Agenda Item

Action date

20/03/2012

Background

In introducing the item, the Chair pointed out that sustainable development was a key component of the initial discussion on the post-2015 global development agenda and was a centre-piece of the Secretary-General’s Five Year Action Plan. HLCP had already envisaged this when it began its work on “Moving towards a fairer, greener, more sustainable globalization” in 2009. The report of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability as well as the forthcoming UNCTAD XIII conference, on the theme “Development-centred globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development”, also emphasized particular aspects of the broader debate. The challenge for the UN system was to strengthen linkages among the processes and gain clarity on its future direction, and that of the multilateral system as a whole, on sustainable development within the global development agenda.

Turning to the report on “Moving towards a Fairer, Greener and More Sustainable Globalization,” the Chair recalled that HLCP, at its previous session, had agreed to take up the revised report and to consider elements that might contribute to the UN system’s work in the lead-up to Rio+20 and beyond. The longer paper had been revised to reflect the comments received from CEB Executive Heads in response to the request from Mr. Somavia, Director-General of ILO, and the Chair, following the CEB retreat discussion on the previous draft of the paper in October 2011.

He thanked the writing team, Elliott Harris, Vice-Chair of HLCP, Angela Cropper, UNEP, and Raymond Torres, ILO, for their efforts in revising the report and for preparing a much shorter synthesis version of the paper which sought to present the core messages and key arguments of the paper in a more accessible and concise way.

The Vice-Chair, in introducing the revised report, expressed appreciation for the insightful and constructive comments by Executive Heads, which had been reflected in the document before the Committee. He noted that the basic thrust of the report - that the lack of policy coherence was the source of the inequalities and imbalances that characterized the results of globalization – was widely supported by them as was the notion that the process of globalization itself did not represent a problem. The challenge was rather to address the lack of policy coherence to ensure that globalization resulted in more equitable, sustainable and greener outcomes for a greater number of people and that it enabled inclusive growth, job creation, effective social protection and environmental conservation.

The Vice-Chair added that making globalization fairer, greener and more sustainable required a rebalancing and rethinking of development priorities. Improving the quality of economic growth by ensuring that growth was more balanced, stable and inclusive as well as putting in place comprehensive and effective social protection systems were among the critical interventions needed to promote greater fairness and equity. The UN system had an important role to play in facilitating greater policy coherence at all levels and supporting countries in developing suitable measures for achieving sustainable development. Reform of the existing system of global governance was needed, however, to ensure that the varied structures of the UN discharged their normative, operational, technical support and coordination functions more effectively and in response to country needs.

Complementing Mr. Harris’ presentation, Mr. Torres emphasized the need for more stocktaking of successful experiences of policy integration and coherence at the country, regional and global level. Ms. Angela Cropper underscored the need for policy coherence, and for the UN system to focus on core variables and for it to organize itself better, and more efficiently, in order to serve Member States. She also stressed the need for greater integration and enhanced lines of communication between the UN system and the international financial institutions.

Discussion

At the opening of the discussion, HLCP members were asked to share their views on the shorter synthesis paper, as well as on its potential uses by CEB. The Committee thanked the authors for their effort and work. Many members expressed appreciation for the clear, nuanced and well-argued synthesis paper.

Some members noted that the UN system was at a juncture of realignment and transformation and asserted that the synthesis paper provided much-needed impetus for the system to reflect on the role and relevance of global institutions in meeting current global demands and future challenges, particularly in the light of the far-reaching implications of geo-economic and political realignments.

One of the challenges for the multilateral system was to demonstrate its continued relevance in the face of rapid change. It was pointed out that the UN system brought to bear normative, operational, technical and research functions, all of which should be deployed in service to all Member States in order to meet the universal challenge of sustainable development. The UN’s important convening role was highlighted in this connection.

The role of the UN in advancing policy coherence and supporting Member States included presenting alternative models of globalization and assisting individual countries to develop appropriate policies that fit their specific needs. The UN system needed to be more pro-active in addressing complex development issues and should play a forward-looking role in contributing to the discussions surrounding the development of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and elements of the post-2015 development agenda. HLCP members also pointed to the tension that existed between the broader system-wide view on global challenges and the narrower perspectives related to individual mandates and funding modalities. The paper challenged the UN system to re-align itself to a changed global environment, reflecting fully how the process of globalization has affected it, and to review options for altering its modus operandi.

The synthesis paper was seen as thought-provoking and useful in informing the thinking of Executive Heads regarding broader development-related processes, including QCPR and the post-2015 development agenda. In this regard, the importance of a people-centred approach was highlighted, encompassing all dimensions of human security. It was also stressed that the paper should explicitly enumerate the trade-offs impacting particularly on the social pillar, and address inter-generational issues. Some members underscored the continuing importance of the economic pillar for sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Action

HLCP took note of the full report and agreed that a slightly revised version of the synthesis report, also taking into account key comments made during the discussion, would be prepared for transmission to CEB at its Spring 2012 session for its further consideration (Annex V).