Regional Cooperation  as a Catalyst for Development in a Changing Environment: ESCWA region

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Arab Regional Cooperation. Preceded others as far back as 1945Objective: Full economic integrationPan Arab UnityInstitutions

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Regional Cooperation as a Catalyst for Development in a Changing Environment: ESCWA region

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1. This is indeed a timely theme, given the fundamental changes taking place in the Arab region.This is indeed a timely theme, given the fundamental changes taking place in the Arab region.

2. Arab Regional Cooperation Preceded others… as far back as 1945 Objective: Full economic integration Pan Arab Unity Institutions & Agreements League of Arab States 1945 Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation Treaty 1950 the Convention on Trade and Transit 1953; Greater Arab Economic Unity 1957 Greater Arab Free Trade Area Agreement 1997 2 I will start with a brief overview of Arab regional cooperation schemes. Actually, regional cooperation as a catalyst for development has historically topped our MC’s agenda. Regional cooperation efforts among Arab countries preceded others, aiming at full economic integration with political plans to create a pan-Arab unity. The League of Arab States was created in 1945 to carry out this vision. A number of agreements have been ratified to anchor these cooperation efforts: 1) the Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation Treaty Among Member States of the League of Arab States in 1950; (2) the Convention for Facilitating Trade and Regulating Trade Transit in 1953; and (3) the Arab Economic Unity Agreement in 1957, and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area Agreement adopted in 1997, effective January 1, 1998. I will start with a brief overview of Arab regional cooperation schemes. Actually, regional cooperation as a catalyst for development has historically topped our MC’s agenda. Regional cooperation efforts among Arab countries preceded others, aiming at full economic integration with political plans to create a pan-Arab unity. The League of Arab States was created in 1945 to carry out this vision. A number of agreements have been ratified to anchor these cooperation efforts: 1) the Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation Treaty Among Member States of the League of Arab States in 1950; (2) the Convention for Facilitating Trade and Regulating Trade Transit in 1953; and (3) the Arab Economic Unity Agreement in 1957, and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area Agreement adopted in 1997, effective January 1, 1998.

3. Results Regional Institutional infrastructure. High levels of Intra Arab ODA High intra regional tourism. Modest Achievement in trade: Intra regional trade ? 11% Better performance in sub-regional groupings: GCC Critically Informal integration, between people, have by far surpassed formal cooperation 3 Results have been mixed. A comprehensive set of Pan-Arab Institutions have been established in almost all fields ( industry, trade, education, environment and agriculture). More than 80% of Arab ODA goes to Arab Countries, initially focused on infrastructure, it has now spread to support agriculture, social development, debt relief, emergency relief, and capacity building. Intra Arab tourism is around 40% of the total number of Arab tourists. Intra regional tourism generates sizable revenues out of total tourist revenues in some countries: Jordan, 40%, Syria 90%, Lebanon 43%, the sustainability of which can be argued. The Greater-Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) and other regional trade agreements (e.g., Agadir Agreement) do not appear to have created significant intra-regional trade, less than 11% ( if we exclude energy exports that number will even be significantly lower), in comparison to other regions (EU: 48% intra-regional trade). In the case of GCC, the increased integration seems to reflect the progress made in converging on common norms and policies in some regulatory areas and in integrating both factor and product markets Critically, the formal integration/cooperation between governments has always lagged behind the informal integration between peoples. (at the level of civil society, labor unions, cultural activities etc.) Results have been mixed. A comprehensive set of Pan-Arab Institutions have been established in almost all fields ( industry, trade, education, environment and agriculture). More than 80% of Arab ODA goes to Arab Countries, initially focused on infrastructure, it has now spread to support agriculture, social development, debt relief, emergency relief, and capacity building. Intra Arab tourism is around 40% of the total number of Arab tourists. Intra regional tourism generates sizable revenues out of total tourist revenues in some countries: Jordan, 40%, Syria 90%, Lebanon 43%, the sustainability of which can be argued. The Greater-Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) and other regional trade agreements (e.g., Agadir Agreement) do not appear to have created significant intra-regional trade, less than 11% ( if we exclude energy exports that number will even be significantly lower), in comparison to other regions (EU: 48% intra-regional trade). In the case of GCC, the increased integration seems to reflect the progress made in converging on common norms and policies in some regulatory areas and in integrating both factor and product markets Critically, the formal integration/cooperation between governments has always lagged behind the informal integration between peoples. (at the level of civil society, labor unions, cultural activities etc.)

