22nd Meeting of ECOSOC 2016 Integration Segment

Preview Language:   English
03-May-2016 02:09:45
Carrying out 2030 agenda will require governments to adapt institutions and policies, speakers agree, as Economic and Social Council continues Integration Segment at the 22nd meeting of the 2016 Session.

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Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the national level would require Governments to adapt institutions, policies and relationships with companies and civil society to better serve their diverse populations, the Economic and Social Council heard today, as it moved into day two of its integration segment.

The annual segment promotes integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The 2016 session aims to develop policy recommendations that will guide implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In a morning panel discussion, titled “institutional frameworks and policy planning”, five experts explored options for carrying out the new Agenda at the national level, highlighting both success stories and pitfalls in merging — and often streamlining — complex institutional arrangements. In those efforts, panellists agreed, people, money and timeframes mattered.

Dang Huy Dong, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam, described his country’s transition from a centrally planned economy to one that generated 70 per cent of its gross national product from the private sector. Viet Nam would launch a policy for web-based social and crowd-funding, he said, creating a webpage for each commune that allowed residents to interact with donors, enterprises and others interested in supporting rural communities. Each page would be sponsored by a lead donor. “We used to think only the Government could consider providing jobs for people,” he said, “but in our experience, it’s the private sector that is providing jobs.”

Åsa Persson, Senior Research Fellow and leader of the global research theme “Transforming Governance” at the Stockholm Environment Institute, said that unsuccessful policy integration could lead to “policy dilution” where no one was taking responsibility for the nation. Political leadership, organizational change, procedural tools and learning were all critical for an overhaul and examination of how the 2030 Agenda would be approached.

Jenik Radon, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, cited the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to make the point that all voices must be heard. A 600-page environmental impact assessment on the incident focused on seals and walruses, rather than people. “If you are far away from where something happens, it is easy to make decisions on it,” he said, noting that the perspective of policymakers was often far from that of an affected community. As the new Goals were ambitious, he advocated publicizing environmental impact assessments for all eyes to see. “If you know it is public, you know you can be judged and rated. Let all voices be heard,” he said.

In a keynote address, Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, asked participants to imagine they were in a village in Africa in 2024 and that all the residents had electricity, technology and health care. “That is what integration looks like,” she said, noting that how the United Nations organized itself to appreciate where progress was happening — and where it was not — was critical.

An afternoon panel on “making it work: shared vision and innovative thinking in action” heard four experts underscore the importance of turning policies and strategies into action on the ground. The Sustainable Development Goals were both singular and interactive, said the moderator, Sharon S. Dawes, Professor Emerita at the University of Albany. They required new ways to “feed learning” into the process of policymaking.

With that in mind, Julián Ugarte Fuentes, Executive Director for Latin America, Socialab, said his organization had launched an online platform where 500,000 users were proposing ways to provide basic services to people in slums, and more deeply, trying to understand why those people lacked resources in the first place. One reason was about the motivation of traditional providers. “Often, the end goal is not humanity,” he said. “It often is profit.”

Ana Vaz, Research Officer at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, said many poverty indicators did not capture the overlapping of deprivation. A first step was to define poverty and choose parameters to measure different aspects of it. Programmes could then be tailored towards specific populations.

Wu Xun, Professor and Associate Director, Institute for Public Policy, Hong Kong University of Science, agreed that impact assessments tended to focus less on integration and more on specific objectives for specific policies. To integrate environmental, social and economic considerations in policy, those three aspects must be emphasized throughout the policy formulation process.

David Miller, President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Canada and member of the Network of Political Leaders United to Support Shared Societies of the Club de Madrid, supported a “shared societies” approach to achieving the Goals, with equal opportunity to participate in decision-making.

Also speaking in the morning panel were Ricardo Cardona, Sectorial Minister for Social Development and Inclusion of Honduras; and Rolf Alter, Director of the Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations and co-facilitator of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, was the moderator.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 May, to conclude its integration segment.

In the afternoon, the Council held a panel on “making it work: shared vision and innovative thinking in action”, moderated by Sharon S. Dawes, Professor Emerita, University of Albany, United States. It featured presentations by Ricardo Cardona, Sectorial Minister for Social Development and Inclusion of Honduras; David Miller, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada and member of the Network of Political Leaders United to Support Shared Societies of the Club de Madrid; Ana Vaz, Research Officer at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative; Julián Ugarte Fuentes, Executive Director for Latin America, Socialab; and Wu Xun, Professor and Associate Director, Institute for Public Policy, Hong Kong University of Science.
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