7 September 2017
CEPA 16 Resolution Outlines Central Role of Governments in SDG Implementation
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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ECOSOC adopted a resolution on the report of CEPA 16 that includes elements on transforming institutions for the SDGs, promoting public sector leadership, the implications of poverty eradication for public institutions, supporting and equipping local authorities and reviewing progress on the SDGs, and principles of responsible and effective governance to support SDG implementation.

The term of current CEPA members will expire on 31 December 2017, and the UN Secretary-General announced the appointment of the 24 experts that will serve on CEPA from 1 January 2018 to 2021.

September 2017: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution on the report of the 16th session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA 16) that invites the Committee to continue to place the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the center of its work and to advise ECOSOC on ways public administrations can support the implementation and progress reviews of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN Secretary-General also announced the appointment of new Committee members, who will start their term on 1 January 2018.

In its resolution E/RES/2017/23, ECOSOC takes note of the CEPA 16 report. CEPA 16 took place on 24-28 April 2017, in New York, the US, on the theme, ‘Ensuring effective implementation of the SDGs: leadership, action and means.’

The Resolution recognizes that SDG implementation does not necessarily require creating new institutions and underscores the central role of existing institutions, including planning ministries, parliaments, supreme audit institutions, and local governments, among others.

On ‘Transforming Institutions for the SDGs,’ the resolution stresses that governments have “the central role” in SDG implementation, and notes that “effective institutions” are essential for achieving all the SDGs and their targets. It indicates that many countries are in the process of identifying and updating policies, strategies, institutions and arrangements for spearheading and coordinating the implementation and progress review of the SDGs, and recognizes that implementing the SDGs does not necessarily require the creation of new institutions. The resolution elaborates that: there is no single blueprint for implementing the SDGs; existing institutions, such as planning ministries, have a critical role to play; Parliaments should be engaged in SDG implementation efforts and some of them have already taken a proactive role in this regard; identifying the most effective policies in a given context requires stakeholder participation and engagement; and governments are increasingly using information and communications technology (ICT) to deliver public services and other functions and engage people in decision-making. The resolution invites governments, international, regional and other organizations and the research community to develop practical tools to help policymakers in developing integrated plans and policies for implementing the SDGs in an integrated manner.

On ‘Promoting Public Sector Leadership,’ the resolution underlines that leadership at all levels of government is critical, and welcomes the engagement of the highest level of government in SDG implementation in some countries. It invites governments to: undertake concerted efforts to raise awareness and increase ownership of the Goals within national, regional and local authorities, civil society, the private sector and society at large; launch initiatives to build the awareness and commitment of civil servants at all levels to the vision of the 2030 Agenda; and build the capacities and skills of civil servants in areas such as integrated and coherent policymaking, planning, implementation, foresight, consultation, evidence-based reviews of progress and the collection and use of statistics and data. The resolution further encourages governments “to redouble efforts” to ensure respect for the rule of law by institutions at all levels.

On ‘Implications of Poverty Eradication for Public Institutions,’ the resolution underscores that eradicating poverty requires multidimensional and targeted poverty eradication strategies and actions to promote inclusive economic growth, employment and decent work, social protection and equity, education and skills, health, food and nutrition, housing, infrastructure, energy, water and sanitation, the environment and climate change, and the building of effective, inclusive and accountable institutions, among other areas of the 2030 Agenda. The resolution also underlines the importance of the rule of law, peace and security, an independent judiciary and the proper administration of justice for improving the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable.

On ‘Supporting and Equipping Local Authorities,’ the resolution underscores the critical role of subnational governments, particularly local governments, in implementing the SDGs and eradicating poverty. The resolution recommends central and local governments collaborate and partner on the SDGs, adding that resources and capacities of local governments should be commensurate with their responsibilities. In this regard, the resolution cautions that responsibility for the implementation of specific SDGs and targets should be transferred to the local level “only if accompanied by an adequate level of financial resources and capacity development.”

On ‘Reviewing progress,’ the resolution welcomes the commitment of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) to contribute to reviewing SDG implementation at the national level, and invites governments to avail themselves of that support. The resolution encourages the creation of platforms, forums or tools to inform people about respective responsibilities, activities and results of public institutions, including those at local levels; calls for monitoring the impact of public institutions and policies on poverty eradication and other SDGs; and encourages governments to develop an open government system.

The resolution indicates that CEPA is working on the elaboration of principles of responsible and effective governance, noting these principles could serve as an important reference point in building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and in support of SDG implementation. It invites the Committee to contribute to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development’s (HLPF) thematic review and to contribute to the HLPF’s overall review of SDG implementation in 2019, with particular attention to the cross-cutting nature of all the Goals.

The CEPA Committee is composed of 24 members who serve in their personal capacity for a four-year term, and meet annually in New York. The term of current members will expire on 31 December 2017, and the UN Secretary-General has announced the appointment of CEPA experts who will start their mandate on 1 January 2018. In his note announcing the nominations (E/2017/9/Add.9), the Secretary-General calls for the term of office of CEPA members to begin on 1 August and to end on 31 July, to adjust it with ECOSOC’s July-to-July programme of work. The note indicates that, if ECOSOC agrees to such a decision, the term of office of the 24 newly appointed experts would be revised, on a one-time basis, to three years and seven months, beginning on 1 January 2018 and ending on 31 July 2021. The following term would begin on 1 August 2021 and end on 31 July 2025 (four years).

CEPA provides policy advice and programmatic guidance to 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 17 will take place from 23-27 April 2018. [CEPA 16 Website] [ECOSOC Resolution on CEPA 16 Report] [Appointment of 24 experts to the CEPA: Note by the UN Secretary-General] [CEPA Contribution to HLPF 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on CEPA 16 Meeting] [CEPA 17 Provisional Agenda]

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