4. Arab World is Changing Slide 4 BUT THE ARAB WORLD IS CHANGING…The recent events open again a window of opportunity for more and better regional cooperation, as the “Arab Spring” has shaken the region in ways not witnessed since the end of colonialism In order for stakeholders, including regional organizations such as ESCWA, to be relevant we need to consider a number of key questions : Where will the political changes lead? Will they lead to democratization or will other forms of governance prevail? What role does and can the UN system play to support positive changes? Who are our partners? How can we leverage existing partnerships and forge relevant new ones? Ultimately, what does the political change mean for regional cooperation? In this context, I will attempt to shed light on these questions and will discuss their impact on regional cooperation both from a programme perspective (what are we cooperating on) and an actor’s perspective (who is engaging with whom). BUT THE ARAB WORLD IS CHANGING…The recent events open again a window of opportunity for more and better regional cooperation, as the “Arab Spring” has shaken the region in ways not witnessed since the end of colonialism In order for stakeholders, including regional organizations such as ESCWA, to be relevant we need to consider a number of key questions : Where will the political changes lead? Will they lead to democratization or will other forms of governance prevail? What role does and can the UN system play to support positive changes? Who are our partners? How can we leverage existing partnerships and forge relevant new ones? Ultimately, what does the political change mean for regional cooperation? In this context, I will attempt to shed light on these questions and will discuss their impact on regional cooperation both from a programme perspective (what are we cooperating on) and an actor’s perspective (who is engaging with whom).

5. An ‘Arab Spring’? More like concurrent four seasons Spring: Successful Regime Change (Egypt &Tunisia) Summer: Violence. Fall: Negotiated transformation Winter: Forestalled political reforms. Slide 5 Our response in terms of the ‘what’will be shaped by the scenarios that will unfold. Though observers have labelled the changes in the region as an ‘Arab Spring’, we would see it more as concurrent four seasons. Spring: High probability of successful transition to democracy Summer: Transition fraught with violence, civil strife and indecisive military intervention Fall: Transition to democracy likely in the long term through the establishment of constitutional monarchies, as meaningful reforms have been promised. Winter- Demands for freedoms were deflected though handouts in the form of state subsidies and higher salaries This will have an impact on regional cooperation since groups of countries will move in different directions, and encounter varied challenges. Our response in terms of the ‘what’will be shaped by the scenarios that will unfold. Though observers have labelled the changes in the region as an ‘Arab Spring’, we would see it more as concurrent four seasons. Spring: High probability of successful transition to democracy Summer: Transition fraught with violence, civil strife and indecisive military intervention Fall: Transition to democracy likely in the long term through the establishment of constitutional monarchies, as meaningful reforms have been promised. Winter- Demands for freedoms were deflected though handouts in the form of state subsidies and higher salaries This will have an impact on regional cooperation since groups of countries will move in different directions, and encounter varied challenges.

6. Our expectations are that in the short term: Increase in sub-regional coordination as countries with similar challenges are more inclined to cooperate. More cooperation at the informal/civil society level as people learn from each other and support each other (the use of new forms of social media will have an impact) In the long term and as countries transition to democracy, we expect regional cooperation to increase at all levels. Given the choice people will opt to cooperate in their own interests. Our expectations are that in the short term: Increase in sub-regional coordination as countries with similar challenges are more inclined to cooperate. More cooperation at the informal/civil society level as people learn from each other and support each other (the use of new forms of social media will have an impact) In the long term and as countries transition to democracy, we expect regional cooperation to increase at all levels. Given the choice people will opt to cooperate in their own interests.

7. Slide 7 Very interesting complementarities (in oil, labor, agricultural land, etc) make regional cooperation an important tool for development. …. Existing Complementarities between countries is conducive to intra-regional cooperation on knowledge transfer and capacity building Existing complementarities Different Production Structures Diverse Endowments Shared cultural heritage Similar socio-political history Similar socio-political history created common problems and challenges. Therefore, engagement at the regional level to find common solutions makes a lot of sense. In spite of these complementarities, countries in the region have not yet tapped the full potential of cooperation. Regional cooperation can help address shortcomings: Under-performing public institutions. Weak social policies, especially social protection Comparatively high level of trade protection. Weak Regulatory environment. Low-quality of educational system .Very interesting complementarities (in oil, labor, agricultural land, etc) make regional cooperation an important tool for development. …. Existing Complementarities between countries is conducive to intra-regional cooperation on knowledge transfer and capacity building Existing complementarities Different Production Structures Diverse Endowments Shared cultural heritage Similar socio-political history Similar socio-political history created common problems and challenges. Therefore, engagement at the regional level to find common solutions makes a lot of sense. In spite of these complementarities, countries in the region have not yet tapped the full potential of cooperation. Regional cooperation can help address shortcomings: Under-performing public institutions. Weak social policies, especially social protection Comparatively high level of trade protection. Weak Regulatory environment. Low-quality of educational system .

