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Human Development

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December 2003

ECA Regional Implementation Meeting: Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water

December 2003: The Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water convened from 8-12 December 2003 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, bringing together some 1,000 delegates to address Africa's water crisis and to collectively implement actions envisaged in the African Water Vision, the Water Agenda of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Throughout the week-long conference, delegates met in thematic sessions for two days to discuss: water, sanitation and human settlements; water and food security; protecting ecosystems and livelihoods; water and climate; financing water infrastructure; integrated water resources management (IWRM); water allocation; water wisdom; and water governance. They also met in multi-stakeholder sessions to discuss: achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and targets agreed upon at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD); the Africa-EU Water Partnership; the Third World Water Forum; and water and gender. A special session on African inputs to CSD-12 also met in a parallel session. In a concluding Plenary, delegates considered African ministerial commitments on implementation and partnerships for achieving water and sanitation targets, and a report of the African regional implementation review for CSD-12. The meeting's outcomes and recommendations will be transmitted for CSD-12 consideration. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin's coverage of the meeting can be accessed at: http://enb.iisd.org/csd/rim/eca/

October 2003

ESCAP Regional Implementation Meeting

October 2003: At its eleventh session, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) invited the United Nations Regional Commissions to consider organizing regional implementation meetings to contribute to the work of the CSD. In response to this invitation, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) convened a Regional Implementation Meeting from 27-28 October 2003, at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. This meetings aimed to provide input on CSD-12's thematic focus, namely water, sanitation and human settlements. Approximately 90 participants representing 28 governments and several UN bodies, intergovernmental organizations and Major Groups attended the ESCAP forum, which was jointly organized with the DESA and in collaboration with the UN Development Programme. Participants heard panel presentations, engaged in multi-stakeholder discussions, and shared experiences and lessons learned in the CSD-12 thematic issue areas. Three break-out sessions focused on experiences in the Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific regions. Participants also heard a presentation on and discussed partnerships for sustainable development. Meeting coverage by Earth Negotiations Bulletin can be found at: http://enb.iisd.org/csd/rim/escap/
ESCWA Regional Implementation Meeting Prepares for CSD 12

October 2003: At its eleventh session, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) invited the United Nations Regional Commissions to consider organizing regional implementation meetings to contribute to the work of the CSD. In response to this invitation, the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) organized a Regional Implementation Meeting from 19-21 October 2003, at the League of Arab States (LAS) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. This meetings aimed to provide input on CSD-12's thematic focus, namely water, sanitation and human settlements. This meeting was held within the ambit of the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region (JCEDAR), a committee composed of representatives from ESCWA, the Technical Secretariat of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE), the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for Western Asia (UNEP/ROWA). Fifty participants from 14 governments, joined by representatives from intergovernmental and academic organizations, industry and NGOs, attended the meeting. Participants adopted 10 decisions on, inter alia: follow-up measures to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) outcomes and the Arab Initiative for Sustainable Development; follow-up activities to the Abu Dhabi Declaration on the future of the Arab Environment Programme; a work programme for the environment up to 2005; priorities and achievements in the field of sustainable development; incentives to the private sector to invest in environmental projects; and the establishment of an Arab environment fund. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage: http://enb.iisd.org/csd/rim/escwa/]
Second Meeting of the CSD-12 Bureau

October 2003: Bureau members for the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12) gathered for their second meeting on 3 October 2003 in New York. They learned that agendas of previously scheduled meetings of the Regional Commissions have been adjusted to include discussion of the CSD-12 thematic cluster of water, sanitation and human settlements. These meeting's outcomes will be submitted to CSD-12 as a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the relevant conclusions and recommendations. The Bureau stressed that the High-Level Segment, which is scheduled to convene at the end of CSD-12, should pave the way for effective policy discussions in the lead-up to the Policy Year. Major Groups representatives will meet with the Bureau at its third meeting, on 18 November 2003. For more information see the notes from the Bureau meeting: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/CSD12_bureau_meeting... and the ENB summary of CSD-12 Chair Børge Brende's briefing following the Bureau meeting: http://enb.iisd.org/linkages/csd/csd12/CSD12_Briefing_10.3.0...
Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III)

