ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
TECHNICAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES OF ESCAP AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF INTENDED CONTRIBUTIONS
(Item 9 of the provisional agenda)
Note by the secretariat
LIST OF FIGURES
1. At the global level, the High-level Committee on the Review of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, at its biennial meeting held in New York in June 1999, reaffirmed the validity and relevance of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries. It welcomed the considerable progress made by Member States and the organizations and agencies of the United Nations system in the implementation of the Plan of Action and the important progress made in the implementation of the new directions strategy for TCDC, with strategic focus on such areas as trade and investment, macroeconomic management, poverty eradication and the environment. It also reaffirmed the great potential of TCDC and urged developing countries to give full effect to that form of cooperation. It stressed the need for further concerted efforts to be made by the United Nations organizations and agencies, including the regional commissions, to increasingly integrate TCDC into their programmes, policies and procedures. Similarly, at the regional level, the Commission continued to emphasize the importance and relevance of the promotional and operational TCDC activities implemented by the secretariat and their contribution towards the socio-economic development of the developing countries, especially the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition. It noted the ample TCDC opportunities which continued to exist because of the different levels of development among the developing countries as well as among the subregions in the Asian and Pacific region. Accordingly, the secretariat was urged to continue with the implementation of activities that would enhance the participation of those countries in TCDC activities.
2. Based on the national reports submitted by the members and associate members of ESCAP to the UNDP Special Unit for TCDC in connection with the High-level Committee meeting, it is evident that member countries have continued to implement TCDC activities bilaterally within their respective national policies and priorities and within subregional frameworks, such as ASEAN and the Colombo Plan. This is particularly true in regard to China, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The secretariat, in line with the recommendations contained in the Buenos Aires Plan of Action and bearing in mind the recommendations of the Commission, continued with its catalytic role and implemented promotional and operational TCDC activities within the framework of its technical cooperation programme and, to the extent feasible, used the TCDC modality in programme implementation.
3. In 1999, the secretariat developed and implemented about 100 promotional TCDC/ECDC-related activities within the framework of its various subprogrammes. These activities, which are mentioned in the relevant documents of the respective subprogrammes, involved not only member and associate member governments, but also non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
4. As regards operational TCDC activities, the Commission, at its annual sessions, had identified weak TCDC national focal points and the dearth of information on TCDC opportunities available in the more advanced developing countries as the two major impediments to the participation of the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries and the economies in transition. As these constraints continued to exist, the secretariat focused on these two areas with a view to alleviating the problems.
5. In order to sensitize TCDC national focal points to the benefits of TCDC and to exchange experience on their important role in that regard, as well as to disseminate up-to-date information on the available opportunities within the TCDC programme of the more advanced developing countries, the secretariat, in collaboration with the Government of China, organized the Workshop on TCDC National Focal Points in Beijing in September 1999 for officials from the national focal points of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam. The national focal points exchanged experience on their organizational structure and the impediments faced by them in their efforts to promote and participate in TCDC activities. Participants from member countries with strong TCDC national focal points and successful TCDC programmes, such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, elaborated on their respective programmes and how to access those programmes with the support of the secretariat. Those "capacity" countries also benefited from the feedback received from the recipient countries at the workshop.
6. A positive outcome in follow-up to that workshop was the concurrence by the Government of Indonesia, within the framework of the agreement signed between ESCAP and that Government, to finance a study visit for participants from Bhutan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mongolia and the Philippines to Indonesia and Singapore from 30 November to 6 December 1999. The study visit provided a further opportunity for the exchange of discussions on TCDC approaches and opportunities with the national focal points in the two countries and with other related departments and agencies, including visits to national institutions which offered and implemented TCDC activities.
7. In addition to the above, the secretariat carried out in-country consultations with TCDC national focal points of Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, not only to ascertain their TCDC needs but also to advise them on the assistance they could obtain from ESCAP, including TCDC opportunities from which they could benefit with assistance from the ESCAP TCDC supplementary fund.