8. To address these shortcomings we need to leverage some of the opportunities that ‘Change' has opened up. A new development Paradigm needs to be explored. A model that expands the policymaking space to reconnect the economic with the social and the political. Greater democratization, changing of the Guard and role of the state will have a positive impact on the development paths of countries in the region. Democratic institutions will allow for participatory processes to take place by all groups and hold governments accountable to their citizens. Some entry points for increased regional cooperation could include: Increase transparency of business environment Developing inclusive social policies. Enhance on-going efforts for an open and active civil society Better education to boost innovation and entrepreneurship (through the use of Loans and grants - if targeted well to areas such as education - to improve the capabilities to create jobs for young population and support private-sector development) In the following I will show, some of the key areas that ESCWA works in and that can be leveraged to respond to this changing environment.To address these shortcomings we need to leverage some of the opportunities that ‘Change' has opened up. A new development Paradigm needs to be explored. A model that expands the policymaking space to reconnect the economic with the social and the political. Greater democratization, changing of the Guard and role of the state will have a positive impact on the development paths of countries in the region. Democratic institutions will allow for participatory processes to take place by all groups and hold governments accountable to their citizens. Some entry points for increased regional cooperation could include: Increase transparency of business environment Developing inclusive social policies. Enhance on-going efforts for an open and active civil society Better education to boost innovation and entrepreneurship (through the use of Loans and grants - if targeted well to areas such as education - to improve the capabilities to create jobs for young population and support private-sector development) In the following I will show, some of the key areas that ESCWA works in and that can be leveraged to respond to this changing environment.

9. Slide 9 For a better business environment, we’r working with MCs to address infrastructure constraints. ESCWA has been developing the Integrated Transport System in the Arab Mashreq ( ITSAM). This includes but is not limited to the adoption of three UN Transport Conventions (Agreement on International Roads, Agreement on International Railways, and MoU on Maritime cooperation) and the establishment of national transport and trade facilitation committees. In recognition of its success, the GCC has recently requested assistance to implement a similar framework in GCC. ESCWA is supporting initiatives by MCs to integrate in electric grids in the region, with the LAS, where we are providing capacity building to individual countries. Also one of the key areas that we are trying to leverage in our work is strengthening the capacities of MCs to better negotiate and design bilateral investment treaties (a Joint project between ESCWA & UNCTAD). We believe that this will help in ensuring that countries harmonize their regulatory environment hence leading to increased intra-regional investment. Strengthening legislative institutions, is also another key area of cooperation. This kind of support is particularly important in an environment where it is expected that legislators will be playing an increasingly important role. ESCWA and IPU, have worked on building institutional capacity building for Arab Parliaments for the advancement of women-related legislations. Also, similar programs were developed, with other partners, in areas like management of shared water resources and improving accessibility of the physical disabled. Recent events has shown that Youths policies need to be strengthened and deepened. ESCWA initiated a Project on “Strengthening capacities of policy makers in the ESCWA region to formulate national youth policies and plans of action: Responding to the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY)”. It is worth noting that the theme of our last Ministerial Session was particularly focused on Youths challenges. For a better business environment, we’r working with MCs to address infrastructure constraints. ESCWA has been developing the Integrated Transport System in the Arab Mashreq ( ITSAM). This includes but is not limited to the adoption of three UN Transport Conventions (Agreement on International Roads, Agreement on International Railways, and MoU on Maritime cooperation) and the establishment of national transport and trade facilitation committees. In recognition of its success, the GCC has recently requested assistance to implement a similar framework in GCC. ESCWA is supporting initiatives by MCs to integrate in electric grids in the region, with the LAS, where we are providing capacity building to individual countries. Also one of the key areas that we are trying to leverage in our work is strengthening the capacities of MCs to better negotiate and design bilateral investment treaties (a Joint project between ESCWA & UNCTAD). We believe that this will help in ensuring that countries harmonize their regulatory environment hence leading to increased intra-regional investment. Strengthening legislative institutions, is also another key area of cooperation. This kind of support is particularly important in an environment where it is expected that legislators will be playing an increasingly important role. ESCWA and IPU, have worked on building institutional capacity building for Arab Parliaments for the advancement of women-related legislations. Also, similar programs were developed, with other partners, in areas like management of shared water resources and improving accessibility of the physical disabled. Recent events has shown that Youths policies need to be strengthened and deepened. ESCWA initiated a Project on “Strengthening capacities of policy makers in the ESCWA region to formulate national youth policies and plans of action: Responding to the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY)”. It is worth noting that the theme of our last Ministerial Session was particularly focused on Youths challenges.