October 2003: The third Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD III) was held from 29 September to 1 October 2003 in Tokyo, Japan. Over 23 African Heads of State and delegates from 89 countries were in attendance at this meeting, which commemorated the tenth anniversary of the TICAD process, a framework devoted to Africa's development. TICAD III succeeded in garnering international support for African development, especially through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Delegates specified priority development challenges, highlighting: consolidation of peace; capacity building; human-centered development; infrastructure; agricultural development; private sector development; expansion of partnerships; and dialogue with civil society. The meeting also adopted the “TICAD Tenth Anniversary Declaration,” which, inter alia, sets out the future of the TICAD process, emphasizing: leadership and people's participation in the African development process; peace and good governance; human security; and respect for distinctiveness, diversity and identity. The next TICAD meeting is scheduled to be hosted in Japan in 2008. More information is available at: http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/africa/ticad3/

September 2003

WSIS PrepCom-3

The third session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) met from 15-26 September 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland. Delegates at this meeting were tasked with negotiating the draft Declaration of Principles and draft Plan of Action, both planned for adoption at the first phase of the WSIS, which will be held from 10-12 December 2003 in Geneva. The draft Declaration of Principles supports an information society that is accessible to and that serves everyone. It addresses issues such as: the right to communicate; intellectual property rights; access to information and knowledge; information and communication infrastructure; capacity building; cultural and linguistic diversity; and the ethical dimensions of an information society. The draft Action Plan contains a suite of global targets aimed at increasing ICT access across the world. Examples of these targets include: all villages to be connected by 2010, with a community access point by 2015; 90% of the world's population to be within wireless coverage by 2010 and 100% by 2015; all universities to be connected by 2005, secondary schools by 2010 and primary schools by 2015; all public libraries to be connected by 2006; all hospitals to be connected by 2005, and health centers by 2010; all central governments departments to have a website and email address by 2005 and all local governments departments by 2010; all of the world's population to have access to domestic radio services by 2010 and domestic TV services by 2015; and the necessary technical conditions should be in place by 2010 to permit all world languages to be present and used on the Internet. Negotiations on the draft documents were not completed at this meeting, and the PrepCom plans to reconvene from 10-14 November to continue discussions on issues such as financing, Internet security and Internet governance. Aimed at harnessing the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool for development and to create an information society that benefits all of humanity, the Summit has garnered the interest of many Heads of State of Government, over 40 of whom have expressed commitment to attend the Summit's first phase. The Summit's second phase is scheduled for 16-18 November 2005 in Tunisia. More information on this meeting is available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/preparatory/prepcom/pc3/index.html

August 2003


The 55th session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights convened from 28 July to 15 August 2003 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Sub-Commission adopted 43 resolutions and decisions relating to: violation of human rights in any country; administration of justice; economic, social and cultural rights; prevention of discrimination; and specific human rights issues. With regards to economic, social and cultural rights, the Sub-Commission adopted measures on, inter alia: the right to food and progress in developing international voluntary guidelines for its implementation; the right to development; responsibilities of transnational corporation and other business enterprises with regard to human rights; the promotion of the realization of the right to drinking water and sanitation; and globalization and its effects on the full enjoyment of all human rights. Consisting of 26 experts from five regional groups, the Sub-Commission was created by the Commission on Human Rights in 1947 to undertake studies and forward recommendations to the Commission. Text adopted at this meeting will be considered by the Commission during its next annual meeting in March 2004. More information is available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/55sub/55sub.htm
Pacific SIDS Regional Preparatory Meeting Prepares for 2004 Review of BPOA

8 August 2003: The Pacific Regional Meeting for the Review of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place from 4-8 August 2003 in Apia, Samoa. Organized by the SIDS Unit of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the regional preparatory meeting sought to review the progress achieved in ensuring positive long-term development of SIDS in the Pacific region and prepare a regional position for the International Meeting on the review of the BPOA to be held in Mauritius in August/September 2004. In an “International Overview” working session, delegates discussed, inter alia, linkages between the BPOA, Millennium Development Goals, Monterrey Consensus, Doha Agreement, and post WSSD events and outcomes, while a “Regional Overview” session considered the draft Regional Assessment. Throughout the meeting, participants also engaged in working sessions and open discussions that addressed: national assessment reports and sustainable development strategies; objectives of the international meeting; how to improve implementation of the BPOA; the ministerial level preparatory committee meeting to be held at CSD-12; and modalities for action. [http://www.sidsnet.org/docshare/other/20030813142441_Apia_Me...]

