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UNGA Events Bulletin

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Volume 153 Number 4 - Thursday, 25 September 2008
PARTNERSHIP EVENTS ON THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
WEDNESDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2008
The second day of partnership events took place at United Nations headquarters and nearby venues in New York, Wednesday, in conjunction with the High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals, which is to take place on 25 September 2008. Participants included heads of state, ministers, and the heads of major international development-related organizations.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT: PROGRESS ON FINANCE FOR ADAPTATION

Jeffery Sachs, Columbia University, moderated the event, which was hosted by the Netherlands Bangladesh, the UK, Switzerland, and the UN Foundation, observing that the international system is “broken” in terms of financing for development. Ifekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, recalled the request of least developed countries (LDCs) during the Accra climate change talks for developed countries to commit 0.1% of Gross National Income (GNI) to adaptation.

Moritz Leuenberger, Minister of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland, outlined a Swiss proposal for Financing Adaptation, based on a global CO2 emission levy of two US dollars per ton of CO2, where the larger part of the proceeds would go towards national measures and a smaller portion to a multilateral adaptation fund for programmes in low to middle income countries.

Graeme Wheeler, World Bank, introduced a World Bank study undertaken in collaboration with other partners on the economics of adaptation to climate change, which seeks to address the estimation of adaptation costs and adaptation strategies, capacities and methodologies. Achim Steiner, UNEP, noted the importance of linking the different elements of responses to climate change such as the transition to greener economies and more efficient resource use. He emphasized the consideration of natural systems such as oceans and forests in carbon capture.

Gareth Thomas, Department for International Development, UK, underlined that financing under the UN Framework Convention Climate Change has huge implications for the achievement of MDGs, and that the contribution of donors and agencies must be based on the recognition that the international community has to work together.

During the ensuing discussion, delegates heard: a presentation on the Norwegian proposal to auction a percentage of carbon permits; the Republic of Korea’s proposal for carbon credits for nationally appropriate mitigation actions; and Mexico’s proposal for a global “Green Fund,” to fight climate change. Other issues highlighted included new and innovative insurance products for developing countries, and linkages between financing for development, the current financial crisis and a post-2012 climate agreement.

CONSULTATION BETWEEN HEADS OF STATE & RELIGIOUS LEADERS: ELIMINATING POVERTY

Salil Shetty, Millennium Campaign, extolled the virtues of faith-based development work. He emphasized that religious leaders are often more important than politicians due to their proximity and moral legitimacy, and said they must be part of the development equation.

Alimamy P. Koroma, Minister of Trade and Industry, Sierra Leone, said that partnerships based on shared objectives and agendas must be established. He remarked that educated people tend to fare better in post-conflict situations, and said that good governance sets an example for the rest of the population.

Andrew Steer, Department for International Development, UK, stressed that much has been achieved, including reducingf diseases such as malaria, He said that the UK government’s priorities for development include education, health, and agriculture and that sustainable behavior will come from a sense of moral obligation, not as a reaction to economic incentives.

Saad Houry, UNICEF, described successes achieved during the past 30 years that UNICEF has been working with faith-based organizations. Steve Killelea, Global Peace Index, discussed the process of developing a way of measuring levels of peace around the world, stressing that business thrives in peaceful environment as the former improves markets and reduced costs.

Participants then took part in two panel-led discussions. The first, moderated by Din Syramsuddin, Religions for Peace, focused on advancing partnerships between government and religious communities in achieving the MDGs, and included presentations by: Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries; John O. Onaiyekan, Archbishop Archdiocese of Abuja; and Vinu Aram, Shanti Ashram. Panelists discussed, inter alia, the complementarity of church and government efforts to achieve the MDGs.

The second panel, moderated by Gertrude Kapuma, All Africa Conference of Churches, included presentations by Salil Shetty, Katherine Marshall, World Bank; Syramsuddin; and Stellamaris Mulaeh, Fastenopfer Kenya Country Programme. Panelists discussed the use of joint advocacy to scale up efforts to achieve the MDGs.

WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT: DIABETES AND DEVELOPMENT

The roundtable was moderated by Emma Crosby, Sky News Today, and hosted by Ulla Tørnæs, Minister of Development Cooperation, Denmark, Lise Kingo, Novo Nordisk, Anil Kapur, World Diabetes Foundation, and Elaine Wolfson, Global Alliance for Women’s Health. Minister Tørnǽs described the Danish MDG3 Call to Action, distributing 100 “champion torches” to individuals committing to “do something extra” for gender equality, stating that the 100th torch will be given to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday.

Participants discussed diabetes in developing countries, describing the stigma associated with the disease, and noting that this can make diagnosis difficult because women may want to hide the condition, and poor families may want to avoid the associated expenses. Many speakers highlighted the importance of prevention and education, and one underscored the role of women as caregivers, stating that educating women educates the whole family.

On pregnancy and gestational diabetes, speakers highlighted the connections to children’s health, noting that children of mothers who develop gestational diabetes are much more likely to develop diabetes later in life, leading to a “vicious cycle” of poverty and diabetes. Participants also discussed microfinance in the context of women’s empowerment, highlighting innovative mechanisms to provide women’s health care through microfinance institutions.

On the role of the media, one speaker cautioned against communicating the message that diabetes is a woman’s disease, stating that publicizing the effects on men may lead to increased attention. Another noted that education should come in different media, including radio, to reach people in areas with low literacy rates.

Wolfson announced the launch of two initiatives: the Council on Women’s Health for the United Nations, a group for diplomats, NGOs and the private sector to share ideas and generate recommendations; and the Friends of the UN Diabetes Resolution, an ad-hoc caucus of diplomats and civil society working to develop sustained support for diabetes at the UN.

ENERGY SERVICES FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

This event was presented by the World Bank, UNDP, and Partners.

Kandeh Yumkella, UN Energy Chair, Director General, UNIDO, stressed that if energy issues for the poorest of the poor are not addressed, the MDGs cannot be achieved.

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Advisor for Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, explained that his country aims to achieve universal electricity coverage by 2020 and is increasing investment in clean and renewable sources. He stressed the need to expand the availability of financial services to the poor and strengthen property rights frameworks.

Ad Melkert, UN Under-Secretary General, Associate Administrator, UNDP, noted that ODA and the share of energy investments has decreased since 1995. He stressed that the creation of sustainable decentralized local energy markets and the efficient use of local resources should be placed at the top of the energy agenda, arguing that global energy infrastructure needs must support the LDCs in delivering basic energy services to the poor.

Monique Barbut, CEO, Global Environment Facility (GEF), announced that the GEF with UN Energy has launched a Strategy Programme for West Africa to support the efforts of 18 countries to address lack of energy, biodiversity challenges, and the elimination of persistent organic pollutants, with a total GEF financing of over US$100 million.

Jamal Saghir, Director, Energy, Transport and Water, World Bank, pointed out that the combined impact of the food and energy crisis has cost countries 10% to 20% of their GDP. He stressed that the food crisis is fuelled by the energy crisis due to the impact of high transport and fertilizer costs on food prices. He argued that tackling the energy crisis is not a question of access, but a matter of survival, which requires appropriate safety nets measures as well as sustainable ongoing responses to prevent shocks.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), observed that many poor people cannot afford energy services and that energy access and poverty are intimately linked.

Kathleen Abdalla, Acting Director, Division for Sustainable Development, UNDESA, explained that recent sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development have seen an increase in the number of partnerships to provide energy access, such as the Global Village Energy Partnership and Energy for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development. She highlighted need to keep the energy issues at the top of the development agenda, emphasizing the gender aspects of energy access.

WATER AND SANITATION FOR ALL

This event was presented by Germany, Tajikistan, the Netherlands and Japan and moderated by news anchor Riz Khan. It consisted of two parts: a call for action in the form of political statements chaired by Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan; and a global assessment of the water and sanitation situation, chaired by Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander, the Netherlands, which comprised an overview of the status of water and sanitation, a panel discussion and reactions from the audience.

Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, highlighted the degradation of the Aral Sea in Central Asia caused by short-sighted water policies. Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister, the Netherlands, presented four concrete actions to secure further progress on water and sanitation: concerted global action to bring individual national MDG investment plans for water and sanitation “on track”; continued political support to international efforts to address water and sanitation issues; the promotion of good integrated water resource management; and the establishment of a global framework for action.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Vice Chancellor, Germany, reported on an initiative launched within the framework of the European Union’s Central Asia Strategy to facilitate regional water cooperation. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, explained that Japan had placed emphasis on water and sanitation issues at the G8 Toyako summit and TICAD IV.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, emphasized concrete steps such as infrastructure development, technical transfer and strategies to produce more food with less water, increase investment, improve management of water utilities and double access to safe drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa.

David Mwakyusa, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Tanzania, said that 64% of Africans have access to safe drinking water and only 38% to adequate sanitation. He highlighted the necessity for developing and updating policy regulatory frameworks and programmes as well as integrated resource water management, and building institutional and human resources capacities.

The second half of the event featured introductory remarks by Koichiro Mastuura, Director-General, UNESCO, and a combined presentation by UN-Water based on two recent reports: the Joint Monitoring Programme; and the UN Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAS) Reports. 

In response to a question during the intervening panel discussion, on how India had approached challenges in the water and sanitation sector, Shanta Sheela Nair, Ministry for Rural Development, clarified that 56% of the rural and urban population in India now has access to adequate sanitation and stressed putting sanitation considerations before water. On scaling up efforts to meet water and sanitation targets, Bai Mass Taal, African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW), noted that development assistance is disjointed and highlighted AMCOW’s role in coordinating water strategies on the continent. Gareth Thomas, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development of the UK, mentioned a joint action plan with the Netherlands to monitor progress annually over five years on water and sanitation.

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS' CONTRIBUTION TO THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Mario Platero, of the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, moderated the event that consisted of welcoming addresses, and two round tables.

Letizia Moratti, Mayor of Milan and Special Commissioner for Expo Milano 2015, called for new multi-level partnerships involving all actors. Franco Frattini, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said as 2009 G8 Chair, Italy will promote, as one of its priorities, closer dialogue between the G8, new and emerging economies, and African countries. UN Deputy Secretary-General Rose Migiro noted the UN’s shift of MDG localization from the national to sub-national levels. Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the UN, UK, said strong cities are necessary for country growth. Salil Shetty, Millennium Campaign, said developed country local governments can sensitize and mobilize citizens in support of the MDGs.

Focusing on cities’ contribution to the MDGs, Vince Henderson, Minister of Education, Dominica, stressed the need to address the hostile global trading environment. Pedro Castro, Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, urged using cities to overcome the digital divide and manage knowledge. Bob Winter, Mayor of Glasgow, UK, made the “practical” case for experience sharing. Janine Hadad, Île-de-France Region, and mayors Muscadin Jason, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Daniel Giacomino, Cordoba, Argentina, presented specific cases demonstrating the benefits of partnerships. Stefano Manservisi, European Commission, announced the imminent publication of a paper proposing the recognition of local authorities as actors in international development and the establishment of a regional knowledge-sharing platform.

During the roundtable on Expo Milano 2015, Paolo Zegna, Confindustria, highlighted areas such as food safety where industry could support MDG implementation. Franscesco Bettoni, Italian On-line Commodities Exchange, called for the establishment of transparent and effective regulation to facilitate product exchange.

In her closing remarks, Elizabeth Gateau, United Cities and Local Governments, underscored the need to invest in infrastructure, and Mayor Moratti said that implementation of MDG 8 on establishing global partnerships has to precede the other seven.

PARTNERSHIP EVENT ON UN SYSTEM COHERENCE TO ACHIEVE MDG6

This event was presented by the Permanent Missions of Ireland and Tanzania, UNAIDS and UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO), and moderated by Paul Bekkers, the Netherlands. The event consisted of presentations of country-level experiences on how UN Country Teams have impacted AIDS responses. Amb. Paul Kavanagh, Ireland, noted the adoption of GA resolution 277 which he characterized as substantive and foresaw it leading to actions on gender and funding.

