Economic and social progress is one of the three pillars of action in the framework for international cooperation established by the Millennium Declaration. In that area, the framework fixes specific, time-bound targets and performance measures for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

And it sets eight Millennium Development Goals, each of far-reaching importance: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; to achieve universal primary education; to promote gender equality and empower women; to reduce child mortality; to improve maternal health; to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; to ensure environmental sustainability; and to develop a global partnership for development.

This chapter begins by setting the development objectives of the Millennium Declaration in the context of the wider UN development agenda. It describes both the UN system’s strategy and inter-agency collaborative work to support the achievement of those objectives. It also covers the system’s efforts to address in this area the special needs of Africa, on which the Millennium Declaration puts a particular emphasis.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) must be understood in the context of the UN conferences and summits on economic and social issues. Although these did not originate as a formally linked series of conferences, they shared similar perspectives and processes. Each conference concentrated on a different dimension of development, but always in terms of its impact on and implications for the human person. Each proceeded through a participatory process, engaging all relevant actors in the UN system, all Member States, and an array of non-State actors.

Together, these conferences have generated global consensus and shaped the policy orientation of Member States and of the UN system in a wide range of development areas, such as poverty eradication, employment and social inclusion, food security, health, education, environment, human rights, women and gender equality, children, population and human settlements.

The inclusive way in which the conferences were conceived and organized became a crucial factor in securing the broad engagement needed to sustain their effective follow-up. Nonetheless, the interconnections among the development challenges confronting states and their peoples proved to require approaches not only global in character, but also multisectoral in concentration. None of the conference outcomes could be enduringly advanced independently of the others. The need clearly existed for a coordinated and integrated follow-up to the whole series of UN conferences, which would come to include the historic Millennium Summit. The leadership exercised by the UN Economic and Social Council in guiding this effort has received—and will continue to receive—the strong support of the Chief Executives Board.

Two international conferences that followed the Millennium Summit have helped to round out the UN global development agenda: the International Conference on Financing for Development, convened in Monterrey in March 2002, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in September 2002. Monterrey produced a new global compact that commits developing countries to improve their policies and governance and simultaneously calls on developed countries to increase support, especially by providing developing countries with more and better aid, debt relief and greater access to markets. Johannesburg built a foundation for practical action to implement commitments on sustainable development. This included: a clear programme of action in key areas relating to sustainable resources, and innovative approaches to voluntary partnerships and their links to government commitments.

The Millennium Declaration has greatly facilitated the UN system’s effort to achieve coordinated and integrated follow-up to the landmark conferences and summits in the development field. It has helped CEB to expand its focus from programmatic, sectoral matters to include—and indeed focus on—strategic issues of system-wide concern. Since 2001, CEB has organized its work around the themes identified in the Secretary-General’s “Road map towards the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.” Building on this “Road Map,” CEB has been devising and promoting common strategies to advance the UN system’s contribution to achieving an effective, coordinated follow-up to different aspects of the Millennium Declaration and to related outcomes of other global conferences. In this effort, CEB has aimed both to support intergovernmental follow-up processes and to drive effective inter-agency responses.

In a way that has simultaneously built on and reinforced this inter-agency effort, nearly all of the intergovernmental bodies of the organizations that make up the CEB membership have sought to frame their strategies and policies around a common set of goals. In 2001, for instance, the World Bank’s governing body adopted a multi-year Strategic Framework that explicitly aligned the Bank’s efforts with the goals of the Millennium Declaration. In 2003, the Development Committee reaffirmed the shared commitment of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to achieving the MDGs, particularly the goal of reducing poverty. Similar inter-governmental processes have been underway throughout the rest of the UN system, bringing it together in an unprecedented fashion.

The UN system’s strategy

Three premises have guided the UN system’s strategy to support implementation of the Millennium Declaration’s development objectives. First is the holistic nature of humancentred development and the consequential linkages and interdependencies both among all three pillars of collective action addressed in the Declaration and among its development goals. For example, while the goal of reducing and ultimately eradicating extreme poverty should be understood as central, progress towards it depends heavily on progress towards all the Declaration’s other objectives. Consider how hunger is the single largest contributor to disease, weakening the immune system, reducing capacity to recover from infection and inhibiting achievement of the goals relating to health. Malnutrition has consequences for goals relating to different stages in the lifecycle: it limits school completion for children; reduces labour productivity and jeopardizes employment, and hence poverty reduction, among adults; and increases the risk of degenerative diseases in later life. At the same time, lack of progress in stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis will jeopardize improvements in areas such as education, employment and health services.

The second premise of the UN system’s strategy is that the achievement of the Declaration’s goals and targets requires sustained and, in most cases, enhanced economic growth. This is particularly so in countries facing the greatest development challenges. The UN system’s strategy has therefore placed a core emphasis on improving the conditions for growth in developing countries.

This relates directly to a third basic premise: that the achievement of the Millennium Declaration’s development objectives requires the creation of a supportive, enabling international environment. A successful, pro-development and timely conclusion of the Doha Trade Round and the provision of more aid and debt relief have so far fallen short of the Monterrey vision. The UN system stands united in its commitment to realize that vision.