10. Slide 10 Follow-up on IADGs: ESCWA has an annual flagship publication on regional progress on MDGs prepared jointly with LAS. Our 2010 was discussed and endorsed by Arab ministers of Social Affairs. In addition to that, ESCWA, with LAS, have been leading through the RCM the development of regional tracking indicators of progress towards achieving the MDGs. Inter-regional cooperation: The five UN regional commissions join forces to produce a publication in 2013, to be entitled “Beyond 2015: The Future UN Development Agenda” To identify key global and regional priority development issues beyond 2015, provide a regional perspective to the global debate on future development priorities, through a bottom-up approach that reflects the concerns of those mostly affected by that debate. A critical area of regional cooperation is the sustainable management of natural resources. Under the auspices of the Arab Ministerial Water Council, ESCWA is preparing a draft legal framework on shared water resources and also developing an inventory on shared water basins, with the view of creating a common understanding of status and conditions of surface and ground water resources. ESCWA along with regional and international partners the regional preparations for Rio+20: organize the Arab/Western Asia Preparatory Committee, to formulate a common position that will support the position of the Arab countries in Rio+20. prepare two regional reports covering the two main themes : (a) regional review of the institutional framework for sustainable development; and (b) regional report on green economy in the Arab region; as well as initiating a process of regional consultation and capacity-building for government representatives, which will continue until Rio+20 and beyond. ESCWA also was involved in technically backstopping MCs in preparing background notes to inform negotiating positions in Multilateral trade negotiations. Follow-up on IADGs: ESCWA has an annual flagship publication on regional progress on MDGs prepared jointly with LAS. Our 2010 was discussed and endorsed by Arab ministers of Social Affairs. In addition to that, ESCWA, with LAS, have been leading through the RCM the development of regional tracking indicators of progress towards achieving the MDGs. Inter-regional cooperation: The five UN regional commissions join forces to produce a publication in 2013, to be entitled “Beyond 2015: The Future UN Development Agenda” To identify key global and regional priority development issues beyond 2015, provide a regional perspective to the global debate on future development priorities, through a bottom-up approach that reflects the concerns of those mostly affected by that debate. A critical area of regional cooperation is the sustainable management of natural resources. Under the auspices of the Arab Ministerial Water Council, ESCWA is preparing a draft legal framework on shared water resources and also developing an inventory on shared water basins, with the view of creating a common understanding of status and conditions of surface and ground water resources. ESCWA along with regional and international partners the regional preparations for Rio+20: organize the Arab/Western Asia Preparatory Committee, to formulate a common position that will support the position of the Arab countries in Rio+20. prepare two regional reports covering the two main themes : (a) regional review of the institutional framework for sustainable development; and (b) regional report on green economy in the Arab region; as well as initiating a process of regional consultation and capacity-building for government representatives, which will continue until Rio+20 and beyond. ESCWA also was involved in technically backstopping MCs in preparing background notes to inform negotiating positions in Multilateral trade negotiations.