Presenters from Nigeria, Mozambique, Cambodia, and Argentina described HIV and AIDS actions in their own countries, describing successes and challenges with UN engagement with national programmes. The speakers highlighted assistance with developing national strategic frameworks, capacity development at the national and sub-national level, including monitoring and evaluation advisors, evidence-informed response activities, and a focus on actions. Challenges described included: innovating coordinating mechanisms; UN agencies operating under agency headquarter directives; and a lack of a pooling mechanism for funding.

Following the presentations Peter Piot, Executive Director, UNAIDS, noted successes to date and remarked on the importance of coherence, observing that it helps to optimize work. He stated that adding new instruments must be accompanied by abolishing old ones, highlighted the importance of accountability, and stressed that UN coordination should not be a substitute for national coordination and ownership.

Deborah Landey, Director, DOCO, noted the need to find suitable candidates for the Resident Coordinator positions, and Mubashar Sheikh, Global Health Workforce Alliance, WHO, underlined the shortage of health workers and described possibilities for constructive cooperation with UNAIDS. In closing, Amb. Augustine Mahiga, Tanzania, described aligning policies with national strategies and the need for coherence, not just within the UN, but with philanthropic organizations and other relevant groups.

LAUNCH OF THE EC REPORT "MDGS AT MIDPOINT"

This event was hosted by the European Commission (EC), and moderated by Bernard Petit of the EC.

Louis Michel, EC Commissioner, announced the release of the EC report on “MDGs at Midpoint,” noting that ODA presents opportunities but also risks and responsibilities. He stressed that aid should be efficient, and based on policy coherence.

François Bourguignon, Paris School of Economics and co-author of the report, said that although the world is on track to halve poverty by 2015, this is largely due to gains achieved in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, and that many countries, particularly in Africa, lag behind.

Regarding meeting the MDGs, he stressed that three factors determine progress or lack thereof: the global economic environment, domestic policies, and aid effectiveness. He emphasized the need for policy coherence and integration of the MDGs into a broader framework. He recommended that donors honor their ODA commitments in a timely and predictable manner, and called for aid management to be simplified and results-based.

Bourguignon said that the poor require social insurance to protect them from major shocks, such as market price crashes, and that special attention should be paid to particularly vulnerable or fragile states. He highlighted the EU’s comparative advantages as a donor, including its experience in correcting market failures, its place as the world’s largest donor, and its Code of Conduct for development.

Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, UK, noted the fragility of financial systems, and said that donors’ credibility is at risk if they do not honor their aid commitments. He called for increased aid effectiveness and predictability.

Participants discussed: differentiating between progress as a result of ODA compared to domestic policies; computers and internet access as part of development strategies; involvement of community, civil society and labor unions; conditionalities attached to aid; the dollar value of improving policy coherence; and balancing accountability with conditionalities.

MDG ACHIEVEMENT FUND: LESSONS LEARNED AND WAY FORWARD

This event was presented by Spain and UNDP. The first panel discussion addressed lessons learned from the MDG Achievement Fund. Kemal Dervis, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Administrator, stressed that the Fund targets the national priorities of developing countries, of which gender empowerment is both a window and a cross-cutting issue. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Foreign Minister of Spain, announced a ‘fresh’ 200 million Euro contribution to the Fund’s “One UN” window, as well as for strengthening other windows.

Alvaro Colom, President of Guatemala, stressed that projects under the Fund are creating synergies among themselves and with public policies in order to enhance the achievement of the MDGs. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said the Fund has boosted the UN’s joint work to meet the MDGs, pushed the UN to act much more inclusively by drawing on the expertise of all agencies, and improved the UN’s aid effectiveness by adopting the new approach of “delivering as one.”