Box 2.1: The Follow-up to Monterrey

As the Millennium Project Report has pointed out, more aid will need to be provided in forms that can flexibly meet the incremental costs to developing countries of meeting the MDGs, thereby promoting sound governance through longer-term commitments and enabling financing for the recurring costs. In order to ensure debt sustainability, a larger proportion of the additional aid should take the form of grants. At the same time, considerable scope exists for increasing the effectiveness of aid: by improving the alignment of aid with national development strategies and priorities, and by aligning donor policies and practices with those of the recipient countries.

Box 2.2: The “Three Ones”

From these premises, the UN system’s strategy for advancing the Millennium Declaration’s development objectives has proceeded along four components:

  • Analysis: defining and assessing the policy dimensions of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, based on a consensus among partners for the reforms, investments, financing options and strategies for “scaling up.”
  • Campaigning and advocacy: collaboration with a wide range of partners, extending well beyond the UN family, to foster a self-sustaining movement, with strong national, regional and international roots.
  • Operations: goal-driven assistance to address directly the key constraints to progress, guided by the mandates, comparative advantages and resources of the UN system at the country level.
  • Monitoring: tracking and reviewing progress towards the MDGs. 25.

The Millennium Project has sought to analyze and identify the most promising strategies for meeting the MDGs. Drawing on expertise from a wide array of research institutions, and with the support of many UN system organizations, the Project has put forward practical ways to guide ongoing national and international poverty reduction efforts, including key operational priorities, organizational means of implementation and financing structures.

The Millennium Campaign has, in turn, served as the main platform for the UN system’s advocacy strategy in support of the Declaration’s implementation. The Campaign has mobilized and reinforced political support for the Declaration by working with parliamentary networks, local authorities, the media, faith-based organizations, youth organizations, the business sector, NGOs and other entities outside the UN system. The campaign and advocacy efforts have been building broad-based coalitions to promote the MDGs and to work with industrialized countries on raising support for increased aid, debt relief and expanded access to markets, technology and investments.

At the operational level, UN organizations have focused on mainstreaming the MDGs into their programmes and activities. The country-owned and country-driven Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the UN Common Country Assessments (CCA) and UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) are all being geared to help maximize the coherence and effectiveness of the system’s support for country-level implementation of the Millennium Declaration.

Box 2.3: United Nations Development Group: Coordinating UN country-level support for the Millennium Declaration

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers provide an important link among national public actions, donor support and development outcomes towards meeting the MDGs. They are prepared by governments through a participatory process engaging civil society and involving the World Bank, the IMF and other development partners.

As the framework for domestic policies and programmes to reach the MDGs in a given country, the PRSP serves as the basis for concessional lending by the World Bank and the IMF. When formulated before a PRSP, Common Country Assessments provide useful analytical inputs for preparing the national poverty reduction strategy, which itself can then contribute to the UN Development Assistance Framework.

The UNDAF represents the collective contribution of UN organizations to addressing identified development challenges at the country level. As a common strategic framework for UN operational activities, UNDAF provides both: an integrated response to national priorities and needs; and the legal basis for detailing the modalities and content of UN work in supporting developing countries.

The UNDAF results-matrix identifies areas for joint programming and shows how the concrete results of the programmes and projects of each organization will contribute to national development goals. Led by the Resident Coordinator, the UN Country Teams assist the incorporation of the MDGs in national poverty reduction strategies, including through the PRSP process. Inter-agency reflection is now underway on how to enhance the integration of non-resident UN organizations into this process, and, more generally, on how to ensure that development outcomes at the country level benefit from all capacities available within the system, operational and analytical.

To complement these efforts, “Theme Groups” provide country-level fora for sharing information on key cross-sectoral areas, such as gender equality, human rights, HIV/AIDS, food security and rural development. These groups help to advance a common vision to shape the UNDAF. They facilitate the efforts of UN Country Teams to promote complementarities, particularly when it comes to furthering the key objectives of country ownership and national capacity. In addition to representatives of UN organizations, members of these groups include governments, donors and civil society. In the specific case of HIV/AIDS, the overall coordinating work of the UN Theme Group steers support for implementation of National Aids Strategies, being provided from within fully-integrated UN Country Team Implementation Support Plans.

At the regional level, the five UN regional commissions have contributed significantly to raising awareness; conducted research and policy analysis; and promoted policy dialogues and exchanges of national experiences through their intergovernmental fora. Their regional reports—prepared in cooperation with the UN Secretariat, the specialized agencies and other regional partners—have evidenced both the trends and heterogeneity within regions; analyzed the underlying causes influencing sub-regional divergences; identified good practices; and provided policy perspectives and recommendations for action.

The regional commissions have also fostered and facilitated policy exchanges and knowledge-sharing on key issues that, while relevant to all countries, need to be addressed in ways that take into account the varying circumstances of different regions and countries, such as: relationships among poverty reduction, growth and equity; conditions for a sustained process of poverty reduction; links between economic policies and the social MDGs; the combination of broad-based human capital formation with social protection and specific antipoverty programmes; and policies for addressing inequalities.

