2016 HLPF: briefing by the ECOSOC President on the HLPF
Per below, we expect that the ECOSOC Bureau will also present a draft agenda for the HLPF this year at this meeting. For those that cannot attend in New York on Thursday, the meeting will be webcast at webtv.un.org.
From: Lotta Tahtinen <email@example.com>
Subject: 2016 HLPF: briefing by the ECOSOC President on the HLPF
To: Lotta Tahtinen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There will be an informal briefing by the President of ECOSOC, H.E. Mr. Oh Joon, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, on the preparations for the 2016 high-level political forum (HLPF) under the auspices of the ECOSOC and the high-level segment of ECOSOC on Thursday, 9 June, at 3 p.m. (NY time) in conference room 1. Representatives of Member States, the UN system and Major Groups and Other Stakeholders are invited to attend. The meeting will be web cast at webtv.un.org.
Please visit: https://
Kind regards, Lotta
New briefing paper on the impact of climate change in Least Developed Countries
New research by the Least Developed Countries Independent Expert Group<http://www.iied.org/
A copy of the paper is available online here<http://pubs.iied.org/
We would welcome your feedback on these materials, and would be very grateful if you could circulate them to others who may find them useful.
With best wishes
Director of Strategy and Learning
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13 August NGO Briefing (also webcast): Where Would the Sustainable Development Goals Be Without Civil Society? And Where Do We Go from Here? (11:00am to 12.30 p.m., Conference Room 3)
If you will be attending or observing online through the webcast, let us know. Thanks.
From: Krystal Fruscella <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 12, 2015
Subject: Re: 13 August NGO Briefing: Where Would the Sustainable Development Goals Be Without Civil Society? And Where Do We Go from Here? (11:00am to 12.30 p.m., Conference Room 3)
NGO Relations and Advocacy
Highlights UN Turns 70 – Bremley’s Briefings
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Global Policy Watch Briefing #7: An Action Plan Without Much Action
|Subject:||Global Policy Watch Briefing #7: An Action Plan Without Much Action|
|Date:||Wed, 8 Jul 2015|
|To:||Social Watch Secretariat <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|8 July 2015|
|An Action Plan Without Much ActionBy Barbara Adams and Gretchen LuchsingerWith pens still hovering over the Addis Ababa Action Plan, the outcome agreement for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), there is already a sense that for all the recent talk at the UN about ambition and transformation, it is falling short. For a financing document, the Action Plan includes an impressive number of references to issues at the core of sustainable and inclusive development, like social protection, essential services, decent work for all and sustainable industrialization. There are multiple references to consumption and production, a rebalancing of which, among the rich and the poor, will determine the future of our world.But how do we get there? The Action Plan has very little in the way of concrete steps and deliverables. It spends a lot of time encouraging and incentivizing, and circling around inherent contradictions. Rather than aiming high, it sets a low bar, perhaps in anticipation of leaving room to maneuver towards the Paris climate change summit at the end of the year.For some observers, this may fit the narrative of UN negotiations as being of diminishing relevance, since they do not do enough to take on weighty issues in the real world that, like debt, trade and private sector activities, have profound impacts on peopleâ€™s lives. Thatâ€™s all true. But on another level, deliberations like those at FfD3 very accurately mirror whatâ€™s going on in the world todayâ€”in terms of the balance of power. For all the rhetoric about leaving no one behind in the post-2015 world, the reality is not about using UN agreements to advance global justice, but about minimizing disturbances of the status quoâ€”which accepts leaving people behind as an inevitable tradeoff.While there is often a temptation to argue that â€œat least the line was heldâ€ or â€œit could be worse,â€ the challenges in the world today exceed any justification for the retreat from ambition. With growing inequalities and a planet in crisis, we have run out of timeâ€“and we should have run out of toleranceâ€”for tinkering.
The UKâ€™s Department for International Development (DfID), for one, has championed partnerships with the private sector as an â€œengine for growth.â€ Its financing of private sector firms has skyrocketed to an estimated Â£580 million pounds, up from Â£68m in 2012. Yet a recent report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact gave the watchdog groupâ€™s second worst rating to DfIDâ€™s work with businesses, noting that much of it has taken place without much focus on targets or specific benefits for people living in poverty.
Most of the documentâ€™s references to rights concern property, labour, women, children, migration and trafficking. All validâ€”and important references in a financing agreement that might in the past have considered rights references as less relevant. But why are there no rights associated with trade and debt? Do these have no implications for the rights of workers, women, children, migrants and so on?