July 2003

2003 Substantive Session of ECOSOC

August 2003: The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held its 2003 substantive session in Geneva, Switzerland from 30 June to 25 July 2003. The session included a High-Level Segment, a coordination segment, a humanitarian segment, a general segment and a concluding session. Panels and discussions during the session addressed, inter alia, rural development, the plight of 49 of the world's poorest countries, factoring HIV/AIDS into relief efforts, and how to assist conflict-torn Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Angola to enjoy stability and transition from relief to development. “Promoting an integrated approach to rural development in developing countries for poverty eradication and sustainable development” was the theme for the high-level segment, which took place from 30 June to 2 July 2003. Participants in the meeting's Plenary sessions and round-table discussions emphasized rural development's key role in achieving the goals set by the 2000 Millennium Summit. Issues related to agricultural subsidies, growth enabling environments, fair terms of trade, investment in social services and infrastructure, and the expectations of developed and developing countries were also raised. A Ministerial Declaration was adopted at the conclusion of the Segment. It called for, inter alia, the reduction and elimination of agricultural subsidies, the implementation of the commitments developed countries made at the Doha trade conference in 2001 to facilitate market access for the products of developing countries, and pursuit of rural development through an integrated approach encompassing the economic, social and environmental dimensions. The coordination segment convened from 8-10 July 2003 and considered “the role of the ECOSOC in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of and follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.” ECOSOC adopted a decision welcoming the UN General Assembly resolution on this topic and the GA's request for the establishment of a multi-year work programme for ECOSOC's coordination segment, based on a list of cross-sectoral thematic issues common to the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits. Another decision adopted during the session was a resolution recommending that the UN General Assembly designate the World Tourism Organization a specialized agency of the UN. The World Tourism Organization is an intergovernmental organization that serves as a global forum for tourism policy and issues. The status change would put the organization on the same footing as other UN agencies, such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and would give it a voting role in inter-agency mechanisms such as the chief executives' boards. For more information on statements made during the Segment, see: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/ecosoc6058.doc.htm Secretary-General Annan's statement to the High-Level Segment can be found at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/sgsm8767.doc.htm UN news stories on the Segment are at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7593&Cr=eco... and http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7603&Cr=eco... The ECOSOC homepage is at: http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc/

The Intersessional Meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) convened from 15-18 July 2003 in Paris, France. Over 750 participants from governments, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the media attended this UNESCO hosted event, which completed revisions to the draft Declaration of Principles and the draft Plan of Action that are to be adopted at the WSIS meeting in Geneva in December this year. The WSIS will be held in two phases, the first in Geneva in December 2003, and the second in Tunis in 2005. The draft Plan of Action contains a list of over 120 examples of potential actions to promote information and communications technologies (ICT) development, for example connecting all villages by 2010, having 90 percent of the world's population to be within wireless coverage by 2010, and launching a “Global Digital Compact.” The draft Declaration of Principles supports an information society that is accessible to and that serves everyone. It addresses issues such as: the right to communicate; intellectual property rights; access to information and knowledge; the role of governments, the private sector and civil society in the promotion of ICTs for development; capacity building; cultural and linguistic diversity; and the ethical dimensions of an information society. The draft Plan of Action and the draft Declaration are available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/newsroom/press_releases/itu/2003/int...
African Union Summit

July 2003: The African Union Summit took place from 4-12 July 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique. With the theme of “Implementation of NEPAD as a contribution to Africa's Development,” the Summit comprised meetings of the Assembly, the Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee. The Assembly adopted five Declarations on matters such as the upcoming fifth WTO Ministerial Conference, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, agriculture and food security, and NEPAD implementation. The Assembly also took over 20 decisions on topics relating to, inter alia, human rights, poverty alleviation, corruption, democracy and good governance, defense and security, and terrorism. Decisions were also taken on a number of environment related topics such as the Action Pan of NEPAD's Environment Initiative, and the revised 1968 African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Algiers Convention). The Algiers Convention incorporates the concept of protected conservation areas and also commits Parties to improving soil conservation, introducing sustainable farming practices, and collaboratively managing transboundary water resources. The revision of this treaty updates the convention with developments in international law, and the increasing focus on sustainable development. The Assembly also adopted the draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights relating to the Rights of Women, which would, among other things, prohibit female genital mutilation, grant women the right to vote, set the minimum age for marriage at 18 and guarantee women the right to inherit and own property. More information is available at: http://www.africa-union.org/home/Welcome.htm