The regional coordination meetings organized by the Commissions, and called for by the Economic and Social Council, have facilitated harmonization of the UN system’s activities at the regional and sub-regional levels. The meetings provide a mechanism for coordinating the various activities of UN system organizations and strengthening the effectiveness of their technical assistance to help countries integrate the MDGs and other priority objectives into their policy frameworks.

The annual reports of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration stem from a broad system of monitoring and reporting to track global, regional and national progress towards the MDGs. These reports have provided an overview of progress in implementing the Declaration’s commitments and a comprehensive statistical analysis on progress towards the goals.

They have been based on global and regional monitoring by an Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators, coordinated by UN-DESA; on country-level monitoring coordinated by UNDP; and on other inputs from many parts of the system. They have also been complemented by an array of detailed progress reports produced by individual organizations. The most wide-ranging of these is the World Bank and IMF’s annual “Global Monitoring Report,” which provides an integrated assessment of progress on policies and actions needed to achieve the MDGs and related conference outcomes. 

This inter-agency effort has been accompanied by monitoring and reporting on individual MDGs and related internationally agreed goals undertaken by the UN organizations and agencies most directly concerned, under the guidance of their respective governing bodies and with the support of other parts of the UN system. As noted above, country-level reporting by UN Country Teams has focused increasingly on monitoring MDG implementation.

Box 2.4: Tracking progress on the MDGs

Inter-agency collaboration

The growing number of inter-agency initiatives in the development area is indicative of the UN system’s commitment to join forces in advancing the economic and social objectives of the Millennium Declaration. The following examples demonstrate the range of collective work being undertaken toward each of the MDGs, with additional detail provided in an annex to this report.

Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger

The first—and in many ways, over-arching—goal of the Millennium Declaration, to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, has provided a core focus for the system’s collaborative efforts, at the conceptual and the operational levels.

Eradicating extreme poverty

The global conferences established a policy framework for an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development most conducive to poverty eradication. That frame-work and the Millennium Declaration’s vision of a “fully inclusive and equitable” globalization together have guided UN system support for progress towards eradicating poverty.

Box 2.5: The Copenhagen commitments to eradicate poverty

Decent and productive employment is key to eradicating poverty, and, in this context, the Millennium Declaration focuses especially on the needs and aspirations of young people. Identifying the most relevant demographic and other trends and achieving farsighted targeting of particularly vulnerable social groups are among the main concerns guiding inter-agency collaboration to enhance the effectiveness of the system’s work towards poverty eradication.

The Millennium Declaration resolved to “develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work.” Inter-agency work in this field aims to promote decent work for poverty alleviation and concentrates on unemployed youth as a special group. In addition, an ad hoc inter-agency task force is coordinating the activities of UN agencies with programmes on young people. The task force aims to convey a clear and consistent message about the need to link investments in young people to achieving the MDGs. In support of the preparations for the 2005 World Summit, the task force will launch an advocacy campaign on “The youth face of the MDGs.”

Through tripartite consensus and in close collaboration with other UN system organizations, the International Labour Organization has developed three interlinked concepts to advance decent and productive employment as a broad strategy for eradicating poverty: the Decent Work Agenda, as a tool for development and social inclusion; productive employment for women and men, as the main route out of poverty; and the achievement of a fair globalization as a source of global stability and rising living standards.

Box 2.6: Decent work and a fair globalization

Social integration, one of the core issues addressed by the Social Summit, is essential for a society that respects every individual. In many places, however, this remains a distant goal and therefore requires intensified efforts to mainstream it into the pursuit of the MDGs. As a result of the social changes brought by globalization, communities worldwide have come to bear enormous pressures. The social ills of increasing inequality, poverty and lack of opportunities have had a forceful, negative impact on community well-being. Social integration has economic, environmental, political, human rights and security dimensions: any attempt to create peaceful societies must foster social integration based on the promotion of human rights, non-discrimination, equality of opportunity and the participation of all people, taking into account not only the human rights and needs of people living today, but also the rights of future generations. Yet, in many countries, groups with special needs remain marginalized in the political process, even though their participation is critical to address their concerns effectively and, generally, to promote an equitable society. In particular, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and the older poor frequently suffer discrimination and the denial of their basic human rights:

  • Indigenous peoples are often the most marginalized populations in society, deprived of their right to development, including access to education, to healthcare, to water and to participation in the policy processes that affect their lives;
  • Persons with disabilities require special focus and legal instruments to protect them from discrimination and to ensure their rights and equal opportunities in society; and
  • The needs of growing ageing populations are of increasing concern, for without reform of the current systems for financing pensions and long-term care, future generations of older persons may be left without adequate social protection.

Box 2.7: Coordinated inter-agency action in support of special social groups

Several UN organizations, including UN-HABITAT, the World Bank and UNDP, are working together to help eradicate poverty in urban areas and to promote sustainable urbanization: that is, to promote the role of cities as engines of economic growth and social development.

Box 2.8: Addressing the urbanization of poverty

Eradicating extreme hunger

FAO, IFAD and WFP are working together to address the immediate and long-term challenges of fighting hunger and achieving food security.

