UN success is measured on how many lives we change positively, says DSG Jan Eliasson


ECA Press Release 199/2012

Addis Ababa, 15 November 2012 (ECA) - The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Jan Eliasson, today in Addis Ababa urged UN agencies and organizations working in Africa to measure their success  by how useful  their action is to the development of Africans on the ground.

Addressing a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Jan Eliasson said “everything we do must be measured based  how it makes life easier for the local people”, according to ECA’s Information and Communication Service at a world press conference addressed by him, Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Carlos Lopes, ECA's Executive Secretary and UN Under Secretary-General.

The press conference came at the end of two days of deliberations by members of the UN Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM-Africa) of UN assistance to the African Union and its NEPAD programme.

 Mr. Eliasson recalled his past experiences in Africa, refuting media insinuations that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been a flop on the Continent.

“Although some targets of the MDGs (especially goals in the health sector) will not be achieved by many African countries, a lot of progress has been made in the areas of primary education by several nations”, he said.

“Between 1990 and 2008, Africa made remarkable progress primary school enrollment, especially the enrollment of girls”, he pointed out.

“Of course, what remains to be done is to strengthen the secondary and technical schools sectors, so that pupils can get better prepared for gainful employment. This is what would help in the fight against unemployment and drive development”, he explained.

He urged African governments to fully integrate sustainability measures in all their development planning because there is no “Planet B”. "We need to contend with scarce resources, water stress/scarcity, environmental degradation and so on, and prepare for them. It is not about going to "Plan B"; it is planning as if we understand their is no Planet B"

Respond to a question on what would become of the MDGs that have not been achieved after the 2015 deadline, Mr. Eliasson said while some processes on the post-2015 development agenda are ongoing, "ultimately, it would be up to member States to decide  on a development framework."

Speaking earlier, Mr. Mwencha recounted the expanding cooperation between UN institutions and the African Union Commission, describing it as multifaceted and exemplary.

To a reporter who questioned the UN implementation capacity of African Union projects, especially the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the Deputy Chair of the Commission analyzed all the sectors of AU interventions and said the UN has nearly always been at the strategic planning level.

Expanding on Mr. Eliasson's response, the ECA boss, Mr. Lopes explained the central coordinating and planning role of ECA  within the framework of the ECA/AUC/AfDB Joint Secretariat which is hosted at the ECA.

“PIDA is strongly supported by the Secretariat. But it should be borne in mind that the UN is not a funding agency. We support with concrete analytical and policy studies”, Mr. Lopes said.

 On the role of the UN in the unfolding crisis in Mali, Mr. Eliasson announced that there will be a report to update the General Assembly on the situation by the end of this month but reiterated the UN’s choice is to see a political resolution of the conflict.

He said that although there are plans for a military intervention, the UN would always prefer a political solution. “Before the UN takes a military action, or decides on one, we always analyze the humanitarian, legal, as well as human rights issues”, he said.

Journalists were also interested in the situation in Gaza, Darfur., Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, as well as in Ethiopia. Mr. Eliasson clarified the UN’s position in each of these cases but did not go into any expression of personal opinion.

Following opening statements of the 13th Session of the RCM yesterday, high-level panelists made illuminating contributions on the various aspects of the Post-2015 Development Agenda as they pertain to Africa.

The conclusions of the discussions will be tabled as inputs for the on-going consultations on Post-2015 Development Agenda for Africa.

RCM-Africa is the implementing organ of the UN Ten Year Capacity Building Programme for the AU, (TYCBP-AU), working through nine clusters aligned to the priorities of the African Union and its NEPAD programme. In this regard, the 13th session will review how well the clusters have done in supporting the AU and NEPAD.

RCM-Africa is co-chaired by Deputy Chairperson of AUC, Mr. Erastus Mwencha, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Jan Eliasson.


Issued by:

ECA Information and Communication Service
P.O. Box 3001
Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Tel: 251 11 5445098 Fax: +251-11-551 03 65
E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org
Web: www.uneca.org

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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa