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The Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, Dr. Ernest Sahid Alie Surrur, visited Beijing and Shanghai, China 9-18 January, 2016 ; on a Practitioner-to-Practitioner Study Tour on  “Public Administration for Sustainable Development in the Least Developed Countries.” The Study Tour was aimed at Strengthening Capacities of Least Developed Countries to Deliver Quality Services through the Transfer and Adaption of Innovative Practices.

Access to and quality of public service is a critical determinant of sustainable development. Global, regional and national commitments to sustainable development and poverty reduction require that all citizens, men and women, have equal access to quality services, including health, education, water, sanitation, shelter, and other basic services. It is Governments who are entrusted with the responsibility to deliver quality services equitably.  If they lack the capacity to do so, the attainment of the SDGs, especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), is unlikely.

While some of the LDCs are witnessing noticeable growth rates, others are being left behind, with high poverty rates and lack of access to basic services. In a number of LDCs, “there are persistent inequities in the delivery of public goods and social services, financial services for the poor and legal empowerment, including property and labour rights.” One of the major challenges in LDCs is that public sector institutions lack the capacity to deliver services in an effective, equitable and citizen-centric way. This state of affairs can largely be attributed to limited institutional and human resource capacities at the central and local levels to plan, coordinate, implement and monitor the delivery of services

To ensure greater and more equitable access to quality services, LDCs need to strengthen their institutional and human capacities to manage, implement, monitor, and evaluate the delivery of services in an innovative, transparent and inclusive manner. In its resolution A/RES/65/280, the General Assembly endorsed the Istanbul Declaration on “Renewed and strengthened global partnership for the development of least developed countries” and the Programme of Action for LDCs for the decade 2011–2020. The resolution encourages, inter alia, further progress in providing access to essential services such as education, health, water and sanitation, and shelter. Within this framework, least developed countries commit to continue reforming institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks as well as the public sector to increase the efficiency and the transparency of service delivery, including through the fight against corruption. In broader policy context, in its resolution 57/277, the General Assembly reiterated that particular emphasis should be given to the exchange of experiences related to the role of public administration in the implementation of internationally agreed goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.

A number of developing and developed countries designed and implemented innovative practices in service delivery in the areas of health, water management, and education including through the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT). These have been documented by the United Nations Public Service Awards Programme (UNPSA), managed by UNDESA in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender.

Learning and adapting successful initiatives from other countries’ experiences can considerably save resources and time, inspire new reforms, and in some cases help countries leapfrog across the stages of development.

The UN General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/69/327 of 2015 reaffirmed “that the United Nations system has a central role to play in promoting international cooperation in strengthening public institutions and public services for sustainable development” and urged “the international community to continue to promote the exchange of information, the exchange of experience and the sharing of lessons learned and best practices, as appropriate, in strengthening inclusive and accountable public institutions and public services”.

UNDESA supports best practices and learning through several endeavors including networks for innovative policy, policy adaptation and service-delivery in LDCs. The United Nations is currently supporting capacity building in LDCs through a Development Account project, focusing on delivery quality services equitably through the transfer and adaptation of innovative practices in order to contribute to the achievements of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Project addresses issues and challenges related to providing basic services based on the interests expressed by the ministers of local government and representatives of local authorities for capacity development in public service delivery through the transfer and adaptation of innovative practices, expressed in the communiqués of the United Nations Public Service Day Awards Ceremonies and Forums, held in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2010 and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in June 2011. The United Nations Public Service Awards provides a useful framework for disseminating information about innovations in government and helping transform such information into knowledge for finding effective solutions to governance problems. UNDESA also provides advisory services for the transfer and adaptation of innovative practices to address governance challenges in LDCs by enhancing the capacity of their public servants.

The participant from least developed countries that have previously participated in capacity development workshops and study tours are public sector policy makers, practitioners and trainers from LDCs. They benefitted from best practices and lessons learnt, including from the Chinese Academy of Governance’s experience in the context of their respective countries.

News_Pic10The objective of the study tour was:  To consolidate the knowledge on innovation transfers gained during the previous study visits and workshops on peer-to-peer learning; Expose participants to new initiatives in different areas of public services delivery; Showcase best practices to create synergy for possible adoption and replication in participants own countries; And, Showcase linkages between subject areas and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Discuss the project in its objectives, approach and methodology, achievement and possible follow-up actions.

The Study Tour was designed for public sector managers in the LDCs. Participants to the study tour include government representatives from the LDCs, including senior government policy makers, Public Service Commissions and other appointing authorities in the public sector; experts in governance and public administration, and representatives from academia, industry and international organizations, and United Nations and Chinese Academy of Governance officials.

The workshop was conducted around the following thematic areas:   Institutional Innovation: Case study of Chinese Political Structure & Administrative Reform. Sustainable Development: The Macro- Economic Situation and Hot Issues for The Public Sector ; The design of mid-long term Plan & Policymaking for the Public Service; Resource mobilization, including through taxation and transfer payment and Public Sector Service Delivery . Sustainable Development Economic Growth and Sustainable Development: Policies and Best practices of Public Sector Delivery; Environment Protection and Rural Development: Role of Public Sector; Global cooperation and regional development, and Social Organizations and NGOs.

The Study Tour is expected contribute to the development of capacity of participants in terms of increasing knowledge, skills enhancement, and strengthening networking and collaboration for promoting an understanding of Public Administration in Sustainable Development in the Least Developed Countries. It will also contribute to creation of a better understanding of the linkages between institutional innovation and sustainable development and support capacity building for development practitioners.

The Workshop was organized and facilitated  by the Division of Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) of UNDESA in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Governance and UNDP China. The Study Tour was conducted in English through lectures, interactive discussions as well as site visits on the premises of the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing and in Shanghai.

The workshop was held at the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing, China. Participants travelled to Shanghai to attend additional lectures and site visits. Certificates were awarded for successful completion of the Study Tour by the Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Governance, Mr. Chen Li.

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