11. Slide 11 Partners for - In the areas of Science, technology and Innovation, we are collaborating with regional and international partners in the region: 1. In the area of Cyber Legislation, the aim is to enhance regional integration and strengthen the capacity of member countries to build a strong and sustainable ICT sector through the development of appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks.   ESCWA is supporting the creation of Science, Technology and Observatories (STI) and building capacities on the development and analysis of indicators. ESCWA Knowledge Networks through ICT Access Points to empower disadvantaged communities by transforming selected ICT access points/telecentres into networked knowledge hubs. The ESCWA Technology Centre: which aims at coordinating and networking national centers of excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) , and promoting technology transfer from ESCWA member countries, including LDCs, towards complementing activities and resources for socio-economic development of the communities of the region. ESCWA offers a range of capacity building and training workshop through especially developed toolkits in support of participatory development National dialogue on Integrated Social Protection: ESCWA is preparing country profiles of available social protection programs (security, assistance, subsidies, community development programs). These are used to initiate dialogue on social protection in each member country In the areas of Science, technology and Innovation, we are collaborating with regional and international partners in the region: 1. In the area of Cyber Legislation, the aim is to enhance regional integration and strengthen the capacity of member countries to build a strong and sustainable ICT sector through the development of appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks.   ESCWA is supporting the creation of Science, Technology and Observatories (STI) and building capacities on the development and analysis of indicators. ESCWA Knowledge Networks through ICT Access Points to empower disadvantaged communities by transforming selected ICT access points/telecentres into networked knowledge hubs. The ESCWA Technology Centre: which aims at coordinating and networking national centers of excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) , and promoting technology transfer from ESCWA member countries, including LDCs, towards complementing activities and resources for socio-economic development of the communities of the region. ESCWA offers a range of capacity building and training workshop through especially developed toolkits in support of participatory development National dialogue on Integrated Social Protection: ESCWA is preparing country profiles of available social protection programs (security, assistance, subsidies, community development programs). These are used to initiate dialogue on social protection in each member country

12. Partners for - Achievements: enrolment and E leaning initiatives Educational Challenges: Quality not Quantity Pervasive conflict Cooperation most fruitful in: Curricula development Quality assessment and accreditation. Slide 12 Although ESCWA is not directly working in Education, it is the cornerstone of all of our work. There are obviously clear challenges facing the Educational System in the region. Quality not quantity The challenge for regional cooperation on Education is one of quality rather than quantity and ensuring educational output is more attuned needs of labor markets. Countries in the region had done reasonably well in increasing the number of enrolments in Schools. (ensuring and sometime surpassing gender parity) Conflict In Iraq for example, a country that once had one of the top educational systems in the region- illiteracy today is widespread with 39% of the rural population unable to read or write and close to 47% of women are either illiterate of partially illiterate. (Iraq National Human Development Strategy 2007-2010) In Palestine- the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Occupied Territory has lead to a dramatic deterioration in poverty levels (69% of households in Gaza and 37% in West Bank live in acute poverty) & impacted educational outcomes. For example school drop outs among the youth is 29% (includes those who never went to school) and only 7 percent have a university degree in undergraduate studies. (Ministry of Education and Higher Education, OPT, National Human Development Plan 2011-2013). Possible areas of cooperation strengthening regional networking in the area of curricula development (improving the curricula to instil critical thinking and incorporate human rights values and the advancement of women) and on, quality assessment and accreditation cooperation. Regional cooperation can be leveraged to support the reconstruction of the educational infrastructure whether physical or human resources- the promotion and facilitation of e-learning (if they cannot get to school- bring the school to them) and particularly Palestinian cooperation. Although ESCWA is not directly working in Education, it is the cornerstone of all of our work. There are obviously clear challenges facing the Educational System in the region. Quality not quantity The challenge for regional cooperation on Education is one of quality rather than quantity and ensuring educational output is more attuned needs of labor markets. Countries in the region had done reasonably well in increasing the number of enrolments in Schools. (ensuring and sometime surpassing gender parity) Conflict In Iraq for example, a country that once had one of the top educational systems in the region- illiteracy today is widespread with 39% of the rural population unable to read or write and close to 47% of women are either illiterate of partially illiterate. (Iraq National Human Development Strategy 2007-2010) In Palestine- the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Occupied Territory has lead to a dramatic deterioration in poverty levels (69% of households in Gaza and 37% in West Bank live in acute poverty) & impacted educational outcomes. For example school drop outs among the youth is 29% (includes those who never went to school) and only 7 percent have a university degree in undergraduate studies. (Ministry of Education and Higher Education, OPT, National Human Development Plan 2011-2013). Possible areas of cooperation strengthening regional networking in the area of curricula development (improving the curricula to instil critical thinking and incorporate human rights values and the advancement of women) and on, quality assessment and accreditation cooperation. Regional cooperation can be leveraged to support the reconstruction of the educational infrastructure whether physical or human resources- the promotion and facilitation of e-learning (if they cannot get to school- bring the school to them) and particularly Palestinian cooperation.