Many assumptions are made about existing institutions and systems as adequate platforms on which to base financing for the future. The International Monetary Fund, for example, remains integral to an international financial safety net, despite its less than stellar record in the 2008 global financial crisis. It is asked to take steps such as strengthening analytical tools for sovereign debt management and improving early warning of macroeconomic and financial risks. Developing countries, especially the poorest, are to be assisted in developing capacities to benefit from opportunities in international trade and investment treaties, despite all the evidence that these do not fundamentally work in their favour. What would it mean instead to help these countries develop capacities to question, shape and negotiate/renegotiate treaties with clear benefits in terms of sustainable development and human rights?
The calls for inclusive and sustainable industrialization and promoting small and medium enterprises are good elements. Yet is this coherent with current trade rules, which have done much to block the process of restructuring economies, and to prevent new industries and businesses to emerge and move up global value chains? Trade and investment language has very little to say on what one forthcoming UN report refers to as a spaghetti bowl of bilateral and other agreements deliberately being used by some rich countries to keep themselves high on global value chains, while corporations deploy dispute mechanisms to, for example, shut down the kinds of national industrial policy that allowed the Asian economic â€œmiraclesâ€ to happen. Might more â€œmiraclesâ€ undercut the steady supply of cheap labour and raw materials on which consumption by the rich everywhere has come to depend?
But real â€œempowerment,â€ as it were, remains with the powerful, including the international financial institutionsâ€”and not just in traditional economic arenas. For example, the Action Plan gives the Global Financing Facility (GFF), housed at the World Bank, a key role on health issues, as reported in a recent Global Policy Watch. It is being cited as a model for SDG implementation. The GFFâ€™s working group comprises some UN agencies, as well as twice as many northern as southern governments. All foundations and NGOs involved are from the United States and United Kingdom. Does that pattern bode well for the future? And there is the Bank itself. An independent evaluation of its support for public-private partnerships found that these tended to measure success as profitability, with lesser consideration for social and other safeguards. Or, as one Bank insider confirmed in the case of Tunisia, the Bank was content to lend money before its recent revolution, even knowing that corruption and human rights violations had reached horrific proportions, because the returns were consistently good.Â
One of the final sticking points in negotiating the Addis Action Plan involved scaling up the current UN expert body on taxation to a more powerful UN commission. Most countries agree that international tax cooperation is a good idea, but rich countries fought hard against the idea of doing it within the UN, preferring business as usual at the OECD and the IMF. In a side event during the June negotiations, a rich country delegate acknowledged that his government would never go for a commission, because the UN already has too many, it would cost more money, and besides, if the commission became a really robust review mechanism, countries would drop out, as has happened with climate change.
Tax avoidance is now an issue of global proportions. Many countries cannot effectively tax the hugely wealthy transnational corporations that operate within their borders. As stated in the recent report by the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), half of global trade now occurs within related corporate structures, a strategy companies use in part to avoid taxation. In the Action Plan, three OECD initiatives are singled out in talking about international tax cooperation, despite the fact that its members include some of the worldâ€™s foremost tax havens and are home to most of the largest tax-avoiding transnationals. The fox appears not only to be in the hen house, as the saying goes, but also to own it, to set all the rules and to oversee compliance.
What does it mean for the Action Plan to then also promise to â€œmake sure that all companies, including multinationals, pay taxes to the governments of countries where economic activity occurs and value is created, in accordance with national and international laws and policies?â€ How likely is that to happen, particularly with the amount of corporate money now flooding some political systems?
For developing countries, the initial emphasis in the Action Plan is on modernizing national tax systems and integrating the informal sectorâ€”default workplace for the poor. Beyond the obvious equity issues, how much will be collected from them? And, if so many tax issues are outside national borders, how much will â€œtechnical improvementsâ€ actually achieve? The recent G7 communiquÃ© echoes the same message, with a commitment to helping developing countries build their â€œtax administration capacities.â€
The Action Plan as a whole gives the private sector a major pass, continuing the tradition from earlier FfD rounds. It suggests â€œregulatory frameworks to better align private sector incentives with public goals,â€ but this is to be done through incentives, without specifying that these probably need to involve consistent legal requirements backed by stringent enforcement that, at least in the past, have had the most notable impact on shifting corporate behaviour. As it stands, current profitability perspectives are too short-term for change to reliably work any other way. Within a single paragraph, the Action Plan mentions international labour standards and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, both positives, but then also fits in the UN Global Compact, widely viewed as an example of how the UN has allowed itself to be used for corporate publicity objectives, with minimal, if any, meaningful changes in behaviour.
A call for increased transparency and accountability for private philanthropic organizations is nice, but how, exactly? And why just â€œencourageâ€ philanthropic donors to manage in some cases billion-dollar endowments through impact investing that takes social and environmental considerations on board? Since many benefit from special tax provisions, why not require them to do this? How much policy coherence is involved if a foundation can fund health programmes on one hand, and invest in a global conglomerate producing products undercutting rural livelihoods (while avoiding taxes) on the other?