8. With the continued financial contribution of China and the Netherlands to the supplementary fund, and following the workshop, study visit and in-country consultations, the secretariat was able to promote and facilitate the participation of about 120 officials in 41 operational TCDC activities in 1999. This represented a significant increase compared with the participation of 65 officials in 23 operational TCDC activities in 1998. These activities were implemented under the member countries' TCDC programmes, particularly those of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; the activities included training courses, seminars, workshops and study visits. Officials, particularly from the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, and economies in transition, have been enabled to enhance their management and technical capabilities over a wide range of areas, including agriculture management; integrated fish farming; hybrid rice cultivation; tissue culture of economic plants; crop diseases and insect pests; vegetable technology; pearl farming; environmental protection; biogas technology; solar energy application; operation and maintenance of agricultural machinery; management of integrated energy systems; technology management for rural industry; financing and pricing of urban infrastructure; planning, design and implementation of small hydro projects; digital image processing for environmental management; handicrafts; remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS); integrated use of remote sensing and GIS for land-use mapping; rehabilitation for physically disabled persons; integrated management of energy and water resources; managing privatization; promotion of foreign direct investment; export processing zones; managing a performance-oriented public service; promotion of trade in technical services; project management; tourism management; trade promotion strategies; and population information.
9. The secretariat also continued to promote TCDC activities through third-country training programmes. Within the framework of the cooperation arrangement signed between ESCAP and the Government of Malaysia for a third-country training programme, and based on the priorities indicated by the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries and the economies in transition, ESCAP cooperated with the Government of Malaysia in the implementation of three training courses respectively on national economic management and poverty eradication, integrated environmental planning and management, and managing agriculture systems. Under the cooperation arrangement, ESCAP financed the cost of the return air travel and daily living allowance of the participants for the duration of the training courses, while the Government of Malaysia met all the other costs, including accommodation, local transport, cost of training and miscellaneous expenditure.
10. Similarly, within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between ESCAP and the Government of Singapore, and at the expressed wish of the governments of the Pacific island developing countries, the secretariat implemented a specially tailored training course on tourism management and development for those countries and areas: Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Under this arrangement, the total cost of the training was shared equally between ESCAP and the Government of Singapore.
11. In addition to the Pacific island developing countries mentioned above, the beneficiaries of TCDC and third-country training programme activities have also included Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.
12. By focusing on activities that contribute to an alleviation of the main constraints on TCDC as identified by the Commission at its annual sessions, that is, workshops and study visits on sensitization to TCDC and the role of the national focal points, briefing on TCDC programmes, in-country TCDC consultations, and implementation of activities under third-country training programme arrangements, the secretariat was able to expand the scope of its activities and the spread of the participation of its members and associate members, particularly the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, and economies in transition. Participants in these activities have emphasized the need for TCDC sensitization activities to be carried out annually because of changing priorities and the frequent turnover of officials from the national focal points.
13. The secretariat, with the generous support of the donors and cooperation partners, complemented by regular budget resources from the regular programme of technical cooperation, will endeavour to facilitate the maximization of benefits to its members and associate members, particularly the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries and economies in transition, through their participation in TCDC activities. Concurrently, it is also incumbent on the beneficiary countries to take the necessary complementary measures, for example, by allocating resources from their national budget or setting aside some of their resources from the UNDP national provision to finance TCDC activities. They should assume greater responsibility to ensure maximum benefits, for example, through the timely nomination of participants with the requisite background and experience to participate in the specific training activities; adequate preparation and early submission of papers on their country's experience on the subject matter of the training; full attendance at and active interaction for the duration of their training; timely submission of evaluation reports upon completion of their training; and taking the necessary action at the national level as follow-up to their participation in the various TCDC activities. The success or otherwise of TCDC activities rests most importantly with the participants from the beneficiary countries and the efficiency of the national focal points.
14. Extrabudgetary assistance is provided to ESCAP on a voluntary basis by individual governments, organizations and agencies of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations in the form of cash contributions (funds-in-trust) or assistance in kind through the secondment of experts on a non-reimbursable loan basis, the provision of host facilities, equipment and so on.