The second panel discussion addressed expanding the multi-donor “delivering as one” funding window. Miguel Ángel Moratinos announced the launch of the multidonor “delivering as one” funding window, with a contribution of 110 million Euros. He said that along with the UK and Norway, the new instrument, expected to be operational by the end of 2008, will provide a window for low income countries and countries lacking donors to fund the “delivering as one” programme at the country level.

Armando Emilio Guebuza, President of Mozambique, welcomed the strong commitment to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs and the on-going country level UN reforms. Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, UK, announced a multi-year, core funding arrangement of 40 million pounds over the next two years to the expanded funding window, to finance the full range of the development activities of UN country programmes.

MDG ACHIEVEMENT FUND: LESSONS LEARNED AND WAY FORWARD

This event was presented by the UN University-Institute of Advanced Studies, UNEP and UNDP. Balakrishna Pisupati, UNEP, announced the launch of the report “MDG on Reducing Biodiversity Loss and the CBD’s 2010 Targets,” co-authored with Renata Rubian, UNDP. Noting that biodiversity is used by the international community to frame the MDG 7 goal of environmental sustainability, he highlighted the challenges of linking the 2010 Biodiversity Targets and Indicators with MDG Targets, including, inter alia: biodiversity indicators are narrower than MDG indicators; environmental sustainability is not well-defined; and the future of CBD targets after the 2010 Review is unclear. He proposed mainstreaming environment across the MDGs, supporting implementation of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and designing local actions to achieve MDGs.

Charles McNeil, UNDP, stressed that when biodiversity is integrated into the MDGs, it becomes everybody’s concern, noting difficulties of countries on reporting on MDG 7. He pointed out the emergence of encouraging trends, including innovative country-level work on indicators and targets, and work of local communities to share best practices in terms of protecting biodiversity and reducing poverty, such as the Equator Initiative.

Linda Ghanimé, UNDP, argued that the fact that more countries are tailoring the MDGs to integrate biodiversity is a huge opportunity. She stressed the need for the indicators to be simple and linked with national policies so as to inject practical considerations into their development.

Nandini Krishna, CBD/UNCCD Liaison, concurred on the need for rigor in the targets. She observed the timeliness of the report in light of the upcoming 2010 CBD review, while noting with concern the lack of attention to this Review process in the current MDG deliberations. Renata Rubian, UNDP, noted that the CBD indicators on access and benefit-sharing capture some of the broader social and economic indicators that would be of value to the MDGs.

WORLD BUSINESS & DEVELOPMENT AWARDS

This event was hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce, the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, and UNDP. The World Business Development awards honored ten companies for their business activities that contribute to the MDGs. Speakers included, among others, Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Jordan, and President Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal, who congratulated the winning companies.

The 2008 winners were: 3K&A, for innovative local sourcing of soybeans in Ghana; Diagio, for switching from using imported grains in brewing in Nigeria by training local farmers to grow beer-friendly sorghum; Endesa, for its recyclable waste for electricity exchange program; Haygrove, for its “The Gambia is Good” programme, connecting local farmers with high-end tourism companies; Olam Nigeria, for increasing the productivity and profitability of local rice farmers by, inter alia, providing access to commercial finance; Safaricom, for its service allowing Kenyans to access mobile banking services using their mobile phones; Sistema Ser, for its innovative health care system for low income Argentineans; SMART Communications, for making mobile phones accessible to low income people in the Philippines; Syngenta, for increasing agricultural productivity; and ZMQ Software Systems, for using mobile technologies to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.

The Africa and MDGs High Level UNGA Events Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Asheline Appleton, Robynne Boyd, Claudio Chiarolla, Wagaki Mwangi, and Peter Wood. The Digital Editor is Dan Birchall. The Editor is Soledad Aguilar <soledad@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Special funding for coverage of the High-level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs and selected side events has been provided through IISD’s African Regional Coverage project by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Funding for our coverage of the Partnership events associated with the High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals has been provided by UNDP’s Poverty Group. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF formats) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, NY 10022, USA. The IISD Team at the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs, High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals, and other related events can be contacted by e-mail at <peterw@iisd.org>.
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