various regional and national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda; the proposed Arab Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development that ESCWA and its partners are developing as an update of the Sustainable Development Initiative in the Arab Region, which provides a regional framework for coordinated action on sustainable development; the
Arab Regional Roadmap for Green Economy Investment; and progress made in the Arab region towards the millennium development goals and means of accelerating their achievement and sustaining gains in the future, as part of Arab regional preparations for the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) in 2014.
On the sidelines of the Forum, ESCWA signed with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on green growth cooperation. Participants in the meeting defined the role of the Forum and how it relates to the regional institutional development framework, especially the biennial ESCWA Ministerial Session, and LAS. They stressed that continued occupation is an impediment to sustainable development, noting the need for international cooperation to achieve sustainable development, the need for reforms within the international framework that would enable developing countries to fulfill their ambitions, the need for reforms on the regional level, and the necessity of integrating all social groups in the development process and in policy formulation.
Participants made noteworthy contributions on governance, peace and security, the occupation obstacle, technology transfer and implementation, and disaster risks. They agreed on the necessity of not transforming the youth agenda into a tool for political pressure developing countries. They underlined the role of youth as an influencing agent both on and by sustainable development, and showed existing gaps in implementation methods, especially in the fields of technology and research and development.
For the Arab countries, integration is a development imperative. Around the world, even the greatest powers have opted to be part of larger regional entities in order to manage globalization and the competition it brings. Meanwhile, Arab countries – fragmented and divided – try to face individually external pressures, domestic challenges and emerging risks in a world growing more interconnected and complex each day. The isolation of individual Arab countries is all the more regrettable because Arabs share a common language, heritage, history and culture, and are linked by geographical proximity. No region that successfully integrated began with greater advantages.
Arab integration is not a new idea. It has been adopted as an official goal and attempted at different times since the 1950s. However, a history of division actively encouraged by outside forces, and an absence of clear political will and strategies, have almost always frustrated these efforts. As a result, Arab countries have missed several opportunities to join forces to promote development and national security, wasting the potential of integration to create a regional order that upholds the rights, freedoms and dignity of all its citizens. Taking its cue from the first aims of formal Arab cooperation over sixty years ago, the present report calls for a new Arab project of comprehensive integration. This ambitious initiative rests on three pillars: stronger political cooperation for good governance and effective external diplomacy; deeper economic integration to reap benefits for all Arab countries; and more extensive educational and cultural reform to root out lodged constraints and enable Arab knowledge societies to thrive.
An important goal is to unify the Arab space, creating one area where all Arab citizens enjoy full citizenship rights in a true nation of free will, creative knowledge, real power, continuous renewal and autonomy. The report argues that nothing less will answer the awakened call of the Arab people for justice, opportunities and freedom as heard during the recent wave of popular protests across the region. This historic awakening lends powerful impetus to Arab integration, which can deliver for the majority of Arabs those benefits denied them by its absence.
The report demonstrates that comprehensive integration, properly managed, can benefit all the Arab countries. It emphasizes, moreover, that an integrated Arab region will not close itself to the world but seek to consolidate relations with other regional groups and strengthen ties with other civilizations.
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The third African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) will take place in Abuja, Nigeria from 10 to 12 July 2014. According to the Secretariat of the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), this third AfIGF will discuss critical issues of relevance and concern to the Continent as part of a global 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10). The Forum will also make recommendations for consideration and adoption by African governments and other stake-holders.
ECA is the host of the Secretariat of the African Internet Governance Forum with the African Union Commission as a member. ECA has been playing a leading role in the development of an Information Society in Africa, a critical component of which is enhancing Africa’s participation in the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) consultations in order to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard on these very important issues.
The Internet Governance Forum is one of the major outcomes of the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society. The African internet governance space was very active in the lead up to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 and became even more so after the Summit.
Egypt hosted the first AfIGF from 2 to 4 October 2012 and Kenya hosted the second from 23 to 26 September 2013.
Contact the AfIGF Secretariat at: email@example.com and/or visit the website: http://www.uneca.org/afigf
Jun 23 2014 | Posted in ECA News
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Addis Ababa, 4 June, 2014 (ECA) – The Common African Position (CAP) on the Post 2015 Development agenda was launched this week Tuesday, at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the presence of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission as well as the Sherpas of the High Level Committee on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, among other partners and invited guests.
The launch of the CAP was intended as a key step in engaging African stakeholders so as to deepen their understanding of the evolution of the negotiations and advocacy efforts. The launch was also aimed at enhancing ownership of the CAP, while strengthening and leveraging partnerships with non-African stakeholders.
