AIDE-MEMOIRE. 1. Background

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1 AIDE-MEMOIRE UN Panel on Civic Engagement for Urban Governance and Inclusive Development: Opportunities and Challenges in the context of the World Conference on the Development of Cities, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 13 February Background Good governance, rule of law and an accountable and transparent public administration are regarded as key to the realization of sustained economic growth, equity and social justice. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/34 reiterates that efficient, accountable, effective and transparent public administration, and its recognition and adoption by the Member States in national and international policies has strengthened further the country commitments to the implementation of the UN Development Agenda including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which among other things also stresses the importance of participation and partnership with the private sector and civil society organizations as key to the realization of these goals. In recent times, a range of forces, both global and local, have been impacting on the lives of citizens in a variety of ways both positive as well as otherwise. On the one hand, the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) revolution and the democracy movements of the eighties have given citizens much greater access to information and enabled greater political participation in public governance. However, while these developments have undoubtedly made a positive impact on the lives of the citizens, the forces of liberalization and globalization that have reduced policy space for the states, creating marginalizing effects on the poor and the disadvantaged seem also to be contributing to greater citizen apathy at the same time. The engagement of civil society actors in public policy making and implementation, in budgeting and in accountability processes is indeed at a crossroads. On the one hand, in the past couple of decades we have witnessed the emergence of new approaches and methodologies for enhanced engagement of the public in public administration affairs. On the other hand, these initiatives are at best in the ad hoc collection of good practices and remain far from being institutionalized and mainstreamed in a systematic manner. Additional partnerships and systematic work is required to promote and implement civic engagement to address the Millenium Development Goals and the UN Development Agenda. 2. Objectives The presence of senior UNDESA officials at the World Conference on the Development of Cities will include UNDESA s overall institutional support to this major international conference together with other UN agencies such as UNESCO and UN-HABITAT. UNDESA s presence has been required at the official media briefing, at the opening ceremony and at the opening plenary panel. In addition, UNDESA is sponsoring the UN panel which is the specific subject of this aide-memoire. The UN Panel on Civic Engagement for Urban Governance and Inclusive Development: Opportunities and Challenges to be held in the context of the World Conference of the Development of Cities in Porto Alegre, Brazil, February 2008, will have the following objectives: 2.1) To take stock of existing methodologies, approaches and tools to promote civic engagement for urban governance and inclusive development.

2 2 2.2) To assess current trends in various regions concerning the prospects for enhanced civic engagement 2.3) To share with participants a few current initiatives of UN agencies handling themes related to City Development and Governance 2.4) To share lessons from the experience of promoting civic engagement in urban governance and inclusion, with special emphasis on the findings of the World Public Sector Report 2007: People Matter Civic Engagement in Public Governance. 2.5) To obtain feedback from participants about their views on challenges and opportunities for civic engagement 2.6) To analyze the current praxis on civic engagement and public governance for urban development and outline replicable principles based on the conclusions of the meeting 2.7) To outline a modus operandi to connect the thematic discusssions during the 3 rd World Urban Forum (2006) to the 4 th World Urban Forum (2008) through a partnership between UNDESA and UNHABITAT at the World Conference on the Development of Cities in Porto Alegre. 3. Context and Partnerships Engaged government has become an increasingly significant feature of governance in the past ten years. Driven initially by new public management techniques in both the developed and developing countries and by donor agencies in the developing world, it has become a practical enhancement to representative democracy, a keystone to democratisation and crucial to the re-building post conflict states. There are two potential areas of civic engagement in public governance namely, policy development and service delivery. Depending on the degree and extent of decentralization, these engagements can occur at the national, sub-national, local government and/or at community level. The backdrop of civic engagement in public governance refers to several developments at the global level. These developments are impacting on the socio-economic dynamics of countries in a manner that contributes opportunities and challenges. Furthermore, recent commitments to the Millennium Development Goals made by the world leaders at the global level demonstrate the commitment of the international community to devise strategies that on the one hand will help in minimizing challenges and on the other, maximize opportunities. The report argues that civic engagement in public governance is one such strategy that can assist these twin goals. Globalization and liberalization are seen as both challenges as well as opportunities. Similarly, the recent surge of democratization of countries is regarded as an opportunity, but the report also records some deficits of democracy. The impact of new information technology on information accessibility is a great opportunity and formidable vehicle for engineering greater citizen connectivity. Furthermore, with democratisation, the rise of civil society and the demand for a greater role in public governance are also seen as adding a new dimension that calls for greater civic engagement in public governance. Finally, the UN Millennium Declaration, is seen as an express commitment by the international community to contribute collectively to a shared vision of development as well as to a model of public governance that is fair, equitable, engaging and accountable.

