Vol. 104 No. 6
ECOSOC HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT HIGHLIGHTS:
ECOSOC’s High-level Segment continued on Thursday with keynote addresses from two heads of State, as well as statements on achieving the internationally-agreed development goals by 23 ministers and other high-level officials. Delegates also reviewed progress on implementing ECOSOC’s 2003 Ministerial Declaration and convened a panel session on employment for growth.
In her keynote address, Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, discussed the internationally-agreed development goals, noting that much remains to be done on issues such as infectious diseases, gender inequality, poverty and unemployment. She highlighted the need to reform globalization and the work of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization. She noted linkages between development challenges and climate change, welcomed discussions on a UN Agency for the Environment and a Peace Building Commission, and said Security Council reform should not overshadow other issues.
Gérard Latortue, Prime Minister of Haiti, recommended various actions, including creating an equitable international economic system, establishing technical schools, seeking new models for financing development, opening industrialized country markets to the South, and creating sustainable development projects.
ACHIEVING INTERNATIONALLY-AGREED DEVELOPMENT GOALS
On Thursday morning, afternoon and evening, 23 government ministers and high-level officials spoke about achieving internationally-agreed development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration, and about implementing the outcomes of the major UN conferences and summits.
José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, urged delegates to use this ECOSOC session and the upcoming September Summit to advance the “UN Development Agenda.” He highlighted the Secretary-General’s recommendations for ECOSOC in his report, In Larger Freedom, which includes proposals that ECOSOC: organizes annual, ministerial-level assessments as part of a process to acquire a complete picture of the implementation of development goals; and holds timely meetings, as and when needed, to assess and promote coordinated action on threats to development.
Delano Franklyn, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jamaica, speaking for the G-77/China, said implementation of development goals to date had been uneven and “well below expectations.” He proposed: making development the international community’s major priority; honoring ODA commitments and reducing conditionalities; coordinating efforts to remove systemic problems, for instance in the trade regime; and allowing developing countries the policy space to tailor strategies and policies to their needs.
Jean-Louis Schiltz, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Luxembourg, on behalf of the EU, highlighted the importance of attaining the MDGs within a framework of democracy, good governance and human rights. He noted that ECOSOC should provide policy guidance, an integrated analysis and bold action at the operational level for achieving the MDGs. He stressed the need to increase the volume and quality of aid, use trade as a mechanism for development, and create innovative financing mechanisms.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister for National Development Policy of Indonesia, urged the need for actions such as debt restructuring, debt-to-MDG swaps, South-South cooperation and effective participation of developing countries in global decision-making.
Rafael Correa, Minister of Economy and Finance of Ecuador, noted the need for mechanisms such as an international debt tribunal, laws to protect the indebted countries from the harsh conditions of creditors, debt restructuring, and compensation for environmental services.
Brigitte Girardin, Minister for Development and Cooperation of France, said the primary responsibility for achieving the MDGs lies with developing countries. She highlighted increased ODA, debt cancellation and innovative sources for financing development as important means to achieve MDGs, and noted the need for a UN environment organization and ECOSOC reform.
Outlining his country’s actions to eradicate poverty and promote good governance, Hamadi Ould Meimou, Commissioner General of Human Rights, the Fight Against Poverty, and Integration, Mauritania, said national ownership of the MDGs has been strengthened.
Armand De Decker, Minister for Development Cooperation of Belgium, proposed strengthening ECOSOC, its closer cooperation with the UN Security Council, WTO, and Bretton Woods institutions, and a small ECOSOC committee for more frequent and targeted meetings.
Bruce Billson, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, said East Asia’s experience illustrates the role of broad-based and sustainable economic growth in attaining the MDGs. Calling for political leadership to combat HIV/AIDS and address the stigma attached, he feared Asia could become the epidemic’s new center.
Rogatien Biaou, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Benin, supported pressing ahead with the Brussels Programme of Action on Least Developed Countries, and examining the poverty reduction role of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification at the September Summit.
Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, Minister of Planning and National Development of Kenya, noted skepticism about reaching the MDGs in Africa, calling for “the political will in African governments, and the goodwill of development partners.” He highlighted the importance of democracy, Rule of Law, and wealth creation that improves incomes and creates employment.
Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia, said all major stakeholders should be involved in the development agenda and decision making, noted the risks of a volatile international economic environment, and the “implementation deficit” with regards to financing for development.
Edward Lowasa, Minister for Water and Livestock Development, Tanzania, outlined national implementation of the MDGs, highlighting progress in education, problems in the health sector due to HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and links between poverty and environmental degradation.
Eugène Camara, Minister of Planning of Guinea, emphasized the links between peace, human rights, security, and development, and said Africa would need further support to meet the MDGs.
Ezra Suruma, Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda, underlined efforts to meet the MDGs, including Uganda’s poverty eradication action plan and increased public expenditure in agriculture.
Helmut Angula, Director-General of the National Planning Commission, Namibia, highlighted actions taken to achieve the MDGs, including a participatory poverty assessment exercise, and called for further development assistance.
Jan Truszczynski, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, suggested strengthening the relationship between ECOSOC and international financial and development institutions and giving special consideration to the needs of the LDCs and economies in transition.
Sorajak Kasemsuvan, Vice-Minister for the Prime Minister’s Office of Thailand, called for the combined efforts of all countries to make 2015 a historic landmark, and highlighted, inter alia, public-private partnerships, access to capital and land, and empowerment at the grassroots level.
