2 May 2017
CEPA 16 Discusses SDG Institutions, Leadership, Local Action
Photo by IISD/ENB
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CEPA 16 considered the theme ‘Ensuring effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals: leadership, action and means,' and took place from 24-28 April 2017, in New York, US.

The resulting recommendations will be brought to the attention of the UN Economic and Social Council.

28 April 2017: During the 16th session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA 16), participants noted that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all depend on the effectiveness of governance. The Committee welcomed a report that identifies ten concepts for consideration as “nascent versions” of governance principles within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

CEPA provides policy advice and programmatic guidance to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on issues related to governance and public administration. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’s (DESA) Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) serves as the CEPA Secretariat.

CEPA 16, which convened from 24-28 April 2017, in New York, US, considered the theme ‘Ensuring effective implementation of the SDGs: leadership, action and means.’ The session was followed by a briefing from CEPA members, on 28 April 2017, on ‘Mobilizing institutions and leadership for implementation of the SDGs.’

Opening the CEPA session, Marion Barthelemy, DPADM Director, noted that many countries are already “well advanced” on SDG implementation, and stressed the role of governments in implementing not only SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) but also all other SDGs. Lenni Montiel, DESA, on behalf of Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, reported that CEPA is engaged in ongoing conversations on: public institutions and their leaders; engaging and supporting public servants; the nature and mechanics of intergovernmental relations; inclusive service delivery; public finance; oversight; and other areas of concern that are central to understanding critical government functions.

Noting that the 2017 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will address ‘Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World,’ Cristián Barros Melet, Vice-President of ECOSOC, said poverty lies at intersection of destitution, deprivation and discrimination (the “3 Ds”), which should be replaced with development, dignity and dialogue. He said achieving the 2030 Agenda requires: tenacious and people-centered leadership; a clear understanding of the SDGs; and leadership that spurs creativity, innovation and excellence in public institutions and public administrations. Participants discussed institutional arrangements and leadership for the SDGs, the needs of local authorities and communities, and ways to support and equip them for SDG implementation, strategies for integrated action to achieve poverty eradication, and the development of principles of effective governance.

On potential governance principles, the report titled ‘Towards a set of internationally recognized principles of responsible and effective governance’ (E/C.16/2017/6), prepared by the UN Secretariat in collaboration with CEPA members, outlines ten concepts: elements of effectiveness (comprising principles of competence, sound public policy and cooperation); elements of accountability (comprising principles of integrity, transparency and independent oversight); and elements of inclusiveness (comprising principles of non-discrimination, participation, subsidiarity and intergenerational equity). Meredith Edwards, Australia, who presented the report (E/C.16/2017/6), said the taxonomy is a first step for defining a set of principles, and the principles can eventually be linked to more detailed technical guidance and case studies, in connection with the SDGs.

During a discussion with officials from national and regional organizations, Alina Tatarenko, Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform, Council of Europe, presented the Council of Europe Principles for Good Governance at Local Level, suggesting that they could be considered when drafting the internationally recognized principles of responsible and effective governance. David Banisar, Article 19 and Secretariat of the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development, drew attention to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN’s (FAO) PANTHER principles (participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment and rule of law), which CEPA could consider. He also highlighted the need for a common UN set of principles on governance and sustainable development, and called for clarifying the meaning of transparency and public participation as part of these principles. Ali Hamsa, Government of Malaysia and President of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management, said Malaysia has established clear governance principles enshrined in its national agenda (the Eleventh Malaysian plan).

Rowena Bethel, CEPA Bureau rapporteur and member (The Bahamas), said the Committee’s discussion highlighted that the principles should be few in number, non-technical, easy to understand, based on UN resolutions and the outcomes of UN conferences and summits, and draw on principles of good governance adopted by other organizations, such as the Council of Europe. She noted the need to further develop the elements of effectiveness, accountability and inclusiveness outlined in report E/C.16/2017/6, adding that some countries would appreciate benchmarks and examples.

Brazil and Malaysia highlighted national bodies tasked with SDG implementation, and Malaysia has formulated an SDG road map.

Some countries shared experiences with SDG implementation. Brazil said it has created the National Commission for the SDGs, an Inter-institutional Commission with consultative responsibilities, composed of eight government officials and eight representatives from civil society. The Commission is mandated to: elaborate an action plan for the 2030 Agenda implementation; propose strategies, instruments, actions and programs for SDG implementation;
 follow up on and monitor SDG developments;
 issue periodic reports; identify, systematize and publicize good practices and initiatives to achieve the SDGs; and liaise with federative entities and civil society to disseminate and implement the SDGs at the state and municipal levels. Malaysia said it has formulated an SDG road map, and has a national SDG Council and Steering Committee.

CEPA members also discussed the UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) 2017, taking place on 23 June 2017, during the UN Public Service Forum in The Hague, Netherlands. Committee members noted that 600 hundreds applications have been received, and a final list of recommendations has been proposed to the UN Secretariat.

At the 28 April briefing, Committee members provided an overview of key elements considered during the session. José Catelazo, CEPA 16 Chair, Mexico, said CEPA calls for transforming public institutions by: nurturing leadership at all levels of government; equipping local governments to implement the SDGs; addressing the challenges that poverty eradication and leaving no one behind bring for public institutions; and bolstering the capacities of institutions to mobilize resources. Allan Rosenbaum, US, reported that CEPA 16 emphasized that countries can build on the architecture and frameworks developed to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and should broaden awareness and understanding of the SDGs.

Bethel highlighted the importance of innovation related to information and communication technologies (ICTs) and e-government, open government, and managing and harnessing data capabilities. Najat Zarrouk, Morocco, stressed the key role of regional and local governments, which deliver most of the public services related to the SDGs. She called for ensuring coherence and coordination among initiatives between local and regional governments, and for strengthening capacities of local elected officials and civil servants. Regarding the development of governance principles, Walter Fust, Switzerland, said it is a work in progress, and the principles will be voluntary in nature.

CEPA is composed of 24 members who meet annually in New York, and serve on the Committee in their personal capacity for a four-year term. The term of current members will expire on 31 December 2017. [CEPA 16 Website] [CEPA Members] [CEPA 16 Programme of Work] [CEPA 16 Provisional Annotated Agenda] [UN Under-Secretary-General Statement] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Reports on CEPA 16 Theme] [2017 UN Public Service Forum] [UN Webcast] [IISD Sources]

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