The Liberian President and Chair High Level Committee (HLC), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her remarks and key message on the post 2015 via a video recording informed the meeting that “CAP reflects the aspirations of the African people.” She elaborated on its seven main strategic key messages, which include the commitment of Africa to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the specific focus on health and education as well as a sustainable development agenda and the need for peace and security.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Madame Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in her remarks emphasized the importance of making the CAP people centered, sustainable and resulting in prosperous, integrated and united Africa. “The Common African Position will be pursued regardless of the results of the negotiation out comes and advocacy of individuals in one’s own country and elsewhere is important” the Chairperson stated.
The Common African Position was presented by Mr. Anthony Maruping, Commissioner of Economic Affairs of the AUC, who stated that the overarching goals of the CAP are to eradicate poverty and ensure human development, which are anchored in six pillars that are; Structural, Economic transformation and inclusive growth, Science, Technology and Innovation, People-centered development, Environmental sustainability, Natural resources management and disaster management, Peace and Security and Finance and partnerships.
The Commissioner, invited all the stakeholders to champion and support the CAP priority areas, advocate and act in unity to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard.
For his part, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Mr. Carlos Lopes spoke on the role of multilateral organizations and other stakeholders in the implementation of the CAP and hailed the Common Position as, “a concrete step towards mainstream all the key issues at the global level but with an African perspective addressing all the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“It is important that the African Development Goals are adapted to measure progress on African priorities,” he said.
He reiterated the ECA’s continued commitment and support and called on all present to join the AUC in ensuring that Africa is able to negotiate its CAP priorities successfully and “not to dilute the principles and objectives of this agenda for the agenda of others”
“From now on, the main focus should be getting the CAP fully owned by all Africans,” he said.
Present at the launch were representatives from the Diplomatic Corps, the African Union Commission, United Nations and the European Union, as well as representatives from Civil Society Organizations.
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UNECE and the Office of Legal Affairs will organize a “Road Safety Treaty Day” for all Permanent Missions to the United Nations. The event – coorganized with the Regional Commissions New York Office and the International Road Transport Union (IRU) – will take place on 5 June 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
The seminar is organized at the request of the Inland Transport Committee, which is the highest transport policymaking body of the UNECE. In order to create a wider global understanding on what agreements and conventions currently exist in the field of road safety, the program will include presentations by the Office of Legal Affairs and UNECE, which is responsible for managing 58 international legal instruments in the area of transport, including road safety.
(May 22, 2014) The economic scenario in 2014, with an estimated growth rate of 2.7%, is far from auspicious for the evolution of the regional labor market and presents major challenges for labor market policy, said the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a new joint report released today.
“Given the modest economic growth projected for the region in 2014 and current labor participation trends, a slow pace of employment creation is forecast, which means there will likely be no significant variations in the unemployment rate,” said the United Nations organizations in the latest edition of the report The employment situation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
ECLAC and ILO added that if the reduced economic dynamism translates into higher unemployment in some countries, it will be important for them to have unemployment insurance and other protective measures so they can confront this scenario.
The new edition of The employment situation in Latin America and the Caribbean takes stock of the labor markets during 2013 and emphasizes that despite the reduced economic dynamism and a minor drop in the employment rate, the unemployment rate kept falling between 2012 and 2013 and hit its lowest level in decades (6.2%).
Nevertheless, “there are doubts about the sustainability of this positive development in the near future,” the document insists.
According to the report, the weakness of economic growth was already evidenced in 2013 by cooling labor demand. In addition, salaried work grew at lower rates than in previous years, resulting in a slight decline in the employment rate. A positive development was that during 2013 the gap between men and women decreased in terms of participation, employment and unemployment, although significant differences persist and require additional efforts to achieve gender equality in the working world.
Young people were the most affected by the loss of labor dynamism since their unemployment rose between 2012 and 2013 to 14.3% from 14.0% -in contrast to adults,whose unemployment rate was 3.2 times lower- as a consequence of a notable fall in their employment rate (which was steeper than the decline in their labor participation).
In 2014 the region’s countries must make efforts to advance in the creation of quality jobs and, more specifically, to promote the productive labor incorporation of youth.
The joint ECLAC-ILO document also indicates that in addition to job creation in the last decade, the strengthening of social safety nets and the introduction of new social programs were important factors in reducing poverty. Among these, the conditional cash transfer programs stood out, benefiting 21% of the regional population.
These programs, by giving more liquidity to families, allow them to make better labor decisions with respect to their employability in dignified and equitable conditions and can contribute to creating a “virtuous cycle” of generating autonomous income on the part of the poorest and most vulnerable groups.
Nevertheless, the organizations warn that the transfer programs must be closely coordinated with comprehensive social protection systems and active labor market policies to ensure that “graduating” from these programs does not lead to a loss of rights for the families or to labor informality.
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