World crisis calls for new economic governance partnership – UN official

9 March 2009
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang

The “enormous challenges” facing the world present a unique opportunity to forge a new partnership for governance of the world economy, the chief of the United Nations’ development arm told a meeting of advisers that opened in New York today.

The Committee for Development Policy – consisting of 24 experts with diverse development experience who advise the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – opened its 11th session today, focusing on the achievement of international goals in public health.

In his opening remarks to the body, Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs said that the worst economic crises since the great depression have thrown many more people into poverty.

“But they also present a unique opportunity for the United Nations and, in particular, the Economic and Social Council, to provide leadership in addressing the crisis,” he said,

For that purpose, he told the Committee, “the quality and relevance of the work of ECOSOC need to be strengthened further. In this effort, your expert advice is indispensable.”

In the area of public health, he noted that developing countries have recently made significant strides towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ambitious targets to slash poverty and other ills by 2015.

He noted, however, that there are still large gaps between what has been achieved and what still needs to be achieved, and the Committee’s focus – on persistent inequalities in healthcare – is very timely.

“It is not acceptable that a child has a significantly higher probability of dying before reaching the age of five simply because he or she was born to a poorer family or in a poor country,” he said, calling for new donor approaches to the problem.

Turning to the triennial review of the list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), with which the Committee is also tasked, he acknowledged that both joining and exiting the category seem to provoke a great deal of agitation for countries.

For that reason, he welcomed the dialogue the Committee has held with countries potentially affected by its recommendations, including Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

In that light, he invited Committee members to propose ways by which development partners could further ease the transition out of the category, by reducing the uncertainty caused by the phasing out of special support measures available to LDCs.

“In other words, their vulnerability must be reduced and their graduation must be durable,” he said.

The 11th session of the Committee for Development Policy runs through 13 March.


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