Box 2.9: Combatting hunger and poverty

In order to strengthen worldwide efforts to fight malnutrition, the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), a partnership among UN organizations, governments and NGOs, is analyzing trends and raising awareness on nutrition issues, galvanizing global action against malnutrition and promoting cooperation among UN agencies and partner organizations in support of national efforts to end malnutrition.

Box 2.10: Nutrition and the MDGs

Achieving universal primary education

Education is key to giving people choices and, fundamentally, to breaking the cycle of poverty. From this perspective, the Millennium Declaration especially highlights the goals of universal primary schooling and of gender equality in primary education—and sets specific targets for their achievement. The goals have helped galvanize inter-agency collaboration and joint initiatives, including strategies for achieving the objectives of Education for All (EFA) by 2015. The UN system strategies towards EFA cover a range of efforts, from collective advocacy, intensified networking and broader partnerships and commitments to resource mobilization and the inclusion of education sector goals within national planning frameworks.

Box 2.11: Education for All

Promoting gender equality and empowering women

Assuring equal rights and opportunities of women and men is a central objective of the Millennium Declaration. The Declaration addresses gender equality and the empowerment of women as human rights and as essential instruments for fighting poverty, hunger and disease and for stimulating development that is truly sustainable. It also embodies specific commitments to combat violence against women and to promote implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). And, as described above, it sets a clear target, encompassing all levels of education, for eliminating gender disparities in education by 2015.

Targeted, women-specific initiatives and an active and visible policy of mainstreaming gender perspectives in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all policies and programmes are long-standing priorities for the UN system. The Millennium Declaration’s commitments have given renewed impetus and focus to the close inter-agency collaboration and coordination in these areas.

In that spirit, the outcome of the ten-year review of implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, conducted by the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2005, reaffirmed, in a special declaration, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The declaration emphasized that full and effective implementation is essential to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those agreed at the Millennium Summit, and it reiterated the crucial importance that Member States attached to the UN system’s collective contribution and engagement towards that end.

Box 2.12: Inter-agency collaboration on gender equality and empowerment of women

Reducing child mortality
The Millennium Declaration committed countries to reducing by two-thirds the mortality rate among children under the age of five. Various organizations of the system have launched important initiatives in this field, working with non-UN partners. These initiatives encompass child immunization, improving child health in the home, child survival and healthy newborns. Over the years, UN organizations have scored major successes in immunizing children and reducing child mortality. An inter-agency working group involving UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank focuses on household and community IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness). Another multi-agency initiative, the Child Survival Partnership (CSP), formed in 2004, aims at providing a forum for coordinated action to address the main conditions that affect children's health. CSP enables governments and partners to agree on consistent approaches and stimulates concerted efforts towards their implementation. The Healthy Newborn Partnership, an inter-agency group formed in 2000, promotes attention and action to improve newborn health and survival. It also provides a forum for information exchanges on programmatic, research, training and communication issues. The Partnership collaborates actively with other groups working on related objectives, such as the Inter-Agency Group for Safe Motherhood.

Box 2.13: Reducing child mortality through immunization

Improving maternal health

Universal access to reproductive health care is the starting point for maternal health; it should be pursued as an integral part of efforts to ensure the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of health. Making reproductive health services accessible to all is, in turn, essential to meeting the Millennium Declaration’s goals related to child mortality, HIV AIDS and gender equality and to meeting its over-arching goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. This approach, and the specific target set in the Millennium Declaration for significantly reducing maternal mortality ratios are together providing a renewed basis for engaging the contribution of an array of UN organizations and for adding a new focus to the UN system’s work on women’s rights and on women’s education and health. Inter-agency collaboration covers a broad range, from identifying and disseminating best practices to orienting social investments.

Box 2.14: Global and regional initiatives to improve maternal and newborn health

Combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
The UN system has mounted joint efforts to address the multi-faceted challenges posed by HIV/AIDS and to advance the Millennium Declaration’s goals of reversing its spread and of reversing the incidence of malaria and other diseases, such as tuberculosis, across a broad range: from awareness-raising, advocacy and resource mobilization to capacity-building and delivery of health services. In fact, across all these areas, multiagency action has increasingly become the norm. For example, FAO, UNICEF and WFP are collectively supporting the improvement of food and nutrition security and the care for orphans and other children living with HIV and AIDS in southern Africa. In another example, the IFAD-managed Belgium Survival Fund Joint Programme brings together WHO, UNICEF and IFAD to provide assistance to HIV/AIDS orphans in Uganda and elsewhere in Southern Africa.

Launched by the Secretary-General in February 2003, the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance, chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, has served to complement the work of the UN and other agencies on transmission and prevention, and to chart the way forward on HIV/AIDS and its linkages to governance in Africa in three interrelated areas: the implications of sustained human capital losses for the maintenance of state structures and economic development; the viability (technical, fiscal and structural) of using antiretroviral (ARV) medication as an instrument of mitigation; and the synthesis of best practices in HIV/AIDS and governance in key development areas, with a view to formulating policy recommendations, in partnership with UN and other agencies.