13. Regional cooperation efforts as catalysts Partners for - 13 As the previous examples highlighted, regional cooperation can be a catalyst for development through channels other than trade and formal economic agreements. But more importantly, the recent social movements showed that there are also informal channels for cooperation that unify an activist Arab youth, challenging the conventional top-down integration mechanism. The Arab youth exchanged lessons and influenced each other across national borders and set in a motion of focused, peaceful and principled mass protests by resorting to innovative means. This interaction and the use of technological tools, including social media, can also form a basis of new mechanisms for Arab integration that go beyond the conventional official agreements. This is a grassroots integration that empowers people to seek their rights and push the human development agenda from the bottom - up. The role of ESCWA is to build on such a multidimensional cooperation process that includes the economic realm (exchange of goods, labor, and capital) as well as the non-economic realms (social, environmental, institutional, etc…), at different levels from the top policymaking and institutional levels all the way to the grassroots. It is this broader form of regional Arab integration, having as its objective the welfare of the Arab people primarily, that would serve as a catalyst for development. Integration would incorporate areas of high priority that have a direct impact on human development such as education, research and development, water and food security, regional social protection and others. The aim is to change the understanding of integration from its narrow economic sense to a development-driven integration process. As the previous examples highlighted, regional cooperation can be a catalyst for development through channels other than trade and formal economic agreements. But more importantly, the recent social movements showed that there are also informal channels for cooperation that unify an activist Arab youth, challenging the conventional top-down integration mechanism. The Arab youth exchanged lessons and influenced each other across national borders and set in a motion of focused, peaceful and principled mass protests by resorting to innovative means. This interaction and the use of technological tools, including social media, can also form a basis of new mechanisms for Arab integration that go beyond the conventional official agreements. This is a grassroots integration that empowers people to seek their rights and push the human development agenda from the bottom - up. The role of ESCWA is to build on such a multidimensional cooperation process that includes the economic realm (exchange of goods, labor, and capital) as well as the non-economic realms (social, environmental, institutional, etc…), at different levels from the top policymaking and institutional levels all the way to the grassroots. It is this broader form of regional Arab integration, having as its objective the welfare of the Arab people primarily, that would serve as a catalyst for development. Integration would incorporate areas of high priority that have a direct impact on human development such as education, research and development, water and food security, regional social protection and others. The aim is to change the understanding of integration from its narrow economic sense to a development-driven integration process.

14. Slide 14 As said at the beginning, I will also have a look at the actors driving regional cooperation. ESCWA as convener of the Regional Coordination Mechanism Meetings (RCM) has been very successful in focusing the discussions on some of the key emerging challenges in the region “Focus on Youth Challenge”, “Transition to Democracy”, and on “Preparations for Rio +20”) But again, the partnerships need to be recalibrated and re-focused, in light of the unfolding events, on building state capability and responsiveness (governance and institutions), which vary considerably between countries in the region. Without neglecting effective partnerships within the UN systems, we will be deepening cooperation with regional and local partners. This will enhance credibility, legitimacy, ownership and sustainability of programmes and projects will increase. ESCWA has already established a civil society advisory board. In my presentation I highlighted a range of regional cooperation efforts and allow me - in closing – to emphasize the fact that accountability is the order of the day in my region. As citizens are holding their rulers to account, we as UN agencies will also be held to account on how we are meeting their aspirations for regional cooperation and integration and how we are better organized to deliver on those aspirations.As said at the beginning, I will also have a look at the actors driving regional cooperation. ESCWA as convener of the Regional Coordination Mechanism Meetings (RCM) has been very successful in focusing the discussions on some of the key emerging challenges in the region “Focus on Youth Challenge”, “Transition to Democracy”, and on “Preparations for Rio +20”) But again, the partnerships need to be recalibrated and re-focused, in light of the unfolding events, on building state capability and responsiveness (governance and institutions), which vary considerably between countries in the region. Without neglecting effective partnerships within the UN systems, we will be deepening cooperation with regional and local partners. This will enhance credibility, legitimacy, ownership and sustainability of programmes and projects will increase. ESCWA has already established a civil society advisory board. In my presentation I highlighted a range of regional cooperation efforts and allow me - in closing – to emphasize the fact that accountability is the order of the day in my region. As citizens are holding their rulers to account, we as UN agencies will also be held to account on how we are meeting their aspirations for regional cooperation and integration and how we are better organized to deliver on those aspirations.

15. THANK YOU ????? 15

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