15. This section reports on the sources and composition of the extrabudgetary funding of the Commission's technical cooperation activities in 1999. The evolution of the extrabudgetary resources of ESCAP from 1984 to 1999 is presented in figure I.
16. In 1999, the total resources available to ESCAP amounted to US$42.17 million, of which US$26.28 million was made available through the ESCAP regular budget for staff and non-staff costs and US$15.89 million through voluntary extrabudgetary contributions for technical cooperation activities. The extrabudgetary resources represent 37.68 per cent of the resources available to ESCAP. These resources provide a major source of funding for the implementation of the ESCAP technical cooperation programme as well as the programme and institutional support of the regional institutions under the auspices of the Commission.
1. Cash contributions
17. In 1999, ESCAP received US$15,886,761.58 in cash from several sources within and outside the United Nations system for the implementation of its technical cooperation activities. This amount represents a further decrease of US$500,282.07 (or about 3.05 per cent) compared with the previous year's amount of US$16,387,043.65, which had also reflected a reduction of some 26 per cent against the cash contributions received in 1997.
18. A summary of the cash contributions in 1999, by source, is given below:
19. The sources for the above contributions are further illustrated in figure II.
20. The United Nations system contributed a total of US$6,016,749.03 in 1999, representing 37.87 per cent of the total extrabudgetary resources received, as compared with US$5,717,509.44 in 1998.
21. The United Nations regular programme of technical cooperation provided US$2,165,500 for advisory services and fellowships, as compared with US$2,204,800 in 1998. In 1999, 102 advisory missions to 42 developing members and associate members of ESCAP were undertaken by a corps of 10 regional advisers, consultants and secretariat staff. Such services were also rendered by experts and consultants who were made available by donor countries on both a funds-in-trust and a non-reimbursable loan basis.
22. The allocation of UNDP from its intercountry programme resources for Asia and the Pacific for three regional projects of the ESCAP work programme amounted to US$307,095. The amount represents a further decrease of US$315,674.92, compared with the 1998 allocation of US$622,769.92 for six regional projects of the ESCAP work programme, or a reduction of 50.7 per cent. Nevertheless, through ESCAP cooperation with UNDP by accepting the executing agency functions for UNDP country projects under the support for policy and programme development component of UNDP, ESCAP also received US$1,190,917 for the execution of those 11 UNDP country projects.
23. The UNFPA allocation amounted to US$2,055,893 in 1999 for 12 projects executed by ESCAP, as compared with US$2,248,675 in 1998. This represents a decrease of US$192,782, that is, 8.57 per cent over the previous year's allocation.
24. Contributions of other United Nations entities and funds to the ESCAP programme of work totalled US$297,344.03.
25. Donor and participating developing countries contributed US$9,494,951.75, or 59.77 per cent of the total cash received in 1999, as compared with US$10,302,708.55 in 1998. Contributions from eight developed donor countries (Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden) accounted for 77.97 per cent (US$7,402,748.76) of the total bilateral assistance received. Among developing members and associate members, China; India; Macao, China; the Republic of Korea; and Thailand were the largest contributors, providing US$795,001, US$398,646.74, US$230,746.02, US$210,300 and US$103,000 in cash respectively. The extrabudgetary assistance in cash (funds-in-trust) from bilateral sources is shown in annex I to the present document.
26. Information on contributions from the United Nations system agencies, and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, is provided in annex II.
2. Contributions in kind
27. In 1999, donor countries and developing member countries of ESCAP provided a total of 284.56 work-months of the services of experts on a non-reimbursable loan basis in various disciplines, as compared with 317 work-months of such services received in 1998. A list showing extrabudgetary assistance in kind is provided in annex III.
(a) Cash contributions for projects implemented by the secretariat under the ESCAP programme of work: US$11,244,604.05, equivalent to 70.78 per cent of the total cash contributions received;
(b) Cash contributions for the Pacific Trust Fund and the institutional and programme support of the three regional institutions, APCTT (US$1,742,619.95, comprising US$827,619.95 for its institutional and programme support and US$915,000 for its execution of four UNDP country projects), the CGPRT Centre (US$541,684.00), and SIAP (US$2,304,023.58): US$4,642,157.53, or the equivalent of 29.22 per cent.