Box 2.15: Responding to HIV and AIDS: Joint UN approaches in action

In 2003, concern over the worsening HIV/AIDS pandemic and its severe consequences on food security, public health, educational systems and the institutional capacity in affected countries—particularly in Africa—led CEB to launch a renewed, comprehensive inter-agency effort that would bring to bear against the pandemic all of the system’s knowledge and operational capacity relating to its causes and its socio-economic effects.

Box 2.16: Addressing the triple crisis of AIDS, food security and governance

The Millennium Declaration rightly recognizes other major diseases—malaria and other old but re-emerging threats like tuberculosis—as the cause of millions of deaths in the developing world, affecting the social and economic fabric of societies and countries’ prospects for development. Within the UN system, WHO has the lead in this area. Also, as noted in the Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, eighty countries are benefiting from over $290 million for malaria control, provided through the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Efforts are also being expanded to prevent malaria during pregnancy, through mosquito net distribution and preventive drug treatment.

Ensuring environmental sustainability
For the effort to ensure environmental sustainability, the Millennium Declaration sets specific targets, encompassing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and improvements in the conditions of life of slum dwellers. In this area, the UN system draws guidance from the principles of sustainability adopted at Rio and reinforced at Johannesburg and from the overall commitment to action embodied in the Millennium Declaration’s targets for integrating these principles into country policies and programmes and for reversing the loss of environmental resources. UN organizations are working together across a span of issues, from helping to forge international agreements on the environment to addressing specific environmental challenges, such as freshwater, water and sanitation, energy, oceans and coastal areas, and consumption and production patterns.

Box 2.17: Working together for environmental sustainability

In 2003, CEB adopted a set of approaches and guidelines to orient the system’s followup to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The aim was to strengthen system-wide support for the implementation of WSSD outcomes and effectively to integrate them into the follow-up processes for other relevant UN conferences. In so doing, CEB strove to maximize the impact of the WSSD outcomes on progress across the MDGs.

As part of this process and under the aegis of CEB’s agencies, inter-agency collaborative arrangements for the follow-up to WSSD—dealing with water and sanitation (UN-Water), energy (UN-Energy), oceans and coastal areas (UN-Oceans), and patterns of consumption and production—were established or strengthened.

UN-Water’s World Water Assessment Programme is an integral part of the UN system’s contribution to the realization of the Millennium Declaration commitments to “halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water” and to “stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources, by developing water development strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies.” The main product of the World Water Assessment Programme is the World Water Development Report. Released on World Water Day 2003, its first edition, “Water for People, Water for Life,” provided an initial assessment of progress towards achieving water-related goals in the context of the larger pursuit of sustainable development. The report’s second edition will be released on World Water Day 2006.

Box 2.18: Mobilizing the UN system for freshwater resources

Efforts to manage forests and combat deforestation and to improve energy efficiency and access are two other key dimensions of sustainable development, which the UN system is increasingly approaching as common priorities for both analysis and operations.

Box 2.19: Managing forests and combatting deforestation

Box 2.20: Collaboration on energy

A key cross-sectoral issue for the UN system is climate change and its implications for achieving the Millennium Declaration’s objectives of ensuring environmental sustainability and protecting the ecosystem. Individually and collaboratively, UN system organizations are working to raise awareness, to help forge international agreements, to carry out analytical work and to assist countries in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Box 2.21: Coordinating responses to climate change

In the Millennium Declaration, world leaders resolved to intensify cooperation to reduce the number and effects of natural and man-made disasters. This commitment followed the greater awareness engendered by the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990–1999) and by the first World Conference on Disaster Reduction (Yokohama, 23–27 May 1994).

Box 2.22: Coordinating responses to natural disasters

Developing a global partnership for development

In the Millennium Declaration, world leaders resolved “to create an environment—at the national and global levels alike—which is conducive to development and to the elimination of poverty.” Towards this end, they committed to “an open, equitable, rulebased, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading and financial system.” Subsequent UN conferences in Monterrey, Johannesburg and São Paulo have emphasized the link between trade and development. By one estimate, the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda could bring 144 million people out of poverty by 2015, significantly contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.14 The Bretton Woods institutions and all other UN agencies engaged in development are working closely with the World Trade Organization to help deliver on the promise of Doha.

Notwithstanding the great potential benefits that developing countries can expect from increased and improved participation in international trade and trade agreements, various constraints need to be overcome at the international and national levels so that trade can serve to address the most pressing human needs, enhancing opportunities for the poor and women, and to advance sustainable development. To support these priorities, UN organizations are actively supporting the efforts of developing countries to build supply capacities, enhance competitiveness and achieve diversification into the production of higher value and higher technological content. Of critical importance is the provision of trade-related technical and capacity building assistance that addresses both short-term needs of implementation and trade negotiations, and long-term needs of strengthening endogenous institutional, human and regulatory capacities.