A court in the Netherlands, based on a suit by a climate change NGO, set a new precedent by drawing a link between poor domestic emissions reduction policy and climate damages, and requiring the state to achieve scaled-up emissions targets. In Indonesia, a court annulled water privatization because excessive price increases would violate of peopleâ€™s rights to water. And the Pope condemned carbon trading as part of the same market mentality that led to climate change in the first place.
Around the world, some forms of insecurity could be read as protests against a world order viewed as unfair. Upholding the â€œrule of lawâ€ has become an increasingly common refrain, yet better laws, court systems and the like will only go so far as long as the root causes of injustice remain, and as long as the rule of law is applied primarily to individual countries, and not to all the activities that cut across them and deepen inequities.
Inside the UN, during the last round of FfD3 negotiations, as rich countries attempted to join forces around removing a reference to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which has been endorsed by nearly every country, a delegate from a small Pacific country took the floor with an informed and impassioned plea. He reminded delegates that the same conversations had already taken place to negotiate the convention, that tobacco use has a profound impact on health and national health care costs, and that this was about the lowest-hanging fruit around.
His willingness to take such a visible stand required determination. The powerful US Chamber of Commerce is not only a regular contributor in UN â€œpartnershipâ€ forums, but also among the last remaining supporters of selling tobacco products outside the industry itself. The United States is one of only a couple of countries that have not signed the convention.
But the new wealth remains concentrated in relatively few hands, and it will be states who bear the primary responsibility for financing development. Even countries with now thriving economies face disproportionately large numbers of people whose basic needs and essential services are not being met.
Legal systems often define equality as treating equally those who are similarly situated, and treating differently those who are differently situated. So, either the world is already equal, or we have to respond to its differences. Since the first case is clearly impossible to makeâ€”and, interestingly, is never made in terms of the UN Security Council or global economic governance, at least by those who control these and are selectively willing to assume â€œdifferentiated responsibilityâ€ â€”only the second case remains.
Responding to current differences requires all efforts to balance needs and responsibilities, and to factor in often big gaps in capabilitiesâ€”in other words, common but differentiated responsibility. This principle is fundamental to any notion of global partnership, and should be applied on both international and national levels.
Without common but differentiated responsibility, in the context of FfD3, universal â€œresponsibilityâ€ essentially gives rich countries an exit from financing commitments. But so far, this does not also involve a retreat from dominance of trade, debt and international economic governance rules and forums that undercut the abilities of developing countries to develop and become â€œresponsibleâ€ on the same level.
Up until almost its final draft, the Action Plan ended with a dismaying penultimate paragraph that the agreement does not â€œcreate rights or obligations under international law.â€ UN agreements, no matter how critical their concerns, cannot work without a spirit of common commitment and solidarity. Undermine that, and we are left with a world with even less responsibility and ever deepening divides.
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[SAVE THE DATE- TRAINING SESSION] Making your voice heard: How to influence the post-2015 development agenda, 1:15-2:45 pm, Mon 23 March, UNHQ (NY)
SAVE THE DATE
‘Making your voice heard: How to influence the post-2015 development agenda’
1:15 – 2:45pm, Monday, 23 March
Room 2726 UN Secretariat Building, New York
Beyond2015, SD2015 and the Tel
Following up on last month’s training session, learn how to effectively influence governments and other key decision makers to make sure we bring about the world we want by 2030.
Please register your interest to participate in this training session as soon as possible as there is limited room capacity and participation will be confirmed on a first come, first serve basis. To register you need click here
Note: You will need to have already registered to attend the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations that are taking place at the UN between 23-27 March to have qualified for a pass to get into the UN building for this training OR you must already have a UN grounds pass to ensure access.
Draft Programme March Session; ECOSOC NGO Briefings; ECOSOC Integration Segment (30 March to 1 April
TO UN DESA NGO MAJOR GROUP & OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
The draft programme for the 23-27 March post-2015 negotiating session is available online here: https://
Anjali Rangaswami <email@example.com> Date: Fri, Mar 6, 2015
Subject: ECOSOC Integration Segment (30 March to 1 April) – Achieving sustainable development through employment creation and decent work for all To:
ECOSOC ▪ Integration Segment (30 March – 1 April 2015) Achieving sustainable development through employment creation and decent work for all
The online registration form should be completed no later than 20 March 2015. The tentative programme and the concept note are available at the 2015 Integration Segment website. A follow-up email to confirm your attendance will be sent shortly after submitting the online registration form. Please note that only invited guests will be confirmed for attendance. An agenda and other information for the meeting, including background documents and a logistics note will be available online shortly via the2015 Integration Segment website. Should you have any questions, kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org.