Stressing ECOSOCï¿½s role in advancing development, Jan Winkler, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, underscored that the MDGs were achievable, and that his country gives the MDGs and African development a high priority.
Oskaras Jusys, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, called for more ambitious national poverty reduction strategies that also strengthen good governance, democracy, human rights, and the private sector.
Serge Chappatte, Head, Cooperation for Multilateral Development, Office of Development and Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland, said humans must be the focus and objective of development activities, and emphasized the importance of education and health care.
Henri Raubenheimer, Director, Economic Development, Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, emphasized rural development, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. Regarding implementation of the MDGs, he highlighted debt relief, timetables for the 0.7 percent ODA target, trade, monitoring, and the UNï¿½s role.
Eduardo J. Sevilla Somoza, Permanent Representative of Nicaragua, urged creating sustainable national development plans more ambitious than the MDGs.
Fekitamoeloa ï¿½Utoikamanu, Permanent Representative of Tonga, highlighted the importance of the Mauritius Strategy for Small Island States in achieving the MDGs.
NGO/CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM highlighted the need to strengthen ECOSOC in coordinating implementation of the MDGs, and emphasized the need for transparent, time-bound indicators for monitoring aid, tailoring MDGs to national circumstances, and mainstreaming the use of information and communication technologies in achieving the MDGs. RIGHT TO ENERGY ï¿½ FUTURE S.O.S. discussed energy development for alleviating poverty and the concept of a world organization for energy access.
UNIDO underscored the importance of achieving a proper private sector led industrial transformation and coherence in the work of UN agencies on economic development. ISTANBUL INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD AND SOLIDARITY ASSOCIATION reported on its initiatives, including its work on protecting children orphaned by recent tsunami.
PANEL ON EMPLOYMENT FOR GROWTH
Late Thursday morning, delegates met in a panel session on employment for growth chaired by ECOSOC Vice-President Jaime Moncayo Garcia (Ecuador) and moderated by Ezra Suruma, Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda, who said the September Summitï¿½s draft outcome underscored the need to place employment at the center of economic and social policy.
Odile Quintin, Director-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, European Commission, highlighted the Lisbon Strategyï¿½s focus on growth and jobs, proposing the use of a social model for employment and integration of employment issues within the MDGs. Josï¿½ Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, urged making employment a central objective of social and macroeconomic policies, and suggested broadening the Millennium Declarationï¿½s youth employment initiative strategy to apply to everyone.
Jane Stewart, Deputy Director, Employment Sector, ILO, expressed concern that recent strong economic growth in developing countries has not translated into employment growth. Highlighting problems of underemployment and people being forced into the informal economy, she called for employment-intensive growth focused on sectors with high-labor intensity, such as construction and agriculture.
In the ensuing discussion, VENEZUELA argued that the capitalist model was failing, and supported a socialist approach and a policy of revolutionary change. BOTSWANA noted the challenges faced by the physically handicapped, highlighting the workplace skills they offer.
Josï¿½ Antonio Ocampo concluded that the simultaneous occurrence of inadequate employment growth and strong economic growth suggested serious flaws in macroeconomic policies, and said employment should be at the center of such policies.
MINISTERIAL REVIEW OF PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING THE 2003 ECOSOC MINISTERIAL DECLARATION
ECOSOC President Akram invited institutional perspectives on the 2003 ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration, which promotes an integrated approach to rural development. Patricio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), commented on collaboration between international food agencies and the extent to which new initiatives could be linked to the Declaration. Lennart Bï¿½ge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), emphasized the limited funding for agricultural research and the marginal role of rural development in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Jim Morris, Executive Director, World Food Programme, emphasized the Programmeï¿½s efforts to achieve integrated rural development, such as building community resilience against natural shocks in Madagascar, training orphan children in managing farms in Kenya, and working to eliminate child hunger in many countries.
In the ensuing discussion, MADAGASCAR highlighted rural development as vital for achieving the MDGs, said results have been mixed, and called for commitment and resources. Outlining various activities in his country he noted, inter alia, nationwide consultations, land security reforms, and targeting different regions. MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION explained that her organization is a new development agency that administers the Millennium Challenge Account. She noted the importance of broad-based economic growth, country ownership and accountability, and aid that complements sound national policies.
The EUROPEAN COMMISSION outlined its activities in implementing the 2003 Ministerial Declaration, focusing on food security, commodity-dependent countries, participatory local planning and institutional development, access to land, and sustainable land management. He added that the Doha Roundï¿½s outcome should support rural development. SENEGAL outlined his countryï¿½s activities on rural development, including a decentralized rural development strategy. Highlighting the rural populationï¿½s access to drinking water, health care, and other services, he noted improvement in nutritional status and literacy. He urged assistance for Africaï¿½s agricultural development and said an African ï¿½green revolutionï¿½ was essential.
FAO said that the battle for reaching the MDGs would be won or lost in creating a ï¿½vibrant rural spaceï¿½ and emphasized the need to balance and harmonize goals on poverty and hunger with environmental sustainability. INTERNATIONAL LAND COALITION said rural development is not sufficiently reflected in the draft Summit outcome document, and Lennart Bï¿½ge, IFAD, noted that ECOSOC should integrate the challenges expressed in these discussions into the Summit outcome document.