Box 2.23: The Doha Development Agenda

Many UN system organizations are collaborating to build trade-related capacities, particularly in the least-developed countries, better to integrate them into the global economy and to enable them to reap greater benefits from globalization. A notable example is the Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance, which combines the efforts of IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank and WTO, in partnership with bilateral donors and recipient countries. The Integrated Framework supports national development plans with diagnostic studies to identify and respond to trade development needs. Its experience shows that reforming formal trade policies is not enough to stimulate growth. A need exists to address a range of obstacles, including weak institutions, deficient infrastructures and trade barriers in key markets.

In the area of commodities, which is the dominant sector in many developing countries, the UN system, with UNCTAD in the lead, has been focusing on constraints originating from the supply side and from difficult market entry conditions. Another focus of the work of UNCTAD, FAO and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) has been to identify possibilities for increased financing in the commodity sector.

Box 2.24: Cooperation on commodities

The goal of developing a global partnership for development provided one of the key platforms for the Monterrey Conference’s response to the concerns of Member States over the continuous trend of decline in official development assistance flows to developing countries, which remains their primary source of external funding. The outcome of the Conference, the Monterrey Consensus, derived from full and extensive collaboration among the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and other major stakeholders, such as the WTO. It aims to create a broad-based partnership between developed and developing countries, in order to explore ways of generating additional public and private financial resources to complement national efforts to mobilize domestic resources. As part of that partnership, the Monterrey Consensus sought to reverse the decline in ODA and to affirm the commitment of developed countries to the 0.7 UN Development target.

Monterrey and the actions taken by donors in its aftermath have had a beneficial impact on the magnitude of official assistance flows.15 Even with recent progress, however, additional funds will be necessary. As a result, along with efforts to establish timetables to reach the ODA target of 0.7 percent reaffirmed at Monterrey, attention has turned increasingly to finding sources of financing in addition to traditional ODA—now referred to as “Innovative sources of financing for Development.” Since 2003, initiatives by Heads of State, studies from independent experts and technical groups have been reviewing the feasibility and implications of various proposals. Recent meetings of the International Monetary and Finance Committee16 and the Development Committee17 have pursued the matter, and the General Assembly18 has requested that possibilities in this regard be given further consideration.

Box 2.25: Financing the development goals

The Millennium Declaration reaffirmed the resolve of the international community to “give greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society, in general, to contribute to the realization of the Organization’s goals and programmes.” Organizations of the UN system have forged strong partnerships with non- UN development actors on a wide range of issues and are working with the private sector and civil society organizations to help alleviate poverty and achieve the MDGs. An example is the UN’s Global Compact, an initiative of the Secretary-General to engage the business community in a common effort to support  internationally agreed principles in human rights, labour, environment and anticorruption. The Global Compact now involves nearly 2,000 companies and other stakeholders, operating in more than 70 countries.

Box 2.26: Partnerships with civil society

Least Developed Countries

In the Millennium Declaration, Heads of States pledged to address the special needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs); committed to ensuring the success of the Third United Nations Conference on the LDCs in May 2001; and, to this end, outlined the main support measures that industrialized countries should take to contribute to a successful outcome. Building on the mobilization of the system’s advocacy and analytical resources that characterized the Conference preparations, a strong, deliberate effort is now underway to ensure an effective coordination of the system’s support to the Conference’s follow-up.

Box 2.27: Working for the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action

Small Island Developing States

 In the context of their ongoing work to help small Island Developing States to address their economic and environmental vulnerabilities and to confront the challenges they face in trade and development and in human and institutional capacity development, UN organizations have provided advisory services and substantive support for implementing the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Commission on Sustainable Development guides these activities, which have been complemented by a wide range of multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Box 2.28: Partnerships for sustainable development of Small Island Developing States

Preparations for the Mauritius International Meeting, which undertook a ten-year review of the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action, built on this collaborative work and received strong inter-agency support. The meeting itself included a number of agency-sponsored panels and events, which helped produce an outcome that addressed the most pertinent perspectives, policies and strategies to advance the SIDS’ multidisciplinary agenda, including further inter-agency collaboration, to be pursued on an ongoing basis, to help ensure the follow-up to the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation. Towards this end, UN-DESA is devising a plan for coordinated and coherent partnership among UN agencies to secure the effective implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, within an interdisciplinary framework for collective action in research and analysis, technical advisory services and support for capacity-building.

Addressing the special needs of Africa

The Millennium Declaration places particular emphasis on the special needs of Africa and calls for focused support to “Africans in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty eradication and sustainable development.” The UN system has shown steadfast commitment to supporting Africans in their development efforts. This support is based on the principle of an Africa-owned and Africa-led development process and provided through international partnerships.

Launched in 2001, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) fully embraced the Millennium Declaration. NEPAD provides a collective, regional framework for political, social and economic renewal. Just as national action to implement the priorities of NEPAD contributes to achieving the MDGs, so does international support for NEPAD contribute to strengthening African countries’ commitment and capacity to achieve the MDGs.

NEPAD has become the guiding framework for coordinated efforts by UN organizations to help address the special needs of Africa. The UN system has adopted a three-tiered approach to coordinating its support for NEPAD. At the regional level, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) acts as the UN system’s key interlocutor with African countries on NEPAD. ECA’s yearly consultative meetings serve as the principal coordinating mechanism for the activities of UN organizations in Africa. Under a cluster arrangement designed to facilitate inter-agency coordination, UN organizations carry out support activities, working closely with the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the NEPAD secretariat. And at the country level, UN organizations coordinate their work through the Resident Coordinator System and through existing mechanisms, such as PRSPs and CCAs/UNDAFs.

