11 November 2014
Regional Commissions Discuss Roles in Achieving Post-2015 Development Agenda
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The Executive Secretaries of the UN Regional Commissions held a discussion with the UN General Assembly's Second Committee (Economic and Financial) regarding the commissions' potential role in mobilizing means of implementation (MOI) for achieving the post-2015 development agenda.

unga695 November 2014: The Executive Secretaries of the UN Regional Commissions held a discussion with the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) regarding the commissions’ potential role in mobilizing means of implementation (MOI) for achieving the post-2015 development agenda. The dialogue on ‘The Means of Implementation in Support of the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Regional Perspectives’ took place on 5 November 2014, in New York, US.

Opening the discussion, moderator Alicia Barcena, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said that unlike UN agencies, regional commissions are intergovernmental in nature, providing a space for Member States and stakeholders to voice their priorities at the regional and sub-regional level through regional consultations; thus, she said, they are in touch with the reality of their regions, and have an enhanced sense of ownership and the ability to manage social mechanisms and help the poorest. She said regional commissions are already integrating the three pillars of sustainable development and have the reports of all subsidiary bodies in regard to planning, statistics and the evaluation of different sectors. Therefore, they could play an essential role in preparing inputs for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM): welcomed the role of regional commissions in integrating the regional dimension in the process of defining the post-2015 development agenda; stressed the need to coordinate the efforts of national governments and regional commissions in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and called for UN support in this regard. The Russian Federation underlined the role of cooperation in sectors like energy, transport, and ICTs, and said regional commissions should always be taken into account in programmes of work and decisions in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and UNGA. Brazil said the UN must ensure that the post-2015 process is fully driven by Member States with the support of the UN system, and this should be exercised “first and foremost” through regional commissions. He said the commissions are universal and multilateral, compared to the funds and programmes that operate in the North-South and donor-recipient paradigm. Guatemala said the post-2015 development agenda needs greater “realism,” which regional commissions can provide, being closer to society and national and regional circumstances.

Barcena identified as priorities for the post-2015 development agenda: equality; poverty eradication; enhancing official development assistance (ODA) and external flows; sustainable consumption and production (SCP); enhancing South-South Cooperation; a new global partnership; tackling climate change; closing the gaps and asymmetries in the international financial sector; concession-based technology transfer in areas like health and education; responsible resources management; regional frameworks of governance and accountability; and enhanced MOI based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR). She stressed the need to develop domestic savings and improve net current transfers (such as workers’ remittances and ODA grants), also noting the importance of implementing the SAMOA Pathway.

Rima Khalaf, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), identified as main challenges for the region: low economic productivity; the lack of diversification of the regional economies; a long term de-industrializing trend in the last 20 years; informal employment; unemployment concentrated among youth, especially educated youth; the low participation of Arab women in economy and governance; a chronic water deficit; land degradation; food insecurity; peace and security, noting that the Arab region is the most conflict-affected region in the world; internally displaced people; foreign occupation; a low rate of tax collection; remittances channeled into consumption; investment of Arab sovereign wealth funds (SWF) outside the Arab region; illicit financial flows of US$111 billion annually; reduced foreign direct investment (FDI), which represents only 1% of the global FDI and goes to rich, oil-exporting countries; low inter-regional trade; weak public institutions; and corruption. She stressed the need for a strong monitoring and accountability mechanism, enhanced partnerships, disaggregated data, and integrating refugees and foreign occupation in the post-2015 development agenda.

Abdalla Hamdok, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, but that of its economic growth of 5% per annum, the natural resources sector has contributed only 25% since 2000. He noted that the growth in the last 15 years has not created jobs nor significantly affected poverty eradication, saying the quality of growth needs to be assessed. The main regional challenges, he said, include: the Ebola crisis; needs for resource mobilization, improving tax collection systems, and better negotiated contracts on minerals; and reversing the tide of illicit financial flows. On the post-2015 development agenda, he noted that the “extensive” consultations with stakeholders led to the Common African Position, adopted in January 2014 by African leaders. The declaration is accompanied by a multi-layered accountability framework, he said – country level, sub-regional level (RECs), regional/ continental level, and international/ global level. Hamdok called for strengthening national capabilities, investing in ICTs and technology, and building on existing frameworks such as the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Andrey Vasilyev, UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), described strengthening MOI and renewing the global partnership for sustainable development as “make or break” for the new agenda. He said balancing domestic and external resources of financing is critical. He noted that ODA remains important, especially for low-income countries, explaining that the key is not the amount of ODA but the quality of solutions offered, the relevance of knowledge that is transferred, and the breadth and the inclusiveness of the partnerships that are forged. He identified four areas in which the regional level can facilitate the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda: public-private partnerships (PPPs); development and implementation of norms, standards, and instruments; trade facilitation; and monitoring and accountability. And he placed a special emphasis on the importance of PPPs.

Shun-Ichi Murata, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said ESCAP members are working to improve regional infrastructure connectivity, regional economic cooperation and integration, and legislative arrangements for cross-border, paperless trade. He highlighted regional initiatives such as the Asian energy highway, the Asian information superhighway, online e-learning facilities on green economy policies, and national innovation systems resources (NIS). The main challenges for the post-2015 era, he said, include: building an efficient, fair and predictable financial system, more diversified and balanced financial sectors and new financial mechanisms; developing the role of fiscal policy; expanding regional capital markets; increasing financial literacy; and mainstreaming climate finance in national budgets. [IISD RS Sources] [Concept Note] [Regional Commissions Webpage for Dialogue]

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