29. The allocation of the total extrabudgetary cash contributions received in 1999 for the two categories is illustrated in figure III. As noted in subparagraph (a) above, 70.78 per cent, or US$11,244,604.05, was available for operational activities to be carried out by the substantive divisions or units of ESCAP under the programme of work of the secretariat. This represents a decrease of US$1,334,482.67 (or 10.61 per cent), as compared with US$12,579,086.72 in 1998. It may be further noted that the 1998 level had also reflected some 25 per cent reduction against the 1997 level of US$16,767,751.40.
30. The allocation of total extrabudgetary cash contributions (bilateral and multilateral) in 1999 over the various sectors of activity (excluding special projects and regional institutions), is illustrated in figure IV.
31. In 1999, 71 projects under the programme of work (excluding special projects and programme support to regional institutions) were approved by bilateral donors in the amount of US$5.98 million. The allocation of the bilateral cash contributions over the various programmes is illustrated in figure V.
32. The comparative programming pattern of bilateral cash contributions for the various programmes in the period 1996-1999 is illustrated in figure VI.
33. The allocation of the multilateral contributions in 1999, amounting to US$5.26 million over the various sectors of activity (excluding special projects and regional institutions), is illustrated in figure VII.
34. The funding requirements for 82 new project proposals awaiting bilateral donor support out of the 1999/2000 contributions for implementation in 2000 amounted to about US$6.8 million.
35. ESCAP continues its efforts to assist developing members and associate members, in particular the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries and areas, as well as the disadvantaged economies in transition, through its technical cooperation programmes. Despite the encouraging reports of the recovery process under way in some countries, there is continuing need to address and mitigate the adverse impact in the region of the economic and financial crisis in South-East Asia. However, given the recent trend towards a decrease in extrabudgetary contributions for the implementation of technical cooperation activities under the ESCAP programme of work, the Commission may wish to request all donors and cooperation partners to at least maintain and, where possible, to increase the level of their extrabudgetary contributions to the work of the secretariat.
36. With a view to improving the reporting and evaluation of achievements of technical cooperation activities, the secretariat, in close consultation with traditional bilateral donors in mid-1999, revised the formats of progress and terminal reports for projects funded by bilateral donors. The new formats facilitate the joint review and assessment of achievements of technical cooperation projects by ESCAP and the concerned bilateral donors. Nevertheless, there remains the issue of the availability of extrabudgetary funding for systematic evaluation of the impact of the achievements of extrabudgetary-funded technical cooperation projects, the process of which would have to involve at least some of the intended beneficiaries of the technical cooperation projects. In 1998-1999, the Government of Japan earmarked funds to conduct such an ad hoc evaluation of selected technical cooperation projects funded by the government. Given the importance attached by member governments to the impact evaluation of the ESCAP technical assistance programme, and the positive results from the initiative of the Government of Japan, the Commission may wish to invite all traditional bilateral donors to consider earmarking some funds under their respective annual funding programmes for the conduct of such evaluation exercises.
37. As regards the extrabudgetary requirements of the three regional institutions, APCTT, the CGPRT Centre and SIAP, the contributions by the donors and participating countries to their institutional support do not enable the regional institutions to ensure their long-term viability. The institutions continue to face constraints in obtaining adequate resources for the implementation of their respective programmes of work.
38. At its fifty-third session, held in 1997, the Commission recommended that member countries increase their efforts to meet the institutional costs of the regional institutions, in order to ensure the continued implementation of their very beneficial and useful activities. It also recommended that participating countries should consider increasing the minimum level of contributions to US$2,000 by the least developed countries and US$30,000 by the other developing countries towards those institutional costs. The achievements to date still fall short of those recommendations. The Commission may wish to reiterate this proposal.
I. Extrabudgetary resources provided by bilateral sources in cash (funds-in-trust)
II. Extrabudgetary resources provided by the United Nations system and by non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations
III. Extrabudgetary (non-reimbursable) assistance in kind
Christian Conference of Asia
Republic of Korea