For African countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals, substantially enhanced and sustained efforts by the international community will be required, particularly in improving market access for African goods, increasing ODA and debt relief to African countries, promoting both domestic and foreign investments, and facilitating the transfer of appropriate technology. In shaping priorities for inter-agency collaboration in support of NEPAD, particular attention is being given to human resource development and capacity-building. Their crucial importance in advancing the goals of NEPAD has been recognized by the African Union and highlighted in all recent studies and reports, from the Millennium Project Report to UNESCO’s Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report and the Commission for Africa Report.

The UN system views its support for NEPAD as an integral part of its contribution to implementing the Millennium Declaration. From this perspective, the system has provided essential support for implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which aims to review the performance of African countries in adhering to mutually agreed codes and standards of good governance. And the UN system has intensified assistance in education-related areas, particularly literacy, as key not only to developing the human resources needed to enable Africa to play its proper role in the global economy, but also to promoting democratic governance, fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, and building equitable knowledge societies. As part of this overall effort, UN agencies have helped to assess the institutional capacities of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in human resources development. In other MDG-related areas, the system has extended support in developing and implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). It has helped establish the NEPAD cities programme, preparing action plans for cities’ development, including environmental action plans. And, through UN Water/Africa, the system has made a significant contribution to bringing together UN and non-UN stakeholders at the national, subregional and regional levels to develop a water facility with a continent-wide portfolio of projects worth US$680 million.

The UN system is currently reviewing the effectiveness of these arrangements, with two objectives in mind: to shift further the focus of the inter-agency regional consultative mechanism from functioning as a forum for sharing information and identifying issues of common concern to operating as a vehicle for enhanced joint action and strategic coordination; and to align better the mechanism’s programme cluster arrangements with the planning and implementation of sub-regional and country programmes, thereby improving the overall alignment of the mechanism’s work.

Box 2.29: The Regional Inter-agency Coordination and Support Office


As shown in this chapter, the UN system has made significant progress in concerting its support to countries to meet the poverty eradication and development goals of the Millennium Declaration. The challenge remains, however, of shaping comprehensive strategies that fully reflect the interlinkages among the MDGs and that effectively integrate the wealth of policy inputs generated by the global conferences.

The UN system must, in turn, translate these strategies into policy advice that is concerted, but not monolithic. This means advice that brings to bear the totality of the system’s knowledge and experience to advance holistic, socially conscious approaches to sustainable growth and development; that flows from individual country realities and priorities; and that preserves policy space for developing countries to chart their own integration into the global economy. Beyond that, the UN system must strive to match progress in enhancing policy coherence with an adequate capacity to optimize the sequencing of UN interventions in a given country. The system also needs to continue to strengthen its capacity to mount prompt responses. The UN system’s effective handling of the SARS outbreak and its response to the HIV/AIDs crisis provide good examples of the response capacity that needs to be further developed and applied system-wide.

Box 2.30: Inter-agency collaboration on economic development

Across organizations and programme areas, the UN system confronts the persistent challenge of linking global, regional and national efforts in ways that maximize their mutual reinforcement and their total contribution to meeting the MDGs. Global goals will ultimately have a real impact on the lives of peoples only to the extent that they translate into country-level and region-wide policies and priorities. By the same token, regional and country-level experiences and requirements must consistently inform global policy development.

The potential for such integration represents a powerful comparative advantage of the UN system, one which could yield significant increases in effectiveness and real impact if fully exploited. Building on country- and regional-level conditions and requirements, the UN system must endeavour to achieve a closer integration of its operational activities with its conceptual and analytical work.

At the country level itself, the UN system must continue to work to apply approaches to supporting the implementation of the MDGs that are genuinely demand-driven; to ensure that monitoring and evaluation policies and practices lead to systematic accumulation and application of lessons learned to be shared system-wide; to broaden partnerships with key development actors; and to harmonize its efforts with those of the donor community, civil society and the private sector. In all of these areas, true country ownership of development cooperation in meeting the objectives of the Millennium Declaration is key to progress. The UN system must go beyond simply adhering to perceived country priorities and, instead, work purposefully to help strengthen national capacities for setting those priorities and effectively lead the development cooperation effort. The system should come to perceive this task as a way to exploit one of its unique comparative advantages in relation to other development actors and as an important responsibility for which it is uniquely equipped.

Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women is another major, and in many ways, unique responsibility for the UN system as a whole. In this area, the primary focus must be on education: the UN system must take bold steps to address the challenges impeding access to education for girls and to ensure that good quality, gender-sensitive education and equal opportunities are made available to all. Beyond education, the empowerment of women must become an integral component of efforts to advance each of the MDGs and of policies and activities across all dimensions of the Millennium Declaration.