3 3 In June 2006, DPADM/UNDESA (Division for Public Administration and Development Management) organized in partnership with UN-HABITAT and the Italian Cooperation the Panel Fighting Urban Poverty: Which Participatory Approaches? which was held in the context of the third World Urban Forum in Vancouver. One of the main conclusions is that a heterogeneous picture seems to emerge: on the one hand, positive advances in the provision of basic services and enhanced sustainability of interventions through community engagement; on the other hand, major challenges still remain in mainstreaming and scaling-up local interventions as well as connecting them to national policy-making. At the same time, the engagement of the poor in the policies affecting them is usually accepted at the conceptual level by most institutional actors, posing an additional challenge of enhancing detailed approaches and methodologies that would be politically acceptable on a case-by-case basis. The meeting proved useful to outline major universal trends, failures and successes. In January 2007, the DSPD/UNDESA (Division for Social Policy and Development) published the report Participatory Dialogue: Towards a Stable, Safe and Just Society for All based on Expert Group Meetings and a series of activities following-up the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen in This publication outlined recommendations for member states, UN agencies, international donors and stakeholders concerning the promotion and implementation of multistakeholder dialogue to advance social development. In September 2007, the DSPD/UNDESA organized the Expert Group Meeting Creating an Inclusive Society: Practical Strategies to Promote Social Integration held in Paris in partnership with UNESCO and UN-HABITAT. The meeting concluded with a set of policy recommendations at the national and local levels, mechanisms or processes considered productive in creating and sustaining and inclusive society and specific recommendations on measuring social inclusion. In December 2007, the DPADM/UNDESA will publish the World Public Sector Report: People Matter Civic Engagement in Public Governance which elaborates on civic engagement in policy development, budgeting, service delivery, acountability. It will display a collection of selected issues, opportunties, challenges and capacity building opportunities which provide an account of the various issues and facets concerning the various dimensions of civic engagement in improving public governance, particularly with relation to pro-poor concerns. 4. Capacity building aspects While many Governments in the Region are committed to transparency, service delivery and overall government reinvention, public officials do not always have the opportunity of learning from actual experiences on the ground and to examine the actual methodological issues that made them work or not. This activity will serve as a fundamental platform to respond both to the General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/34 calling for the enhancement of public administration responses including the call for enhanced capacity, training, South-South cooperation and networking to address the Millennium Declaration and the UN Development Agenda. Moreover, the most important dimension of the workshop will be to level the playing field so that senior officials are in an equitable position concerning the most relevant issues about civic engagement. In support of this goal, the Division for Public Administration and Development Management of UNDESA is promoting the UN Panel on Civic Engagement for Urban Governance and Inclusive Development: Opportunities and Challenges in the context of the World Conference on the Development of Cities, Porto Alegre, Brazil, Feb This activity will promote capacity building activities and sharing practices, lessons learned, tools, approaches and methodologies to strengthen among other issues better access and delivery of

4 4 services, engagement of civil society and access to information. Participants will be exposed to key case studies and will have their capacity enhanced by discussing specific features of success and failure in addressing public administration challenges. 5. Beneficiaries This activity is aimed at officials of national and municipal governments, NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders engaged in local development practices from various institutional perspectives, including those that: belong to a municipal district that has expressly stated its interest in the agenda of the Conference show sufficient motivation and interest in the topics to be covered perform functions that have effects on local public life 6. Preparatory Activities Preparatory activities will consist of the following: 7. Inputs a. Telephone Conferences with the various parties engaged with this activity; b. Meetings with UNDESA colleagues and UN-HABITAT to obtain their views and inputs. c. Obtain inputs from the main organizer, i.e., the Porto Alegre Municipality. d. Contact all panellists and agree on a harmonized framework to present their contributions. UNDESA is required to provide the following inputs: a. Financial contribution designed to cover travel of UNDESA and panellist(s) from developing countries; b. Senior staff members of UNDESA to act as resource persons and speaker and to chair the Panel; c. Overall quality control of the entire preparation of the Panel and contacts with organizers. Organization of the technical aspects of the Panel, including the preparation of the aide-memoire, selection of themes and support to the selection of institutions to be invited, support to the selection of speakers, finalization of the agenda for the event as well as supervision of logistical preparations. UN-HABITAT will provide the following inputs:

5 5 a. A senior staff member to participate in the Panel, including travel and accommodation in Porto Alegre; b. Dissemination of the Panel in the modalities available to UN-HABITAT; c. Comments and overall feedback about the preparatory process; The City of Porto Alegre (main organizers of the Conference) will provide the following inputs: a. Venue for the event, including the organization of receptionists, simultaneous interpretation, invitations to the audience and to various high-level officials to attend; it is our undertsanding that the organizers expect an audience of 3,000 for this Panel; Participation of the Mayor of Porto Alegre. b. Assistance to UNDESA experts and staff members with hotel bookings and other hospitality information in Porto Alegre. c. Dissemination of the Panel in the modalities available to the Conference 8. Language This activity will be conducted in English and Spanish. The Porto Alegre Conference already has simultaneous interpretation facilities without any additional costs for UNDESA. 9. Dates and Venue February, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

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