CEB continued its consideration of African development and the multidisciplinary response required from the United Nations system given the interdependent nature of the development process in Africa. Board considerations focused on the need for clarity with respect to the various initiatives in the United Nations system on Africa. The Board was of the view that the approach the system was taking should be articulated clearly to Member States and to African Governments in particular.

Emerging challenges that had an impact on United Nations system efforts in support of African development were (a) the dramatic increase in food prices that underscored the need to raise agricultural productivity and find additional resources to fight malnutrition and hunger; (b) the slowing world economy that may strain donor efforts to mobilize development finance; and (c) the need for more rapid progress in the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations to improve market access for developing countries. The United Nations system could, however, with increased assistance and strong African leadership, assist African Governments to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are translated from hope to reality in Africa.

CEB members, in that regard, welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative in launching the Millennium Development Goal Africa Steering Group and the Millennium Development Goal Africa Working Group and pledged their support for the process. The Secretary-General stressed that the groups should not duplicate the work of existing coordination mechanisms such as the Chief Executives Board and the United Nations Development Group, but should focus on gaps in day-to-day operational collaboration between United Nations system organizations and international financial institutions.

The Millennium Development Goal Africa Steering Group and the Millennium Development Goal Africa Working Group were launched to galvanize support for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed goals in Africa. They brought together senior leadership of key international financial institutions, the United Nations system and multilateral and regional organizations. Seven thematic groups were established to carry the work forward as follows: (a) agriculture and food security; (b) education; (c) health; (d) infrastructure and trade facilitation; (e) national statistical systems; (f) aid predictability; and (g) improved country-level collaboration. CEB members have a critical role to play in the initiative and in the thematic groups relevant to their work, including leading the thematic groups.