Although not covered by a specific MDG, promoting employment is fundamental to eradicating poverty. As stressed in the Secretary-General’s report for the High-Level segment of the forthcoming ECOSOC session (E/2005/56), the power of the poor to extricate themselves from poverty, disease and misery lies in productive employment and decent work. The UN system must strive to ensure that global, regional and national policies are re-directed to and refocused on productivity-enhancing investments and policies designed to generate employment for unskilled and semi-skilled labour, in both rural and urban areas. Poverty reduction strategies, such as the PRSPs, should recognize the critical role of employment and the need to enhance the human capital of the poor, particularly by increasing access to education (especially primary and secondary), skills and healthcare; improving physical infrastructure; easing access to credit; and creating social safety nets.

Another major challenge for the UN system is to mobilize and integrate more fully its scientific and technological capacities into its support to countries for achieving the MDGs. This relates, in turn, to the challenge of bringing more fully to bear on the pursuit of the MDGs the policy guidance generated by the World Summit for Sustainable Development and the World Summit on the Information Society. Both have stressed the key importance of applying science and technology and innovation in achieving a sustainable development process.

The impact of trans-boundary issues on the pursuit of the MDGs also requires greater system-wide attention. Particularly relevant in this regard are the development of transport networks in land-locked and poor regions; the integrated management of international rivers, basins and lakes aimed to achieve environmental sustainability; the fight against air pollution; and the rational use of energy. The nature and urgency of these objectives underscore the need further to reinforce inter-agency cooperation not only at the global level, but also at the regional and sub-regional levels.

Current trends indicate that many parts of Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, lag significantly behind in achieving the MDGs. Many encouraging signs exist, however, at the regional level and at the international level, which have seen new and potentially major initiatives. Taken together, they suggest that the development scenario in the region may be poised towards significant change. Building on its historic engagement in African development, the UN system should situate itself as Africa’s main partner in helping national and regional institutions to take full advantage of these new opportunities for significant progress. The UN system’s capacity to do so should be rooted in: stronger interagency collaboration, so as to minimize duplication and better optimize the use of resources; enhanced policy coherence and operational coordination, focusing on capacity and institution-building; and a continuing system-wide effort to mobilize resources to support national progress and the initiatives, programmes and institutions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

In his report to the 2005 World Summit, In Larger freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All (A/59/2005), the Secretary-General presents various proposals to surmount challenges in implementing the development aspects of the Millennium Declaration—to secure “freedom from want.” The decisions taken by Member States at the Summit in response will guide the ongoing efforts of CEB to drive inter-agency coordination and collaboration in this area.

Box 2.30: Inter-agency collaboration on economic development

The slow progress made by some countries and regions in poverty eradication and sustainable development underscores the need for the UN system to give renewed emphasis to enhancing policy coherence and operational coordination in support of accelerated economic development. Under the auspice of CEB/HLCP, work is underway on a UNIDO initiative to elaborate an MDG-based common agenda for collaborative work among organizations of the UN system working in the field of economic development.

Box 2.8: Addressing the urbanization of poverty

Achieving the MDGs, particularly the goal of halving poverty by 2015, requires that poverty reduction programmes give more attention to urban areas. According to UN estimates, virtually all population growth expected in the world during 2000-2015 will be concentrated in urban areas, and the urban population will rise from 2.8 billion in 2000 to 3.8 billion in 2015. The global population is expected to increase at an annual rate of less than 1 percent per annum, or 0.84 percent over the next fifteen years.

Box 2.11: Education for All

UNESCO is mandated to coordinate EFA partners and to maintain the momentum of collaboration (Dakar Framework for Action, 2000, paragraph 19). A number of initiatives have been set in motion to generate sustained global commitment and support for country level efforts to implement EFA

Box 2.1: The Follow-up to Monterrey

The Monterrey Consensus established a sustained intergovernmental follow-up process in both the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. In addition to considering different financing issues on the annual agenda of its Second Committee, the Assembly, every two years, now hosts a two-day High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development.

Box 2.2: The “Three Ones”

The wide international agreement reached around three core principles to improve coordination of national responses to HIV/AIDS, known as the “Three Ones,” exemplifies a successful effort towards harmonization of donor policies, in the spirit of the Rome Declaration on Harmonization, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Monterrey Consensus.

Box 2.14: Global and regional initiatives to improve maternal and newborn health

The global Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched in 1987 in response to high levels of maternal deaths in the developing world. A great deal has since been learned about effective and affordable strategies for saving women’s lives during pregnancy and childbirth and about the linkages between maternal and newborn well-being.

Box 2.28: Partnerships for sustainable development of Small Island Developing States

In preparation for the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Mauritius (10-14 January 2005), the United Nations compiled a list of multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships, including various UN system organizations, that support the sustainable development of SIDS.

Box 2.29: The Regional Inter-agency Coordination and Support Office

Enhanced cross-sectoral collaboration holds much promise in mainstreaming a number of crosscutting issues, such as HIV/AIDS, gender and human rights. One notable example of crosssectoral collaboration among organizations of the UN system in Southern Africa is the Regional Inter-agency Coordination and Support Office (RIASCO), a platform established for innovative programming on food security, HIV/AIDS and the humanitarian crisis.