May 2003

19th Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT

The 19th session of the UN-Habitat's Governing Council took place from 5-9 May 2003 in Nairobi, Kenya. Government delegates approved a US$44 million budget for the UN Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation for the 2004-2005 biennium, and adopted a “record number” of resolutions committed to improving the capacity of the agency to addressing the challenges of urbanization. Recommendations were aimed at, inter alia, enhancing the ability of UN-Habitat to assist governments in implementing the Habitat Agenda and to meeting the Millennium Development goals. Special emphasis was also given to the least developed countries and countries with economies in transition. Delegates approved the agency's work programme for 2004-2005, which includes the establishment of a new division addressing human settlements financing. The agency was also tasked with establishing an advisory group to monitor, identify, and when requested, promote alternatives to unlawful evictions. A resolution mainstreaming gender perspectives with the agency's activities was also passed; marking the first time a resolutions on women has made direct linkages with the resolutions on women's rights to adequate housing, land and property adopted by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Submitted by Norway, and supported by the Netherlands, UK and EU, the resolution urges governments to promote women's participation in human settlements planning and development. It stresses the need for the right to housing and secure tenure for women living in poverty, and raises the issue of access to finance, credit and protection from forced evictions, especially for women with HIV/AIDS. The resolution further instructs UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka to consult with governments on ways to develop and strengthen mechanisms for monitoring the impact on women of human settlement policies and programmes, especially in low-income areas and slums, and requests a report back to the next Governing Council in two years's time. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.unhabitat.org/governingbodies/gcreport_contents.a...

April 2003

36TH SESSION OF THE UN Commission on Population and Development

The UN Commission on Population and Development convened for its 36th session from 31 March – 4 April 2003 in New York under the theme “population, education and development.” Delegates adopted a resolution on the theme of this year's session, and a decision on the special theme of “population, development and HIV/AIDS, with particular emphasis on poverty” for the 38th session of the Commission to be held in 2005. The session considered: follow-up actions to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994; national experiences in population matters; programme implementation; and the future programme of work of the Secretariat with regard to population issues. Throughout the session, delegates underscored the vital role of education, particularly for women and girls, in achieving development goals, and discussed progress attained in educational funding, increasing literacy rate and access to schooling. According to the resolution adopted on population, education and development, linkages between the three areas include the relationship between education goals and population, and education's interaction with health, including sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. Through the resolution, the Commission requests the UN Department of Economic and Social Affair's Population Division to closely cooperate with UN bodies in contributing its research findings to the implementation of outcomes of UN conferences and summits relevant to population, education and development. The resolution also encourages the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to continue supporting population, education and development programmes to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. Next year's session will primarily focus on review and appraisal of the ICPD. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.un.org/esa/population/cpd/comm2003.htm and http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/pop860.doc.htm

March 2003

Third World Water Forum Adopts Ministerial Declaration

March 2003: Participants at the 3rd World Water Forum met in 351 sessions organized around 33 themes and five Regional Days. Theme issues encompassed a range of topics including: supply, sanitation, hygiene and water pollution; cities; governance; floods; integrated water resources management; peace; agriculture and food; poverty; financing water infrastructure; and dams and sustainable development. In many sessions, delegates debated the human right to water, and financing water infrastructure, with no agreement on either matter. The Forum concluded on Sunday, 23 March, following issue of a preliminary Summary Forum Statement. On Saturday, 22 March, and Sunday, 23 March, delegates to the Ministerial Conference discussed five themes in sub-groups: safe drinking water and sanitation; water for food and development; water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation; disaster mitigation and risk management; and water resources management and benefit sharing. The Conference closed on Sunday following adoption of a Ministerial Declaration and a Portfolio of Water Actions. Preliminary Summary Forum Statement: This statement commits participants to meeting the goals and targets identified in the Millennium Declaration, the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn and the WSSD. It notes that freshwater is a precious and finite resource that is central to sustainable development, economic growth, social stability and poverty alleviation. It identifies key water issues including safe and clean water for all, governance, capacity building, financing, participation, regional priorities, global awareness, political support and local action. In relation to partnerships, participation and dialogue, the Preliminary Forum Statement calls for the empowerment and involvement of local people, local authorities, the research community, farmers, industry, women and minority groups in the development of basin and aquifer strategies, agreements and institutions. It emphasizes the need for stakeholder representatives and local authorities to be given a permanent and official role in decision making and implementation, and the inclusion of community knowledge, practices and rights in water management. With regard to nature and ecosystems, it recommends: protecting and restoring ecosystems and aquifers; implementing environmental flows; developing multistakeholder approaches; integrating land, mountain, forest and water resources management; developing basin-wide pollution prevention and treatment plans; creating innovative financing and legal frameworks; and prioritizing water-demand management. On financing and investment it recommends that governments translate water laws, strategies and plans into realistic budget estimates and financing plans for water in all WEHAB sectors. It suggests that governments and local authorities take adequate measures to reduce risk and improve cost recovery, and stresses that the primary responsibility for such investments rests with national governments. It encourages governments and donors to give particular attention to pro-poor, affordable and appropriate technologies in their investment strategies. Noting the need to prioritize water issues in policy and strategic planning, the Statement underscores the importance of preparing IWRM plans by 2005 in accordance with the WSSD's outcomes. It also encourages national and local governments to develop and implement basin-wide pollution treatment and prevention plans, and adopt financial, legal and institutional incentives for pollution prevention. Underscoring the need to adopt strategies that mitigate effects of climate variability and natural hazards, it recommends the development of comprehensive and integrated flood and drought management policies. It notes the importance of considering appropriate targets for the productive use of water through increasing food production, and of achieving targets for decreasing malnourishment and rural poverty. With regard to institutions and legislation, the Preliminary Summary Forum Statement recommends that governments start or continue reforms of public water institutions, and emphasizes good governance, cost-efficiency, transparency and accountability, stakeholder participation and public-private partnerships. Ministerial Recommendation on Water for Food and Agriculture: This Recommendation, which was negotiated by senior officials on 20 March, identifies food security and poverty alleviation, sustainable water use and partnerships as key challenges for the agricultural sector. It outlines a plan of action, including commitments to: modernize and improve agricultural water use; increase water productivity; promote better governance; consider environmental aspects; undertake research and development; and foster international cooperation. Ministerial Declaration: The Declaration takes note of the thematic and regional statements and recommendations from the Forum and declares that water is a driving force for sustainable development. With regard to general policies, it emphasizes that Ministers should ensure good governance with a stronger focus on community-based approaches addressing equity, mobilize private and public financing, promote IWRM, and identify and develop PPPs, while ensuring the necessary public control and legal frameworks to protect public interests. It affirms that Ministers are committed, in the long term, to fortify capacity with assistance from the international community. Regarding water resources management and benefit sharing, Ministers encourage riparian States to promote cooperation on transboundary and boundary watercourses, and to recognize hydropower as a renewable, clean energy source. The Declaration states that Ministers will assist developing countries with the aim of developing IWRM and water efficiency plans by 2005, encourage scientific research on the global water cycle, promote demand management measures, and endeavor to develop and deploy non-conventional water resources. On safe drinking water and sanitation, the Declaration notes that basic hygiene practices should be encouraged and efforts to promote technical breakthroughs related to the provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation should be intensified. It calls on Ministers in all countries to develop strategies to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and the proportion without access to basic sanitation by 2015. Regarding water for food and rural development, the Declaration stipulates that every effort should be made to reduce unsustainable water management and improve the efficiency of agricultural water use, and that freshwater fish production should be addressed through intensified efforts to improve riverine water quality and quantity. It encourages international cooperation and investment, research and development for the progressive improvement of agricultural water management, and the promotion of community-based development. On water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation, the Declaration recognizes the need to intensify water pollution prevention, and to protect and use in a sustainable manner ecosystems that naturally capture, filter, store and release water. It urges countries to establish and review appropriate legislative frameworks for the protection and sustainable use of water resources and for water pollution prevention, and to concentrate efforts to combat deforestation, desertification and land degradation. On disaster mitigation and risk management, the Declaration notes the need for a comprehensive approach to mitigate the growing severity of floods and droughts, and says Ministers will enhance where appropriate the sharing and exchange of data, information, knowledge and experiences at the international level. The Sustainable Developments report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://enb.iisd.org/linkages/sd/3wwf/.
47th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women

Participants to the 47th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women failed to adopt the draft-agreed conclusions on women's human rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls at the close of the session, which was held from 3-14 March 2003 at UN Headquarters in New York. The session focused on two issues: women's human rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls; and participation and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women. Some delegates expressed concerned that the Commission had not reached consensus on the draft language, given that various UN meetings and conferences, such as Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing in 1995 and the special session of the General Assembly in June 2000, had agreed on the topic. More information is available online at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/47sess.htm

January 2003

UN Economic Commission for Africa Big Table Meeting

19 January 2003: The Third Big Table meeting of African Finance Ministers and their OECD counterparts took place from 18-19 January at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This year's discussion focused on economic and development issues arising from the Fourth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Doha, the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, all held in 2002. Participants also monitored the performance of Africa and its partners towards meeting shared goals in the context of mutual accountability. Key results of the meeting included a commitment to improve the effectiveness of aid and build stronger capacity in Africa to help reduce poverty. World Bank Vice President for Africa, Callisto Madavo, who also chaired the meeting, said that the meeting marked a transformation from a donor's club to a genuine partnership with Africa. “We are committed to aligning donor programmes behind national strategies, and reducing the burden on African partners by simplifying donor procedures.” More information is available at the UNECA website at http://www.uneca.org/thebigtable/.