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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon yesterday appointedChristiana Figueres (currently a senior climate negotiator for Costa Rica), to replace Yvo de Boer at the helm of the UN’s climate secretariat (UNFCCC).
According to its website, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stopped accepting nominations for its UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. But we are guessing that the applicant pool remains quite small. Frankly, who would want his or her name affiliated with one of Africa’s worst dictators? Besides UNESCO, that is.
Millennium Villages Project (MVP) is a new, large, experimental intervention to promote economic development in 13 clusters of small and very poor villages across Africa. It has been driven forward by Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s foremost economists, and today is a joint effort of Columbia University, Millennium Promise, and the United Nations.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been getting negative press about the relief efforts after the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. Perhaps worst is a scathing report from Refugees International accusing the UN of ineffectual leadership, missing coordination, and weak communication while an estimated 1.2 million Haitians remain displaced. Though much of the report consists of standard blandishments (the authors spent just 10 days in-country), there is indeed evidence of serious negligence. To give just one example: the organization initially planned on allowing itself two and a half months—well into the rainy season—to distribute plastic sheeting to protect the displaced. It took a personal intervention from a senior official to get this activity moved up.
In all of last week’s hoopla in NYC with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Clinton Global Initiative in full swing, news about an improved, composite U.N. entity for women (still to be formally named) went under the radar. The idea for consolidating several U.N. agencies into one has been in the works for about three years, but was finally adopted just two weeks ago. The resolution merely approves the creation of the entity and states that the Secretary General should announce the final plan for the structure and mission of the agency at next year’s UNGA. Now that’s classic UN style—to take one entire year to figure out what has already been figured out! It’s time for urgent and quick next steps, which if implemented smartly (not just politically) can make all the difference.
Let me speak for the development wing of the Massachusetts Avenue Think Tank Row community in rejoicing at the arrival among us of Kemal Dervis, as vice president and director of the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings, our friends and neighbors across the street.
Five years after Africa was centerstage at a meeting of the G7 heads of state in Gleneagles, it has all but vanished from the priorities of policymakers from the rich and emerging economies. At the G20 Summit in London this week, heads of state will debate new resources for the IMF, in the range of $250 billion. But these resources will likely be deposited in the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) facility, which will be far too expensive and out of reach of most African countries.
We at CGD warmly welcome president-elect Barack Obama's appointments of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of Treasury and Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council. Both are members of the CGD Board of Directors. This is no coincidence.