ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
DATE, VENUE AND ANY OTHER SUBJECT PERTAINING TO THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION
(Item 12 of the provisional agenda)
Note by the secretariat
A. Date and venue
1. The Commission will recall that rule 1 of its rules of procedure requires the Commission to recommend the date and venue of its next session, subject to the approval of the Economic and Social Council and in consultation with the Secretary-General. It has been the practice for the Commission, at each of its sessions, to recommend that the next session should be held in March or April of the following year. The actual dates and venue are then determined by the Executive Secretary in consultation with the member governments and the Chairperson of the Commission.
2. Following this practice, the secretariat recommends that the fifty-seventh session of the Commission should be held in March/April 2001. Rule 1 of the rules of procedure also states that Commission sessions should ordinarily be held at the office of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific, unless the Commission recommends otherwise.
B. Theme topic
3. With regard to the theme topic, it may be recalled that the theme topic for the fifty-sixth session is: "Development through globalization and partnership in the twenty-first century: an Asia-Pacific perspective for integrating developing countries and economies in transition into the international trading system on a fair and equitable basis".
4. Several suggestions for the theme topic for the fifty-seventh session were considered by the Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives and Other Representatives Designated by Members of the Commission. The Advisory Committee agreed on the topic of "Balanced development of urban and rural areas", and proposed that the topic be submitted for consideration by the Commission.
5. The rationale for the proposed theme topic is as follows. It would provide a logical extension of the theme study of the fifty-sixth session, in which some of the elements of concern are being addressed within the perspective of globalization. Rapid economic growth in the region has been in large part due to countries effectively exploring their considerable comparative advantage within the global market. However, in the majority of countries, the speed of this development and the lack of preparedness of governments have created unprecedented concentrations of economic and industrial activity, particularly around urban areas and along coastlines, which have been best served by the existing service sector. This has resulted in major disparities in the distribution of income and provision of social services, which in turn has led to massive migration and further exacerbation of critical problems. Clearly, the issue of sustainable economic growth has been overlooked in many instances.
6. In many of the region's developing and least developed countries, more than two thirds of the labour force is still employed in rural areas. The maintenance of such a large labour force mainly in the agricultural sector, and one which produces only one third or less of the gross domestic product, may be unsustainable in the long term.
7. The future healthy and sustainable growth of the region will be dependent on countries extending their competitive advantage through the homogenous involvement of the entire community in both urban and rural areas and an equitable sharing of benefits and opportunities.
8. In some countries around the world, governments are adopting strategies and measures in an attempt to redress existing imbalances, with varying degrees of success. Experience, however, clearly demonstrates that the essential balancing of development in urban and rural areas requires not only careful planning to ensure that adequate physical, social and administrative infrastructure is in place in order to influence the location decision of the various economic agents, but also that the various inputs required in the manufacturing process are available when required and at competitive cost. Attention also needs to be focused on the devolution of authority in the planning process. There is still an opportunity for countries in the region to learn from the experience of others. However, the time frame available for making the necessary decisions for more balanced spatial, economic and social development is relatively short.
9. This proposal for the theme topic of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission would consider the conditions necessary for more balanced, sustainable development of urban and rural areas, the policy options available to governments and case studies of policy implementation.
10. The following list shows the theme topics of past sessions of the Commission.
11. The Commission is requested to consider and offer its views on the choice of a theme topic for the fifty-seventh session of the Commission.